Friday, March 30, 2012

From Baby to Big Brother

I'm full term today(!) and I can hardly believe we've gotten most everything on the pre-baby list checked off!  We're working on some finishing touches and projects, but all of the must-do big stuff around here is ready to go.  :)

One thing that has been forefront on my mommy heart since we found out we were expecting Molly is Reed's transition from only child to big brother.  Every child is different, and I think it is a transition that unfolds in its own way for each family, but I want to share a few ideas we've used in this arena so far and a few things that we have planned.

Bedroom Transition
First, we knew we were keeping our nursery in the same room and not buying a second crib.  I wanted to move Reed to his big boy bed and room several months before sister's arrival, so that if possible he didn't associate Molly with kicking him out of his room.  We started talking about and moving things into his new "Big Boy Room" in December.  We made a big deal out of his new room even before he officially moved in, and Reed was super proud to show any and all visitors his new pad, especially his "bi-boy-bed."  You might remember that I almost balked and kept him in his crib a little longer than planned, but when he tried to climb out and fell (12/31), we made the switch.  One other note: When I originally thought about moving Reed several months prior to Molly, I was thinking of her actual arrival, but I am glad we went ahead as early as planned because he was a little dubious about us even working and decorating in her room.  The lag time allowed us to let his old room sit for awhile and not be immediately taken over by baby sister preparation.

Room Time
 At the advice of a good friend, I implemented "special room time" in anticipation of Molly's arrival.  Basically, I put up the "special gate" (everything is "special" around here, you'll notice!) and give Reed 20 to 30 minutes to play alone in his room.  I am hoping to use this time in the mornings either for some peace during one of Molly's feedings, or for a quick shower (or maybe a good cry!) when she is napping. :)  Again my goal in starting the practice well before her arrival was that he wouldn't associate his room time with Molly.  Reed usually turns on his music, reads books, plays with cars on his car mat (which we bought and introduced for his first day of room time), ...or dumps out all of his toys in his room.  Honestly, he usually protests at first ("I don't want my special gate!"), and I haven't been as consistent as I had hoped.  (Someone text me tomorrow and remind me to do room time!)  I'm not sure how this one will play out in the long run.

Potty Training
One negative aspect of 25 month spacing is that Molly's arrival falls right when I probably would have otherwise started potty training.  I realized well in advance that I needed to either plan to do it several months before Molly or several months after... There was no way I was going to tackle that milestone at a waddling 8 months pregnant, or juggling a newborn schedule.  I decided to wait until after Baby #2 for a few reasons... 1) 22 months is fairly young for potty training, especially for a boy, and Reed has not shown much interest.  2) Most of my friends have seen some regression in their potty-trained toddlers, and I figured if anything was going to bring that out it would be a new baby sibling in diapers.  3) As far as I can imagine it sounds easier to have both in diapers for the first few months and on my own diapering schedule, rather than dealing with accidents and having to rush a newly trained toddler (and his newborn sister and all of their gear) to a public restroom on demand.  Sooo... I am hoping that we'll hit a good schedule/stride around the 3 month mark (which will be summer- perfect for underwear only days!), and dive into potty training.  (Oh boy!)  I had planned to read up and have all of my potty preparations ready pre-Molly, but my reading successes have been non-existent this year.

Talking about Molly's Arrival
As our due date has grown closer, we've started to talk to Reed more and more about "picking up Molly at the baby doctor."  I've tried to use consistent wording with him, as well as take advantage of opportunities (like his friends having siblings born) to talk about what it will look like when Molly arrives.  It has been fun to see Reed understand more and more.  Right now he knows that when Molly comes out of Mommy's tummy, (when will be a "surprise"), Mommy and Daddy will go to the baby doctor to pick her up.  He also knows he will come to the baby doctor to see Molly and that she will be so excited to meet her big brother! :) We've looked at pictures of Baby Reed when we picked him up at the baby doctor and when our friends came to visit our family.  Yesterday, Reed grabbed my stomach and yelled, "Molly come out!" :)

Celebrating Big Bro
Of course, we've talked a lot about Reed becoming a big brother.  Thinking about how proudly he wears stickers of any kind and knowing he had seen me do a lot of crafting for Molly's room recently, I made Reed a special (<see, there it is again) "Big Brother Badge" last week.
(I googled for an idea and found this really cute one).
We worked on it "together" and we hung it on his bedroom door.  I remind him a lot to be sure to wear it when he comes to see Molly at the "baby doctor."  He puts it on most every morning and wears it to breakfast :)

Matt and I also bought Reed a gift "from Molly" that she will give to him at the hospital.
One of Reed's favorite books is Chip and Dale's New Home, and for some reason Matt and I both fell in love with these cute little guys as a gift for Reed.  If things work out according to plan, my parents will come to our house to stay with Reed while we're at the hospital.  Who knows what the hospital stay will hold and how the timing will play out, but I talked to my mom about letting Reed pick out a little cookie cake on the way to the hospital to celebrate Molly's birthday.  He LOVES singing happy birthday, and (hello!) will get to eat cookie cake.  Sounds like a win win to me.  Reed is usually at least a little bit apprehensive about us "going bye bye," so I am hoping that he will have a lot of fun with Papa and Grammy while we're gone and feel very loved.  We put a bunch of his birthday gifts away and have been introducing them every few days.  Hopefully, the new gifts will last until the couple of days we are gone and Papa and Grammy can continue getting out special surprises that he can enjoy while we're away.

First Weeks at Home
In thinking about the days and weeks following Molly's arrival, I hope to take advantage of opportunities for Reed to have playdates with friends and grandparents and even Daddy so that I can have a break as I care for Molly.  But I also want Matt and myself, and hopefully both of us at times, to be intentional in spending special moments playing with Reed, or even taking him out for a quick ice cream date, when other people want to hold Molly (or later on watch her for an hour or two). :)

Last thought: Believe it or not, contrary to what this blog post seems to reflect, I have also tried to downplay the whole transition. :)  While behind the scenes I have put a lot of thought and prayer into ways we can navigate this time in our lives well, we've tried to implement those ideas in a natural way.  And while I think a lot about Reed's heart in the midst of these changes, a huge part of the struggle for siblings is rooted in their (our) inherent sin and selfishness.  Reed is two.  It is a good thing that he will continue to learn that life doesn't revolve around him.  I'll say it again: Reed is two!  These last few months have been a raging battle in consistent discipline and dealing with a tough, but tender stage.  I really hope that we can stay on top of our efforts to parent him well when things get (more) crazy around here in a few weeks.

Honestly, I have probably thought way too much about something I can't do much about, and the whole transition will play out however it plays out.  Reed just has such a perceptive and tender little heart and most of all we want to do our very best to make sure he feels loved and safe as his world changes in a big way.  I've been praying over my sweet little man and know others have been too. (Thank you!)  It is hard to imagine my baby not being my baby, but I am truly excited about Reed becoming a big brother and seeing how that special role becomes a part of who he is and who he is becoming.



***Update: Read a short post-baby follow-up to these tactics here

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Celebrating Easter

Easter is only a week and a half away!  We got a jump start on some festivities with an early-bird egg hunt at Papa & Gram's while Reed's cousins were in town for their Spring break.


I started my blog around this time last year, and one of my very first posts was about Easter's approach and some thoughts on how we might help Reed to celebrate Easter in a Christ-centered manner.  I came across several ideas in my online treasure hunt, but Reed was only 13 months old last Easter so most of them were bookmarked for later on.  (Don't worry, we still had a Happy Easter celebration!)

This year, even though Reed is barely two, I'm going to try to use a version of the basket idea from Katie Orr at  Living Devotionally, which I linked to but tucked away last year.  It is basically a well-thought out eight day Easter celebration using your child's Easter basket and colored eggs to teach through the story of Easter (think abbreviated version of Resurrection Eggs meet Jesse Tree, with some extension activities).  Check out the original post in its entirety here.

This will basically be my 2-yr-old version:
(I don't want to re-post the author's content, so if you're interested in the idea, and especially if you have older children, you'll want to see the link above for context and more ideas).  Also, my attempt is to appropriate this idea for Reed, and while he won't be able to grasp everything, I'm trusting in Truth being spoken into His heart and that we'll grow with it in the years to come. :)

First, I've been trying to think about a "one-liner" that we repeat about Easter, the one thing we want Reed to "get" this year about Easter.  This Christmas we talked a lot about how Christmas is Jesus' birthday, when God sent us Jesus to rescue us.  I am thinking we will recall Jesus' birthday together and then talk about how on Easter Jesus rescued the whole world-- He died, He rose, and He will come again.  All part of the rescue mission!

Palm Sunday
Give Reed his Easter Basket and tell him that it is a special Sunday--Palm Sunday.
Talk briefly about the triumphal entry and how people worshiped Jesus, their King, with branches.
Lay green Easter grass in his basket and speak praises to our King.
One liner: Jesus is our King

Monday
Read/paraphrase story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with perfume ("Washed with tears" in Jesus Storybook Bible).
"Discuss" Jesus, our King, is more valuable than all our treasures on earth.
Add gold egg to basket with money inside that Reed gets to take to church on Sunday as offering to the King.
One liner: A gift for our King

Tuesday
Read/paraphrase story of the Last Supper ("The Servant King" in Jesus Storybook Bible).
"Discuss" Jesus telling His disciples about His rescue mission and teaching them to remember His great big love.
Add purple egg to basket with a heart sticker inside- to wear as a reminder of God's love for us.
Sing "Jesus Loves Me."
One liner: Jesus Loves me!

Wednesday
Read/paraphrase story of The Garden of Gethsemane ("A dark night in the garden" in Jesus Storybook Bible).
"Discuss" Jesus prays and surrenders to His Father- It is time for the plan.  Talk about how sad Jesus felt about taking on all the sins of the whole world.
Add dark green egg to basket with tissue inside.  Talk about how our disobedience (mommy and daddy too!) that makes Jesus sad should make us sad too.  Model repentance.
One liner: We have all sinned, but Jesus rescues us from our sin

Thursday
Read/paraphrase last part of "A dark night in the garden," which includes a snippet of Jesus' trial.
"Discuss" how Jesus was going to be punished, but didn't do anything wrong.  (Part of God's Rescue Plan!)
Add clear egg and emphasize that Jesus was perfect; He never sinned.
One liner: Jesus was our perfect sacrifice

Friday
Read/paraphrase first half of "The sun stops shining" (crucifixion story) in Jesus Storybook Bible.
"Discuss" Jesus died on the cross to rescue everyone from our sins.
Add red egg to basket with grimy pennies inside.  Soak pennies in vinegar/salt to show how Jesus' rescue mission can wash away our sin and make us clean.
One liner: Jesus did it!  He rescued the whole world!

Saturday
Read/paraphrase second half of "The sun stops shining" (crucifixion story- the tomb) in Jesus Storybook Bible.
Add black egg to basket with a chocolate marshmallow inside to represent the stone (or maybe just a stone- is it weird to let Reed eat the "stone"??:) and reiterate that Jesus died to rescue us.
One liner: Jesus died and was buried... (but arose!)

Easter Sunday
Read/paraphrase first half of the Resurrection story ("God's wonderful surprise" in Jesus Storybook Bible).
Add white egg- empty because He is risen!
Discuss the Easter story, briefly recalling each egg.  Jesus rescued the whole world-- He died, He rose, and He will come again! 
One liner: He arose! Jesus is alive!

This should be interesting... I will let you know how it goes! :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fun Nursery Updates

Getting so close on Molly's nursery!  I have a couple more things I want to do, but will probably post "as good as it gets" pics next week. :)  I am so excited today, though, about a couple of crafty additions!!  I want to show you two more fabric themed nursery touches...

Remember the sneak peek of the finished embroidery hoop wall?

One of the fabrics up there (the thick striped one above the M/O) is from the crib skirt (we have a "closed" crib, so I used a stitch popper to take off 3 sides of the dust ruffle for other uses!)

I have been planning to use the coordinating fabric to make a little throw pillow with Molly's monogram.  I know we already have her name on the wall, but since her initials are an especially meaningful part of her name, I wanted to also use them somewhere in the nursery.  My super crafty sister-in-law made us this anthropologie-esque throw pillow (which I love!) when she first started playing around with her sewing machine.

Using her design as inspiration, I finished a little monogram pillow for Molly!
I would claim it as my very first sewing project, but I actually enlisted my friend Heather to sew the seams closed because I just got my machine out of the box and was so afraid I would mess it up.  And for total disclosure, I contacted her last night when I was pregnant-crying and said I just wanted to finish my pillow and confessed that I am officially dumber than my sewing machine.  Yes, I realize it is just straight lines, but it took me a long time to cut and hand stitch the embroidery floss around the letters and I didn't want to ruin the whole thing. :)

Okay, also this week I needed to use my almost expired living social voucher to Corkscrews and Canvas.  (ie The most fun painting place around!!)  I hopped online to look at their calendar and see if mayyybe there was an option that would look cute in Molly's room.  Yes, yes there was!  I signed up for a unique collage and stamping piece that called for various patterns of paper or... wait for it... fabric!!  It was like it was meant to be.  I invited some friends, had a fun time painting and gluing, and I'm so happy with how the finished product fits in the nursery! Ta da! :)

Almost ready for Miss Molly! :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Recipes

One of my favorite things to follow on Pinterest is recipes.  I thought I would quickly share some the recipes I've tried out over the past several months...
(Click recipe name for link to recipe)


Main Dishes:

Turkey Cranberry Quesadillas
I made of version of these delicious looking quesadillas in the fall using turkey, craisins, spinach, onions, and cheese.  Yum.


Pot Roast
Pot Roast is one of my favorite meals.  I just love the flavorful, tender veggies and meat!  This recipe was super easy and very good.  I added additional vegetables.



Wild Rice Soup
This soup is a Betty Crocker recipe.  It was tasty and Reed ate it up!  Unfortunately, I left it out to cool and forgot to put it in the refirgerator.  I am a huge food safety freak, so I didn't keep it...  I was so mad at myself! :(



Taco Braid
This taco braid was pretty yummy.  My biggest complaint was that the juice from the meat made the bottom dough soggy, and it cooked unevenly.  I guess you could be extra careful to not add too much water to your meat.  I might make it again, but I definitely want to look up the chicken fajita braid that the recipe post also mentions!


Chicken Spinach Pasta Bake
I was so excited about making this dish.  It turned out okay, but not as flavorful as I had hoped.  I think if I make it again I will add more cream cheese.  Part of the problem may have been that it was a huge amount of food and it was hard to mix thoroughly since it was overflowing my largest mixing bowl.


Crescent Roll French Dips
These were great, and super duper easy.  I even just used an au jus packet.


Desserts:

Birthday Cake Rice Krispy Treats
I made these for my friend Lauren's birthday playdate.  They were fun and pretty tasty. :)



Cheesecake Bars
Have made these a couple of times.  Easy and good (Have you picked up my recipe theme yet?)  We took these to our friends the Stanleys and they made some homemade whipped cream that really topped off the dessert. :)


And, not to be left out, these are the other Pinterest recipes I have tried out, and previously mentioned on the blog:
Top row: Appetizers (l to r: Cold Veggie Pizza, Apple Crisp Baked Brie, and Sausage Stars) that we tried out (and approved!) for Christmas Day and Joyeux Noel.
Bottom left: Andes Mint Cookies that Reed and I made for Valentine's Day.  These were SERIOUSLY good.
Bottom middle and right: Pumpkin Cookies and Pumpkin Muffins, both last minute additions to our Fall bucket list.


I try to comment on the recipes on my pinboard once I've tried them.  If you'd like, you can follow my Recipe board here and my Desserts board here.

And I would love to hear about any recipe gems you've found in the world of Pinterest! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Birthday

We had so much fun celebrating Reed's 2nd Birthday, St. Patrick's Day style!


We started the day by getting him up in the morning for a special breakfast, complete with a candle topped cinnamon roll.

Reed loved his new basketball and the darts for "his" nerf gun (we had previously lost them all) that were waiting for him downstairs.


We got ready for the day, then packed up the party gear and headed to the park for Reed's birthday party.  I already mentioned how excited I was about Reed's St. Patrick party theme, so here is the official birthday bash run down...

I made Reed's invites in Pages again this year, using a stock image and playing around with text.


We hosted the party at a park pavilion, and not at home, as the final month of pregnancy is not conducive to such nonsense as house cleaning (why bother, really) or party set-up. :)  We chose Laurel Park in Marietta, which is one of our favorite parks.
(It is also- fun fact!- where Reed and some little friends spent the day of his actual birthday (a Thursday) last year!)

For decor, we hung some green streamers and shamrocks, and I did simple St. Patrick's table settings.  But you really can't beat the built-in festivity of the party people, especially the cute little people, milling around in green, green, green!  Love it :)

I also gave myself a break by not making all of the food this year.  (I did not regret this decision once on Saturday).  I did print little signs for the lunch spread (using same image as on invite), because I simply couldn't resist the cheesiness of fully embracing the party theme.

What does one eat at a St. Patrick's Day birthday lunch, you ask?

Well...
Wraps, especially rainbow PBJ & Fruit Roll-up ones, and chips...
(Huge shout-out to West Cobb Market Place Publix for being awesome- I asked them if they could garnish with green apples instead of red, and a green fruit roll-up instead of red... when we picked up they had obliged, and since they didn't have a green fruit roll-up they added their own St. Pat decor to the PBJ tray!)

Rainbow fruit and lucky charms...

And we served a couple of Reed's favorites, his "gold" if you will... cheese and marshmallows!

For beverages, we plopped waters and some green soda choices on ice, and mixed up some "shamrock punch" (thank you, pinterest).  (I combined Sierra Mist with lime sherbert and a bright green juice drink).  It was actually really good, but I had to opt for lots of water since I was swelling up like a marshmallow. :(

Before and after lunch, the park has the built-in entertainment of a playground...

And we did supplies for DIY cookies again.

Reed's favorite part of the park is the duck pond!  We set up a little basket of duck bread, and I used a cookie cutter to cut some pieces into shamrock shapes so that the ducks didn't feel left out the festivities.

I was originally thinking that kids would feed the ducks whenever, (the sign says, "Grab a grown-up and some shamrock bread and feed those lucky ducks"), but we ended up at the pond as a group after lunch.  This was much more fun, and made for cute pictures!  I have to say those ducks totally busted their spring break diets; I have never seen so much bread floating in one spot! HA

Of course, our Ashley made Reed's birthday cupcakes! :)  They were vanilla with green and white icing and green chocolate shamrock toppers.  They were SO yummy.  (See our other sweets by Ashley here and here, and let me know anytime if you'd like me to put you in touch!)

Reed had very much been looking forward to the "Happy Birthday to Reed" moment, and I don't think he was disappointed one bit. :)
(We sang with a candle at breakfast and here at his party, so later that evening when we let him eat another cupcake after dinner, we had to have a redo with a third candle after he sadly declared, "I wanted fire!")

We were so happy to have a beautiful morning for the outside party!  The weather forecast went back and forth all week, so I tried to have some ideas up my sleeve in case of rain- ie the cookie decorating.  I looked up Saint Patrick's Day crafts we could do under the cover of the pavilion.  I also thought about a gold and/or shamrock hunt that would culminate in a little blurb from Matt about Reed's birthday being on a special holiday... something like: we normally think of green and shamrocks and leprechauns but St Patrick was a real person who was very brave in sharing about God's love.  One of the craft ideas I found was around the shamrock, which according to tradition, St. Patrick used to teach about the trinity.  I decided that while some of the kids would totally get it, it would be way over Reed's head, even in very brief and kid-friendly form.  And, thankfully, the weather let me stop at playground, duckpond, and cookies. :)

We did buy Reed a book about St. Patrick, and used it as this year's guest book.

Reed had a great 2nd birthday.  We are so thankful for the many people in his life who surround him (and us!) with love.  It was especially fun that Reed's Texas cousins got to celebrate with him this year. :)  And I am really glad we made it before baby sister's arrival... for whatever reason it was really important to me to get to celebrate Reed's birthday, and I was worried at the possibility we'd be in the hospital on his big day! :)  Love our little 2-year-old shamrock!

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Snacktivity"

Yesterday, I saw this cute picture go by in my pinterest feed.
Source

I didn't pin it or anything, but it popped into mind today when Reed asked for raisins and pretzels after his nap.  Naturally, I added a little bit of cream cheese to his plate so he could go fishing, using his pretzel sticks to catch raisins. :)  I decided it was a "snack-tivity."  He got a little kick out of it and so did I.  Why not! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Reed

Happy Birthday, sweet Reed!  We love you more than words can express!



(Adorable photo by Nicole Williams!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Madness 2012

So we're pretty excited about March Madness around here, and the return of a tradition!  I am feeling good about my picks. :)

Last year, if you recall, we had to come up with a creative way to help Reed (12 months old) fill out his bracket.

This year, the process was a little less time consuming since we could just ask him about each match up.  Here is Reed picking an upset over Duke in Round One.  HA.

Yep, I'm totally going to win!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Afraid of the Dark?

I seriously need some advice!  Reed has been crying at night- usually bedtime, middle of the night, and/or early morning for the past week.  It started with a fever that never went anywhere illness-wise but landed him in our bed one night (which is NOT normal practice around here), followed by a night of interrupted sleep when the tornadoes swept through.  Reed has been a 12 hour sleeper since he was 3 months old, and almost always put himself back to sleep if he was awakened.

At first, I thought maybe the nighttime crying was a left over mini-habit from the couple of "off days" mentioned above.  But he was acting really weird at night... I am not even sure he is fully awake each time he cries out, but he sits in his bed yelling for me and kind of rocks and kicks.  He almost looks like he is in pain.  The only times I am sure he is aware are when he says "I want to go to mommy's bed" or cries "Yay with me, mommy."  I took him to the doctor on Friday to make sure he didn't have molars coming in or an ear infection or anything going on.  Everything looks perfectly clear and he has all of his teeth.  Last night makes 7 nights of screaming and crying.  (And at the risk of over complaining, this trails a 10-night stretch of sickness for a very pregnant momma who will have a newborn here in a month!)  I finally decided that it must be a stage/phase thing and that maybe Reed is starting to process the changes that are about to rock his world.  (Doesn't it seem like they just know?!)

Last night, though, when we were putting him to bed, Reed started his tearful protests and then cried out, "I don't want the dark to come in!"  Matt and I exchanged a quick what do we do look, and told Reed we would plug in a special light.  He immediately freaked out when we got the night light.  We prayed with him and told him he was safe and we would see him in the morning to play, but we heard from him last night at bedtime, at 3:00, and at 5:30.  And these aren't short stretches.  He will be up for over an hour in the middle of the night like it's no thang.  Last night against every sleep habits instinct, I crawled in Reed's bed and held him.  I don't what to do!  I want him to know he is safe and that we will respond to his needs and fears, but I realllly want him to know how to self-soothe and to (Lord knows!) regularly sleep through the night in his bed.  I also want to walk gingerly around his fears, to not use words or react in a way that makes them worse-- he isn't even 2 yet!  Right now, I usually give him a few minutes before I go in.  I lie there in bed praying over him to feel safe and at peace.  When I go in his room, I try not to pick him up but tell him to lie back down and I'll rub his back.  He almost never falls back asleep this way.  The second he knows you're leaving, it starts all over.

Last thing: Now that we think (know?) Reed is afraid at night, we've racked our brains and think it might be either the night in the basement (tornadoes) or an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that scared him.  He keeps asking to watch "Princess Pete" (the show we think randomly frightened him).  Much to Reed's dismay, we've been avoiding his beloved MMC altogether.  It still seems weird to me that it followed the fever too.

Any ideas?  What do I do?  Not do?  How do you talk with (or not) a barely 2-year-old about being afraid at night?  Anyone have similar experience and/or a resource to point me toward?  Is this simply normal for some children... and our new reality after I was spoiled for 21 months??  (Mom, do not just tell me this is pay back!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

#BabyGirlProblems

"Should I wear my pink tutu or my purple one?"


"Will these ruffles make my butt look big?"


"I don't even know how to swim..."


"How am I going to wear all of these clothes?"


"What if I have no hair?..."


"I don't have a prom date yet..."


Ha ha... Have I mentioned my sister has twin girls who were born in the month of April?  Thankful for hand-me-downs!  And thankful for sweet gifts!  ...Molly is so well loved! :)  Only a few more weeks!