Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bad Dreams

Grace Louise recently had her first bad dream, although new evidence of loud owls in the middle of the night may indicate that it wasn't in fact a dream... nevertheless, she was frightened.  I heard her on the monitor crying for me upstairs and could tell pretty quickly that she was truly scared.  I went upstairs and there she was curled up in her bed with her hands over her ears, shaking, and crying!   I scooped that poor baby up in my arms, like any mom would do, and began to assure her, "It's okay, baby.  Mama's here.  It was just a bad dream.  Shhhh."  She asked, "Why are the owls so loud?"

Oh poor, sweet, precious child... a nightmare with crazy, screeching owls... that sounds scary even to me!

I continued to rock her and pray over her.  Lord give her peace.  Thank you that we have nothing to fear. That you will never leave us or forsake us.  That you are for us.  Thank you for hearing us when we call upon your name when we're afraid.

Her little body melted in my arms.  Complete trust as she received the words as truth.  And mostly, she trusted my presence and assurance in this time of fear.

How our Father longs to gather us under his wings, like a tenderhearted mother hen gathers and protects her chicks.  Longing for us to trust in Him.  He is trustworthy, after all.  Longing for us to believe His words concerning us.  He is believable, after all.  That our fear of life, of worries, of trial, would similarly melt away in His presence.

How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.- Matthew 23:37

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And she's off...

I was beginning to think Grace Louise retained very little from swim lessons last year, which was really heartbreaking considering the financial and time investment we endured.  Thankfully, things have finally clicked and she's back to swimming like a little fish!  

Last year we did infant survival swim lessons with Swim Tots.  I was so proud of all that Grace Louise learned through the lessons, although, really, the effort of it all was grueling.  Along with being familiar and comfortable in water, she also learned how to get to the wall, holding her breath, and floating on her back.  By the end of the summer she was swimming distances of 6+ feet, rolling over on her back to get air, and then flipping back to swim to the wall or steps.  It is fascinating to see kids so young navigating water that way!  

Our first swim this year was in March at Aggie's pool.  I took some pics of her cutting up, playing on the steps... because that was about the extent of it.  She wasn't interested in getting off the steps and cried the whole time I forced her to practice her swimming (going a short distance to the wall).  

On Mother's Day we spent some time in the pool and, again, I insisted that Grace Louise practice her swimming.  She preferred to stay on the steps, but after the first swim to the wall, she surprised me with, "Again, Again, Mommy!" instead of pleading to go back to the steps.  That was all she wrote.  We spent the next hour and a half swimming and she didn't want to stop!

These pics are from our last visit to Aggie's house on Friday.  She swam NONSTOP for almost two hours... I was sure she was going to be sick!  I'm having to force her to take rests, to sit on the steps, and to keep her face out of the water long enough to breath!

 The floating skill is not coming back easily... this is her attempt at practicing her floating on the steps.  I've signed her up for refresher lessons this summer, so hopefully Miss Michelle will fix this!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Books

I treated myself this Mother's Day (not that I didn't get enough special treatment from Jimmy and Grace Louise) and got two years of my blog printed into hardback books.  I looked into doing this a while back, but wasn't sure how much was involved- sorting pictures, pages, dates, editing, etc.  Apparently there are two big companies for blog printing, Blog2Print and Blurb.  Blurb offers more options for your book, but requires downloading their software to your computer and obviously more time customizing; Blog2Print offers an easy online one click and your done kind of service.  I chose Blog2Print and am fairly satisfied with the books.  The quality of the pictures and binding is GREAT, but it would have been nice to delete some of the repetitive dating and headlines that are transferred when going to book form.  Overall, the process took me about 10 minutes and only cost $80 for both books.  Had I chose the fancier option, I probably would have continued to procrastinate and never actually had them printed.  I'm really looking forward to printing 2010 and 2011 before the end of this year... my blog got much more interesting after Grace Louise :-)  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making Memories with Friends

Now that we live east of town, we're just a hop, skip, and a little over an hour jump to Vero Beach.  Not my favorite coast for beachin', but the drive is short for a simple day trip.  Missy and I packed up the kiddos, along with our beach paraphernalia and a tasty lunch and spent a fun day in the sand and water.  

Oh to be the young woman enjoying her mid-morning nap on the beach beside us... a screaming child (Joanna was not fond of the beach at first), a run away beach ball, and hurricane force winds turning our umbrellas inside out made for a hilarious- or pitiful- start to our trip!  Oh wait... the comedy began before we ever even left Lake Wales... all three kids had to suddenly pee after being strapped in their carseats.  And then there were potty preferences to accommodate.  And this, my friends, is the stuff memories are made of!  

Taking a blow up pool ended up being a great idea because the waves kept us from really getting in the ocean at all.  The kids made their own little ocean, dumping buckets of sand and water in the pool.  They loved it!  

Joanna LOVED sitting in the beach chairs.  She deserves her very own.

Ocean Learning

The past two weeks we've been doing a little ocean learning here at the house.  Missy and I planned a trip to the beach last Friday, so it was a perfect opportunity to teach something super fun with the anticipation of seeing many of the things we've been learning about!  

Again, I'm all about learning along with life, but choosing a topic each week gives me something to focus on with Grace Louise, adding the potential for a little more structured learning to our day.  Something as simple as reading one thematic book!  (And finding books at the library on this topic was totally a breeze!  Her favorite book, though beyond her usual reading level, was The Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean).

Our ocean concepts:
O is for Ocean.
S is for Sand, Starfish, Sun, and Seashells.
F is for Fish.
W is for waves.
On day 3 God separated the dry land, called earth, and the waters, called the seas.
Ocean and beach plants and animals.
Reinforcing shapes and letters.

I found this game, along with most of my craft ideas, on pinterest.  We made a simple fishing pole with a magnet at the end to pick up the letter fish with metal brad eyes.  Easy as pie!  I found that only putting a few fish down at a time gave GL the best opportunity for success in finding certain letters.  We've focused on the beginning letters of the alphabet, letters in her name, and of course the letters that we've been talking about the past two weeks.  She's loving this game, the fish were relevant to our topic, and it was not difficult to make!  

[All of these crafts/games are pinned under my Ocean Unit Board on Pinterest.  I take no responsibility for coming up with these ideas on my own... I'm simply not that creative, just a great thief!]

Look at that bit of sweet preciousness, right there!  (The girl, not the poster).  We made a mural with water and sand the first day, along with our "O is for Ocean".  The idea was to use the mural as a gathering place for our crafts from throughout the week(s).  Grace Louise has loved coming to the mural everyday to add something or talk about the things that are already there.  The bottom pic is our finished mural... and doesn't she just look as proud as a peacock?!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smoothies, Snow Cones, and other Fun Summer Beverages

I've always been a snow cone fan.  I patronized Corky's Country Store all the years they sold Italian Ice- pineapple with blue raspberry was my favorite.  When I was pregnant with Grace Louise, all I wanted was a snow cone and couldn't seem to find a decent one.  I'm definitely repeating that craving this pregnancy, but glad to finally have access to a few snow cone craving remedies!

If you've had half a conversation with me in the past five months, you know how I feel about smoothies!  Green smoothies have been a great addition to my diet since I've been pregnant and a sure way for Grace Louise and I to get plenty of greens everyday.  I alternate kale and spinach, with the occasional baby romaine from our "garden" (which amounts to two containers of romaine, okra, a pepper plant, and some herbs).  Of course, the taste of the greens is hidden by a combination of yummy ingredients: banana, blueberries, strawberries, OJ concentrate, pineapple juice, coconut oil, coconut flakes.  I've tried a few other things, flax seed, almond milk, yogurt, even peanut butter... but haven't been happy with the taste/texture of these added ingredients.

While a Green Smoothy is yummy, and definitely healthy, it's not exactly a snow cone, right?!  So, I had this genius idea to create a snow cone out of frozen watermelon.  Perfect!  No sugary syrup, nice refreshing taste.  Just freeze watermelon pieces, pop them in the Ninja, and instant snow cone!  Grace Louise LOVED it and has been begging for one since!  You can also thaw any 100% juice concentrate and use as a syrup over snowed ice.  Sugary yes, but at least it's from fruit and not the other garbage found in regular snow cone syrup.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Very Special Mother's Day

I just don't even know how Mother's Day could get any better than this one!  Not because I was surprised with some expensive gift, but because I truly felt honored by the sweeties in my life.  I woke up to a wonderful breakfast with a few special touches- yummy granola bark and fresh fruit, the fact that my cream and sugar was already on the table with my hot coffee.  Jimmy really thought this out...

He managed to keep Grace Louise quiet until she made her grande entrance, "Happy Mother's Day!  Come eat your breakfast!"  It was so easy to get out of bed and join them at the table!  Grace Louise presented me with a precious little duck card and Jimmy's card made me cry.  I was overwhelmed with the love!  And it felt soooo good!

We had lunch with Jimmy's family, honoring his mom and grandmother, and the other great mothers in his family... followed by an afternoon of swimming, which made my waterbug super happy!   Leftovers for supper meant that I didn't cook at all on Mother's Day!  Woohoo! 

Grace Louise and I had lunch with my mom and grandmother on Saturday, an early Mother's Day celebration, and then went on a little shopping trip in Sebring.  What a great weekend!  

After our sweet rocking/singing/ninny time last night, I tucked my little duck in bed and whispered in her ear,  "I love being your mommy!"  She whispered back, "Happy Mother's Day!"  Wow, right?!  She has such a tender, loving heart and blesses me more than I could have ever imagined!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Belly Shots

There is really no rhyme or reason to my belly shots... I think I'll have at least one more baby after this just to master documenting the growing belly week by week... can you say consistent background, stance... hello? I can do better than this.  

But here they go... continuing from my last belly shot post.

 19 weeks
25 weeks

 28 weeks

Lots of belly kisses from big sister... the sweetest part of this pregnancy!

Having a toddler and having previously experienced pregnancy really does make a difference the second go round.  Life is already so much richer (and busier).  I was just sharing with some ladies that this baby boy is a mover and a shaker, enough so that I googled "excessive fetal movement" this morning!  It's as if he is saying, "Hey!  Don't forget about me!  I'm still in here!"  I just don't remember Grace Louise moving quite this much or being able to identify little body parts like I can with this baby.   I'm enjoying being connected with him in that way!  

Other things I could do without... there was a rough first trimester, many sleepless nights, restless leg syndrome, magnesium deficiency, and an overuse injury in my hips (that almost killed me but only lasted a day, PTL)!  I will not complain, I will not complain... keeping all things in perspective, my inconveniences, aches, and pains have been tolerable and useful for keeping me dependent on God for all things- health, peace, sanity.  This is eucharisteo, right?... being thankful in all things, including the seemingly unnecessary, aggravating, even painful inconveniences.  God is in all and works through all!   Here's to 3 more months of growing belly and refining character!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sea World with Friends

Last week Missy and I took the kids to Sea World.  We both have Fun Cards and can go for free all year!  This makes it so much nicer the day you go to the park... not feeling like you have to do and see everything to get your money's worth!  We actually spent all of our time in one little portion of the park- dolphins, turtles, and stingrays.  We even picnicked in the dolphin underwater viewing area!  They confiscated our CapriSun straws at the gate, so keeping hydrated was a daunting (and funny) task.

The dolphin/bird show came highly recommended so we made sure to catch that one.  It was phenomenal!  Grace Louise made it through most of the show before showing any signs of boredom.  I was thoroughly entertained!

 The new Turtle Trek exhibit was opening the day we were at the park.  There was so much hype building our anticipation, that the reality ended up being a let down :-(  The wait was really long even though we got an "reservation" ticket.  The girls were wallowing on the floor in one of the (many) holding areas... Joanna was a real mess at this point, definitely ready for a nap!  When the 3D show started, Grace Louise freaked out over the crab... apparently many moms with toddlers are found walking out of this show.  Good times!  lol!

 Sweet friends, who love being together no matter what we are doing!  
This Friday is the BEACH!!!