Saturday, April 28, 2012

Horton Cake

So how about that cake!  If you read this post (Miss T's Birthday Party), you saw that we had an amazing cake made for us following the Horton theme.

It was a two-tiered (6 and 9 inch round) vanilla cake.  As a surprise though, the cake was tinted so that each slice has a swirl of pink, orange, and teal!  The second tier had clovers and T's name in fondant.  Horton decorated the bottom layer while JoJo topped it all off.

As soon as it was placed in front of her, she started yelling, "Horton, Horton!".

I think this face says it all!

As you can see, all the kids loved it (as well as the adults!).

So where did we get our cake?  T's daycare teacher has a cousin whose hobby is making beautiful cakes.  Hobby?!  I'd say she has a future in cake design and I hope to see her on the Food Network in a cake challenge!  If you live in our area and are interested in her cakes, here is her website:  If you do check her out, let her know I sent ya!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Miss T's Birthday Party

Miss T's birthday party was a huge success!  We had a good crowd gathered, yummy food, and an amazing cake (more on that in another post!). T had such a great time that she literally cried when her friends left!  Presented below is a photo essay of her birthday.  Check back for posts about decorations, crafts, and that amazing cake!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Miss Independent

It's so awesome to watch T becoming more independent.  She's all of a sudden trying to do so much more for herself, accompanied by the phrase "I do it".  The other day she wanted crackers, so she went to the pantry, opened the door, took out the crackers, went to the kitchen, opened a drawer, took out a snack-sized zipper bag and handed them to B.  Whoa.  At least she still needs us a little, right?

One of the down-sides is that she likes practicing her new skills over and over... and OVER.  She recently figured out how to climb into and out of the tub.  Along with being able to remove her clothes, this should be a good thing, right?  "Go ahead T, get undressed and get into the tub".  Except that line is quickly followed by,
"No, stay in the tub."
"Get back into the tub."
"No, really, you need a bath. Stay in the tub!"
The last couple of baths haven't been so pleasant for either of us.  This breaks my heart.  I LOVE bath time.  More than just that she's contained, but she's always so happy in the tub.  We sing, we play, we kick and splash.  Ugh.  I just don't know what to do! She yells.  I yell.  Its no fun.

On good thing that came out of our struggles last night was the opportunity to teach T about apologizing for our bad behavior.  I was trying to explain to her that when we do something wrong, we need to say sorry.  We've tried to teach her this in the past and the girl is so stubborn!  She refuses to say sorry.  (I wonder where she got her stubborness from?)  This time though, I figured I would model the behavior I wanted her to do.  I said to her first, "I'm sorry I yelled at you out of frustration."  Then asked her if she could apologize for yelling at me and instantly came her reply "Sorry, Mummy".  Wait.  Did that just work??  There's my silver lining for the evening!

Ok, so independence comes with some challenges but it is so amazing to see her development.  Anyone have any suggestions for the bathtime struggle or do we just ride it out until the novelty wears off?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Play kitchen

Miss T has really been into playing with pretend food (check out this recent post), feeding us, and playing chef.  I would love for her to have a play kitchen, but I hate the plastic ones sold in stores.  I've been checking out pictures and blogs where people have repurposed other unwanted furniture, like entertainment centers and nightstands, into amazing play kitchens.  Here are some of my favorites:

Source: via Alisha on Pinterest

We don't have the room for an entertainment center-sized play kitchen, but one of these nightstands/end table projects would be perfect!  Plus, it would provide a specific place to store all her pretend foods and you know how much I like organization and a place for everything!  Now, I just need to find the right table to tackle this job!  Anyone have a nightstand they are looking to get rid of?  Let me know!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Imagination station

This past Christmas, I tried to focus on gifts for T that would encourage imaginary play: play foods, Little People zoos, etc.  For a brief initial burst, she played with all these things and since they have been accumulating dust.  Recently however, T's imagination has undergone a growth spurt.  I think these pictures say it all:

She spent a solid two hours preparing a meal for us, offering us bites, and feeding us.  She insisted on putting on the oven mitt and apron too!I've been catching her having private conversations with her little characters.  She has also started saying prayers with her Praying Bear, Hope (something, something, something, AMEN!).  It is so sweet to see and hear all this develop!

Along with the fun though, she has also started having some nightmares.  A couple times a week, she'll wake up crying.  Luckily, it has coincided with K's nighttime feedings, so we're already awake!  Poor girl, though, she insists on everything being removed from her bed and lots of snuggles to settle down again.  It's been happening enough that I felt like I should do some research to make sure we're addressing it properly.  They all mostly say the same thing, offer comfort, lots of love and reassurance, but saying things like "It's just a dream" is unlikely to help since toddlers don't understand the difference between reality and imaginary.  Look below for some of the advice I found.

Here's what I found on

How to help your toddler after a nightmare

Go to your toddler when she cries out. Physical reassurance is important, so hold her or rub her back until she calms down. You may also want to make sure her favorite stuffed animal or toy is tucked in with her and double-check that the night-light is on. If you bring your toddler into your bed to comfort her, be aware you could be creating a habit that's hard to reverse.

Talk to her about the nightmare if she's old enough to understand what you're saying. But keep in mind that "it's only a dream" won't be much consolation, since at this age she doesn't grasp the difference between reality and dreams.

Preventing nightmares

It's certainly not foolproof, but a peaceful bedtime routine — a warm bath, an upbeat story, a song, and a night-light — can help ward off nightmares. Try reading bedtime books that link sleep with cozy, happy situations, such as Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon.

If the nightmares persist and your child is extremely afraid of going to bed, bring up the subject with her doctor — the bad dreams might signal there's something going on in her waking life that needs addressing.

This article was reviewed by pediatric sleep expert Judy Owens.


What to Do

If your toddler awakens scared from a nightmare:
  • Be understanding and patient.
  • Bring her a glass of water or try wiping a cool washcloth across her brow.
  • Give her lots of hugs, kisses, and reassurance.
  • Let her tell you all about her dream if she wants to talk about it though chances are she might not remember it.

And from Yahoo

How to Help Your Toddler When He or She Has a Nightmare If you suspect your child is having nightmares, don't hesitate to comfort them. Your child is scared, and because of their young age, they may not be able to communicate their fears. Rubbing them gently on the back, tucking them in, making sure the nightlight is still on, and giving them their favorite stuffed animal may help comfort your child after a nightmare.
Don't punish or yell at your child for having a nightmare. Although it can be stressful for parents to wake up at 2:00am to a whimpering, crying and scared child, they are not doing this to be annoying or defiant. Your child is afraid and they need comfort. Don't punish them for communicating in the only way they know how. Lecturing or scolding your toddler for reaching out to you when they feel fearful will not help ease their fears and will only create more stress.
Although it might be tempting to tell your toddler, "It was just a dream," odds are they won't understand what this means. To your child, reality and fantasy are not separate, so the concept of dreaming doesn't make sense to them. Instead, reassure your child that you are there for them and they're safe.
If you're comfortable with it, you might allow your child to spend the remainder of the night in bed with you. This decision may not be advisable if you're afraid of your child making sleeping with you a habit. If you don't mind it, then it may help to comfort your child.
How Can I Prevent Nightmares?
There is no sure-fire way to prevent your toddler from having nightmares, but creating a more peaceful bed time routine may help. Try giving your child a warm bath before bed, and reading a story to them before tucking them in. A peaceful routine may help keep them calm and relaxed, while reading them a positive children's book may prevent any negativity or scary things from during the day from transferring into nightmares!

Monday, April 16, 2012

So Blessed

Sometimes I get really down about being away from family and the friends I've had since childhood.  This is especially true around holidays, birthdays, and let's face it, the birth of my children.  I long to share all these experiences with them by my side.

However, I cannot express how incredibly thankful and grateful I am for the people God has placed in our lives here in MD.  With K's arrival (and previously with T's arrival), we have been showered with love by so many.  The way our lives have been blessed is amazing!  Thanks to our friend Colleen, a meal schedule was established and our friends have been feeding us so well!  Just look at a couple of these yummy meals!

Delicious cheese enchiladas!

Veggie burritos, courtesy of Heather from Pladnation!

And not just dinners, but yummy desserts, healthy fruits and salads, special treats from Vacaro's, and my favorite bagel/cream cheese combination from Panera!  Having the visitors has been great too!

So while I may be a little more homesick than usual, I am so thankful for all of our friends here in MD, for them taking time out of their lives to love us and help us adjust to being a family of four.

And, above all else, I am so blessed to have these people in my life:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Newborns and their sixth sense

K is over two weeks now and we are settling into a good rhythm.  B is home from work for the rest of the month and we have been relishing our time together as a family.  It will be so hard to adjust once he goes back to work!

K has figured out nighttime is for sleeping (sort of) and we've figured out how to get a few hours of sleep in a row at night, a huge blessing!  She's also figure out how to interrupt every attempt at taking care of me!  It's been said before, but newborns have the greatest sixth sense.

Mom wants to eat? Start crying to be fed.
Mom wants to shower?  Start crying to be fed.
Mom needs to bring big sister to daycare?  Start crying to be fed.
Mom just fed me and thinks she can have a moment to herself? 
     Start crying to be fed, again!

It really is uncanny, how sharply tuned this sense is!

She really is an awesome baby, so I can't complain!  She seems to enjoy tummy time, only cries to eat, loves to snuggle, and is overall so good natured. Miss T is being awesome as her big sister too, always wanting to "help".  We are so impressed with how well T has adjusted, so beyond our expectations!  T has recently learned a few new songs too, including "You Are My Sunshine" and this one that I was able to catch on video...

Yep, that is the "Clean Up" song, love it!  And that is a 24-piece jigsaw puzzle that she is currently mastering and cleaning up in this video.  The girl is a genius!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kenley's Birth Story

While I'm still in the euphoric stages of new baby-motherhood, I thought I'd document Kenley's birth story for all of you!  This is the only post where I'll say her name, from now on, she's be Miss K.

It was Monday, March 26, and I was finally done with everything for my doctorate degree.  My thesis was turned in, all the final formatting changes were done.  I had sent the final pieces of data to my mentor for the resubmission of my paper.  With everything complete, I was ready to enjoy the last few days of rest before Kenley's due date on March 30.  I had a nice, quiet, relaxing day and loved every minute of it!

Sometime during the evening, I started feeling contractions.  I have been having Braxton-Hicks contractions regularly for weeks and even though once before that I might be starting labor.  These weren't painful, but they were becoming more regular.  We got Miss T to bed and started to think about the plans we might be making that night for babysitters.

By 10:00pm, my contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart, but they still weren't painful.  We figured B should get some sleep and I would start calling for babysitters to see who could come over.  I got a hold of our friend Kathleen, who nannied for T last summer, and she said she would come right away.  I got comfortable on the couch and tried to take my mind off the contractions. 

Well, that worked so well that my contractions went from being 6 minutes apart to 13 minutes apart by the time Kathleen arrived.  Sweet girl, she hung around with me for an hour, but the contractions became less frequent and barely discernible.  By midnight, I sent her home, thinking that it wasn't going to be tonight.  I went to bed, having not felt anything for over 30 minutes.

At 1:30am, my water broke.  Just like with T, once my water broke, my contractions were fast and painful, about 2 minutes apart.  Knowing how little time we had, B called Kathleen to come back and I called our neighbor to stay until Kathleen could get there.  Withing half an hour we were at the hospital getting admitted.  Between contractions, I informed the triage nurse of my status and they brought me right to a delivery room.

For about an hour, I dealt with the contractions, but I could feel them becoming more back labor than regular and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up.  We made the decision to have an epidural.  I did this with T too as her labor was all back labor.  I remember with T how completely numb I was from the waist down and how I wished I could experience the delivery more, but without the pain.  The anesthesiologist must have been able to read my mind, because while the pain was gone, I could still feel each contractions and very quickly I could feel a lot of pressure to push.  I informed the nurse of this, and then another nurse, and again.  When they checked me, it was clear I was ready to push and Kenley arrival was imminent. 

With three pushes, Kenley's cries were heard and we were overjoyed.  I was able to feel her head, shoulders, and legs come out.  It was the perfect amount of sensation and the most ideal delivery I could ask for.  She was placed immediately on my chest, all slimy and beautiful, her blue eyes taking in the world for the first time.  I cried out of relief and joy. 

At 4:37am, Tuesday, March 27th, after 3 hours, 7 minutes of labor, our beautiful daughter was here! She measured 18 3/4 inches long, and was 5 lbs 13 oz.  She nursed right away, like a champ, and we were able to spend a good amount of time together before she was taken to the nursery for a thorough exam.  We were the proud parents of a second healthy little girl!