Monday, January 31, 2011

My One Word

On January 1, my facebook feed was full of New Year's Resolutions posted by friends and family. And I had one friend who mentioned the the One Word project-- instead of picking a set of resolutions by which you can succeed for fail (or forget about completely), you simply pick a word that will remain in focus for the year that assists you in becoming more of the person you want to become. I knew, almost immediately, what my word was going to be.


Despite having picked this word back in the very early days of the month, I gave myself until the end of the month to blog about it. Here I am with just minutes to spare. Good thing procrastination wasn't on the list of things I need to work on this year!

Perspective. This word has really kind of been on my heart/mind a lot ever since Derek left for active duty in July. It is so easy to find reasons to host pity parties for ourselves, no matter what is going on in life. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, "if anyone deserves to have a bad attitude-- it's me! I'm husbandless, I'm pregnant, I'm a mommy by myself! This is HARD!" And then it dawns on me that all of those negative thoughts arise when I am focusing so inwardly!

The first way the word "perspective" plays a role is to consider life's purpose, the ultimate goal: to live a life pleasing unto the Lord; to obey his commands. With this in mind, I am reminded that we were obedient to his calling for Derek to enlist, in the first place. It's a little harder to grasp this concept with the factors that we didn't particularly choose at this time, like the timing of the pregnancy. But, it is still something that has to be accepted. And when looking through the events as a part of God's plan, it seems so less overwhelming and daunting.

Next, is to put into perspective what these actual obstacles mean in the long run of life. Ideally, Derek and I live to spend decades and decades more of life together- this is merely nine months. And yes, Derek may miss the first four weeks of his daughters life, but what is four weeks in the grand scheme of him being there for her for the rest of her life?

Sometimes it takes conscious effort to change perspectives, forcing myself to finding the positive aspects of the situation instead of finding the negative ones. Like, the pride that accompanies the fact that my husband is so selfless that he obediently followed God's command to enlist in serving others. I have been humbled by the tremendous love and support from friends and family- people to clean the house, shovel the driveway, help take out trash, to offer their 4x4 monster truck as transportation should this baby decide to come during this upcoming storm of the century. How can I sit and be upset with the cards we've been dealt when I am surrounded by such compassion and generosity?

Lastly, there is looking at the perspective of how other people live their lives. Not that it makes my life easier, per say, to know that someone else has it harder. But, it does help shift the "pity me" thoughts into "wow, I may not have it too bad after all." I have come to the conclusion (maybe a little late in the game) to realize that everyone (every family) has their cross to bear. There are families who are dealing with the deployments with wives nervous at every knock of the door hoping it's not the army to tell her that her husband isn't coming home. There are wives who have husbands who work long hours to provide for their family and despite actually living at home, they see very little of each other. There are pilot's wives who deal with separation consistently throughout the husband's career, missing babies' milestones and family events. Everyone has it rough in different ways. I am no exception.

Ultimately, the concept of perspective is to shift the focus outside of myself- my wants, my comforts, to a focus on God and others.

In as little as just a few hours after choosing my word, I was faced with circumstances in which I had to decide the perspective in which I would focus. Throughout this month, in ways both big and small, I have been reminded of the importance of this word in my life at this time. Whether it's considering how Jackson may feel in a certain situation instead of just getting upset at his actions or accepting that having Derek home for three days for the birth of our little girl is, in fact, a great blessing and not something to whine about.

I am excited to be challenged by this word. I am anxious to see how it changes me over this next year.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

36 Weeks

*How far along?: 36 weeks
*How big is your baby?: almost 6 pounds
*Total weight gain?: I weighed in at -4 pounds from the last time I visited the doctor, so I'm at a total of 9 pounds (I hadn't had a meal for the day at that time)
*Sex: still a girl, I had an ultrasound yesterday and asked the tech to double check for me!
*Maternity clothes: I feel like I wear the exact same thing all of the time
*Stretch marks: Unfortunately yes
*Movement: All. of. the. time.
*Sleep: I finally found a comfortable position earlier this week and have slept better than I have in months!
*Best moment this week: Seeing the baby, pre-registering at the hospital, and Jackson putting himself to bed
*Food cravings: Nothing too crazy. 
*Labor signs: Nothing "for real" but I've started having sporadic labor discomforts
*Belly button in or out: more like a nothing... It's no longer in, but it's not quite out.
*What I miss: standing close to the kitchen counter
*What I'm looking forward to: getting the finishing touches done so we're all ready for her arrival

The doctor yesterday had me go in for a quick sonogram yesterday because she couldn't quite tell if the baby was head down (she is). But after the sonogram confirmed the head-down position, she asked if I'd like to see the baby some more, so she spent a good 10 minutes moving the wand around! How awesome! She looks SO scrunched. I can't believe she's going to get bigger. 

This is a side profile picture. The big oval on the right is her head, her fist is balled up in front of her eyes. Her nose and lips are just further down the oval line. The tech assured me that her head really wasn't this large, that it was the angle distorting how big her head is compared to her face. 

We watched her play with her feet for awhile. It was SO cool to see. She was grabbing at her toes with her tiny fingers! You can actually see the little fingers and toes. I can't wait to kiss on them!

A couple weeks ago, I had some maternity pictures done by my friend Kasey. I love all the pictures and have gotten so many compliments. You can contact her here if you're interested in her doing photos for you. She did our family pictures last year, too! Here are a few of my favorites:

(I would like to mention that these are my pre-pregnancy pants that I can still squeeze into, buttoned!)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For the Love of Cookies- Giveaway!!

There is a cookie gift box just waiting to go out to one of my fabulous readers. Actually, it hasn't been made yet... it will be made specifically for the winner- even better!

First, let me introduce you to my friend, HanNah. She is basically, like Monica from Friends, without the neurotic cleaning tendencies and super competitive nature. HanNah is a great cook. She'll say something like, "I'm just going to throw something together for dinner. Want to come over?" I, of course, say YES!! and then head over there and have one of the most delicious meals ever. And around these parts, she's known far and wide for her fabulous cookies.

Two Christmas's ago, I may or may not have eaten all of the sugar cookies out of the goody-box she delivered within a few hours so I could ensure that I would be the person who got to enjoy them. You may judge me, but if you've ever had her cookies you'd do the same thing.

Last year, she decided to make a business out of her hobby, For the Love of Cookies, and she has been flooded with orders ever since. Not just cookies-- but cakes, pies, cheesecakes- you name it! She just loves to be in the kitchen. And it's not just that her treats are delicious, it's that they are SUPER CUTE. HanNah came replicate practically anything onto a cookie or cake. She's made cakes to match baby bedding and cookies to match sports logos. The possibilities are endless.

This weekend, she showed me pictures of her Valentine treats for this year. The cookie stands at the mall are nothing in comparison!!

Cookie Bouquet
Five decorated sugar cookies on sticks, beautifully arranged in a red bouquet. $20.00

Cookie Gift Box
Three decorated sugar cookies, beautifully arranged in a gift box. $15.00

**Place an order by Feb. 4th and receive $2 off a bouquet or box**
Place orders HERE

I immediately asked if I could do a giveaway on my blog, and because she is an awesome friend, she agreed! One lucky reader will receive a Gift Box to share with their Valentine this holiday, as well as three cookies to enjoy for yourself! (Or if you are like me, you may be tempted to to keep all of the cookies for yourself. No shame in that!)

TO ENTER: Simply "like" For the Love of Cookies on facebook and come back to tell me you did in the comments on this post. If you already "like" her company page, just tell me in the comments and you'll still be entered. Make sure to include your email in the comment so I will have a way to contact you if you win! Each cookie is individually wrapped and sealed. The cookies will be shipped via Priority Mail and will still have several days of shelf-life once you receive the package.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 1st and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 2nd. This will allow you to still be able to place an order and receive the discount before the Feb. 4th deadline.

Good Luck!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two-year old tid-bits

Jackson is at such a super fun age. I feel as if I've said that at about every stage he's gone through...but it's just so fun to watch him grow!

First, he is talking non-stop. My mother pretty much laughed in my face when I told her that I really just needed a break from him telling me story after story one day. So, I guess I had it coming. It is so fun to have real conversations with him! After spending time with grandparents, he'll tell me what they did together. Or he'll bring up a movie or a book he's recently read.

His vocabulary is growing rapidly. And I am reminded of how much he picks up on all of the things I say and do!    Like, when I hear him in the back seat going "dang-it" over and over again. Oops! Not all of it's bad. Whenever he coughs he says, "gracious" (as in goodness gracious) or he'll come up to me and say "icky cough!" He is currently in the stage of saying, "Aaawww!" at lots of things, actually, but mostly at clothing items and pictures of babies, however, he did say it while looking through the Hy-Vee grocery ad today. Not sure what that was about, but apparently, he's heard a lot of "ohhing" and "ahhing" over baby girl stuff!

Speaking of baby girl, he calls her "baby sister". He does know her name, however he has no interest in even trying to repeat it back to me ever... and in the few times that he does, it sounds nothing like her name. Feel free to ask him. Today he picked out one of the pink blankets I had out, and proceeded to "make her bed" on the ottoman (I'm super excited to post about how I transformed by coffee table into an ottoman!).

Jackson has been going down for bedtime really well for several weeks. And for the past couple days, nap time has been super easy too! Oh, it's such a relief! I purchased room-darkening curtains from Wal-mart (I don't recommend then, they are totally not-room darkening... but my windows are very short, so if I double them, they do the trick). Really, it made all the difference in the world having those curtains, so he's not distracted by the toys!

Jackson loves to give hugs and kisses when people leave, often multiple times. And yesterday when I dropped him off at the nursery at morning church, I totally thought he was going to have a melt-down with me leaving by the way he was acting, not letting me leave... but it turned out he just wanted to kiss the bulletin I was holding in my hand. At night church, it was my purse. Weird.

He is convinced that we have a cactus growing in our front yard... somewhere underneath the 7 inches of snow that is covering our yard.

His current sentence structure sounds a lot like, "Where James is?" when asking for a friend at church. He still says, "up you/hold you/help you"- whatever he wants at the moment. And it is very, very important that you repeat back to him what he says to you or else he gets extremely frustrated and will shout it over and over until you do actually repeat it.

Then at bath time tonight, he was unusually gassy. As if he didn't already giggle enough when he toots, he figured out that tooting underwater makes bubbles. And apparently, that's really very funny.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Faux Canvas Prints

Ever since my friend created some super-cute Faux Canvas Prints in September, I've been anxious to make some myself. It wasn't until my crafty-nesting bug (yes, instead of just having the urge to clean while preggo, I get uber crafty) hit me in December that I finally got inspired and made it happen.

This is what was originally on the wall above Jackson's dresser/changing table. I got these picture frames from a thrift store and painted them when I was pregnant with Jackson (see, I'm telling you... pregnancy = craftiness). There were a few pieces of broken glass and the frames were a funky size to ever get it replaced. The weird size also made getting prints to fit very tricky. Anyway, I was ready for something new.
I had grown to love several of the pictures though, so I knew I had to incorporate them into my new project. I browsed through the hundreds (thousands?) of photos of Jackson looking for the best face shots and I used Picasa to crop the pictures into squares and to make the black and white. Diane used 12x12 prints, but since I was going to be making a collage of the prints, I thought 8x8 would suffice. Thanks to a friend, I was able to purchase through Costco, as well, and I paid a total of $16 something for all 9 prints. That included shipping to the house. 

Step by step instructions can be found on her site here and she answers questions here. She took photos of each step so it's easy to follow along.

If I were to do this again, I would:
  • probably consider the 12x12 size anyway
  • be sure to pay for nicer plywood- (she used birched, I have no idea what I used... it split when it was cut and was very, very rough)
  • double check the cuts by the Home Depot Guy (I had 3 perfect 8x8 pieces, and the rest were all off).

So this is what it looks like all up on the wall. It is impossible to keep the pictures straight when a little squirmy two year old can't keep his finger and toes off of them during diaper changes! The prints are in chronological order from just weeks old until two years old. I love looking at how he's changed and I absolutely LOVE the personality that shines through each picture!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow, what fun!

There is no shortage of snow in our parts. Julie has been to school twice since Friday, January 7th (normally, there would have been nine school days). Last night, Elizabeth endured a three hour drive to come pick up Chacey, which is a typical half-hour commute. A steady, heavy snowfall started around 2:00 yesterday afternoon and continued until early morning, for a total of about 7.5 inches here in our area. And since we've had decent temperatures today, it was perfect to let the kids get out and play in the snow.

All bundled up! It was actually Jackson's first time playing in the snow. He had fun just checking it out.

You can barely see the plastic containers and spoons, but the kiddos are "cooking" and "stirring" the snow.

Climbing up the snow plow pile

Almost there!

 Ta-Da! (yes, that's what he said)
Chacey didn't have as much luck getting to the top.

Aren't these pictures fun?! I have a working camera... WOO HOO!  (a big thank you to Best Buy's replacement program.) I've been hassling with my old one since October and using Julie's in the mean time, so I'm super excited and eager to take lots of pictures!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Good-bye Crib!

So, it's official. The crib is gone... well, just in the basement gone. My dad made the crib for Jackson, I will always hold onto it! But it will make an appearance again here in a few months. 

Uh oh, I'm stuck! I can't climb out if there's no mattress to jump on! 

Carter is helping Forrest, while Jackson entertains himself with the drill. He likes to make it go on his tummy-- he was cracking himself up!

Jackson decided he wanted to "help"!

Look at these men at work! (while Brooke works on making some awesome S'mores)

Jackson was so proud of himself for helping (and Grandpa had a lot of fun too!)

Jackson all tucked in his "Elmo" big boy bed (along with Pooh, Puppy, stuffed animal Elmo, both blankets, and a book).

Jackson didn't even care that his crib is gone. I'm glad he got to be there to take it down, so he at least understands where it went. And after being a little stressed out about his sleeping habits in my post yesterday, he slept ALL night in his bed last night... and bedtime tonight was a breeze! I swear it was a little message from God saying, "See Amy, it will all be okay!" It may seem silly, but it was just the message I was needing! God is good.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Ohmigosh... it's been SO cold here lately. And it's making me so sleeeepy all day long! The fact that I have practically camped out in front of my fireplace for the past week may or may not be contributing to the sleepiness.... The content of today's post is really about Jackson and his sleep though.

While having Derek home was simply wonderful, it wrecked havoc on Jackson's sleeping habits. BIG TIME. We were out of schedule, he was way over stimulated. Night-time and nap-time were horrendous feats for the first couple of days (He'd be up 6 or 7 times a night and he would cry so much he'd vomit!). I sought advice from friends who've dealt with deployments/homecomings and toddlers. I even emailed a fellow blogger that I've never even met. Desperation!

It basically ended up that I did all of the bedtime/naptime stuff, trying to keep it as normal as possible... and really, the only way for Jackson to get any sleep at all was to rock him completely asleep and put him down. every. single. time. It was time consuming and frustrating (I mean, didn't we jump this hurdle back when he was like, six months old?!... oh yeah, that was before he could climb out of his crib and open doors!), but I just couldn't bear to let him just cry it out. I feel so sorry for the little guy for all of the big things going on/about to happen in his life.

Because Jackson can successfully (and does) climb out of his crib, we introduced his toddler bed before Derek left. It doesn't have anything to do with the baby coming soon since she doesn't even have a room of her own for the crib to go! The father-in-law is actually coming over to take down the crib and we're (he is) moving it to the basement.

We didn't make the switch right away. I continued to rock him and pulled out the tricks used to sleep train little infants- put him down almost asleep, but still awake so he can learn to fall asleep in the crib. Progressively moving further away from his crib while I sang him songs until I was eventually out of the room. I may have given him a cup of milk a few times (gasp) in bed with him a time or two. He was even bribed with tic-tacs. I always make a BIG deal when he falls asleep on his own, without crawling out of his crib. His sleeping habits are improving.

We talked about his big boy bed at times and he explored a little bit. I checked out Big Boy Bed books from the library. And a few days ago he actually asked to sleep in his big boy bed. He's done okay with the transition. I've been sitting with him until he falls asleep each night. The first night he stayed in it all night. Last night he came to sleep with me for a little bit.

I am really considering my options (as if I should try a cry-it-out method or to work with slow progress getting him to go to sleep on his own). But I feel like he's dealing with so much that he deserves to be babied a little bit in this. Of course, my only fear is that it still takes an hour for bedtime once the baby comes and I simply can't offer that! I'm going back and forth....

But for reals... Jackson is in a big boy bed. Why is he growing up so fast?!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

2010 in numbers

My goal was to complete my 2010 year in review post within ten days of the beginning of the new year.... I have 32 minutes to spare!

In 2010...
We gained 1 danish daughter
I took 2 pregnancy tests (one positive just isn't enough!)
We had 3 visits to Children's Mercy Urgent Care
Derek and I celebrated our 4 wedding anniversary
We participated in a 5k each (Derek ran his, I walked mine)
Our family got struck by 6 stomach viruses
I had 7 prenatal appointments
We rented 8 redbox movies
We visited a combined total of 9 states
(MO, KS, IA, MN, OK, TX, IL, SC, GA)
Derek spent 10 weeks at basic training

A few more...

I completed 13 graduate hours
Julie celebrated her Sweet 16th birthday
We enjoyed 17 days of having Derek home at Christmas
Derek is currently training as a 25B (information technology specialist)
Julie scored 26 points in her first American basketball game
Derek can do 53 push-ups and 61 sit-ups within two minutes time frame each
My blog reached 101 blog followers
I posted  169 blog posts and 928 tweets

It's been a crazy year. Overwhelming and scary at times, but fun and exciting too! I think one of the biggest things we learned as a family this year is that life happens fast! We've embraced that and we're ready 2011!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Family Pictures

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with family pictures? 

We didn't actually go for our us, but for Derek's whole family! 
Top: Me, Derek, Brad (brother), Mary (sis-in-law)
Middle: Linda (mom), Forrest (dad)
Bottom: Jackson, Gabe (nephew)

We did get some good shots of our family, though. And this one of Jackson and Derek is one of my fave ever!

Here's our little stinker- showcasing the *only* actual smile from the entire evening... and he's only smiling because he's been promised a tic-tac. Notice the nice big boo-boo on his forehead?! It's a mystery to us how it go there, but having some sort of mark on his face has become the norm these days. 

Last Christmas we took the cousins to get their pics taken and we decided to do it again and make it a tradition. Waaaaay easier said than done. I'm totally not even looking forward to adding another little girl into the mix next year! (I'm excited about the girl, just not the process of getting pics.)

(These pictures were taken in the afternoon before the above pictures and Jackson didn't smile here either. No idea what got into this boy. He was nearly in tears when I asked him to smile-- the kid who has been called the happiest-kid-alive and has never met a stranger. At least we ended up with a few!)

Jackson and Gabe are wearing the overalls that were gifts from Great-Grandpa-- so we invited him along too! He is one proud Papa and the boys love him!

We're a pretty good lookin' family if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We have a name and other baby news

Even though I'm only two weeks further along than when I picked Derek up at the airport, I feel as though as if I am about six weeks closer to being prepared for this little baby girl. My focus had always been on getting Derek home for Christmas and as soon as that happened my mind cleared up and I had time and energy to focus on baby things. Yay!

First and foremost, we have a plan. Well, as much as a plan as you can have regarding having a baby. This alone has been the most complicated, thought-provoking issue. We want Derek home... but we cannot have Derek missing class or a test and falling out of his graduation group. There is a room full of soldiers who fell behind for countless reasons that spend their days looking for the end of the internet day after day just waiting for a spot to open up for them to join a new class and graduate. For some it's just a day or two, a few weeks, others wait around for months. This is NOT an option. Fortunately, the weekend before my due date is a holiday weekend. We have had an induction planned (yes, I would rather the baby girl come on her own... but not more than having the opportunity for her daddy to be there when she comes) for Friday, February 18th. Derek is talking to his COs sometime this week (pending good moods... he'll wait if they are grumpy!) and we should know if he gets approved leave. Please, please pray for it to be approved. And then go ahead and pray for the baby to stay put until that day! We've decided that if she were to come early, we will just have him wait to come home on that weekend as to guarantee that he's not missing out on anything. As of right now, there is no plan B if he isn't granted time to come home. I guess I will just deal with that if it becomes an issue.

We do have a name. Finally. As in, we figured it out on the way to drop Derek off at the airport on Monday. Despite the pleas of everyone around us, we'll keep it to ourselves until she arrives. It's nothing personal. I just know of several people who've regretted telling because they were talked out of a name. I've decided I'd rather have people complain at my decision not to share than to bear people bombarding me with their perfect names as if I have never ever yet heard of them. And to expect me to say, "Oh yes! That's what we'll name her. I will just call my husband right now and let him know because you would know better than us about what to name her!". It's one thing to get a few sentimental suggestions here and there from family, but the other day in the pretzel line at the mall a woman was passionate that I strongly consider Sonya for the name of my child. Seriously.

We've made headway on where the little girl will call home! My Christmas gift from Dad was a cabinet for the empty hole in our bedroom that will serve as her dresser/changing table. I painted it. Dad and Derek started getting it set up... I'm so excited! We've actually got a plan for what her "space" will look like!

This is me at 31 weeks with the new cabinet!! 
(my belly has grown three inches since this picture)

*How far along?: 32 weeks, 5 days
*How big is your baby?: almost 4 pounds, approx. 19 inches
*Total weight gain?: 12 lbs. (only two over the holidays! That's typical for the average non-pregnant American!)
*Sex: Girl
*Maternity clothes: I feel like I wear the exact same thing all of the time 
*Stretch marks: Ugh. Yes. But how can I avoid them when my stomach grows three inches in matter of 14 days!
*Movement: All. of. the. time. 
*Sleep: Sleep was fabulous when Derek was home. I didn't end up sleeping on my back as much and so I didn't wake up being uncomfortable a lot. 
*Best moment this week: Having Derek home!! He got to feel the baby move a lot. We made a plan, got her space a little more ready, and picked out a name.
*Food cravings: Nothing too crazy. I will be purchasing Pizza Goldfish and chocolate ice cream when I go to the store next.
*Labor signs: I've started to get sporadic contractions... talk about annoying!
*Belly button in or out: more like a nothing... It's no longer in, but it's not quite out.
*What I miss: being able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling as if I just completed a marathon
*What I'm looking forward to: Getting all of the final stuff together for her to come!



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