Wholesome Chapter Books For Kids {Circle C Series}

Finding a new book series for my 6.5 year old daughter to read independently has proven to be challenging.  We prefer non-twaddle books with sustenance, lessons, and deeper vocabulary than I can usually find in books targeted at most 6 year old…

When we had a chance to review Circle C Stepping Stones:  Andi Saddles Up ($7.99) and Andi Under the Big Top ($7.99) by Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow, I was very excited!

These are two exciting books from the Circle C Stepping Stones series, about a young girl names Andi.  In the first book of the series, Andi Saddles Up (112 pages), Andi makes a new friend on the ranch, but soon realizes both of their families are in a battle.  The two girls must overcome their families’ issues so they can continue their friendship.  There are lessons taught and learned from both children, and adults.

Andi Under The Big Top (112 pages) is the second book in this series; Andi helps a young boy who is in trouble, working for the circus.  Although she thought everything looked and seemed perfect and fun at the circus, she soon realizes she has been called to help Henry, and has to make a tough decision in doing so.

What We Thought

My 6.5 year old enjoyed these chapter books.  She spends a lot of time reading, and I do not have time to pre-read everything that comes in our home (most of the time I don’t pre read at all).  She felt comfortable reading these herself, and neither of us found inappropriate content for her.

There is fun, adventure, and lessons to be learned in both books; Lexie was able to point those out to me and discuss them pretty well, just from what she read and experienced in the books.  That is one more reason I can say these are good books to have on our shelf.

We also enjoyed the coloring pages found on the author’s website!

The coloring pages are beautiful illustrations, free, and go nicely with the books.  Because we enjoy journaling many of our books, Lexie will turn these into a literature journal of sorts to go along with each title.  We have not yet made it that far into our work, but that is our plan.

Circle C Stepping Stones

Along with the coloring pages, Susan K. Marlow has provided free activity pages that enrich the entire literature experience! These will also be added into our notebooking/literature journal for Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top; they are fun, complete activities which cover everything from comprehension to maps and hands on projects.  The creator has even covered character traits, which I know we homeschoolers like to cover- as well as puzzles.  I love that these are provided free, to help make a complete study of these books.  You also have the option of purchasing these printed in a spiral bound form.

If you enjoy creating units, this is just what you’re looking for!

You can see all the Circle C Stepping Stones titles HERE.  There will be 4 more coming to the series (yay!), which we are looking forward to.  Also, Susan K. Marlow has other series that look wonderful- we will probably be adding them to our library at some point.

I am relieved and excited that we have found a new historic series that I feel I can trust.  Lexie’s first words about the books, with eyes wide with excitement, were, “They are new western books from the 1800’s!”

Connect With Kregel Books and Susan K. Marlow

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Baby #3 Summary: 18 month Update and Routine

Well … Talk about dropping the ball  =/  Poor Ila hasn’t had very many baby updates.

But, here I am with her 18 month baby summary!

Personality and Development

Ila walks to the beat of her own drum, for sure.  While Mister and Lexie are out running around on their many adventures, Ila is usually either off in her own world (playing with trucks, or sitting in a hole in the yard playing with dirt), or totting right behind them.  She is still obsessed with animals and tends to talk back to them in their language, more than she speaks to us in ours.  She moos at cows, tweets and whistles at birds, growls at the dogs, and SCREAMS some wild meows at the cats; she can call, “here chick, chick, chick” just as well as I can, doesn’t have a single fear of those calves in the barn.  As far as she is concerned, Thora and Charlie belong to her and she is one of them.  (she doesn’t discriminate!)

Speaking of walking … Ila started walking full time somewhere around November (14 months) which is the absolute latest of all my babies.  The first two were walking by 9-10 months.  Ila just wanted to take her time.

Speaking of speaking … Ila has words, she just chooses not to use them most of the time. Ha!  Her vocabulary consists mostly of: Tho-ra, charlie (which comes out something like chagie), dog dog, meow, cat, air (airplane), mama (for mama, more, please, I’m waiting! and NOW!!), dada, dada home (cause that’s the biggest deal of the day besides meals), and my absolute favorite which comes out plain as day Yes Ma’am! haha  Why of all the words we have taught her did that phrase stick, we will never know…  There are a few more I am forgetting I’m sure, but these are the most widely used.  She won’t say Lexie or Max yet.

She does sign for her drink and please … but that’s about it.  She CAN doe “more-more” but chooses not to most of the time unless I really make her. 😉

I can say this about her- she is smart and hilarious!  She picks up on things so fast, without us even really realizing it, which I am sure is because she is submerged in a literature and language rich environment AKA living with her siblings.  They talk to her, sing to her, read to her, pretend with her, and if I’d let them they would feed her (that may or may not happen on occasion).  One day after dumping the ABC beanbags into the laundry basket, I found her sorting out the bean bags and laundry, putting each item where it belongs.
She is so funny, and will do just about anything to put a smile on your face.  She also finds herself quite humorous … I think she takes after her daddy!

18 Mo Baby Summary and Schedule

My silly, sweet, snuggly little rag-napper.  She enjoys stealing my rag off the kitchen sink

She is the snuggliest of all my babies.  Max was a snuggler, but mostly because he was refluxy and cranky and needed lots of reassurance; that snuggly behavior stuck through his personality to today.  Lexie liked snuggling as a baby (and really craves it now at 5.5) but then she wanted to go do her thing and come back again later.  Ila will just snuggle all day if you let her; she walks up to J.Tom and me and gives the BIGGEST squeeze hugs around our legs.  She often just wants to be held and lay her head on my shoulder.  She gives great big, squeaky kisses that put the slobberi-est of dogs to shame!

Eating and Favorite Things

At meals, she likes to be the first to fold her hands for the blessing so she can start eating.  She has started pointing to things and counting (like she sees Mister do), and she likes to bring me letters and say Mmmmm.  Apparently all letters are M (probably because Max says M-A-X Max! all day long).  She has discovered her spit (ew) and blows spit bubbles to get attention.  Her favorite foods are probably whole pears, which she has been eating since she was about 8 months old, and anything I cook that is warm.  She will devour anything, but like beans and ham, spaghetti, turkey sandwiches with spinach, and loooove green beans.  She really likes the tomatoes out of my vinegar salad and roasted broccoli.

She has finally started enjoying listening to me read to her; up to this point she just wanted to sit in my lap while she held the book and thumbed the pages.  Somehow it just soothed her, the feeling of the pages flipping.  And she still enjoys that, but we have started reading her Bible and she is actually listening and points to the pictures, etc.  So that’s nice.  While Mister and Lexie are doing school, she likes to ask for crayons and paper … but she just eats the crayons.

Her favorite things are our animals, anyone’s shoes, flipping through books, eating, and dancing.  She will play with Mister’s toy trucks for what seems like hours and rolls them all over the house.

Her eating schedule looks just like ours now.  Here is her daily routine:

  • 7am wake/snuggles
  • 7:30 breakfast- fried eggs, homemade oatmeal, and fruit with water
    • play while we finish morning school basket/do morning chores, begin school
  • 9:00/9:30-10:30 she goes to independent play in her crib while we do parts of school that require a little more quiet (Lexie reading aloud, math, me reading aloud if she is being particularly loud!)
  • 11:15 lunch
  • 12:00 nap   She usually sleeps until 2 or 2:30
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps
  • outside play/play downstairs if weather is nasty
  • 5:30ish dinner
  • 6:15ish bath
  • 6:30/6:45/7pm bed, depending on what time she woke up from nap.  If she slept until 2 or later bed is 6:45 or 7pm
  • All kids are in bed by 7, earlier if Max didn’t nap good

Everything is flexible by a few minutes other than sleep times.

This month marks the firs that we have truly been Wonder Week free!  Whew- let me tell you, since about Christmas, we have had one WW after another.  Some of those wouldn’t have been that noticeable, except that hers manifest themselves in waking at night- not just waking, but screaming all night unless being held.  A few times I tried to hold her, but she wouldn’t go to sleep, only stop crying.  So we had many wakeful, exhausting nights.  And once she came out of the WWs (I think they were the last 2 until she turns 2?) everything went back to normal.  Thankfully!

I think that is about it on her baby summary.  My next will probably be when she is about 2.  Of course we should have a newborn by then, so the summary may be a little late  😉




Musings and Ramblings: Unexpectedly Blessed

(originally written Thursday, April 26, 2013) 

The days.  They are so short, go by so quickly.  Somehow Max is over halfway to his first birthday, and my baby bug is going to be 3 years old in 4 short months.  What?!  How did this happen?

I try to absorb each day; each blessed day I get to be with them, to play with them, clean up their messes, and help them reach new goals.  Many days are calm, fun, and messy.  Others are hectic, tear filled, and more than messy.  That’s what it’s about though, right?  I mean, whether you are home all day with your children or you work outside the home, life is all about the messy moments- whether they are controlled chaos or full blown out of control, whirlwinds.

It’s hard.  I’ve never done something that was so challenging in my life. except maybe learn how to drive a stick, at which I was never successful ..  There are days I need more control than I have, and others that I let go and just let it happen.  Those days, I have learned, are the easiest.  This morning J.Tom, Lexie, and I sat on the bed.  I handed her milk and declared today a NO housework day.  No laundry, no vacuuming, no house work day.  I’ve cleaned up the crumbs, and picked up toys after we played with them.  The rest of the time all my attention was with the kids.  I say my attention was “with” them, not on them because though I was there watching and interacting I wasn’t hovering.

Sometimes I wonder if stay at home moms are misunderstood?  Not that it matters, we all know why we are home with our babies, no matter the reason.  But sometimes comments from others makes me wonder, what do they think we do all day?  What kind of person do they think I am?!  We don’t lay on the couch all day watching tv.  It’s not so I can micro manage their lives and create a perfect specimen.  On the contrary, for our family being home is about soaking in all the mistakes and character flaws, then turning them into lessons later.  Not to mention just the time we absorb together, as a family, learning about the each other, Christ, the world.  But you know, being a parent is somewhat about controlling what your children are exposed to, how they’re exposed to it, and at what age.  If I am going to take full responsibility for my children, I think JTom and I probably need to take control of the paths we lead them down.  I never wanted a family; my dream at 15 was to become a forensic pathologist and move to California where I would live in a house by myself, or with my best friend at the time, and live a lavish lifestyle.  None of those things happened… my best friend went to medical school.  I graduated highschool early, partied until I absolutely burned myself out, started college, met and totally unexpectedly fell in love with Jtom.  And then everything else just happened.  Nine years later we are married and have two children.  Nine years of blessings and growing together.

Blessings abound all around our family; we have been talking more and more about those blessings to Lexie. When she is refusing to eat her favorite food, simply because she is being defiant not because she isn’t hungry, I explain that not every girl and boy get lunch every day.  Or even food every day. The same goes for braiding her hair- not every girl has a mama to braid her hair, or give her a warm, clean bath.  Those seem like silly examples, but she understands them.  She’s 2.5 but she knows there is a world outside our four walls, and that some of that world isn’t as nice as hers.  She will smile and say, “Jesus gave me a mommy and daddy and max and lunch!”  *warm tingly feeling*  (insert an edit: we went to the library this morning for story time.  She told a mom there that “Jesus gave me a beautiful daddy.”  The mom responded with, that’s right.  Not every girl and boy have a daddy.  You are so blessed.”)

Then there are moments when I feel completely overwhelmed, asking myself what am I doing?!  How am I supposed to fit God, meals, play, learning, cleaning, and serving my husband- joyfully- all in 24 short hours?  7 of which need to be filled with sleep, so that I am able to serve my family.  This morning I was in the pantry deciding which lunch bag to take on our picnic play date with J.Tom this afternoon.  As a million plastic cups fell out of the lunch bag I’d chosen, I took a deep breath and looked around.  I was standing in a pantry the size of a bathroom, filled to the brim with food for our family and craft supplies for Lexie.  I’m not sure what we have done to deserve the blessings we have been given.  We have a home big enough for the family we hope to continue growing.  It’s warm in the winter and (hopefully) cool in the summer.  You can’t feel the cold air blowing from the cracks in the doors and windows.  The floors are safe and comfortable for the babies to play on.  We have clean, running water, toilets that work (hallelujah!), and silent pipes! (meaning no clanging and banging in the walls that wakes up sleeping babes!  We can flush the toilet after 7pm woo hoo)

Our old home wasn’t bad, it was a blessing as well; just a blessing that needed many hours and dollars worth of fixing up.  We now live in a neighborhood with other young families.  Our home is one street from the disc hockey park and community pool (which is more like a mini water park) so there are many places to run and play during these beautiful warm days.  The people in Nebraska- beyond kind.  I’ve not met one rude person, everyone waves and stops to talk.  Blessings.  They seem simple, but at the end of the day that went all too quickly, when my clothes are stained with spit up, and my hair is falling out of it’s messy pony tail,  this is what it’s about.  It’s not about excess.  It isn’t about more than we need (though we do have more than we need in many ways).  It isn’t about which group of friends you are a part of, or how many vacations you go on a year.  It’s about how we spend our days, day in and day out, with each other.  It’s about our kind words, soft smiles, and oh. em. gee.  the hugs and kisses.  It’s about Max finally learning to fall onto his booty from standing up or almost saying “mama,” but it comes out “na-na.”  It’s about Lexie learning to write an M on her paper, reciting Bible stories to her brother, and showing him the “Moses’s river” she made at the park.

Today, like I mentioned, we met JTom at the park for lunch.  He ate with us, played with Lexie and then headed back to work.  We hung around for an hour longer; Lexie played with a little girl.  Her mama was with her, and being followed by a court appointed supervisor.  The supervisor was wearing a badge, and mama wasn’t wearing much of anything.  Much to my first impression-ed surprise, she was amazing with the kids. She was down in the sand, building a mote and castle with them (which encouraged me to do the same).  She had Lexie and her daughter sharing toys, helping each other.  I probably seemed like a terrible mom, because I just sorta sat back in awe.  This woman, in her skinny jeans and barely there top that matched her platinum blonde hair, seemed educated, funny, and in general like a good mom (not that any of those things would make her a bad mom-don’t misunderstand me.  I was thrown off mostly by the supervisor needing to be there).  She invited us to play with them and their chalk, she made pictures with the girls, and even started acting out Lexie’s favorite story on the playground bridge- The Three Billy Goats Gruff…  I’m not sure where her life  has been or where it is going, but today from 12:00-12:45pm I am pretty sure it was meant to cross paths with ours.  On a day when Lexie and I were both feeling a little lonely, wanting a friend to play with at the park (Dayla and Ryker- we miss you!), she and her girl were a blessing.  Looking back, I am not sure I had quite the same impact on her as she did on me.  But I do pray that whatever her situation is, she can find more joy in park play dates with Kera, than she does in whatever got her supervised visitations.

We have had a beautiful, fun day today.  I cannot wait to see what other blessings are in store for our family in the days to come.  The great thing about blessings, you can’t just sit back and wait for them; you have to put yourself out there, serve others, and get uncomfortable sometimes.  This introvert has learned a lot about that in the last 2.5 years.  (I know this post was rambly.  I warned you in the title!)

How have you been unexpectedly blessed this week?  

Max Baby Summary: Week 31

Max has been very clingy this week.  His second tooth is here, and he is chewing like crazy with his side gums, so I am wondering if he is getting more teeth?!  But I’m not sure.  For the most part this last week was good.  Minus the screaming.  Oh my!  The screaming.  And it isn’t screaming like, “Oh, I’m mad so I’m screaming.”  Or “feed me now!” (though he does that sometimes while I get a bottle ready.) No, it is just screaming.  For FUN.  A high pitched “Wheeee!” sounding scream.  He was doing this while we ate lunch the other day.  Lexie leaned over, put her hand on my forearm and said, “Mama.  I do not like that sound.”  Oh sweet girl, neither do I!  Hopefully he will grow out of it before long.

He is signing milk all the time now.  While I make his bottle, that little hand is just going to town signing for “milk.”  It’s so sweet.  He has been eating okay, but not great.  Since the first tooth broke through he has good days and bad; he usually is only taking 4-5ounces, but will finish the rest mixed into cereal.  However, because his new meds are working for his reflux, he is able to eat lots of real foods he couldn’t eat before, and now protests plain oatmeal!  The boy wants real food.  haha  So we have been doing lots of avacado, carrots, peas, green beans, pears, apples and blueberries, etc.

His sleep has been better this past week, with only a few short naps.  This weekend he had *perfect* sleep. All. Weekend. Long.  It was amazing, really.  I also found the activity table; it was hidden in the garage.  We started using it this past weekend, and he did really well.  For a baby who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in crawling or moving around at all, really, he stood up on his own for a long time playing at the table.  He hasn’t mastered the art of bending his legs when he falls; so rather than fall onto his bottom … he just topples over like a stiff log.  haha  He doesn’t think it’s very funny, and usually gets really scared when it happens, so I try to avoid it… but the boy needs to learn how to fall onto his booty.  So we are working on bending his knees and bouncing while standing, but those feet are firmly planted; I just don’t think he’s ready for all that yet really.

Considering Mister has been having such good sleep as of late, it is fitting that Lexie has been a little hit or miss.  A few weeks ago, she went from not wanting to go to bed at night (read: saying she is tired, wanting to sleep, but also wanting us to pat her or rock her, which we don’t do because she has always gone right to sleep) to sleeping in her rocking chair.  For some strange reason she has decided she wants to fall asleep in her rocking chair; and despite our attempts at keeping her in the bed, she gets up.  But we have been going in and putting her back in the bed.  The craziest part about all of this is she has been NAPPING.  Consistently.  For an entire week!  I think this is partially because she is done teething.  All her two year molars are in, and now she is back to eating and sleeping well.  We considered taking the rocking chair out of the room, but I think we will just wait and see how long this phase lasts.  Maybe she is just ready for a big bed… I am not sure.  The 2.5 year mark usually is a developmental milestone for children when you generally see added clinginess, sleep disruptions, and new fears develop.  She is definitely more clingy to both JTom and me, and has mentioned being afraid a few different story characters were going to “get me.”  We have reassured her nothing is going to get her; she doesn’t mention this at bed time or anything, just sometimes while playing alone in her room.

Moni, Shelby, and Lilly watching us play doll house

Her imagination is wild!  We still have engines that are beyond wearing out their welcome.  haha  I think I tell them things 200 times a day. “Will you tell me engines what I am eating?  Will you tell my engines they need to sleep at nap time?  Will you tell my engines they need to stay on the swing set and leave Scarlet alone?…..”  Oh my.  Then, the other night we had dinosaurs.  On the ceiling.  The engines go everywhere with us; she even includes them in her stories during stretching at gymnastics.  They really like the museum.  As long as I don’t have to feed them, I guess they can stay.  😉

Right now, Lexie is really into reading her devotional and Bible.  I mean … like they are attached at her hip.  As a matter of fact, the devotional is falling apart, and she can read every day, word for word, from January until today.  Not kidding.  That’s what we read for every nap and bedtime.  It is her favorite.  She is now acting like a little Mama to Max and her dolls.  When Max cries she says, “Oh!  Let me go see what is wrong to Max.  Max, what is wrong to you?  Tell me why.”  haha  I am not sure why she says “to” instead of “what,” but I’m sure she will figure it out soon enough.  Her new favorite words are “fantastic!” and “earlier.”  Hearing her say earlier is hilarious.

chewing on a pear
dyeing Easter eggs … a week late  =/
painting her fingernails

We visited a church this past Sunday.  It was really nice; it reminded me of my church growing up, which was a Full Gospel church.  This is a non denominational church, it is small but has many young families.  I am excited to maybe visit it again this coming Sunday.  J.Tom was raised Presbyterian, so it is different than he is used to.  But I actually felt like I was in church.  For the past 5 years in Hot Springs I just didn’t get what I needed from our church; provided I didn’t give much back to them in way of serving.  I never felt like it was home.  The sermons were more like the new school way of thinking-motivational sermons or get people involved in serving the church, but let’s not talk about sin, salvation, the devil, or how to grow in Christ.  That’s how I felt, anyway.  The church we visited Sunday had an amazing sermon, though a little long, and a great worship service.  Lexie walked into children’s church like she owned the place.  haha  She enjoyed herself (although she was supposed to be in the nursery since she isn’t 3 yet..)  I don’t know if we will visit a different church this week or try this one again.  We will just pray about it and see. We just hope to find a church that gives us what we both need, and that we can be a serve as well.

How did you find your church home? Is it one you grew up in or one you found after marriage, college, children…?


Max Baby Summary: 29/30 weeks

Wow, I know. I’m behind… Max is now 7 months old/31 weeks. This is the update for his last (month) week, which was 30weeks old/the week he turned 7 months.

We have two teeth! The first one was his bottom center right, and it came in about a week ago. 3 days later the left tooth came through. The left one seems to really be bothering him today; he’s been pulling on his ears and chewing his fingers … but of course he hurts himself now when he chews them because there are teeth in there! Haha! It won’t be long before we will have to make a dentist appointment for him; he’s growing up so fast. I want to make sure that for his first dentist visit, we go somewhere who offer Children’s Dentistry as at least that way they know how to properly treat young children so that they are used to going to the dentist and not scared, (like I am). My friend takes her children to this Dentist in Sarasota, which is where they live, and they are supposed to be very good in treating children. So, I think I may look for a dentist local to us that offers a similar service so that his first visit is a good one.

He is sitting up all the time by himself (that actually started about a month ago). He is much more balanced. I noticed when Lexie was his age, in the middle of April she was pulling up on things and turning herself around while sitting. I’m wondering if it is harder for him because we have carpet now? Lexie had hardwood floors to spin on. If Max were sitting on hardwood floors, then everytime he leans over or reaches for something he would realize, ‘Hey, I can move!” haha I may get the foam ABC mat out that Lexie used and put it down instead of the quilt they play on.. But I’m not sure how well it will work on carpet.

He is babbling a LOT! Lexie taught him to say “dadadadadada” a few weeks ago. I’ve been working with him to say “dada” when JTom comes home or is holding him. Two days ago, the boy looked at his daddy and said, “dada,” then when JTom didn’t say anything back Max said, “dada,” until his daddy replied. Then he just beamed! JTom was very proud. =) So we are pretty well convinced he knows JTom is DaDa. He has a few other babble sounds he makes and is so proud of himself. Max is also signing for milk. He signs it when he is waiting for me to make his bottle, when I sign it to him, while he is drinking his bottle… so next we are going to do “more” and “please.”

He is wearing 12 month clothes (he has a few 9mo that he can wear). About 5 days ago, he woke up and had a head full of hair?! Prior to that he had a “mohawk.” Then 2 days ago he woke up with lighter hair! It’s crazy how babies literally change over night! His eyes … well I am going to let you decide from the pictures. I really don’t know. The centers look light green, but overall they’re just really blue.

Max’s 6 month dr apt went well. He started a new medicine, I think it is prilosec for babies. They compound it at the pharmacy. The taste is terrible so he has a hard time swallowing it (even with added flavoring) but it has helped tremendously! He went from barely eating and taking bottles to eating a LOT more! I think he has gained 5 lbs in the last 3 weeks. haha He has been eating peas, green beans, carrots, apples, apples w blueberries, and avacado with no problems. Bananas constipated him for a day or so, so he hasn’t had them anymore. But there have been no problems with anything else as far as reflux goes! What a blessing and answered prayer.

His sleep has finally gotten a little better for naps, and here is what his routine looks like:
6:45/7:15 wake
7:00/7:15 up, medicine, eat
7:45 independent play in pack n play
8:00/8:15 go downstairs to do calendar and activities with Lexie
8:50 wind down for nap
8:55-9 asleep (usually a 1hr10min-1.5hr nap)
10:15-10:45 wake up
11:00/11:15 eat, play
12:30-1:00 down for nap; we do 12:30 if he was SUPER tired from a short first nap, but 1:00 if not
2:00-3:00 wake up; time depends on what time he went down for second nap. (Usually a 1hr10min-1.5hr nap)
3:00 eat, play
sometimes he takes a cat nap (he is in the process of dropping this nap)
Ideally, his dinner is 6:00, bedtime is 7pm
On days he doesn’t get good sleep (usually if naps are interrupted it’s with a poopy diaper, or we go to the library for story time…) then we do bedtime an hour early, so asleep at 6pm. That helps his catch up on sleep, and keeps him from getting in an over tired cycle which can take weeks for a small child to get out of.

Lexie is doing great. She still enjoys gymnastics, and has all her “imaginary” friends. We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, along with Billy Goats Gruff and the Three Little Pigs recently … now everything is a “daddy fill in the blank” “mommy fill in the blank,” or a “baby/Lexie fill in the blank.” Obviously this goes according to size of said object. =)


She started letting me wash her hair in the kitchen sink, so hair washing and bath time are no longer a fight. She was doing great, and then about 4(?) or so weeks ago, it became an absolute screaming, tearful battle to get her in the tub so I could wash her hair. She doesn’t like teh water to get in her ears or eyes. Of course we did EVERYTHING to prevent this, but when
she is screaming and moving around, it becomes impossible to keep the water only on her hair …. After I convinced her the kitchen sink would be fun, and that my Memaw washed my hair in the kitchen sink, she was okay with it. =)

Two weekends ago, Spring hit Nebraska. Although this coming week is supposed to be stormy and cold, the last two weeks have been warm and sunny. We don’t do the Easter Bunny, so Lexie got a spring basket with some new learning toys and a few necessities. We gave her a Thomas the Engine (electric) toothbrush, some new PJs, new dry erase markers for her dry erase board, a pair of fiskar kid’s scissors, and some accessories for her light table. (The light table is a whole other post! Look for it later this week or next!)

She also got her first real kite! In Nebraska it is very windy, and out where we live used to be cornfields, so there are no big trees around the house, they are all a street over at the park and school. So it’s the perfect place to fly a kite. She had so much fun!

In many of the pictures I am posting, the grass was just barely turning green, now it is all green and trees have started budding and blooming(?). Our garden season is off from the south by about a month, so we don’t need to get anything in the ground for a few more weeks, at the latest May 1st.

JTom has been traveling some with work. He went to Milan, Italy last week. He brought back three bottles of Italian wine and some parmesean cheese. I still haven’t tasted the Italian wine, but I am sure it will be great. The cheese … well it’s good! =) In Italy they put (very expensive) balsamic vinegar on a little piece (like a cube) or parmesean cheese and eat it. So when we went to Grand Island last weekend we got some of the good, “gourmet” (though no expensive…) balsamic vinegar and tried it on the cheese. YUM! New favorite snack, for sure.
He brought back some “monies from Italy” for Lexie and she was beyond pleased. haha I got a beautiful rosary, and the wine.

Turkey season in Nebraska has opened, so JTom may be hunting Saturday. He joined a hunting lease here, that covers hunting land all over Nebraska, and in other states as well. I told him if he brings home meat so I don’t have to buy nasty store meat, it will be worth it. He said “it’s called hunting, not killing. I can’t promise I will bring anything home.” So, we will see if we end up w a turkey in the freezer. =)

We have started planning our garden. We know we are going to get in tomatoes and maybe a few other things. We have to get the fence done soon, hopefully in the next few weeks. All of the pictures below are from March, so they are actually a few weeks old, or older. You will notice Max’s hair isn’t very thick. Look at his hair and fat rolls in the next posts with pictures! It’s crazy how quickly they change.

reading to Bubby

Mister Bear playing in the bath

reading her Bible to Max

I love to be upside down

new outfit

playing outside in the dirt

Happy Bear

Angel Baby

just minding my own business…..
Until now ….

picnic outside

happy bear

Mister outside in the exersaucer

Hi Mama- look at me!

Week 19 Summary Baby #2

This week Mister really started moving more.  He loves to laugh at Lexie.  He is eating solids 3xs a day.  One day, he just pushed himself to a 4 hour schedule!  However, he is on a BIG nursing strike and I have to trick him into nursing.  Like, wake him up and nurse him while he sleeps, but as soon as he wakes up, he’s done.  Some days are a little rough, but mostly this is what our day looks like:

7:00am wake/nurse/6oz bottle (I usually have to wake him)
8:15am  down for nap asleep by 8:30
8:30-10:30 or 11  nap
11:00am  eat
12:15pm down for nap asleep by 12:30
12:30-2:30ish nap
3:00pm  eat
4:30pm-5:30 nap
6:15pm  eat
7:00pm bed

Ive started signing with him.  Maybe he will pick up on it by 7/8 months like big sister did.

This post is going to be a short one, because I am behind and need to get week 20 done, too!  Aaah, where do the days go?

Week 13 Baby Summary

Mister was officially 3 months old on December 2nd (also JTom’s birthday)!  But because of how the weeks fell, he is 13 weeks old.

Max has been sleeping from about 7:15pm until 5:30-6:30am.  Today (December 4th) I let him cry it out when he woke up at 5:20am.  I went in and checked on him, calmed him down, then put him back in the crib and left the room.  He cried and fussed on and off for about 30ish minutes.  But he went back to sleep until 6:50am!  So we have been CIO today.  It’s not easy, but he is getting it.  After his first nap he only cried (on and off) for 10 minutes before falling asleep.  I am keeping one arm unswaddled, because he can use that hand to soothe himself if he needs to.  (Oh yes, he is in love with his hands this week!)  If it takes him longer to relax and fall asleep, I go in after 10 minutes, pick him up until he is calm, then place him back in the crib.  I know today is pretty much going to mean very little sleep for him, but after a few days, he should be sleeping on his own.  I think he is ready; I feel that way because when I try to get him down he struggles, wiggles, and fights me.  He just can’t settle with me holding him as well anymore.  So, I think it’s time he tries to settle himself.  I will update at the end of the week on how it has gone.

*update*. It has been 3 days now and Mister is doing great with his day time sleep!  We have rough patches through the day, but overall he is putting himself to sleep with very little crying or fussing. I watch him in the monitor, and he usually is just sucking in his hand, with his eye closed, while he rolls around some until he settles.  He has been paci free for 3 days, and I think he is nursing better as a result.

He seems to be feeling better, reflux wise, so it looks like the dairy free is helping!  One week of no dairy and he is like a different boy during the day.  Looks like we have a dairy protein allergy.  (I will make another post on that later). 

Max is starting to try to raise his shoulders up, and he can do it pretty well.  He rolls from his tummy to back easily and Lexie LOVES to watch him do it!  He is already rocking/rolling onto is sides, and can almost make it to his tummy from his back!  Im sure this will happen before the end of the month.  I am still not sure if he is teething…  I really want to say yes because of all the chewing and drooling (oh my!) but developmentally this is when babies’ saliva glands start producing more (it was part of evolution to help break down food/breastmilk as it changes with baby’s growth.  Also to help build the stomach flora as baby grows bigger).  And since that falls right in line with baby discovering his hands and enjoying chewing … I just don’t know!  His gums have looked like he may be teething since the middle of October, and he started chewing in the middle of November … so we should have something happen by the end of this month if he is in fact teething.  They do seem to be a bit more puffy and white there at the middle bottom, than the rest of his gums.  So we will see.

Max is laughing, smiling, and starting to find his voice a lot!  He is squealing some, especially when he is tired and ready for a nap, he starts really jabbering.  He blows bubbles non stop and spit just flies every where!  Lexie thinks this is a serious problem, “He’s dwooling, Mama.  He’s dwooling!”  She is so serious!  It’s sweet.

Love Bug
Lexie has started napping again at home!  We seem to have found her sweet spot during the day for tiredness, and now that those molars are in and she is no longer scared of going poopy in the potty, things are getting back to normal.  But who knows how long that will last before we get more molars, or something else changes and throws her off for a while.  Regardless, I will take any sleep she can get!  =)

She’s enjoying gymnastics, and can do her bridge, straddle, pike and tuck. She really enjoyed the foam pit last week, and got brave enough to kick her leg up in the balance beam.  It will be interesting to see what she does this week (tomorrow, Friday).  We are doing Advent activities each day, and taking about Baby Jesus, Christmas, love, being kind, and God’s love for us.  Sue Sue has given us some really great resources to use during the month of Advent.  She has really enjoyed the Christmas stamps I got out.

She loves her daddy getting her up in the mornings, and doing her bed time routine at night.  My favorite part about her being in a toddler bed now, is climbing in bed to snuggle with her when she wakes up!  She makes me a spot, says “here, Mama, you need lovie.” and we snuggle.  It’s wonderful!  She walks around talking on her phone like a grown up (and Im never on the phone in front of her?), and loves to cook in her kitchen.  Now she wants to play with Max all the time, which is basically just them laying on the floor together.

18 months Old

(sorry for the typos in advance- while i go back and try to correct them, its hard to do on the ipad, which is where im writing from at 6:00am this morning)
At 18 months old, lexie does a lot of very cute things. For fun I wanted to list them here… Be prepared for a whole lotta mama braggin’ time! 🙂

She can randomly identify all except 6 letter of the alphabet. This is her own doing, not mine. All I did was point to the letters (in the back of a book) while we sang the ABCs. Seriously. She has some foam letter that she keeps in a bag and names all day long, she loves it!

She counts to ten, and sometimes eleven now. She LOVES to count, like her mama she counts everything.

She folds her hands for the blessing at dinner, sometimes reminds j.Tom and I to say the blessing, and always says “amen” after her bedtime prayers

Everything is between 3-4 word phrases and sentences now. She asks what everything is, for instance she will point to the j.tom’s truck and say, “daddy’s red truck” while nodding her head, as if she wants me to confirm what she says is correct

She uses the corret possessive forms of nouns. Everything is “mommy’s” “daddy’s” or whom ever’s but she uses possessive form when she speaks. (I will give jtom and I credit for this, because while we have always lovey talked her, we have never baby talked by speaking incorrectly.) It’s a pet peeve and it drives me NUTS when people talk to her in incomplete phrases or just incorrectly. Like using “hers” instead of “she” or saying “daddy go bye” instead of “daddys going bye bye.”. Really, it’s a few extra syllables people, kids will understand it! (I had kindergarteners that still said “hers went to the bathroom” aaah!). I do not, absolutely in no way, expect her to be perfect. But there are some things that are learned by example, (like manners, saying thank you, sitting while eating dinner instead of running around everywhere, adults speaking correctly so children hear how it should sound, etc). Of course she says baby things and rambles in foreign baby languages- and she should. But that’s not the same as setting an example that will be hard to correct later.

She knows all her friends name’s at school, provided there are only seven of them in total, but she tells you all about each of them. And her teacher, too.

She’s romping around on everything- she’s like a 3 year old boy who wants to climb, wrestle, and pounce on everyone and everything! Her fav thing to do is move her big Pottery Barn chair around and use it as a way to climb our double recliner so she can slide off the other side.. I gave up trying to stop her.

She walks around the house in my shoes and thinks it is HILARIOUS!

She learned the shapes circle, heart, and star between 11-12 months old, and by 15months knew oval,square, rectangle, and triangle too. This is just from us reading a shapes book over a few days. She just started randomly pointing at the shapes and naming them, while nodding, for us to confirm she was correct. How do they learn so quickly?

She’s a wee bit OCD. Sometimes. Well, most of the time. She doesn’t want her left over spaghetti on her plate to touch her fruits, so she moves it all to the side before I put the fruit (or whatever new food) inhere plate. Her drink cup has to be in the circle spot on her tray, and the spout needs to face her. I DID NOT DO THIS TO HER! One night we were eating dinner, I moved her cup and not only did she huff, but immediately put it back how she had it. She does this a lot.

She always says “bless you” after someone sneezes. It’s so dang cute! I didn’t tell her to do that either- she just picked up on it.

After she burps, she says “hiccup hiccup”. Apparently she’s a bit confused about what a hiccup is, but that’s ok. 😉

She is obsessed w airplanes, which go “neeerum” by the way. You know, everything has a sound… That probablyy is my fault, I think I give everything in life a sound effect. It makes things more interesting.

Aaah, this one was pretty sweet. I call her my angel baby; the other day we are in my room where there is a true of an angel. She points to the picture and says “angel,” then points to her own chest and says “angel!”. You can imagine the big ole hug she got after that. It was precious.

She makes text to real world connections all the time, and always has. If I say sunlight she sings the mr sun song. If we are talking about a certain animal, she quotes the line from one of her books about the animal, and usually goes to get the book if we are in the house. She can quote all of her favorite books, and finish their lines, including her bible.

She likes to clean up, I’ve mentioned that before. Now of course she loves to make a mess and leave it, sometimes too. But before we leave my bedroom, or the room downstairs, if she’s made “mess” she has to “clean up clean up” in a hurry before we leave.

We have to read Goodnight Moon, her Bible, Pouch, and sometimes her Bee book every night. She says the words before I do, half the time.

Everything is “niiice” or “not niiiice.”. The other day she told j.Tom “not nice, daddy,” because he was teasing her with a rag she wanted.

I know she’s not really advanced or a genius, that most everything she does many toddlers probably do as well. But it just astounds me how they grow and learn. Everyday. But let’s not forget, we still don’t know our colors! Haha. She just doesn’t get it yet, i mean she tries. Every morning she points to my shirt and says “mommy’s shirt blue” or whatever color we said it was the day before. But she is usually wrong. Which to me is no big deal, but she sorta seems bothered when I say my shirt is red or pink, or some other color than the one she named. With time, Lou, with time. 🙂

I tell her every day how smart she is, how sweet she is, what a nice girl she is. She will say “mommy’s nice” and “daddys nice” and goes does everyone she knows including the dog saying they’re nice. It’s funny. She always wants you to “get her! get her!” for a tickle and likes to snuggy and give kisses. Did I already mention in a blog post I caught her kissing a boy at school? Yea .. I was picking her up at school one day a few weeks ago, looked down and she was lip locked w a little boy named dillon. I kinda laughed and pushed them a part and they did it again! I think I turned 5 shades if red. That’s what we get for loving on her and asking for kisses all the time! Haha. Her daddy was out of town at the time, so I blame it on him. 😉

The Y, healthy foods, and pregnancy update

Today was my first day back at the Y since I was about 9 months p,regnant with lexie! It was great to be back. I went to Yoga, and oh how I have missed it! I feel so much better afterward. Lexie did great in the kids room, she was a bit anxious at first, but there was no crying when I walked away. They said she played the entire time. She also schooled the ladies on the difference between red and orange bowling pins. I wasn’t aware she knew the difference between red and orange … Evidentally she does. She definitely knows blue!

After yoga we went to walmart, the first thing she did was point out the blue on the glass door, then immediately started asking for “boobies,” so off to the produce we went! She ate blue berries the whole time and I got a few things we needed. We were in and out in 35 minutes- someone give me an Amen! That is record timing! But I spent $120, somehow. Groceries are so dang expensive, healthy ones are anyway. I left with 4 pints of blueberries, 6 4packs of organic Greek blueberry yogurt, strawberries, apples, cutie oranges, milk, cream cheese, canned peas, granola thins, bread, kashi pita crisps and hummus. Mmm I love hummus, my mother in law made this great recipe, and I really need to get it from her- it’s red pepper hummus, two kinds of olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. Mmmm sooo good! And healthy! Speaking of healthy, for dinner last night, my daughter ate half a grilled burger patty, and an entire can of green beans. I cooked them with a bullion cube and some onion flakes- she literally ate the whole can. She just kept signing for more! I can’t complain .. That’s for sure!

What’s your family’s favorite healthy, go to snack?

I have had a lot of friends and family asking how I feel, etc during my pregnancy. Im only 6wk3d today. I get headaches from time to time, get super sleepy during the day, and want lots of red meat. I’m having a lot of cramping, just mild cramps, which is common but I don’t remember having this much last time. Also, yesterday I woke up with my back killing me. I don’t know if it’s the progesterone making all the soft tissue relax, so my muscles are more tender ? Or whats going on. But it hurts on either side of my spine. I’m learning already poor lexie will have to do more walking than she already does. The cat lays on my tummy though. So she is like a built in heating pad, that’s very nice! (since you’re not supposed to use heating pads during pregnancy). Overall I feel good, not too many symptoms. Which makes me worry a bit. I hate waiting for the first dr visit! It’s so hard .. Just not knowing if everything is going ok in there, that the baby is still growing, etc. It’s so common for women to miscarry and not know it until the first ultrasound, at 12 weeks. But if that’s all you think about you’ll go crazy- so I try not to. Just keep us in your prayers that everything is good! I did go back and read during my last preg the exhaustion kicked in around 7 weeks and the heartburn at 11. So I still have that to look forward to.

16 months old

rSo last week while my mom was here, lexie and i were playing with her peeka blocks on the floor. I stacked one and said “one” then she did the next three and counted “two, three, four!” giving each block it’s own number! I know right?! Mom and I practically squealed we were so excited, that would be the teacher comingout in both of us. Then, when my mom is here, she always pulls up www.starfall.com and let’s lexie play with the abcs game. (here’s the back story- lexie has a little toy barn w letter you push through the top and she loves them! I have always told her what each letter was, and she would repeat after me. So she has had early exposure to literacy in that way. It’s not like we are forcing education down a baby’s throat- it’s all through play and conversation or reading, which she loves.). So anyway, she and mom play on that website, and lexie now says “a, /a/.” the /a/ means she is sounding out the a! So it’s “a, /a/,” and then sometimes she says “apple” afterward! The sequence on the game is the exact same; it amazes me that she knows this. And if you ask her what B SAYS, SHE WILL RESPOND /b/. Just this morning she picked the B from the bag of foam letters, and said “B, /b/.” I swear. It’s amazing what children will do if you just give them the tools. One day she will understand what all of it really means.

And, she has started singing her abcs. It’s pretty funny, because at any time during the day you could record about 15 minutes in our house, and one of us will be singing and/or dancing. Lexie sings all day. She sings “clean up clean up” when she outs her toys away, when I wipe her face, or when she picks her blocks up off the floor and outs them on her table. She sings silly songs with mama, I say the words and she just mumbles along. And she now sings her Abcs. Haha. It goes something like this, “A, um, oo, ah, b, hmm, ooo, da, b, ah, we, nam, num, I.” Lol. Now sing that to the tune of the abcs. It’s precious and I’m going to try to record her doing it, but I’m sure she will stop once I get the camera out. The last week or two she has started saying whole phrases and a few complete sentences. They have included “Bye Daddy,” “silly mommy!” and “Silly daddy!” I can’t remember what her sentences were, it’s been a while. =/

Also, the other day I got her a swing! We’ve been wanting to get one for some time, but just never got around to it. A lady posted one on free cycle, and I got it! It’s a blue dolphin? I dunno what’s up with that, but it’s a fisher price and in good condition. Lexie loves it! She won’t be in it much longer, because she is the size of a two year old … But it will do until we get her a swing set this summer I hope. Oh yes- for her birthday this year jtom is going to build her a swing set! We may buy one like these Colorado swing sets for sale, if things just get too busy, but i know he wants to build it, then we will add all the swings and slide. She loves the playground and slide at the park, so I know she will love having one of her own. I can’t wait!

And a funny story- we were in the devils den walmart Wednesday. You know I’m methodical in everything I do, grocery shopping is one of them. I make my shopping list according to the route I take in the store, depending on the store. I also take my AMEX Blue Cash Preferred card to make sure that I earn rewards on my purchases. If I forget my card, the day is ruined! At walmart, my route looks like this: pharmacy for toothpaste, dog food, etc. To the back for diapers if her school is low. Then to the front for produce, around to the meats, back to the cheese, milk, and eggs. Then I shop the inside aisles and finish in the frozen section if we need veggies for baby. Well, on this day we started in produce because I didn’t need anything from the pharmacy. The minute I put the blue berries in the cart, SOMEONE starts yelling “boobies! Boobies!” while kicking her legs. “boobies” is lexie talk for blue berries (mom, she has that beginning sound down!). So I tear the tape off the container, and start shoving boobies blue berries into her mouth and my pockets. I filled my pockets up so I could just feed them to her while we shopped. She ate all but about 10 blue berries in the pint. But I left there with a happy toddler! Whew. She’s a mess.

“bye, bye”-wanting Payne to go read

My dad came this weekend, and we had such a great time! He got in sat morning; we visited outside while jtom worked on the bench for our table. He brought Guss who played like he was puppy again, not a 10 yr old dog. Payne pulled lexie around the yard in the wagon, and they had a big time! Saturday afternoon, while lexie napped and I rested, the boys went to the woods and shot guns. Ooh, those are days I miss! Next time lexie will stay w someone while I get to go shoot too! Haha. But anyways, so they had a big time in the woods and then Sunday we just played and visited until dad left that afternoon. Lexie was constantly asking her Payne to go “bye” with her. She asked him to “eee” which is read to her, and of course teased him all day wi her silliness. When she woke up from her nap, she asked for “Mayne. Mayne”. (Payne Payne). It was pretty cute. She loves her Payne for sure!

Her outfit of choice-wouldn’t take off the boots or hat!

Payne and Lexie reading “Nose”

I wrote the above about a week ago. Today is Monday the 9th. I wanted to mention, that speaking of “boobies” Lexie’s Papa and SueSue went to the Galapagos Islands last week. They had a fantastic time and said that this Guide to luxury in Galapagos is essential for anyone who wants to visit the beautiful island. It’s definitely on my bucket list! They brought her home a (toy) Blue Footed Boobie. lol It’s a bird only found in the Galapagos, you should Google it. =) Now Lexie knows her elbows, knees and back (sometimes). She also loves to read her Bible-it is currently her favorite book. I am okay with that! haha We have been battling thrush for a few weeks-t comes and goes. Since it replicates itself in a different strand every few days, it makes it hard to kill it off. UH-not fun! But she is doing well with it.

She LOVES the coconut oil I’m using to help treat it. Plus it is good for her, even when she’s not sick. I plan on writing a post about the benefits of coconut oil and its many many uses! I am eating a few tbsp a day of it-it is the best fats you can ingest, and helps with nails, skin, hair. I’m even using it as a moisturizer-me, pregnant Meghan with oily pregnancy skin and it’s AMAZING! Leaves my skin feeling like silk, and not even oily by the end of the day! I won’t go on here, but you should Google it, then go to your local foods store and buy a jar of organic, virgin pressed coconut oil! Best ten dollars I ever spent-and I plan on getting more!

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