Sunday, January 24, 2010

Such a big girl

Eliana is quickly moving from toddler to big girl. In only just a couple short weeks she has become more mature, exploded with words and songs, gained more confidence, and is soaking in the the things I am teaching her like a sponge!!

Last weekend, I finally took some 2 year photos of Eliana around the house. I wanted her to wear her birthday outfit because she and I love it so very much. I WISH I could have gotten a good picture of her twirling her skirt! Here are a few of my favorites from that day.

Click here to view all the pictures from the 2 year photo shoot.

She has gotten really good at using the potty, too! I recently read Toilet Training in Less than a Day (a book that was all the rage in the late 70s) to try to pick up some hints on how to get Eliana to tell me when she needed to use the potty. It helped, but she's still not telling me. She will, however, go to the bathroom when she needs to potty and she will go through the whole process from start to finish all by herself!! There's been a couple of times that I didn't even know she went potty until she came out of the bathroom! Way to go Eliana! She has been accident free for the past several days!

Since she has embraced the responsibility of toileting, and she has been so great about going to bed the past couple weeks, we felt it was time to transition her to her big girl bed. Jimbo took the crib rail off yesterday and I told her there was a surprise for her in her room. Probably not the best wording when your child equates the word "surprise" with presents! She cried when she found out there was no present, but was excited when we finally got her to understand that the surprise was her new big girl bed!

She climbed in and out, over and over. She put all of her animals to bed, and then her babies. She took book after book into her bed to read. She just loved it!

Now our crib does not have a toddler bed rail option even though it is sold as a 3-in-1 crib. So I scoured the internet to find a solution, because we definitely didn't want her to roll out of bed in the middle of the night!

Option 1: a $70 universal convertible crib bed rail from Amazon.
Option 2: a pool noodle cut to size and placed under the sheet.

Well, we can't shell out $70 right now, and there are no pool noodles in the stores, yet. So I rolled a large beach towel and placed it under her sheet. And we put pillows on the floor next to the bed in case she rolled over the towel. You can sort of see both in this picture.

It worked! She successfully slept through her first night in her big girl bed and stayed in bed until we woke her for church this morning! Here she is modeling her new sleeping arrangement.

We didn't get her any fancy new bedding. The plan is for me to make a quilt and a few throw pillows to match the valence and dust ruffle I made over the summer. Now, if I could just come up with a pattern! I'll post pictures when I complete the ensemble. In the mean time, here is a bow holder I made to hold Eliana's bow collection. I also made several of the bows. So much cheaper than buying them!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sincerely Sunday

Just trying my hand at a new blogging "column." A time to occasionally share my heart and thoughts on different topics. Today's topic comes in response to a posting by a friend about being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). She really shared her heart about not feeling fulfilled, or like herself, as a SAHM. Her blog post got me thinking about my being a SAHM, and I just wanted to blog about my thoughts and feelings in response.

My mom was (and is) a SAHM, and I love(d) it! She was always there when I got home from school, really any time I needed her. She always took us to do fun things during the summer. Ours was the house where everyone could hang out because there was almost always an adult there.

When I was in high school and early college, the possibility of being a SAHM never really crossed my mind. I was going to college and getting a degree in order to have a career; I was going to be a career-woman. Then I got married and graduated with a Masters and got a real job. I worked for a couple of years and disliked it very much. The 8 to 5, the stress of deadlines, needing permission to take time off - it just wasn't for me.

We moved to Santa Barbara and I chose not to work so I could travel with Jimbo whenever he had a school or a random day off. I totally loved the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I got to explore the Coast and spend time with friends. I even did a little work from home. Then I had the miscarriage. I went to work full-time as a office manager/event planner to keep my mind off the loss. I disliked most of my time working - not the work, but the inflexibility of the schedule and my life basically being managed by another person. It was then that I realized that working a rigid schedule outside the home was just not for me. It's not the way I am designed. My heart was, and is, to be a wife and mom and to stay at home and take care of my family.

Jimbo and I had numerous conversations about my thoughts and feelings about not working. His mom worked as a teacher while he was growing up (until very recently actually), so a working wife and mom was the norm for him. I was concerned that he and his family would think less of me for having a Master's degree and choosing not to work. I was also concerned that my parents would be disappointed that they helped me get my education to have me work in my field for only a few years. We came to the conclusion that this was a desire of my heart and it was a desire placed there by God. So I (we) can't worry about what other people think and have to do what we think is right for our family.

We moved to Connecticut and along came Eliana. I have stayed at home with her from Day 1 and I couldn't be happier with our decision. It hasn't all been roses and cherries. There are definitely those difficult days; days that Eliana and I are at odds with each other, days when I just want some "me" time more than anything, days when I long for the weekends and vacations that a normal job has, days that I wish there was a supervisor there to tell me what to do and pat me on the back for a job well done. But overall, this is the BEST job I've ever had, and the most rewarding.

I love that I am there for all of Eliana's big milestones, and all of the littler things as well. I love that most of what she has learned so far, she has learned from me. I love getting out and doing all the children's activities with her, and I love staying in and playing and learning together. I love running errands together and experiencing new places and people. I love hanging out with the moms from our toddler group, some who are working nights or part-time, and most who are SAHM's with degrees like me.

I know that being a SAHM is not for everyone. Obviously, society needs moms who work and obviously, there are those who have the heart's desire and the calling to work. While I do believe it is the wife's/mom's responsibility to make a home for her family, I believe that this can be done even while a woman is working. And if working is what you are truly meant to do, then you will not be the best wife and mom you can be if you are not doing it. Working outside the home is not for me though!

Being in a part of the country where it seems 99% of the moms work (and where people seem to look down on you for being a SAHM), I often want to wear a big sign around my neck that says "I have a Master's degree in Information Systems, I just choose to be a SAHM." I just as often need to remind myself that my Master's degree is not my identity, nor is a career what the Lord has called me to. I have the privilege and the calling to stay at home and take care of my family full-time.

As far as the financials are concerned - we have always lived off of Jimbo's salary and saved mine. We did this so that in the event that one of us couldn't work (or chose not to work) we wouldn't be financially strapped. It helps that we don't have credit cards, no house payment, never had car payments, and have no other debts. It is still not easy living off of one enlisted man's salary - especially when almost 50% of that salary goes to tithing, giving, and saving - but we are doing it. And God is blessing it. All our needs are met and many of our wants! Thank you, Lord (and Dave Ramsey)! We aren't able to afford all the things we'd like - get part-time childcare for Eliana so I can have some alone time, take all the trips we want, get cool new droid phones with 3G service, get a Wii, decorate our home, get new cars, save a down payment for a house - but I wouldn't trade any of that for staying home. However, I do what I can to best stretch the dollars we have been given. This involves couponing, reusing, making your own (fill in the blank), saving (water, electricity, etc), and being a savvy shopper.

As far as fulfillment goes, I get that from using the gifts and skills that the Lord has given me to plan meals and daily routines, prioritize tasks, organize the toddler group, etc. I am also able to use many skills I learned in school to contribute to our household (project management, accounting, computer skills - I have probably saved us thousands of dollars in computer repairs and data recovery costs over the years). If only I could figure out a way to make money from home doing something that I love to do (that doesn't feel like work) and that didn't take too much time away from my family, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I've often prayed earnestly for ideas and opportunities, but so far nothing has seemed doable or attainable.

So for now, I will enjoy my current position as wife, as mom, as the CEO of the household - the best job I've ever had. And I hope that anyone out there who truly wants to be a SAHM knows that you CAN do it. It often just takes a little sacrifice in your budget (and maybe your family life). And I hope that anyone out there who does not enjoy being a SAHM and desires to go to work knows that working can be just as good as long as you are able to keep your family as top priority (next to God of course).

What are your thoughts on this topic? Did you never think you'd be a SAHM and now love it? Are you a SAHM and hate it? Are you neither and just want to share? Please do!

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas blessings from our family to
as we celebrate the birth of
our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It has been so much fun celebrating Christmas with Eliana this year. She loves baby Jesus and is so excited about all the "prizes" she has gets to open. And she tells everyone "Dee doo" (thank you) as she opens them. Take note of her newly beloved Minnie pajamas :o)

Our Christmas breakfast... sausage balls (with white cheddar - the norm for New England) and monkey bread with a n ice glass of egg nog... YUM!

We hope you are having a wonderful Christmas as well, or a happy celebration of whatever you are celebrating this season!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy, Happy Birthday, Eliana!

One week ago today, our little Eliana turned 2 years old!! I wanted to make the day special for the both of us, so I started it out by waking her up to a gentle rendition of the Happy Birthday song. I also entered her room bearing birthday balloons and one of her birthday gifts.

She was so excited about everything and could tell that it was going to be a special day. We quickly dressed and went to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. She got a strawberry iced donut with sprinkles and a holiday munchkin. I got one of their new chocolate mint donuts, yum!

She enjoyed the special breakfast. She even sat nicely in a big girl chair all by herself. And all the people in the store just loved her! Can you blame them?

We continued our day by going to music class at the library and then to lunch at the hospital where she was born (again, they have VERY good food there).

When Daddy got home, she opened the rest of her gifts before we headed to Olive Garden - her absolute favorite restaurant - for dinner. She got this awesome kitchen from Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Brian!! Daddy spent 5 hours the night before assembling it so we could have a big unveiling on her birthday - thanks Jimbo!!

The following Saturday, the snow storm held off long enough for her to have the most awesome birthday party at My Gym. She could not have been happier; she sure loves going to the gym.

Check out that birthday outfit - I found that on clearance
at the Children's Place outlet last year.

"Pops" that we got from an Asian market and used as party
favors. They are the perfect size for a 2 year old and
they are one of Ellie's loves right now.

Peeking out from one of the swings.

Dancing up a storm with Mommy and one of her friends.
Miriam latched onto Ellie the second she got to the party
and told me that "Eliana loves playing with me." So cute!

The staff had all the kiddos sit in the center of the parachute and the
parents held the parachute and walked them around in a circle, etc.
They weren't sure at first, but ended up loving it.

Swinging on the tire swing with Chase.
She's still not a big fan of other kids, lol!

They blew up the bounce house. Eliana was the first one in and
then climbed out (see above) when all the other kids joined her.

Taking a break from all the action.


The zip line is her absolute favorite thing at the gym!

This cookie cake from Mrs. Field's was SO worth the
30 min drive each way the morning of the party!
Ellie is a little cookie monster, so this cake was PERFECT!

The setup and the drinks, napkins, plates, and utensils
were included. We only had to bring the cake and candles!

They took Ellie in a back room and announced
her as the birthday girl. Then we pulled
her around the gym on this sled.

She got to swing in this swing in front of everyone
while we sang happy birthday to her. At this point she was
only interested in getting her hands on some cake!

She knew just what to do when the candles were lit.

We were so blessed to have so many of our friends
with us for the party. On the last weekend before Christmas,
we certainly didn't expect such a wonderful turnout!

And, yes, she finally got her cake :o)

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

One foot

We're no longer dreaming of a white Christmas, because today it is a reality. We were blanketed with 12 inches of the dry powdery white stuff over night last night. We jumped out of bed, bundled up and went outside to PLAY! I wasn't sure how Eliana would respond to the icy cold snow - this was her first opportunity to really play in it. She absolutely LOVED it!!

"Outside, peees, Mommy" as she stands there with
several of her birthday goodies in her hands, lol!

This was supposed to be a picture of me and Eliana sunk into
the 12 inches of snow, but Jimbo cut the bottom off!

Weeeee! This was Ellie's favorite part; Jimbo and I took turns sliding her down the loading zone driveway next to our building. The "trail" was a good 50 to 75 yards down to the main drag in our complex.

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Background Photo: Lighthouse in Delaware Bay, taken by Kristen from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry on the way to Jimbo's graduation

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