Friday, April 11, 2014

9 Months Old!

Dear Scarlett, 
You're 9 months old today!  Look how much you've grown:


 Each month I keep thinking it will be impossible for you to get cuter since you're already so cute, but each month you do it!  The first few months of your life, all we heard when people saw you was "she's so tiny!"  While we still hear that occasionally, that comment has mostly been replaced with, "she has such big, blue eyes!"  We can almost count on it every time you meet someone new or see someone who hasn't seen you in a long time.  I have to agree with everyone...they are big, blue, and beautiful!  


Also, your hair is finally starting to really grow in!  It is light brown and very straight right now.  You're starting to look less like a baby and more like a little girl each day.  I hate it and love it at the same time I love watching you become independent, but I also hate the thought of you growing up!

You weigh about 14 pounds, and you're 26.5 inches long.  It is crazy to think that you've grown 7.5 inches since you were born.  I can't even remember what it was like when you were that small! 

You have learned a lot of new things this month.  You are really into imitating actions.  You wave back at people (with both hands, facing the wrong way, but it's adorable).  You have finally perfected clapping and you do it every time you hear the word "clap" or "patty-cake."  You're babbling up a storm, and sometimes you get so excited you just scream!  And I mean, you REALLY scream.  A lady at Giant Eagle told me you were going to break the glass in the freezer aisle -- that's how loud you are.  It's pretty funny, and unexpected coming from such a small baby.  Luckily you only do it when you're overly happy or excited, and not when you're upset.  You still like to dance, although the novelty is wearing off a bit.  You also sing in the sweetest little voice.  Sometimes you sing yourself to sleep.

You're still giving the rare spontaneous kiss to us, and have started to give hugs.  My heart basically explodes when I'm holding you and you randomly tilt your head, pull yourself close to me, and rest it on my shoulder while you hold on for a few seconds.  Those hugs alone are worth all the time we spent waiting for you.


You still haven't started crawling forward, but that doesn't seem to stop you from getting around.  You can crawl backwards and around in circles, and it cracks us up how you spin yourself around until you get to where you want to go.  You can also scoot pretty well when you're sitting on the floor.  We kind of think you might walk before you full-on crawl!  You just don't seem interested in crawling.

Your favorite toys right now are any toys that play music.  It's so fun that you already have a passion for music, just like Mommy and Daddy!  You especially like you're stuffed dog that sings to you, and your Fisher Price vintage clock music box. 

Speaking of music, this update would not be complete if I didn't mention your favorite song.  I'm not sure how it became your favorite, but you are absolutely obsessed with the song "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen!  As soon as you hear those first few notes of the song, your head flips around to wherever the sound's coming from, and you're completely entranced for the next 3.5 minutes.  We even use it in the car to calm you down sometimes, and it works every time.  I call it the magic song.
Speaking of chewing, your top front teeth sure are giving you trouble!  They've been trying to poke through for at least a month, and they've changed your appetite, made you lose sleep, and just made you all around miserable some days.  I can't wait until they totally come in!  Although I hate to tell you, but you've got a LOT more teeth coming in, so this is not the last of the misery!  At least it's a chance for extra snuggles!

This month has been pretty laid back around here.  The weather hasn't been nice enough to get out too much, so we've hung out around home a lot.  Mommy was on spring break for a week, and we had so much fun together!  We also did the usual fun family outings and visits.

Next month we'll be able to go outside, swing, take walks, and go visit daddy at the park at work!  We can't wait to spend as much time with you as possible!

Here's what you looked like this month:


We love you so much! 

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Frozen Phenomenon and Being a Girl Mom

I've been hearing about Frozen for months from my friends who have kids and from the students I work with.  Apparently it's a huge deal,  but I don't exactly fit the demographic of people who watch that type of movie (Ha!  Who am I kidding?  Half of our blu-ray collection are Disney movies).  Anyway, I wasn't in a rush to see the movie.

Then last Wednesday, Scarlett was napping and I clicked on a video someone had posted on Facebook.  It was a man singing a cover of the song "Let it Go" (from Frozen) in a bunch of different Disney voices.  I was getting a kick out of it when I heard Scarlett stirring in her crib.  So I paused the video, went to scoop her up out of her crib, and then let her watch the rest of the video with me.  I usually don't like her to watch anything on a screen, but made an exception for a short, cute video.

She seemed to be really into it, so after that video was over, I clicked on another one -- the version of the song from the movie.  She was absolutely mesmerized. 

Throughout the day, I would play the song and we would dance around, and she seemed to be having the time of her life.  There was just something about that song. 

By the time Saturday rolled around, we had listened to the song approximately 850 times.  So I decided I might as well purchase the blu-ray, since it will probably be one of Scarlett's future favorites.  And let's be honest, probably mine too.  So during naptime on Saturday, I took part in this wonderfulness while Scarlett snoozed:
 

And oh my goodness, it was so cute!  I loved it, and I'm almost 30 years old.  I know Scarlett is going to love it even more when she's old enough to really watch it. 

And now when Scarlett gets fussy, I see her looking at the TV, just waiting for me to  play her favorite song.  And I willingly oblige.  Her eyes get big and she gasps and dances and even tries to sing along.  And I kind of see into our future for a minute.  I see all things princesses, pink, dancing, sing-alongs, girly movies, and all the fun things about being a little girl.  And sometimes I'm so overwhelmed with happiness that God has blessed me with a baby girl that I almost cry.  You can tell me I'm perpetuating gender norms all you want, but I happen to love being a woman, and I'm glad my daughter gets to experience all of those fun, girly things too.  

I will also teach her to be tough and independent and to stand up for herself.  But that's the beauty of being a girl:  she can be all of those things, and still be a beautiful, feminine, princess at the same time.  

I know I would have loved a little boy so much, and I hope I have one someday.  But I feel so blessed that God picked me to be a girl mom, too. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lit Picks: The Napping House (+ Freebie!)

I am checking in for 1 measly post this week to share one of my very favorite books to use in therapy: The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood.

 This book is amazing.  The illustrations are beautiful, it is a predictable text, there is rich vocabulary, and children think it's hilarious!  I did some activities with this book in therapy a couple of weeks ago, and there were some serious belly laughs coming from the speech room as the students saw what happened to all the crazy people and animals sleeping in the napping house! 

How to use it: 
  • Predictable text:  Once you have read a few pages, you can leave off words, and children can fill them in for you.  You can also have students predict what's going to happen next.
  • Rich Vocabulary: there are many synonyms for "sleep" in the book.  Have children make a list of all the words they can find that mean "sleep."
  • Prepositions: Have students answer "where?" questions on each page, using prepositions.  For example, ask them, "Where is the mouse on this page?"  Instead of just having the child point, have them tell you, "ON the mirror."
  • Story recall:  Have children draw a picture of everyone on the bed in the napping house, and then have them tell you what happened after they were all asleep.
  • Sequencing:  Use pictures to have students retell the story in the correct sequence.  I actually just opened my own Teachers Pay Teachers store, and I uploaded free sequencing pictures HERE, so hop on over there and download them!  Your children will love it.  The download also includes a page where students can write all the synonyms for "sleep" from the story.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

8 Months Old!

Dear Scarlett,

You are 8 months old today!  2/3 of a year old!

I say this every month, but you are at such a fun age!  You are learning so many new things each day.  You are getting to the point where you notice that you get attention when you do certain things, so you do them over and over to make everyone laugh.  I guess you're a little ham!

For example, you have recently learned how to "dance."  Whenever you hear music, you bob your head and rock back and forth.  It's to the point now where we just say, "Scarlett, dance!"  and you do it.  You've done it a million times, but it makes everyone laugh every time!

You seem to understand what a few other words mean, too.  You know who to look at when we say "Mommy,"  "Daddy," or "Ellie."  And you look at us when we say your name, too.  When we say "Hi,"  you wave your hand.  And you try to clap your hands when we tell you to clap.

You babble constantly, too.  Lately you've been saying, "mamamama," "dadadada," "nanananana" (which kind of sounds like "no" and you mostly do it when you're whining), "babababa" and a few other sounds.  You like to kind of whisper your "s" and "sh" sounds too, which always cracks us up.  We're not sure what you're trying to say, but it seems like you're telling us a secret!

You've also recently started to give "kisses."  basically, you just open your mouth wide and press it into our faces.  You do it rarely and only when you're in the right mood, but it basically makes our day when you do it!

 You aren't super interested in crawling, but you recently learned to get up on your knees when you're on your stomach and crawl backwards.  You also roll over more often now, with a little support and encouragement.

You are such a curious baby!  You want to know what's going on all the time.  If we are in a new place or a busy situation, you refuse to nap.  And when I am trying to feed you at home, Daddy and the cats have to be completely still, because if anyone moves, you lose all interest in the bottle and want to know what's going on!  I joke and say you're just nosy.

Speaking of eating, you seem much more interested in solids than your bottle lately.  You have yet to try a food that you don't like, but squash and sweet potatoes are definitely your favorites! I guess you take after Mommy, because Daddy hates those foods!  You are such a good little eater, even though you still weigh a little under 14 lbs!

This month your favorite toys are your sock monkey, your little Alice in Wonderland toys, your plastic farm animals, and your little ball that makes a rattling noise.  Anything we let you get your hands on that is not a toy, is also your favorite toy (e.g. cups, spoons, lids, an old remote control with the batteries removed, etc).  You love to look at books, listen to music, play peek-a-boo, and dance.


This month was one of the snowiest I can remember!  Mommy had lots of snow days, which were all spent with you!  I loved every minute.  We also did some fun things like visit Aunt Julie for a day trip in Columbus, celebrate Great Grandma's 90th birthday, play in the snow, and had a girl's weekend with Mommy while Daddy was in Houston.  This month, Daddy also had surgery on his knee.  The same week, Mommy was sick, and you got sick for the first time!  It was no fun, but we all got through it.  

These months keep flying by!  As always, we wish we could somehow make time slow down!

Here's what you looked like this month:

We love you so much!
Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lit Picks - Dr. Seuss


 Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!  Technically, it was yesterday.  But I thought today would be a good day to talk about some of his wonderful books!

HERE is a website that lists every single Dr. Seuss book.  I could probably write a blog post about every one of them, but I picked just 2 to talk about today:

 The Foot Book:


 I love this book!  It teaches the concept of opposites using feet:


How to use it with babies and toddlers:  This book, along with every other Dr. Seuss book, is good because of the rhyming.  It is good for babies and toddlers to hear rhyming and rhythm as they acquire langauge.  When I read this book to Scarlett, she rocks back and forth almost like I'm singing to her.  It's also good for print awareness, which is an important early literacy skill.  Since there are few words on a page, it is easy to point to each word as you read, and show the 1:1 word: text ratio.  Pointing to the words shows that we read left-to-right.  And if you read often (any book, not just this one), it teaches where we begin books (the front) and end books (the back), and which way we turn the pages.  I like this book for print awareness because it's so simple, there are only a few words on a page, and the text is embedded in the pictures.  I also like this book for counting.  When I read it to Scarlett, we count all the feet on each page.

For older children: synonyms and antonyms are another important language skill, and this is the perfect book to use to introduce antonyms (opposites).  You could read through the book once and then try to have the child fill in the opposites on a second reading.  You could also have them make up their own opposite using feet in addition to the ones in the book.

***

Another one of my favorite books to read to Scarlett is Dr. Seuss's ABC



Again, it rhymes and there is rhythm.  The text is big and colorful, so it's good, again, for print awareness.  And it promotes letter-sound recognition.


How to use it:  For babies and toddlers, it would be good to read this book a lot to get them familiar with what letters look and sound like.  I like how the book shows both the capital and lower-case versions of each letter.The inside cover (front and back) has the entire alphabet printed on it, so after I read it to Scarlett, I sing her the ABC song while I point to all the letters.

For older children, You could have them try to write each letter as you read the book to them.  You could also have them tell you more words that begin with each letter.

Dr. Seuss books are just all-around amazing for teaching all kinds of wonderful literacy skills.  A quick Pinterest Search of "Dr. Seuss Activities" leads to pages upon pages of pins and boards with ideas for literacy activities, crafts, costumes, snacks, etc.  I plan to use these books and activities a lot with Scarlett and in speech therapy if I get a job in the schools.

***
 HERE are  my lit picks for vocabulary development.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Randoms

- My sweet husband ordered some flowers to be delivered to me on Valentines Day.  He wanted to surprise me since he was leaving for Houston that weekend.  The only problem with that is that I decided to go out on a last-minute day-trip to Columbus to visit my sister, so they sat in the freezing cold all day.

I got home at about 9 that night and my flowers were frozen and droopy.  I was so bummed!  Luke emailed Pro Flowers and told them what had happened, and they re-sent the order.  Now there is a huge bunch of lilies in my living room making me smile every time I walk in.  I took this picture last weekend, and they are even prettier now because they're all open and beautiful.


- Have you been watching Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show?  Luke and I have been enjoying it so much!  We DVR it every night, and then watch it the next afternoon or evening when we both get home.  We're obviously too old to stay up late enough to watch it live.  Anyway, we pretty much laugh through the entire show. 

- I've finally gotten brave, and I've been using my camera in manual mode lately.  It is really fun to experiment, and not nearly as complicated as I would have thought.  I wish I had more time to experiment, and I can't wait until it's warm enough to take more pictures outside, but for now it's fun to experiment during free time on the weekends.  I have been trying to take comparisons between automatic and manual modes.  There's a big difference, and I think I should have figured out what this thing could do earlier!

- Luke and I are having a date night tonight!  Having a baby changes a marriage so much.  It is awesome to see your spouse become a parent, and you basically fall in love with them all over again.  But then real life and major stress sets in, and things become difficult.  At least for me, it is hard not to take my frustration out on Luke and snap at him.  I will probably write a whole post on this at some point, but the nutshell version is: it is so important to give each other the benefit of the doubt, be patient with one another, and forgive each other.  One of my favorite quotes is, "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers."  It's also important to take time out together.  I am excited spend some quality time with Luke tonight.

- I have to say, I think 7 months is my favorite age so far.  Scarlett just keeps us constantly laughing.  She loves to sing and dance! It's so funny.  She rocks back and forth while she yells "ahhh."  She also just has so much more of a personality now.  And we seem to be coming more and more out of her whiny stage.  And to be completely honest, I'm trying to enjoy the fact that she's not mobile yet!  Ha!  I know our days are limited, because the past few days she's been trying to push herself up on her knees when she's on her stomach, and I know she's going to be creeping and then crawling before too long!  She also can push herself backwards on her stomach.  I guess we better do some baby-proofing!

Happy Friday!
 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfectionism

I am the oldest child in my family, and I have all the classic traits: high-strung personality, very hard on myself, and an extreme perfectionist. 

I never really thought of my perfectionism as a bad thing.  I always thought it was the reason I've been successful in school, and hopefully in my future career. 

However, God is showing me that it has become an obsession and a source of extremely prideful and selfish behavior. 

The problem with being a perfectionist is that I'm obviously very far from perfect.  But for some reason, I have this need to appear like I have it all together.  This is where the pride and selfishness come in.  I am too focused on myself and making sure everything appears to be perfect about my life, while on the inside, I'm one stressful situation away from having a mental breakdown. 

I keep telling myself that I don't care if I don't get all As in school.  But the truth is, I do care.  I can't give half of my best on a project, paper, or at my externship.  Even though if I did, it would probably mean more time spent with Scarlett and Luke and less stress for me. What would happen if I got a B?  Would the world stop turning?  Because somehow in my mind, that's what would happen.  It's ridiculous, and I'm glad I'm realizing what a huge problem this has become.

Another problem area is my home.  You guys, I have to be honest.  I am just not good at keeping it clean.  Luke always rolls his eyes and tells me our house is just fine, and it's clean enough.  But I want it to be perfect.  Our house is such a source of frustration for me because I want it to be clean, and that is just not a priority for Luke (or most men, I guess).  I get mad and snap at him when I start to feel like the house is getting out of control (which it is most of the time).  I don't know why I can't just let it go, realize it's not going to be perfectly clean until our kids are graduated and out of the house (or never), and relax a bit. 

The thing that scares me is that I'm afraid of projecting my perfectionism onto Scarlett.  She's already an oldest child (assuming we have more children) with 2 oldest children as parents.  I am constantly picking at her and making sure she looks and acts "perfect" all the time.  This week I realized that this is really a habit I need to break so she doesn't end up just like me!

I guess it all comes down to motives.  If I was trying to make my house perfect for my family, that would be okay.  But I try to make it look perfect for appearances; so that people think I have it all together when they come visit, or (heaven forbid!) stop over unexpectedly.  In my case, perfectionism = pride! 

I can't believe it took me almost 30 years to realize how silly it is to be so wrapped up in appearances, and things that just don't matter!  I would be under so much less stress if I just said, "I don't care what people think!"  I would have more time to spend doing things for others if I wasn't so wrapped up in making my life look as "put together" as possible. 

If God wanted us to be perfect, He would have created us that way.  But he wants us to rely on Him for perfection.  It's not my job to be perfect.  The more I realize that, the more I can let go and be used for His purposes instead of my own. 

I'm glad I finally realized this, but the hard part is going to be changing!  I'll just have to take it one day at a time.