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


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. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DIY "Shellac" Nails

I love the look of shellac nails, but I don't have money just laying around to get a manicure every couple of weeks. I also don't have the time to do that! So I did some experimenting, and created my own "shellac" effect.

Let me just tell you, it is hard to take a good picture of nails! But trust me when I say it looks thicker and shinier and more professional than my nails usually do.

Here are the products I used:

  • 1 coat Sally Hansen "Hard as Wraps" hardener (purchased at Walmart for under $5)
  • 2 coats of whatever color polish you'd like -- I chose Sable Collar from Essie's winter collection (A Christmas gift from my mom from Ulta)
  • 1 coat Sally Hansen "Advanced Hard as Nails - Strengthening Top Coat" (purchased at Walmart...I can't remember the price).

A couple of tips:
  • Make sure each layer completely dries before you add the next.
  • I highly recommend this Sally Hansen top coat. I've had more success with it than my Essie top coat to minimize chipping and make the polish last longer.
  • Kind of unrelated, but I've been buying my Essie polish in gift sets from Ulta. You can buy 4 out of the 6 colors in a collection in smaller bottles for about $17 + tax. I never use an entire bottle of polish anyway before it dries out and gets gross. So buying the smaller bottle at a lower price works out perfectly for me.

Have you tried a "shellac hack?" What has worked for you?


P.S. Don't forget to Like my blog on Facebook if you missed it yesterday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Facebook page

This weekend I caved and decided to set up a facebook page for my blog.  I think it will be a good way to connect with more of you, because let's face it: I'm not the best at keeping up with email! I can also now keep my blog and my personal Facebook separate for those friends of mine who are not interested in seeing links to blog posts every few days.

HERE is the link!  Come "like" me! (It feels like the first day of middle school, writing that.)

Scarlett says, "Thanks for keeping up with our little family!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lit Picks - Vocabulary Development

I am very passionate about reducing "screen time" for kids, and promoting real life experiences!  I know there are some very amazing and educational apps, TV shows, and movies out there, and I use a lot of apps in speech or language therapy with my students or clients.  I am not opposed to screen time at all!  But I think it should be more like dessert: a special treat every once in awhile (unless a child is under 2, and then I say they should very rarely be exposed to any screen time, if at all).

I'm not writing all of this because I think I'm some huge expert because I have a 7-month-old baby.  I really am still a total newb at this whole parenting thing.  However, I am 6 months from graduating with my master's in speech-language pathology, and I already have my bachelor's in early childhood education.  Therefore, I do feel like I have some valuable information to share.

One of the best ways to promote language is through literature!  So I'm going to be sharing some of my (and Scarlett's) favorite books, and how to use them to promote language.  This will be sort of a casual series that I'll post whenever I feel like I have some good books to share.

Today I'm going to share a couple of Scarlett's favorite books that I think are great at promoting vocabulary acquisition.  A major cause of language delays is simple lack of exposure to language.  You would be surprised at the preschoolers I've worked with who can't name simple household objects or animals, simply because they haven't been interacted with enough as babies/toddlers.  If they've never heard the vocabulary, how can they learn it?

I have a couple of books today that are great for babies or toddlers.  They are both lift-a-flap books.  Interactive books of any kind are great for babies or young children. 

The first book is "Toes, Ears, and Nose" illustrated by Karen Katz. 

We love this book!  I have used it in therapy, as well as daily around this house.  Each page shows a clothing item that you lift to reveal a body part:

How to use it: The book targets clothing and body part vocabulary.  When I've used it with clients in the past, I would have them point to whatever body part was on the page.  Then at the end of the story, I would review the body parts again and tell him: "Show me your teeth,"  "show me your elbow," etc.  Same with clothing items.  Obviously this would only work with older kids who have the receptive language skills to do that.  But the book itself is good for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers.

I love Karen Katz's books. They are bright and colorful, so Scarlett is content to sit and look at them over and over again.  Karen Katz has a bunch of other books like this, too.  HERE is a link to her website, where she has 4 or 5 pages of other books like this! She has a lot of seasonal stuff, which I of course love.  Scarlett has the "Where is Baby's Pumpkin?"  book too, and we read it every day leading up to Halloween.


Another book that's really big with Scarlett right now is "100 First Animals."  It is another lift-a-flap book.

One of the reasons I love this book so much is that each page is a different category of animals.  Like farm, sea, rivers and lakes, etc.

How to use it:  With Scarlett, I go through and read all the animals on a page.  Then I let her lift the flaps, and just name the animal every time she lifts a flap.  I also like to make the animal noises and sometimes say what color it is. 

For older children, this book would be good for categorizing, which is a really important language skill.  When Scarlett is preschool age, I may just scan and copy the pages and cut out the animals.  then I'll have her sort them.  I could also show her a group of 3 animals cards and have her tell me how they are alike. Or have her tell me which one doesn't belong in a group.  As a side note, this is a good activity to do with stuffed animals or other toys.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's not supposed to be easy.

We had another snow day today, and I am so thankful!  I had a long weekend with my girl anyway, but was a little bummed to go back to my extern placement today.  I love my placement, but I love spending time with Scarlett more!

Yesterday afternoon, I started seeing weather alerts pop up.  And then last evening, the snow started falling and drifting.  As I packed my lunch and Scarlett's bag, I just knew I wouldn't need them.  Then I woke up at 5:30 this morning and checked my school extern site's website.  Sure enough, we were closed!  I turned off my phone and went right back to sleep for another 2 hours. 

When I finally got out of bed, I quickly ate breakfast and impatiently waited for Scarlett to wake up.  Last night I had decided that we were going to go out and play in the snow if we got another snow day.  I guess we didn't exactly "play."  It was more that Scarlett sat awkwardly in the snow while I took pictures of her striking blue eyes and snow-white complexion.

What I wouldn't give to spend every day with her like this.  But since that is not an option right now, today is extra special!

After awhile, we come inside and spend the day doing every day things.  Reading books, playing, petting the cats, cleaning (me), napping (her).  Today my blessings seem so obvious and big. 

God has blessed me so much.  Some days I forget to look at the blessings.  Those are the days when it feels like the world is on my shoulders, and I just wonder when it's going to start getting easier.  When is life going to feel fair?  When am I going to stop feeling like a rubber band, stretched so far and thin I'm about to break?
 But then I remember that this life is not supposed to be easy or fair.  I wish for what some other people have and get jealous sometimes.  But life is not easy or fair for those people either.  I can either be mad about it, or I can surrender my will to God and choose to look at the good stuff and let the bad stuff fade into the background.
 Life will never be fair, but we always have things to be thankful for.  There are moments in every day that will take our breath away if we just let them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Galentine's Day

I hope you all had an excellent Valentines Day!  And I'm proud to say that I am in the middle of catching up on blog reading!  I haven't had much time to read blogs in the past 3-4 months, but I really feel like I'm missing out, so I'm going to try to make it more of a priority.  And commenting, too!  The interaction is one of the best parts of blogging, and I really miss it!

But on to Valentine's Day.  Luke actually left at 3:00 AM the morning of Valentine's Day to catch a flight to Houston.  And he didn't take me along.  He and a couple of guys from the worship band at church went to the Passion Conference.  To say I was a little annoyed about the timing would be an understatement.  But I decided that this would be a good experience for him, and decided to embrace the time alone with my girl.  Plus, Luke took me out to a Valentine's Day dinner at Bonefish Grill a week before the holiday, so I can't be too angry.  He also tried to surprise me with flowers, but they ended up being delivered while I was away for about 14 hours, and they froze outside.  Sad story.  Thanks a lot, Fed Ex.  But it's the thought that counts!

We did send Daddy off with some pretty cool Valentines, though.  I found these for Luke HERE at the Dating Divas blog.  He is a huge Star Wars fan, so I thought they were perfect.  And free!  I printed them on card stock, one from me and one from Scarlett.  Our printer ink was a little low, so they aren't perfect.  But cute anyway!  We also got him some chocolate, and a new fleece blanket.

The feet are supposed to be a heart.  Footprint projects are harder than they look, especially with a squirmy 7-month-old!

Luckily I ended up having fun plans for Valentines Day while Luke was out West, not freezing his butt off like me.  My mom, Scarlett, and I headed to Columbus for the day to visit my sister.

When I heard Scarlett stirring in her crib that morning, I greeted her with a new stuffed animal, just for Valentines Day.  As you can see in the picture below, she was clearly thrilled.

Her lack of enthusiasm was due to the fact that she was still tired.  That worked to our advantage on the 2.5 hour drive, because she slept most of the way there!

In Columbus we headed to Julie's house where my mom gave us all Valentine's Day presents.  Yes, she still does that.  And I will probably do that for Scarlett too when she's 29.  Then we went out to lunch at Cheesecake Factory, and spent the day shopping at Polaris, a big mall with lots of fun stores that we don't have near my house.  
 P.S. - I chopped all my hair off.
I ended up buying about 7462 things for Scarlett, because let's face it:  shopping for her is a lot more fun than shopping for me.  I did treat myself to this sweater from Loft, which just so happened to be 50% off.  It is so "me."  Pink and girly.

found HERE

To finish our day in Columbus, we visited my sister's new place of employment.  She is now a design consultant at a La-Z-Boy corporate store!  She sells their furniture by helping people pick out the style and prints they want, and she also goes on home consultations.  Scarlett was contemplating this remote-controlled recliner, but we told her she needs to get a job before she can purchase any expensive furniture! 

I think I could have stayed all weekend and continued to shop the entire time, but we headed home in the evening.  After stopping at Pizza Hut on the way home where Scarlett serenaded the entire restaurant and stared at a bunch of men sitting at the table beside us for about 20 minutes, we crashed for the night!  It was a pretty fun first Valentine's Day with my girl! And a fun Galentine's Day with all of us.

Oh!  And I got a head start on next year's Valentine's Day!  Pottery Barn Kids is probably my favorite store right now, but I don't have the money to buy a lot there.  (Who does? am I right?)  I have been loving their Valentine's Day plates and cups all season, and was hoping they'd be on sale.  They were!  So I bought Scarlett her own plate and cup for Valentine's Days to come.  I will probably try to scoop up as much of their adorable Peter Rabbit stuff as I can the day after Easter, too! 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7 months old!

Dear Scarlett,

You are 7 months old today!  And you certainly aren't our little infant anymore.  You have grown so much, and really developed your own personality.

You probably weigh around 13 pounds now, but we don't have a doctor's appointment for another month-and-a-half, so we'll get a better update then.  Speaking of doctors, you started seeing a new pediatrician this month (after the hospital stay due to your weight that we thought was totally unnecessary) and she is not worried about your size!  She told us you're probably just always going to be small, but that you're perfectly healthy.  We were so happy to hear that, because we've known all along that you're perfectly healthy.  We are finding that our mommy and daddy instincts are often pretty accurate.

You have learned to do so many new things this month!  as you can see in the pictures, you are now sitting on your own for just about as long as you want.  You love sitting on the floor and playing with your toys and books!  You also are talking and babbling so much.  You get into talkative moods in the evening, usually, and just crack us up with the stories you seem to be telling!  You say "mama" the most, but have recently started to say your b, d, n, ng, w, and y sounds. 

You also had a lot of new experiences this month, like eating solid food for the first time!  You've been eating one small bit of food (avocodos or bananas) once a day for about a month now.  You love it!  You also love trying to sip a bit of water out of your sippy cup.  If it were up to you, I think you'd abandon your bottle completely and transition right to your sippy cup and solid food.  The doctor told us you'd need to be weaned off of the bottle at about a year, and I just know that will be no problem.  The pacifier, though?  That is another story altogether.  You are not going to want to give that up!  But we will cross that bridge when we come to it when you're a little older.

Another huge milestone this month is that you started sleeping in your own bedroom in your crib full-time!  The transition was actually easy, and most nights you sleep just fine from about 9:00-7:00 or 8:00.  There have been a few nights, though, where you woke up every half hour!  Those were rough nights, but Mommy and Daddy are learning that you can get through with very little sleep if you have to! 

Last month your bottom two teeth started poking through.  And this month, they are big enough to be seen when you smile, and they are adorable!

You recently started reaching for things. You like to reach for people, but then when they try to grab your hand, you pull it away.  I joke and tell you that that's not very friendly!  But it's pretty cute!

Your favorite toys this month are your vintage telephone and clock toys from Fisher Price, your toy barn and farm animals, a little light-up book that sings to you, your favorite lift-a-flap book, and your cousin Hadley's exersaucer that we are borrowing. 

When we decided to name you Scarlett, we loved it because it is a feminine name, but still strong sounding.  Let me tell you -- you are living up to your name!  You are so sweet, but definitely very feisty too at times!  You're silly and goofy and you know what you want!  And sometimes you let us know if you didn't get what you wanted!  Ha!  Last weekend we were at a Super Bowl party, and you were playing with a little toy wrench.  You would not let that thing go!  When Daddy took it away, you got so upset!  You just screamed and screamed, and real tears were rolling down your cheeks.  I must say, that is the first real bit of attitude we've seen from you, and it cracked me up and terrified me, all at the same time!  I hate to tell you, but soon you will learn that you won't always get what you want.  Unfortunately, that will be a lesson you'll be learning for the rest of your life.  But for now, you should enjoy being an only child and not having to share your toys too often.

This month was kind of a break in the craziness after the holidays.  Mommy went back to school for spring semester, so you've been spending 3 days a week with either Nana or Grandma.  We have had the worst winter!  It has been extra cold and we've had a bunch of  snow storms!  So this month we mostly stayed home, snuggled, and played and read books.  It has been nice to just relax a lot.  Next month might be similar, except that you have your first Valentines Day coming up at the end of this week!  I know you're too young to really enjoy the holiday, but we bought you a little Valentines Day stuffed animal anyway.  Holidays are so much more fun with you here!

Here is what you looked like this month:

We love how smart and independent you are becoming!  But please, stop growing so fast!!  

We love you so much,
Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Days

...from Scarlett's point of view.

"Being a 6-and-a-half month old is hard work.  I don't ask for a lot -- just constant attention and entertainment every waking moment of every day.  During our snow days, Mommy likes to try to get housework, like laundry, dishes, and cleaning done. Ha! No deal.  If she's busy doing that, then she's not playing with me!  Sometimes I give her a break if she gives me a toy to play with. Oh, who am I kidding?  They're not for playing, they're for chewing.  Anyway, she must also sing and dance and just generally act goofy if I'm going to let her put me down for more than 5 minutes.

"Sometimes Mommy lets me get close to this elusive creature.  I don't know what it is, but it looks like my stuffed animals.  But it moves and makes funny noises.  We have stare-downs sometimes.  All I want is to grab a handful of her hair to put in my mouth, but Mommy won't let me.  It's a rough life sometimes.  At least I got to sit on the big bed for awhile.  Happy Day!

"Not to brag or anything, but I've recently learned to sit on my own.  I still need to be surrounded by pillows, because if I topple over, I'm pretty sure I will die.  It happened once, and I somehow survived.  I think Mommy's hugs and kisses have healing powers.  Otherwise I would have been a goner.  I still screamed loud and long enough to warn her she better never let that happen again though!

"Also, no big deal, but I can drink out of a sippy cup now!  And I'm even drinking water like Mommy!  I'm practically a grown up.  We practice this a lot during our snow days, and I've gotten pretty good at it.  I only drool or spit about half of every sip now instead of the whole thing!

"While I'm busy being awesome in my bouncer and speaking in my native language of squeals, whines, and pterodactyl sounds, Mommy works on cooking some yummy, healthy meals to eat during the cold and snowy days.  All I want more than anything in this world is to taste some of the food Mommy and Daddy get to eat!  It seems to be some sort of delicacy that they do not deem my palate to be sophisticated enough to eat.  So instead, they give me some cold, mushy junk every day.  It's not that bad, I guess.  It tastes exponentially better when delivered to my mouth accompanied by airplane or choo choo train sounds.  But I just know the food that Mommy and Daddy are eating is better!  Maybe someday they will let me try it.

"Sitting here watching Mommy cook sure is tiring!  Plus she stuck this green thing in my mouth that always makes me feel sleepy.  Mommy and Daddy call it "the mute button," whatever that means.  Mommy also put my soft blanket with the silky edges on me, and whenever I so much as touch that thing, my eyes just fall shut.  I protest because I don't want to miss a single moment of our exciting snow days!  But Mommy is cruel, and won't take the magic mute button or soft blanket away. I succumb to their powers and fall into a deep sleep."

"I don't like to take long naps, so I will probably be awake in 20-40 minutes to do this all again!  Mommy seems giddy with happiness that she gets to spend so much time with me during our snow days.  I'm pretty awesome like that.  And not to mention adorable.  She says winter is not so bad with me around!"