In our nursing chair

How do you know when it's time? Does it ever feel like it's time? Will the baby really tell you when she's ready? How do you know? Isn't my milk better than anything a cow can give her? But she's still a baby!

These thoughts have been racing through my head for the past 6 months. I always said I'd nurse Anna until she was a year. That was my goal. Then 10 months crept up on us and weaning Anna at a year old seemed way to early. I wasn't ready, she didn't seem ready. Her birthday was coming, wasn't that milestone big enough? Adding weaning on to it just seemed too much for this mom to handle. So I decided 18 months. Yeah, that sounded good. 

Well Anna is now 15 months and I've already weaned her from her morning session. That was easy. Well for her. For me, when I would feed her in the morning she'd usually fall back asleep for an hour or two, which was uh-mazing. Now that she's only getting a bottle of cow's milk (and not me) she doesn't want to fall back asleep. So our days begin at 6 am (aka the butt-crack of dawn). Thursday was the first day to cut out her nap session. Daddy helped. He gave her a bottle of cow's milk and after 30 minutes of crying she finally fell asleep. Yesterday she only cried for 10 minutes. Today I gave her the bottle. She fell asleep within 15 minutes but was crying again within 30 minutes and took another hour before finally falling asleep. Nap time today was rrr-ough. I don't think it's because she wants my milk. She doesn't seem to mind that she's receiving a bottle rather than me. But today's craziness makes me want to reconsider this whole weaning thing because when I nurse her that girl falls asleep in 5 minutes and she's out for almost 3 hours! 

18 months was my new goal. I felt better knowing that I will have given her a great start with a year and a half of the best milk she could receive. However, she'll definitely have been weaned by then at the rate we're going. So why am I beginning this whole weaning thing 3 months early? It all has to do with my luteal phase. Some of you may not even know what that is (I sure didn't know before we started trying for a baby over 2 years ago!) Basically, in laymen's terms, it's the days between ovulation and your monthly visit from Aunt Flow. In order for women to get pregnant this phase needs to be at least 12-16 days long (10 days is really pushing it but I read that it can still happen). Women who have consistently had phases lasting less than 10 days and get pregnant will most likely miscarriage. I've been charting since the summer and my luteal phases have consistently been less than 10 days. After a little research I found out it could be due to breastfeeding. With us hoping for a brother or sister for Anna in the next few months I knew it was time to see if breastfeeding really had anything to do with my shortened luteal phases. So, we'll see! It really is crazy how our bodies are. Some women have a very difficult time getting pregnant after the second, third, etc. due to many things while others who aren't trying at all get pregnant while still breastfeeding. Just like no two babies are alike, no two women bodies are alike! My research and weaning could be all for naught if my luteal phase doesn't lengthen after Anna's completely done breastfeeding. So who knows?! At this point though I just pray it does have to do with breastfeeding for more than just the reason that I want to get pregnant again. I would hate to take my milk away from Anna if it doesn't help.

So the questions that have circled my mind for months are finally being answered. When is the time? Now. Am I sad? Of course. I'm grieving a bit. And that's ok. But what makes me feel better is knowing that Anna is taking it well, and also the hope that weaning will eventually lead to another little joy for this family of three.

After one of our first nursing sessions still in the hospital


Christmas with a One Year Old

This Christmas season is already completely different than last year's Christmas. For one, we've got 10 tiny fingers that love touching and removing tree ornaments.

Ohhh, so shiny! I can just hear her saying, but really it's more like yabbbyabbbyabbybeeeboobeeboo. We've asked our Nepali friends if they understand her, hoping she's actually speaking Nepalese. They don't, so we're thinking she must be speaking Burmese, naturally.

The other night I had every good intention of reenacting our Christmas card photo session from last year. I should've known that a 2.5 month old is going to sit still much better than a 14.5 month old. I thought things were going well in the beginning. Anna was all smiles around the Christmas tree. Until the camera came out. The smiles went away, the ornaments started coming off one by one, her movements were too quick for the camera to focus, and, oh, she was more interested in trying to put the stockings on her feet like they were socks. Again, naturally.

So there were a few pictures that were just precious but not necessarily Christmas card worthy:


I think it'll still be another year before Anna really starts to understand even a little of this whole Christmas thing. I set up an Advent calendar with readings and fun activities for us to do everyday. You know, the usual: singing Christmas carols, driving around to see the lights, watch Christmas movies, bake cookies, visit Santa. Anna couldn't care less. And actually we're skipping Santa this year. Again, Anna couldn't care less, she'd most likely just be terrified of the jolly man. She really isn't into presents either. She'd rather play with the wrapping and tissue paper (except when our good friend Abby brought over Anna's Christmas gift the other day. After playing with the tissue paper Anna saw the gift, and I've never seen her so excited for the actual gift! It was perfect for this little doll loving girl: a baby doll stroller and a baby doll. It hasn't left her side since Sunday, it's even gone on a car ride with us, stroller and all). She's not exactly into helping bake cookies or behaving well because of an elf on a shelf. She hasn't written out a wish list or sat even for two minutes during a Christmas movie. And I'm okay with all of this. It just gives me another year to prepare myself for when Christmas becomes Anna's favorite time of year. Of course, naturally.

Ok, Grumpy Greta Goose, we're done. 


Like Mother, Like Daughter

So many thoughts and images run through my head when I see my daughter holding her baby doll:

1. Memories of when I was little and I would do the same. My baby dolls were very real to me and I knew from an early age all I ever wanted to be was a Mommy.

2. My baby is growing up. That she even knows to hold her baby doll, say "ahhh", pat her doll on the back, and give her doll a kiss blows my mind! Just a few months ago I was doing that to her (and still do) and now she's doing it to her own baby. When did my baby girl grow up?!

3. My baby knows how to love. Even though she can't say the word yet, she knows what it means to love. When I tell her I love her, she leans into me for a hug and then an open mouthed kiss--it's slobbery, yes, but those are the best.

4. She had to learn that from someone! On top of being blown away by the knowledge our little girl already has, I'm also very humbled. The only reason she knows how to treat her baby doll that way is because she has also been treated that way from her own Mommy (and Daddy). She has started mimicking us, and this is by far my favorite!

5. She's going to be a good Mommy. Now this one I'm hoping is a very long time before I witness but she's already getting in some practice. I mean, what is more important from a Mommy than her love, hugs, and kisses?

Seriously, this whole parenting thing...yeah, it's only getting better.


Miss Independent

So it's been a while. We've been pretty busy. Doing what? You know, everything and nothing all at the same time. Not anything to really blog about. Except for maybe the fact that our boys won the championship(!!!), they went on a camping retreat last weekend, and oh, Travis' car got stolen! But no worries, it was left on the side of the road just a mile away from our home when the cops found it and came banging on our door at 11 pm while I was home alone with Anna. Again, no need to worry. We're safe, our car's back in its proper parking space, and the next thing on our to-do list is buy a club.

Aannyywayy...on to more important matters like the fact that we have a little miss independent on our hands. Yeah, we guessed it might be that way, what with both of us being first borns, we kind of suspected our first born would inherit the dreaded first born attitude that sounds something like this: "it's my way, I'm always right, I can do it by myself, etc". And she can't even talk yet! How at just shy of 14 months do we already have a child who wants to do everything on her own? I guess this is only the beginning.

Do you wonder if you have an independent child? You may if...

1. She tries to grab her toothbrush from your hands while you're trying to brush her teeth. Of course she wants to do it all by herself.

2. She lets go of your hand at the exact moment you're trying to cross the street. She can be safe all by herself.

3. You pull her away from something she's not allowed to be in (i.e. her trashcan full of poopy diapers, a medicine cabinet that should have a child lock on it but you haven't had time to fix it) and she flails her arms only to make a bigger mess than if you would've just left her alone.

4. She wants to dress herself. Ok, so she can't actually put her clothes on by herself just yet but she hand picked these shoes all by herself (or maybe this is more of a creative child, which I don't mind one bit!)

5. You take her to the YMCA or church childcare and she could care less that you're leaving her. See ya, Ma, I've got toys to play with and people to see!

6. She refuses to eat unless she's doing the forking or spooning.

7. She says "no" to everything! The good news for us is Anna can't say "no" yet but I know it's just around the corner!

8. You've contemplated getting a child leash so when you're outside walking or in public she can still explore while still being close enough in case you need to run after her. Because an independent child will not sit in a stroller for very long.

**Ok, that last one you may think I'm crazy, but I'm totally serious. If it weren't for Travis I would definitely put Anna on a leash!

So do you have an independent child? I'd love to hear advice on how to handle one. You know, so I'm not tempted to pull out my hair and at the same time crying on the inside because she doesn't need me anymore while also letting her be free to safely explore the world around her.


A banana, a monkey, and a few heroines

I loved Halloween growing up and it's not much different today, especially now that I have a child. Like I said in one of my previous posts, activities are so much fun with a kid in tow! Last night we did it all: dressed up, went door to door with a few of our little friends, and passed out candy. The night was concluded with a pot of white chicken chili, Hocus Pocus, and a few bites of Anna's candy that we collected (shhh, don't tell!) 

A lot of you know one of Anna's many nicknames is "Anna Banana" so I thought it'd be cute to dress her as a banana and Travis and I as her monkeys. However, my costume changed entirely once my two volunteers for girls nights and I decided to go as a trio. You'll see below who we chose!
Cutest banana I've ever seen! She saw an airplane. She loves them!

Here's the thing, she didn't like Travis' monkey mask and mullet (I mean, who would?!) Like, she hated it. Wouldn't even look at him. So we improvised and got her one of her monkey stuffed animals to take pictures with. And the hairstyle below, we call that the "pulled hair bow out of hair" look.  

Look at that Zoolander pose!

Yes, I made her costume. Yes, it may look more like a fairy or a flower but hey, homemade costumes are always the best! My mom used to make ours, Travis (the creative one) used to make his, so I felt it only necessary I make Anna's. I think these shots below make her look most like a banana.

Our girls night girls are obsessed with the Powerpuff Girls. Do you remember the show? 

When I was in middle school my friends and I loved the Powerpuff girls, so much so that my AIM name was "blossom503". I guess you could say I was a little obsessed too. When our girls started calling us by the Powerpuff Girls names we knew exactly who we were going to dress like for Halloween!

Well, what do you think? 
Yours Truly as Buttercup (she just fit me better this time around)
Susan as Blosson
Emily as Bubbles
Too bad most of our girls were confused and it took a few tries for them to guess who we were! But we did get a random group of adult women ask if we were the Powerpuff Girls, so...YES! 

Anna refused to let Travis hold her or be within 5 feet of her when he had that mask on so he kind of had to sneak into the family shot. And just look at that nasty mullet. He seriously wears it every chance he gets (a lot of you already know this from previous Halloweens and dress ups!) 
Don't worry, Anna, Mommy and the Powerpuff Girls will save you!
Whelp, here's to hoping Anna won't be as scared next year! How was your Halloween? Did you and/or your kids dress up and get tons of candy to make you sick for the next year like we did?! I hope we're not the only ones :)


Skytop Apple Orchard

This year was the year to go apple picking, not because I hadn't been in a long time, but because we have a little one now and all those seasonal activities are much more fun with a kid in tow. They give us adults an excuse to do all the kid stuff again, like climb a tree for the best apple at the top. And don't think that Travis didn't do exactly that. He wasn't going to be told twice to get that one just out of reach when standing on your tippy toes. And the apple cider donuts were most definitely worth the 15 minute wait in line. Bought a dozen, went home with five--yeah, so they were pretty high up there on my favorite donuts list; and I have a list. So having a kid can definitely have its perks but when you go with the best people ever than it just makes the experience that much better! We went with a couple who have become our great friends over the past year. We love the Jowers to pieces and what better way to spend time with them than picking apples and eating donuts? Sounds like a perfect day to me.

I mean, look at those Macs and Pink Ladies. They look pret-ty cool, if I do say so myself.

Have you ever heard of blushing gold apples? Yeah, me neither. After being told they make a really good apple pie, Travis said yep, we're getting those! Not because he's baking a pie, but because he expects me to. We'll see how that turns out--I guess I do have plenty to practice with considering we went home with a peck! Not exactly sure how much a peck is but the bag was filled to the top.
Isn't this the ideal apple with the little leaf still attached? 

My man climbing a tree to get the perfect apple.
Reverting back to his childhood or trying to impress his Pink Lady?
I'd say the former ;)

When she wasn't throwing a fit in her stroller (because she's a walker now, Mom, how dare you confine her to a stroller when you have to walk 400 yards across an orchard atop a mountain?!) Anna was perfectly content playing in the dirt and pulling the apples out of our basket.

The scenery was absolutely beautiful! It reminded me so much of when we lived in Greenville, South Carolina and could see the mountain ridges on a daily basis. A little photoshoot with the mountains in the background was a must and these next few pictures are pretty much my favorite! Anna's faces are almost too much to take and those pigtails, I could just die.

Had to take a family shot to prove we were at an orchard, you know. Anna apparently didn't get the memo about wearing flannel.

It really was the perfect day. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was breathtaking, and the company was even better. Plus we left with a peck of apples and a happy tummy, filled with 3.5 donuts. Yummm! 


See that picture at the top

Yeah, the one where we're kissing our daughter on the cheek, not once, but twice, and her wanting to break free. This is the epitome of our relationship with her. We love this little girl so much and can't get enough of kissing, hugging, cuddling with her. She, on the other hand, tries to get out of those kisses, pulls away from hugs, and breaks free when we try to cuddle. And then there are times when we do something silly and she gives us a look like Are you serious right now? You are not funny, people! I didn't think this behavior would start until she's in middle school! Jeesh! I get it (a little), she's a busy girl and doesn't want people all up in her business when she's trying to explore, but can't a mama and daddy show a little love (all the time)?

Sorry, Anna, your parents will never stop loving you, never stop kissing you (especially in public!), never stop hugging and wanting to cuddle with you. So get used to it, baby!

Photo credit: my sister, Stefanie <3


Retreat Yo Self!

We try to break away often. Well not too often. But when you live where you work or work where you live, it's crucial to take a few days every now and then to retreat. To find rest, to recollect your thoughts, goals, dreams, to sleep in, to breath, to reconnect with yourself, with one another, and with God. Since we don't have the means to own our own home away from home, we are blessed with some pretty great friends who are generous enough to share theirs. Previously we've retreated to the mountains, to the beach, and this past weekend, to Lake Norman. While we were only there for a little over 24 hours it was just the amount of time we needed to stick our toes in the water, spend the evening in deep conversations mulling over the future, bask in the sunrise, enjoy a morning walk around the lake, and take a much needed two hour nap in the afternoon. The house was beautiful, the lake was beautiful, the scenery was picturesque, and Anna was cranky--but I didn't even care because everything else was glorious! We left that weekend refreshed, ready to take on another busy week of soccer practices and games, meetings, girls night, taking care of baby, homework help, and then flipping through our calendar to see when we can go back!


A Very Good Birthday

I'm sure you could tell by my last post that Anna and I had a pretty amazing birthday. To top it off we received a wonderful gift from my mother-in-law and grandma-in-law. An item I've been wanting for a long time but deep down knew I'd never go out and buy for myself. I'd find every excuse to avoid buying it: it's too expensive, we could put the money toward something else, where will I store it? really, who needs one? So when Travis started talking about bikes a few weeks before our birthday I thought maybe he had something up his sleeve. I still didn't really believe I was actually going to get one but his intention was well received. Then, one hour before the party, while I'm scrambling to put up decorations and try to get myself ready, Travis' mom enters our living room with a bright and shiny yellow bike! She exclaimed, "I figured you could use a pick-me-up right now!" And she was right. It definitely lifted my spirits! On top of that Anna was given a little seat that could be hooked to the back of my bike so we could ride together. I could hardly wait to try it out!

A few days after our birthday we finally were able to really work on getting the seat connected. Travis and I had trouble doing it ourselves, and just before I was about to take it into a bike shop some of the boys in our neighborhood came over with all their tools and put it together in no time! I feel so blessed to live around some of the most generous and handy people! I mean, come on, take it to a bike shop and pay to have it fixed up or let kids who repair their bikes all the time work on it? Plus it was a great time for Travis and the guys to work on something together!

Once it was fixed we strapped Anna's helmet on and strapped her into her seat and off we went! It was a wonderful first ride. The kids around us were chasing us trying to catch up. I even had kids ask if they could get a ride or if they could ride my bike with Anna in it. I assured them Anna and I will be the only ones using our bike.

It's hard to tell since I can't see Anna but I'm pretty sure she enjoys our rides. I know I do and based on the sounds she makes and her playfully pulling at my shirt, I think she does too!


Anna's First Birthday Party

When I first started planning Anna's first Birthday party rain never even crossed my mind. It wouldn't rain, it just couldn't. We were inviting well over 50 people plus the kids in the neighborhood so moving the party into our tiny apartment just wasn't a possibility. The party was planned for our front yard and rain was just not an option. Well, as soon as I was able to I checked the weather. Ten days out and there was a 40% chance of rain. And the chance increased as the big day drew closer with 70% chance of rain the day of. The back-up plan? Two tents borrowed from the office and my Dad's tent he brought from Ohio attached to our front and back doors. Well it worked, we moved 50 plus people into our home, and while it was packed we were thankful that the downpour held off until after the party because guests were able to stand under the tents and even under the trees without getting soaked.

With all that to say, the party was AMAZING! Anna did awesome, she looked adorable, we were so thankful our family and friends were there to help celebrate, and she destroyed her cake (not by eating it but by playing with it!). Speaking of cake, Travis' cousin, Angel made Anna's cake, my cake (because it was my birthday too!), and the cupcakes, and let me just say Angel is brilliant! Her cakes are absolutely beautiful and delicious, to die for! She made our reveal cake too and when planning for Anna's birthday she suggested making another ombre style cake. I thought it would be perfect, and I continued the ombre theme into the rest of the decorations and even into Anna's outfit!

I'm going to stop typing now because I know why you're really here--to see the pictures, so without further ado, I give you Anna's First Birthday Party:

Pink tutu and a pop of gold for this little Lady! Mama had to match little Lady so I went with a white dress, gold flats, and gold and pink jewelry.

Here's my attempt at moving my decorations indoors:

Besides digging into the cake, Anna's favorite part was the watermelon. I swear she had like 5 slices!
Anna loves her Great Grammy! And Great Grammy loves her little Anna!

Look at these cakes! Amazing and oh so cute!! ...  :)

Happy Birthday dear Anna!!

Honestly, she was not a fan of the taste. She tried a few bites but spit most of it out. When she realized it was more fun to squish in her fingers she went at it!

By the time I took this picture some of the chalk was starting to wear off. And you read that right, Anna likes Mumford and Sons. Yep, it's the only music that'll calm her down in a car ride. Those guys are heaven sent.

The one and only good shot we got as a family. The rain and trying to host and enjoy the party was too much to ask for to stop and take more than one decent photo. 

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Anna Jubilee! You are loved more than you'll ever know!

Decorations and Anna's outfit: DIY
Some of the photos: my sister, Stefanie