Thursday, May 14, 2015

Four months!

Another month has passed, and Ambree Kate is now four months old. They warned me not to blink. The same people who told me that yes, the days are long, but the years are so short… they told me this would happen fast. Already, precious time is cruising past, and I'm afraid to miss a single moment.

Getting this little four-month picture was no easy task. She is trying so hard to sit up on her own. So most of our pictures look something like this...
… or somewhat like this...
It was certainly our most eventful birthday photo shoot yet. :)

We've added a few new play places around the house. She loves her jungle gym...

… and her bouncy chair!

We still enjoy our after-school mommy-and-baby time. Summer is just around the corner, and I am so looking forward to it!
Conversations like this are a regular occurrence around here these days.

So are smiles…
And giggles…
We had her baby dedication at church a couple of weeks ago. She looked adorable, and she was so sweet during the ceremony. It was a precious day for our little family!

She is paying so much more attention to things these days. I adore the way she is holding her garden book in this picture.

It is crazy to think how much she has grown and changed since we first brought her home. This doesn't even look like the same baby…
Life is certainly precious. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Being "Mommy"

Months ago, while I was still pregnant with baby girl, a dear friend talked with me about her labor and delivery experience. She offered a bit of advice -or maybe a warning, rather- that has proven to be altogether true and powerfully relevant for me. She explained that after labor and delivery, probably one of the most traumatic and trying experiences your body can encounter, you will feel as though you need ample time to rest and recover.

But that won't matter.

Because right away, you are mommy. You are mommy to this new baby who is completely and entirely dependent on you for everything in this life at every moment. So regardless of anything else going on with your recovering body, you are mommy, and that role dominates everything else - even a wrecked, exhausted, body.

And she was completely correct. After a seemingly-long nine months of preparation and waiting, that moment of really becoming mommy hits hard. It hits with the full force of beauty, love, and fulfillment. Ironically, it also packs a punch of anxiety, uncertainty, and clumsy responsibility that leaves you reeling even as you secure your first grip on that new life.

Right away, you are mommy.

Being a mother teaches you a lot. There's a lot to learn about baby care. You could study every book in the parenting section at Barnes & Noble and still have questions that no book can answer about your baby.

You can buy the high-end thermometer and read the manual front to back, but that feeling you get the first time you stick that tool to your baby's feverish forehead is something for which no manual can prepare you.

You can practice using the car seat a hundred times before baby arrives, but the first outing will still seem clumsy and altogether uncoordinated.

Another mommy-friend told me, "It would all be so much easier if each baby came with its own manual..." A baby just does not come with a customized how-to-care-for-me guide. Yet, you are mommy, supposedly knowing how to fix everything and solve every problem. Right away.

Being a mother teaches you a lot. But you have to be a mommy in order to learn it all. I can call my mom with any question or problem with baby girl, and she is going to have an answer. At the very least, she will make a suggestion. She will always tell me to double-check the advice, but interestingly enough, the doctor usually offers the exact same advice.

At first, I was amazed at how good she was at this whole mommy thing.

Then I felt ashamed that I had never noticed how good she is until now.

Then I felt overwhelmed by how little I know compared to her.

Then I realized something...

While you are "mommy" right away, you have a little bit of time to get good at it.

My mom has been mommy for over thirty years now. Over thirty years of late nights, sick babies, home remedies, boo-boo kisses, band aids, accident cleanups, hugs, questions, uncertainties, small victories, huge battles, and yes, phone calls to her own mother along the way. She knows a thing or two about this mommy business. The amazing thing about it is that her role has transformed a bit now as she helps me learn how to be a mommy too.

And THAT is one of the most awesome things I am learning about motherhood... It is this amazing cycle of growth and love that starts in one powerful moment, but continues for a lifetime. Not only that, but it includes this incredible community of women who are all fighting the same small battles, learning the same little big lessons, and are all too willing to help others along their way.

Mothers are truly amazing people. I say that, not because I am one now - believe me, I am the least of them - but because being a mother has opened my eyes to a new aspect of my mommy-friends' identities. It has helped me see my own mother more clearly. You could do this alone; but I thank God I don't have to. I don't know what I would do without the help of other moms. I am beyond grateful for their insight into this strange new parenting world.

Being a mother teaches you a lot.

Happy Mother's Day to all of my teachers, helpers, and mommy-mentors out there.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What a Difference One Month can Make!

I feel like I just posted Ambree Kate's two-month update, and here were are again with another month gone by. It has certainly been a busy month, though! This little girl continues to captivate us as she grows and changes a little bit every day. Check out the difference a month has made…

Isn't that incredible?!?

Here's a quick recap of this past month!

I went back to work. It really was a bittersweet experience because I was so glad to see my sweet students again, but leaving our little girl has been pretty rough. I won't lie; there were tears shed. However, walking into my classroom to find this precious "Welcome Back" sign waiting for me made the first day back a little better.

And coming home to do this every day is definitely an experience that I am treasuring.

This little girl seems to be full of smiles these days! She loves to coo, and she is rather expressive. I can't get enough of these smiles.

She has become far more aware of her surroundings in the past month. She loves the mobile on her crib. At first, we just let her spend a little time there each day to get used to it, but it wasn't long before she was ready for new sleeping space at night. So she has now transitioned to sleeping in her crib through the nights.

Her first night was quite an adventure, though. She had a blast wiggling, scooting, and kicking around. The sleeping part came later…

We took her to church for the first time. She did so well during the service! Going to church as a family is such a precious experience. We took our first "family" pictures after the service.

Last, but certainly not least, Ambree Kate also experienced her first Easter this month. I love taking this sweet baby to church, but there was something extra special about having her there on such a holy day. It will be years before she comes to fully understand the reason we celebrate Easter, but this mama felt extra blessed to start sharing the occasion with her now.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easy-to-Make Alphabet Knowledge Activity

A fellow teacher shared this easy-to-make resource with me. It's pretty self-explanatory, but all you need to create it is a cookie sheet, masking tape (I used a cute washi tape), and magnetic letters. You can see the way I structured the board in the picture below.

You can use it several ways, but basically, this activity helps develop alphabet knowledge as students arrange the letters in order, with a vowel beginning each row. You can begin with a completely empty board, or you can place the vowels and have the students arrange all consonants. Once they have arranged the letters, extend the exercise by questioning students about which consonants follow each vowel, but ask about the vowels in a random order. Have students touch each letter as they name it to further enhance the multi-sensory experience.

Extend use with this tool by continuing to use these letters in a dictation exercise, (particularly with basic CVC words). Students pull out the letters they need, arrange the letters to spell the words, and then place the words back on the board in the correct positions.

Another tip: help diminish confusion of reversals of similar letters by drawing a dot at the top of each letter. This helps students see which direction each letter should face, so they are less likely to confuse those b/d, m/w, p/q pairs.

Monday, April 6, 2015

On the Menu: Coconut Oil Biscuits

Okay, friends, I have a new "healthy" obsession: Gimme Some Oven has an incredible recipe for 3-ingredient Coconut Oil Biscuits, and you have to check it out. This is one of those recipes that I pinned ages ago, but just recently actually got around to baking, and I really wish I had tried them sooner. These biscuits are so tasty, and they really are three-ingredients-easy to make. You get the made-from-scratch, clean-eating experience without much hassle at all. I get to make just enough of a mess with these biscuits (a big enough mess to feel like I've done something significant in the kitchen, but not so much that I am afraid to attempt the recipe again…)

I'm intentionally leaving the recipe out of this post so you will visit her blog and get all of the information there. I promise it's worth the online trip! Also, if you want to save the information, please make sure you pin from Gimme Some Oven, rather than any of my images. Have fun!