Monday, July 23, 2012

Nature Girl ?!?

I am finally drying my last (of like a million) load of laundry from last week's adventure vacation. I termed it such because the week really was one outdoor adventure after another, some more exciting that others :) Justin, Addy, and I drove to meet our family in Townsend, TN. A small town located on the outskirts of the great Smoky Mountains. Along with our usual camping crew made up of Julie, Brandon, the girls, Dee, and Tom, we were joined by Uncle Gary and Aunt Kathy from Missouri, and Donna's friends, Matt and Julie from California. Our Tent City was larger than usual this year to accomodate so many campers. Dee's campsites are different that most, and by different I mean way better. We camp luxuriously. Yes, there are still tents and air mattresses, but there is also running water on site, electricity, a "kitchen tent", a mini fridge, and more than one coffee pot to get us all going in the morning. The only not so luxurious thing is the bath house. I can say two nice things about the bath house. 1) We were conveniently located right beside it so I did not have far to walk when I had to pee during the night and 2) it is cleaner than the bath house at Natchez Trace where our family usually camps at least twice a year.

This was mine and Addy's first extended camping trip. Prior to this past week the longest I had camped was probably two nights. I actually made it fairly well...that is until the monsoon blew through the Tuckaleechee camp grounds. But more on that later. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and were surprised to find that most of tent city was already up and going. Pawpaw cooked up a yummy grilled dinner for us and we blew up air beds and settled into our tents. This was our home for the week.

Justin and I were sharing a tent with Dee and Pawpaw while Addy got to bunk with Aunt Julie. Brandon, Lucy, and Lainey were not going to join us until Tuesday. Monday we drove through Cade's Cove. I was really bummed that I forgot my camera because it was beautiful. I have only been there in the fall so seeing it green and buzzing with wildlife was fun. I do have to say though that I prefer it in the fall. The autumn colors of the park are just breathtaking. Once again Justin and I were hopeful to see some black bears, but alas, none. We did however see some giant bucks grazing near a fence basically within arms reach. We parked and got out of our cars to get a better view. Addy wanted to "go see him" but we stayed at a distance that we could enjoy the view but not scare him away. Although I am not sure you can scare those deer. They are really used to people and he never seemed to care that we or any of the other gawkers were so close to him or the other two deer grazing along side. If you've visited Cade's Cove you know there are many places to stop along the way and tour some historical sites. Cade's Cove was originally home to early European settlers in the early 1800's. There are still some old churches, barns, and log homes standing and they are pretty neat to walk through and see. The mill also has gift shop where we bought some yummy honey and a stuffed deer for The Princess which she named "Baby Reindeer". She was so exhausted from our fun day at the Cove that she passed out in the car on the way back to camp. It is rare that she falls out in the car nowadays, and even more rare that we can get her out of the car and into a bed without waking her. However, we succeeded that day, and as you can see, she is sleeping VERY well...snuggled up next to Baby Reindeer :)

On Tuesday, several of us decided to go on a short hike. We picked a trail that would have gotten in about 4.5 miles, but found it to be closed when we arrived at the trail head. Apparently the area had gotten some pretty severe storms just a few days earlier that had caused many in the surrounding towns to go without power and caused some serious damage to the trails and woods in and around the Smokies. Being super smart like we are, our group decided to proceed. About a mile into the trail we found exactly why it was closed. There was debris all over the trail, but up to this point we had been able to climb over, under, or around. However we came upon a GIANT tree uprooted on the trail and there was no way to the other side....or there was no way I was attempting it! We did come up on a park official surveying the area and he gave us a little bit of a scolding for being out there when there was a clearly posted sign that the trail was closed. After he left us we officially named him Ranger Roy and questioned why he was roaming around the trials all alone if it were soooo dangerous. Again, we're super smart :)By the time we got back to camp Lucy and Lainey had arrived and Addy was very happy to have some playmates. Although Daddy is a lot of fun, cousins are better!

Wednesday morning we met Maine and Papaw for breakfast and to hand off the girls as the rest of us headed off to hike Mount LeConte. If you know me, you know I have not an athletic or outdoorsy bone in my body. I was pretty nervous about this hike. Until about 3 1/2 weeks ago I had never hiked in my life. In fact, my only idea of hiking was hiking up the escalator two steps at a time in the mall to get to a good sale at Victoria's Secret. Thankfully, Julie and Brandon had taken us on a pretty challenging 4.5 mile hike a few weeks ago just to give us a small idea of what LeConte would be like. If you aren't familiar with Mount LeConte (like me) here is a little info. At the top of LeConte you will find the Mount LeConte Lodge. It is the highest guest lodge in the Eastern United States. It is accessible only by hiking one of it's 5 hiking trails that lead to the top ranging from 5.5 miles to 8. At the top, the elevation is over 6,400 feet and the temperature never rises above 80F. I learned the hard way that even in the middle of July, the top of a mountain is COLD! The lodge offers several small log cabins that have no electricity, running water, or bathrooms. You get propane heaters, kerosene lamps, a wash bucket to get warm water from outside, and bunk beds with fresh linens and warm blankets. There is a dining hall that serves the most delicious food EVER, especially if you have been hiking in the rain for the last 7 hours. It is an experience I would highly recommend. I never would have dreamed that would be something I would enjoy, but I really loved it. It was hard, and at times miserable and scary, but it was wonderful! We hiked with a group of 11. Justin and I, Julie and Brandon, Dee and Tom, Uncle Gary, Dee's friends Matt and Julie, and two of Tom's teacher friends Jean and Andrea. Andrea actually had a broken arm in a cast, she was quite a trooper! The trail we chose was called the Boulevard and the hike was about 8 miles to the top. The first two miles was actually a part of the Appalatian Trail, which was pretty cool. The hike up began very plesant. It was hot at first, but you could feel the temperature gradually drop as you went up and it really felt pretty nice. We stopped for a snack/water break and then a little later we found a great spot for lunch. There was a lot of beautiful scenery along the way.

After lunch it started raining on us. It would come and go and we spent a lot of time putting on rain gear, then taking rain gear off as it stopped and we started getting all stinky steamy in our ponchos. We had to dodge some pretty deep muddy water puddles, some not so succesfully. At one point the trail was so narrow and the water was so deep that some just took off their shoes and waded through. I already had wet shoes so I didn't want to do that. I tried my best to straddle walk the puddles without falling off the mountain! I was so thankful for my trekking pole. It was great for balance, climbing rocks, going down steep spots, and feeling out the really muddy spots and soft ledge areas. About two miles from the lodge the storm started getting worse. We heard a lot of thunder, the rain got heavier, and we started to see lightning. We needed to pick up our pace so the group seperated. Justin and I, Dee, and Julie and Brandon moved on a head of the group. We got to a pretty open area near the top where we were pretty exposed. The wind was hard, the rain was cold, and the lightning was very scary. We kept moving, because...well, when your on the side of a mountain you have no choice. I was so happy to see the signs for the lodge! I was soaking wet, cold, and tired of walking. Dee got us checked in to our cabin and we waited for the rest of our crew. Before dinner the lodge offered hot chocolate and coffee. It was yummy and having something warm was heavenly! What was not heavenly was my soaking wet socks and tennis shoes and my freezing cold legs! I had packed a long sleeve t-shirt in case it was cool, but I would have done just about anything for a fleece pull over and my trusty reindeer pants, a hidious pair of fleece Christmas pajama pants that I've had for way too long that I wear constantly at home. I love them, but Justin refers to them as my termite pants...because termites eat wood- he's disgusting, I know. I felt very unprepared in terms of clothing. I had a fresh pair of socks for the hike down and a clean shirt in addition to my long sleeved t, but nothing warm. My feet hurt so bad from being wet and wrinkly/pruney for so long. BUT, we had made it!! And that felt pretty awesome. The front of the dining hall has the name of the lodge, the elevation, and the date. Its a pretty perfect place for a photo op. We took advantage even though we were looking pretty rough, like we had hiked 7 hours or something :)

Dinner was A m a z i n g! I don't know if it was that good or we were that hungry, but it seemed like the best hot meal I had ever had in my life. I really think it was that good because breakfast the next morning was equally delish! Both meals were served family style with big platters and bowls were sat on the table and we just passed them around the table helping ourselves to as much food as we could hold. At dinner there was also endless wine, which again, we took advantage of! And what else do you do on top of a mountain after you have a full belly and a buzz?? You go to a cliff to watch the sunset of course...and try not to stumble off! It was cloudy so our sunset was not as colorful as we had hoped, but the view was still pretty fantastic.

Silly Brandon! After sunset, we all headed back to our cabin to get ready bed. We hung out for a while on our porch in nice rocking chairs and enjoyed the view of the city lights far away in the distance. We were high enough to see Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and even fainly, Knoxville. It was beautiful. The sites made it all worth it for sure. We washed up a little out of our water buckets and then Justin and I snuggled in to the top bunk in our tiny little bedroom. I had never slept on the top of a bunk bed so I think I subconsciusly worried about falling off all night. I didn't sleep that great and woke up every time I needed to roll over or move. We pigged out the next morning on pancakes, coutry ham, homemade biscuits, and scrambled eggs. Oh and Tang instead of orange juice....kinda gross, yet kinda delicious :) Then we got ready to head back down the mountain. We took a different trail down that was approximately 5.5 miles.

The crew

The hike down was good. It was very steep and challenging in some spots, but totally dry! The weather was nice and cooperative and there was more beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way.

By the last few miles I was ready to be done. My shoes were still wet that morning, so they were not exactly comfortable. I wish I had slowed down a little and taken more time to enjoy all of the hike down, but unfortunately I was just ready to be off the mountain. Next time I will have a better idea of what to expect and come more prepared so I think I will do better. Overall, the experience was one of my most favorite things ever. I didn't expect to like it, but surprisingly I really really did. I can't wait to do it again. It was challenging and hard and exhausting and rewarding and fabulous! I loved it! If you enjoy the outdoors at all and are physically able to do the hike, I would recommend that hike, it is an adventure for sure!

Getting back to camp was a relief. I showered, and despite it being in the bath house with my flip flops on, it was one of the most glorious showers of all time. I don't know if I have ever in my life smelled that bad. I think my whole body smelled like really gross, wet feet. Sick huh!? Justin took Addy to play in the creek, so I enjoyed sitting in the shade with my nook, Mr. Grey, and a lime-a-rita, which by the way, are tasty! Its like a mix of budlight lime and margarita all in one cute little can. I am glad Aunt Kathy introduced the two of us, I can tell lime-a-rita and I will be good friends.

That night we knew there was a good chance of rain. A good chance my you know what. Some time after midnight it started raining. It woke us and Justin got up to zip up the windows of the tent. I heard Lucy crying in the tent next to us where she was sleeping with Julie, Brandon, and Addy. Lu is afraid of storms and she cried off and on for about an hour and the rain got heavier. Dee had told us that anything touching the tent walls would get wet but that it wouldn't leak. We pulled all the cover and sheets up onto the mattress away from the sides and at this point were only a little wet around the edges of our bed. About 1:30 Julie came into our tent and said that they were leaving and taking Lucy to Maine and Don's chalet. Lainey was already staying there. She offered to take Addy and I was greatful. She certainly didn't need to be out here getting wet. Justin wanted me to go with them too, but I wasn't that wet so I told them to go ahead. After they left I got up to go check Julie's tent for Addy's diapers. I knew they were laying near the wall and I didn't want to lose a whole bag of them. They were dry so then I decided to go to the bathroom since it had stopped raining. The ground and everything around our camp site was soaked, it had rained really hard, but it seemed to be finished. I got back in our tent and had bareley got it zipped when the bottom fell out. It was crazy raining. Luckily Justin's phone was in the tent with us and he checked out the radar. He just looked at me and said get ready, we're gonna get wet. And we did. Sleeping in a wet bed is no fun. No fun at all. The next morning was rough. I felt sleep deprived and the power was out when we got up, therefore there was a coffee delay. Boo! Justin and I headed to Maine's to check on Addy and pick up Julie and B. After all, there was no time to waste, we had another adventure to get too. it was white water rafting day on the great Ocoee River. I have to say, none of us were that excited that morning. We were water logged from all the rain the last few days and really a little over the whole camp thing. But as soon as we arrived at the rafting place and got geared up...excitement started rushing through us again. This was my third time rafting. I always feel terrified anticipating the ride, but when I get in the raft and we start moving, the fear subsides and I am ready to go! Rafting is SO a I might die today way. We really enjoy it and I'm glad we get the opportunity to go almost every summer, when Julie and I aren't pregnant :) It was a great ride. Of course I was the only one from our raft to fall out, but I still claim I was tricked by our guide. She told me to loosen my death grip so I wouldn't hurt my ankle. I loosened it and out I went in a rapid. After I was pulled back into the raft like a beached whale, I reinstated my death grip! I don't have the pictures from that yet, but don't worry they will come soon! Friday night there was more chances for rain so we stayed in the chalet with the girls. Although it was nice to be indoors and in a real bed, it is never a good night's rest sleeping with my child. I'm sure she kicked my in the face and stomach at least 20 times.

Saturday morning we headed home. It seemed like we were never ever going to get home, but when we did I was extatic to see our house! Adventures are fun, but by the end I am always ready to get back into my own bed. I am still not convinced I am a "happy camper" but it wasn't all horrible. I can see myself as a future camper by day, chalet sleeper by night :)

I will leave you with this picture of another happy camper getting her night time bath in a plastic tub. Justin is so smart haha!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Prayer for My Friend

A Prayer for My Friend

I got down on my knees today,
And said a prayer for you,
For you are always in my heart,
And I often think of you,

I asked the Lord to send his angels,
To protect my dearest friend,
I prayed that all the joy and happiness,
You have will never end,

I asked the Lord to comfort you,
When you are feeling blue,
And when you have a tear,
He’ll wipe away that too,

I asked the Lord to bless our friendship,
So our ways will never part,
For true friends always stick together,
For we’re in each others hearts.

By Melinda Tanner

I just found this online and it expresses everything I am feeling. My heart is heavy thinking about someone that I love so dearly who is facing something scary tomorrow. This is my prayer tonight for my precious friend. I know there is no detail in this prayer request, but she is a beautiful, vibrant, young mommy that needs some answers and to feel better.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Big Girl Goes for the Gold!

Ok, maybe I didn't win the gold...but today I felt victorious! I ran my first ever 5K race and crossing that finish line was a feeling like none other. I truly started tearing up when the finish line first came into sight. I couldn't believe I was actually going to do it. This has been a goal of mine for several years now, I've just never made it happen. I finished in 39 minutes and 10 seconds. It is definitely not a good time, but an accomplishment none the less. I'm pretty proud of this big girl, I wasn't really sure if I would ever get to the point that I could continuously run 3 miles. It's still pretty horrible right now...nothing about it is easy. And I am slow, SUPER slow. But not matter how slow I run, I'm still lapping all those on the couch, right?! I like to remind myself of that frequently. It was a pretty day for a race, but it was HOT. Even at 7am it was sticky, the air was thick, and it felt like we were running through soup. What else would I expect running on the 4th of July?! But we did it!

My sisterinlaw Julie ran the race with me today. She ran a half marathon just a few months ago. She's pretty awesome! Jules could have easily ran the race this morning in under 30 minutes, but she ran right by my side,supporting me all the way. I am so glad she was there! She really kept me going that last half mile. If she hadn't been there I probably would have walked, then I would have been so upset with myself.

I knew that Justin and Addy were coming to see me, but coming around that last corner and seeing my sweet little girl waving and cheering really made it all worth it. A giant wave of motivation rushed over me and I decided to go for it. Julie and I picked it up and ran hard the last little bit. A strong finish! I am proud of me, but most of all I am proud to be setting a positive example of healthy living for my little girl. I want to teach her the importance of having a healthy, strong body and the correct ways to do it. I don't want her to ever do some of the unhealthy things I've done like yo yo dieting and diet pills. Those methods are temporary and potentially dangerous. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising are the way to go. I feel and look better than I have since....since I can remember. My 30 year old self is definitely better than the 20 year old version.

I post and write a lot about weight loss and my struggle with a healthy body image. It is a battle every day. Some days I win, some I lose. But I can say that I am happy with where I am right now and the way I look. I have more work to do, areas to improve on, and I still have 8 more pounds to go to reach my goal weight...but I believe I can do it. I believe I will do it. I can also say that I look forward to running. That is something I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth. Don't get me wrong, I don't love it right now. It's hard, I often feel like I'm dying, and my body hurts so bad afterwards...but I know that the more I do it, the better I will get. My goal now is to continue running the 5K distance and work to lower my time to 35 minutes. It might take a while, but I'm ok with that. I will be more ok with that when the temperatures are not in the high 90s and 100s for sure :) Come on fall! I don't know how many, if anyone, actually reads this blog, but if you do and you are one of my facebook friends I would really like to thank you for commenting on and liking my running status updates. Your support and encouragement means so much and it truly inspires me to do more! Here are a few race day pictures for you :)

Daddy and Addy come to cheer us on!

Julie and I heading towards the finish line!

We did it!
- Please know that I had just downed a grape powerade- my teeth are not always that awful color :)

Mommy and The Princess


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ch Ch Changes

As June comes to an end, I can't think of a better word to reflect the Baker household this month than Change. And pretty much all of the change has been in Addy's world. I really can't tell you how proud I am of her considering everything she has been through this month. This intro sounds like she has been through something completely traumatic, and honestly, when your talking life of a toddler....she has. In the last four weeks Addy has gone from a pappy worshiping, diaper wearing toddlerbaby to a pappy free, panty Princess. Yes, I am crazy and put my child through two major life changes in one month. I do nothing but preach "one major change at a time" so all I can say in my defense is, she was ready. Seriously...for both. She has handled it like a champ! I had no intentions of doing either really, it just happened that way. I have had several friends ask me how I've done both. I am certainly no parenting expert, truly, I'm a daily disaster! However, I will gladly share our stories in hopes that something I did might inspire or help someone else.


It was love at first sight. My daughter has taken a pacifier since the day she was born. My niece, Lucy, who was about 20 months old and just beginning to talk when we moved to Nashville, once called it a "pappy" and from then on that is what we called it.

This photo was taken at the hospital right before we took her home.

The Princess LOVES her pappy. She has had one clipped to every outfit she has ever worn, she has clips to match most outfits she has worn, she slept with one in her mouth and one in her hand for comfort. Y'all, I've actually seen her with more than one in her mouth! We never left the house without at least three just in case of an emergency. Forgetting her pappy would have been worse than forgetting milk or diapers. She was so unbelievably attached to that thing that I really would lie awake some nights wondering how and if we would ever be able to take it from her.

I think you see my point :) I knew we were approaching the time where something had to be done when I noticed that she was no longer taking the pappy out to talk. The Princess at first would take her pappy out to say something, then pop it back it. Then she just got too busy for that and would talk with it just dangling out of her mouth like a cigar. That was really enough for me but I still had no clue how to approach this. A girlfriend of mine was posting on facebook about breaking her son from his pacifier and he is younger than The Princess, so I bombarded her with as many questions as I could think of about what she did and decided that now was the time for us too. She began by reducing his pacifier to only sleep time and gradually weened from there. That sounded reasonable. So I decided that first thing in the morning when I got her out of bed, I would ask The Princess to leave her pappy on her bookshelf and explain that pappys were only for sleepy time, big girls didn't need one during the day. On the first day, she just took it out of her mouth, sat in on the shelf and took off towards the kitchen to wait for her breakfast. I seriously had to laugh. That was too easy! I was fully prepared for meltdown city after she ate. I brewed a full pot of coffee and made it extra was going to be a long day.


Bizarre right?! At nap time I gave it to her, she slept, then I repeated the same thing when she got up. Again, she willingly surrendered the pappy and went on about her business. She never asked for it. I couldn't wait to tell Justin. He was as shocked as I was. This went on for a couple of days. She was a little clingier and whinier than normal, but she never ever asked for it. At the end of like day 4 or 5 Justin and I were getting The Princess ready for bed. We were following our normal bedtime routine: bath, get on pjs, brush teeth and dry hair, then come back to the bedroom for story time, say prayers, sing songs, then lay down. All through this process Justin had the pappy in his hand where she could not see it. She never asked for it and never seemed to be looking for it. After the last song was sung we looked eachother in the eye and kinda shrugged and without speaking agreed to just see what happens. We tucked The Princess in her crib, snug as a bug in a rug with her milk cup and Quack Quack. We walked out and closed the door behind us and both looked like what in the world just happened. I don't even think I sat down for over 10 minutes because I knew she was going to start crying for it any minute. I was prepared to give it to her if she wanted it. We had agreed to do this gradually and I had no plans of just making her go cold turkey. We heard her in there singing "Bitsy Bitsy" spider for a while, and then nothing....she was asleep. WHAT!!?? I text everyone I knew...Addy went to bed without her pappy! Everyone pretty much had the same response, WHAT!!?? Crazy, I know. So we went to bed. I heard her over the monitor around 2 am. I was sleepy and not about to endure a midnight meltdown so I went down with the intention of handing it over. I got her out of bed and sat down in the rocker. I held her tight, sang a song, and rocked her. She went back to sleep. She NEVER asked for the pappy. I put her back down and she slept til morning. Insane! I seriously could not believe it. I was convinced it was a fluke. But night two and then three rolled around. Nothing. Day 3 she asked for it while we were in the grocery store. She always had it while riding in the shopping cart, of course. I guess maybe that triggered a memory or something. I just told her pappy was gone gone, that big girls didn't need one. She bought it. Now I will say that the first week or so was ROUGH behavior wise. She wasn't bad, but super clingy and whiney and her tantrums were bad because I had no way to console her and she had no idea how to console herself without it. But it got better. She puts her hands in her mouth much more now that she ever has before, but she has not picked up sucking her thumb...knock on wood! She has only asked for it that one time. After her first night without it, I took her to Target and allowed her to choose a toy that she liked and I explained to her that this was a big girl present because she was a big girl now and did not need her pappy. She chose a bunny house, that was basically a doll house that came with a bunny family. I let her choose it with no influence from me, she carried it to the checkout, I paid, then she carried it herself to the car. It was her first big girl shopping adventure. She loved it. I did a major sweep of our house and searched high and low for pappys. I didn't want her to find one and have a set back. I warned my Mom too before we came for a visit. I think I gathered 8 :) I had to keep one pappy and one pappy clip for my Addy box. A special box where I keep baby things that will always make me think of my sweet angel. She has been three weeks without it!


I had been thinking of starting potty training with The Princess for a while. She has been interested in the potty since Mom bought her one last fall. She has loved going to the bathroom when I go and sitting clothed on her little potty. She would "wipe" and throw her toilet paper in the potty. She really just seemed to like the process. Even at my Mom's house she would go with her and sit on her scale that sat next to the toilet and pretent to potty. She also would tell me sometimes when she was wet or dirty, but she was never really consistent with it. I have done a ton of reading online about potty training and solicited advice from family and friends. But even with all of this in mind, I still had no plan of action for us. One night last week, out of no where, Justin suggested I potty train her before I start working in August, that it would be easier to do it now. I just kind of laughed like, yeah ok I'll get right on that. She was only 2 weeks out from giving up the pappy and I just felt it would be too much. But then I also kept thinking how well she did coming off the pappy. She was a total rockstar with it! Still, I wasn't convinced it was the right time. So last Wednesday The Princess and I were in Costco. We were looking through the clothing and of course something Dora caught her eye. What a coincidence, it was Dora panties. She had a fit for them and this just seemed to be my sign! I bought them. I went it to it with this attitude: We will try it for a few days. If it isn't working, we will stop and try again in a few weeks. I did not want to put a lot of pressure on her or stress her out about going to the potty. We had a busy day so when we finally got settled in at home that afternoon I asked her if she wanted to wear her new big girl panties. She did. We sat on the potty forstinkinever and nothing. So I put her panties on and let her go. About 2 minutes later she peed on the couch. I didn't freak out. I cleaned her up, we sat on the potty again and nothing...because it was all on the couch. Panty #2 and off she went. About 30 minutes later, while I was cooking dinner, she peed in the kitchen did Darby. I didn't freak out, but I put a pull up on her, we ate dinner, she got a bath, diaper and jammies, and day 1 was over. I was discouraged. I talked to my Mom and she suggested doing something with stickers because The Princess is ca-razy for stickers. I did some reading online and came up with a plan. She got up the next morning, we sat on the potty, nothing. Panties on and off she went. She peed in her panties during breakfast...on the couch again. I stripped the couch cushion covers off to wash and thought about calling this whole thing off. I waited about 30 minutes after she finished her breakfast and then asked if she wanted to go potty. She went. We sat and we sat and we sat and we sat...and then I hear a PLOP. Houston, we have a poopoo. She Pooped in the potty. People, I swear to you, I teared up. It was one of the best moments of my life. I couldn't believe it. My little baby was poopooing in the big potty! Faith was restored. I put a pull up on her and we headed to the Dollar Tree. I let her pick out her own poster board and we picked a ton of stickers. During her nap I made her potty chart and taped it to the wall in the bathroom. I made it calendar style and was pretty impressed with myself :) When she woke up from her nap, I sat her on the potty. We sat and we sat and we sat and we sat...and then I heard a tinkle. She PEEEEEED! I was so excited. I showed her the chart, talked about the stickers and let her put 3 of them on the chart. She didn't really get the whole calender concept and I didn't care! She could stick those things where ever as long as she was peeing in the potty! She didn't have an accident for the rest of the day! We are one week into potty training and she is doing awesome! I am so impressed with her, she really is an amazing kid, but maybe I'm just a little partial :) Yesterday she had NO accidents! She has even started telling me when she needs to go. In the beginning she only did this once or twice when she needed to poop, never pee. But now she is starting to get both. Here is exactly what I did:

1. The potty chart: The potty chart hangs in the bathroom where she can see it and show it off to visitors :) She has stickers with her favorite cartoon characters, which she loves! She gets 1 sticker for sitting on the potty, even if she doesn't do anything. She gets 3 stickers for peepee and 5 stickers for poop. And on the occassion that she pees and poops (it has happened twice) we go a little sticker crazy. I make a HUGE deal about her chart and tell her how awesome and pretty it is. I say "WOW! Look at all those stickers Addy. You are a big girl for peepeeing in the potty!" She loves it!

2. Activities: In the bathroom I have some of her favorite books to read while she sits. Sometimes I take the IPad so she can play games and she also likes to take her VReader. Basically, I turned our bathroom into a happening place to be! I try to make it fun so that she doesn't mind sitting in there. Sometimes we are sitting for a loooong time, really like 30 minutes so I don't want her getting bored. Fun is the key! We sing songs, tickle, count, name body parts...etc. Whatever shes in the mood for!

3. Potty Treats: I found a cute little princess bucket in the dollar bins at Target and I filled it with M&Ms. I got this idea from my sister in law, this helped with my niece's potty training. I have never given her a lot of candy, so this is something special. I call them Potty Treats and she only gets them if she actually potties. She gets 3 for pee and 4 for poop. Trust me, she never lets me forget this step!

4. Accidents: I never shame, punish, or get upset if she has an accident. I am as cool as a cucumber as my Mimi would say. I don't make a big deal out of it at all. I take her by the hand, we walk into the bathroom and I just clean her up and put on a fresh pair of panties. I reassure her that it is ok and everyone has accidents. She has always told me immediately when she has an accident. She usually says, uh-oh I peepee in the floor...or I peepee in the dogcage. Yes that happened. In the last day or two she has even stopped herself and told me and we made it to the potty in time to finish, both pee and poo. That makes me feel like she is getting it. I just keep it calm and easy breezy. No pressure no stress on her.

5. Panties: You gotta have cool panties! The Princess has Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Minnie Mouse panties. I keep them in a drawer that she can access so that she can pick out the pair that she wants to put on. I did a lot of reading on pull ups vs. panties. What I got from it was that really pullups aren't that effective because they aren't much different than diapers. They are more convenient to get off and on, thats about it. With panties, they can really feel when they have soiled themselves. When she has on a pullup, she never tells me when she has had an accident, just as she never did in a diaper. So at home, she wears panties. It is messier and I've had to clean pee off the couch, the carpet, and the kitchen floor, but thats ok. She naps in a pull up and if we go out she wears a pull up. She only wears a diaper at night. For the last three days she has been dry through her nap and this morning she was dry.

This was after her first day of potty training. She earned 8 stickers! I am so so proud of my girl!

Reading all her jewlery. Pretty cute huh!?

Potty Time with Daddy

The Potty Chart after 1 week. She has earned a bunch!

The potty station

Princess toilet paper. A must :)

The stickers and the Dora Potty Book. It makes various potty sounds when you push the little buttons at certain parts of the story. She loves it! In case you can't tell, she loves Dora!!

My little potty princess tonight during her bath. I couldn't resist sharing this one :)

So this is what is working for us so far. I know this is only the beginning and we have a long road a head of us. I have not seen the last of the peepee on the couch! She is by no means potty trained, but I think she is off to a fantastic start. That little girl is so precious to me and she is so smart. She surprises me every day. I just love her so much.

At the same time I am feeling so excited and so proud of all of these changes and the progress the Princess has made this month, I have also felt some sadness. I don't have a baby anymore. There are no more bottles, pappys, or diapers. The only baby thing that remains is her crib, and that will more than likely not be around much longer either. She is a little girl. I cleaned out her closet last week and came across several baby things.It got me a little emotional. I can't help but miss that little butterball that just warmed my heart with every giggle and drool. But I also can't imagine my life without the crazy little ball of energy that tornados through my living room with 10 necklances on, pushing a shopping cart and singing Jesus Loves Me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bad Bad Blogger

I am really terrible at this whole blogging thing. Unfotunately, with everything going on these last few months, my blog found itself at the very, very bottom of my priority list. In mid February Addy and I had to temporarily move back in with my mom in Jackson so that I could complete a 7 week research study as the final requirement for my Masters Degree. It was a great experience (by great I mean stressful and crazy) and I met some wonderful people, but I am happy that it is over. We moved back home right after Easter and the real insanity began. After I completed my research in the classroom I had to actually write the research paper, which ended up being 37 pages long. Yes, seriously! I then had to condense said 37 page paper into a power point for a panel of super smart people to review and then put me through hell an oral comprehensive exam about my study. I know I am cursing less, but it was truly a nightmare. I don't think I have ever worked so hard or worried so much in my entire life. I was popping tums like candy! Thankfully, I got it all done in time and I did pass my oral comps. Even with graduation 5 days away, I still have not received a grade on my paper. I am ASSUMING I get to graduate, but you know what they say about assuming..... I think if something were terribly wrong I would have heard by now. So I am planning on walking my happy self across that stage on Saturday and closing the door to this 5 year journey. I know that in reality being in school that long should make me like a doctor or lawyer or something, but alas, I am now just an elementary school teacher (an unemployed elementary school teacher). Sooooo if you know of any open K-6 positions in the Williamson County area, put in a good word for me :) I am extremely nervous about finding a job. I have heard it is incredibly competitetive around here and of course, being still relatively new to the area, I don't really have anyone on the inside to help a sister out. I am certainly praying for God to put me on the right path to finding a job. We are more than ready to be a 2 income household again. Daddy needs some new wheels!

So thats kinda where we are right now. I am excited about Saturday and getting to celebrate this big day with my family! Even more exciting is that the weekend after that we are going with my family to the BEACH! I CAN. NOT. WAIT!! I have not seen the ocean since August 2009 when I was pregnant. I need to feel sand between my toes and sun on my skin. A fruity cocktail wouldn't hurt things either! It has been way too long since out last vacation. Justin and I are both in desperate need of some relaxation. He has been working so hard lately and had a lot of stressful things going on at work. I plan on packing swim suits, flip flops, and sun block, that should be all I need to lay on the beach and do nothing for a week. I am also looking forward to seeing my sweet girl see the ocean for the first time. She has never been. I hope she loves it as much as I do. I also can't wait to see her sport the cutest stinkin baby bathing suit I have ever seen. It is a precious lady bug print with a matching little bucket hat...Ohmycuteness, I will have to post pictures!

Also since my last post, my princess had her 2nd birthday. Her Dora the Explorer themed party was a hit and we had a blast celebrating with many of our family and friends. I can't believe she is two. She just amazes me every day with how quickly she learns and how smart she is. She talks nonstop all the time and she's so funny. Her daddy and I just love her to pieces! There is never a dull moment around here with that little girl.

Just look at this face!

She loves cupcakes!!
It was a great day!

In other exciting news, this past weekend my sister-in-law Julie and one of my very best friends, Ashley ran their first half marathon here in Nashville at the St. Jude Country Music Marathon. 13.1 miles is a very long way. I am so very proud of both of them. Justin's whole family came for the weekend to cheer on Julie and Chuck, Ashley, and Maddy came to stay with us, so we really had a fun time! The family all wore matching Julie Holt Fan Club t-shirts. It was pretty cool!

All through their training process I have been soinspired by Ashley and Julie. They were so amazing, and it has really make me want to run a half too. I don't know if it is even possible for my body to do something like that, but I would like to try. Now that school is over and I have the summer free (with the number one exception of finding a job!!) I would like to focus on running. There is another St. Jude half in Memphis on December 1st of this year. I don't feel comfortable committign to it yet because I just started back on my Couch to 5K training program a week or two ago. So, the goal I have set for myself is that if by August I can run 5 miles I will register and begin training for the half. That would give me 4 months to add on another 8 miles. Sounds pretty crazy! I really want to do it, so we will see how it goes I guess. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Impatiently waiting for Patience

Each Sunday Pastor Tom begins the service by opening the alter and inviting everyone to come up and pray or to kneel at your seat and pray what is in your heart. Yesterday during this time I kneeled down on the floor and the only word that would come into my head was patience. I prayed over and over Dear Lord, please help me find patience in my heart so I can be a better mom. I felt like such a failure as that was my prayer.

Most days feel like an obstacle course and I am just jumping hurdles and walls trying to get to the finish line and beat my previous time. I hurry through my day trying to get through one task to get to the next and I shuffle my daughter along the way as well. At night when I reflect on my day I am usually disgusted with myself when I think about the "hurry up" I said as Addy was on a 10 minute hunt for Quack Quack when I was trying to get us out the door, or the "move" I commanded while she was hanging onto my legs as I was carrying a laundry basket with 6 or more loads of dirty clothes. And the toddler whining and tantruming, how many eye rolls, sighs, and OMG thoughts can go through my head and show on my face? Or how about the way I watch the clock waiting on nap time because I am so anxious to get a jump start on the 5 hours of to-do's I need to get done in the 2 hour nap time frame...I need to get in my run, the toilet has a ring around it, the dogs are pacing at the door to go pee, I have four chapters I need to read for school this week, a research proposal draft is waiting to be written, I could use some lunch and a shower, breakfast dishes are still in the sink, there is a sticker embedded in the carpet, and I sure would love to catch up on last week's episode of Grey's. I wonder, am I the only mom who feels like an overwhelmed disaster?!

I know that this time with my daughter, while she is sweet and little and wants more than anything to spend every waking moment with mommy, is precious and short. I went to my favorite blog and in a post titled Overflowing Patience by TeriLynn Underwood, I found the inspiration I was looking for. She wrote "this word, patience, is better translated by the King James Version, as longsuffering." She also posed the question How can I grow patience in my heart and allow it to overflow into my relationship with my daughter? Then she offered this advice: Patience begins and ends with putting ourselves aside and giving our daughters our attention and our affirmation. There is no short cut and no easy way.

She suggested this exercise:

1. Commit to yourself for one day to be longsuffering with your daughter … to stop and listen with your full attention, to lay aside your plans and join her in hers, to speak with grace and not impatience.

2. Memorize Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ok, challenge accepted. I will start by getting off of this computer and drawing Foofa on the magna doodle because the cutest little pig-tailed princess is asking me to.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pinterest is Crack

I speak the truth...pinterest is most definitely crack. I can literally spend HOURS of my life looking, laughing, salivating, and pinning. And since I've been sick the last couple of weeks and haven't been able to do too much else, I really have spent a tremendous amount of time on this site. Justin thinks I'm a little crazy and doesn't understand what the heck I'm doing over here, however, I justified myself tonight by cooking a very delicious calzone that I got off of pinterest. I mean, seriously, that thing was like Mellow Mushroom good. It is probably the 3rd recipe I've tried from my pins and by far the best. Pinterest has also inspired me to attempt some better organization around here. This weekend, in between naps and feeling like my chest was on fire and caving in, I cleaned out the coat closet, cleaned out and organized the guest bedroom closet (and by organized, I mean pulled all the junk out and then shoved it back in again in a different way) and cleaned out and organized the laundry room/closet. I am pretty pleased with the laundry closet. I went to the dollar tree and bin-basket'ed it up. I chose blue for the color because that is what they had the most bins and baskets in. The coat closet looks much better also. I'm not that impressed with my work in the guest bedroom, but there is really not much hope for that area. There is NO storage space in this house. We don't even have a garage! So closets are the garage and they are packed full to the max. I did combine a few boxes and put some things in a Goodwill pile. I guess that's pretty good for now. I also made a trip to Ross. I HAD to get some air. I had not left the house other than to go to the doctor in like 5 days. I bought a few new things for the guest bedroom including a new comforter (for $30!) which I think is really pretty and I'm excited about it. And since I am such a devoted pinner, I am declaring that room my first Pinterest project. I really do want something productive to come from the insane time I put into my pinning :) I have a few little things in mind that have inspired me from my pins that I would like to attempt for in there...and something is getting painted with chalkboard paint. Before and after pics to come. I hope I don't permanently damage anything or glue myself to...myself, or anything else.

This is a pretty snoozable post, but unfortunately when you are stuck at home with pneumonia for weeks on end, there isn't much interesting to share. I am happy to report that I have been doing excellent on my cursing less, especially in front of Addy. And it seems like since I have been cutting back the potty mouth, I have also done a better job of controlling my attitude by way of eye rolling, heavy sighing, and impatient commands. Knock on wood....we've had some really great days at home here lately. I am hoping this is not because I just haven't had the energy to do anything else. I will keep praying about it.

I will also share this saying that I saw...where else....on Pinterest today :)
When life gives you more than you can stand, kneel

Love that

Today's Blessings:

10. Waking up not to an alarm, but to the sweetest little voice coming over the monitor. "Mama, mama, help!" Saying help is her new thing. It really cracks me up (except when she says it as I'm buckling her into her car seat. People probably think I'm a kidnapper) I hope I never forget the way her voice sounded when she was this age.

11. My mom worrying about me. Why is it that, no matter how old you get, when you don't feel well, you always want your mom? I'm thankful that I have a great mom, who worries about me and always calls to check on me. It really does make me feel a little better. I pray that I bring that kind of comfort to my baby.