What's that? FREE stuff?

My cool, outgoing, awesomely wonderful friend Amy Wade over at Wade's World is hosting a bloggy giveaway on her new "Around the Wade's World" review site. PLEASE go check it out and even if you don't win (as Amy so often reminds me) KEEP TRYING!!

What is she giving away, you might ask? Some "Yes to Carrots" lip tints and glosses.

You have until midnight tonight to enter!


Are you watching?

So this whole post started earlier today when I read Amy's post about Jackson discussing the difference between boys and girls...and then Amy mentioned Dora. And then when I called to discuss with her some of my issues with children's programming, she mentioned something I'd not heard of yet: Do you know about Tween Dora?

Let me back up. I am what some of my family would probably consider an "Over-Done" Mom. Meaning that alot of my parenting, when it comes to Gracie, is different from their own. I don't allow her to have sodas (just recently we started letting her have Sprite as a drink choice when we're eating out) or over indulge in any kind of sweet goodies. One of my cousins even tried to convince me back during Thanksgiving to (her words) let Gracie inhale an entire giant tube of M&M minis "and then just crash." That's just not how I parent! I choose to give my child sweets when I feel she should have them, while she is still young enough that I have a say so in her choices but still give her some room to make an independent decision.
I do believe that children should be respectful of adults or people in authority, so she was taught very early how to say "Please", "Thank you" and "Yes Ma'am/Sir" and "No Ma'am/Sir." I strongly believe that if you teach a child early enough what their boundaries are (in terms of discipline) that spanking should be used as a last resort. We don't use words like shut up, stupid, or anything that might be considered inappropriate.

It just irritates me when because a child wants or makes a request for something that parents give in and let them have it.
Does Gracie get every single item she requests when we go on shopping trips together? No.
Does Gracie get a second helping of ice-cream just because she still wants more? No.
Do I feel as though my child is allowed to make some independent choices while I still get the final decision? Yes.
One example would be the eating out issue - letting her pick what she wants to drink and then maybe deciding what she wants for dinner (mac and cheese or a burger) and then I get to decide if she has fries, applesauce, or baked Cheetos with that choice.

And now that I've got up on my soap box and voiced my personal opinion, I'm switching gears to what this post is originally about: When you allow your children to watch television - are you monitoring what they watch?
We have a handful of movies that some are kid-friendly (I would let Gracie watch unsupervised) and others are kind of kid-friendly with parents watching also (movies that might have scenes that some parents might feel are not appropriate for toddlers).

The reason I bring this up now is because about two weeks ago, for three seperate nights, I believe Gracie was experiencing nightmares or night terrors. The first night I heard her making a phony kind of cry and calling my name. It only lasted about ten minutes and I never got up. The next time it happened, it went on for about fifteen minutes and she was doing the same thing; phony crying and calling for me: "Mommy I NEED you!". So I went into her room where, wide awake, she seemed perfectly content to sit on the bed and talk to me. The dog jumped over the gate and woke her up. I turned on her music, told her that she had just heart a noise, and she went back to sleep about a little more crying.

The third night was the worst, with real crying (loudly) and by the time I got to her room, she was at her door in a rumpled mess.

As a parent, I began to question myself: What had she eaten on those nights that may have caused nightmares? Was she not going to be early enough? What was she seeing on TV that might have been bothering her during her sleep? For Gracie to not sleep through the night is highly unusual. Unless she is sick with fever or an ear infection, she is not one to wake in the middle of the night. So the first suggestion (from another parent) I received was to monitor the TV programs I let her watch. Normally, that would consist or anything on Disney or NOG - Dora, Little Einsteins, Spongebob, and some reruns of Reba that I watch on Lifetime.

Bryan also enjoys watching CSI, NCIS, Law and Order....and then it hit me. From now on, when we watch TV, it has to be something age appropriate when Gracie is in the room. No shows with dead bodies or bloody faces or anything that a preschooler would not understand is only a made up version for television purposes.
It has been about a full week since I started this test run, and so far it seems to be helping. She is not waking in the middle of the night or anything.

It just goes to show (to me as well) that while I might try to stick to what I believe is good, solid parenting - sometimes I slip up and make a mistake too. I want her to be independent and have a voice in making choices for herself but understanding that if it is not something Mommy and Daddy approve of, they might make the final decision for her.


Baby James News

Okay so remember that ultrasound appointment I mentioned in my post about Stellan and Easter?

Well that was today. And I know I promised ultrasound pictures, but since my computer hates me (read:apparently I can't operate a scanner!) I'll have to update with those later.

Anyway, so I went to this appointment already a little nervous because they had not been able to get a good picture of Baby James' heart. His heart has been causing a lot of trouble since he was conceived, meaning that each time I went to an appointment and they used the small hand-held machine they could not find his heartbeat. And each time an ultrasound was ordered to confirm that his heart was okay. And every single time, they have found his heart beat. Apparently this child is going to be my stubborn baby!

So she locates his heart today and spends about (what feels like) an eternity taking shots of it. When she gets quiet, I start to (inwardly) freak out and ask if everything is okay. Yes, she assures me, she just likes to get as much of the heart as possible. From her end, everything looks okay - nothing stands out to her.

But we got a handlful of more pictures (including one of what the ultrasound tech nicknamed "his baby stuff" and some good shots of his head/face. She said he weighs one pound but I don't remember how many ounces she said.

And with this ultrasound, there will (hopefully) be no more unless we do the 4D Ultrasound. That one is still kind of up in the air but I promise to keep you posted.

And because I know how much you love her and how this blog started because of her, I thought I'd share some more humorous Gracie updates. Her initial reaction when we found out I "might" be carrying a boy was not what I expected. There were tears - and almost a tantrum - because she wanted a baby sister. Since finding out that Baby James is a he and not a she, she will tell most people when asked that "SHE is having a boy" or "she's getting a baby brother" and that she "didn't WANT a baby sister."
I am very excited about the arrival of our newest family member. I know it is a few months away, still, but I'm getting more and more excited. I have nicknamed him the Karate Kid because typically the only time I know he's awake is when I'm being kicked. And that's really ALL he does when he's awake!
I am concerned on some level of how his arrival will effect Gracie. She has been my we-do-everything buddy since she was born. We go shopping together, we snuggle before bedtime, and we've had three wonderful years to spend together. So I'm concerned about neglecting her (not intentionally) and also not being able to spend as much time with her. I'm trying to be realistic and come up with ways that maybe she and I can do things together while Baby James is at home with Daddy. Or maybe she'll be a bigger help to me than I think!


Stellan Update

"Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go." Joshua 1:9

Please remember baby Stellan in your prayers tonight and throughout the morning tomorrow. As MckMama posted early today, Stellan is scheduled for the ablation at 8:30 AM Boston time. She discussed in great length on her blog the measures the doctor would take before actually doing anything, but she also admits to having a sick feeling in her stomach. I can say with absolute certainty that if I was in her position right now, I would be feeling the exact same way. Some readers of her blog have even decided to wear orange tomorrow, in honor of Stellan and the operation.

Just pray for this sweet little boy, his family, and the doctors who will performing the procedure.

...I will sing about your strength

In the morning, I will sing about your love.

You are my defender,

my place of safety in times of trouble.

God, my strength, I will sing praises to you.

God, my defender, you are the God who loves me.Psalm 59:16-17


Stellan and Easter

Prayers for Stellan

Have you had the opportunity to visit MckMama's blog and fall in love with this little cutie? Some of the pictures of this little trooper bring a quick smile to my face. I have been a follower of MckMama and her MSC since just before Stellan's birth. The same Stellan, MckMama was told, who would not live outside of the womb because of a condition called SVT. If you click on the above picture, it will take you to MckMama's blog. As of today, they have arrived in Boston so that Stellan will be prepared for an ablation next week. This sweet baby boy has struggled and fought the last few months, his family by his side and thousands of people across the world praying for him.
I know that MckMama's desire was to hold off until Stellan was older (maybe a toddler) and he was bigger and his heart was stronger. Apparently, waiting is no longer an option as they have arrived in Boston sometime last night or today for the procedure. Please pray for peace for everyone involved in this little guy's life, and knowledge for the doctors. Pray for patience for MckMama, although I don't really think she needs it. She believes in God and knows that he has his hand in this. He has from the beginning. Please keep Stellan and his family in your prayers, as I have been doing the last several weeks.

The handful of photos below are of Gracie from Easter Sunday. We went to church first thing that morning, and since evening services were cancelled in celebration of the holiday, I decided to cook Easter dinner that evening. Bryan's mom and sister came to see us late that afternoon and his mom stayed to have dinner with us. It was a very nice visit and the food was wonderful - if I do say so myself!

In Baby James news, I know I have not posted the ultrasound pictures from when we found out he was a boy. BUT I have to go back April 30th for another ultrasound so I will hopefully post those. I can't get our scanner to cooperate and I have not had a chance or thought to mention it to Bryan to see if he can fix it. I have had a lot of ultrasounds with this pregnancy for a number of reasons - the first few times it was because my doctor could not locate James' heart beat. When I expressed my concern he said as long as they could locate the heart beat on the ultrasounds (which they successfully did every time) that there was no need for concern.
The ultrasound on April 30th is for the same reason - when the ultrasound was done April 1st, we got good marks on everything the ultrasound tech was looking at - size of the baby, organs, heart beat, etc. The only issue was because he was laying a certain way, when she tried to look at all four chambers of his heart she kept getting the shadow of his spine in the way. So as far as I know, they will just be looking closely at his heart on April 30th. Not that I'm complaining about having extra ultrasounds, but please pray that the ultrasound tech will see what she needs to.
The doctor did tell me at my last appointment that I could expect more movement over the next few weeks (meaning since my last appointment) and boy, have I! James seems to kick whenever I eat something sweet and I don't know if he's telling me he likes it or he's getting hyper! He has been kicking me even as I type this post out. Want to hear something even sweeter than that? When I put my hand on my belly to see if I can feel his movement outside my belly yet, Gracie will ask me what I'm doing.
I have explained several times about James getting bigger, and told her stories about how she kicked me when she was in my tummy-and she has started to scold James for kicking me. She gets down level with my stomach and says,"Baby James, I love you but-STOP kicking my Mama!"
Absolutely priceless.


Easter Weekend

I am waiting for Leigh to email me some pictures from Saturday before updating my blog about our Easter weekend. I have also still been tossing around the cloth diapering idea, and think I have come to a decision.

I also wanted to post about my thoughts on breast-feeding and also on preparing Gracie for becoming a big sister. More posts to come very soon!


What is Good Friday?

Wikipedia says: Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday, is a religious holiday observed primarily by adherents to Christianity commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Golgotha, an event central to Christian theology. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover.
Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The exact year of Good Friday has been estimated as AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon.

Following along with Good Friday comes Easter Sunday, and I wanted to share something that I received this afternoon when I picked up Gracie's things at school. Have you heard of the Jelly Bean Poem? If not, you can google it - it's basically a poem explaining what each jelly bean color represents in terms of Christ. This, however, was something different. It's a ziploc bag with a note attached that says: "My Easter Treasures."

In the ziploc bag are different items (sadly, I don't have my camera handy). I see a nail, a black stone, a plastic Easter egg, a piece of wire, some coins, etc....here is the note attached to the front explaining what each item represents:

My treasyre box reminds me
of what Easter really means.
I look inside my treasure box
and see some precious things:
A tuft of donkey hair-
on a donkey Jesus rode.
A coin like that of Judas -
His soul for money he sold.
A twig from the garden
like the one where Jesus prayed.
A leather strap for all the stripes
upon his back they made.
A thorn like those the people made
to crown the King of Kings.
A nail reminds me how they nailed
My Savior to the tree.
A smooth stone like the ones they used
To gamble for his things.
A piece of gauze like those that wrapped
the precious King of Kings.
A broken piece of stone
from the one that was rolled away.
An empty egg for the empty tomb -
Christ rose and lives today!

Have a blessed Easter weekend. I will be spending time with my little family and my mother-in-law and will hopefully have new pictures to post over the weekend.


The Great Cloth Diapering Debate

There. I said it. Cloth diapers. You know, most mothers I know would scream and run in fear of those two little words. I myself am a member of a message board where several of the mothers use or have used cloth diapering. And what about super-Mom MckMama who has cloth diapered all four of her young children?

Well, to be honest, on her blog she does explain that she does use disposables. But with the economy the way it is now, the idea of cloth diapering has become more and more appealing to me. I am not fond of doing laundry but from the research I have read it seems that it's not necessarily done that often and more reading led me to discover that cloth diapers have come a long way. Remember these? Most of us might immediately recognize those as burp cloths for our babies! I know I used them for Gracie and when we were done, my mom cut them in half to use them as wash cloths for cleaning and small jobs.

I've talked to several older women who back when disposable diapers didn't exist, they were forced to cloth diaper - and what a task it was! Now check out these bad boys. They look much different - and way less complicated - then learning to fold and pin and then cover in a plastic, waterproof diaper cover to keep them from leaking through.

So I'm still debating about whether or not to even venture into the world of cloth-diapering motherhood. I mean the worst that could happen is I buy a starter kit like this one and after several tries find that it just isn't for me. The only other drawbacks are that Gracie's current daycare (and future daycare for baby James) may be totally against cloth diapering. So he would end up in disposables from time to time anyways.

I'd love for some of you other moms to share your thoughts with me and you can even feel free to post a link to my website and see if other moms might share their thoughts!


The verdict is in!

First of all, let me apologize several times for not posting the news sooner. Something is going on with my computer and apparently, although my "cookies" are enabled, it will not allow me to log into my own blog or to the blog that the McCrory's have. I can see all the blogs I normally visit so I'm uncertain as to what the problem is.

Anyway, all that aside since I finally somehow managed to log in and get this post up. I noticed that six of you voted that I was having a boy, and only four of you voted for a girl. Well all those who guessed we were expecting a baby boy - YOU WERE RIGHT!!!

We had it confirmed on April 1st (of all days) after being told at my March appointment that (from the looks of things) it was a very high possibility that I was carrying a baby boy.

We have already decided on a name for him, even before the ultrasound confirmed what we had already suspected. James is a family name on both sides. My grandfather's first name is James and Bryan had an uncle (who was called Jimmy as a nickname) who passed away from an aneurism when his mom was younger. After we found out in March that it might be a boy, I met Karen at church to ask her permission for us to use Eddie's first name (Edward) as our baby boy's middle name. She was very touched and told me how sweet it was of us to do that, and how honored she was. I told her again something that I had shared with her at the hospital, when things started to take a turn for the worse: Eddie meant alot to me. I know he meant so much to so many and we all still miss him terribly. In the two short years I had known him, he was a great and wonderful friend and a strong Christian presence in my life.

I apologize for taking the tone of my blog in a whole other direction, but I wanted to share that here. Noel (a friend from church) and I have spent a lot of time during the last few days remembering Eddie and talking about him. I think this is the first time I've openly talked with anyone about Eddie (even Karen) since his death in September.

So James Edward it is, and he is due August 15th as of now. We are very, VERY excited and I had tons of fun yesterday starting my baby registry at Target. It was a real change from shopping for frilly dresses and cute hair bows, but I found myself experiencing the welcome change. I am nervous as to where this path with this new baby will take us, all things considered. I am uncertain how to handle mothering a little boy although from what I hear they can steal your heart. Want to know a little secret? He's not even here yet and he has already stolen my heart.