Marking things off my to-do list

Oh how I love the holidays! No lie: I have stayed up late practically every night since November 1st watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Most of those nights I’m one or two in the morning before going to sleep. Am I tired the next morning? Absolutely. But there is something about sitting in my living room with the only light coming from my Christmas tree and the glow of the tv that just makes me happy.

Oh, did I mention?

My Christmas tree went up the very first week of November. See? I’m a holiday fanatic.

I like to enjoy the full two months of the season. I like the house to be decorated and ready to go on Thanksgiving day when my girls wake up to watch the Macy’s Day Parade and the yummy smell of Thanksgiving dinner is wafting into the living room.

It makes us happy. So, why not?

On the Friday after Thanksgiving we decorate the outside of the house. I’m totally respecting the feelings of those that like to enjoy one holiday at the time 😉  So, I do wait on letting my Christmas joy spill outside until the day after, haha 🙂

Things I have marked off my holiday to-do list?

– Christmas tree up and decorated

– Major Christmas gifts purchased

– Christmas gift buying list made and ready

– Outdoor decorations purchased

– Christmas Cards ordered!

Here is a sneak peak of the cards I ordered. You have no idea how difficult it was to get this picture with all three girls looking into the camera! I have so much respect for photographers!! This was the best of about fifty duds.

christmas card picture 2013

I was happy with the final product though! 🙂

And for the close family and friends that receive one of these there is a surprise pic on the back and a note from us!

To my blog friends reading this: I wish I could send each and every one of you this card! Thank you for taking the time to follow our story. We hope you have a magnificent holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter, and joy!!

 

P.S. Stop by Bloglovin and visit me :).

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XOXO,

Erika

 

 

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And we are entering the….Double Digits!

I can not even believe my precious baby girl is 10, yes you read that right, 10 years old! This little girl has taught me more than I ever imagined possible over the last 10 years of our lives. Having her opened the flood gates of new feelings, knowledge,a new sense of purpose and has led me on a continual journey of self evaluation. Through both incredible luck and lots of hard work on our part, Hailey has grown into an empathetic, patient, well mannered, loving little girl who is leading a great example for her little sisters.

So here is how we celebrated her entry into the double digits… 

Every year since she turned 7 years old we have had a large sleepover birthday party for her with her friends and cousins. It’s so fun to look at how much they grow up over 4 years! Below I have included a picture of the party girls from each year.

Hailey’s 7th Birthday Sleepover

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Hailey’s 8th Birthday Sleepover

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Hailey’s 9th Birthday Sleepover

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Hailey’s 10th Birthday Sleepover

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What a trip down memory lane! It really brings home how fast these little ones grow and the importance of using these years wisely to prepare them for adulthood. I have to admit that entering the teenage years in just 3 short years has me slightly terrified, but my hope and prayer is that He will guide me through and that everything that we have worked so hard to instill in her will help to make it as smooth as possible.

The Toddler Chronicles Part I ~ Reflections of a Third Time Mom

 

The Toddler Chronicles Part I

So we have successfully made it through infancy and we are now entering the toddler years! And thanks to some of the trials and errors that we have learned from raising our first two, we made it through with relatively few bumps along the road! At 18 months, Bella has entered a new phase that is known for it’s tantrums, newfound independence, curiosity and exploration. So far I have found that what worked for her as a baby, is also pretty effective for her as a toddler. Keeping to a schedule, starting as I mean to go on, and not expecting too much are still the foundation for how we are raising Bella into her toddler years. Patience is definitely the name of the game when raising a toddler! The little nonmobile bundle of joy from last year is now everywhere all at once and into one thing after the other. At least mine is!

Starting as we mean to go on….

Especially when teaching boundaries, it really does help to be consistent and start right off the way you would like them to go on. This will help to head off the confusion that would come from suddenly setting rules for a preschooler who has never been given boundaries. This is the age when everything around them is a new discovery and where they can finally learn about their world hands on. One minute Bella is drinking from her sippy cup nicely and the next minute I find her shaking the milk onto the floor and rubbing it into the carpet! I walk into the kitchen for 2 seconds and come back around the corner to find her sitting on the endtable playing with the lamp shade. What an inquisitive age this is! While I completely understand that Bella is just exploring her world, I,of course, have to let her know that she cannot climb on the furniture because she might fall and get hurt. In our household, we choose to give explanations when we tell our children not to do something. We do this because we feel that they are less likely to disobey if they know the reason why. So, for example, I tell Bella ” No, Bella. We can not climb on the table. We might fall and get hurt. Or ” We can’t hit sissie. It will hurt sissie if you hit her. And then, at this age, I redirect her attention to something else.

Keeping to a schedule….

This gets harder and harder to do as they get older. In our case, we have two older children who go to school and have extacurricular activites. My goal is to keep the main parts of the day as routine as possible for Bella, no matter what our plans for the day might be. For us, this means our morning and nighttime routines. When Bella wakes in the morning, I get her from the crib, whether I am working that morning or not, and we sing our special “Good morning Bella” song. I then give her a sippy cup of milk and we watch cartoons together and snuggle. We are then ready to start our day. At bedtime, I give Bella a lavender scented bath, read her a book or watch tv together, and give her a sippy cup of milk while snuggling. I then lay her down for the night. It’s amazing how much better Bella does during the day when these two times are kept as routine as possible. During the day, our schedule varies depending on what our plans are and I adjust her naptime accordingly. Sometimes that means an hour nap in the car while picking the older girls up from school or cheerleading/dance. Even though her naptime is not the same everyday, as long as her morning and nightime routine remain the same, it does not cause her to be overly fussy or cranky.

Independent play….

At our house we definitely encourage independent play. Not only is it known to be beneficial for a child’s overall growth and development, but it also allows time for rest, chores, or time with other children. I try to plan Bella’s independent playtime to be when I have something else I need to give attention to. I have found that if I sit on the floor and play with Bella for a little while and then give her something to play by herself, she does better because she has already had my undivided attention and is now more receptive to playing alone. I also set aside some “special” play toys and activities to bring out so that she has something different to play with that may hold her attention longer. I even sometimes pull out pots and pans or other safe household items and let her play with those while I help the older girls with homework. She loves that she is playing with “real” toys and it allows for some more independent playtime. Other “go to” activities for Bella to do without my undivided attention are; coloring in her highchair, watching her favorite sing along dvd and looking at board books. I think the main thing is to spend time playing and interacting with your toddler throughout the day and plan independent play for times that are necessary to give attention to other people or things. Of course, if Bella takes it upon herself to play independently than by all means, I let her!

Not expecting too much….

Some days I just have to keep in mind that Bella is only an 18 month old and no matter how well I plan, fussiness or tantrums still happen. Just like when she was an infant, I know that by making sure that all of her needs are met, I increase the chances that we will have a more enjoyable time if we go out. I try to make sure she is fed, changed, and not sleepy before going to a restaurant, on a playdate or to the doctor’s office. I also know that even if I have done all of these things, I may have to cut short a trip if a tantrum ensues in public. Rather than trying to reason with a screaming toddler, I choose to remove her from the situation thus saving her, the surrounding people and myself from witnessing a public meltdown.

This stage in Bella’s life is still a story being written and I will be posting as different situations and issues arise. I write about the parenting techniques that we use and have found successful while raising our three children. Of course, there are lots of other ways to raise children and I would certaintly love to hear if you have any useful techniques that I did not mention. I have found that some of the advice I have recieved from other mothers has been priceless and I am always open to suggestions!

~Bella’s 18 month update!~

This is so true! I started blogging about my pregnancy with Bella and have literally documented her entire life so far. This is such a great way to remember all of the little things that are often forgotten over the years and also for our friends and family that may not get to see the girls often. I only wish there was such a thing as blogging when my first was born! But no worries, they have all certaintly been blogged about since I started this!:)
So on to the 18 month update!…..

It is finally time for another Bella update. She turned 1 year old last July, which makes her 18 months this month!! After Bella turned one, I decided to update every 6 months because there are not as many monthly changes as there are in the first year. So her next update will be this summer when she turns 2 years old!! Wow, time is flying and with every day that passes we see more and more of that sweet little personality shine through. I think it is safe to say that Bella has established herself as a sweet natured yet very determined child. She knows what she wants and there are no moments of indecision for her! Once she decides what she wants she goes for it wholeheartedly. This reminds me very much of Hailey as a baby. But Bella differs in that she is much more outgoing and LOVES to be the center of attention. If the attention in the room is elsewhere she goes about dancing, singing, trying to “show” you something (which is pretty much anything she can find at that moment). She is a lot like Mary Kathryn in that she is very empathetic. If she sees someone upset she is going to go love on them, give them her toy, or entertain them until they smile. Bella is definitely the baby of the family and her sisters dote on her all of the time. And Bella loves that of course!:)

Weight~ Bella is 21 pounds and 7 ounces! Though she is only in the 6th percentile for weight, her growth chart shows that she is growing “just perfectly”. Both Hailey and Mary Kathryn were in the 6-9th percentile range at this age. I just have petite little girls I guess!:)

Feedings~ Bella is a good eater and can eat just about anything we eat. Some of her favorites are scrambled or poached eggs, chicken and rice, pancakes, and chicken. She is still not able to drink cow’s milk or many other dairy products but she loves her vanilla soy milk!! She will also drink apple juice or water but LOVES soy milk. Whenever I have tried any cow’s milk she breaks into a rash and gets severe diarrhea, so no milk right now. I am actually considering taking her to an allergist to check it out. Below is a picture of the rash she first got when I weaned her from breastmilk to organic whole milk at 1 year.

Sleep~ Bella goes to sleep for the night between 7 and 7:30pm. I give her a sippy cup of soymilk and then lie her down awake and she goes right to sleep. I am so thankful for this because the sleepless nights from last year are still vivid in my mind! On Tuesday nights we are late getting home from cheer practice in greenville, so I put her pjs and nighttime diaper on right before we leave to come home from cheer around 8:00pm. She sleeps the hour drive home and then I just transfer her right from the car to her crib when we get home. Bella also takes 1-2 naps for a couple of hours each day. It depends on what our schedule for the day is like whether she gets one or two naps. With two older sisters in school and with extracurricular activites, Bella has to go with the flow:)

 

Play~ Bella loves to play with her friends Audrey and Ellie when she is at the babysitters. She has become quite proficient at calling out their names when we drive up to Ms.Ann’s house. She knows it is time to play with her bestie:) She also loves to play anything that Hailey and Mary Kathryn are playing whether its barbies, dolls or coloring pictures, she is right there with them. Her play kitchen is also a favorite as well as her babydoll and carriage.

Development~ Bella can run, jump, climb stairs while standing and holding the rail, hold a pencil or crayon correctly, talk in short sentences, identify familiar people and objects by name, sing songs in their entirety and all kinds of big girl things. She is also aware when she goes potty in her diaper because she will come up to us while holding her diaper to let us know. We may start introducing the potty chair sometime around her 2nd birthday:) No hurries though!:)

Favorite things right now~ Her wubbanub pacifiers (I have decided to start that weaning process around 2 years), her sissies, her pink blanket and she loves going to watch cheerleading competitions! It’s a good thing because she goes to lots of them! In fact, she makes multiple attempts during the competitions to run out on the mat/stage. It’s only fast mommy reflects that have stopped this from happening! I also can’t wait to take her to Mary Kathryn’s recital in June. I know she will just love it!!

Just look at how much Bella has grown since this picture was taken at a few weeks old!!

And now look how big she is!!

18 months already!! It never ceases to amaze me at how fast children grow. Motherhood is such a blessing and a tremendous responsibilty. It is so easy to love them and make them happy, but we mothers also carry the responsibility of nuturing their realationship with God, directing the growth of their charachter, helping them to develop their individual gifts and talents, setting clear expectations of right and wrong, and the list goes on….
What an important and hard job we have! My prayer is that God will lead me in this and guide their little hearts in their journey.

Happy 18 months Bella!!!:)

The paci issue

So around here we have a very good friend that is missed dearly if left behind on trips short or long. A quick run to the grocery store turns into a total debacle if we forget to pack the all important paci. Bella loves her paci fiercely and must have it with her at all times, even if it is just sitting in the room while she plays. She can be completely entertained playing and then freeze, as if it just occured to her that it is missing, and start calling out “paci, pacieeee”. She’ll then stop what she’s doing to go retrieve it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Having a pacifier has allowed us to have many fairly relaxing trips to Charlotte, Baltimore, Myrtle Beach, and other places since she has been born. To be honest, she is a more content baby when she has her paci with her.

But recently, it has occurred to me that eventually we are going to have to break Bella of this pacifier dependance. The problem is that paci is not only just Bella’s pacifier, but her cuddly friend. Even on the sandy beach this summer, Bella had her trusty paci right there with her.

 Being as that this is the only child out of three that has ever taken to having a pacifier, I have absolutely no idea how to gently break her from this love of her paci. It’s been right there with her like another appendage since birth. So my question to other moms who have been through this is:

#1 At what age did you start the transition away from the pacifier?
#2 How did you break your child of this habit? Was it gradual or sudden?

I’m pretty sure that we’re not quite ready to make a clean break just yet. She is only 16 months old and I feel that I have a little time. But I do want to develop a game plan and perhaps start some small steps toward the ultimate goal. I am thinking that more of a gradual transition would work best for us, but I am open to any ideas from moms more experienced in this area! Thank you so much for your help!!:)

So, what have we been up to??

Well, we have been busy as can be around here! Since my last post these two girls have started their school year….

They both LOVE their classes and have enjoyed being back into a routine. And of course I sent them a note in their lunch to remind them how special they are to me.

After the excitement of the first week of school we were paid a unwelcome visit by Irene….Maybe you’ve met her??

These pictures were taken from my husband’s patrol car the day after Hurricane Irene made landfall…

Thank the Lord, we only had minor damage to our home and property. And most importantly we all came through safely.

And something else that has come since my last post…September 1st, which to me equals ‘time to put up my fall decorations’:):) If you can not tell, I do not procrastinate when it comes to celebrating the change of seasons!

Bella’s 1 year pictures

Around each of my children’s 1st birthday, I have always had “1 year shots” taken. For Bella, she had just had some beautiful pictures made at 9 months and with our very busy summer, I decided to take some of my own outside our home. She is at a phase right now where it is very hard to get her to sit still for pictures, but I was still able to catch a few cute ones before she grew to bored/hot/hounded by knats. The white dress in the photos was originally Hailey’s and each one of the girls have worn it in their one year pictures.

This last picture is my absolute favorite. It shows so much of her sweet little personality. We have so enjoyed Bella’s first year of life and are having so much fun watching her grow into a toddler.

~Bella’s 12 month update~

                                                 
Isabella Faith Trevathan ~ 1 year

It is hard to believe that a full year has passed since Bella was born. We just can’t imagine our life without her now! It has been so much fun watching her go from a little newborn to an outgoing, funloving, energetic one year old. And I have so enjoyed watching Hailey and Mary Kathryn develop into such devoted, loving older sisters. How much fun for them to grow up having each other to love and depend on. Just look at this display of sisterly love…..


                                      4th of July 2011

Now for Bella’s 12 month update!~

Weight and length this month~ To be announced after her 12 month check next week. I’m pretty sure it’s very close to 20 pounds.

Feedings~ Bella is making the transition from breastmilk to lactose free vitamin D milk. Not long after gradually starting her during the day on vitamin D whole milk, she began having horrible diarrhea. At first I just thought she had a virus. But it went on for 2 weeks, getting worse and worse the more whole milk we added to her diet. I mean it got so bad that she was waking several times during the night COVERED in stool from her hair to her feet. The last few nights she had THREE baths from the time she layed down at night till morning. At that point I realized that it had to be the milk. At the recommendation of a PA I work with, I switched her to lactose free milk (Thanks Denise!). And the turn around was amazing. Not only did we not have to fight her to get her to drink the milk, but the diarrhea stopped and she began having regular stools again! So at this point, Bella is down to nursing at bedtime and in the mornings and is finally able to take lactose free vitamin D milk during the day. Thank the Lord! I look forward to her one year check up next week when I can discuss this lactose intolerance with her pediatrician. She is also at the point where she prefers table food to baby food. Some of her favorites are pancakes, potatoes, cereal, whole grain puffs, and she likes green beans. I wouldn’t say love but definitely likes:)

I just love this picture! Bella taking a bite of her smashcake at her 1st birthday party. This cake was extra special because it was made by her Aunt Abby:)

Sleep~ Things are getting better on this front. I would say she sleeps through the night (10 straight hours) 3 out of 7 nights a week. I’m happy with this progress in the right direction! (She slept wonderfully until almost 5 months and, well, all down hill from there). She also takes a 2 hour morning nap and a 1-1 1/2 hour afternoon nap.

Play~ She loves playing with baby dolls, pushing cars and trucks, climbing and “making ” her sisters push her around in her play baby stroller. In fact, she gets upset if she sees a baby doll in the stroller and will throw it out and climb in herself. Then she will wait, not so patiently, to be pushed around. And of course her sisters love having a REAL baby doll to push!:)

Development~ Look how much we have learned in our 1st year!~
•Pulls self up to stand
•Walks holding on to furniture
•Stands momentarily without support
•Uses pincer grasp
•Bangs two cubes together
•Puts objects into container
•Takes objects out of container
•Lets objects go voluntarily
•Pokes with index finger
•Tries to imitate scribbling
•Responds to simple verbal requests
•Responds to “no”
•Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”
•Babbles with inflection
•Says “dada” and “mama”
•Uses exclamations, such as “oh-oh!”
•Tries to imitate words
•Finds hidden objects easily
•Looks at correct picture when the image is named
•Imitates gestures
•Begins to use objects correctly( ie. She loves to pretend to talk on the phone by holding it up to her ear and babbling!)
•Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys
•Repeats sounds or gestures for attention
•Finger-feeds herself
•Extends arm or leg to help when being dressed

Favorite things to do this month~ Cuddle and snuggle, ride in her play baby stroller, chase her sissies around, and explore!

And here is a picture of Bella’s 1st birthday cake with her FAV charachter on it…..

And coincidentally Bella was born on our 9th wedding anniversary. So not only did we celebrate Bella’s 1st birthday….but we also celebrated another very important milestone….
Our 10th wedding anniversary!!!

Happy 1st Birthday to my Bellabee!!!

Bella’s 11 month Update!!

Look what Bella can do!!
Over the last couple of weeks Bella has started standing on her own constantly. And what a proud little thing she is. Almost always, she will clap her hands in glee….after the initial look of amazement. We have so enjoyed watching her achieving these milestones and have all loved trying to guess when the next one will occur. It is really hard to believe that she will be 1 year old next month!!

Here is her 11 month update~

Weight this month~ 19 pounds even!!

Feedings~ Bella is drinking approx 4-5 ounces of breastmilk every 4 hours. She is eating 3 meals a day and a snack in the morning and afternoon. Some of her favorites this month are mashed potatoes, pancakes, cheerios, and cheese puffs. Over the next couple of weeks I will be starting to add some whole milk to breastmilk in a sippy cup in an attempt to start the intro to big girl milk. I’m praying her determined nature will not interfere with this weaning process:)



~Bella’s 1st Father’s Day~



Sleep~ Oh boy, this is a fun one. Over the last 6 weeks Bella’s sleeping pattern has degressed to waking every 2 hours. I think the initial culprit was her very first tooth coming in and her waking in pain. Gradually she became used to waking and us coming in to comfort her and there started the bad habit. But the past 3 nights Bella has slept from 7pm until 6am! I was a little hesitant to start the crying out techinique at her age but thanks to some much appreciated advice from Tara, after one night of letting her cry in small increasing increments, she relearned to soothe herself and did wonderfully that night as well as the last two nights since. It is SO nice to have mommy friends that you can trust to help you through the trials of parenting when you are too tired to think for yourself!:) Thank you so much Tara for your help!!

Play~ Bella loves to play in her play area in the livingroom. She is still emptying the toy box but is now climbing in and playing inside it. She loves to look out the window, look at books and climb on anything and everything. As evidenced by the picture of her trying to escape her play corral below….

Development~ Bella talks/babble constantly and can say Mama, Dada, byebye, and a word that sounds sorta like Hay-ee. I first noticed her copying me when I was calling Hailey from upstairs. I was calling “Hailey” and Bella was repeating “Hay-eeee”. She has said it several times since but I’m not sure she correlates it to Hailey yet. She also understands the word “no” and will often look at us before touching something she shouldn’t. She plays patty-cake and peek-a-boo and loves to drop things and watch us pick them up! She picks up absolutely anything and puts it in her mouth. Keeping small object off the floor is top priority this month. Biggest worry…Barbie accessories!

~Favorite things to do this month~ Stand alone, climb, eat finger foods, give eskimo kisses, and of course, playing with her sissies!!

Here is a video of Bella standing all by herself!~

We love you Bellabee and can’t wait to celebrate your 1st birthday next month!!