Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Links This Month (December 2011)

Delicious Links:

Power to Choose
Boring, I know, but we just switched energy companies - so, if you want to find a lower rate, check out this website!

I Heart Fluff: How NOT to Wash Cloth Diapers
I thought this was a great resource from my friend Jessica on how to wash your cloth diapers, especially after our horrible STINK incident this last fall!

JPG Mag: My Advice for Aspiring Photographers
I LOVE this little article. My favorite words of wisdom?

  • "Never apologize for your own sense of beauty."
  • "Say no. Say it often."
  • "Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection."

Pinterest Pins:

Make a photo book of your kids artwork
I LOVE this idea! What a great way to preserve the memories while saving space and making it easier to display.

Amazing Toddler Activities
This mom is super creative and has tons of fun ideas for young toddlers on her blog!

Hanging Organization Baskets in Nursery
I might need to hang a shelf and hooks over the changing table for a little additional organization in the boys' room, and I LOVE these baskets as a starting point!

DIY Kids' Workbench
As soon as the play kitchen is complete and our garage is semi-organized, I think this would be an AWESOME birthday present for Cannon.

Crocheted Flower Hat for Little Girl
I really want to make this - anyone with daughters want to try it out if I do?

3-in-30 Dec/Jan

3in30 Challenge 
January Goals:
  1. Cuddle Cason.
  2. Play with Cannon.
  3. Adjust to having two kids!
December Goals Recap:
  1. Freeze Meals
  2. Put together birth center bags
  3. Wash newborn clothes
I also got a few extra things done including lots of things on the Baby #2 Bucket List! So, it was a good month of nesting and now I'm ready to take a break and love on my BOYS!

Our Family This Month (December 2011)

How is it time for another monthly update already?

You can read our annual Christmas letter, which was mailed out at the beginning of the month.

Danny ran the last leg of the White Rock Relay at the beginning of December. It was a cold and rainy run, but it was fun and reminiscent to get out and see him jog down Swiss Avenue. There are a few things we miss sorely about Dallas - running Swiss Avenue and White Rock Lake are one of them!

It was a fun "crafting" month for me, as I hosted a Quiet Book Page swap with my friend Susan and sold a few crocheted items at a small "Etsy-style" sale with friends. I knocked a bunch of to-do items off my Baby #2 Bucket List and feel ready for Cason to make his debut!

Cannon is talking more and more. He's also getting louder and more emphatic as he learns that volume and intensity catch our attention FASTER! He's had two colds this month and is closing out the year battling an ear infection. His little toddler walk has turned into a haphazard "run" wherever he goes and resulted in his first good topple and knot on his forehead last week.

We are sticking close to home and keeping our schedule wide open for the New Year wondering when Cason will show up. Hopefully you'll get to see pictures of our newest addition the next time you check in here at the blog.

Happy New Year Ya'll!

- Danny, Laura, Cannon and Cason

To see all of our monthly posts from 2011, check out:

December 2011 Reading List

46. Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
This book is a great companion read to "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. I thought it was a little more practical with more examples and real life situations while Shepherding a Child's Heart was more of the theology and theory behind disciplining and training your child. I would HIGHLY recommend both of these to any parent wanting to better understand what the Bible says about raising children.

47. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Loved this book. I will definitely need to be referencing it often as the boys grow. I loved how this book didn't stop at discipline and behavior modification, but explained the importance of addressing your children's hearts. There's WAY more to say about this book than can be written in a few little paragraphs of a book review, so if you have thoughts or questions, I'd love to discuss it further.

48. Listen to Me Good by Margaret Charles Smith
This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. It read more like a history book than a memoir, and at times I wanted to read more of the midwife's story than the history sections included at the beginning of each chapter. There was also less about midwifery and more about the entire life of Mrs. Smith than I expected - which was fine - I just thought I was picking up a book about childbirth and midwives.

49. Playful Learning by Anne Engelhardt
This is one of the best resources for preschool ideas ever! Some of the activities were too old for Cannon - but it was a great resource for themed activities.

I didn't quite make it through my reading goals for 2011. I got derailed by other books here and there. You can see my reading goals for 2011, along with the additional books I read here. I think this next year I'll leave more wiggle room for additions to the goal sheet.

To see all the books I read in 2011 check out Shelfari, or you can read my reviews here:

November 2011 Reading List
October 2011 Reading List
September 2011 Reading List
August 2011 Reading List
July 2011 Reading List
June 2011 Reading List
May 2011 Reading List
April 2011 Reading List
March 2011 Reading List
February 2011 Reading List
January 2011 Reading List

The Magic of Christmas

It took several weeks, but Cannon finally noticed the ornaments on the Christmas tree. I purposely put "play-safe" ornaments within his reach and he has enjoyed playing with a few favorites. He LOVES asking for me to wind up the cello music box ornament, squeezing the sweater to see the lights flash, and turning the manger scene advent ornament to hear the Christmas story.

I hope all Christmases are filled with the awe of discovery and that we can instill such a sense of wonder as we anticipate the birth of Jesus.

In other news, we've started exploring the activity bags I've been saving and little by little he's figuring out how to do each one. He's meticulous about putting the pipe cleaners through the holes, although we have a ways to go in matching the colors.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Baby Belly #2 - Week 39

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This is the no-make-up, I'm a tired mom look. Just thought I'd keep it real - one day I'll look back on this and smile. 

"Cason. Son. I love you. But PLEASE don't make me take a Week 40 belly photo. PLEASE! I beg of you."

We made it through Christmas. I've been walking every day, pulling Cannon in the wagon, drinking my six-week tea like my life depended on it and NOTHING. The little guy is staying put. What a stinker. He got us all revved up that he was coming early and then . . . stall. I haven't made any significant progress (still about 2 cm dilated) at my birthing center check up, but every time they let me know the weekend on-call midwife just in case. 

I have rough days. The anxiety of waiting, the anticipation of the pain, the FEAR of the pain sometimes is overwhelming. Precious friends are sharing sweet scriptures to encourage me and I carry my verses around on index cards and meditate on them numerous times a day. 

I feel like everything exhausts me physically. The simplest tasks of taking care of Cannon wear me out. We're both going stir crazy staying at home, but I just can't lift him in and out of the car and chase him around the park by myself. It's a catch-22. Don't want to go out, but don't want to stay home.

I also have good days. Days where I'm content waiting on my body to go into labor. Days where I savor the moments where Cannon and I just sit and read or cuddle before nap time. I want to cherish the last few days with just one child. 

Maternity Pictures by Joyful Portraits

I know from carrying Cannon around that one day I'll miss these big-belly days (even though I'm dying to share the load and let someone else carry Cason just for a MINUTE!). So, I wanted to get a few pictures to commemorate the pregnancy belly before it was gone.

I forgot my second outfit (oh the joys of trying to get out of the house with a toddler) but still love these photos that Shadee took for us! Be sure to "like" her business, Joyful Portraits, on Facebook. She's a friend and local photographer from the Love Affair workshop.

Baby Belly #2 - The Danny Stiller Edition

Thanks to Cason coming exactly at 40 weeks on his due date I didn't have to take a Week 40 baby belly picture. 

However, before closing out this baby belly #2 series, I thought I'd give you a little chuckle. My husband is a grand sport of all of my crazy ideas. He tolerates my weekly pictures, my crafty ideas, and my diy projects. He more than tolerates them, he usually embraces them and runs with me to complete them. 

Every week before my belly picture, I adjusted my camera settings using Danny as my "usually" unsuspecting model. ALL of these pictures (except for the pumpkin in the shirt) are unposed and are Danny being himself in all his wonderful candidness. We never anticipated putting these on the blog, but after going through them I just couldn't resist. 

Danny gave his permission for me to post ALL of these. For those of you that make it to the end, you'll understand.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Baby #2 Bucket List UPDATE

I thought I'd give you a little update on how we're doing on getting ready for our second son. Remember the original Baby Bucket List? Well, most things have been crossed off and a few extra things added! I'm ready for Cason to get her!

Get Kids' Room Ready:

  • set up twin bed
  • buy sheets/comforter/pillows for twin bed
  • hang Cannon's name & picture
  • get Baby #2's name for wall
  • paint & hang Cason's name for above his crib (almost done! the modge podge is drying on the kitchen counter)
  • hang hooks for baby carriers (hooks have been purchased, just need Danny to bust out his drill)
Create Activity Nook in Living Room: (all of this is pretty much waiting for a line item in next month's budget)
  • buy 4x4 Expedit Birch Bookcase & storage bins
  • find a motor mat
  • organize toys
October To-Do List:
  • buy Christmas gifts
  • prepare for Advent
  • start rehearsing for birth
November To-Do List:
  • get office somewhat organized with both desks
  • get Christmas pictures taken for the last time as a family of three
December To-Do List:
  • freeze meals
  • put together birth center bags
  • put together labor & delivery survival bag
  • wash newborn clothes
  • install infant car seat
  • make eye doctor and dentist appointments for new/Allen doctors in February
  • install cabinet locks in kitchen (again, just waiting for Danny and his drill)
  • set up nursing corner in clean office

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cannon's Kitchen

I'm sure you've all seen the "entertainment centers turned play kitchens" floating around the internet. They are everywhere and I'm pretty sure every other child got one this Christmas. Cannon could not be left out. 

Cannon first played with a little kitchen a few months ago at a meetup group. He stirred, cooked and imagined for 30 minutes straight all by himself and I knew we had to get him a culinary workspace all his own. 

I won't recap every step we went through, but I'll leave you with a few links. I first saw my friends, the Apels, make an AWESOME play kitchen, then I decided I liked this gray color scheme. We also used a few other to give us ideas, like this kitchen, this one, and this one. You could always Google or search Pinterest for more ideas.

We started with a FREE entertainment center from Freecycle. WHOOP on the price!

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Danny then bumped out the walls, knocked out the shelves, and built a countertop.

And yes, we really ended up just using the frame of the entertainment center, but I guess it was less overwhelming/intimidating to start with a frame than to start building something from scratch. :-)

Here's the kitchen completely built, but unfinished. I purchased the faucet and oven knobs at the Habitat ReStore. The sink is a bowl from Walmart, as were the oven racks and dishwasher strainer. 

Add paint and it's coming together! Picking out these paint colors was a fun way to live vicariously through my child because I think this is how I would paint a kitchen if I ever had the chance. Hopefully Cannon likes gray!

And finished product. We still need to add plexiglass to the oven door, although Cannon finds it mighty convenient to just reach in and pull out his baked goods, and I'd like to add a picture above the sink for a little decor. We have yet to hang anything on the hooks on the right because Cannon can't reach them, but one day . . .

We were originally just going to do two cupboards under the sink and on the left, but Cannon LOVES helping me load/unload the dishwasher, so we decided he needed his own little dishwasher. 

Props to Danny for all of his hard work and evenings spent in the garage working on this. Thanks for listening to all of my hair-brained ideas and making them come to life!

Pictures of the great unveiling coming soon. 

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