Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don't forget in February...

That a few of these things also happened!

Valentine's Tot Time - We went to the park with some of our buddies from church - our LBS class has a Tot Time every month, and this month it was supposed to be a Valentine's party at the Blazeis'.  Well it was just too gorgeous to stay inside, so we moved it to the park.  We Texans must capitalize on happy outdoor weather while it lasts!  When Madeleine was digging in the sand, she kept wanting to find crabs...sorry love.

She also had lots of sweet crafts for February.  Here are most of the Valentine's ones.  I was really pleased how she "got" Valentine's this year, equating hearts with love and God's love for us.  In fact, I was driving her around the Galleria area, and at one point I drove right by at 610 and Westheimer.   Sweet girl saw the tacky hearts painted on the windows with the lingerie all around and said "Look Mommy! Hearts for God's love."  Oh how I want to preserve that innocence but equip her to take His love to those who need it most, even in messy and uncomfortable situations.

Artisan Pow-Wow - Feb. 16 was a huge work day for me.  We hosted our artisans in the morning for an exciting meeting of what went well in 2012, what we can improve on, and just some nice hang out time.  We had a great turn out, and we needed translators for four different languages - a different meeting dynamic, trust me!  I loved listening to the reasons why these women love The Community Cloth.  After the meeting I quickly packed up and headed south to Friendswood for an in-home event that evening.  I think it was a 12-hour work day!  Those two in the bottom left picture are Aisha from The Congo and Chitra from Bhutan.  They are beautiful, strong women with whom I work especially closely.

MCC when I grow up day - as a part of Madeleine's February curriculum at school, they focused on community helpers.  She learned about firemen, doctors, policemen (and made her own cute little fingerprint book, awwww.)  At the end of the month they got to pick a profession to dress up as for school.  I took M to Lakeshore Learning the day before (remember? I am always so on top of things,)  but I couldn't bear to pay nearly $30 for a costume of a doctor, chef, policeman, etc.  So, off to Hobby Lobby we went, and a costume was made for less than $8. :)  I think she makes a cute and compassionate little veterinarian.

Baylor Day in Austin - We wrapped up February with a short trip to Austin.  I love being a mama, but I so desperately miss that car time with my sweet husband.  Road trips are our favorite time of conversation.  Cason and I were invited to be a part of Baylor day at the Capitol, which was celebrated with a breakfast,  proclamations in both the House and the Senate as well as some speeches made by the many Baylor Reps and Senators currently in office.  We also had an intimate lunch with Judge Starr and First Lady Alice, as well as other Baylor dignitaries and fellow alumni.  It was a lovely time, as always, I was so proud of Baylor, and it was really special to get so much one-on-one conversation time with Judge Starr. He really took the time to listen to us and answer questions about the direction of the university.  We got to swing by Thunderbird Coffee on our way out of town (Cason had to be back in Houston for class by 6!) to see our favorite little longhorn.
And last, but certainly not least, sometimes you get a new jogging stroller, and the bonus is the spaceship that comes with it.  I got to hear plenty of "Mommy I am zooming to the moon!!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Welcoming Baby Reed

 Baby Reed is coming in April, and we celebrated his upcoming arrival with what I would definitely call a "masculine chic" shower.  Ha.  He has a very masculine daddy, Erik, and a very feminine mommy, Amanda.  :)  I think this shower combined those elements perfectly!  When describing my dear friend Amanda to my dear friend Ally (who does all my invites - check out she nailed it!  The invitation served as the inspiration for the rest of the shower details!
I was in Dallas for less than 24 hours - it was definitely a quick trip!  We had the shower at Rachel's house - bright, sunny and modern, it is a completely re-vamped older home in Lake Highlands.  It was a perfect setting.  She picked up lots of the woodsy decor at Target after-Christmas sales, and she found the animal heads (since Reed's daddy is an avid hunter!) on amazon.  I was responsible for the activity, and we did an alphabet book for Reed.  It was so much fun to see what all the guests came up with.  It will be laminated and spiral bound for him.  What a fun keepsake! 
The hostesses for this shower are all sweet friends from my Baylor days.  In fact, Rachel, Amanda and Anne were some of my bridesmaids. :)
It was a great time to see so many friends from Baylor - it's amazing how time evaporates with these girls (seven years since we graduated?!)
Amanda got lots of sweet gifts for Baby Reed - a great mix of practical and fun!  The email group (sans Tamara - couldn't quite make it to the shower from Singapore) really got into the ABC book activity!
Guests left with homemade cake pops (thanks Rach!) and a reminder to pray for the Hills.
We can't wait to meet Baby Reed!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lessons in Potty Training

Disclaimer:  I realize that most of you aren't interested in how M potty trained, but this is an entry more for me to remember how it all went down so that someday with another child I have a way to remember.  If any of this does help you, well fantastic! :)

Potty training isn't for the faint of heart.  Looking back, Madeleine did really well, but in the thick of it, especially that first week, it was trying.  I'm still a green, new mama though, because like I said, I don't know how it could've been any easier than if she just flat dab never had an accident again after I "decided" she was to be trained. :)

The first step for us was converting her crib to a "big girl bed."  We did this the last weekend in January.  She did really well with it.  One of the first nights we heard her get up and open the door, patter down the hall, then run back to her room, close the door and jump into her bed.  She didn't even get us, she was just exploring her freedom.  Overall, she adjusted really well (I had visions of me sitting in the hall for hours telling her to go back in, but she pleasantly surprised me!
Before we officially began the process, I had dabbled in potty training.  She had her little froggy potty in the bathroom, and she would have some days where she would use it three times, and other days where she showed zero interest.  She even went #2 in the froggy potty way back in September.  I probably could've trained her then, but fall was too crazy with the wreck and all our traveling.  I wanted to wait until after Christmas.  I also experimented with rewards (gummy bears) but found that she would go a little bit, get a gummy bear, go a little bit more, get another gummy bear...obviously she had the control and I had to switch to a sticker chart. (Like I said, rookie mom.)

So, somehow I just randomly decided Feb. 1 (Madeleine turned 27 months in January) was the day, just a few days after we converted her crib.  She had her two friends Jake and Violet (about 7-8 months older than her, both potty trained) over to play that morning, so I might've been slightly insane.  We did a modified version of the 3-day method, I guess, but we did leave the house a fair amount of times, and I didn't hover over her the entire duration of the three days.  I think she had eight accidents.  It was good for her to be around them and see them use the potty, but she was really distracted while she was playing, despite me frequently saying, "Madeleine, tell mommy when you need to go potty."  We soldiered on!
She stayed dry from 12-4 p.m. (including her nap!) and had a small accident in the evening.  We put her in Dora pull-ups for bed, and those were dry in the morning too.  Little victories.  Saturday morning we went to Violet's pirate birthday party.  I braced myself for the worst, but Madeleine stayed dry the whole time, and she used Violet's potty to go twice - once #1 and once #2!  I was so so so excited for her.  She only had one accident on Saturday - she was out playing in the yard in the evening.
At church the next morning, I think she only had one accident...and the week kinda progressed with really good days and really bad days.  Also, on Tuesday I had a dentist appointment, and my mom was on a trip, so Madeleine had to come with me after school.  I was pretty encouraged because she only had one accident at school  Y'all, she went potty six times while I was at the dentist.  Twice while we were waiting, three times during my cleaning, and once before we left. The worst was that on Thursday she had about three or four accidents after doing so well on Tuesday!  I was so discouraged.  They texted me about putting her in a pull-up.  I hated that for her, but I didn't want to be selfish either.   Friday was much better - Cindy stayed on her when she went to play at Jakes with only one accident.  (Much better than nine total the previous Friday!)  

I think the hand-washing is the most exhausting part because there's rarely a stool in a public restroom, so you have to hold them up and they want to play in the soap and water, etc.  Sheesh!   I take that back - the most exhausting part is that you, mama, are always thinking about them staying dry those first few days.  Day, night, at home, out and about, you are asking them, thinking about it, and subconsciously strategizing your next potty break.  That plumb wore me out!  Anyway, when she filled up her whole potty chart, we went to Target and picked out a little toy - a $5 set of Abby and Rosita Sesame Street figures. I think she "got" it - she seemed pretty excited. 
After that first week (when I seriously questioned my decision to potty train on about days 6 & 7) it really clicked with her on day 8 and 9, and the only accidents she had were accidents where she didn't make it to the potty quite in time.  A huge test for her was riding in the car to Galveston (day 9) fairly quickly after we started potty training.  By then she was great about going to the potty, but she was going all.the.time. and not really consolidating her trips.  Thankfully, she did great there and back, and I had the froggy potty in the back just in case.  Staying dry at night has thankfully not been a big issue either - we were blessed in that it did just click for her, as it has to with all kids on their own time.  As soon as she was done with the small package of pull-ups we bought for her, we just switched to regular undies at night.  

It has really been great that she's trained.  I love not changing diapers, and I love that she just runs off and goes whenever she needs to when we are at home.  She loves public restrooms (sigh) and seems to want to try them out wherever we go!  All in all, success!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Madeleine learned a little more about Valentine's Day this year - "What are we celebrating?"  "Love!"  As her awareness of holidays grows, it gets more and more fun to celebrate with her.  We got the breakfast room set up the night before, and she loved her big balloon and flowers from Daddy.  What was even more fun was that her balloon sang "You're Still the One" (not Shania, 1976 Orleans) so she got to dance with her Daddy before he went to work. 
Valentine's fell on a Thursday, so we got her cards ready for her classmates, and she got to wear a special outfit that Nana and Pop got for her.  I thought she looked radiant in the backyard morning light. 
Toward the end of her school day, her Daddy and I got to go to her Valentine's Party.  With no naps and extra sweets, the kids were crazy, but sweet.  I love how Graham looks like a ladies' man at his table - he bucked the trend as some of the other boys were sitting at the other table.  Hugs for for Graham (don't tell Cason) and hugs for Avery (who looks like a perfect hybrid of her parents in this picture.) 
Of course at the end of the day, it was Daddy who had her heart. 
Our sweet Sunday school class is about 50-50 kids/no kids, so the amazingly sweet and servant-hearted couples without kids reached out to some of us parents and offered to babysit for us on Valentine's night.  The Fisackerlys had Miss Madeleine, so Cason and I went to The Union Kitchen about five minutes away in Bellaire for a lovely date night.
All in all, it was a great day, yes, celebrating love. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crashing Mardi Gras for Cason's 32nd!

Cason's parents have a great tradition of coming to town for his birthday weekend.   This year was no different, and we decided to head down to Galveston after Madeleine's nap for a quick dinner at our favorite seawall spot, Fish Tales.  Sometime that week I did hear about it being Mardi Gras weekend, but I was sure it would be at the Strand and not on the Seawall.  (I don't know why.)  Anyway, we got down there and there were lots of parade preparations underway.   We went to buy some things at CVS, and our recently potty trained little chicken couldn't even use the bathroom because they put boxes in front of it to keep the crowds away!  Good thing I had her froggy potty in the trunk, yes I did. :)  We made it down to Fish Tales and had quite a time parking - there was an interesting crowd, high school marching band buses, news trucks and the like, and we found that since we had been there last, Pleasure Pier had been built right across the street from Fish Tales!  We thought we'd never get in, and the scene was getting rowdy.  That didn't stop our little one from wanting to put her feet in the sand for a bit, even if it was a little chilly!
Our restaurant buzzer finally went off and we went back across the street to the restaurant.  While we typically prefer the upstairs balcony for dining, we were seated inside on the first floor because there was a party going on up there.  We watched as beads rained down onto the crowd!  We had some delicious seafood and got the heck outta there!  We had a great time, but it wasn't really our scene. ;)
As we left, a kind older man gave Madeleine the beads of all beads, and she played in the Fish Tales boat with Nana.
We made it home in the early evening (due to our 4:30 or 5 dinner!) and the guys went out for some Marble Slab (we celebrate big around here.)  The beads continue to be a dress-up staple in our playroom.  Happy birthday to Cason!