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Priscilla's Mini-Sessions!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Check out this chance to have a mini-session with Priscilla Baierlein Photography. She's pretty much booked up for the rest of the year, so take advantage of this opportunity to have your Christmas pictures taken!

Jingle Bell Mail

Friday, September 26, 2008
Well, I have to blog about our newest venture. Brad and I have been working for the past month or so on a new business idea. I know... it's always something. As most of you probably already know, Brad and I have owned our own little business since before Bailey was born. Most of the work we've done has been with Bailey Technologies (www.baileytechnologies.com) on our electronics dropshipping business.

We are now adding on to this business! We will now be accepting orders for personalized letters from Santa Claus! Through our business (www.jinglebellmail.com), we will sell personalized letters from Santa for $9.95. You will be able to select your Christmas letterhead, enter in specific information for your child/children and their Christmas wishes, and receive a letter postmarked at the North Pole. We are finalizing the order form on our website and will begin accepting orders on October 1st. I hope that you'll all order a letter for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or friends and make their Christmas a little more magical this year! And, I really hope you'll pass this information along to your friends and family so that they can share this experience with their children!

For more information, visit www.jinglebellmail.com!

Clingy boy = sleepless nights

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"He's 17 months old?" she asked. "The peak of separation anxiety and clinging to mommy..."

How right this stranger was. She perused through our yard sale and moved on, not realizing that she had just clued me in to why my little man has been overly attached to me recently. With Bailey I read every website, blog, and parenting magazine I could get my hands on, not being overly obsessed about what it said, but definitely interested in learning why Bailey was going through whatever phase she seemed to be in at the time. Well, as we all know, I'm a little busier with two than one and really hadn't thought about the "technical" phase that Jake is going through.

Jake is definitely giving me a run for my money with the clinginess. I remember Bailey going through some of this, but nothing to this extreme. For the past couple of weeks it has been getting worse. While I get ready every morning, he stands at the shower door, trying to pull it open while I shower with one hand holding it closed. He proceeds to stand at my feet, pushing and pulling on me, alternately crying and squealing at me to hold him, while I dry my hair, brush my teeth, or put on my makeup. And so it goes all day. On days that I take them to daycare, he clings to me as soon as we get in the parking lot, frowning the entire way to his room, with a death grip on my shirt. Of course, the tears pour out as soon as we enter his classroom and continue until I am down the hall. It makes me feel terrible! And night time is the worst. I rock him to sleep, lay him down, and he's awake in a matter of minutes. I go back to him, try to help him fall asleep again. A repeat. Last night was as bad as it's been. I finally got him to sleep, only for him to wake up at about 11:30 and decide to stay up for about an hour. I finally put him in the bed with us. We all went to sleep. I woke up this morning with Jake on one side, Bailey on the other side, and Brad nearly falling off the bed. MISERABLE! I think maybe we are just going to give them the bed. I'd be happy to give it to the two of them and crawl into Bailey's bed each night for some peace and sleep. :)

I know one day I'll look back and laugh at this... I'll even miss my two crazy babies sleeping on top of me, or waking me up with big huge smiles and requests for cartoons. I'll try to remember that when I'm sleep-deprived and trying to find an extra inch in the bed at 6 a.m.!

Change in season... changes in life...

Sunday, September 21, 2008
I love each season equally, but as it nears October, I always get a little excited about the fall. Each season brings different elements that I love and that I find comfort in. Fall is one that I feel is celebratory. It's a time for family... the beginning of the holiday season, football games, and layers of clothes (namely a chance to wear jackets!). While this year will still bring beautiful fall-colored leaves and windy days, I know it will be slightly different. I have thought a lot about it for some reason today. Maybe because I have spent time working to prepare the house for the cool weather and because my husband has planted himself in front of the TV for football games. I'm not sure why it has been on my mind... but it has. It has probably been on my mind because October really kicks off the three-month period that I see my grandparents the most in. We spend October celebrating birthdays; November celebrating Thanksgiving; and, of course, December celebrating Christmas. It's really the only time that I KNOW I will spend with my grandparents each year. And this year, it will be different because I have one less grandparent.

Really, I think I have just thought more about Granny in particular today. She really seemed to love the holidays and the baking that went along with them. She could fix the best pies, candies, and cakes. I can hardly think of a food that I would like to eat that I don't think of her. She was the queen of comfort food. I know that with time things will be easier... and I know that it's all part of the process. I can remember dreading Christmas after papaw died... the same after Rick died. It's just that time of the year when you want to have everyone you love with you. And it will be different, I know. The fantasy that it will never change is just a fantasy, and I know that too. But, it's hard to think of a Christmas without my granny force-feeding us and yelling for me to cater more to Brad. :) She will most certainly be missed... as will the pumpkin pie, deviled eggs, and fried corn. Oh... and the coconut cream pies...

The shopping trips have already been missed for a while. I don't think I'll ever look at purses, shoes, or baby clothes without thinking about granny, especially at Elder-Beerman or Macy's. It's already hard to hear a Johnny Cash song or to see Andy Griffith without thinking of Matlock, Perry Mason, and Murder She Wrote. Even the Star and Enquirer magazines at the grocery store make me think of her. I just cannot imagine how my Papaw must feel. I can't imagine how my mom must feel. I was with my granny for small amounts of time, usually around the holidays, not everyday or even every month. It breaks my heart to know that they are hurting and I can't do anything to help.

Death never makes sense. We all want more time... more chances to say what we think or feel. Or just to share one more meal. But... we don't always get that. I think sometimes death makes us remember to cherish everything a little bit more. I think I take the time to cherish my babies a lot, but I also know that I get worked up about things that are out of my control, and sometimes not worth my energy. I am working on that... I'm trying to take the only piece of advice that I can ever remember my granny giving me (besides the time that she tried to give me instructions on cooking fudge and forgot to tell me a KEY step, resulting in me melting a plastic spoon and throwing chocolate/peanut butter mix all over my kitchen). The one conversation that she and I had that made the most impact was when she told me that she regretted spending so much time on cleaning and working and not enough on enjoying her life. She told me not to work so hard and to take time to enjoy life a little more... not to follow in her path. It's genetic for me to want to go full speed all the time. I see it in my mom, I see it in Bailey. It's just part of us. And I am SO proud that I have that energy. But she's right. We do need to take more time to enjoy things and stop rushing our way through them. It passes way too quickly.

It wasn't brilliant advice, I know. Nothing that I haven't heard before. But that one conversation has meant more to me now than just about any other. She was not an emotional woman... yet, she opened up that day. It was one of the only times I can ever remember seeing her open... truly and emotionally open. And I'm glad I didn't forget it... I cherished it.

On top of the world...

My little man is living up to the nickname we gave him shortly after his birth. For some reason, I guess we just started calling him our little monkey man. No reason behind it... just kind of developed. Well... we should have been more cautious with that name! Jake can now climb to the top of the ladder on the swing set. Not only does he climb it, he can do it in record time. It is as if he's in a race to see who can get to the top and back down the fastest. I've rarely seen Bailey get up the ladder this quickly. He can almost step off of the ladder and onto the slide in one fell swoop, throwing his head backward and feet in the air to gain speed down the slide. It's adorable... but more importantly... SCARY! He's still so young to be climbing like he does. I keep waiting to turn my head and see him lying on his back, having fallen from the top of the ladder. He has no fear (which is not entirely bad). He is actually quite proud of his accomplishments. Brad had not seen him make it all the way to the top until this weekend. Knowing this, Jake climbed to the top quickly, and stood at the top of the slide, yelling for Brad (Dada...) and then letting out a warrior-like yell, as if to say, "I AM THE MAN!" We were totally cracking up, and Brad, like me, was freaking out that he is going to break his neck.

I am sure it will not be long now... we will be writing soon about our first hospital visit with stitches or worse. My sweet, innocent little baby is going to be the one that turns the rest of my hair gray.

Do you hear me?

"What are we going to do today?" she asks almost every morning, within a few seconds of opening her eyes, rubbing the sleep out, and pushing her hair from her face.

My three-year old has to be the only child her age that I know who can go on 8-10 hours of sleep a day, seemingly unaffected. She is truly my child... constantly wanting to know "the plan" and needing to run around at every opportunity. I guess we have a shared philosophy that can only be genetic... Life is just too short to let a spare moment get away.

So, when Bailey looked at me yesterday and asked what we were going to do, I told her we'd have a yard sale. Yes, the neighborhood was having their annual fall yard sale day, and I stayed up until about 2:30 a.m. working through years of baby clothes. I was definitely worried that she'd freak when she saw that most of the things we'd be selling were her old clothes. I was met with a pleasant surprise though. She didn't care at all... she actually wanted to help me sell to the people walking by. She repeated to one lady that we really didn't have boys clothes out because I didn't get it all ready until "last night." I know she hears everything I say. It's so much funnier to hear her versions of things though. :)

It was yesterday afternoon, after we had packed the yard sale up, made a Wal-mart run, and grilled out our dinner, that Bailey, Jake, and I were sitting in the backyard. Bailey and I were talking about how beautiful it was outside. She turned to me and said, "It would be a great day to go fishing."

I suppose that she takes in more than I realize from our conversations... indeed it would have been a great day to go fishing. The weather was beautiful, just cool enough. I have told her a half dozen times that when the weather gets a little bit cooler, we'll go fishing again. If only she'd listen when I say things like, "I wish someone would help me clean up these toys," or my new favorite, "You have to eat SOMETHING good... not gummy bears or pretzels." :)

Hateful baby...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I met Kathy to pick up Bailey in Morehead yesterday at about 3:30. I was looking forward to seeing my little monkey. Even though I enjoyed the break and a little bit of a quieter house, I was ready to have her back at home. I was missing my little talker. I was greeted with a hug and a kiss, a huge smile and sweet little voice yelling, "Momma!" It was nice while it lasted...

About three minutes down the road, my little sleep-deprived child began the whining. Five minutes after that, we were stopping to go to the restroom. Ten minutes later, I was hearing about how she was starving, despite the Happy Meal she was still snacking on. And on it went. We finally got home and she played with her new Barbie toy. We got ready for gymnastics and made our way across town. I knew she was going to be a bear after gymnastics, but this time was even worse than usual. Bailey cried from about 7:30 until about 9. She cried when I offered her spaghetti - she wanted something else. I fixed her everything she asked for, only to be told seconds later that she did not like that food. And, bath time was the kicker. She decided she didn't want her sweaty head washed. After listening to her screams, through tears, I sustained a cup of water being thrown at me, as well as a few toys and a wet washcloth. I washed her hair... oh yes, I would win or die. :) Jerking her little tail from the tub, soaking wet with no towel, through kicks and punches, I carried her (as nicely as I could) to her room, sat her on the bed and closed the door. Part of that was because I knew I was losing my cool (extremely) and she needed a serious break.

After a few more fits, her attempting to force herself to throw up so that I would fell sorry for her (no, she is not dramatic - what are you talking about?!), and a baggie of Apple Jacks, Bailey finally calmed down. She was asleep as soon as she crawled into bed.

Catching the big whopper

Saturday, September 13, 2008
I woke up this morning, feeling so relieved that our Opening Night concert and the reception following was finally over. I guess I didn't realize how much it had been on my mind... I woke up feeling like the world had been taken off of my shoulders. It was wonderful. And I guess that might be why I immediately started thinking about what I wanted to do with the kids today... something fun, no cleaning or housework, and something outdoors. Unfortunately for me, Brad had received a ticket to the UK football game, so it was just the three of us.

Sitting on the back deck (at 9 a.m. with both kids already playing on the swingset), it occurred to me. I wanted to be fishing. Now, just for reference, I have not fished in at least 10 years... mortal sin for a woman that fished at least 10-12 times each summer throughout my teenage years. I truly love to fish, but for some reason, never seem to think to go. So, I called (and woke up) my mom to let her know that we would be coming to Ashland today and would love to take the kids fishing.

It all came rushing back to me when I was standing on the bank, fishing pole in hand. There's something relaxing, almost therapeutic, about fishing. And to make this time even better, I was fishing with the best "three-year old fisherman in the world" by my side. I looked in the mirror for most of the day today as I watched Bailey patiently waiting to catch a fish. She was absolutely adorable with her little Barbie fishing pole, in her Old Navy dress, and her brown Mary Janes. Total girl enjoying being a tomboy like her mom. The look on her face when she (and Mimi) pulled in the first fish of the day (yes - with her fishing pole!) was priceless. She was so excited, a little confused, but so excited.

Jake, on the other hand, surprised me as much as Bailey's patience did. He was totally scared to death by the fish. My mom is probably to blame for that, since she almost hit him with the fish when she was pulling Bailey's first one to the bank. After that, every time we asked him if he wanted to see the fish, he'd scream a little whiney scream and shake his head no. He was not nearly as impressed with the fish as I expected. He was, however, very impressed with the ducks and enjoyed drinking Diet Pepsi in his very own bottle for most of the day.

Bailey was proud of her success as a great fisherman. She surprised us all when she claimed that she was going to catch the big "whopper." None of us know where she learned that word, but she was intent that she was going to get it. She would have fished for about 10 hours, if we would have stayed. When we left, she laid on the bank and cried because she had more fish to catch. Fortunately, she was distracted when mom suggested that she practice catching minnows in our little bait cooler and throwing them in the lake.

Overall, today was one of the best days I have had in a long time. I think the kids enjoyed a good day too. As a matter of fact, I couldn't get Bailey to come home with me. She stayed at Mimi and Poppa's tonight. She reassured me that I could come get her later. :) But not before making big plans to go to her Mamaw Kathy's house for a night too.

It's obvious that she's growing up. While it makes me a little sad that she's not a baby anymore, I can't even express how much fun I'm having with her as she gets bigger!

A Day at the Park

Monday, September 8, 2008
The kids and I really enjoyed an afternoon at the park on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. We are so happy that the weather is cooling down a little. It makes walks and days at the park much more comfortable... especially when I have to run after Jake the entire time.

At the park, Bailey is completely overly cautious about trying anything in which she would risk falling. She will not try the monkey bars or the fireman's pole. Instead, she encourages her brother to do it. I can hold him up to the monkey bars and he'll grab on with a huge smile on his face. I can let him go (almost entirely) and he'll dangle from the bar. He wants to swing to the next bar, but just can't get the strength to do it. It won't be long... the kid can climb onto anything, so I'm sure he'll be the one that I have to stand under the bars and try to catch as he crawls across the top.

Here are a few snapshots from our visit to the park. I love the ones with Jake in a hat. He looks so cute. He still resembles a baby in these, which is rare these days... almost as rare as catching Bailey when she isn't moving.

Gymnastics and competition

I don't think I've included anything about gymnastics since we started back this fall. For those who don't know, Bailey had enrolled in gymnastics in the winter and spring. I pulled her out for summer, since I know how busy we usually are swimming, boating, and traveling. When I called to enroll her for the fall session, I discovered that I could enroll Jake in the Parent & Tot class at the same time as Bailey's class. So... we began gymnastics on Monday nights at 6:30.

All I can say is it is very interesting to watch my little man among two- and three-year old children, attempting balance beams, trampolines, and cartwheels. He has a blast... it is indeed lots of fun to try and run away from mommy and have her rushing to keep him from getting kicked, hit, or trampled by an older child. He actually doesn't do bad, considering the age difference. He's still a little too immature to understand taking turns. He doesn't really "get" the concept of watching the teacher show us what we're supposed to do (he does, however, clap for her after each sequence). But, he knows exactly what to do when you throw him in the foam pit... he tries to swim his way around the foam blocks, laughing hysterically when he gets sucked in.

Bailey is also enjoying her gymnastics class, although I am not sure how much she is learning. I don't get to watch her as much, since I'm dealing with Jake the entire time. Every time I look at her, she's pulling at her underwear, biting her nails, or pulling on the teacher's arm, trying to get her to show her what to do next. She's so independent in most scenarios, but I think we have her so concerned about listening to the teacher that she won't really take the initiative to try any of it on her own. She has a good time though. She rang the bell after her bar exercises tonight (I think all of the kids in her class did), which is supposed to mean that she did something good. However, I did (on more than one occasion) hear her teacher trying to encourage her to actually do the exercises. She also only got one sticker and one of her classmates got three, so that was a big deal to her. lol... Competition is completely bred into this child.

Speaking of Bailey's competitiveness... we bought the board game, Candyland, this weekend. Brad and I sat down with her last night to play. She was so excited. Of course, that's when she was convinced she would win. When Brad won the game, despite his best attempts to draw bad cards, she was hysterical. She cried and screamed, totally shocked that someone other than her could win. She clutched the "winning card" to her chest and yelled to Brad that it was supposed to be her card! While we were somewhat frustrated with her response to a game that was supposed to be fun, I couldn't help but understand how she felt (through our laughter - totally hidden from Bailey). I was having (yet again) flashbacks of a time when my mom and I sat and played a board game (something to do with a talk show host). When I was unable to win the game, I cried, quit playing, and stormed off to my room. It was a terrible feeling to realize that I was not the best at everything! :)

Family Reunion

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
About a month ago, we traveled to Warsaw, Indiana for Brad's mom's family reunion. It was a beautiful weekend... breezy and much cooler than most August weekends feel. We don't get to spend a lot of time with this side of the family, unless there's been a death in the family, so it was really great to spend time with them relaxing and enjoying our time together. Honestly, the only way it could have been better is if Ryan, Jennifer, and Rianna could have been there with us.

As you'll see from the photos below, the kids had a BLAST! Bailey quickly attached herself to her cousins, especially Noah (who is 4). The two of them hit it off almost immediately, enjoying feeding the ducks, swinging at the park, and blowing bubbles. Jake really enjoyed having the freedom to run and chase Bailey's pink bouncy ball (yes, poor James got stuck on the receiving end of the ball most of the time - THANK YOU TO JAMES FOR THE HELP!).

After the reunion, we spent some time at Brad's aunt Dawn's house. Dawn and her husband, Jesse, have horses. I was excited to see Bailey's reaction to them. She saw them earlier this summer at Dawn's house, but was very reluctant. I had hoped that she'd warm up to the idea of petting them. I have always been somewhat afraid of horses (and basically most animals), so I guess I've been hopeful that Bailey and Jake will take after Brad, who lacks fear of most any animal. Anyway, Bailey was so excited to see the horses. Jesse was feeding them some apples and tried to help her hold the apples out for the horses to take. Bailey, being her nervous little Andrea-like self, kept jerking her hand away right as the horse would get close. After about 10 attempts and a few fits of laughter from all of us, Jesse managed to hold her hand still and lift the apple into the horse's mouth, giving Bailey the idea that she had been successful. :) I guess there are some things that are just genetic... oh well... I guess it could be worse!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend!