Friday, May 31, 2013

Did You Notice?

Did you notice?

There was something different about Sophia in her 8 month post.

Did you spot the difference in her?

She got her ears pierced!

We meant to get it done when she was six months old, like we did with Grace, but the time has just slipped by us! We choose to get our daughters' ears pierced at an early age, rather than letting them do it later in life for several reasons:

1.) Mine were done as an infant and I am so thankful that I never had to choose that on my own. I've seen so many girls and teenagers stress themselves out after seeing other girls with earrings. They want them, they know it is going to be painful, and some girls hem and haw for months or years until they finally work up the courage! This way it's already done and they will never have a memory of that pain! Also, I think it's not as painful when you are little (or you can't be as dramatic, either way.)

2.) It's really culturally appropriate here. Most baby girls get their ears pierced at birth or shortly after.
Not really a reason, but this is a bonus. It would make me think twice if we would really stick out.

I was shocked when doing some research. I found out that there is some people out there who despise when babies get their ears pierced. They talked about how it shows you are of low socio economic status and how trashy it is. I was really heartbroken. I couldn't believe people could say and think that about a baby! I was hurt even more when I read about how they thought the parents were horrible human beings for harming their child.

Anyways. The government here change the law between when Grace got hers done and when we did Sophia's, so you can only get your ears pierced in a hospital with a doctor. We went and saw an ENT who was able to do Sophia's ear piercing.

We were lead into the exam room after choosing her earrings (heart shaped with a little "diamond" in the middle.)
 The doctor cleaned the ear and then marked the point for the hole and had me approve it.

 Sophia couldn't figure out why they were touching her ears! She wanted to make eye contact and laugh with the nurse!

 Then the doctor used the little ear gun and we paused between ears to soothe her. She cried longer than Grace did, but only for a minute. Since then, she's been fine! She hasn't pulled on them or cried or anything!
 I love that all of us Galloway girls have this in common now! Grace was with us in the room and she freaked out when Sophia started crying, but Grace has a big doctor phobia anyways.

 Pretty baby! I just love her little earrings on her tiny, little ears!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Eight Months, Sophia!

Eight months old. Wow. She has been with us for two thirds of a year now!

(and just so you know that I am no math whiz, I originally wrote 3/4 of a year. Please, God, let her be more gifted than I am in that area.)

I never got around to writing her 7 month post, but I blame that on a month of illness in our house. Luckily, not much happened in that month. Except, you know, her starting to sleep through the night. No biggie. Sometime after our onslaught of visitors, We dropped her middle of the night feeding, and made sure she got an afternoon and an evening bottle on top of nursing, and that did the trick! 7 pm until 6 am, without a peep!

This month, however has been full of changes!

Height and Weight- unknown
Clothes- Moved up to 6-9 months a day before her 8 month birthday
Diaper- still size 2, which is the size above newborn here! She has a tiny waist!

Sophia has continued to sleep well through the night, but has started waking up earlier, usually around 5:30-6 am. That's a little too early for my taste. I'm not sure if it's because of teething, learning to scoot, or the earlier summer sunrise. Usually if we move her downstairs to the dark office she will fall right back asleep for at least another hour, so I'm guessing it's the early sun. Black out curtains are in her future.

She usually naps an hour after she gets up, then when Grace naps both times, and then a short nap in the evening.

8-9 am Nap
10 am-12 Nap when Grace naps
2 pm- 4 pm Nap when Grace naps
5 pm - 6 pm Late evening cat nap so I can get dinner ready

The last nap isn't definite, and if we are ever out and about she can stay awake through a whole nap, but when we are home she gets cranky (and probably unstimulated,) alot easier. Anyone else have the same experience?

Sophia nurses as soon as she wakes up from any sleep. Or semi nurses. It's more like wrestling a pig most of the time, but Grace got like this too around this age, always wanting to look around and see what's happening.

She usually only gets fed real food between her first two naps. I have been alot less structured and high maintenance about introducing foods and making and storing a ton. It's not something I need to get stressed about. She has eaten carrots, peas, green beans, pumpkin, yogurt, bananas, apples, mangoes, and blueberries. She's also had couscous, rice, crackers, cereal puffs, bread chunks, and was given coffee (!) by one of my local friends. I know that just sounds crazy to our western ears, but it's totally normal here.

I'm also told on a weekly basis, how I'm doing it all wrong by my local friends. How Sophia NEEDS to be fed honey for her stomach issues. That it is necessary to rub castor oil on her head to get thicker darker hair (never mind the fact that Arabs, in general, have thick, dark hair genetically.) And how she should and could be eating anything right now. I've learned to smile and nod, not get upset when they shove something in my child's mouth, and remove her from situations that I think could be dangerous for her health.

Sophia also gets a formula bottle at her 12, 4, and 6 pm awake periods. She loves them and can hold them all by herself!


This month, Sophia became really good at sitting on her own, rolling over to get to something, holding her own bottle, and loves to squeal/yell. Just at the end of this month she started scooting on her belly backwards and maneuvered from belly/crawling position up into the sitting position!

She also sprouted her first tooth, her bottom middle left one. The bottom middle right is just about to pop through as well, but hasn't yet.

She loves being upside down (weirdly,) playing peek-a-boo, chewing on toys, and gets freaked out/terrified when I dance with Grace (who can blame her?).

She also stayed in church nursery for the first time by herself and had two babysitters this month! Woohoo for date nights!

She is completely off of her reflux medicine.

*She is a very grabby baby, we can't sit with her at a table at all because she will struggle and fight just to pull everything to her!
*She hasn't shown any dislike for the foods we gave her but she did make a sour face at the local yogurt (like Greek yogurt but saltier and sour ish.
*Grace still calls Sophia, "So-So" or "Fia" and often even combines it into "Fia, So-So," but doesn't say Sophia very often. She even called her "Skeena," short for Ma-skeena, which means poor and pitiable. You say this instead of saying "bless your heart," or other phrases.
*Sophia makes an ear piercing scream just because she's bored, and does it especially when she is in the car. Fun times.
*Sophia was sick for the first time this month- Pink Eye! It was not an enjoyable experience to pin her down and pry open her little eyes to put drops in. Poor baby.
*Sophia loves to be tickled

I love my baby Sophia! This is the beginning of one of my favorite ages! Between 6-12 months, they really start to take off in learning, growing, and developing!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

{25, 26, 27, 28}

I am finally finding a few minutes to get caught up on Sophia's weekly pictures! Alot of her pictures look the same, mainly because she is happiest when she is sitting on the floor playing with toys, usually right around 1 pm! Same light, same location, etc. Love my serious baby girl and when her beautiful smile is flashed it just lights up my day!

Friday, May 24, 2013

This and That

We've just been chugging right along, getting things done and living life. I had my final exam for my language study- three years of studying Arabic down, probably another 5 more to go! It's heating up here in Abu Dhabi but it has been a really mild spring, so I am grateful that we are still able to be outside some.

Read This-
I just finished Sparkly Green Earrings and have started on The Fellowship of the Ring, my first time reading The Lord of the Rings!

Watched That-
Lately, we've been catching up on The Office and I like watching Castle or The Block (great Australian show!) We also got a chance to see Iron Man 3 in theaters two weeks ago and saw the new Star Trek movie.

Snapped This
 Happy girl, post bottle. We are almost done with breastfeeding and all on bottles. About a month earlier than I would have wanted, but she's happy and growing so that's all that counts.

First sister bath together. Sophia finally moved to the sitting up position instead of the reclining one and she will finally bathe without screaming! 

 L: Grace dressed in her bee costume for another Bee inspired party.
R: Baby Will, 3 months old. Sophia, 6 months old. Guess who is bigger?

 Sophia's first time riding in the big girl seat in the grocery cart. I had to keep my hand on her chest otherwise she would have fallen forward on corners and such.

Grace's pigtails. Love them but she still doesn't have hair on top, so pulling it tight like that makes the view from the front very odd.

 Sophia and her "deal" blanket. She sucks on her tongue and holds the blanket (rag really) close to her mouth as she falls asleep.

Love this sweet one of Sophia asleep in her car seat.

Cooked That-
An amazing banana pudding bundt cake. Amazing.

Bought This-

Oh yes, these are real and we are in love. The British toy store here has sold these little people in their Gulf inspired doll house for a year now, but you couldn't just buy the figurines separately. Apparently the execs finally heard my complaints and we snatched these babies up as soon as we saw they were released. Grace loves playing with her "oomie," "abooie," "bent," and "walid," (mommy, daddy, girl, and boy.)

Heard That-
Grace had the hiccups yesterday morning and she said "Momma, I'm barking!" haha She has also learned how to say "Hey, Babe," anytime Ian and I walk into a room. I didn't even realize we said that until she started copying it! Her speech is just exploding right now and it is so fun. She also will say "Don't touch, very hot," and tells us if something is loud or quiet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

10 Baby Things We Didn't Like/Use

Every family has a list of baby items they love, but I was thinking about those items that wouldn't fall under the love or like category. They would fall under the "strongly don't like, hate, or never use," category. It didn't take me too long to think of the items that would make up my list!

1. Socks & Onesies
Living in the Middle East you would think that we would love sleeveless and pantless things alot more, but the truth is, it's just the opposite! We run our AC year round and have to have it on pretty strongly to combat the extreme heat. The inside of our house is cool to cold at most times, especially at night, and the direction of the air flow can be right on our little babies and their cribs, so covering their arms and legs are an necessity. Because of all of that, we use button up and zip up footie pajamas almost exclusively for the first 6 months. I love the look of them and that this is the only time in life they can get away with wearing pajamas 24/7! I occasionally like to dress my babies in "real" clothes or onesies, but maybe once a week for a couple of hours.

Because of that, onesies (short sleeves, no pants,) and socks were just unnecessary! I can't tell you how many onesies we have that have only been put on for a picture, and the DOZENS of socks. In my opinion, you only really need 10 pairs of socks, period!

2. Blankets
There is so much information about keeping loose blankets out of your child's crib and how unnecessary it is to cover them up with a blanket that it is surprising just how many blankets you acquire. We were full time swaddlers too, so we really DID use blankets alot, but we have 5-6 that were just to fluffy for swaddling, or to large to hold the baby in comfortably.  A good set of swaddle blankets and one special blanket to wrap and carry the baby in is all we really needed.

3. Cloth Diapers
Now, I know I might get alot of heat for this, but this is just my opinion. I have a whole set of cloth diapers, covers, liners, and all in ones. By several different companies. I've used them at times for both of my girls in several different ages and sizes. And I hate them. We hate them. They are big, fluffy, make you move your kids pants up a size, a lot more work to clean, and, in my experience, leak, lead to dampness and diaper rash. Now, you can read all sorts of things and you can see both camps say the same things about either types of diapers, but this was my experience. I also don't think I cared about how "cute" the covers are because my babies wear clothes and I never see their diapers!

4. Nasal Aspirator
Maybe we just don't make snotty kids, but as infants, neither of our children needed the nasal aspirator more than 3-4 times. We were able to wipe much more effectively. Still a handy and cheap tool to have around, just in case I suppose.

5. Wipe Warmer
Someone warned us before we had Grace to not even consider a wipe warmer, since once their little heinies were used to warm wipes it was difficult to use room temperature/cold wipes if you were somewhere else. I'm not sure if that's true (though it makes sense,) but we saved a few bucks and just skipped that altogether.

6. Play Gyms
We've had 3 different play gyms and were unimpressed, as were our girls with them. Our first two were lent to us and then our third was given to us. I think it just might be the type they have over here though. Not very interactive and sturdy and the hanging things are placed at really weird angles/heights.

7. Swings, Bouncy Seats, Walkers, or Jumpers
This one falls under the "we don't use," category, not the we don't like," simply because we don't own them! With Grace, our apartment was so tiny we just didn't have the space for them. With Sophia, we had just moved into a new (huge) house but had to furnish it and didn't have the funds for those things. Both girls got lots of snuggle time or floor play and moved onto their boppy or bumbo when they were old enough. Less gear = less mess! I do think that Sophia would have really profited from a swing when she was struggling with her reflux though.

8. Rocker/Glider
Oh, I can't tell you how much I wanted a glider for both of my girls' nurseries. I dreamed of it and I hoped beyond hope that we would come up with the funds, but it was not to be. I hope that with future babies (several years down the road,) we can get one of these!

9. Humidifier
We lived in an extremely dry climate (desert) when Grace was an infant and now live in a humid climate (10 minutes from ocean,) for Sophia's infancy and we've never used a humidifier. Now, my girls are extremely healthy (Grace had her first sick child visit to the doctor last week, at 2 years old,) so I suppose if your child is always congested then this would be a necessity! I've also heard how it can make a room much more moist (duh) and can cause mold to grow....just be aware!

10. Baby Oil/Vaseline/Baby Powder
I am not entirely sure what you would use either of these products for and what their advantages would be over other products that we already use (diaper rash cream, baby lotion?) Either way, there were several bottles of stuff I passed on to new moms and said "I'm not sure if you'll use these, we never did, but in case you do, here you go!"

Now, I'm sure most people read something on this list and thought "I use that all of the time," or "We LOVE that!" but this is my take on baby gear and items that aren't very necessary, useful, or worth my time and money!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I Can't Make The Birds Fly

We were staying with some friends recently and everyone was sleeping in, except Grace and I. Grace was standing at the front window, with the morning sun streaming through. A bird lept off of the front wall and swooped in front of the window, circled several times, and then flew off.

Grace shrieked in delight and turned to look at me.

"More birds, Momma, more!"

"Please, Momma! More birds!"

"Momma, birds, fly! More please!"

And on and on it went, moving from delighted hysteria to broken-hearted pleas for more flying birds. I stooped low next to her and wrapped  her in my arms.

"I'm sorry baby, but Momma can't make more birds come. I can't make the birds fly."

She pushed me aside in frustration and returned to the window with tears stinging in the corner of her eyes.

"More birds, please! Momma?"

My heart dropped into my stomach and I thought of how this would be the first of many times my daughter would have to learn a lesson.

My Darling Daughters,
You know I love you with all of my heart. And on this Mother's day, I want to remind you of something that I don't often say (but it is no secret.) I am not perfect. I am not all powerful. I do not always know what is best for you. 

But I know Someone who is perfect. Who is all powerful. And who knows exactly what is best for you.

Sweet baby girls, I fall down, alot. I mess up and I make things messier than they were supposed to be. But I pray that in the chaos, in the wreckage of what I have done, that you will see the Almighty's hand, lifting me up, making things beautiful again. Setting me on His course and teaching me to be more like Him. I pray that as the years go by and I (hopefully) become wiser, that you will see Christ in me more and more. I pray that God will be glorified through me, His creation. That His light will shine during my darkest times.

Sweet cakes, I am broken and He mends me.
I am lost and He finds me.
I am sharp and prickly and He softens me.
I am sometimes wrong and He is always right.
I am dirty and He makes me clean.
I am ruined and He builds me, piece by piece, in His own design.

My loves, you will see these play out over and over again through the years. We will have golden days where I am walking as I should, after Him, and things will seem right. But those days when I turn, stumble, or fall, they may seem darker, and you may lose trust in the world, in me. I pray that you can see the beauty from ashes that is Christ sanctifying me in Him.

I love you for always,

 Though it is somewhat painful at first, I pray that one day they will see the beauty in this and that they too can share this simple truth with their children, like my mom shared with me.

I am but a servant to The King.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This Week

This week is just one of those weeks. I'm going to chalk it up to an ugly case of the "May's," but I am not entirely sure that is fair since we are only 8 days into this month.

Grace has pink eye. It's fabulous. I have no idea where she got it and am shocked how fast it set in. We went to Tuesday morning Bible study and she had a little bit of eye goop, but I just thought allergies. 2 hours later when we pulled into our driveway her left eye was almost swollen shut and was nasty. Thankfully the hospital got us in to see the ophthalmologist right away.

And yes, I'm sure all of the mom's at the Bible study are super pleased that I brought Grace that morning. But I swear I had no idea!

She looks like she got into a bar fight though, poor baby.

And trying to explain "highly contagious," and "don't let Sophia lick your eye," to a 2 year old? Not happening.

Little known fact- I had a reoccuring case of pink eye for 7 months my 7th grade year that ended with me in the ER at summer camp because my eyes swelled shut. Fun. Turns out, the silly putty that I played with during class lectures was a major germ carrier.

Add on top of that some unanswered questions about my husband's job and we are just stressed out. I may have rented two Nicholas Sparks movies to drown my sorrows in. Ian's played soccer two nights in a row. Which, if you know Ian and his complete disdain for soccer, you would understand it is a little out of character.

Moving on to something else...

We've finally graduated to grown up coffee drinking status. We have like coffee and appreciated it for a couple of years (make that since Grace was born and we needed the caffeine!) but were fine with just drinking instant coffee (they do that alot here.) We broke down and bout a french press, beans, and a coffee grinder though when we had our string of guests last month. You can only deal with so many death stares at 7 am when you offer instant coffee.

Also, we need a date night. Badly. I tried to arrange one tonight but our Filipino babysitter and I had a miscommunication over the phone. Boo. Maybe next month?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Life With Older Kids

This week has been an interesting one. We have been taking care of our friends' two kids, making our collection of kiddos double in number. We have a 7 month old, 2 year old, 4 year old, and 6 year old.

I've learned a few things about older kids that I have forgotten....

1.) They can talk. Alot. And they choose to do so.

All. The. Time.

For me, a moderate introvert, the constant chatter and questions are pretty exhausting. Most of all when we are in the car. Usually I load my girls into the car, Sophia falls right asleep, and Grace looks out the window and has her pacifier. I have my music on and I sing and pray during my drive time, rather uninterrupted.

Now, I load them in the car and it's like 20 questions!
"What's this song about?"
"Why is that car green?"
"Where are we going/"
"Are we there yet?"

I try my best to control my sarcasm.

I forgot how much they talk, ha!

2.) Nap time/quiet time is sacred.

It has reenforced my thought on the importance of nap time, for the parents' sanity.

I've had some great examples in my life of families that keep a quiet time in their kids life and an early bed time all the way through elementary school. They don't have to nap but they have to play quietly in their room with the door closed. And an early bed time! Keep your kids going to bed early as long as possible. We put the babies down at 7 and then the big kids get tv/movie time until their bed time at 8, when they can read for 20-30 minutes.

3.) It's nice to have big kids around because they can help!

Even if it is just straightening up, watering a plant, or sorting their laundry. Older kids can help alot more than they are given credit for. And if it saves me a few minutes, that means I can sit and snuggle with them instead of working around the house.

4.) Older kids appreciate when you do special things for them.

Grace likes when we do fun things, but she doesn't get excited before or really remember them afterwards. These kids have been so fun to build up anticipation, enjoy fun things (splash park, the beach, indoor playground, cooking, hide and go seek, egg hunts,) and talk about them afterwards. It makes me want to plan more and more things for them!

At the end of the week, I am exhausted, but it helps me look forward to the months and years ahead. Each stage has such unique benefits and fun parts to it!