Monday, April 25, 2016

RAAA!!! (Robinson/Ackerman Adventure in April)!

A couple weekends ago, we met up with our good friends from college who now reside in OH.  We have done several meetups with them around Ohio and this time chose to go to Homes County, known for its Amish community.  We rented an amazing cabin via airbnb and loaded up our weekend with lots of activities and fun!

Steve took a half day on Friday so we could head to Holmes County at a leisurely pace.  Good thinking on his part because we had to do some unplanned "potty" stops and a couple of planned site seeing.  We stopped in Mansfield at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and also went back to Malabar Farm to do a little hiking trail before making it the rest of the way to the cabin.  We left the house and headed on our journey during Bean's nap time.  We had grand plans of her napping before our first scheduled stop, but she had other plans.  We got to hear lots of whining and "I don't want to sleep!" for the majority of the afternoon.  

(Unscheduled potty stop.  I thought traveling while in the potty training period would be rough, but it was nice with the little potty.  We would just pull over, let her do her business, or in this case just attempt, and then be on our way.)

(Looking at the birds at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary.  They rescue "imprinted" birds - basically birds that can't survive in wild due to human contact.)

(There was a building you could go inside and try to feed/touch the birds.  Steve was successful in getting a bluejay to come and sit on his hand.  Bean did her best at being still, but she's a toddler, and the birds didn't tend to stick around her too much!)

(Hiking around Malabar Farm! Last time we went, we had sought out the "Jungle Book Trail" but failed in finding it.  This time, Steve did better research and found exactly where it was.  The trail was full of different plant types and potentially animals. We didn't see any animals, but saw some of their scat.)

We got to the airbnb place just a little bit before 5pm. Literally 5 minutes from the location, Bean fell asleep.  So we looped back around and drove away 10 min, then drove back.  She at least got a little nap that would help with the long evening ahead with friends.  We got to the cabin and fell in love with it.  It was 3 levels, lots of decks and beautiful scenery.  Had a nice fire pit set up and a hot tub! We took advantage of all that place had to offer!  Our friends arrived just a little bit after us.  We threw hot dogs on the grill, the kids played outside with bubbles, and eventually we enjoyed a fire complete with s'mores!

(After dinner and some ouside play, parents were already for a break - haha! Thankfully Yo Gabba Gabba gave us a nice 22 in break before it was time to go outside and enjoy some s'mores.)

(View of the fire pit area from one of the decks.  And yes -- there were 2 fire pits!)

(The kids did very good sitting and staying away from the fire.  I think the bribery of marshmallows sealed the deal.  But once that novelty wore off, the kids got a little restless and sealed their fate for bedtime :).)

(She's had a s'more before, but doesn't remember.  She couldn't understand how this was like a cookie, and didn't really eat it.  But yet she loved each individual part - the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker.  And for the adults -- we kicked our s'mores up a notch with Reese cups.  I don't think I can ever go back to just chocolate.)

(The cabin had some interesting decor -- stuffed bears and  mountain lion.  Mitch tried to perfect his bear/selfie photo, but lighting wasn't in his favor.)

On Saturday, we had a lot planned for the day.  We started our morning off with a delicious breakfast buffet (because when you are in Amish country, you hit up all the food you can!).  From there, we headed over to a farm that boasted of it's safari animals.  We chose to ride on a wagon through the animals and were able to feed them during the ride.  The animals were all sorts of diffeerent ones (we didn't even know most of the species) - but notable ones were llamas, deer, girraffes, some sort of buffalo, yaks, emus, and some crazy ones that looked like camels/moose hybrids.  The journey started off well with llamas, but quickly fell apart as the animals swarmed the wagon.  Kids were screaming, parents were laughing, everyone was crying (from either terror or laughing).  It was the best adventure ever! 

(Bean got to practice up on her big sister skills with their new baby!) 

(Bean loved the animal experience.  She laughed and was very determined to feed every animal.  Our friends' kids on the other hand were terrified.  Lots of screaming and crying, which made the whole experience all the more fun for all the parents.)

(Feeding the zebra.  So apparently, you were supposed to put the food under the bench and not feed the zebra by hand because it had teeth.  Bean missed the memo and felt the teeth - but it didn't hurt her.  We did get to pet them, though!  Other animals had no teeth and would open their mouths and you just threw the food down in their throats.  Lots of gross long wet tongues were waving all around.)

(Some animals were very aggressive and would try to get into the wagon and would take the feed buckets from you.  Alice had her hands full with her babe and daughter and this animal - maybe a cow? - grabbed at it.  I had to snatch it back and tugged the bucket from the animal.)

(Wilson was less than impressed wihen the animals would come up to the wagon and try to get on.  That's when the shrieking would begin.)

(Libby was in meltdown and wanted off.  Bean just wanted to feed more animals.  Moms were loving the emotions.)

After the ride, we walked around the farm a little and even got some free homemade ice cream - yummmy!  We deemed it time for naps and did some driving around.  We split up for a bit and met back together at a little shop known for it's "fry pies" and petting zoo.  We loaded up on snacks - fry pies, cookies, cheese, sausage - and saw more animals.  These animals seemed lame-o after the safari ride of terror.  From there, we headed to dinner -- another buffet! They just kept getting better and better.  

(Not only did Bean get a nap in, but Steve sneaked one in too.  We had some time to kill until we met back up, so we parked and I got to enjoy a quiet car.)

(There was a very large horse at the petting zoo that the girls enjoyed looking at.)

(You know, just riding a chicken outside the Berlin Farmstead Restaurant.  Wilson was fearless; the girls on the other hand had nothing to do with it. Plus the sun in their eyes made for an overall photo fail.)

(What better way to end off a day of fun, laughter and food?? In a hot tub of course! Thanks Alice for braving it with the kiddos.  I couldn't get in due to being pregnant, waaahhhh.  After the kids went to bed, the parents got to enjoy the tub sans kids or "pk" (post kids) as we called it.  I did put my legs in for the adult time! We also got to play a games pk, too!)

We didn't have a set check out time for our airbnb.  So we had a leisurely morning of playing and packing up.  Once we got all loaded up, we said farewell to our cabin and headed to our last buffet at Chalet in the Valley.  We thought we could either order from the menu or choose to do the buffet, but Sunday's are set buffet.  It ended up being amazing (again, every buffet got better!).  This one had mostly german offerings -- sauerkraut, sausage, etc; but also had typical mashed potatoes and noodles.  And it was all delicious. 

(I tried to stage a photo with Bean and the mountain lion, but it was a fail due to lighting - theme of the weekend.)

(Group photo at Chalet in the Valet after eating!)

(Man is it hard to coordinate photos with kids! This is the best we could manage.)

We said our goodbyes after we ate.  But lucky for us, we will be seeing our friends for another friend weekend soon!   We again had high hopes of Bean sleeping on the way home.  Instead, we discovered we had an Ariel cd in the car that we got the joy of listening to over and over and over (and we still listen to it every time we get in the car now. ugh).  I guess her days of napping every day are coming to an end.  I was hoping it was just a weekend trend, but now that we've been home she's had a random day here or there where she just lays in bed and never falls asleep. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fun with Cousins

My sister and her family chose to use the last few days of their Spring Break to come visit us! The stayed for only a few days, but we made most of the time -- and Bean LOVED all the cousin attention.  While they were here, we went to the Boonshoft Children's Museum in Dayton and spent a lot of time just hanging out at our house.  My brother-in-law was able to come along with them and Steve was able to take off a day to put him to work on our new project (blog post to come as it progress).  

(Bean loved playi
ng in this boat at the museum.  There wasn't much to it other than sitting and turning the wheel.)

(This museum has a really neat play area in the middle that involves lots of climbing and tube slides.  Bean was intimidated at first, but would do the tube tunnel in another area.  Eventually, she put aside her fear and made my sister take her through all the tubes in the play area.  All I have to say is that I've climbed through enough of those tubes with my nieces in the past and was super thankful my sister donned her Super Aunt cape for the day.)

(There was a little tidal pool that you got to feel some sea creatures.  I don't think Bean was ever adventurous enough to touch the animals, but I think she did splash a little in the water.)

(The museum has little rooms set up with different themes.  Bean loved "driving" the recycling truck.  Which really means, she loved hitting all the buttons that made the lights and sounds come on.)

("Help! Help! Help!" Bean got a kick out of being in the slammer.  If only they provided the parents with a lock and an hour to leave their kids in there. . . )

(Playing in the "dirt" - rubber pieces - and learning about landfills.)

(In the grocery store, Bean formed a weird attachment to the asparagus.  She dug them all out of the vegetable bin and lined them all up on the counter.  She would go around and give certain people an asparagus, and would get upset if she found it back in the bin or given to someone else.  It was weird.)

(Chris showing off his awesome dad moves in the dance room with all the girls.)

(Another huge win in the museum was the water tables.  I think I spent most of my time with Bean in the different water sections.)

(My nieces are big on playing their tablets and gameboys.  They can link their games all together and play together.  Bean wanted to play with Gabbie so Amber helped her out.  What are aunts for?!)

(Making cookies together - gluten free, too! They had an assembly line and each had a job to get it accomplished.  I think the incentive of getting to eat the cookies and Hershey kisses was their motivation.)

(Have I mentioned before how much Bean loves Gabbie??  She enjoys playing with  each cousin, but I think because they are closest in age, Bean latches on to Gabbie -- who is a trooper and allows it to happen.)

Saying goodbye to the family was a little rough for Bean.  We had to distract her with promises of movies and special treats for the evening.  Over the next few days, I'd get questions about when she'd see her cousins again.  Today (3 weeks later), she told me she was going to get to play with her cousins after she woke up from her nap.  Sorry sweetie, it may be awhile before that happens.  Between them finishing up school and baby sister coming soon, there isn't any IN trips in the works.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pregnancy Update -- 3rd trimester?!

It's funny how different pregnancies are.  With Bean, I could tell you exactly how far along I was, I took weekly photos and constantly blogged about how I was feeling and progress in getting ready for the baby.  

This time around, I'm clueless on how far along I am, and I have yet to take pictures back to back - last pictures were 7 weeks apart, ha!  Steve and I rarely talk about the baby (other than when I'm complaining about how uncomfortable she is making me with jabs in the ribs) and have yet to even come up with name options.  

I think the reality this time around is that I just have other things on my mind and in my life that are higher priority than this baby at this point in time.  I know once she is here, she will get a lot of my attention, so I'm trying to take care of other things while I can.  I know it is more common to hear women talk about how awesome pregnancy is and how they just love it and soak it up.  Well, that's not me. 

This time around, I seem to be experiencing the hardships a whole lot sooner -- heartburn, jabs in the ribs, constant braxton hicks contractions, sleeplessness (I wake every 2-3 hours to go pee at night), feeling like I'm going to pop (baby is already out of room and I can feel my tummy stretching), and I still have a couple months left -- yikes! 

 Don't get me wrong -- I am extremely thankful that I am able to create and carry babies.  I am amazed at how God orchestrated the human body and reproduction and truly see each babe as a miracle.  I don't like to complain openly about how I truly feel about pregnancy, because I know there are several women who crave to have the experience who can't.  I am thankful, I'm just also realistic in that pregnancy is HARD! It isn't always sunshine and roses for me.  It is tiring, has my brain fried, and has shortened my temper exponentially (sorry Steve and Bean!).  

I couldn't do this pregnancy without Steve.  He has been so great through it all.  He is a huge help even when he is exhausted.  He helps to entertain Bean when I just need space from her.  He has also stepped up the back rubs (guess that complaining worked, ha!) and is quicker to say, "let's just go pick up dinner".  

Now the stats of this pregnancy:

*Weight Gain: So far I've only gained 10 pounds - I'm "allowed" to gain 15-20 more. I'm not trying to not gain weight. In fact, my running and exercising has taken a significant placement on the back burner.  I'm not one of those pregnant women who can eat whatever they want whenever and enjoy it.  Eating is a chore for me - I have to think about whether the food will cause me heartburn and how much of the food I can eat before I feel like I'm going to explode.  For the record, I'm on a daily heartburn pill now and still have to deal with heartburn at the end of the day.

*Baby Movement: I feel the baby move ALL.THE.TIME.  I tune it out a lot and have to stop and think about if she is moving.  If I'm up and moving, she's probably sleeping because I don't feel movement as much (but then again, I'm using my brain for other things).  When I rest, she goes into what I think are acrobatic routines.  I can feel her all the way down inside me (which is an extremely odd feeling I can't describe) and can watch her shifting my stomach back and forth.  She doesn't like it when I am sitting (or hunched over).  She lets me know this by jabbing me in the rib and reminding me she's got minimal space.  I have to sit with my back arched or laying back.

*Braxton Hicks: I get "tightenings" known as Braxton Hicks contractions ALL.THE.TIME! Sometimes they are related to a need like more water or having to pee.  But sometimes, they are brought on for no reason.  They are never at a regular interval or anything so there's no need to be concerned yet.  However, since I was induced with Bean, I have no idea what the onset of labor looks like.  It is still early for me to be worrying about it, but it is on my mind.  

*Cravings:  I don't really have cravings, just anything that doesn't cause heartburn??  I went through an ice cream phase a month ago (thank you Meijer for having Tofts Ice Cream for 3 for $10), and I'm typically not big on eating ice cream.  I'd say that I've lost desire for foods more - cut way back on soda and coffee.  I did go through a pickle phase a couple weeks ago and ate a whole jar by myself, but I loved pickles prior to pregnancy, so nothing odd about that!

*Doctors Appointments: All my appointments have gone quick and textbook.  My blood pressure is always good, I've passed my glucose test with no signs of sugar issues, and my iron and thyroid levels have been great.  I do have to have an extra ultrasound (in a week) this time around because standards have changed for women with thyroid disorders while pregnant.  I'm excited to see little Sprout on camera one more time!

*Bean's Thoughts: She thinks she can feel baby sister by putting her finger in my belly button (which I detest). There's a commercial on tv with a baby walking and every time it comes on, she tells me, "baby sister has to grow, then come out!"  I think she is excited, but really has no idea what is about to hit her!

(So I'm a week behind, I'm actually 30 weeks as I write this, but if I waited to get another picture and have it be current, it'd take another 2 weeks to write this post.  I realized it had been awhile since I had taken a picture.  Then as I was writing down the "29" I realized I had sailed into the 3rd trimester without realizing it.  Whoa! And for the record, I think the photographer was getting creative with camera angles and is making me look thinner than I am.  The belly in that picture does not accurately portray the belly I'm sporting.)

(Bean wanted to be in the picture, too!  I think she had a ploy just to get the board so that she could potentially use the markers.  That ploy didn't work out for her this time.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Potty Training 101

I had been joking for awhile that Bean was in desperate need of a toddler boot camp before baby's arrival.  I had 3 goals - Adjust to big girl room/bed, Get rid of pacifier sleeping, and Potty training.  Within the span of 48 hours, all three goals were achieved, I guess she really did need a boot camp!

She woke up on Tuesday morning (the same day I had decided she was going to move to her big girl room), butt naked.  In the night, she had taken her diaper off.  When I realized the diaper was off, I thought I'd have a mess on my hands; however, the diaper and the bed were both dry.  I told her since she took her diaper off, she'd have to use the potty.  She wined and pretended she didn't want to, but she sat on it anyway - and went pee! I was shocked.  I put her in big girl panties to see how the day would go.

(Super excited to wear big girl panties!  This was our first go at it -- they were "training" panties that had extra padding to absorb a little.  Pretty sure this pair only lasted about 30 minutes. ha!)

A few days prior, I had put big girl panties on her with the hopes of her having accidents.  She had figured out what pooping was and would tell me every time she pooped in her diaper.  Sometimes I could catch it happening and force her (literal holding her on it and lots of tears from her) to sit and poop on the potty.  However, she was clueless about what pee was or when it happened.  So we experimented with the panties.  I got her to successfully poop in the potty that day, but peeing never happened on the potty -- only in the panties and somehow she seemed to only pee in the very few areas of the house that are covered by carpet or rug.  We were gone that weekend, so we went back to diapers and didn't push the potty.

(On Easter, lunch was spent sitting on the potty - which she did successfully use!)

But back to Tuesday morning --- she made the decision she didn't want her diaper on.  So I went with it.  We put big girl panties on and kept a plugging away.  She did have one pee accident, but peed and pooped in the potty the rest of the day! She slept in pull-ups/diapers for nap/bedtime, but kept them dry.  We encouraged her by using a potty chart.  She got to put a sticker up on the chart for anytime she peed or popped.  After every 5 stickers, she got to a prize -- puzzles, sippy cups, new dress, and a magnetic doll dress-up set.  She also got marshmallows after every potty excursion - 2 for trying (if we asked her to and she didn't want to try, not for when she said she needed to go but didn't), 3 for pee, 5 for poop.  She really caught on to all the incentives.

(What I saw upon entering Bean's room on Tuesday morning -- diaper in the corner and her naked bottom staring at me.  This is also the last picture of her with her pacifier AND in her crib.)

The rest of the week she wore panties at home, diapers or pull-ups for sleep & outings.  She had zero accidents and always woke up dry.  She isn't very good about being vocal about needing to go potty.  A lot of the responsibility rests on us to ask her and take her, even if she says no.  Usually there's obvious signs she needs to go -- throws a fit or dances around.

(Lots of meals and play times have been accomplished in this position.)

(And when the living room becomes boring, you work on the stairs with your tools, while sitting on the potty.  What a talented girl.)

A week later, we decided it was time to go to panties full time.  She's been doing great keeping dry, except for 1 weird pee accident at home.  We had just come from the store where she had successfully used her first public big potty! We weren't even home 5 minutes and she peed through her panties.  I'm tossing that one up to a fluke and we are celebrating the potty training success! Her chart is all full, so no more stickers or prizes, but she still gets marshmallows.

(Proudly showing off her FULL potty chart! She completed both the front and backside of the chart in less than a week.  It pretty much worked out to where she was getting a prize each day.)

(I thought I'd miss her diapered butt, but I have to admit, a pantied butt is waaaayyy cuter!)

Now we just need to master getting her to pee/poop all in one sitting.  Sometimes, going to bed is an hour+ process with multiple potty trips.  She'll pee, then later need to poop, or just sit and play around, but then needs to go again in 10 minutes.  She did get 1 spanking over wasting time on the potty (and not going to sleep). That was a rough one for me, but things have gotten better after that.  

People have congratulated me on getting her potty trained so quickly and efficiently.  I can't take the credit -- it was all her! If it had been me, she would've been trained a year ago, haha.  This was all her deciding to do it and mastering the skill herself.  My biggest piece of advice for future parents is to not push your kid to the potty.  Talk to them about it, give them opportunities, but in the end, it has to be their decision.  I'm truly blessed to be able to be her mom! Way to go Bean!

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Big Girl Room

A couple of weeks ago, we took on a new house project -- making Bean's big girl room! Since new baby is a girl, she'll be going into the nursery as is, which allows Bean to get a brand new room.  We let her help in making some decisions (like bedding, lighting, and paint options).  She was very excited in the process which we were hoping would translate into her being excited about the new bed.  I was worried about all her picks and didn't think her room would ever come together, but in the end, she loves the room and so do we!

(This room is painted wallpaper and I REAAAAAALLLY wanted to take all the wallpaper off and start from scratch. However, my heart was never fully into that portion of the process and I didn't get started on it earlier.  So we just decided to paint over the existing painted wallpaper and pretend the wallpaper doesn't exist.)

(Bean loved every step of the transformation process.  Especially when she got to just sit and play with some of daddy's tools.  Her favorite pastime involved taking all the Allen wrenches out of their case and put them back in - which is what she's doing in the picture.)

(Steve HATES painting, but he sucked it up and helped me out a ton.  He painted a lot of the trim while I did all the taping and rolling.)

(Did I mention how much she loved to help?!  She thought it was great fun to help with the paint roller.  Little did she know, there wasn't much paint on her roller.)

(More painting with the roller!)

(She was also a big help in taking all the tape down.  Even all the trim, windows, and doors got a fresh coat of paint!)

(I got the brilliant idea to have her help me build her new bookcase/organizer.  About 3/4 of the way through I almost called the whole "have Bean help" idea off, but we managed and made it successfully.  She then helped to put a few books on it until it was time for her move to the new room.)

(Steve helped on the weekend, but I did a lot of the work on my own during Bean's naptimes.  I built the dresser and bed during 2 separate days.  I had her help me put the sheets on the bed - bad idea, should've done it by myself! She did, however, enjoy eating her snack in her new bed.)

(The color pallet I had to work with after she picked all the different items.  Not shown is the dark blue star light for her wall (purchased from Ikea) and teal curtains that I bought to finally finish her room.)

(Ta-da!  The room is complete! I might cut the curtains in half so that they hang on both sides of the windows, but for now they are serving their purpose to keep the sun out as one whole piece!)

(View from her bed.  Bean helped put all the different stickers around her room on the walls.)

(From this view point, the bed is to the left and the book shelf is to the right.)

Once her room was all complete, I let her decide if she was ready to sleep in her new big girl bed. I told her that her paci (pacifier) was for the crib and that she couldn't have it in her big girl bed.  She told me, "ok, I don't need paci! Sleep big girl bed!"  I had her sleep in it during nap for the first time, just to make sure she'd sleep okay.  It took her almost 2 hours to fall asleep.  I wasn't sure if it took her so long because of the novelty of the new bed/room or if it was because she didn't know how to fall asleep without sucking on her pacifier.  She slept really well once she passed out.  I had to wake her up because I didn't want her to sleep much later (or she'd never fall asleep for bed).  That night for bed, she went to bed like a pro and fell quickly asleep!  She's not mentioned anything about her pacifier since then, and she's been in her room for over a week now! 

(I'd say her new bed is a success!)