Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What I'm Thankful For - Thankfully Humbled

So this wasn't planned to be my first "What I'm Thankful For" post, however, it's so relevant.

Last night, myself and some great friends from my church shopped at Walmart for 91 kiddos. (Huge thanks and props to Katie for organizing!!!) These were 91 kids who may otherwise not stumble anxiously out of bed on Christmas morning to find gifts wrapped under a Christmas tree with their names on them. We shopped for pillow pets, Zhu Zhu pets, My Littlest Pet Shops, Pokemon cards, backpacks, Webkins, Barbie dolls, footballs, basketballs, and so much more. It was so much fun to play Santa and think about what the children on my list might like the most!

After it was all done and we had 6 shopping carts overflowing with toys, we prayed in the middle of the toy isles of Walmart for the 91 children who would receive those toys and I was HUMBLED. How many times had I gone to Walmart for groceries or to pick up pictures or to get a birthday gift or for shampoo and found myself making a quick detour to the toy isle to grab a random toy for Tucker without even looking at the price. Countless times. And here I was, trying my best to find the top two toys on each child's list and get him or her the best 2 toys for under $20 total. I keep thinking about the 10-year-old girl who listed craft supplies and hair accessories on her wish list and I hope she'll really like the stamp kit I picked out. And the 5 year old little girl who wanted a backpack and I imagine how cute she'll look in the one I picked out that wrapped around to make her look like a fairy. And their parents. I can't imagine how it must feel to not have that $20 to spend on your child for Christmas. I hope that they will see joy in their daughter's face Christmas morning and feel a sense of peace and overwhelming love, God's love.
And me.
I've spent that and then some on Tucker just about every time I've been to Walmart or any other store. I've taken the ability to do that for granted. I've taken it for granted that the only reason I have to wonder what in the world we'll have for dinner is because I haven't been to the grocery in a few days, not because we don't have the money, but because it's not something I enjoy doing. I've taken it for granted that if I don't want to wear socks in the evening I can just click the heat up a few degrees and not worry about how that will effect the electric bill. I think about how frustrated I've been that Wes and I have not had a weekend to look at carpet and wood samples so we can get a move on our floors, taking for granted that I own a home and don't stress about how the mortgage is going to get paid. I take for granted that if Tucker gets a runny nose and a cough that I can take him to the pediatrician without thinking about how much it will cost. I have a beautiful home, 2 nice cars, a closet full of clothes, a son who has more toys than he cares to play with, a TV that's much bigger than necessary, cabinets full of food, the list could go on and go. And the families we shopped for may not be able to say the same.
And in all that humbling, God convicted me. He gave me all those things. I don't deserve it. I don't even come close. But He gave them to me.......to use for HIS glory. I pray that I am continually reminded of that. I pray that I take advantage of the opportunities God gives me to use those material things to His glory and to just love on others....like inviting people into my home, giving someone a ride in my car, paying someone else's bills, or just shopping for someone else's kids at Walmart. So much of it seems so small to us, but we don't know how those little things affect someone else. We don't know if someone is praying about how a need of theirs will get met when we offer to pay for their gas at the pump and are used by God to answer a prayer. Or if we notice a mom adding up the cost of her groceries as she checks out at Kroger and slip her a $20, how that small gesture will show her someone cares. Or when we see a young mom with two small children walking in the cold, how giving them a ride could be just what she was praying for.
I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me. But, I am even more thankful for humbling opportunities like this one that remind me of the many blessings I have and what I am met to do with those blessings.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Wow, so much to be thankful for....

When I think about what all I have to be thankful for, I'm completely overwhelmed! So much, in fact, that I've decided instead of briefly listing each in one post, I'm going to do a chain of "What I'm Thankful For" posts. Look for my first one coming soon!

In the meantime, here we are, The Keene's, on Thanksgiving 2010!

Isn't my lil man so stinkin' cute!?!? (And my 'big man' ain't so bad looking either!)
It is unbelievable how much changes in a year's time!

I hope you and your family had a very blessed Thanksgiving! I'm very thankful for YOU!

Sweet 16!

Yesterday, my baby brother turned 16! Wow, those words just don't even seem right! I remember when he was born! I was 15, one year younger than he is now.... Not only is he 16, but he is taking his test for his driver's permit tomorrow. So, my baby brother is 16 and is driving!

Our gift to Nick, a license plate for the front of his car.
Tucker's bib pretty much sums it up! Both Nick & Tucker are complete chick magnets! Tucker LOVES his Uncle Nick!

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!!!! We had so much fun celebrating with you this past weekend! Good luck tomorrow, I'll be thinking of you and can't wait for my text!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Both Wes and I are OBSESSED with this ice cream! Seriously, it is the bomb diggity bomb! It's the Kroger brand, Private Selections, Sea Salt Caramel Truffle. To die for! And I'm only slightly ashamed to admit to y'all that we've been eating it every night for a bedtime snack (usually in the bed!) for the past 2 weeks! (Good thing I'm still breastfeeding.....need all the help I can get to burn off those extra calories!)

On another note, I just want it documented that I suggested to Wes last week, you know when the weather was in the 70's!!!, that he go ahead and get the Christmas lights up on the house. It is now in the 30's with snow on the ground!

Thanksgiving post to come! We still have my family's tomorrow, so I'm waiting till were all done before posting pics. Instead, I'll leave you with a pic of me and my little turkey last Thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Experiment & Some Turkeys!

Today, Tucker and I had a few visitors. My 2 nephews, Joshua and O'mauri, niece, Makenzie, and one of my little brothers, Nick, spent the whole day with us! I didn't know we were going to have any company until late last night. That's okay, a few change of plans for the day, and we're good. After all, it isn't very often that I get to spend the day with my nephews, niece, and little brother. I'm sure Bridgette wouldn't mind her kiddos coming to my house for the day a lot more often, but the thought of having 4 little ones under the age of 7, well that's a little more than I can handle on most days!

It might have been more than I could handle today if I didn't get creative. I mean I'd like to think my house is pretty entertaining. We have lots of toys but they're toddler toys. We have an Xbox, but most of the games aren't for little ones to play. We have cable and I'm definitely not above using the TV as a form of entertainment, but not for the whole day. These kiddos need some stimulating activity!

So, during Tucker's nap, we conducted an "experiment." We had glasses of water and food color and made "hypotheses" about what color two colors mixed would make. We made a graph to track our guesses, whether we were right or wrong, and to draw "conclusions" about our findings. (And, yes, when you have an Aunt who is a psychologist, you get fun little lessons on what all those words mean!) I'm not sure how well they'll remember the details, but I'd like to think they will remember the fun they had. :)Then, afterwards, they had to drink the water to see if it changed the color of their pee! You gotta love innocence like that! We also made turkeys for Thanksgiving and talked about what Thanksgiving means. I was only slightly surprised when Nick jumped right in on the activity; after all he is a big kid at heart!
Then after Dad picked up Nick and Jay went downstairs to watch a movie, O'mauri and Kenzie helped me to bake some cakes in preperation for cake balls (yummy!). They were really helpful too! Kenzie poured in the water and the "oil vegetable" and Mauri did a great job cracking the eggs all by himself!
All this fun, and I didn't get one picture of Tucker playing with our house guests. How did that happen!? I think I'm slacking on my picture-taking responsibilities!

Now for rolling some cake balls in chocolate and up next, a sweat potatoe pie! Yup, it's gonna be a late night!

I hope y'all have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow and enjoy time with your family! I'm so thankful for days like today, no matter how hectic and crazy they are!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tucker & Thomas

So, this is just a random picture of my Tucker Bug, but isn't that what blogs are good for?
I could eat his little sweater-vest-wearing behind up! Love him!
(By the way, doesn't "Tucker and Thomas" sound so good together? Hmmm, maybe a name for a little brother? And don't y'all get any ideas! There is NO, I repeat - NO - bun in the oven!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanks to "My Girls!"

I just want to take this opportunity and say "Thank You" to my boobs. Yes, you read that right. And sorry if that's too 'graphic' for you. If it is, just stop reading now, come back in a couple days for my next blog post. A "Thank You" is the least that they deserve and I am going to feature them on this blog post (NO not in the form of a picture, don't worry I'm not getting THAT graphic!) to give them the respect and appreciation they've earned.

Seriously, I am going on my 14th month of breastfeeding (from the source), with never substituting formula or having to take any medication to increase my milk supply. My 'girls' have really pulled through for me (and ultimately for Tucker). It was hard in the beginning, that's for sure. Not as hard as it could have been, I've definitely heard some horror stories involving blisters and incorrect latches. Thankfully, I didn't have to endure that. Tucker had a champion latch right from the beginning. He was a slightly lazy eater in the beginning, meaning he would rather nurse for 5 minutes then sleep, wake up after 20-30 minutes and nurse again but that wasn't too difficult to correct and had nothing to do with 'the girls.' There was pain in the beginning, but that's normal. After all, there is a toughening-up process that has to happen! That was definitely not fun, but I made it through without shedding too many tears, with the help of some Lansinoh. [I fear that with baby #2 things may not go as smoothly...I'm really hoping they do!]

There were times when I wasn't sure I would have enough milk to send to the sitter's the next day (remember, Tucker never would take milk that had been frozen....My freezer is STILL half filled with frozen bags!). But, they would never fail me! I would pump and get exactly the amount I needed! There were times I would have just finished pumping and 15 minutes later Tucker would wake up wanting to nurse (I did a lot of on-demand feedings, wasn't-and still am not-a real stickler for a schedule). I would think, "He's not gonna get any milk out of these!" but sure enough, he would!

I was worried that with Tucker now nursing only a few times a day on most days and only for a few minutes with the exception of our morning feeding, that the amount of milk I produce would drop drastically. And, while it has in comparison to what I was producing, I am still able to pump what I need to send about 6-7 ounces to the sitter for the days I work.

I am really hoping that my 'girls' continue to pull through for me and that I'm not jinxing things by giving them their own 15 minutes of fame on my blog! I don't want to be forced to ween Tucker because I'm not producing milk. I'd rather it be because he and I decide it's time.

Which brings me to the 2nd reason for this post....

I am often asked how long I intend to nurse Tucker. Well, usually it's asked more like this: "You're STILL nursing!? It's time to stop!" When I started back to work in August, Tucker was only a little under 10 months old and people acted as though they could not believe I was STILL nursing. Not in the sense that "Oh, that's really good! Good for you!" but more like, "You mean you still have to pump through the day and I still have to schedule things around your pumping sessions?!" I'm glad my family and a handful of friends are supportive of BF and have been there themselves because sometime I feel like I am all alone in my efforts. Like I'm crazy for doing it this long. Hello! Breast milk is the BEST thing for Tucker! Why would I switch to formula unnecessarily? Even though he is now over a year old, he can still continue to benefit from my milk. I'd like to think the milk that God intended for him is somewhat better than that from a cow lol! If that makes me crazy, that's fine by me.

As for how long I intend to nurse Tucker, I'm not really sure about that. He doesn't have much of an affinity for cow's milk, though that's not the only reason I haven't weaned him yet. After all, cow's milk doesn't have as many nutrients in it as we are led to believe. After the process it goes through in order to be safe for us to drink, most of the nutrients and calcium are stripped away (though we do buy organic to get every bit we can!). {Ever read Skinny B*#ch? Scary!}

I'm not sure how long I'll nurse Tucker. Right now I don't mind it at all. Maybe I'll reach a point where I'm D-O-N-E and that will be the driving force behind weaning him. I would like to not have to pump while I'm at work, but I'm only doing that once a day now and I only work 2 or 3 days a week, so even that isn't bad. Right now, I would like for him to drink cow's milk (or even soy milk) through the day when I'm away from him and just nurse in the morning and night. I think if I really tried hard enough I could probably distract him through the day and get him to only nurse in the am and pm, but, like I said, I'm really not in a hurry to do so, right now anyway. Check back with me in a few months; maybe I'll be way over this whole BF thing by then lol! For the time being, I'm perfectly content with the way things are now (minus the pumping at work!) and I think Tucker is too!

I will promise you one thing (and this is what my sister always makes me promise), I will NOT be breastfeeding my 4 year old!

So, here's a pic of my little mommy's milk-drinking not-so-baby boy! He had just gotten done taking a bath, but had to get a quick ride in his wagon with his friends before going to bed :)
(By the way, we have finally installed a real gate at the top of the stairs, this picture is about a month old!)

**Disclaimer: This post is in NO way intended to make anyone who chooses to formula-feed their lil ones feel bad. Breastfeeding is a personal decision and as a mother, you know what is the best choice for your little one. It may be BF and it may be formula, or it may be BF for a little bit and then switching to formula. And that is just fine too! :) Either way, you rock! :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheerio Dust, Anyone?

I was cleaning up from breakfast the other day, doing dishes at the sink, when I turned around and saw this:

That Cheerio box was sitting by the trash can, empty. Well, that's what I thought anyway. Apparently Tucker thought it was wasteful of me to throw away the"dust" left from the Cheerios. He had dumped out the bag and was licking it off the rug!

Yup, here's my Cheerio-dusted little boy! (Sorry for the bad picture quality, I was laughing too hard to keep the camera still!)

"What Mom?! I didn't do it!"

Not My Favorite Thing to Do!

One thing I do not like doing is changing the sheet on Tucker's crib. There is just no easy way to do it! The mattress is HEAVY. The bumper gets in the way. The skirt gets all messed up. It wears.me.out!

However, Tucker thoroughly enjoys it! "Come on, Mom! This isn't so bad!"And then he's distracted by other favorite activities!

When I was pregnant someone told me about these sheets you can buy where the middle part of the sheet that goes over the top of the mattress unzips and you just zip a new one on, or something like that. (Have y'all heard of these?) I should have paid more attention to her! Instead, I battle the sheet, mattress, bumper, and crib every week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

13 Months!

(First, please excuse the fact that Tucker has on the same shirt he did in his one year pics that I posted on his 12 month update.... I took these pics a few days before Tucker turned 13 months. He was in a silly mood and I took advantage of it and snapped a few pics, not really intending for them to be his official "13 month pics". He happened to be wearing the same shirt he wore in his one year pics and I haven't had a chance to take some official "13 month pics" since then, so we're going with these!)
13 months and happy as ever :)
Tucker signing "book" :)
And, alas, his favorite thing to do!
Books with flaps are Tucker's favorite right now.

Reading to Mommy

And this, folks, is why Mommy's getting a new camara for Christmas! One that can capture on-the-move moments and not come out blurry!
At 13 months, Tucker.....

1. loves to snuggle and give kisses. He is always giving hugs and kisses, he's SO lovable! That's why Mommy calls him her "Love Bug!"

2. is a little sponge! Seriously, he absorbs EVERYTHING! I told Wes tonight, "Quick, think of something to teach him! We need to be teaching him MORE!" Is it normal to stress over whether or not you're teaching your toddler enough? I'm so amazed at how quickly he picks things up. Just tonight he was whining because Wes was opening a new toy and he wanted it NOW. I explained that he had to wait for Daddy to OPEN it and I showed him the sign for "OPEN." He imitated me and I reinforced him, then he looked at Wes and said, "Da!" and signed "open"! Then he found a cord that went with the toy that was in a plastic bag. He showed it to me and signed "open." Later, while he was in the tub I told him to show me "open" and he signed it. A.LITTLE.SPONGE.

3. still loves music and dancing! As soon as he hears music, he "snaps" his fingers and bounces and dances. Even if we're in Kroger. Yeah, he doesn't discriminate.....grocery store music, elevator music, sesame street songs, Daddy's playlist, he likes it all!

4. LOVES his chair with his name on it. Seriously, that has to be the best purchase we've made thus far. Tucker will climb on and off his chair all day long. He takes all his snacks to that chair to eat. He drags his books to that chair. He climbs on it for no reason, and then babbles away to Daddy and Mommy. Oh, and he moves his hands the whole time! Yes, he takes after Mommy and talks with his hands :)

5. is a GREAT eater! Yeah, with the way we started out, you remember - we couldn't bribe baby food down that boy's throat! - I never thought he'd be a great eater! But, he is! He will eat about anything. Veggies, fruits, meats, and everything in between. This makes Daddy and Mommy very happy :)

6. says, "Yay!" in a high-pitched voice, which has made Mommy realize that's how she says it!

7. says, "Da Da!" and goes to the basement stairs when he hears the garage door open. He can hardly wait for Daddy to come up those steps!

8. Speaking of the basement steps, Tucker loves to throw things down them. I can't tell you how many times a day I say, "Tucker, we don't throw your cars/blocks/balls/fill-in-the-blank down the steps." It doesn't phase him.....down the steps it goes!

9. knows that a cow says "moo" and what sound a monkey makes. When asked, "What does a cow say?" he responds with, "mmmooo" and then claps and says in a high-pitched voice, "Yay!" When asked, "What's a monkey say?" he responds by trying to scratch under his arms and "uh uh!" So cute! (Actually, he was doing the cow at 12 months, but I forgot to include it!)

10. has taken steps! Yup, that's right, he's well on his way to walking! It's only been a couple steps and only because he didn't intend to (like moving from the chair to the coffee table) and they're not well controlled steps yet. But, here's a sneak peak into his 14 month post now that we're officially three days into the 14th month.....we're wearing our walking shoes around here! :)

11. might be moving to one nap a day. And Mommy is ready for that! We're still doing a morning and afternoon nap, but most days Tucker's morning nap is pretty long, about 2 1/2 - 3 hours and the afternoon nap is getting shorter and shorter, some days only 45 minutes. (Then again, some days he takes a 2 1/2 hour morning nap and still naps for an hour and a half in the afternoon.) Maybe over Christmas break we'll work on moving him to one nap a day, so any tips are welcomed!

12. loves to color and write. Don't leave a pen laying around, he'll demand it! Then you better find some paper before something else becomes his canvas!

13. can climb out of the tub! Yeah, baths aren't as easy as they used to be. It's no easy task to keep a wet, soapy 13 month old in the tub once he's realized he can climb out. And when he's not trying to climb over the side, he's letting the water out.

Wow, 13 whole months! I still cannot believe it.....

Mommy loves you, Tucker Bug!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Boys!

Man, do I LOVE them!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Highlights of our Weekend...

The 1st birthday party of one of Tucker's very good friends, Makenly!

Makenly eating her cake like a champ!Makenly with her Daddy & Mommy!And I just had to get a picture of her beautiful cake!
Then, the annual Light Up Shelbyville ! Wes, Tucker and myself helped out at a table our church had up. People came out from all over the county for the festivities and the main attraction - the lighting of the lights on the big Christmas tree across from the courthouse. Tucker enjoyed all the lights and the people watching :)
It's nice to have a weekend that's pretty relaxing and for the most part, uneventful. It's been awhile since we've had one of those! Tucker actually got to play with his toys on a Saturday afternoon!
Hope you had a great one as well!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

12 Months!

Here's 12 things my little man is doing at 12 months :)

1. You LOVE to play with doors. You open and close them over and over and especially love to go in a room, close the door, and then have Mommy or Daddy knock on the door so you can "answer it." You think it is SOOO funny!

2. You know and independently use, without being prompted, all the signs we've taught you. That makes me think we should be teaching you more.... You have even made up a few of your own. For example, you touch your middle finger and thumb together and then shake your hand trying to snap your fingers when you hear music. Daddy is always playing music on his i-phone and we have our own little dancing parties. Well, the other day you picked up Daddy's i-phone and did your little "snap" with your hand to let him know you wanted him to play some music :) Daddy said, "I guess we have a sign for music now!"

3. You LOVE books! You can occupy yourself for quite some time just flipping though book after book. We read probably 20 books or more a day, no exaggeration! You've even started this habit that after nursing, you will sign "all done" then immediately sign "book!" There are times when we might be in a hurry (like the mornings Mommy works), but how do I say no to reading a book (or 10!)?!

4. Speaking of nursing, there's no end in sight. You still LOVE to nurse. You do so no less than 3 times a day, sometimes up to 5 times a day. You really only need to about 3 times a day, but if we're home all day you tend to ask for it more frequently, which is fine by Mommy.

5. You tried cow's milk and do not seem to care for it. I'm hoping it grows on you if I keep giving it to you with your meals because, well let's face it Tucker, you really can't nurse forever!

6. You know where your hair, mouth, nose, feet, and belly are and will point to them when asked.

7. You're not walking yet, but are so close. You can stand independently though as soon as you realize you're standing, you fall down. You don't like it. I am confident that if you mustered up enough courage to let go, you could walk! But, there's no rush!

8. You still love to be outside. One of your favorite things to do is to go to the park and climb on the playground. I can't tell you how many times Mommy and Daddy have almost gotten stuck in the round tunnel!

9. You are SO funny! You really have so much personality! You know how to make Mommy and Daddy laugh and you enjoy doing it! We are always saying, "He is so funny!" (I might have said that on your 11 month post too, but you really are SO FUNNY!) Speaking of laughing, you break out in laughter whenever you hear others laugh. The other day we were at a restaurant and there was a large group not far from our table. Every time they would laugh, you would laugh as though you were in on the conversation!

10. You love to play with cars! One of your toy cars require you to shake it up and then it goes. Its probably your favorite, but really any car will do. You also play with non-car items like they are cars. For example, you will get in the drawer in the kitchen that has all the tupperware lids and pull a lid out then proceed to "push" it around the kitchen!

11. You try to put your socks and shoes on your feet.

12. You blow kisses and even make the "mwuah!" sound. When we say, "I love you!" you respond by blowing a kiss - your way of saying "I love you too!"

The list could go on and on, but you'll be 13 months in 4 days (I'm behind on my posts!), so I'll save some things for then!

I'll leave y'all with some pics from Tucker's 1-year photo session :)

Blowing kisses "MWAH!"

Tucker still snuggles, hugs, kisses, and rolls around with his bear. He loves it!

Mommy loves you Tucker Bug!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trick-or-Treating 2010

I would like to introduce to you the cutest little lion there ever was!
Tucker Bug is now Tucker the Lion! ROAR!!!!

My sister's wedding reception (following her wedding in Hilton Head earlier in the month) was the Saturday before Halloween, which was the same day designated in Shelbyville as Trick-or-Treat. As such, we missed trick-or-treating at home. So, Tucker and I went trick-or-treating on Friday in Springfield with Holli and Tatum! While this was great for us and we had a really good time, it was sad in that Wes was not able to see Tucker his first time trick-or-treating :( And believe me, Wes was VERY disappointed! This, of course, required a significant amount of picture messaging back and forth, just to make sure no roar went unheard and no sticky paws went unseen!

And speaking of "sticky paws," there were plenty of those considering Tucker had his first sucker (subsequently followed by his 2nd, 3rd, and possibly 4th!)....

"Wait! What is THAT Tatum has?!"

"Mama! Give that candy bucket back! I want one!!!!"(So, yeah I attempted to prevent my son from consuming any candy - while trick-or-treating!!! - took the candy bucket away, and I really thought that was gonna work?! Hahaha!)

"I'll just get one myself out of this other candy bucket!"

"Mmmmm! Tatum was right, this is good!""No suckers? Thanks, but we'll pass!"
And by the way, isn't Tatum the cutest little bumble bee you've ever seen?!
We even caught up with a couple of Tucker's cousins, Xavien and Elyjah!
Yes, we definitely enjoyed Trick-or-Treat this year, but we sure missed Daddy!
I'll leave you with a picture of me and my lil' lion!