Friday, September 27, 2013

What I'm Loving About Today

A new autumn wreath:
Snuggles with my boys and cheap (but cute) accessories from Forever21 (the clip and earrings):
Ruby and Eliza sharing an umbrella:
Hosting princess tea parties:
It doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Growing Up

The boys have decided that they are big enough to sit on the chairs at the bar in our house.
They were so pleased with themselves that I feel a little guilty admitting that I will most likely move the chairs to the kitchen (which is gated off), where they can no longer climb them. The chairs aren't the sturdiest, so it's probably for the best. Right?

It seems like my entire life revolves around baby proofing these days. I wonder when Ezra and Elliott will stop wanting to open every door/cabinet/closet/drawer. It's amazing how much damage they can do together. They are always so pleased when they manage to get past one of our baby proofing defenses!

Meanwhile, Eliza is the prettiest four year old I know. She looks so grown up recently. A couple of weeks ago, she told me she was in a "serious mood." I asked her why she felt that way and she said, "Just because I do." Regardless of her mood, she is beautiful. 

These pictures make me miss her adorable pink glasses! I am so sad that they broke, but my amazing mother is working on getting a replacement pair. Eliza's other pair of new glasses should be here soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Patching Begins!

Eliza and I talked for a while today about the purpose of her eye patches. She was somewhat scared to begin wearing them, so I made a deal with her: I'll wear a patch if she wears a patch. I bought Eliza some special eye patches at the pharmacy (called opticludes) in case the pirate-like patch doesn't work. I also purchased myself an eye patch that I can reuse without having to buy the expensive adhesive kind. I looked on Amazon, and there are adorable patches with various prints that I might buy in the future. They are much more expensive, so they might serve as a special treat or reward if we get them.
I also purchased a book called The Patch. It's about a little girl named Becca who wants to be a ballerina and is told she has amblyopia. At first, she is embarrassed to wear the patch to her ballet classes, but her brother eventually tells her she's a really cool ballerina pirate, and everything is wonderful. It is pretty much the perfect book for Eliza.
The patching went well today. I gained a lot more empathy for Eliza as I wore a patch and attempted to make dinner. My depth perception was affected, and I inadvertently poured milk all over the counter. Oops! Because of incidents like this and the raging headache I developed after wearing the patch, I'm not sure I'll be able to do this for very long every day.  However, I will definitely wear the patch for at least a few minutes with Eliza until she feels more comfortable wearing it herself. 

If you want to come over and play, we have plenty of patches!

Things That Have Made Me Happy Lately (as told by Instagram)

Nathan and Ezra cuddling
I take a walk in my neighborhood and get to see this.
Eliza's happiness when she is reunited with Ruby (after a long 12 hours) always makes me smile. Also, I love how Ruby is wearing her mom's headband.
A rare moment of the boys cuddling and sharing Ezra's favorite blanket.
Eliza with a huge bow in her hair makes me smile.
The girls after ballet--feeling accomplished and extremely happy.
Eliza drew a "B walking on legs!"
Elliott spies a grasshopper and is thrilled.
A baby with a mustache binkie (also Becca's rug is awesome). 
The sunset seen from our balcony.
Misha Collins. This isn't on Instagram, but it should be. In fact, it should be everywhere because it is THAT amazing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eliza and the Eye Patch

Eliza had an appointment with the optometrist this morning. She sadly broke her adorable pink glasses, and we also needed to see how her eyes are doing. She did a great job during the examination which was fairly long and extensive. I could tell she was struggling to see out of both eyes (even with her glasses on).  I hate that her vision has been such an issue, but I am grateful that her glasses help so much.
After the exam, the doctor let me know that Eliza has a condition called amblyopia.This essentially means that she has lazy or weak eyes. Typically, amblyopia occurs in only one eye--one eye is weak, while the other eye is dominant. In Eliza's case, both of her eyes are "lazy." Because of this, the doctor recommended we alternate patching each eye for three to four hours every day. When one eye is covered, the brain has to work harder to send the correct signals to the eye, which strengthens it. In three months, we will go back to the doctor to see if the patching is helping. The goal is for Eliza to see 20/20 with her glasses on.

In addition to the amblyopia, Eliza also has a severe astigmatism which causes her vision to blur. With the right prescription (a much stronger prescription than she already has), Eliza will be able to see much better. Currently, she is legally blind without her glasses. I'm hopeful that the patching and glasses will help. My brother had horrible vision as a toddler, but with glasses and early intervention, he now has perfect vision. The brain can fortunately be retrained (sometimes) when you are a child. I'm praying this is the case with Eliza.

The fun part of the day was picking out her glasses. She put on this purple pair, struck a pose, and I knew it was true love. We can't wait for them to come!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ruby Turns Three

The only thing nearly as fun as your own birthday is the birthday party of your best friend. Eliza's best friend, Ruby, turned three today. To celebrate, Becca and Kyle took Ruby's friends to Build-a-Bear. It was the best idea ever! Landon, Eliza, and Ruby were fascinated by the Build-a-Bear demonstration and were then thrilled to select their own animals to stuff, bathe, and dress. Eliza particularly enjoyed putting the heart into her bear.

Ruby chose an adorable Hello Kitty, Landon chose an elephant (because he loves Dumbo), and Eliza insisted on selecting a white Teddy Bear. I thought for sure that she would pick a My Little Pony or something similar, but she chose a surprisingly traditional stuffed animal. She named the bear Cinderlla-Pie. Seriously. I love her ideas!

Afterwards, we went back to Ruby's house for some cake and ice cream with her grandparents.

Happy Birthday, Ruby! We love you! And Eliza says thank you for her Cinderella-Pie!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ballet for Eliza and Ruby

Eliza and Ruby started ballet classes this month. Eliza attended a "Princess Camp" this summer at Charisma Studio in Springville, and we were really impressed with the instructors and the excellent customer service. The little girls did princess themed crafts, practiced some basic ballet skills, learned some dances, and dressed up like various princesses. Obviously, it was perfect for Eliza. We decided to go back to Charisma for her actual ballet classes.

Eliza and Ruby are in Miss Shay's class, and they love it so far! They love wearing the tights, leotards, and tutus. Shay plays all sorts of songs from Tangled and Cinderella, so it is basically heaven. It's been a fun activity for them to do together, and it's nice for Becca and I to get out of the house.

They are just too cute. I'm already excited for their first recital.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriotic Girl

In honor of September 11th today, American Flags were placed in front of our condo building. Eliza saw the flags, ran to her room, and began rummaging through her closet.  A few minutes later, she announced she was ready for preschool.

She said she really wanted to be "patrionic" today. I'm glad she already somewhat understands what that means. I'm grateful for such a sweet girl.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm So Glad We Live in Utah

I never thought I would love living in Utah.

But I do.

I absolutely love it.

I love having my best friend next door, I love having other dear friends close by, I love that Eliza has wonderful friends who adore her, I love our church, I love our parks, I love walking to the library, I love all the great food, and there hasn't been a day since we have moved here that I haven't loved this view:

I never planned on raising a family here or even living in Utah after college. In fact, Nathan and I had these great plans to move to Portland and were only weeks away when we changed Nathan had a change of heart.

I'm so glad Nathan felt like we needed to come back to Utah. I'm grateful that God's plans are always right. Although I cried and cried when I realized our plans were changing, I know that what the Lord wanted for us happened. We're glad to be here, and I hope we don't leave anytime soon.

(That being said, we still miss our Othello and South Carolina friends and family. I wish there was a way to merge all of my favorite places.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reward System

Eliza has had a difficult time sleeping since she was born. The day we brought her home from the hospital, she cried for 10 hours nonstop. Being a new mother, I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it wasn't normal. Her constant crying (we later learned it was colic stemming from a breastmilk allergy) ruined any chance for Nathan and I to establish healthy sleeping habits for her as an infant. When her colic finally came to an end six months later, the damage to her sleep patterns had been done.

Four years later, we are still dealing with a little girl who finds it hard to sleep. The past few months, she has had night terrors which our pediatrician believes are due to her inconsistent sleep schedule. We have tried putting her to bed at 7 PM, before 7 PM, after 7 PM, and nothing seems to work. She just fights sleep. It's like she has unfinished business and cannot bear the thought of others being awake when she has to go to bed. I have tried to be sympathetic to her sleep struggles, but my patience has worn thin. Most of my frustration stems from the erratic behavior she demonstrates when she is sleep deprived. If she doesn't go to sleep early enough, she wakes constantly throughout the night with night terrors. Then, the day after she has no sleep, she is so tired that she is simply not herself. I can't reason with her, and her temper tantrums can get out of control. Then, she is so emotionally upset during the day that she cannot sleep at night, and the vicious cycle continues.

I know Eliza better than anyone else in the world, and if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that she is one of the sweetest, most tender-hearted little girls out there. Seeing her transform into a tired and grumpy child has been hard to say the least. For months, I have tried various methods described in books and have solicited the advice of countless friends. Nothing was working, and I was beginning to feel somewhat frantic for a solution.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was going through Eliza's nightly routine when a simple idea suddenly came to me; maybe if we offered Eliza a reward for sleeping, she would be excited to go to bed. The reward wouldn't be a present or candy every day, but something much smaller. The reward that I came to mind was a simple sticker. I immediately mentioned the idea to Eliza, and I could see her face light up. We made a sticker chart and came up with the rules together. Once Eliza earns 10 stickers, she can earn a small toy or go on a date with either Nathan or me. She gets a sticker for going to bed without complaining and trying her best to close her eyes and stay in bed.

It's been 14 days, and Eliza has already earned a treat! She loves rewards, so she has been very motivated by the recognition of her hard work.  I'm not sure why Nathan and I hadn't tried this before, but I am so grateful that our nighttime struggle has improved so much. Eliza is so much happier because she is actually sleeping. Additionally, Nathan and I are happier because we aren't staying awake fighting her until 10 or 11 PM, and we are also not waking up 10-15 times at night with her. It's been a miracle.

 I am so grateful for answered prayers, because I know that thought coming to mind was a direct answer to prayer. I may know Eliza well, but Heavenly Father knows her better and knew what it would take to change her sleep habits. If you have a little one fighting sleep, maybe this simple plan will work for you!

And here it is...Eliza's first "treat" after a date out with mom. This piece of cake was worth EVERY penny.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Eliza's Fourth Birthday Party

Eliza loves birthday parties, so we definitely had to have a small celebration with her friends on her birthday. Her only real request was for a cake with rainbow frosting. We invited over all of her best friends, and she was thrilled to see them arrive. I'm sure she was also pretty excited about the gifts, but being with her friends was the best part of her day.

Caeden came dressed as a spider, which was an extra special treat :)
We sang "Happy Birthday," and Eliza blew out the candles on her rainbow cake. Luckily, I was able to find a rainbow frosted cake at the local bakery. She loved it!

We opened up her presents, and she was in heaven. She got tons of things that she loves: watercolors and a painting book, Tinker Bell shoes, a Little Mermaid costume, a tea set, skates, and a Tiana outfit.

For the last day, she has played with her various presents nonstop. She has been begging for skates for weeks now, so she immediately wanted to try them out. She quickly learned that skating is harder than it looks. I'm hoping she'll get the hang of it soon.

And this is what she is doing tonight:
She certainly knows how to multitask.

I can't believe my little girl is four! She was so happy to have a day celebrating HER. I love how the smallest things bring her so much happiness, and I hope she felt extra special on her birthday. Happy fourth birthday, Eliza. You are loved.