Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another new endeavor: What's in my coffee?

For a while I've had a pressing issue on my heart. I've wanted to go deeper in my Christian faith. I hear challenging questions being asked about Christianity and I find myself wishing I had the courage and knowledge to answer them. Unfortunately, my mind comes up short for a good answer. I think of all the "pat" answers I've heard throughout my life in all the churches I've visited on deputation. If' you've ever been a missionary's kid, you know how grueling deputation can be. What was really fun?? Getting to sit through dozens upon dozens of different Sunday school classes, learning the same lessons, old material and more pat answers. I honestly don't remember going to any Sunday school classes that I ever came out thinking "Wow, that was fun and different and I actually LEARNED something new!" Why is that? Why do churches not put more into their Sunday school classes? Why don't they invest in bringing exciting lessons, challenging discussions and really get their students fired up for the Lord?

I'm not saying that ALL churches have boring Sunday school lessons. No. Definitely not. There are churches out there that really put effort and class into their SS programs. I guess it's easier for everyone though when we follow the standard curriculum, teaching the Old Testament stories and doing the crafts. 

But what would happen if we really started challenging kids, teenagers, young adults and, um, older adults with some questions that would make their heads spin?! Wouldn't that be a nice change from the typical SS lesson? Well, I know one church where that is already happening. (yes, this is going to be a very small, shameless plug for my church!) In my SS class at GracePointe Baptist Church, we are doing just that. We do a variety of different types of lessons. It changes constantly and we like that. Sometimes we will do a video series and have a 45 min video with discussion time afterwards and sometimes we will discuss a book or a group study series. We've even just gone through a book of the Bible and studied it verse by verse. It's nice to have the variety. We're a small group but we have some pretty big discussions. It's been my SS group that has brought this desire to search deeper. We don't have enough time in an hour, once a week, to get as deep as we could so I'm wanting to take that further.

My new endeavor is a new blog I have created. It is titled: What's In My Coffee? The title sounds kind of silly, I know, but it does have a meaning. You can go over to my new blog and check out my first, introductory post about the purpose for my blog. My hope is that all my followers here on my personal blog, will also follow my new, discussion blog as well. I would love some input on some questions or topics you've always wanted to look into deeper. While my blog has a "coffee" motif and I will use humor and sarcasm quite a bit, I do take it seriously and will be putting a lot of thought and research into my posts. I probably won't have time to do more than one post per week. That's my goal. If I can accomplish that, I will feel pretty good. It will probably take me about a week just to put together a well thought out and informed post. I have no intentions of just putting my thoughts out there without something to back them up. This is a new thing for me so I will probably make some mistakes...hopefully not many though.

You can also follow me on twitter: @JavaWithSteph.

Please head over to my new blog and leave me a nice comment and a topic or question you think would be a good idea for my blog. I'll be willing to discuss anything just about anything!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sleep training: an unexpected surprise

This week, on Tuesday, we began full-on, hard core sleep training with Brooklyn. Since we stopped swaddling her at 5 months, she has taken our bed as hers and only occasionally slept in her pack n' play and none in her crib. At first, I didn't mind her sleeping with us. She wasn't rolling over and she was pretty calm. BUT, the older she got, the more she moved in her sleep and the more room she took up. It was getting pretty cramped in our bed with the three of us. So I decided that once I was out for the summer, I would sleep train her, thus avoiding going in to teach 137 teenagers on little-to-no sleep. Good idea!

The plan was to start it the very first week of summer break but that week we had our family reunion and I didn't want my hard work during the week to be undone that weekend when we stayed at the hotel. Then the next week rolled around and I didn't want to do it then either, so now, in the third week of summer break, I have finally gotten the ball rolling on this. The first two nights were torture. We decided to go with the Cry It Out method. She cried for exactly an hour the first night before finally falling asleep. She slept that night from 10:20pm till 2am when we tried to get her to go back to sleep in her crib, without a bottle. I went in there first to try to calm her down and was in there for 5-10 minutes, then I left because I saw she wasn't going to go down without a fight and I didn't feel like fighting. Waylon went back in there and rubbed her back and she got quiet for about 20 minutes but as soon as he would stop, she would freak out so he brought her back to our bed where she slept the rest of the night. Next night was about the same. She cried for a little less an hour and then slept till about the same time and we brought her to bed with us again.

We deviated from this the third night because I was out later and she was already pretty groggy when I got home. So I rocked her in her rocking chair and then laid her in bed and she went right to sleep. Since that night, we've done a little routine where I put on her jammies, give her a bottle and rock her while singing to her. I also have the noise machine on "waterfall" which is the same as white noise on other machines. (Mine's fancy. All the sounds are "nature" sounds. lol) So I sing to her and she has the white noise in the background. I rock her for about 10-15 minutes and sing pretty much the same songs every night. By the end of the 10 minutes, she is usually asleep or almost asleep so I lay her in her crib on her belly or side. She might fuss for a few seconds but has been going right to sleep and staying asleep until about 2-3am. We are very pleased with the progress this far! Just having our bed to ourselves for the first half of the night has been a HUGE improvement. I don't mind snuggling with her the rest of the night. We are hoping that she will eventually start sleeping later though. I do not give her a bottle when she wakes up at that point. I wait until at least 4-5am before giving her a bottle. She usually wakes up around then and wants one. She will actually point to it if I have one on the window sill. It's amazing how much she already knows.

I know that some of you who are great at routines are probably thinking this sounds horrible and that I'm not being strict enough, but for me, this is really doing well and I feel good about it! I do eventually want her sleeping through the night and not coming to our bed. I don't know when this will happen. Brooklyn is not a heavy sleeper and wakes up on her own several times a night. I don't know what else to do to keep her from waking since I'm already not giving her a bottle when she does. I know that if I left her in her own bed and just let her cry in the middle of the night that THAT might help too, but I'm just not ready to be awake for 20 minutes or more in the middle of the night for her to settle down. I can handle bringing her to my bed so I can get a little extra sleep. Call me lazy! lol.

What I have enjoyed about the sleep training is the time I rock her to sleep each night. That's been the unexpected surprise for me. I've really enjoyed snuggling with her and singing to her. I also take that time to pray over her. I always pray for her to have a peaceful night and get lots of sleep and rest and that God watch over her and keep her healthy and that she will be able to live a long happy life. I enjoy that private moment with just Me, Brooklyn and God. I pray out loud so that she hears it too. I also want to get to where I read to her but right now she just tries to eat the book and I get frustrated so I'm waiting to implement that. I want to get a good children's Bible with pictures for that time too.

So there is my journey so far in sleep training. If this post seems a bit discombobulated and broken up, it's because it has taken me 3 days to write it! Yes, I've not had enough time to sit and write it all at once so I'm writing a little at a time! Hope it wasn't too bad!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Week Three

We've hit the third week of summer break now and things seem to be winding down for me. The first two weeks were extremely busy and now I think I'll finally be able to get into some sort of routine.

There are still a few things that aren't working out the way I would like but I know God is in control and will bring these things to a resolution.

For one, our van is still giving us major issues. I'm beginning to regret buying it but my dad keeps reminding me that for the price we got it for, even if we put a couple thousand into it to get it fixed, it would still be a great deal. I will be so happy when the stupid thing is running right. The battery is being drained by an unknown source. We've tried checking the fuses and Waylon and I even looked into our owner's manual and took apart the dash to disconnect the 6 disc CD changer. We did this in the blazing heat of Texas summer (I actually went in halfway through because I had Brooklyn out there and she was getting really hot and sweaty and wanted a bottle) and that still didn't fix the issue. It costs $97 at Honda to run the diagnostic to tell what's wrong. We may have to just break down and take it there and shell out the money to get it fixed. They're going to be the best bet to find what's wrong. We've taken it to Autozone and Sears auto center and neither one has been able to tell us what's wrong and we've paid several diagnostic fees and have no answers! It's so frustrating! Once that's fixed, the next thing will be to get the A/C running. I've driven it a few times now and I'm tellin' you, it's a bummer driving a car with no A/C in Texas! That's a definite must for our car. But until the battery situation is fixed, we're not getting the AC fixed.

I'm still struggling with keeping the house clean. You would think that since I'm home most of the day I would be able to keep up on that but it just seems to not be in the cards for me! I've got to find things to keep Brooklyn more entertained. After her birthday she will have more interactive toys and I think that will make a difference. Right now, we don't have a lot of toys and she gets bored very easily with the few we have. She mainly wants to play with the remotes (the $50 XBox remotes) and my computer, or power cords or the dog food or cabinets. I don't understand the fascination toddlers have with those boring things when they have bright, colorful, noise-making toys they could be playing with! It doesn't make sense! lol.

My exercising goals have yet to come about at all. I haven't done a single thing (except for the rare walk around the block with Brooklyn) for exercise this summer and I've gained a couple of pounds. I'm really frustrated with myself for being lazy and not working out. It doesn't take much of an obstacle to keep me from it. Most mornings I'm exhausted because I didn't sleep well the night before so I don't feel like putting Brooklyn in the jogging stroller and going for a stroll, or even going by myself. Then, in the afternoons when I could go to the rec center, I don't have anyone to watch Brooklyn unless my parents drive all the way over, which I don't want to ask them to do just so I can go get on the elliptical for 40 minutes. I could do my Turbo Jam video in the living room but there's usually toys everywhere or Brooklyn won't stay asleep long enough for me to do the workout. See?? I told you, tons of little obstacles. I think right now my best bet is trying to get the 20 minute Turbo Jam workout in right after putting Brook down for a nap. I'll just have to make myself do it, even if it's at different times of the day. There is no way I'm going back to work in August bigger than when I left!! NO FLIPPING WAY!!!!! So there, I've got it out there and now you guys can pester me and ask me if I've worked out that day or not. Thanks!

Brooklyn is doing new things on a daily basis. Here's what she's up to right now:
- She walks quite a bit. She actually does it more and more each day and chooses to walk more than crawl.
- She's weaning off formula. I'm doing 2 ounces of whole milk with 4 of formula. It doesn't seem to phase her at all.
- She's eating a tiny bit more food than used to. This is still an area of concern for me. She's an extremely picky eater! Her newest thing is only wanting to eat whatever we are eating and it has to be from our plate. If I sit her in her high chair and fix her a bit of what I'm eating and try to give it to her on her tray, she won't eat it. It has to come from my plate or she thinks she's getting something different and will shake her head "no" to it! Little stinker! She's too smart!
- She shakes her head "no" now when you ask her a question and she doesn't want to do/eat whatever you are asking her. She has also started shaking her head "yes" but I don't think she knows what it means yet.
- She just yesterday started saying "uh oh". I think this is influence from her cousin Cooper who is a pro at saying it.
- She "talks" while playing and you can tell she really thinks she's saying something important. It's so cute!
- She has started trying to click her tongue.
- She claps anytime she hears anyone clapping, even if it's on TV. It's hilarious when we're watching a show and they clap on it and she starts clapping and getting excited as if she knows why we are clapping.
- She still wants to crawl around and put every little crumb or speck on the floor in her mouth.
- She LOVES to swim! We took her to the aquatic center in Hurst and she absolutely loved it! When we were in deeper water, she wanted me to let go of her and was trying to squirm out of my grip! I couldn't believe it. She just took off in the shallow, kiddie pool area and wasn't afraid of anything. It was fun watching her. Her swimsuit is cute too. ;)
- She'll point to things she wants now, especially her bottle. She says "bah-boo" which sounds like bottle but I don't think that's what she means b/c she says it constantly and not just when she sees her bottle.
- She will try to imitate you if you open your mouth or make noises with your mouth or raise your hands.
- She can suck out of a straw.

Those are the highlights right now of her development. I have been horrible at putting them in her baby book! I feel so guilty about that and I need to sit down and catch up with it. Thankfully I have Facebook and my blog to look back and remember what she did at what age! Oh technology, how I love you!

I did two caterings last week at Bartley's (where my mom works and where I used to work) and with that money (or knowing it was coming this week), I went shopping on Sunday and finally bought myself some new clothes! It felt so good! I got quite a bit for the money I spent. I got two pairs of comfy shorts, one black and one tan, and a pair of comfy, brown capris. Then I got several summer tops that were really cute. I didn't pay more than $10 on any single item and most of them were around $5-8. I only bought things that I tried on and really liked and knew that I would wear them a lot and they were comfortable. All the shorts and pants I got had elastic waist. Yes, I'm THAT person now. The person who only wears elastic waisted clothes. I don't care. I'm tired of pants squeezing my gut and trying to be comfortable in UN-comfortable clothes. I'm all about comfort now, more than ever, so elastic it is! These are also all clothes that if I lost a few pounds by the time school started, they would still fit me, especially if I wash and dry them and they shrink a little.

I'm feeling more optimistic about the summer. I will get better at this staying at home thing. I've decided to read through the book of John for my quiet time right now. I got an idea for a reading plan from this website that gives a good reading plan for beginners or people who don't know where to start in the Bible. It doesn't give a day by day plan but an order of which books to read. I'll be doing this at my own pace and I'm excited about it!

Now I'm going to go to Walmart with my mom and buy a noise machine for Brooklyn. We have got to get serious about sleep training her and I hear noise machines are a life saver in this area. So off we go!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being such a wonderful father. You have lived your life putting God and your family first. You have persevered through tough times in your personal life and in your ministry but have always trusted the Lord through it all and became a stronger man and better father. I could not have asked for a more loving and supportive father than I have in you.

Any time any of us kids ever wanted to do something, you always encouraged us to try it (and sometimes had to actually push SOME of us to do it...ahem...Bryan...not mentioning any names though...). You were a good teacher and mentor and pastor. You've been my pastor since I was born and I can honestly say I've never wished otherwise. We have always looked up to you and believed you were always on our side, watching out for us, loving us, forgiving us and taking us in your arms and comforting us when needed. Through all my personal "issues" that I went through, I always knew that no matter what happened, you and mom would always help me and love me and forgive me. For that, I am forever grateful. He, in all His wisdom, put me with a father and mother who knew exactly what I needed in my parents. Thank you for loving me so much.

On this Father's Day I want you to know how much all of us kids (and your grandkids) love you. I hope you enjoy your day and that we have many more Father's Days to come to spend with you.

We love you!


Stephanie, Waylon and Brooklyn

You will always be the first #1 man in my life. 

Summer thus far: The second week

I'm in my second week of summer break and it hasn't felt like much of a break yet! I've been busy, busy, busy!! I knew it would be like this at the beginning and I would actually prefer if it stayed a little busy because I will get bored if I have any lulls.

Last week was a week of getting the house projects underway. I did lots of loads of laundry, some yard work, started my garden (which I will do a post all of it's own with pictures), cleaned house, and went to the Ross family reunion. We had a lot of fun at the reunion and I will write about that more in a moment.

Waylon also finally started his new job selling Verizon service door-to-door. It is a straight commission job, but he is selling something that people actually want and has a famous brand name. He is good at sales and enjoys it as well so I think he will do really well with this. He already made 5 sales just on Wednesday and Thursday when we went out on his own. Today he made 2. This is a good start and I'm happy to see my husband doing something he enjoys and that challenges him! It's also going to relieve some of the financial stress in our lives.

I've enjoyed getting to spend A LOT more time with Brooklyn. I'll admit that during the school year while I worked, I felt more like a "part-time mom" since I was the person who got to spend the least amount of time with her. It was really depressing and some days I just didn't want to get out of bed. That also might have had to do with the fact that I struggled a bit with contentment at my job. Those two things coupled together are not conducive to having an upbeat spirit! The good news is, that even though I'm losing a wonderful colleague and close friend who has to move for her husband's job, I've renewed my spirits for work next year. I'm refusing to let my job bring me down. This attitude change has a lot to do with a series of sermons my dad has preached about being content with your work and how to have a more fulfilling life at your job. I realize I just went off on a rabbit trail. I was talking about the joys of being a SAHM for the summer with Brooklyn. Things haven't quite been what I expected them to be. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, but it has been very rewarding. The fact that my daughter is actually getting attached to me is a great thing! That's not to say that she wasn't before, but now I feel more of a bond with her since we've spent so much time together. I'm starting to understand her better and see her little personality coming out in full force!

The past two weeks has also brought me to see a few things about myself. I will never be an organized person! For some reason I thought that motherhood brings on a sixth sense of organization and that suddenly you are able to keep the house organized and everything in it's place. That couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, it's even harder to do! I start something and get interrupted so I drop that and go tend to the baby. Once she's entertained again, I start on something else that has caught my eye, only to have to drop that to go tend to the baby again. The cycle goes on and on until there are several things laying around the house that I never finished and now have created a mess! It's frustrating, but I'm learning.

In a few minutes my dad will be getting here to to watch Brooklyn as I go to my Financial Peace University class...alone. Waylon will no longer be going with me because his job requires him to work every Saturday. They want him to work 9-9 and I said absolutely not! He is going to speak with his boss today about that. As if the 60 hours during the week aren't enough!!!!

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I will have a post all about my garden experience and Brooklyn's upcoming 1 year birthday. I want to get to blogging more, I always feel better after writing about things.