Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Letter, Part Deux

As I started writing this year's Christmas letter, I was torn with whether to update everyone with all of the current events in the life of our family, or to take it in a different direction. I wanted to do the latter, but I was concerned that some of the current events info (like upcoming surgery for Maggie) needed to be shared. Here is the happy medium. I have cut and pasted the "current events" draft of the letter as a blog posting here so that I can write about something else in the Christmas letter. Hopefully you will still get our Christmas cards by Christmas so that you can read part one! :o)

The family update version of the letter:

Dear Friends and Family,

Here is what is going on with all of us...

Maggie is in kindergarten this year! She has two absolutely wonderful teachers, Mrs. Mercy Williams, and Mrs. Amy Simpson. These two ladies are loving, hard-working, knowledgeable, experienced, and faithful Christians to boot! Maggie adores kindergarten and is quickly learning to read and write. Maggie’s speech has grown by leaps and bounds since our last letter. We are still in speech therapy both in school and privately, but she is showing improvement. The doctors want to take out her tonsils next to help improve her speech by changing the structure of the back of her mouth and throat. We will schedule that for a school break so she won’t have to miss too much school. As always Maggie keeps us smiling and laughing, and she has such a loving spirit with little hugs and kisses and cards always abounding.

Our little man Jackson is finally talking. He was a little slow to start, but he is talking up a storm now! We love to hear him say, “No, no, Daddy!” and wag his finger at Daddy for whatever annoying thing he is doing at the time. Jack is smiling almost all of the time and laughs a lot! He is interested in exploring everything, closely examining each ornament on the tree and even the dust bunnies under the couch. (What dust bunnies? My house is spotless! Ha ha.) One thing that I treasure about Jack is how cuddly he is. He loves to sit on our laps or to lie next to us or to have hugs and kisses. He loves being held. Oh, and if you see Jackson anytime soon, ask him to show you his new shoes (Disney’s Cars). He will be thrilled to show you how they light up when he stomps and maybe he will scrunch up his face in that way he does and get you laughing right along with him.

As I write this, I am excited that both children are scheduled to be baptized tomorrow morning. What a special day for our family! I had some qualms over infant baptism for a while, but heard a very interesting interview on the topic and now feel sure that it is the right thing to do. I am so excited to publicly welcome them into the family of God. Maggie loves the Lord so deeply and purely, and I pray that Jack will grow to do the same.

As for the grownups (if you have Christmas letter fatigue, you can put this down now), Mike is still working at Sage Software, and I am still teaching fourth grade at Alcova Elementary School in Dacula. I am facilitating a Disciple course this year (Disciple 3) and really enjoying it. I love the way that these in-depth studies help me to grow more and more toward my goal of being like Christ.

We are hoping to save enough for another Disney trip in 2010. Maybe next year when you read our letter we will be just about ready!

Until next year...or actually, until you get our card sometime this week (I hope)...!

Love,
The Colley Family

Monday, October 27, 2008

Both of my kids have ear infections...

We are so unlucky! Both kids are now on antibiotics for ear infections. Sheesh! Hopefully this is not a sign of the winter to come!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Maggie's surgery went well!

I just wanted to let everyone know that Maggie's ear tube surgery this a.m. went well. She was a little sick from the anesthesia but is almost back to 100% this afternoon. She is enjoying having a special day to do whatever she wants and get plenty of attention. :o) She even got to ride in the wheelchair leaving the surgery center. She was tickled by that.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October is here...

...and it is time for an update from the Colleys.

I just took Maggie for a pre-op appointment today with his ENT, Dr. Ann White. She is due for a new pair of T-tubes (ear tubes) on 10/23. What is this, her fifth pair of tubes?? We thought we were going to be doing some plastic surgery in her mouth as well, but just talked to the speech specialist today and decided to hold off. They are recommending tonsillectomy again though, to help her speech. We are going to try to schedule that for a school break to minimize the impact of the 7-10 day recovery on Maggie's school and on our (puny) sick leave. Stay tuned for that.

I am listening to Jack yell Mama from the shower, and that is a sweet sound! I thought I'd never get to hear it. I'm not sure whether he is really calling me Mama or just enjoying the sound of his own voice! He sure does like to hear himself talk. I worry a little about his speech as I expected him to be talking more by now. He does sign to us and loves to say Bye-Bye.

Work is hard this year. There have been a lot of changes at the state level and the district level that are making teaching a lot harder and more stressful. :o(

Not a lot else going on. Oh, our beautiful camera got stolen. I guess it is realistic to call a spade a spade at this late date. About a month or so ago, I left it in a room at church for a few minutes and then it was just gone. Mike is still pretty ticked at me. I guess I am mad at myself too. I mean, who leaves a $1000 camera rig just lying around like an idiot??? I was naive I guess, to think that it would be safe at CHURCH. Oh well. We have replaced it with a much, much smaller, much less expensive, much less fancy camera. I miss the old one. I keep thinking maybe it'll turn up, as unrealistic as that sounds.

I am facilitating a Disciple 3 class this year and have a great, lively group of Christian friends in the class. We are having a good time and getting deep into the Word of God, trying to keep from getting depressed as we work our way through the prophets while the nightly news seems to mirror what we're reading. Just 8 more weeks until we get into the New Testament and Paul.

I can't think of anything else, and I am supposed to be getting Maggie ready for bed. Or should I say, supervising her getting herself ready. Oh, I'm on FaceBook now if anyone wants to look me up. :o)

See y'all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fireproof

I am so excited about this movie from the creators of Facing the Giants. I hope all of you go to see it! :o) You can watch the trailer right here from the blog by clicking on the Watch Trailer link in the ad.













Wednesday, September 3, 2008

God Bless America!!!

I loved this video. It is not a political video...it is purely patriotic. A 15 year old girl, Victoria Blackstone, won a contest called Wave the Stars and Stripes. It involved an essay and a video. This is her winning entry. Yes, it was shown at the Republican National Convention, but I promise that it is not at all political.

I was very touched by this, and I hope everyone else will be too.



Friday, August 29, 2008

New pics are up on Flickr

Campmeeting, Jack throwing a fit, family photos at Papa & Nana's, first day of kindergarten...

July-August photos on Flickr

Mike still makes me laugh after 16 years...

...So our neighbor's dog has been leaving gifts on our lawn off and on. One day Mike comes in from the yard and says, "Our dog crapped on our lawn again."

I replied, "Yeah, I saw that too. Yuck."

Mike said, "When do we get to pet it and stuff?"

I am still laughing remembering that. :o)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This boy loves baby wipes

{A poem about Jackson Walker and his love}

Baby boy loves baby wipes.
Chew them, suck them.
Ball them and squeeze them until they squoosh between your fingers and run down your arm.
Flatten them out on a table and BANG! BANG! them.
Chew them some more.
Cry indignantly when they are taken away and try to hit Mama.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boy



I made this little "wordle" about what a boy is all about.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Check this out!



It is cool how sometimes you find things that you were not looking for. I found this photo while looking for something else. It is from December of 2005. It makes me smile every time I see it. Those are Papa's boots. I hope it made you smile, too! :o)

Friday, June 20, 2008

One sweet gift

For Mother's Day Mike bought me a rose. Well, not just a rose...a rose bush to keep forever! The variety is called Belinda's Dream. It is supposed to be extremely hardy and easy to care for. It is a "very double," very fragrant pink bloom. It finally bloomed for the first time last week! How thrilling!

Here are a few photos from the 3 day blooming process.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There's a lump in my throat.

Maggie received a bridal dress-up set for her birthday from Aunt Bronwyn. These photos actually brought tears to my eyes, because I know that one day she will dress up in a gown for real and walk the aisle.

Click the photo to go to Flickr and see the rest of the photos. Maggie also wanted to use a roll of cooking parchment paper she found to make "that red cloth you use when you're marrying." This translates to a red carpet runner. You can see her walking the aisle she made in the other photos. Enjoy. Try not to cry.

One more awesome baby item

I belated remembered one more great baby product. It's the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer. I know, future parents, you are secretly (or maybe not so secretly) hoping that you won't ever have to insert a thermometer into your baby's you-know-what. I thought I wouldn't do it. You will, though. It's completely and utterly inevitable. Since you have to do it, you may as well have the best tool for the job. This thermometer lights up for use in the dark, recalls the previous temperature reading, has a short, flexible tip for safety, has a unique shape that makes it easy to use, and gives a quick reading. Yeah, it's awesome. And how creepy is it that something like a rectal thermometer would make me use the word "awesome"?? Wow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Favorite Baby Products

I have some friends having new babies, and one is poised to have her very first bundle. I also recently discovered that I let my friend Alysia's babies get too old for Robeez baby shoes without ever telling her about them. This has given me an idea to share a list of some of my very favorite baby products. I am not being compensated in any way (of course) for endorsing these products; but of course if any of these great companies want to send me a big check, they should feel free. :o)

Because I am verbose and my friends are busy, I have bolded the key point(s) about each item to facilitate skimming. :o)

Leave me a comment with your favorite baby product(s)!

Robeez baby shoes


I love Robeez (pronounced like "Robbie's" after the creator's son) soft-soled shoes for babies. Modern-day studies say that babies should go barefoot for as long as possible to help their feet develop optimally. Robeez soft-soled shoes are the closest thing to going barefoot without actually going barefoot, so they are great developmentally. They also are the only shoe or bootie I have found that my kids couldn't take off, so their socks actually stayed on their feet. They are also stinkin' cute.


Table Topper disposable placemat with adhesive


These are great for eating out. When baby is too small and unreliable to have a plate or bowl (because the plate would just go flying), Table Toppers cover the table and provide a place to feed baby. They adhere directly to the table and are disposable. We keep a large pack of these in the car all the time.


Crumb Chum


The Crumb Chum is awesome. It's basically a bib, but it's so much better than a regular bib. The Crumb Chum is huge and covers baby from neck to ankles and around the sides. You can take your baby or toddler (or even preschooler with the bigger size) straight out to lunch after church and not worry about destroying the church clothes. It has a pocket, but unlike other bibs, the pocket actually "puckers" open while baby wears it so that it actually collects what falls. The fabric is the same fabric that umbrellas are made from. It never stains. You can rinse or wash it in the kitchen sink and it will be dry in minutes instead of hours. You can also machine wash and dry it. I think every parent should have at least 2, if not 3 or 4. Keep one in the diaper bag.


My Brest Friend


For breastfeeding moms, I highly, highly recommend My Brest Friend. It is way better than the Boppy for nursing. It was so essential that for a long time, I wouldn't nurse without it. When we left ours in Augusta, Mike had to go and buy me a new one the very next day. We even carried it out to the mall and shopping. It has a flat top for baby to lie on (rather than a round top), it is wider than the Boppy for a more stable surface, it goes all the way around your back, it has a backrest cushion, and it even attaches securely around you so that it can't slip. I recommend the one with the plastic clip rather than the velcro one (which can wake a sleeping baby when you remove it). It even has a little pocket in the front for storing whatever paraphernalia you may need. I still use ours for our bedtime feeding. This is a must-have item for nursing moms.


Ultimate Wipes Warmer


I like having a wipes warmer in the nursery for the changing table. Of course baby can't always have warm wipes--when we're downstairs or on the go--but it's nice when you're at the changing table. What makes this wipes warmer different is that it keeps the wipes moist and prevents browning or yellowing. Our old wipes warmer always caused the wipes to dry out, and it said explicitly that you couldn't add water. The ones at the bottom always dried out and turned brown. I felt like we were wasting a lot of wipes. Well this one changed all of that. It has these "pillows" (absorbent pads) that go in the bottom. You saturate the pillow with water. The wipes stay moist and neat and the pillow dries out and yellows. You just resaturate the pillow once a week. You can use the same pillow for 3 months, which I think is a great value. Hints: Let the pillow soak in a sink of water to get it really saturated, rather than just running it under the tap. If the pillow gets dried out and hard (or if you open a new one that is hard because the package had a hole), it is no big deal. You can still soak it and it will return to normal.


The Miracle Blanket


The Miracle Blanket is so awesome. This is hands-down the absolute best swaddling blanket in the whole wide world, bar none. Forget the one with the velcro. Forget receiving blankets. The Miracle Blanket continued working for swaddling Jackson until we, the parents, were ready to give up swaddling. We ultimately only stopped using it because we thought it was time for him to learn to roll over and we didn't want him to be restricted. With Maggie we had to stop swaddling her at just a few weeks because she was able to escape. With the other blankets we used Jackson got too big for them. This one is truly a miracle. It swaddles neatly and securely and even an older baby can't kick his way out. Try it. You will love it.


Buggy Bagg


The Buggy Bagg is a shopping cart seat cover. To be honest, I haven't tried any other brands of this type of product. I loved it so much that I didn't see the need. When Maggie was a baby, we borrowed one from the Cones. When Jack was born we bought our own, and I didn't even care too much about the price (something like $50-60). It was worth it to me. The Buggy Bagg is very padded so it's comfortable for baby. It's very secure, strapping to the shopping cart in two places and also strapping baby. It has a huge pocket in the back (which zips closed) for diapers, wipes, toys, etc. When you are going into the grocery store, you don't need to bring your diaper bag. It has loops sewn in for attaching toys (so they don't end up on the floor). It rolls up and stores neatly, AND you can install and remove it one-handed (you know, because you're carrying your baby in the other hand). And importantly, it COMPLETELY covers the whole shopping cart seat and surrounding area--handles, sides, and back. I love ours. It is even padded enough that in a pinch you can lay a small baby down in it so she can sleep. You can even use it in restaurant high chairs, though it is a tight squeeze just because it has such great padding. It's a big help in the high chair with babies that are just learning to sit up, because the padding provides extra support in the chair. You used to be able to buy it directly from the website, but now it looks like you have get it from a retailer. The website can help you find a retailer near you.


Halo Sleep Sack


The Halo Sleep Sack (the wearable blanket, not the swaddler version) is a great cold-weather blanket. It zips onto baby like clothing, but allows plenty of room for movement. It's very warm. You don't have to worry about it covering baby's face or coming off during the night. We used this with Jack after he was too big to be swaddled, but before he started pulling up. Once baby can stand, get blanket sleepers instead.



That's all I can think of for now! If I think of any more, I will blog about them later. Don't forget to leave me a comment with your favorite baby product(s) or favorite baby gift item.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Video of Jackson

I am experimenting with some video we took on the DVD camera that Gran got us for Christmas. Here is my first attempt at uploading video. If it works, this should be a video of Jackson taken a few days ago. He was quite tired at lunchtime and decided he was finished. He got rather angry and took it out on the Chef Boyardee. :o) I know it's probably a bit too long, but I haven't tried any editing yet.

video

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

We enjoyed our first visit to the Dacula Memorial Day parade. You can see the best photos from the day on Flickr.

Memorial Day Photos on Flickr

Monday, June 9, 2008

Helpful things I've learned as a mom

One of the best ways to learn about being a parent is to listen to other parents. Here are some of my favorite parenting techniques or ideas. I'm not a genius by any means and I don't think I know everything. Pretty much all of these I learned from someone else and just tried out and found that they worked for us. Of course, all kids are different. :o)

  • When giving directions or asking a child to do something, don't end by saying, "Okay?" Instead, end by saying, "Understand?" Example: Instead of saying, "Take this to your room, okay?" you would say, "Take this to your room. Understand?" This is good because it gets you the acknowledgement you are looking for without seeming like you are looking for the kid's approval or agreement.
  • Instead of saying, "That's not nice," say, "That's not okay." The reason is that the child might not particularly care about being nice right then. It leaves you open for comments like "Well she wasn't nice to me." By saying "That's not okay," you take feelings out of it and just set a standard for behavior instead.
  • Mealtimes: I read a great article once that said something like, "Remember your role at mealtime. Your role is to offer healthy foods in appropriate quantities. It's your child's role to decide what and how much to eat from what you have offered." This has saved me a ton of headache with Maggie, who doesn't care too much about eating. It's not my job to "make" her eat. I just offer the food and she decides what to eat. If she eats all of her bread and doesn't want to eat anything else, that's fine. It doesn't mean I will provide her more bread. She can decide if she's hungry enough to eat the other food or not.
  • Try to offer a lot of choices. This gives kids a sense that they have control over their own lives. It can be hard to be a kid where everything is dictated for you. Like adults, kids need to feel that they have some say-so in the way their lives run. The key is to offer choices on things that don't matter all that much to you. "Which cup would you like to have your milk in?" (I choose the drink while she chooses the cup.) "Would you like to brush your teeth or your hair first?" (I choose the activities, and she chooses the order.) "Would you like to clean up now, or would you like to play for five more minutes and then clean up?" Etc.
  • Similarly, warn kids what's coming next. If you're planning to leave the park at a certain time, give kids a heads-up that they have 10 minutes, then 5 minutes left to play. Imagine you're at the park and you're thinking, "Well first I'm going to slide a few times, then I'm going to chase these kids around over here, then I'm going to climb up on the equipment, and I'm going to save the swings for last since that is my favorite." Now imagine that you only got as far as chasing around the kids when someone says you have to leave. You might be able to see why a kid would throw a tantrum. Giving them a countdown lets them know to go ahead and head for the swings before it's too late. This has saved us many a tantrum.
  • A great phrase I read in Parenting magazine and taught to Maggie is, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." This saves us from tantrums over things like which cup she got at dinnertime, who got the biggest piece of cake, etc. Sometimes I even combine this with the warning of what's coming next. I will say, "If there's a juice box left in the fridge you can have it, but if there's not you just need to say to yourself, 'I get what I get and I don't throw a fit.'" I try to help her anticipate times when she might be upset and prepare herself mentally. I also taught her the phrase "Take it in stride." Same idea.

Well those are the ones I could think of for now. I hope they are helpful to someone else as they have been to us! :o)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Floating Germs! ...and other silly things

Last night at 4:00 a.m. we were awakened by Maggie at bedside complaining that there was a "floating germ that changes colors" in her room. She was very scared. I assured her that you can't see germs, so she said it was a "white thing" instead. I walked her back in and put her back to bed. Mike's coworkers found this hilarious. They joked that while other children are afraid of monsters under the bed or in the closet, ours are sick so often that they are afraid of germs instead.


Today we went to the pediatrician for an ear check for both kids. Jack's have cleared up nicely (did I mention that he had a double ear infection despite having functioning ear tubes??). Maggie has lost her second T-tube and her ear drums are healing nicely. As we walked out I said to Maggie, "Well both of you kids are well. How long are you going to be well for this time?" Maggie did a loud, fake burp as an answer and said, "That many minutes." Should I be more concerned that my child measures her wellness time in minutes rather than days or weeks...or should I be more concerned that she so enjoys fake burping? (And in fact, uses them as a means of counting!)


And finally, on the way home from errands this afternoon I was talking with Mike on the phone when I suddenly became aware that Maggie had been singing quite loudly for several minutes a made-up song that consisted of just the words "I love you" over and over again. I said, "Aww, Maggie, we love you too!" To which she replied, "No, Mommy, I'm singing my ice cream man song." She sure loves that ice cream man.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Cafe Press Stores

Hello friends! I came up with what I think is a cute design for a baby onesie, so I opened a Cafe Press store in case anyone else agrees! :o) Take a look if you're interested. There are two links because I had to make two shops--one for the pink design and one for the blue design. The design is below, and you can click to see it larger. The smaller print says, "My parents worked it out mathematically." There's pink/chocolate, blue/chocolate, or the black shirt has pink/white or blue/white.



"Pinkie Pi" Shop (pink design):
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"Southern Chick" Shop (blue design):
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Maggie's birthday party

Here are some pics from Maggie's birthday weekend. Remember you can click any photo to see the full-size version.

Maggie, Deja, and Jaylynn had a sleepover at our house the night before the party:





I took Maggie's picture with each of her friends at the party (well, except for the grownup and baby friends).





Maggie's Tinkerbell cake:





Jack was fussy, and got lots of attention:





Opening presents:







Playing at the playground at the end of the party:



Joey and Maggie are two peas in a pod. They enjoyed playing in the sand, and especially making "sand angels." They both ended up with sand caked everywhere. If you click on the one where you see the back of Joey's head, you'll get a lovely view of the sand caked thickly through the back of his hair.


The Cantrell twins are sooo photogenic. Aren't they precious???


The next morning (Maggie's actual birthday), we surprised her with one more gift...the big one... I think this is totally the awesomest bike in the world for a 5 year old girl. It has streamers, and flowers in the spokes, and a water bottle, and a little bag, and everything. It totally rocks.


Both kids got to go outside and enjoy some nice spring weather:


This is the last photo I took of Maggie before I turned to take some other shots and then turned back around to find Maggie wailing on the ground and a neighbor woman helping her up. Way to go Mom. As my friend Terri likes to say, "There goes my Mom of the Year Award." :o)