Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Annie Turns 3

I have a three year old. I mean, a long with a 5 and 18 month old....but still....I have a 3 year old. 

Do you ever assign your child a permanent age in your mind? Like whenever you picture them they are always a certain age? I do. Maybe it's just the year younger than they are....but for some reason whenever I picture/talk about/think about or envision Annie, she's 2. It just rolls off my tongue, "let her do that, it's fine, she's 2", or "well she's only 2 so......", and "this is Annie, my crazy 2 year old". Even when she wasn't 2 yet I pictured her as a 2 year old.

Two is a big transitional age for most kids. Potty training, moving to a big bed, sometimes a new sibling comes a long, they no longer are learning to walk and talk but are singing and dancing and running. 

Two has been a great age for Annie. She took all the transitions in stride and for the most part has been a very easy 2 year old (aside from climbing the walls and her life being risked due to her acrobats and physical activity on an almost daily basis). She doesn't give me much trouble, she doesn't argue, and she is fairly obedient. She is wild, but in a sweet way. 

She has stepped up to the big sister plate and has learned to help me around the house and entertain her younger sister while Lucy is in school. She is slowly taking on responsibilities and I'm learning that I need to give her responsibility instead of doing things for her or letting Lucy do it for her.

She also gets away with a lot. She's sneaky in that middle child sort of way, and whenever she is doing something borderline wrong, she meets you with a big grin and looks all innocent as if to say, "What? Is this wrong? This? What I'm doing right now? What if I keep doing it? Is it still wrong?" GRIN.

She isn't rebellious. If she doesn't do something I ask her to, it's because she's indifferent. She doesn't care if she does it or not. No skin off her back. Unlike my first born, "oh you want me to do that? I'm gonna stand here and not do it just because you asked me to". So parenting her has been different for me. Because I relate to Lucy. I'm a firstborn, type A, rebellious, and a little (ahem) controlling. Parenting Annie has taught me to be more sensitive, more laid back, and quicker on my feet.

Annie is energetic, happy all the time (except when she first wakes up), doesn't want responsibility or control, loves attention, and loves people. She loves princesses and baby dolls. She sings even though she can't carry a tune. She wants to wear a dress and flip flops every day.

She is a great big sister. She's also a great younger sister. She is starting to stand up for herself more and it cracks me up to see the look on Lucy's face when Annie decides to stop taking her crap. That being said, she absolutely adores Lucy and wants to do whatever she is doing. She tolerates Stella. Lovingly tolerates her.

For Annie's 3rd birthday we had a special breakfast, just hung out as a family, went to Partner's for dinner (of course), and then the girls had some late night ice cream as a special treat after Stella went to bed.

The day after her birthday we had family over for some cake and ice cream and playing. Annie requested a cookie cake again this year.

My two cousins came with their girls and they just loved playing together. Stella was cracking me up playing on the floor with baby Kennedi.

Big girls sitting together. Annie's tongue is already pink. It was a great day and a great party. We so enjoy keeping birthdays low key and in the family. It's fun to do a big party every once in a while but Annie really enjoyed playing with her cousins and getting attention from all of her grandparents.

I'm excited to see what the age 3 brings for Annie. She will become a big sister again, she will continue to grow and gain independence, she will learn, she will wear us out, she will test her limits physically, and I hope she will stay blonde.

Sweet Annie Faith, you are such a joy to our family. You bring a smile to everyone's face and you light up the room with your sparkle. You keep mama on her toes and daddy wrapped around your finger. You are a precious miracle and gift and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank our Heavenly Father for blessing me enough to be your mama. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Big Sister

We have some news in the Campbell house. News that most of you will probably not be shocked to hear. Stella is going to be a big sister!

Let me preface with a few statements for you to linger over, because if you're like any of the people I've talked to over the past few weeks, you're probably wondering these things anyway. 

No we are not crazy. I mean we are, but that's not why we are having another baby. 

No we were not trying for a boy. We knew we wanted a 4th child no matter what the gender is. 

Yes we are excited. Excited, overwhelmed, blessed, and freaking out just a little. 

The kids are thrilled. Like really really thrilled. Lucy tells me everyday how excited she is to have a new baby, and Annie asks me almost everyday if the new baby is coming yet. I told Mark that telling Annie may have been a little premature since she has zero concept of time, or really zero concept of anything.

No it wasn't planned. But it wasn't much of a shock either. But I promise you that if we were planning on getting pregnant at a certain time I would NOT have picked August as a due date. I've been pregnant through the summer before and I didn't want to do it again. January or February would have been nice. But August it is. God is funny like that, and we are excited and thankful. And also if you need me from the months of May-August I will be located in the nearest swimming pool. Kiddie or otherwise. 

I feel like crap. No really. When you say you're a little nauseous but otherwise feel great when you're pregnant, I physically want to hurt you. I throw up so much when I'm pregnant that I'm not even sure what not being nauseous or starving feels like. I'm 16 weeks and I'm finally back up to my pre-pregnancy weight....but enough whining. Sickness is normal for me during pregnancies and this one has been no exception. Gatorade will be accepted as a peace offering from you non-sick pregnant people. 

Seriously though, we are beyond humbled and grateful to be able to experience another pregnancy and child. I know as well as anyone that pregnancy is a gift. Life is a gift. It is fragile, beautiful, and not our own. 

"Children are a gift from The Lord; they are a reward from him." Psalm 127:3

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Deleted My Facebook Account

Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to bash Facebook. I am just stating the reasons why I chose to end my love/hate relationship with all things Facebook. Don't be offended if you have a Facebook account and think that I am speaking directly to you. I am the only person I know who isn't on Facebook so clearly you are in the norm here. I am not speaking to you. I'm speaking to myself. If you love Facebook dearly and could not imagine your life without it, then maybe you shouldn't read this. Or maybe you should. 

About a year and a half ago, I decided to delete my Facebook account. I had been toying with the insane idea for a while, and with a new baby and plenty of things on my plate to keep me busy without wasting endless hours browsing through other people's lives, I thought, well now is as good a time as any. So I did it. Straight up. And something magical happened......I did not die and life continued on as if Facebook never existed. That's right. You can lead a perfectly normal, social life WITHOUT Facebook. But I'm not here to convince you why you should do it too. I'm here to tell you why I did.

Reason #1: The Comparison Trap. There is some sort of false sense of fabulousness that exists on Facebook. Everyone is the best husband ever. Everyone is a 5 star chef. Everyone has the best/cutest/smartest kids.  And closer to home for me.....everyone is Super Mom.

Except, not. 

I love my husband, but there are some days that I just wanna tell him to grab a pillow and sleep in the car. I love to cook. But some nights it's like when are you kids gonna be old enough to pick up the phone and order your own dang pizza. I love my kids. But some days I think if they were any cuter or smarter I would be tempted to sell them for the pizza money. 

Oh and p.s. I'm not Super Mom. 

We don't see the nitty gritty on Facebook. No one talks about how difficult and time consuming it is to be a parent, or a spouse, or a HUMAN BEING. No one talks about the sleepless nights and the financial discussions and the stress over whether we should be feeding our kids this or that. Everyone wants everyone else to believe that they have it all together (except for The Martyrs.....see reason #6).

I don't need to see that another mom took her kids to the zoo, to the museum, to get frozen yogurt, to art camp, and made a gourmet meal wearing jewelry and make up and high heels. ALL IN THE SAME DAY. I have enough reasons to feel bad about myself. I don't need to be comparing myself to other moms.  And maybe some people don't have this problem with Facebook. But I struggle with it. I see what other moms are doing and instead of being happy for them I feel guilty that I'm not doing those things. And you know what? I don't think that's right. I know I'm doing the best I can and my family and my Savior love me the way that I am. I don't need Facebook telling me otherwise.

Reason #2: The Vanity. Oh the vanity. People think very highly of themselves. And then the people think even more highly of themselves when other people who think highly of themselves like or comment on pictures of the people who think highly of themselves. And then those people, in order to keep the people who think highly of themselves liking and commenting on their pictures, like and comment on the pictures of the other people who think highly of themselves as some sort of electronic gesture of affirmation. It's a massive circle of death situation.

Don't even get me started on Selfies.

Reason #3: The False Sense of Friendship. Sense when do people REALLY have 973 friends? Because I can count my true friends on my two hands. And I only have 10 fingers. Yes, you may have gotten 120 likes on that cute picture you posted, but when you were throwing up and your kid had a fever and your baby was born and you moved into a new house, how many people brought you a meal? How many people asked if they could babysit so you could take a nap? How many people came over for a cup of coffee because they wanted to chat?

We see the "likes" and the friends and the comments, and we think, man I'm popular. I have a lot of friends. There is a false sense of friendship....that somehow if you like a picture or send someone a message that you are a good friend. But you're not. Friendships are about relationships....and we can't measure our friendship meter on how many likes we got or how many comments we posted today.

I tend to be a bit of a recluse anyway, and as I said, I have very few true friends. Not because I don't like people or because I can't make friends, but because having REAL, authentic friendships takes time and effort. If I had 864 people who knew they could call me to watch their kids at the last minute while they went to the doctor, I would be screwed. But there are only a handful of people who do that, and I know I can do the same to them. That's a friendship.

I know there are people who live far away and the only way you can see what they are up to is through their Facebook profile. And I'm not talking about those situations. In fact, it's one of the few things I miss about Facebook. There are definitely a few people that I would love to see what's going on with them, but I don't anymore. And you know what? Maybe it will cause me to pick up the phone and call them long-distance and have an actual conversation.

Reason #4: Those People Who Post 136 Pictures of Their 2 Year Old's Birthday Party. I feel like this one is it's own explanation.

Reason #5: The Time. For some reason when you get on Facebook, Time becomes this infinite black hole sucking you in until it's 6 pm and the husband is home and the kids are crying and there is no food on the table, or in the house. And did I shower today?? Why am I not super mom like this person on my newsfeed and I should be doing something more with my life and All The Bad Feelings!!!

Instead of sitting down and browsing through a newsfeed, I could be doing something constructive. This may just be the pure lazy bone in me but if there is any excuse to sit down on the couch instead of work, I'll find it. Facebook was becoming one of those excuses for me. If I really need to sit and rest, I'll do something more constructive while I'm sitting, like read a book, or shocker...actually rest and take a nap.

When I see/hear about everything people are posting and doing on Facebook, my first instinct is, how do they have time for that? They must be neglecting their children. Or their children are less demanding than mine are. Probably the latter.

Reason #6: The Martyrs. You know who I'm talking about. Those people who only post negative things. "I'm at the doctor again for the 3rd time this week", "My 6th boyfriend this year broke up with me and I'll never find love", "My neighbor has a better yard than me", "I'm having the worst day ever, please pray for me".

And you know the only reason they post those things are so someone will say, "WHY????? What's wrooooooooong??? No your'e so fabulous!" And solely for that reason alone I refuse to comment on posts like that. But I'll be darned if someone doesn't come along right behind me and feed their need for attention and praise and give them exactly what they wanted.

Those people right there are enough to get you off Facebook. Those people were the straw that broke my Facebook camel's back.

Reason #7: Because I Want To Be Self-Aware. Just like the false sense of friendship, there is also a false sense of identity, contentment, and accomplishment based on your Facebook status. Ok it sounds strange when I say it out loud, but if you think about it, you'll start to realize there is truth in it.

By updating your status, it's like you create this little mental check mark in your head of things you accomplished today. Cute pic of the kid, check. Funny anecdote for my non-parent friends, check. Brag on my husband on Facebook instead of to his face, check. We act is if being happy on Facebook is the same thing as being happy in real life.

Am I the only one who was guilty of this?

I love this quote from this article. "Stop asking the virtual world to solve dissatisfaction with the physical one."

I don't want to live a false life. I want to be fully aware of my strengths and my weaknesses because I'm actually living them and not VIEWING them in word form on a profile page. That day I posted a super cute picture of my kid in her outfit and her matching bow? I yelled and stressed because we were late getting ready and leaving to go somewhere. That day I didn't post a picture because we were all in our pjs and never brushed our teeth? I baked cookies with my girls and cuddled and read books to them and soaked up every moment.

See what I mean?

Life in pictures and posts is not life. It's a very small glimpse from the outside of what a life MIGHT be. We have no way of actually knowing if the things and pictures we see on Facebook are true representations of what actually happened in that moment. 

Unless that person is our real friend and they told us over coffee the next day.

Reason #8: I Like Some Privacy. Not everything should be blasted all over the internet. It's not safe. It's not necessary. It feeds into the Comparison Trap and the Vanity. Where you ate last night, what new activity you signed your kid up for, or all your errands for the day... these things should be kept private and known by the people who experienced those things with you.

Sometimes I can be private to a fault. I don't like to put my life on display. We pretty much keep to ourselves. I'm real, and I'm honest, and I'm not trying to hide anything, but I also don't feel like everyone needs to know everything I'm doing.

We have lost the art of privacy with this social media world. Also, are people stupid? I don't think your boss would appreciate that you went partying last night at a bar in Atlanta with this person and that person, took a drunk photo of yourself, and then called in "sick" the next morning. And I don't think your Grandma would appreciate the picture of that girl you're "in a relationship with" wearing a bikini while she washes your car. Just put your life on display when you post things like that. And if you are a Christ follower, you need to be even more aware of how people perceive your postings. I'm not saying you can sin as long as no one is watching....I'm saying what you may think is normal and ok, someone else may not, and you could cause someone to fall and stumble. Which is not ok.

Also, have you ever read Facebook's privacy policy? It's not stellar. They are allowed to use your information however they want. While this was one of the lesser reasons, it still bothered me and I realized I didn't want endless pictures of my kids floating around the interwebs being seen by who knows who. And did you know that if you have location services on, people can use satellite to pin point your exact location? So you take a picture of your cute baby in their crib, someone can use satellite to zoom into your street, your house, and then your child's bedroom. I'm not much for the paranoia, but that even creeped me out. So, at the very least, turn off location services.

Reason #9: I Have Been Hurt in the Past. This was not much of a contributing factor when it came to my deletion, but I feel like it needs to be said. There was a time when I was in a very dark place and struggling with very real things. When I went through my miscarriages, it seemed like everyone in the universe was posting ultrasound pictures and pregnancy announcements except for me. While it wasn't those people's fault that they were pregnant and I had just lost my baby, it was still hurtful. It fed the bitterness and anger. And I don't ever want to be a source of someone's bitterness and anger. 

Reason #10: You Can Still Play Candy Crush Without a Facebook Account. And Draw Something, And Words With Friends. It's true. I wouldn't lie to you about something like this. (although these games probably aren't even cool anymore but I don't know because I'm not on Facebook)

Not everyone who carries a Facebook account is guilty of these things. I know plenty of people who are on Facebook and handle their postings gracefully and tactfully. And there are others who just have the account so they can stalk. Whatever. To each his own. My husband has a Facebook account.....and we're still married. He agrees with everything I've written here and knows that I am not accusing him of any of the above. I'm merely stating what bothered me and pushed me over the edge.

I am not without fault here. I'm the most guilty party there is.

A few caveats:
 - I'm on Instagram. It's kind of like an alcoholic drinking non-alcoholic beer. It gives you a little taste but is much safer and much more low key. I'm very selective on who I allow to follow me on Instagram so there isn't this bombardment of likes or comments and there also isn't a need to please or impress anyone. Most of the people who follow me I talk to or see in person on a weekly basis.

- I felt this way for a long time before I finally deleted my account. First I just took the app off my phone so that I would literally have to log into my account on my computer in order to view it. Once I did that, I realized how little I got on Facebook and that I just didn't need it in my life anymore. 

- There are some negative aspects... I have lost touch with some people because of my decision. That was a choice I made and one I am ok with. I know that I could pick those relationships right back up if the opportunity arose. Also, I have noticed since I have been off that there are certain companies and websites you cannot access without a Facebook account. Nothing life altering, but sometimes annoying.

- I may not be off Facebook forever. Right now, I'm undecided. Actually, I've decided I'm staying off for an undecided amount of time. At this time in my life, I don't need it and I don't want it. 

- Just because I'm not on Facebook does not mean I am not guilty of the "let me check my phone for the 100th time today in case I am missing something vital" syndrome, because I TOTALLY am. But by taking Facebook off, it gives me one less opportunity to check my phone.

- I haven't been on Facebook in over a year so maybe it has changed and everything I just said is inaccurate. I apologize if this is so.

Now what do you do with this information?

1. Nothing. Read it, ponder it, and go on about your day. That's fine with me. I like to talk and I like to write. Thank you for taking the time to read my wordiness!

2. Something. Maybe some of this hit home to you and you want to do something about it. I have a friend who takes a social media fast for a week every year. I think this is brilliant. Maybe you should take a fast from Facebook. Or Twitter, or Pinterest, or whatever is causing you to be distracted from real life. A week, a month....

Maybe you won't take a fast, and maybe you won't delete your account. I hope though, that you will be more aware of what you post and say on Facebook. That you will strive to be fully present in your actual life, not your life on social media. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Last year I had an early Valentine's photo shoot with the girls, sent out Valentine's cards, blogged about doing crafts and treats, and made little Valentine's goodies for our friends.

This year I made cookies out of a box, grabbed the nearest pink clothes I could find and told the girls to smile pretty...about 5 minutes before naptime.

Maybe next year I will step up my game.

So thankful for my Original Valentine, my fabulous husband, and for my Little Valentines, my precious daughters.

Enjoy spending the day with those you love!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Days

I can't believe it. We actually got snow in Georgia. Of course some of the stories from people who were stranded are horrible, but we were fortunate enough to enjoy the snow from our own yard and come inside our warm home when we needed to warm up. I'm so thankful we were home that day, and that Mark made it home safely from work. I think he left just in time because about an hour after he left is when the madness started.

The girls and I were sitting at the kitchen table when the first snow flurries began to fall. Thinking this was the most we would get, we ran outside, obviously a little prematurely, and enjoyed the "snow".

Little did we know, a little over an hour later our yard would look like this! This is about the time Mark got home and he wasted no time getting changed and taking the girls out to enjoy the snow.

Heidi was in Heaven. She was actually bred/born in Iowa, so she feels right at home in the snow and loves running around in it.

The girls had a blast too. Lucy has been saying all winter that she wants to play in the snow and she finally got her chance.

Throwing snowballs at each other. This shot is right before Lucy's snowball landed inside Annie's jacket and went down her shirt. She loved that obviously.

Mark is trying to hit our neighbors with a snowball.

We didn't have a sled, but our back yard is perfect for sledding. We literally tried every possible thing we could think of to sled on. Plastic pool floats, inflatable pool floats, an actual pool, rubbermaid containers/tops, and even a baby tub.

The winner turned out to be this little pool float. It has a string on it so you can hold on, and it proved to be the fastest sled. They went down our hill over and over on it.

All of our pools and floats are now popped or broken, so I'll have to buy new ones for this summer when we will use the floats for their actual intended purpose. It was worth it though.

Meanwhile, Annie has a problem. Can't. Stop. Eating. Snow.

Literally off of every surface she could find, she was eating the snow. I mean, it all tastes the same, so I'm not sure what the appeal was. But most of her time was spent eating/licking snow, with the occasional ride on a sled.

Stella and I mostly stayed in the warm house, as I am not a winter/cold/snow person. I prefer temperatures above 50 degrees please. Plus Stella didn't really have any gear warm enough for a romp in the snow. But we did have to get her out and let her experience it some, so here's proof that Stella saw her first snow. She was thrilled.

Using sand buckets and shovels for the snow. Are you sensing a theme here? Summer/Pool equipment for the snow. We are warm weather people.

Annie made a snow angel and then couldn't get up.

We went on a walk to check out the neighborhood and see how the roads were. It was pretty slick and icy. Heidi loved exploring, and Annie loved finding new surfaces off of which to eat snow.

Then Stella and mama came inside because we were getting too cold. Stella wanted to play in the back yard with her sisters. (though she whined almost the entire time she was outside)

Watching them sled

The aftermath = fun clean up for mom

While they played outside, I stayed by the warm stove and made hot chocolate for the troops.

I think coming inside and warming up and drinking hot chocolate was their favorite part.

It was a fun few snow days, but I think I've had my fill for another few years. The girls asked me the other day when they can start wearing their flip flops. We are ready for spring!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

15 months

Our precious Stella is 15 months! She has turned into quite a little character these past few months. Her personality is really starting to come out.....and we think she's kinda....well.....she's MEAN.

What? That sweet face? Don't let her fool you. The girl knows how to get her way.

Yes, she is a very sweet baby. She gives kisses and she loves to cuddle. But if she wants something, she has a little bit of an edge. And she gets it. Usually by force.

Ok she's not really mean. But it is funny to see how early and how young she has picked up on the dynamic of our family. She knows she's the baby. She knows how to work her big sisters. And she definitely knows how to work her mama and daddy.

Honestly, we all love her so much and most of the time she is still very laid back and easy going. It will be interesting as she gets older to see her spunk continue to come out.

I've just decided to accept the fact that none of my children will have mild personalities. They all have a little bit of drive, independence, and toughness. Each in their own way. Let's just say that the teenage years in our house will be anything but dull.

riding her hippo she got for Christmas from Big Daddy and Grandma 

I've really noticed Stella's little toddler-isms start to come out this month. She seems less like a baby and more like a little mischievous munchkin. She will follow commands (for the most part), she has become very playful and active, and she's even walking! 

She loves to give big, wet, slobbery kisses. She still LOVES to eat and starts dancing when she sees food coming. She loves music and loves to dance. She loves emptying the kitchen cabinets. She loves taking anything out of a container and then putting it back in (what child/toddler/baby doesn't??)

She still has brown fuzz for hair and her eyes are dark brown, a lot like Lucy's. 

She isn't very fond of milk anymore. Which is fine with me. I still give it to her in the morning when she first gets up but she only drinks it about half the time.

I think she is on target for weight/height....but she certainly feels a little on the chunky side to me. She's much thicker and feels heavier than Annie. But she's wearing 12 month clothes and is pretty short.

I told her to kiss the hippo

She walks across the room independently, but still crawls most of the time. Especially when she wants to get somewhere fast. She is walking more and more though and starting to stand up and choose to walk even if she starts in a sitting position.

I was looking at pictures and videos of Annie around 15 months the other day, and Annie was SO much more advanced as far as gross motor skills. She was running around and climbing already. I forget how things change so quickly around this age and I imagine Stella will be taking off very soon.

walking across her room 

I can't even remember what it was like before Stella joined our family. She just adds so much personality and dynamic that it's difficult to remember what we did without her.

I just love this age and watching how much they grow. She has changed so much just in the past few months and I know will continue to change in the next few. Soon babyhood will be behind her and she'll be blasting straight into toddlerhood.

Sweet girl! You are so loved Stella!