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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Bernal Family

I met Bryan and Taysha and their two little girls at Brackenridge Park this morning for a family photo shoot. It's a good thing we scheduled it for this morning because now, five hours later, it's raining outside. For our photo shoot, though, we had nice overcast skies and a reasonable temperature of only about 90! I had fun taking pictures of Shelby and Lacey as they played ring around the rosie, danced, and enjoyed the plants and wildlife we saw in the park. We played on the train tracks too, although, to Lacey's disappointment, we didn't get to ride the train that goes through the zoo and around the park. Here are a few of the photos I captured during our morning in the park.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Growing, Growing, Growing

Here is a status update on our growing boy (Well, technically we have two growing boys, but this guy is growing more rapidly). Schroeder turned four months old on Monday. Over our vacation, he successfully flipped over both from back to belly and belly to back. He isn't making lots of repeat performances on the back to belly flip, though. The first time, Stephen and I were busy packing our things to leave North Carolina, but we heard everyone encouraging him upstairs.

He can grab things with his hands, namely my hair! We call him our little stroke victim since he is still trying to train his hands to do what he wants them to. He'll grab his pacifier and then try to put it back in usually without much luck. We are pushing the pacifier with him as I can take it away. FYI, cutting off thumbs is frowned upon (Although, we are making progress in this department with Julian).

Schroeder is also using his exersaucer and Johnny Jumper. Who wants to sit in a swing when you can use your legs! He isn't jumping yet, but I'm only giving that three weeks. Julian and D'arcy are sneaky and try to use these cool devices when I'm not looking.

We went to the doctor today for his four month checkup and found out he is 14.4 lbs and 25.5 inches. Next up, we will be trying out cereal in the next couple of weeks and then veggies in a month or so. Here is a cute picture of the boy.

Kids say the darndest things...

D'arcy asked me the other day if we could get one of those neat refrigerators. You know, the one with the freezer on the top and the frig on the bottom.

We passed Pei Wei the other day on the way home, and D'arcy said, "Hey look, Julian, we are almost home because there is the tofu place!" Did I mention that D'arcy loves tofu and edemame (soy beans). She won't eat the noodles of my pad thai, just the tofu.

That's all. On a day when my kids are testing their limits at every corner, I'm choosing to reflect on the moments that make my job great.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Timeouts

I'm a big fan of the Super Nanny on ABC. I watched an episode on a random day when I was bored. No, I didn't say when I had nothing to do, but a day when I was bored with all the mundane tasks that I needed to do. I'm hooked, now, because Super Nanny does two things for me. First, it makes me feel like I'm already doing some good things as a mom, and, secondly, it makes me want to be a better, more consistent, more present mom. Among other things, Super Nanny encourages moms to set schedules and expectations, follow through with discipline, play and love your kids, and teach them good habits based on example.

So, all of that said, the tip I'm about to give you comes directly from Super Nanny. I was already sending my kids to timeout prior to watching the show, but I was missing some of the steps. So here are the steps.

When a child is doing something wrong...
1. Give them one, clear warning. "Julian, this is your warning. If you do not pick up your toys, you will be punished."
2. If the disobedience continues, Stand up, take the child by the hand or pick them up and place them in the corner or naughty chair. Tell the child why they are being placed in the corner. "Julian, you are being punished for not picking up your toys."
3. Set the timer one minute for each year old they are. D'arcy stands in the corner for 4 minutes, Julian for two.
4. If the child removes themselves from the corner, DON'T TALK to them, simply physically place them back into the corner and restart the timer.
5. When the timer ends, have the child come to you, get down to their level, and ask them to apologize for the offense. If they aren't ready to apologize, they go back to the corner. Once an apology has been made, tell them you forgive them, and then tell them you love them. Then give them a hug and kiss.

This is where I go wrong. I tell my kids to go to the corner instead of getting up and taking them there. Then when they come out, I yell at them to get back into the corner. Yep, now I'm yelling. And, I don't reset the timer. Then they start to tell me why they shouldn't be in the corner, and I start to argue with them. So now, I'm yelling and trying to reason with a preschooler. Preschoolers are very seldom reasonable. That's why not talking to them in the midst of the punishment is crucial.

If you don't believe your child will stand in the corner, they will if you are consistent with this method on a couple of occasions. Watch Super Nanny if you don't believe me. And they will begin to respect you as their authority.

I'm not against spanking, and do use it as another discipline tool. However, spanking can be very emotionally draining, even more so than timeouts, so I don't use it as often as I use timeouts.

This method can also be used for bedtime. If a child will not stay in there bed, you can

1. Put them to bed using there regular routine.
2. If they get out, DON'T Talk to them, simply place them back in to bed.

Disciplining consistently and lovingly is hard work, but is well worth it. Keep at it moms!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vacation 2009.Third Leg.Gatlinburg, TN

We are already back home in Texas, but I wanted to share some more from our vacation. After going to Stephen's family reunion, we headed up to Gatlinburg with just his immediate family (Emmett, Dianne, Alex, Meagan, & Josh). Stephen's parents own several weeks of Condo time with Wyndham Resorts. Every year, as long as Stephen and I can get to the vacation destination, the actual stay is taken care of by his parents' wyndham points. Since I've been in the family, we've used these points to vacation in North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, England, Rhode Island, Texas, & South Carolina. This year we got two condos. The grandparents and grandkids stayed in one, and the rest of us in another. I always feel guilty for sleeping in till 10 every morning while the kids are next door with Grammy wide awake. The sleeping arrangements were her idea though so thanks Grammy & Poppy!
The weather was really gorgeous all week long. We spent our time hiking, eating, drinking, talking, swimming, and celebrating. Poppy turned 60 during our time there so we couldn't let him off the hook without a party! I also got a break from cooking as Dianne said nursing moms weren't allowed in the kitchen. Instead, Stephen and Josh made us some delicious fajitas, and Alex and Meagan made us some yummy pizzas. Then there were those all important southern traditions like fresh tomatoes, pimento cheese, and some fried pound cake for breakfast which was a little weird. Kudos to Meagan for all the wonderful baking she did (You'll get to see one of her creations below).
Another wonderful vacation. Looking forward to the Oregon coast next year!

Tips for Tuesdays: To Do List

After Julian was born I quit my job and began staying home with my, then, two kiddos. I spent some time trying to come up with a viable schedule that I could really stick to. I wanted to spend real time with my kids, you know, enter their world. So on the days that we weren't going out (I only go out of the house 2-3 days a week, partly due to only having one car) I decided that I was going to spend an hour in their room playing with them.
Well, although, I quit my job at American Funds, I began a small photography business that takes up some of my time. Stephen and I also began a two year seminary that involved lots of hours for study and leadership projects (We just finished!). These things paired with the usual cleaning and organizing projects around the house, I seemed to always find an excuse to skip that hour long playing time with my kids.
Every Monday morning, I make a week long to do list. I put everything on their from laundry to clean bathroom to pay bills to edit photos, etc. This to do list rules my week. I love crossing things off of it. It makes me feel like I've been successful each day.
So (here comes the tip) I try to put several items on my to do list every week for the kids. Like "Play Don't Break the Ice with kids" etc. My to do list tends to be my priority so why not put my real priorities on it? I found this motivates me much more than the schedule did.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Check out some photos of my nephew on my Photography Blog


Before we left Indiana, I took some pictures of my nephew Gabe who will turn 5 in just a few weeks. Gabe is only three weeks older than D'arcy which means that when we get together, they really enjoy each others company. They got to go camping in the backyard with Grandpa this past trip. Since D'arcy isn't a boy, though, there are times when Julian and Gabe are engrossed in boy play like cars and trains. Even though Gabe's dad has an awesome camera, I rarely see pictures of Gabe so....I took pictures of him myself. Here are a few. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


What I'm about to share makes me laugh, but might make many of you worried about what I'm exposing my children to. Around this time last year, my media twin friend, Laura, suggested that I read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer as a fun vacation read. I looked at the library and couldn't find it so Stephen picked it up for me at the airport on the way to Rhode Island. Then we made a stop at Barnes & Noble to pick up the sequel three days later. Then, when we arrived in Indiana for the second stop of our vacation, I bought the third book in the series. By the time we got home, I had finished all three 500-1000 page books. It was like crack, I was addicted and couldn't wait until the fourth and final book in the series came out in August 2008.
At the time that Laura suggested the book, I had no idea that Twilight was such a phenomenon. Since then, the movie came out. Stephen, being the nice husband he is, went to the movie with me. He then proceeded to purchase the movie soundtrack and a shirt that says "My husband sparkles" for me for Christmas. He even went to the trouble of wrapping the gift in black paper with a red bow. In March, I bought the DVD for me and my sister (who I dragged into the addiction with me).
I always tell Stephen that he buys me this stuff just so he can make fun of me. According to him, the vampire lore is totally off the mark. He thinks it's all a bit ridiculous.
So what do "Those Williams Kids" have to do with all this Twilight talk? Remember that CD Stephen bought me? Well, they ask to listen to it every day! Julian particularly likes the Linkin Park song "Leave out all the rest". This is extremely funny to me as Linkin Park has got to be the band that annoys Stephen the most.
Anytime they see a poster for the DVD at HEB or WalMart, they say, "Mommy, look, there's TWILIGHT!" D'arcy woke up one day while I was watching the movie, and now asks to watch it. Yes, it's PG 13, and, yes, I've let her watch it. She steps away at the end when James tries to kill Bella because she says it's too scary. She just leaves the room for a couple of minutes and comes back when the scary part is done. The violence is really the only part that is inappropriate for her age. The romance, I don't think, is much different than watching a Princess movie as it is pretty innocent. That's my defense, and I'm sticking with it.
Stephen bought me these candies that had Edward(the main character) on the box and of course the kids want candy so I made them say "I love Edward" before they could get a piece. This all to drive Stephen crazy. But he must like it because he keeps buying me this stuff.
The funniest moment came when, on one Sunday morning in Children's Ministry, the kids were learning about the books of the Old Testament. One kid mentioned Twilight because it is a book (not from the old testament, though :P), and Julian exclaimed, "I love Twilight!" We all do Julian...well...all of us but that silly daddy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Swaddling

This is my first "Tips for Tuesdays" which I'm doing in conjunction with my friend Carrie @ Okay, I'm posting this on Monday night, but tomorrow D'arcy has an allergist appointment and won't get around to it. So, here is my tip for the week.
I breastfeed my babies so even though they don't sleep through the night at an early age (my first two didn't until 6 months) they are still sleeping all night. Which means that they are only awake during their efficient middle of the night feeding which lasts approximately fifteen minutes. I very rarely have to spend time and energy getting my kids to sleep. A lot of moms spend countless hours rocking, bouncing, singing, or nursing their kids to sleep, and once the kid finally gives up, the parent has to somehow get the kid in their bed without waking them. All moms and dads will no what I'm talking about.
I can forgo all this difficulty. My kids are awake when placed in their beds, and typically fall asleep within ten minutes without screaming. So what's my secret? When I put my infant (0-6 mos) to bed, they are swaddled. The theory of swaddling is that the baby isn't able to move his extremities easily (most importantly his arms) so that he will go to sleep easier and won't wake himself up when his arms inevitably flinch.

Our Method.
We use the extremely unsophisticated method that we like to call "the burrito baby swaddling method". Forget those flimsy receiving blankets we all have to many of, this method requires a bigger, sturdier blanket. It doesn't matter how tight you wrap the baby in those light receiving blankets...once they are about three days old, they'll get themselves out. Here are two of the blankets I have used to swaddle Julian and Schroeder.

To create your own burrito baby, simply lay out a blanket and fold it so that it is no longer than the height of the babies body. Lay the baby about a third of the way into the blanket. This is the crucial step, take the third of the blanket to the left and wrap it tightly around the baby's body. I tuck the end of the blanket under the baby's left arm. It needs to be tight enough so the baby cannot easily get himself out of the swaddle. Then...ROLL. Obviously, you will need to be on a soft surface, either a bed or a soft carpet. However, my babies have never freaked out during the rolling process. Now you have a well swaddled baby who will feel snug as a bug in a rug, and when this happens your baby will fall asleep easier and stay asleep.

Twenty minutes ago, Schroeder was playing. I knew he would be sleepy and ready for his afternoon nap so I burrito-ed him, put him in his co-sleeper, give him his pacifier and within five minutes he was asleep, and he'll stay that way for two and a half hours.
Stephen and I have been using this technique since our first son, Julian, was about three weeks old. I had nursed him one night, and was trying to set him back in his co-sleeper without him waking up. I was beyond frustrated. Stephen woke up to help, and decided to swaddle him. At three in the morning, he abandoned all the complicated swaddling techniques and went for the simplest possible way. Julian immediately laid down in his bassinet fell asleep. It was very liberating!
Let me know if any of you have experienced the benefits of swaddling.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Williams Family Pictures

We are all responsible for something in the William's family. Alex is responsible for the wine. Meagan is responsible for the baking. I'm responsible for the photography. It's good to be in a picture or two, though. That's when Josh and my remote control come in handy. Here is my latest batch of family photos.

Vacation 2009.Second Leg.Franklin, NC

The second leg of our trip brought us to North Carolina. Stephen's grandma has been asking us to come to the extended family reunion for years. This year, Dianne, Stephen's mom, planned our normal family vacation to be directly following the reunion and only two hours away so that I couldn't get out of it :P. The reunion was for Stephen's grandfather, Duren's family. Schroeder's first name is in honor of him.
I get the daughter-in-law of the year award because not only did I go to the reunion, but I allowed Dianne to dress my children in patriotic shirts that matched hers and Emmett's. You'll be able to spot my three little ones and there matching grandparents in the bright red.
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