This is the porch that Justin built

This is the porch that Justin built.

This is the dog who has learned to go out the doggie door
on the porch that Justin built.

This is the sand and water table
that sits next to the doggie door
on the porch that Justin built.

This is the little girl
who loves to play in the sand and water table
that sits next to the doggie door
on the porch that Justin (daddy) built.

For real, the man can build anything. Shout out to Charlie and Jeff for the huge help. I'll get more current pictures up one day that include the twinkle lights but the screened in porch has basically been done since Memorial Day and I didn't want to wait any longer to get it blogged. On the days where we have breaks from this 90+ degree weather, we sure are enjoying it. No more mosquitoes!
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Tooth #1

Update from Finley's World post a few days ago...pictures are loading correctly now and tooth #1 finally made an appearance a few days ago. So all of this gnawing her hand was at least for something!

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What we do...

Disclaimer: many days all I can get accomplished with these two little ones is fixing meals and snacks, nursing, changing diapers, taking one to the potty, and maybe washing an occasional load of laundry. But most days, we try to do some of the things listed below. I've been wanting to post this for a while to document things I do with Grayson so Finley will actually get to do some of these things when she gets older. If I fail to write it down, it slides out of my mom-brain way too easily these days.

When Finley goes down for her morning nap I sit with Gray on the couch for Bible time. At the beginning of the week we do a letter of the week out of our ABC Bible Verses book (pictured below). Shout out to Amy for the recommendation. Let me just say that I am completely amazed that this little 2.75 year old can remember all of these verses by only prompting her with the first word. She also loves the stories of "Missy and Bill". Other days of the week we read a story from the Storybook Bible (also a huge favorite) and then I guide her through drawing what we learned about in her "journal". Joseph and his multicolor coat are pictured below.

I didn't snag a shot of this, but once we've read about the new letter for the week, another day we head to the two chalkboards in the hallway. I write up the letter and the verse on one while she practices writing the letter on the other. We've mainly stuck to uppercase letters for now. Then we brainstorm all of the words (and animals, of course) we can think of that start with the letter, and write those words up along with pictures. This is where my skills as an artist prove comical. Grayson likes it though and it gives Justin a good chuckle when he gets home from work. Recently I borrowed a dictionary and encyclopedias from MayMay and Peeps. I am now better armed to answer the constant question "what else starts with 'insert letter of the week'?"

When Finley came along and I was nursing around the clock, we started the 'day of the week' bins. These were inspired by a MoneySavingMom post a while ago, and inspired to be named/themed by my sister-in-law's days of the week schedule. The bins are filled with toys we had around the house (so they are "new" only used once a week), stickers, crayons, magnets, colored pencils, and other dollar store finds. Each day a new bin comes out of the closet when I need a few minutes to nurse, or sort and fold that occasional (constant) load of laundry.

Here is Grayson with her Monkey Monday bin in action. Once a week I also head over to the notimeforflashcards site (see "letter of the week" header) and do a letter of the week craft that gets hung on her art wall. And some weeks we get to do other crafts, often something from our Family Fun magazine. Pictured below are the "flower fairies (and dog)" that Grayson named "Masser, Passer, and Aper". Go figure.
This little girl is definitely starting to recognize letters, sound them out, and frequently asks about words that start with certain letters. Many days we have a hard time getting out the door with Finley's two-nap-a-day schedule, but we always try to at least get to the library on Wacky Wordy Wednesdays. Each week we check out eight books (same number each week so I can remember how many we have!). The other day Grayson looks up at me and says "Mama, I love the library". Yes sweet girl, you sure do!
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Happy six months sweet girl!!

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Finley's World

I jotted notes down for this post about 2 months ago and as I look over them, she's already stopped doing half of the things I wrote down and has replaced them with new things!

Around 4 months, after we took her out of her swaddle and she found her thumb, she learned to roll from her back to her stomach. All fun and games during playtime but when sleeping, she would just cry if she found herself on her tummy. After about 2 weeks of going in to flip her back over, she finally got comfortable on her tummy to sleep and sleeps that way most of the time now. When she sucks her thumb, sleeping or awake, she likes to rub the back of her soft head with her left hand. I can't imagine that the bald spot will grow back any time soon. I see another woobie lover in our near future.

She is a happy baby. The only time she really cries is when she wakes up too early from a nap. She smiles a ton, but laughs only occasionally. Her first real, hearty laugh was April 13th. Random that I wrote it down, I know. I think it was prompted that day by not wanting her to feel like the second child who didn't get her baby book finished (Just for the record, Grayson's is not finished either). The one thing that guarantees a laugh every time though: Grayson jumping up and down. For some reason, Finley thinks its hilarious. She giggles every time. She has also started to mimic Grayson. Grayson will squeal, then Finley squeals. Grayson laughs and does it again. More squealing copy-cats. It can go on and on. I'm seeing foreshadows of middle school sleepovers.

She is really content on her tummy during playtime and usually just "swims" (arms and legs up and moving, balancing on her belly, just watching it makes my neck hurt). In the past few weeks she's started pushing up and straightening out those arms. She can roll from her tummy to her back in her bed, but chooses not to really do it when she is awake. She's also started reaching for toys and then pulling them into her mouth, IF one of her hands is not already occupying that drool-filled space. Still no teeth in sight.

This next picture is not for everyone, but I've got to keep it real. This child spits up more than I thought humanly possible. Grayson spit up. A. Lot. Or so I thought, as Finley spits up even more. But according to her chunky cute baby thighs and her 75th percentile in height and weight, apparently she is retaining more than she is spitting up. Most days that's hard for me to really believe. We introduced butternut squash last week and the spit up occasionally turned orange. Ewe. Seriously, it's so much that it puddles. Ewe.

And just some things about her routine for me to look back on later....she's always been a bit unpredictable with naps. Sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. For a mama who likes predictability (and has a 2 year old who likes to get out of the house), it's thrown us for a bit of a loop. Around 4 months she started wanting to stretch out her feeds from the 3 hour routine and we were in limbo with until about now (almost 6 months). Now we run a rough 4 hour routine, with two 1.5 ish hour naps and an evening catnap (on good days). We'll see if this new routine sticks around for a while. I also want to remember that she wakes up at the dream feed (around 10 pm). She's not supposed to wake up (hence, the dream feed name) but many nights in the last 4 weeks when I go in to feed her (previously asleep, it just about kills me) she just wakes right up thinking it's party time. She eventually goes back to sleep, but it's not ideal. I've been too chicken to just drop it cold turkey since she's finally sleeping until sometime between 7:15-8:00am. Soon, though, I've got to work it back and drop it!


The View from Daddy's Cameraphone

(clockwise from top left: the girls lolling around in bed, Finley starting solids and looking cool, going for a walk, Grayson posing with the Guilford and Babe statues at the ballpark).