Sunday, February 28, 2010

A whole new world

On Saturday we ventured out to the DuPage Children's Museum (DCM).  Although chaotic (note to self: don't go on weekends), there was enough there to hold a little boy's attention for DAYS ON END.  That's saying something.

We will be going back.  And at some point, I will get brave and Ellie will be allowed out of the stroller (poor thing).  And I WILL let Robbie play in the water next time.  (I will... I promise...) 

I think our favorite part was the 'wind' section.  Below, you'll see Daddy teaching Robbie to get creative with educational tools.

Getting a little antsy.  Not her most lady-like pose in a denim jumper.  Oops.

I am still trying to figure out how I am going to 'enjoy' taking both kids in a way that is fun for both of them, without losing my mind (or a child).  This seems to be a theme, with any activity I attempt.

Survival for me, fun for them!

We will get there.  And we will probably start with the DCM, because that place is pretty awesome.  Plus, it's just another day for the people who work there to see the place torn apart, and children running / yelling / throwing things.  If you are a mom, tell me you don't love the freedom that gives you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just another Friday

These pictures of both kids in the ball pit make me laugh so hard.  Not much to say, just a typical morning at home... 

Yesterday we spent a few hours at the mall with my mom, which is always a great way to get Robbie's energy out.  Before we left, I had to take a picture (or two) of Ellie.  She's getting so big!

Not happy that I'm still taking pictures - but I had to get the onesie!

The many faces of Ellie...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two hundred and forty five

245 days have gone by since this little girl made her entrance into the world - bottom-first!

I thought it might be an early indication (along with her stubborn breech position) of a personality that would be challenging and difficult.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Ellie is 8 months old, and although some days seem like they have more than 24 hours in them, time overall is flying by.  I have hit the point where I can no longer remember what it was like to hold my baby girl before she was able to lift or control her own head.  It has been ages since she's fit into my favorite sling.  Her hair is thick enough to hold BOWS, people!  BOWS!!  Headbands are finally optional.

Hoppy rests in the shadow of a little girl who can now sit up confidently on her own, grab for the things she wants, squeeze and pat her dolls with love and joy, and whisper the sweetest little babbles that would make you cry if you heard them!

Ellie has a very easy going demeanor, and is happiest watching all of the activity around her.  Whether we are in and out of the car running errands, doing fun things Robbie enjoys like going to the library and driving through the car wash (ha!), or just playing in the family room, she is happy to be along for the ride.  Her favorite things right now are her dolls and books.  She's fond of anything crinkly as well, and gets very mad at me when I take the wipes package away from her.  She does have a little flair for the dramatic... if Robbie swipes a toy from her or if I lay her down in her bed too early for nap time, she will burst into tears as if she might never stop crying.  Initially, I would do what I could to make her stop crying immediately, thinking 'wow we have REALLY upset her this time.'  I have since found that she can turn off the water works just as quickly, so we're wise to her tricks.  :)

Ellie's affections are strongest for her brother (aside from mommy and daddy).  In the mornings, she typically wakes a 1/2 hour before he does, and is therefore sitting in her high chair when I bring Robbie downstairs.  She breaks out into a huge smile as I enter the kitchen with him in my arms, and can't contain her excitement to see him as her legs flail and arms reach for him, hands frantically making fists and releasing them.  Robbie always asks me if Ellie is awake when I first pick him up out of his crib by saying "Ellie wake? Downstairs?"  I can't help but believe that God is already beginning to answer my prayer for them to share a strong bond as siblings.  It brings me so much joy and I will never stop praying for them in this way.

Ellie is very familiar with her feeding routine by now, which includes 3 solid meals of baby food and/or oatmeal per day, along with 3 to 4 6oz bottles of formula.  She has quite an appetite and eats nearly as much at each feeding as Robbie did around this age.  I remember distinctly what he ate because we'd be with our dear friends the Larsons and sweet Charlotte, who is the same age as Robbie.  She would make a meal out of one jar of baby food and a few crunchy snacks, while Robbie was polishing off 3 jars of baby food and anything else I'd lay out in front of him.  Ellie gets hot if I only offer her one jar of food.  She wants 2 minimum, and if I throw in some oatmeal to boot, even better.  The crazy part is that Robbie really chubbed out around this time, and Ellie has escaped chunky thighs and multiple chins!  I think she has my dad's metabolism.  Lucky girl.

Activity-wise, she is no longer entertained for very long in the beloved (by mommy) exersaucer.  She much prefers to be on her belly, free to roll across the room and spin around as she watches the action all around her.  She has been getting up on her hands and knees and rocking back and forth for a few weeks, and I can tell it's driving her crazy that she can't move forward towards objects that she wants which remain just out of reach.  I am sure we are close to crawling, and encourage Robbie every day to crawl around her and 'teach' her, now that I know that babies learn things (like crawling, etc.) quicker from other siblings than they do from adults.  He thinks it's a lot of fun and once she can move I am sure they will forever be chasing each other around the house!

Ellie and Robbie now share bath time, with Ellie still laying on her little foam thing as Robbie sits quietly next to her.  His favorite part is helping me drip water all over her to keep her warm with the washcloth.  After a few minutes of this, he drapes his washcloth over his belly to match Ellie, looking proudly at her and then back at himself.  I do have to remind him before every single bath what the rules are ("No kicking, no splashing, no throwing bath toys at Ellie's head").  Once he recites this to me, he is well behaved.  But I am telling you, if I forget?!  Ellie has taken many a toy to the forehead without shedding a tear.  She's a tough girl, which is fortunate because her brother is not exactly calm and gentle all the time.

Ellie's charms are many and they are powerful.  She has mastered the eye-batt and usually reserves it for daddy and Grandpa Jack.

For mommy and Mima (my mom), she offers the shy grin and then tucks her chin into her shoulder as she looks away and closes her eyes.

When mommy or daddy plant their lips on her cheek and give her endless kisses, she holds her entire body still as if to concentrate on the love.  She closes her eyes and smiles and eats up the attention for as long as you continue to kiss her sweet face!

And for anyone who smiles at her at just the right moment, she will smile back and and whisper "da-da-da-da" while squinting.

But when this guy is near her, everyone else might as well not exist.

And the feeling is clearly mutual.

Ellie, you are growing up so fast and we cherish every day that we have been given with you.  We are thankful for who God has made you to be, for your sweet disposition and your energy. Your perfectly kissable cheeks and dainty little feet.  Your big old noggin and your 2 lone curls behind each ear.  Every time I watch you suck your thumb as you fall asleep, I marvel at the way God knows exactly what we need.  Our family needed you, and you are perfectly packaged for us.

Ellie Suzanne, you are a blessing!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And she finally admits...

The truth is, I am so disappointed.

And no, not because this beautiful, adult-sized JCrew sweater shrank down to a size that fits Ellie!  (True story... a friend gave it to me recently after she discovered it in the dryer, and we had a good laugh over how cute Ellie would look next winter in it.)  

I just thought this picture was a good visual representation of disappointment.

I've felt it in a variety of ways in the last few months, and it's becoming a theme that I don't think God wants me to overlook.  

I find disappointment crop up in funny places.  When I open my fridge to find rotten grapes, dark mushy banana-halves, and green spotted cheese.  When I take a Christmas gift back to the store in late January, only to find that I missed the return deadline by mere days and there's 'nothing they can do'.  When I open Ellie's baby book to find that I've neglected to write in it for months, coupled with the fact that I completely missed taking her 7 month pictures.  When I try on my pre-pregnancy jeans for the 100th time, and finally admit defeat as I toss them into the 'donate' pile.  When I pull something out of the wash and remember the 'dry clean only' label a little too late.  When I find water in the basement (ok, that one's not very funny!).

But I've felt the blow of deep inward disappointment lately, too.

The missteps and poor choices of those I am close to who are not seeking God.  An ultrasound that reveals a 'spot' on the heart of a friend's unborn baby.  The marriages of friends that are in critical condition.  The immodesty among women that I see inside the walls of our church, of all places.  The growing realization that the enemy is prowling around this earth (... my neighborhood ... inside my home ...) ready to pounce on our weakness in an effort to drive us further from the God who loves us without end, the God that I love.

I am disappointed in my attempts to seek God with all my heart.  I am disappointed in my inability to walk through a single day with the patience my kids deserve.  I am disappointed by the myriad of ways I fail Rob as his wife.


Last night at bible study, we were watching Beth Moore's video that pairs with our study, "Living Beyond Yourself".  She was telling the story of a  man who was discovered in an apartment in New York to have been keeping a variety of wild animals (a crocodile and a 450 lb tiger, to name a few).  He had been bitten and went to the hospital to be treated.  When medical staff became suspicious about his wound and investigators were sent to his apartment (discovering the animals), he explained that he was trying to create a garden of eden.  In a small NYC apartment.


We have fallen so far from the garden, haven't we?  It's disappointing, and it invades every area of our lives and the lives of those we love.  We can't make it right, no matter how hard we try.

I don't have all the answers or even know how to manage my disappointment most days.  But it helps to have proper context, and that is the framework I'm piecing together right now.

I know that this is not the way God intended us to live.  I know that He has perfection and beauty (heaven) waiting for those of us who call him Lord, just on the other side of this troubled life.  And now I'm learning that although we will always know pain, heartache and disappointment, I can have perfect peace because I know Jesus, who is Himself my peace.  He has made peace with God on my behalf, and even in brokenness I can be filled with His peace if I just ask and submit to Him.

Dwelling in the place of disappointment has not proven to be beneficial to me.  It causes me to forget what I have learned; it invites anger, blame and sadness; it puts a wedge between me and God/friends/family; it hardens my heart; it tempts a sense of entitlement; it causes me to withdraw.  But when I trust in God and His Word, and enter into His peace, I am filled by His Spirit with everything I need.  I find contentment, joy and hope.  It might not mean that my circumstances have changed, but my ability to rest under His authority and rule of peace brings strength to endure disappointment.  

Praying God's perfect peace for each of you as you walk the road He has laid out for you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet dedication Sunday

This weekend it was dedication Sunday at our church, and we were thankful to participate in honor of our sweet little Ellie girl!

At our church (Wheaton Bible) we 'dedicate' families instead of having infant baptism.  We believe that each person must personally accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to be forgiven and to enter into a relationship with God.  Infant baptism often suggests that a child is 'saved' at the point of baptism.  But we believe that it is by God's grace that we come to him with knowledge of our sin, seeking forgiveness, and with a desire to make Him the Lord of our lives.  So on dedication Sunday, we committed (again) to raising our children in a home that glorifies God, makes Him known, and hopefully brings them someday to a point of commitment to the Lord.  As Pastor Rob explained, it's a commitment to do everything we can to ensure that our kids get safely home to their Heavenly Father.

Pastor Rob introduced Ellie Suzanne, who had spit up on her dress just as we took our place on stage (of course!).  Robbie was fairly well behaved, although there were a few anxious moments when we thought he might send his toy train sailing across the stage, and also when Ellie got excited and started to kick her legs so hard I was sure her little ballerina slippers were going to pop off.  We escaped public humiliation... this time.   :)

After each family and child was introduced, Pastor Rob invited all of the relatives of the children being dedicated to stand where they were seated as he prayed over all of us. 

Aunt Megan came out the night before and stayed over with us, and I am so thankful she was here to help us on Sunday morning!!  I had underestimated how much work it would be to get everyone fed/dressed and have our little lunch party ready before walking out the door at 9am.

She saved the day.  She also got me a Starbucks that morning.  L.O.V.E. her for so many reasons!  

My mom and Ellie... pretty in pink.  This is my favorite picture from the day!  

No party at our house is complete without CAKE!  Thank you Flour Barrel for sweetening up our celebration.  (I know it is not a big deal, but can I just tell you?  I asked for a white cake with pink polka dots, and "Praise God for Ellie" on the top.  This is what I got... not exactly what I had envisioned, but Rob reminded me that I'm not living in an Ace of Cakes world like I sometimes delusionaly think I am.  Oh well, it tasted good.) 

Ellie's pink roses on the table were a reminder for me of God's faithfulness to us in the form of Ellie's health.  Early in the pregnancy, when we weren't certain about her health or growth and had cause for concern, I kept bouquets of pink flowers in the kitchen to remind me of God's perfect design in our little girl.  It was my way of visually reminding myself of Psalm 139.

We are so thankful for Ellie - she is God's blessing to us and we are humbled that He chose us to be her parents.  Ephesians 5:1-2 is the verse we gave to her for her dedication...

"Be imitators of  God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Ellie, we pray that you would be set aside for God's purposes; that you would desire to know God, love Him and imitate Him; that you would learn to love others well in the same way that Christ loves us; and that your life would be a fragrant offering to our loving Heavenly Father.  We couldn't wish for anything better than this!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

(clearly, i need to get out more)

Robbie and Ellie have been sick since late last week with what I think is the worst version of upper respiratory infections/colds paired with double ear infections.  It is challenging for both kids to be so sick at the same time, but this isn't a pity party.  I took them in to the doctor on Tuesday night because they were so miserable, and Tylenol wasn't doing the trick.  

We left with prescriptions for 2 bottles of Amoxicillin, and if it weren't neon pink I'd call it liquid gold.  (You thought breastmilk was given that nickname, didn't you?  No.  It's this stuff.)

Both kids woke up on Wednesday with completely different dispositions, and although they are still hacking away like they are coughing up a lung, they aren't miserable anymore.

So you can imagine how awesome it was this morning when I dumped Ellie's bottle of happiness all over the kitchen floor.  

Contrary to what you're thinking, I did not take this picture for blogging's sake.  I took it as evidence (no joke) of my spill, in case the pediatrician's office questioned my story when I called them to ask for a replacement bottle.  You never know what kind of crazies are out there, trying to hoard bubble gum medicine!  Do people do that?  I'm not one of them, I promise.  See?  Proof.
Thankfully they were happy to replace the prescription without giving me the 3rd degree.

So we're trying to be creative with our shut-in status.  Ellie has developed a LOVE for her babydolls, and even when she's sick-crabby, being handed one of her dolls instantly makes her squeal and pump her legs and arms with delight!  It is so precious.  While Robbie and I do things together at the kitchen table, I give her a doll and she plays happily with it until we move on.

(*Sidenote: this picture is making me nuts.  She has cut her bottom two teeth, but here I think I can detect the bud of a new tooth on the bottom... do you see it?  I can't wait to stick my finger in her mouth tomorrow morning and investigate.)

This morning I introduced Robbie to Play-Doh for the first time.  I've been saving it from Christmas for a situation just like this - stuck inside with nothing new to do!  He loved it, of course.  He looked at me like I was a miracle worker when I made little round balls and lined them up for him.  

And when I whipped up a mini version of his favorite Monster, Sully?  I could have sworn I heard him promise to make me breakfast in bed for the rest of my life.  We kept things monochromatic today, but I'll have my camera ready when I bust out the pink, yellow, and blue tubs at the same time.  It's going to blow his mind.

Kind of like when he gets to have an ice cube in his sippy cup at snack time.  

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You knew it was coming

A little Valentine's Day picture and wish from Robbie and Ellie...


These 2 crack me up.  When they're not driving me crazy as I try to get a decent picture of them together, of course.  What do I have to do to get him to sling an arm around his little sister!?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sublime Saturday

Aunt Megan-an (as Robbie calls her!) came out to spend some quality time with our family this weekend.  The kids love her just as much as we do, and it was the perfect way to spend the beginning of a long holiday weekend.  We had a lazy breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs, and of course coffee since the adults stayed up way too late the night before watching a movie.  After lounging around in our pj's for a few hours while the kids took turns napping, we cleaned up and headed out for some fine dining at Two Toots.  This is the only restaurant we go to anymore, for obvious reasons.  It was buckets of fun, and Robbie even got a cupcake this time complete with 5 cent whistle.  Little boy heaven.

Megan with the babes... yes, Robbie is smitten.

Aunt Megan reads to me!!  I love her!

These two girls are so cute I couldn't resist another...

Sweet Maria met us for lunch.  Grilled cheese all around...

I thought you might enjoy a peek inside our van.  It's getting cramped in there, with 2 toddler seats!

Check me out - I'm a big girl and I love it!