Thursday, September 23, 2010

Family Snapshot - Fall 2010

I haven't given a general update on our family in a while, so here's what is going on in the Livingston household, one family member at a time. (And let me preface this post by saying this is mainly for me and the next published blog book, for memory keeping's sake. I doubt you'll find it that interesting!)

We have been spending many early mornings at the Arboretum - when the stars align and we have good weather along with happy babies, we take long walks around the pond/lake, searching for chipmunks and collecting pine cones, acorns and leaves. When we just need a leisurely drive through the trails, we settle into the van with bags of donut holes (and maybe a coffee, but don't tell my OB), turn on Praise Baby and roll the windows down. Most mornings have fallen into the second category. Between the heat that is lingering here and my first trimester sickness and exhaustion, keeping everyone buckled in and entertained usually wins out.

On our last trip, I had to take a picture of this Arboretum employee mowing one of the fields as we drove past. I couldn't help but wonder what they think about as they begin MOWING THE ARBORETUM (do you know how big it is?!). It must take forever. I wonder if they are discouraged before they even start. (Or maybe they have their own bag of donuts in that little cab!?)


This idea/picture sort of resembles where I am at right now, so I'll start there with the updates.

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While I am so thankful for our family and this new pregnancy, many weekday mornings I wake up and feel like I've been asked to mow the arboretum. Getting through 12 hours with Robbie and Ellie on my own is tough right now, and thankfully my mom has been coming over a lot to help me. This pregnancy has been very different from the last two, as the first trimester has not been especially kind! Hear me when I say I am NOT complaining - I wouldn't trade our situation for anything. I just wasn't expecting it to play out this way! And really, there is no getting used to feeling like this.

In addition, Robbie and Ellie haven't been especially healthy. Ellie got hand, foot and mouth for a week on top of cutting two new bottom teeth (which brings us to 8 teeth now!), Robbie got Croup a week later, and in the last few days he has also begun the process of cutting his upper 2 year molars. I don't know where the end of August and the first half of September went, but it passed us by in a sleepless fog. Rob and I feel like we are getting as much sleep as we do when we have a newborn, and we don't even have our newborn yet!

We keep telling ourselves we have a little over 6 months to get ready for having a third child, for Robbie and Ellie to continue to grow up and move into different phases, that we've had a lot of illness lately and it's not always going to be like this... but the reality is that these early years as a family with small children are just hard at times. We have a very active and physical 2 1/2 year old boy and a very strong-willed (where'd she get that from?) 1 year old who is beside herself that she can't walk or talk as well as she wants to. I'm thankful for the promises God gives to us as moms (and dads) to provide us with strength, wisdom, grace and forgiveness whenever we need it. I'm also really grateful for a husband and a mom who come to my rescue when I'm at my physical limit and just need to rest.

As far as the new baby is concerned, everything seems to be going well. At my last appointment, the Doctor wasn't able to pick up the heartbeat with the doppler, and coupled with a few unusual and slightly concerning things that had happened the week prior to my appointment, they took me back for an unscheduled ultrasound (my second). The baby is so much more formed than it was just 4 weeks ago, which is amazing to begin with. Goodbye blob, hello little person! But it brought tears to my eyes to see the little heart beating and to watch the baby move around on the screen, legs and arms stretching and tucking back in. We are so thankful for this third miracle and feel so undeserving. We pray for protection over the health and growth of this little one, and are still deciding whether or not we will find out the gender in November.

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Rob has been busy riding in on his white horse and saving the day. He leaves the house before 6am and gets home 12 hours later, often walking through the door at the end of the work day to find a mess of toys, food-encrusted kids banging plates at the table, or a tantrum unfolding in the bathtub. He is always certain to find a tired (dare I say crabby!?) wife who is holding on by a thread. He spends the hours between 6 and 9pm washing, wrestling, reading to, disciplining, and loving the kids; waiting patiently for his dinner which usually has no trace of chicken in it and is far from the standard fare that used to come out of the kitchen at the hands of a wife who used to love cooking; picking up toys all over the house and usually cleaning up the kitchen; and on the good nights, he manages to sit on the couch for a little while with a bowl of ice cream in order to catch his breath. He never forgets to thank me for whatever I have produced and called 'dinner', always offers to pick up carry out on the way home if I'm too tired to cook, never criticizes my shortcomings especially when it comes to how I am mothering our children, and is extremely patient with me.

For as anxious as I am for the second trimester to arrive in all its glory (a ferocious appetite just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas! No more time wasted fantasizing about how to get more sleep!), I would suspect that Rob is twice as eager. And I don't blame him if that's the case. :)

So this picture below represents us right now, Fall 2010. Ha! Just plugging along.

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Brother and Sister

As far as Robbie and Ellie's sibling relationship, it has been sweet to see them play more together and really enjoy it. I usually get Ellie up first in the morning, and after I change and dress her, she crawls right over to Robbie's bedroom door and reaches up for the handle. When I help her crack the door open, she gets so excited and goes right over to his bed to see him. He is also happy to see her, and I love that. I sure hope it translates into them enjoying sharing a bedroom soon... because that is what is going to happen!

They are both in forward facing convertible car seats, and they both sit in booster seats next to each other at the dinner table. Robbie hates to ride in the stroller and loves the freedom of walking, but usually eventually asks to be carried wherever we are; Ellie is still confined to the stroller until she can walk. We are destroying leggings and light colored pants left and right, as well as the toes of her shoes. She has 2 more weeks until she hits the age at which Robbie started to walk (15 1/2 months!). After that, I think it's fair to say that my patience will have run dry. She gets very mad at us when we force her to try and take steps by herself!

We are still working with Robbie on acting out towards Ellie in anger and with aggression. She takes her share of smacks to the head and gets knocked over daily. Toys are constantly ripped out of her hands. Now she is old enough to respond to him with anger as well, and usually tries to reciprocate whatever Robbie has done to her! I have to tell myself not to laugh and make sure I am teaching both of them, in the moment, what is Christ-like and appropriate behavior and what is unacceptable. I keep praying that they will grow into a special relationship with one another, knowing that they will always have their differences, feel competitive, and so on... but desiring for their bond to be strong and loyal and above all, loving and protective. I see hints of that now, as they enjoy holding hands at random times throughout the day, as they share their snacks with each other without my prompting, and as they find that they are much more entertained by playing together than they are playing by themselves.

A typical situation:

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Ellie

This sweet girl has a mind of her own and lots of ideas of what she wants to do! Like I mentioned already, she loves crawling and cruising the furniture and has taken to crawling up our legs and pulling at our pants to be picked up, but gets mad when we encourage her to take her own steps. She is also frustrated by her inability to effectively communicate, although every week she seems to be saying more words!
Here's her word count so far:
Mama, Dada, No, Shoe, Puppy, Bobbie (Robbie), Uh-Oh, Oopsie!, Bye-Bye, Night-Night, Behkie (Blankie), LaLa (Lovey), Down, Up, More, That, All Done, Baby, Mima, Je-Jus (Jesus), Ah-lah-ooo (I Love You) and Do-da-lo-la-loooo! (yodel, usually into an empty paper towel tube). I almost forgot about Ticka-Ticka (tickle tickle), Good Girl, Spoon, Baba (bottle), Duck, Out, and Zee (zebra).

I think she's verbally ahead of Robbie when he was her age, but it's hard to remember.

Teething for Ellie has been particularly disruptive of her disposition and especially her sleep. She goes to bed at 6:30pm and wakes up around 7am and sleeps through the night, unless she's sick or teething or constipated. We have moved Ellie to one nap during the day, and she goes down between 11am and 12pm, and sleeps for 2-3 hours. Thankfully her nap overlaps Robbie's nap now, even if just for an hour or so.

She eats twice as much as Robbie does at any given meal, and begs food off of anyone who might dare to eat in front of her. She is finally done with formula, but the process of moving her to soy milk exclusively has been long and complicated. She still requires Miralax along with any serving of dairy.

She's growing out of most 12-18 month clothes and is just beginning to fit into 18-24 month clothes. She is comfortable in 18 month pj's. She wears a size 4 diaper and size 4 shoes.

Her hair is growing like crazy and she finally got to try out pigtails for the first time in August (I can't believe I forgot to post about that - will remedy soon.) She likes to pull her bows out of her hair and try to put them in mine. She knows what to do at dinnertime when we tell her it's time to pray to Jesus, and she folds her hands and bows her head. She recognizes our immediate family members in photographs. She now lunges out of my arms for my mom when she comes over, and even pulled this stunt with Kelsey while she was home last! She loves to steal Robbie's sippy cups and try whatever he's drinking (real milk always gets a sour face reaction). She cracks me up in the bath tub with her naughtiness, splashing like a mad woman and standing up only to give us a 'look at me!' grin before being disciplined, helping wash Robbie's back, eating the bubbles, pulling the plug up on the faucet while I'm filling the tub so that the shower turns on... now you see why bath time is not exactly restful!

She loves to play with her Fisher-Price Noah's Ark, her teapot and kitchen, doll house, and of course, Robbie's trains. She is particularly fond of creating sound effects during her play, and can be heard chomping as she pretends to eat pizza, sipping on an empty tea cup, and making a chug and whistle sound while playing trains. She is so funny to me!

She and Robbie both share a love for The Polar Express movie, and get excited at the same part (when the train comes into view of the Northern Lights and a fast-paced song starts up), kicking their legs and letting out squeals of delight. In this rear-view mirror picture I snapped while we were pulled over on the side of the road at the Arboretum, she is captivated by the Polar Express.


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Robbie

Hello there, haircut! It was getting pretty shaggy and so we went extra-short this time.

Robbie is growing like crazy too, and is in 2T shirts but his long legs demand 3T pants! He is also in 3T pj's. He likes his baseball hat to be worn backwards. He wears a size 8 shoe and is still in size 6 diapers. (Potty training has its place and time, and as far as I'm concerned it can wait until he's good and ready.)

He can now remove clothing and shoes by himself, drinks out of dixie cups at night before bedtime, and brushes his own teeth (although I get a good scrub in because he's just starting to have morning breath if I'm not careful).

Funny things he can be heard saying:
"Hi, boy!" or "Hi, girl!" - to strangers and kids at the grocery store
"Robbie hold a dollar bill!" - anytime I get out my wallet to pay for something
"George Washington" - when asked who's on the dollar bill he's holding
"Barack Obama" - when asked who the president is
"Mommy's ah-zausted, cover mommy with a blanket" - when I stop and lay down on the couch while he's playing nearby in the family room
"It's the Polar Express, Ellie-girl!" - when I turn on his favorite movie
"My God is my Dad/Train! So strong and so mighty..." - to the tune of 'My God is so Great!' He thinks it's hilarious to substitute wrong words into songs he knows.

He also:
- likes to list everyone who is with us on a particular outing
- is starting to use "I" and "Me" instead of "Robbie"
- has figured out how to jump, and has remained our expert somersault-er
- asks to kiss the baby (my belly) before going to bed each night, not something we have asked or encouraged him to do
- has explained to me that it might hurt a little bit when the baby comes out of my belly button (?!?!?! No idea where he came up with this, it has never been discussed in his presence before!)
- is becoming a picky eater, or maybe his appetite is just decreasing overall
- cannot help himself and collects rocks wherever we go. We keep a vase in the kitchen and gather all of his rocks now, so that they don't linger in the car, stroller, his pockets, etc.
- loves to stall at bedtime, and sometimes lays awake quietly in his bed for several hours
- had his first lunch out with Mima by himself, and she said he was extremely well-behaved
- loves strawberry milk and requests sprinkled donuts
- is intent on teaching Ellie his favorite words ("Ellie, say TRAIN! TRACKS! RAILROAD CROSSING!...")
- really loves his sunday school class at church, and anytime we put a collared shirt on him he asks if it's Sunday and if he's going to church!
- can recite most of the Mo Willems Pigeon books to us, and it's hilarious - must get a video of it up on here for you to see.
- thinks every train he sees is going to "College Avenue Station!"

It goes without saying that we are so thankful for these sweet kids God has given to us, and the things He is teaching us through them as we parent them. They are exhausting days for sure, but we are so blessed and wouldn't change a thing.

2 comments:

kelly said...

sweet update, ashley. this may seem like a silly thing to hone in on (of all the other wonderful little things you've blogged about), but when josh was coming off soy formula to soy milk we tried the grow & go soy formula and cut it in half with vanilla soy milk. then eventually we cut vanilla soy w/ regular soy. now he's a great soymilk drinker. maybe that would help her transition.

congrats on your news by the way! how exciting for you all!! :)

Dave, Ninny and Isla said...

I love the summary on everyone! Your kiddos are darling. I will be praying for you and your pregnancy, especially during the difficult first trimester. I feel your pain honey. Hang in there.