Thursday, June 30, 2011

In case you were wondering

I'm looking forward to... a long holiday weekend with my little family, the 4th of July parade, and our next date night (yet to be scheduled).

My house smells like... Meyers Clean Day Basil Scent. I love this line of natural cleaning products now that we have kids, and I went a little nutso the other day at Target and got the dish soap, hand soap, AND countertop spray. I live a crazy life.

I'm thankful for... the days and nights that everyone sleeps well in our home - especially if it's at the same time!, The Lou pizza, celebrating birthdays, lattes (it had to be said).

The best memory we've made lately... hands down, when Rob's fam came to visit over the weekend. Our kids have missed their cousins!

I'm craving... consistent time alone to start my new bible study. Seriously considering setting an EARLY alarm in order to get it in each day, otherwise I just don't know how it's going to happen.

Cute things the kids are doing... stacking pillows and blankets in a pile and calling it "Italian Pizza!". Trying out a new bag of dress up clothes, complete with fairy wings. Robbie declaring in his moments of frustration with Ellie, "I'M GOING TO SMASH HER INTO BITS OF GLITTERY PIECES!". Playing together a LOT more than they ever have, mostly peaceably.

On our dinner plates... I feel like I feed the kids the same things over and over - PBJs, macaroni, chicken nuggets, turkey rolls with cheese tucked inside, grilled cheese, spaghetti with meatballs/meat sauce. I'm in a funk but mostly because they will not eat what I cook for dinner usually! Unless of course we've fed them, put Ellie to bed, and I've made Rob's and my dinner and then suddenly Robbie is ALL ABOUT trying whatever I'm eating. Endearing or annoying, I'll let you decide. I'm not doing a whole lot of great cooking right now for Rob (sad!), mainly because that time of day is just the worst and my goal is to get everyone through it as best I can. That usually doesn't include abandoning fussy kids for the kitchen.

I like to get creative with summer leftovers... Hamburgers on the grill get mashed and mixed into spaghetti sauce for the kids the next day. Chicken on the grill gets chopped and lands on top of homemade nachos or a big dinner salad. Day old baked potatoes are peeled and diced for homemade potato salad (just add onion, mayo, mustard, parsley, deviled egg if you have it, diced green pepper and S&P), or can be repurposed into a simple creamy potato soup.

What about you?!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maddie is 3 months old

3 months ago today, you came into the world. You took your first breath and you took our breath away.

Such perfection in a baby girl, so much sweetness and beauty that we thank God for every day.

Madeline Jane, you are 3 months old! Here we are again, in that odd place where it feels like yesterday that you were born, but years could have gone by since that day we were in the hospital delivering you. You have become a part of our family so naturally, mainly because of your easygoing temperament and willingness to be carted around wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

Physically, you are still our beautifully unique strawberry baby! I keep waiting for your hair to change, thinking you may turn into a blond (for the record, I love it just the way it is!). You are tiny, even though it's been almost 2 months since we started you on formula. You are in size 3 month clothing and recently made the switch to size 2 diapers, although they're generous on you. You hate the taste of your formula - Nutramigen is gross, even your sister thought so. You may be more like your daddy for a while, just eating to live. You are growing taller faster than your pudge can keep up with for the time being.

You are a very happy little girl, beaming with your gummy little mouth anytime I smile and talk to you. You are predictable in your routine, and eat a 4 oz bottle upon waking. Your reflux doesn't seem to be an issue anymore. I can't remember the last time I gave you a dose of Axid, and you haven't spit up at all since the week following your short hospital stay. You give me a big burp or two after each feeding and that's that.

You are totally a crib sleeper now! It only took a few days and nights to get you used to it. I lay you down in your crib swaddled from your armpits down, turn on your sound machine, and you fall asleep easily on your own. This is a gift to your momma - thank you. Your sleep through the night still varies from 4 or 5 hour stretches to 8 or 9 hour stretches. I'll be excited when you are consistent with the longer stretches, but for a 3 month old I really can't complain. You take 2 - 3 naps during the day, depending on and around the other activities we are engaged in. I told your dad last night that we are getting into the phase where sleep training is really important to establish and be consistent with, and you do not sleep well in your carseat anymore. So it will be a quieter summer for our brood, sticking close to home for the sake of your sleep needs. It's not a sacrifice to me - I know what it's like to have good sleepers and I'm happy to put the time in now in order to benefit from it later. I also know it's one of your main (and only!) needs, and it will pass in time. Lord willing, we will have many summers together to play and get out and do fun things.

You have become quite close with the Baby Bjorn and the Ergo Carrier. You're happy to be in them, close to me, but prefer to face out. You will suck on an Avent paci in the baby carriers and as you fall asleep in your crib, but not otherwise.

Things you do not like:
- loud smooch kisses against your cheeks
- tasting your formula in your mouth before you start sucking on your bottle
- having your nails clipped (did I traumatize you in the hospital?!)
- having your arms swaddled inside a blanket
- long amounts of time in your carseat
- being cradled or held like a baby (you're a 'big girl' and are curious - you want to see the world!)

Things you love:
- gentle humming kisses against your face
- sitting up (you strain to sit upright all the time now)
- watching your brother and sister play around you and talk to you
- standing and pushing against things with your strong little legs
- trying to roll over
- walks outside
- snuggling with mommy during your middle of the night feeds in your glider

I have a new trick to show you...

I'm a {supported} sitter now!

{Mommy's favorite picture of me to date, below}

She says I'm channeling my inner Armbruster here (above).

Check me out! Soon I'll be on the move, and I can't wait.

Little girl, big crib.

Your sister Ellie loves you, always talks to you, and likes to ask me about what you are doing. If you are sleeping in your room, she notices your absence and says to me "SSsshhh, Maddie sleeping." When you fuss and cry, she runs to your side and in her deep little voice asks "Whassa madder, Maddie?". She tries to soothe you by shushing you and saying sweetly "It's ok, Maddie. No cry."

Such beautiful sisters, inside and out.
{Somehow Ellie keeps ending up naked with a diaper during these photo shoots. I promise we clothe her. Most of the time.}

Your brother Robbie has really grown up and into his role of big brother to TWO sisters. He is absolutely gentle and nothing but sweet and protective towards you. Where he used to get sad and frustrated by your crying, particularly in the car, now he joins in with Ellie and tries to help console you. His favorite go-to lines? "Mommy will help you in just a minute, Maddie!" and "I'm right here with you, Maddie. It's ok."

He continues to pine for the day you can play trains with him, and loves to bring you his toys and show them to you. He is fascinated by your little features and could stare at your face from 2 inches away forever. You are well examined, as far as Robbie is concerned.

I am still pinching myself that neither of your siblings have shown even a pinch of jealousy towards you, and the time I have to devote to you during feedings, baths, and frequent diaper changes. The Lord has really blessed us in this, and I hope and pray that it's an indication of the bond you will share with one another even as the years go by. You will certainly have one another to love, look out for, encourage, protect, and play with as you grow up!

We ALL love you, Madeline Jane. What a great 3 months with you it has been! We love watching you grow up.


*The beautiful, personalized quilt in the background was a gift from one of Rob's coworkers and his family.

One day soon

I just gave Maddie her early morning feeding and after rocking her soft warm body on my shoulder to burp her, she fell asleep. Both of her arms spread out across my shoulders and her head nestled softly into my neck, and she was so peaceful that I found myself sad to lay her back down in her crib. I would have paid a lot of money to have been given the chance to keep holding her for hours, until she was ready to wake up for the day. Instead I swaddled her back up, laid her down, and rested my palms gently on her chest and shoulders, as I do each time I put her down, so that she settles calmly into sleep. I stood over her trying to memorize how little she still is. A minute later she smiled in her sleep and I know everything is right in her little world.

As I crept out of her room, I shot the pretty little clock on her wall a dirty look. I am cursing the clock these days.

I have an acute awareness of how bound by time I am, and I loathe it. I have a hard time living in each moment because of the reminder of when it's going to end, or what is coming next and how soon that will be. I know it's part of living and it's very necessary in order to function, but a part of me wants to pack my family up and run off to a country that lives more for the moment than for it's end and what's coming next.

I remember when I was on a missions trip in Panama City, Panama. We would say that the people there were on 'Panama time' whenever they were late, or something ran long, or if a service was supposed to start at 9am and at 9:05 (or even 9:30!) the room was still empty. They just didn't 'respect' time like we did. Or that's how I viewed it, since it was sort of putting me out. Certainly there were complications that arose from the different emphasis we all placed on our individual punctuality and approach to having things scheduled and sticking to a timeframe. But at this point in my life, more than ever, I can appreciate that way of life.

My husband's parents as well as his sister and her family just spent 4 days with us. They traveled from New Jersey and had to go home yesterday. The whole time they were here there was this countdown to their departure looming in my mind - a clock that was ticking, reminding me that the time was passing a lot faster than I wanted it to be.

And the more I loathe the heavy burden of time and its passage, the more I find myself dreaming about heaven to soothe the ache.

I wonder if part of heaven is never having to put your baby down when she falls asleep on your shoulder. Because that would be pretty close to paradise for me. Not placing her in her bed to sleep because you know you only have another hour to shower before the other children wake up and the day takes on a momentum of its own that very often careens out of your control, so you'd better be as ready as you can be before it starts! No more hurrying or rushing about.

I know that heaven promises endless amounts of time with not only the Lord, but with those we love who have also confessed Him as Lord, too. I'm really looking forward to the end of goodbyes and see-you-soons. To having as much time as we want, to sit around a table in paradise and just be together.

It's so hard to fathom what it will be like to 'live' forever without being bound by time. It's actually impossible because we are so finite. But for as much as I'm loathing this boundary on earth, I'm loving the moments I have to dwell on what it's going to be like to have that chain broken.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The good kind of heartache

This might have to make its way to our walls.

Ellie was saying "I got you, Robbie."
{As in, if you fall, I will try to catch you even though you will squash me like an ant.}

Sorry for the retro-blogging, but this past Friday we went to the park and then played around inside before dinnertime, and something became very clear to me.

These two love and really enjoy one another.

I knew it would be worth it.

Somebody... a haircut on Saturday.

Her first, to be exact.
(I'm not counting the slight trim I gave her around Christmas to even out the ends, or the two random curls that hung behind her ears as a baby that looked ridiculous.)

She loved it. I thought she would HATE it!
Mother's don't know everything. Either that, or suckers make everything bearable.

If I had the time, I'd get sentimental and weepy.

I'm just having so much fun with her, and am too proud of her to be sad as I watch her grow into her own little person. It's pretty amazing, and I am so blessed by Ellie and all the joy she brings to our family.

So, her first real haircut at exactly 2 years old.

How long do I have to wait to take her with me for a pedicure?!...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The best kind of chaos

I hope someone will share the pictures they took this afternoon with me, because I took exactly none and I desperately want to remember this day.

Rob's parents and his older sister Rachel and her family flew in from New Jersey this afternoon. They spent the afternoon and evening with us, and will be staying through Tuesday (at a hotel, boo for not having a guest room/rooms at our house!). The cousins haven't been together since Christmas, and it's just amazing how quickly kids change in 6 months when they are this young.

Robbie lost. his. mind. He was so excited to play with his older cousins Nicholas and James, and it's sweet to see how much he looks up to them. Within minutes he had gotten the full scoop on superheroes (N & J's current fascination) and was running around behind them declaring "I'm BATMAN! And James is CAPTAIN AMERICA!". Poor Nicholas was feeling a bit under the weather so he mainly snuggled up next to Grammy on the couch while the others ran circles around the house.

Ellie was thrilled with the influx of family and per usual, whenever we're around other children, she would pause in her play and look up at me as she exclaimed "KIDS!!". As in, "Hey mom? Why don't we do this more often? This is AWESOME, and I have social needs, you know." At one point she was just standing in the living room with everyone else, shrieking with happiness. It was hysterical. She and Katelin (who are the exact same age) are two pretty little peas in a pod. To say I am anxious to put them in their matching outfits this weekend is an understatement. They are both little sisters to older brothers, and although they can hang with the boys and are pretty tough, they both have sweet little feminine sides too.

We gave the kids a little snack to hold them over and then got busy fixing dinner. We grilled marinated chicken and had a big fruit salad, broiled asparagus, and baked potatoes with a side of citronella candles (the mosquitoes are awful right now!). At the end of dinner, which we ate on the deck, it started to sprinkle so we moved inside for a little birthday celebration in honor of both Grammy and Papa, and enjoyed chocolate cake and blueberry pie. The kids needed another reason to get hyper before bed.

This morning was full of anticipation for our guests to arrive, and this afternoon was the fulfillment of all Robbie and Ellie hoped the day would be. All 3 of our kids fell asleep almost immediately upon being placed in their beds, Maddie included.

Day 1, in the books. A very good day. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fake It

It's transition time (again). Nothing stays the same for very long when you're having babies. The blessed signposts include the reappearance of pre-pregnancy clothes, the occasional need to set an alarm in order to take a shower because I'm not awake every 2 hours, a new haircut which indicates the ability to go and get said haircut and then actually style my hair on occasion, the ceremonial packing away of immediate post-partum supplies (I'll let you use your imagination on that one), going for a run the other night, and the inability to recall the last time I cried over something insignificant.

Lest you begin to think that it's all roses over here... I am losing my hair like crazy (typical at 3 months post-partum), cannot FATHOM putting on a bathing suit and venturing beyond our backyard this summer, have yet to figure out how and when to have a consistent quiet time with the Lord (I will not give up the fight), really want to make a meal for a few people in need and just can't wrap my mind around how I would actually accomplish it which makes me sad, and although I'm thrilled that Maddie is getting used to sleeping in her crib for naps and nighttime, I now feel guilty schlepping her around when I know she's in need of good rest, which means we stay home more often.

Things are shaking out, like you know they will eventually but some days you didn't really believe they ever would. I have the mental ability to dwell on the inconsequential and the trivial, which indicates to me that I'm moving beyond survival mode and into living mode. Hallelujah!

It might be the transition, or it might just be what happens as we continue to live and learn and grow, but I also find myself getting braver. Or maybe I have just lost all dignity. I'll let you decide.

Today I had to get groceries and paper products for the 4 day party we are about to have with my in-laws who will be visiting us. I took all 3 kids to Target, put them in 2 carts, and proceeded to push/pull the carts up and down every aisle (some twice, I always forget things). Several other mothers stopped me along the way to marvel at my ingenuity ("2 carts! I never thought of that!" - I call it desperation but I let them think I'm just smart). Two other older women assisted Ellie with something she'd dropped that I hadn't noticed since at the time she was the caboose cart of our crazy train. In the entire time we were shopping, I keep the kids munching on something, the baby sipped a bottle, and no one lost their mind, including me. It was glorious. Not even dropping 1 1/2 dozen eggs at checkout or changing 2 poopy diapers in the trunk of the van before heading home could get me down. (It sure beat our last trip, when I somehow managed to run over 2 of my favorite tubes of lipstick in the parking lot, all 3 kids screamed at checkout, I actually said to the check out woman "I might lose my mind today" without cracking a smile, and I forgot essential items on our list.)

I typically dread these trips, especially since today we needed a LOT of stuff. It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN the epic meltdown will begin and commence and WHO the participants will be. I think I figured out how to navigate these situations, which are not altogether life-altering or really all that significant, but still take up a disproportionate amount of our daily life as it is right now.

I fake it.

I pile the kids into the carts, thinking "I can do this", or refusing to think about it at all. And I just go. I put a smile on my face, I try to anticipate the needs my kids will have and do my best to be prepared to meet them, and then I get on with the task at hand. Sometimes things fall apart, but sometimes they don't. I've decided that I've wasted enough time worrying over things that may (or may not!) happen. Tantrums. Illness. Feeling alone. Public humiliation. Judgement. Injury... to name a few. The anxiety I create within myself actually wears me out before I even start. In truth, I actually possess the energy / ability / patience required to manage a 3 year old, 2 year old, and 3 month old, I just don't believe that I do most days. I forget my Source and neglect to walk in the Spirit, and on my own? I really can't do this very well, or at all. With Christ, I can.

I am still learning to believe in my heart that this is the case. And until I can say that confidently and on a daily basis, I'm moving forward in faith that He is going to meet me in my worst moments, no matter how trivial, and bear me up under the demands of the day. Whether it's in Target, or at home as I discipline, or at my sick child's bedside, I'm choosing courage. And I suppose you can't really call that faking it, because although I don't always feel courageous when I start out, I know that the Lord promises to always walk with me. I have never doubted that, I'm just activating this belief I have in Him in ways that are very real.

It's about time. Thank goodness for this new growth and transition into greater confidence as a momma!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For Rob...

Father's Day 2011 - a post for Rob

Although the day did not revolve around you (as I wish it could have), it was so typical of you to make it about everyone else around you. It's why I want to take a few more moments to celebrate you, in the dwindling hours of this Father's Day. The gifts over coffee and donuts this morning were fun but I want to honor you so much more than that.

You know what it means to be a father. At the very heart of it, it requires self sacrifice. A deeper love for your others than for yourself. A patience that rarely wears thin. The commitment to providing for your family, a responsibility you have never taken lightly. The abandonment of selfish pursuits and dreams in exchange for an investment in three (for now!) precious disciples we call our children and one woman you chose to be your wife (lucky gal).

You love your own Fathers. As I think about the kind of father you are today, I realize that it speaks volumes about who you know our Heavenly Father to be. It is also to your dad's credit that you are the father that you are! Your intimate relationship with God as well as your own dad have been influential and have shaped your character in profound ways. I couldn't be more thankful for that.

You are committed to growing in your role as a father. We always talk about what as parents we should be doing differently, examining closer, taking more seriously, letting go of, etc. You never sit back and think you've got it all figured out, but instead always look ahead to what's down the road, and how we should be preparing for that today. You never let up or take the easy way out. You are as disciplined and constant as men come.

This is your third Father's Day. God has blessed our family in the last 3 years, and you have made the only dream I've ever really had come true. This picture is proof.

I know as women we aren't supposed to say things like this, but I love this picture of myself. And it's certainly not because I look good without makeup on (I DON'T!), or because I can rock a tank top after giving birth (I CAN'T!). It's because I remember that in this moment, as I held our brand new daughter and gathered our kids in my little hospital bed with you by my side, my heart felt so full it could burst. I was in pain, was totally overwhelmed at the thought of taking Maddie home, and did not feel like myself physically or emotionally. But I knew that this was what I was made for, and that it was what God had designed for us, together. I was right where I have always wanted to be.

So happy father's day, to the father of my precious babies. Every day with you is a gift.

We are better versions of ourselves because of you.

We love you.

Ashley, Robbie, Ellie and Maddie

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our morning adventure (with adorable footwear)

One of Rob's coworkers (and his sweet family) gifted us these knit baby booties when Madeline was born. Her tiny feet finally have enough pudge to hold them on and they coordinated perfectly with this amazing (resale shop find!) dress.

When you dress your baby up, you need someplace to go. So we headed out to pay great grandma Jessie another visit!

She was tickled to see us again.

*Sidenote: I think Madeline is the first of my children to remind me of myself as a baby, but I'll have to confirm this with my mother.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I took all 3 kids? Well I did. And we stayed for an hour. And only one resident gave us a dirty look when one of my kids came too close to her, which I would count a successful trip! (To be fair, the kids were VERY well behaved and weren't loud or rowdy at all. Sometimes just proximity to little kids is overwhelming to the elderly, and I understand that. We didn't overstay our welcome.)

This sweet boy will love on his great grandma anytime I ask him to. Pose for a picture with Jessie?! Sure, and I'll even lean in and give you my best smile. Give her a hug and a kiss? You got it.

Be still my heart, that sweet hand on her front just kills me! Such a tender heart, my little guy.

(Ellie is practicing the Scotty McCreery hold on her juice cup. Also noteworthy - the people in the background were laughing at my attempts to get a group picture. I have no shame and was probably dancing or something.)

Maddie was a champ and hung out in Jessie's arms most of the time (even though I KNOW she wanted to be napping - good work, sweetie!). Ellie is just at that age where she's doing her own thing, and can't be coerced into hugs, kisses, or performances so she mainly crawled under the stroller and ate pieces of her donut holes that had fallen on the floor. I've learned to let her be. :) And Robbie was a sport, as well as very attentive to the other residents that gathered around us. At the end of our time there, a fluffy white puppy came wandering through the lounge and the kids always go bonkers when one of the dogs they keep there come out to play.

The low point was probably when Maddie started fussing, Ellie bolted for the front door, and Robbie had that look in his eye that said he was thinking about chasing the dog through the dining area. All at the same moment, of course. I'm learning to manage the dicier moments, and not let them intimidate me.

I think the key is to check my pride at the door, and just do my best to enjoy the good times and special moments that sandwich themselves between the awkward, embarrassing and difficult ones. And hope no one is photographing or videotaping me in the process!


Is it just me, or is there is something about gentle older women cradling the tiniest of babes that tugs at your heart? I'm reduced to tears when it's my own grandmother lovingly snuggling my little one.

The simplest things bring my grandmother joy. Although what is more miraculous than a little baby? She knows this secret - the best thing about life - and you can see it on her face. Her body is failing but her arms still remember how to embrace. Some things are impossible to forget, even if a mother's instinct helps the memory.

(Maddie always has a smile for her great grandma Jessie)

These are the bookends to my family, and they are precious to me.

Fat free snack

My new favorite place to kiss Maddie is just below her jaw under those chubby cheeks. The skin is unbelievably soft. I plant my face against hers, start kissing her, and she goes still and gets a huge smile on her face and eats it up!

It's our new favorite thing.

Carry on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet & Sour

In 20 years, when Robbie and Ellie open up the blog book I have this printed into and read about the weekend we just had, I hope that they go out and buy me a really nice present and then come home and mow the yard for their dad (and maybe trim the bushes too).

For every sour moment the weekend brought our way, there was a sweet one to match it, for which I am always thankful. The Lord knows just how much we can take as mothers!

On Friday, the Sweet & Sour list went something like this:
Sweet - spending the afternoon and evening with my mom here to help while Rob was out late for work
Sour - the kids waking up when the garage door opened at 11:30pm and not falling back asleep until 3:30am. That would be 4 hours of tears, screaming, back and forth trips into their room, singing, firm requests to go to sleep, and longing to just go to bed.
Sweet - finally falling back asleep with Robbie sandwiched between Rob and I so that Ellie would not disturb the rest of his night of sleep.
Sour - Robbie slept in our bed with us. Enough said.
Sour - waking up one hour later to feed Maddie at 4:30am.
Sweet - spending any time alone with her is sweet to me! I also got to sleep in the bed in her room for the next 4 hours straight, which felt like the best 4 hours of sleep ever at that point. (Robbie had sprawled out in my bed during my absence and I was basically not invited back - ha!)

Sweet - having family breakfast together
Sour - feeling like we had been out all night partying, except that we hadn't. Oh, and in our daze we forgot to change the kids' diapers at appropriate intervals and Robbie's was so full that pee was actually pooling on his chair while he ate his eggs. Low point as a mother.
Sweet - getting out of the house for groceries to keep our energy up (and to acquire coffee!) while daddy worked in the yard.
Sour - taking all 3 kids to Target for groceries is like my Everest. I keep trying to get in and out without incident and it keeps not going well. I refuse to give up. At least at this point I was caffeinated.
Sweet - having friends over for a cookout and watching our kids play together!
Sour - It drizzled on our heads, was slightly chilly, and both of our 2 month olds were awake during dinner, making it hard for the moms to eat (think trying to cut grilled chicken with one hand and a fork). Robbie brought the toy shopping cart outside and then drug it back inside, smearing mud on the carpet. We had totally given up managing the 3 older kids and just let them do whatever so that we could finish eating and have a few moments of conversation!
Sweet - although they went to bed a little later than usual, all of the kids slept hard through the night.
Sour - Rob and I waking up Sunday with sore throats, and because children were still sleeping well past the hour we have to be up and getting ready for church, missing church altogether.

Sweet - happy little faces greeting us when they finally awoke
Sour - Rob and I weren't the only ones with colds
Sweet - picking up donuts and coffee and heading to a park for the morning, and enjoying mild weather and time together
Sweet - everyone back on their regular sleep and nap schedule
Sweet - stopping by the nursing home to visit my grandmother with Maddie in the afternoon. I got there at the tail end of dinner time, and if you want to be popular at a nursing home just walk in with a baby. I was literally swarmed by sweet old ladies and when I tried to follow my grandmother out of the dining hall as her caretaker wheeled her towards her room! My baby and I were trapped behind walkers and wheelchairs and shaky little hands reaching out to stroke her chubby cheeks and soft head, and it was just the funniest, most precious situation.
Sweet - spending time with just my grandmother in her room before she went to bed for the night. She held Maddie nearly the entire time and it lit up her world.
Sour - listening to her try to speak and not finding the right words, or forgetting the thought that was just at the forefront of her mind and on the tip of her tongue. Discussing who in our family may have had red hair, and hearing her say that she doesn't remember the color of her mother's hair.
Sour - leaving.
Sweet - returning home with pizza for dinner.
Sweet - everyone in bed with full tummies by 8:30pm.

And the sweetest of them all - Maddie slept from 8pm-5:30am straight last night without waking! And the older 2 are still asleep, which means 11 hours straight for them without waking. What a great way to wrap up the weekend.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Profound arrangement

There is a symphony of coughing playing in the monitor next to me, and sometimes I stop to think about what everyone else's lives sound like right now. I know a lot of my friends' sound similar to mine, as we are this generation's group of young mothers.

I love it when mine includes the dishwasher and washing machine and dryer, the sounds of productivity and things being washed new. I also love that sometimes the stars align (yes, in the middle of the day!) to offer me a few minutes of complete silence in my home. But more often than not, I am dancing through life to the tune of giggles and "why's" and pleas for more juice and whining and wrestling match grunts and sneezes and little thoughts that make their way out of little mouths that make me stop and wonder at how such wisdom can be spoken from the smallest of people.

If I'm not careful, I tune out these sounds and move about my day without an awareness that I am living in His presence, amidst His glory, right here in my home where the dishes pile up and the toy bin is emptied and strewn across the family room (again). I have never taken for granted that I am able to stay home with our children. What I often miss is the opportunity to embrace life as it is with 3 small children. There will be plenty of time to enjoy a perfectly clean home, quieter days, and the absence of a monitor or babe on my hip and spit up on my shoulder.

Today is not that day. And I am thankful.

He weaves His purposes through my life and our family and this home, regardless of the chaos or sickness or demands or disappointments, and it is the most profound arrangement that only He could compose. Today I will listen.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Glass bottles

Give me a little time to myself and I'm a blogging machine, even at 6am.

I don't know how many of you have newborns in your household... but if you do, and are looking for a bottle to use with a baby who is still very new and used to breastfeeding, I have a recommendation for you.

These classic glass bottles, which come in 2 sizes, short (4 oz) and tall (8 oz), are wonderful. Obviously there are no BPA concerns since they're glass. The nipple on these bottles is what I appreciate most. We have a stash of beloved Born Free bottles that both Robbie and Ellie used, but the corresponding nipples were too large and long for Maddie when we started to transition to bottle feeding her recently.

So I went to the store and bought a few other options to try out, and this Evenflo glass bottle was her favorite. My friend Kacey also uses these bottles with her newborn, but with a different nipple (one the hospital used that is even smaller while her babe was in the NICU). This bottle is a great choice for many of us who didn't expect to be bottle feeding as early as we are. It makes the transition that much easier, and they aren't very expensive. Especially if you are filling it with liquid gold #2 (Nutramigen! Breastmilk will always be #1.). I do recommend the larger size if you need to make more than a 3 oz bottle of formula. The smaller 4 oz size bottle fills up quickly once you pour in 4 oz of water and then add formula - mixing gets dicey as the formula wants to clump inside the nipple. I ended up buying both sizes and that works well for us, as some of Maddie's feedings are still as small as 2 or 3 oz, but others are 4 or even 5 oz.

I bought the bottles at Target, but they are sold many other places as well (Walgreens, Ebay, etc.). I just purchased a few protective sleeves (new, on Ebay - click here) for feedings away from home. I am still a bit of a klutz and it's not outside the realm of possibility for me to drop a bottle on a hard floor in public. (Remember how I dropped and shattered my iPhone!?) These sleeves seemed like a good idea. Sorry the image is small.
Apparently you can buy the bottles with sleeves already attached, like these at Target online, although I have not seen them on shelves.
I hope this helps someone out there struggling with bottle feeding.


Last night Madeline slept from 8:30pm straight through to 5:30am!

Alternately, Ellie was up nearly every hour of the night for reasons unknown (which means a weepy and disoriented Robbie was as well), so I got less sleep than I have since bringing Maddie home from the hospital.

At least there's hope. We are a mess right now!

Best Friends

(fishing a rogue golf ball out from under the deck)

(checking each other's diapers for "poopies")