Wednesday, August 31, 2011


True story:

- Robbie starts preschool today (well, it's visitation day).
- Maddie turned 5 months old on Monday, and slept over 12 hours without waking last night.
- I have found the perfect moisturizer, body exfoliator and hair mask and it's about time something compensated for my caffeine drinking, hair dyeing, the-back-of-my-arm-is-always-rough ways.
- I'm not sore anymore the morning after yoga.

All victories and happy milestones. I can't wait to tell you more about it and show you the pictures! For now I need to go make a nice hot breakfast for my big boy in honor of his first day of school (kind of).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Proud? or Mortified?

You know how motherhood has a sneaky way of taking over your life to the point that you occasionally no longer recognize yourself? I've been unwittingly hanging out here a lot. (Who knew?) If you find yourself surprised by your resiliency / resourcefulness, or totally mortified by a new low or horrible situation you swore you'd never let yourself get into, then you might be keeping me company.

So here's my recent "Proud? or Mortified?" list.

*This morning I found that I had exactly 2 diapers left in Madeline's size. And if you know 4 month olds, you know that a stash that size can easily be blown in a matter of 5 minutes. Additionally, I had exactly 1 bottle's worth of formula left in the house. In my 3 1/2 years of parenting I have never, I repeat NEVER, allowed the number of diapers or amount of formula on hand get below one week's worth. Because you just never know what crisis or disaster might strike, leaving you unable to get to the store. ;) After getting to Target first thing this morning to remedy the diaper/formula situation, I found myself oddly proud of how much more laid back I am as Madeline's mother compared to the kind of mother I was to Robbie as an infant. Slightly mortified that we nearly ran out of food and diapers for the child, but proud that I had a moment of unpreparedness that is totally out of character for me. Perhaps I am unwinding a bit?

In the proud vs. mortified debate, I have decided that I am chalking this one up to PROUD.

*A friend mentioned to me that she knew someone whose baby was put on Nutramigen, the same formula Maddie is on for her milk allergy, and that this friend's insurance covers the cost of the formula because it must fall within some sort of medical condition covered by their insurance. Hmmm... I put a call in to our insurance company this morning and then to our pediatrician, asking them to notify our insurance of Madeline's situation and request coverage for the cost of her formula. I'm thrilled at the prospect of having this cost (high as it is) covered, and was feeling pretty good about my productive morning as I set things in motion to that end. And then I realized that we fed Ellie for an entire year with the same formula and never checked with our insurance about coverage for it.

In the proud vs. mortified debate, this one goes to MORTIFIED. At $22 per small can ($33 for a big one), that's a lot of money that I didn't have to spend during Ellie's first year, should our insurance cover the cost going forward with Maddie.

*Today I decided that Robbie needs to get used to wearing underwear all the time, and instead of putting a pull up on him for our Target run, kept him in his big boy pants. He dutifully yelled out "POTTY!" while we shopped, and made it to the bathroom in time, keeping his pants dry. We stopped at the park on our way home and ate lunch there, portable potty always nearby, and although he didn't use it he kept his pants dry the entire time we were at the park as well. Then we decided to stop at Miss Kate's store before heading home (our affectionate term for the resale shop), and while inside Robbie called out "MOMMY! POTTY!" and so we used Miss Kate's potty for the first time. Just as I was feeling super proud of my very potty trained big boy, a few minutes later he called out "POTTY!" again, and I encouraged him to go ahead and use the restroom again. He prefers privacy now when using the facilities and since he had already successfully maneuvered this bathroom once 5 minutes ago, I didn't think to lend a hand. I think he waited too long to try and make it to the bathroom, because my sweet boy had pooped his pants and was reaching back to poke at it through his shorts when I checked in on him.

In the proud vs. mortified debate, this one is a tie. SO PROUD of him for his progress and efforts, but just a touch mortified to be wiping poo off of everything and then asking Miss Kate for a spare plastic bag to carry out soiled underpants in. Better get used to this, I think. I only see more sacks of poopy underwear in my future (with all 3 kids!).

*I am very sore from my recent Sport Yoga class. This one could go either way, too - proud that I'm actually getting my sorry behind in gear at the gym, and for braving the more intense yoga class, but...

Mortified wins. That certain muscles are sore just from yoga is no good.

*This week I am totally caught up on laundry and ironing.

The fact that I am actually proud of this fact means that the win goes to MORTIFIED. 90% of the time laundry is piled up in hampers, baskets, or laundry room counters waiting to be cleaned, or even worse, hanging out on the sofa in clean piles waiting to be ironed or put on hangers. I really need a new system or routine so that laundry isn't always an issue. But hooray that it's not a mess right now!?

I know I'm missing a few more that came to mind this week. Have any you'd like to share in the comments?!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The sweetness of giving

My Aunt Sherry and her girls (Courtney and Caroline) brought my kids the cutest milk cups the last time they were here. Apparently when the girls were little they had these and loved them. Robbie and Ellie were so excited to use them for the first time, and I completely forgot that I had taken these pictures until I happened to see them today. (Funny story, they gave them to the kids while we were eating lunch together at Chick-Fil-A. Appropriate, no!?)

You put chocolate or strawberry mix in the bottom, fill it up with milk, and press the button on the handle. The milk mixes up so well that it gets frothy and thick.

The verdict?

YUM. The kids were so mad at me when they had finished their (enormous) cups of milk, as if I had skimped on the portions, and begged for more. They would have made themselves sick on frothy milk if I had let them!

Thanks for our awesome cups, Aunt Sherry and Cousins Courtney and Caroline!


I am so lucky to have a mom who knows how to sew. She used to make all of our halloween costumes, hem or alter our clothes growing up, and even made a lot of her own clothes when she was younger, namely her own maternity clothing!

She's amazing.

Throughout my pregnancy with Madeline, I was sort of obsessed with finding the perfect baby quilt for her room. Being the third child and second girl, there wasn't much that we needed for her. But that doesn't mean a momma doesn't want to feather her nest and have a special space with things chosen especially for the little one on the way. I searched Etsy and baby boutiques, and couldn't find anything that matched what I wanted (unless I wanted to shell out for a custom quilt - which I did not!).

And then my mom offered to make a quilt just for Maddie, to match her newly painted nursery. Along the way, my sister had foot surgery and was laid up for a while and she did a lot of the work alongside my mom as well.

And that is the story behind this quilt! I ordered all the fabric from Amy Butler and picked out a pink minky fabric from JoAnn's to soften the overall texture, and my mom and sister did the rest. When they had finished it and gave it to us after Madeline was born, I wanted to cry. It's beautiful and unique and I hope Madeline treasures it forever. I know I will.

Thanks again, Mom and Kelsey, for the sweetest baby gift ever.

Can you tell one of my love languages is 'gifts'? A thoughtful gift or labor of love means so much to me!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I've been a little quiet lately

It's a hodgepodge update. And it's pretty insignificant. Just giving you fair warning.

(ps. you're welcome for not including the picture of Robbie's pee and poop in the baby bjorn potty. THAT is what we've really been up to!)

We joined a gym. For the last week or two I have tried to go every day, with the exception of Sunday. The kids were unsure of the childcare area so the first few trips were brief - 30 minutes - just enough time to allow them to explore and gain confidence but not so long that they wondered if I was coming back. Plus, after 3 years or so of nary a legitimate workout, 30 minutes at a time was all I could stand! (HA) The group exercise is free to members and I'm loving the yoga class. It's pretty much my happy place... corpse pose at the end of class with acoustic Free Fallin' by John Mayer playing? Excellent. I have also fallen in love with the eliptical machine. This ought to replace my love affair with croissants, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

One day, on the way to the gym. Yes, I am happy. It feels good to move without a person or milk inside of you. Too much information?

This picture below must have been our first trip because I left Maddie home for it. I knew it would be dicey and it was, so best to limit the number of children in tow to the number of hands I have. (I also love this picture because it reminds me of my favorite recent Robbie-ism: "Mommy, this car is like our house!" Right on, little man - we eat in it, nap in it, change diapers in it, watch movies in it, and even pee and poop in it, thanks to the portable potty that sits between the front and middle seats. Kind of a gross combination of activities, but whaddayagonnado? Embrace the life you are living. One day no one will be pooping in the car, but today is not that day.)

We also still feed the baby bottles. And since that activity takes a little bit of time, and requires me to sit still, sometimes I get out my phone and take our picture. I'm real easy to entertain these days.

Maddie's getting stronger. She can play for extended periods of time on her belly, roll front to back and back to front, and most recently started grabbing for EVERYTHING (including my coffee - get your own!). She brings things intentionally towards her face and mouth, and sucks/gums everything with great enthusiasm.

Oh, punkin.

I'm letting the kids cook. This day they made scrambled eggs. Well, they took turns stirring the yolks and I took it from there. Some days they don't want to eat their eggs... but when they help 'cook' them? Suddenly eggs never tasted so good. Hmmm... duly noted.

Please note Ellie's patiently-waiting posture (we practice and work on it). Love.

I kind of love croissants right now. For breakfast and for lunch, but not both in one day and not one every day (but I could!). Whole Foods makes the only ones worth buying. Is it gross that making a ham and cheese version for breakfast is my favorite? I pretend that I'm back in Paris and in my mind that legitimizes it (all that's missing is warm yogurt). This is highly incompatible with the gym - in particular, with my yoga pants. More on what's in that mug later...

We replaced our front door. I can think of 1,000 fun ways to keep 3 little kids from napping all day, and this isn't one of them (much as I hated our old door and LOVE the new one). Plus, we couldn't leave the house for obvious reasons. All's well that ends well, but they almost ruined our front steps in the process. Can you tell I hate home improvement projects? Why is it that they never go as simply or smoothly as you think they can/should?

Mid-project: a huge hole. This kind of made me panic and I had to stop watching. {COME ON IN!}

I had a 24 hour bug. (No picture, but I looked like death x's 100 and way more miserable than when I was in labor with my babies.) We went to the park that morning with my mom after shopping for the kids' fall shoes, and I took this picture of them resting between playing. By the evening, I couldn't even stand up straight and thought I was going to die of chills/fever/body aches and stomach cramps. Thankfully my mom stayed through the afternoon and watched the kids until Rob came home early from work. I felt better the next day.

I am in love with this coffee! I found it by chance and it's so wonderful I usually indulge daily. I think it's better than my hazelnut DD's coffee and that's saying something. Plus, don't you love the packaging and the name? Yes, you do.

Not pictured:
- thrifting and selling at our favorite local consignment store
- a lovely brunch and shopping trip with Megan recently (just the 2 of us!)
- family trips to the park

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First bite and more of our everyday life

Maddie's been furiously sucking on her hands, even when she's just been fed and isn't tired. I had agreed with our pediatrician to hold off on solids until just before her 6 month visit, since she has a sensitive system (milk allergy). But my mother's intuition has been nagging me to offer her Oatmeal.

So that is what we did last night (and then I prayed that I wouldn't be punished for jumping the gun by some random reaction in the form of a rash, etc.).

Baby girl was skeptical and her furrowed brow was working overtime at first, as well as her expression of distaste (which she borrows from me). After a few bites, she figured out how to swallow and even started lunging at the spoon with her face, grabbing on to the high chair tray for leverage! She slays me. It was successful, overall, and this morning's repeat performance was much the same.

Patiently waiting...

Please note the destruction below Robbie's chair. Dinner is sometimes a free for all when Daddy has to work late, as evidenced by this picture:

Nobody in this picture is fully clothed. But everyone is happy!

Breakfast with our trains on the deck in the early morning sunlight.

Happiest, most pleasant baby ever.

Quiet time

Everyone likes to participate in tummy time!

He is so quick to get down on her level and talk to her, show her a toy, or teach her new things. So precious.

Getting close to sitting!

A snuggle on mommy's lap

I know everyone thinks their baby is pretty, but seriously.
This one takes my breath away.

Everybody's here! But all she wants is a nap.

Clean plate club.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

These are the ways that I love You

I get down on my hands and knees and wipe the crumb-laiden, sticky floor three times a day.
Thankful that we have food to eat and a clean floor to catch our excess as it falls.

I gently wipe dirty bummies and keep a fresh supply of clean diapers on hand.
Thankful for bodies and organs that are healthy, doing what they should.

I encourage little ones when they learn a new skill, develop a greater sensitivity, or show extraordinary love towards another.
Thankful to be the one observing their growth and choosing what gets positive reinforcement.

I confess my sin out loud. I try to remember to ask for forgiveness when I wound even the least of these.
Thankful for grace that covers all, and Your Spirit that prompts self examination.

I am learning to offer myself grace in the same way You do when I fall short of what I wish I could accomplish.
Thankful for growth.

I look for opportunities to offer kindness and empathy to others.
Thankful that struggles can be used in many ways to benefit others.

I whisper my fears and hopes to You, knowing they are all safe there.
Thankful that You are always listening.

I seek help when I know that I need it, instead of trying to be all things.
Thankful for humility.

I look for Your movement in my day.
Thankful that You are alive and active even when I doubt.

I do my best to trust in Your promises.
Thankful that they were even given to me to begin with.

I try to remember to place my children back into Your hands every morning.
Thankful for each moment I have with them, and thankful that You know everything about them and love them more than even I do.

I keep a list of things I am thankful for, all of which point directly back to You.
Thankful for a new mindset.

I try to find time each day to be quietly devoted to You, through prayer and Bible study.
Thankful that You wait for me, meet with me, and accept my meager offerings, and in exchange breathe life into me.

As I think back...

4-6pm is the most challenging part of the day for us, as is the case with 90% of my other friends who are mothers of young children. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky and also consider keeping that information to yourself. Haha!)

Yesterday as we waited for our knight to ride in on a white horse (otherwise known as Daddy in a silver Honda) we did the following:

*grocery shopped in the driveway (they were out of EVERYTHING but sidewalk chalk and gravel but my tiny shopper didn't seem to mind)

*tried on our backpack for preschool and took it for a test drive around the front yard

*mommy secretly shed a tear over how quickly this little guy is growing up

*entertained the baby using the reverse camera in my phone. She is really into her own reflection, watching herself move and make different expressions, and is captivated by still photographs as well. So we took a few.

*then my favorite - we went for a walk and stopped by our neighbor's house. As I think back on it (and this is among the many reasons I blog), I see more of God in the moments that unfolded in retrospect than I did as I experienced them. Kathy and Bruce, our neighbors, are probably around my parents' age. They didn't have any children. They are incredibly sweet and kind to our little family, and we love to stop by their house and say hi whenever we go on walks. Kathy was pulling in just as we were leaving their front step, so we stayed and talked for a while. Eventually Robbie and Ellie disappeared around the side of her house and we found them watering her walk with the watering cans she keeps near her plants. After apologizing to her ("Unnecessary!" she insisted), Kathy encouraged the kids to water her beautiful tomato plants, helping them lift the heavy watering cans. She further spoiled them when she told them they could pick the vine-ripened cherry tomatoes (I couldn't believe her generosity - she only had 4 or 5 plants, and you KNOW a 2 and 3 year old have zero capacity to appreciate the effort it takes to grow your own food and therefore savor it upon consumption). We filled every cup holder and tiny well in the wagon with the fruit of her labor, and we parted ways with hearts filled to the brim with thankfulness. (In case you didn't know, the quickest way to a woman's heart is by loving her children.)

Before we headed home, the kids got a little wild in her driveway (translation: Ellie got knocked to her diaper-padded-bum by her overly-excited brother) and I had to have a brief but firm conversation with Robbie. I apologized to Kathy for the interruption when I returned to our conversation, but she responded with praise and encouragement for my hands on approach to the situation and asked more about our parenting. If you haven't been able to tell by the tenor of our blog, I have felt very humbled as of late. I was never afraid to become a mother, never feared that I wouldn't know what to do or how to do it (or that I wouldn't be able to figure it out if I didn't!)... and yet this phase of life has been particularly challenging for me as I stay home with our sweet ones and try to mother them in the unique way that God calls me to, for His glory.

It's hard. I fail every day. Sometimes I don't know what to do next. Most of the time I can't piece together 5 quiet minutes to refer to the parenting book we base our practices on. So you can imagine how I explained to Kathy what our parenting approach is! (With a lot of humility and emphasis on the Lord.) Rob and I don't have this down pat. We are learning every day. Our heart's desire is to see our children as the people God has given to us to make into disciples of Jesus Christ, not just kids to feed and raise and send out into the world with fingers crossed that they'll be positive contributors to society. It can get heavy fast, when parenting is viewed through this lens. Lately I'm feeling the weight of the responsibility as if it is real, pressing down on me. But I'm thankful for the question Kathy asked me, because in a way it allowed me to reaffirm out loud, to another person who cares for our family, what our commitment is to our kids.

Oh, how much easier it would be to succumb to behavior-modification as a parenting style.

But oh, how much would be missed - by our children and by us as their parents - in avoiding the call to train their little eyes and ears to recognize the God of the universe who is their Father, Savior, and Creator. To ignore our responsibility to shepherd their hearts, frustrating and time consuming as that long term approach might be. To miss the opportunity to teach them to love God, give their lives back to Him, and seek His purpose for their numbered days.

I was thankful for the sweetness that God allowed us to have with our neighbor as He reminded me that He is able to invert anything in my life. Even the witching hour. (He is a pretty big God, and He loves us so much. I needed the reminder.)

If He can do that much with 2 little hours, how much more He must be able to do with the phases of life that challenge us the most. Surely He's up to something...

Le artiste

Last week we dabbled in watercolor. I'm so glad we did - Ellie's attention span for the project surprised me. She loved everything about it, and was surprisingly intense and focused on her painting... complete with furrowed brow and brief glances upwards at me with only her eyes, head unmoving, when I would ask her what she was painting. It's always fun to watch a different side of your child emerge unexpectedly with a new activity.

Getting started, with a little bit of assistance from 'mama' (as she calls me)

I can hardly stand that head-in-hand posture as she swirls her colors around the paper!

Testing out different paint surfaces (as mommy cringed but let the entire creative process unfold! ha)

I have decided that after she tested out every color in the pallet, she jumped right into her 2 year old 'dark period'. All she wanted to paint with was BLACK BLACK BLACK. We had a lot of dialogue back and forth about 'darkness' and 'nighttime' and 'black like the night' and 'ooooh, scareeeeeeee!'. Yes, she frightened herself with the amount of black paint she applied to her paper. That might be a first among young artists.

There's that intensity I was talking about

Which brings us to today - Saturday. I thought it would be fun to break out the paints again since Robbie had been napping during Ellie's earlier painting experience and missed out.

I set up the paints and paper, and was trying to give Maddie a bottle and get her settled for her nap simultaneously. Not happening. After laying down 2 fresh sheets of paper in front of the older 2, I quickly took Maddie up to her room to finish what was left of her bottle, change her diaper, and lay her in her crib.

Just minutes later, I returned to this scene.

Robbie's place at the table... he is conspicuously absent, a mess waiting for me in his place.

Little lady was not happy to be painting alone, and had resorted to taking her angst out on her paints and dipping bowl with her bare hands.

And as I searched for Robbie, I found him hiding in the living room. See the next post if you're curious about what he was up to. And then laugh as you try to imagine how I attempted to clean all of this up at the same time because where. do. you. even. start. ????

Watercolors. Not for the faint of heart. (Or is that just motherhood?)

Fancy Delancy

Someone got tired of mom telling him that nail polish was for girls only, and took matters into his own hands.

Under cover of the art easel in the living room...

...he was able to give himself half of a manicure and pedicure before I halted the process.

Fancy Delancy by Essie was the shade he chose. Sometimes a boy just feels fancy (I guess).

If you're wondering where his mother was, she was putting the baby down for a nap. My attempt at distracting them first by setting them up with their paint sets and big pieces of paper was clearly not sufficient. Time to re-baby proof the house!