Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sam: 57 Months

Dear Sam,

My little buddy, here we are in December, the end of another year, another month closer to your 5th birthday. It doesn't seem possible (other than the frequent additions to your ever-growing "wish list" of things you want to get). It seems like just a few Christmases ago that you were pulling ornaments off the tree, unwrapping wrapped presents with those pincer fingers, and gnawing on a turkey leg with just a handful of teeth. Now you're riding a bike, writing letters, reciting Christmas poetry and singing Christmas songs I didn't teach you. How the years go by so quickly!

all photos in this post by the incomparable Becky Fisher of Wurzbach Fisher Photography. How I love her and the way she perfectly captured you, my sweet boy.
Of course, there are the times that I wish would go by a little more quickly. Take this past month, for instance. Your Daddy described it perfectly: "It's like they (you and your sister) drank a big bowl of naughty."You've been soooooo difficult. The kind of naughty that drops me to my knees in desperation. I find myself fighting for you while at the same time fighting you. I'm broken in prayer and I'm broken in spirit. I'm poured out and tapped out. This is what makes motherhood so hard! It's like my heart is out there, walking around on two legs in the body of a four year-old boy, all the while being dropped and scarred and bruised, all in love. I know you love me, I know you desire to obey, but for reasons I can't yet see or understand, right now is just really hard.

So I do the only thing I know to do, which is to press on. To press into Christ, who is my blessed assurance in a world of constantly fluctuating emotions, momentary obedience, fleeting desires and changing affections. It is so good that HE alone is unchanging. I need a little of that in my life right now. And even though I mess up each and every day as your mom, I hope that I can somehow point you to the perfect parent, the unchanging one, Jesus whose affection for me and for you never changes.

You went from a balance bike to pedaling a bike in the course of an afternoon. After months of prodding from your Dad, you finally made up your mind to ride a big bike and off you rode, without hesitation or issue. Your Dad, bless his heart, ran alongside you all afternoon, despite it being Thanksgiving and having just eaten a large meal. Your smile and confidence was visible from far down the court as you rode your little heart out! Can't wait until Christmas morning, when you get your very own first big boy bike!

Your new speech therapist noticed right away what a talent you have for art and for building (both with great intention and precision). You've been known to throw away many a drawing because it didn't quite meet your expectations. One night this week you figured out "HO" was what Santa says and proceeded to fill, I don't know, twenty pages with HO after HO. You were SO PROUD of yourself and I didn't really have the heart to tell you about wasting paper. You are doing a lot of prereading, using context clues in books, remembering phrases, recognizing letter combinations. It's so fun. I'm excited to see all that Kinder will hold for you next year. Every time we go to school to get Maddie, you remind me that you'll be there next year. 

As part of Advent, we spent some time the other night praying and listening to God. After a moment of waiting, you said, "I asked God how humans are made and he said, 'In my image.' Then I asked him how babies are made....but he didn't answer." I laughed all night about that one. You are incredibly funny without even trying. I love it. You also are so generous with your Advent chocolate. Every night, without fail, you eat one bite of your chocolate and give the other half to your Daddy. Heart officially melted.

This month we had our family photos taken. You were quite the handful. We had to bribe you with M&Ms to get you just to hold still. I was worried that none of the photos would turn out because you were so much more interested in finding stick "guns" than you were in sitting still. I kept reminding myself that the photos capture a moment in time, not just a perfect, smiling family. When the photos came back this week, I found myself drawn to all the images of you. There you were--smiling, sweet, hands folded, eyes sparkling. These photos are such a gift, because they remind me that deep behind the crazy, chaotic, frenzied boy that is characteristic of these recent weeks is a sweet, gentle, generous boy who is a love. And I'm so thankful for these frequent reminders in the midst of it all. 

Thanks for letting me be your Mama. I love you, Sambino.



Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Nursery

Evan is truly a third child. Here it is, eight and a half months after he was born, and I'm posting pictures of his room. Of course, Evan spent the first half of those 8 months in our bed, so technically, I'm only four months late. :) 

Shortly after ordering a bunk bed for the big kids, we realized that Maddie's room wasn't exactly the right size or shape for such a big bed. So the bunk bed went into Sam's (smaller, but better suited for a bunk bed) space and you were left with Maddie's previous digs and our original nursery. I didn't want to repaint. I didn't want to get new bedding. And, I had a very specific item I was working around. So it took a few months, but I'm really so pleased with the results. 

When my beloved grandma Evie (short for Evelyn) lay dying, I came across this gem in a closet in her house: Grandma's handmade baby quilt, used by my dad and both his brothers. I wasted no time in snapping it up. It's trimmed in a perfect baby blue satin that is softer than silk. The cotton backing is deliciously cozy and also so soft from years of wear. The multicolored animals are hand sewn in a black blanket stitch onto the quilt. I absolutely love that I have something made by my grandma, for her babies, that I was able to pass onto my last baby. It is the centerpiece of the room. It is also sweet that I started to refer to Evan as "Evie boy" without even intending to use my sweet grandma's nickname. He loves this blankie. Every time I lay him in the crib and layer the quilt on top, he reaches down and tugs at the satin, rubbing it between his fingers as he drifts to sleep.

I went with a pretty simple color scheme of navy and light blue with the PB Kids Madras bedding. Then I added some handmade buntings (my first. I'm pretty stoked about their cuteness). And I ordered the name banner from CM Handmade. It all came together this week and I'm just thrilled with the results. We've got an etching by Daddy, an antique dresser from Tutu & Boppa's house, and handmade bunting on one side of the room...

Baskets of books and toys and your own stuffed animals on another...

A hand-me-down crib with your new and old bedding, and a couple more buntings!

Evan likes it (even cutting those two top teeth, which means the thumb never strays far from the gums)!   Thanks for joining us for this tour of the nursery!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Evan: Months 7 & 8

Dear E,

You are the only child whose update happens to fall on the right day this month. Congratulations! Who knew adding you to our family would make my days so much more full? I can't remember the last time I had a whole hour and a half to sit down and blog (hence the cobwebs around this here blog). Nonetheless, I will persist in my goal to keep things updated. I so enjoy looking back at the baby years on this blog, laughing at the similarities and marveling at the differences between my three babes.

At 7 months, you were already an accomplished crawler. You had two teeth, which made their appearances on 9/26 and 10/11. You were babbling away, saying: Ba, Ma, Da, and MMMMMMBah! Grammy & Papa were lucky enough to witness your first time crawling one morning on facetime. It was so fun that we were able to share that all together!

Also at 7 months we started weaning, as per the doctor's suggestion. Mama started feeling sick again and inflammation was rearing its ugly head when we decided to try cutting back on the breastfeeding to see if it helped at all. While it was such a hard decision emotionally, I knew that we have a strong, snuggly bond and my breasts were no good to you should I end up in the hospital again. After just a few weeks, I started to improve drastically. You basically weaned yourself from the last two feedings (night and morning), taking the bottle like a pro and still giving me lots of affection. I'm so grateful. Though I'm sad to be done with nursing forever, I'm so proud that we made it past seven months, considering how much trouble you had latching and gaining weight at the beginning. Through it all, I was able to nourish you and I'm thankful for a body that gave you its best.

Even though it took you nearly seven months to sleep through the night, you are by far the easiest baby to put to sleep. We just lay you in your crib (or put you in the ergo, or in your carseat), and you just drift off to sleep. No crying, no protesting. It's as if you relax completely just knowing sleep is on it's way! You sleep anywhere and everywhere, in hotel rooms, in strange beds, in the car, on planes. You transfer so crazy easy. You'll fall asleep in your carseat, wake up when I take you out, let me put you in a fresh diaper, jammies and sleep sack, then put you back in your bed. It's really so nice and so helpful.

Your big blue eyes are constantly grabbing my attention, and the attention of others. You are smiley as can be, attentive, curious about everything, and SO CUTE. Every time you see my face for the first time you light up and your body gets excited and you crinkle up your nose and I just want to squeeze you. It's such a joy knowing you. You really are a remarkably lovable baby.

At eight months you are pulling up to a stand, cruising all surfaces, letting go with one hand, then two, and balancing as you slowly squat to the ground. You are SO strong and determined. Boppa predicted you'll be walking by the end of the year. Yikes. I'm sure you will. 

Now you can climb the stairs (I've caught you three times now trying to go down, face first). You are saying Ga Ga Ga and what sounds like "Hiiiiiiii." You are trying so hard to do the sign for Doggy (panting) but usually you just get a head bob going. You are working on your top two teeth and enjoying all kinds of table food that you feed yourself with those handy pincer fingers. So far you've loved everything I put in front of you, other than those pesky peaches!

You are such a joy and a delight to all of us. We can't imagine our lives without you! Happy eight months, Evan Michael!



Maddie: Months 81 & 82

Dear Maddie,

Dude, you're right around the corner from seven. SEVEN! Ack! I don't even want to think about it. My sweet baby girl is growing and changing and maturing with each passing day. 

For Halloween you were the cutest black cat ever. Add to that the cutest pirate and monkey and you've got a picture that just melts hearts:

You continue to be the BEST big sister EVER and a tremendous help with Evan. You and Sam are not having the easiest time these days, but my goodness, I can't imagine how hard it would be without the attention you give our baby. You are so attentive to his needs and his cries. When something happens, you will pop up and run to his side, scoop him up, and start speaking so sweetly to him. You love to play with Evan and spend countless hours a week making him giggle. He absolutely adores you and looks for you all the time. I'm thankful for all the times you rescue small things from his mouth, keep him from falling over, and prevent him from going places he shouldn't. Thank you, Super Sister!

As much as we weren't surprised at Sam's less-than-agreeable approach to pictures, we anticipated your  total awesomeness. You plopped down in front of that camera, smiled wide, and basically were the perfect model. It cracked me up. For as much work as your two brothers took throughout the shoot, it was as if each time I had to attend to one of their needs, or to their disobedience, I would glance over to see you working it with Becky behind the camera, snapping away and laughing to herself. It was so fun to see your confidence, joy, and natural talent.

But what gave me the most joy this past month was your heart. Oh, my sweet girl, how I love the heart your Heavenly Father has given you. In response to a difficult situation at school, you acted in courage and strength and stood up for a friend to a bully. Your teacher and principal lauded your bravery and I treasured your compassionate heart. 

When you had no one to sit with at the lunch table, everything within my Mama's heart wanted to provide the best solution for you. I wanted to rescue you from loneliness. I wanted to pack treats to share to help you make friends. I wanted to show up at school with sushi and make your day. But, thankfully, the Lord led me to pray for you and with you. And in His divine love and grace, God showed you how good he is by meeting you in your loneliness, showing you he is your truest friend, and made your day just by revealing himself to you. Again I was reminded that my parenting pales in comparison to the real, tangible presence of a God who knows all, sees all, and is in all. Praise to our Father who parents you so well and allows me to be a witness to it all!!

Madeleine (as you prefer to be called these days), I am in awe of the girl you are becoming. Even when you are sassy and struggle to control your tongue, I still rejoice in your growing and maturing. I know you will test things out at home that you hear at school. Though it is hard, I have seen enough instances in which your heart shines through the ickiness. The love Christ has put in you, the compassion for other and the joy for life, these things will remain. The sass will pass (or so I keep reminding myself). I love you sweet girl.



Sam: Months 55 & 56

Big Buddy,

Your legs are a mile long, your new haircut makes you look ready for high school, and your vocabulary never ceases to amaze me. Please stop changing into a man-child.

You still love to dress up. For weeks before Halloween, you could be found in uniform wandering the aisles of Target, eating at Peet's Brass Rail, and frightening unsuspecting passers-by on the sidewalk. I love that you still love costumes and I especially love the different combinations you come up with (i.e., robot cowboy construction man).

On picture day you donned this dapper little number, bowtie, corduroy jacket and button up. You were so handsome I couldn't help but take you out to lunch. Your requests: a burger and root beer. How could I say no?

You are a sweet and affectionate big brother. Nearly every morning, you greet him with a "Hiiiii, Evan!" and a big kiss or hug. You can get baby brother laughing like nobody else (except maybe Maddie) and he adores your funny sounds. If anyone speaks and appreciates minion, it's Evan. I'm excited for the day he can play legos and dress up with you. I hope he gets your unique fashion sense, generosity, love of life, and eye for design.

It was not a huge surprise that you were less than amiable at our family pictures. I seem to remember a similar theme at the last photo session when you were two. Not much has changed: you're a man who knows what he wants, and sitting still for a camera is not on the short list. At the creek where we met for our session, you were much more interested in building a fort of big sticks, pretending fallen limbs were guns, and eating the promised bribe of M&Ms. That's my boy!

You are always stockpiling various items for very particular uses and surprising us with your entrepreneurial skills. Here you had set up a "weapons museum" and were hoping to invite all the neighbors to see. It was organized, comfortable, and perfectly Sam. Other stockpiles end up in the craziest places: there are "office supplies" under a desk in the garage, a "robot fort" on the side of the dresser in your room, and lord-knows-what in the space beneath the bed (there's a reason the trundle won't go completely underneath).

This last month you were a superstar for a series of tests as part of your ongoing speech assessment. You amazed me (and all the assessors) with your crazy smart brain. As it turns out, after all those tests, we discovered what we already knew: you're a super intelligent boy, with an incredible ability to sit and focus, who happens to have a very specific speech issue. We'll continue working with your speech teachers in preparation for Kinder next year, knowing that you've got so much going for you! I'm so proud of you, my smart boy.

You've got your Mama's heart. I'm so glad I get to be your Mama, even on the days you make me crazy. I'm always on my knees in prayer, trusting our God has a great plan for your life, bud!



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Back to School 2013: Part 2

A few weeks ago Sam headed back to school, for his third and final year in Preschool! A look back at the past two years (cue tears):

Um, he looks like a baby in that 2011 pic. And he didn't stay small and round. My boy is so long and lean! This year's photo:

So, two funny things about this year's photo: 1) Sam put up a HUGE fight about wearing socks to school on the first day of school, to the extent that he was in such a mood he wouldn't let me take a picture on Wednesday. Which leads me to 2) When I snapped this pic today (Saturday), he was shoeless. Ha. 

Also, the pics from last week's Back to School Eve Feast! For future years, see here, here and here.

This year's theme was books, based on the classics.

I made signs for the food using A Beautiful Mess app on my iphone and printed them up at home:

We had Secret Garden green salad
A River Runs Through It smoked trout
The Catcher in the Rye quinoa
Grapes of Wrath red grapes
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chocolate chip cookies

It was fun (and enlightening) explaining the plot of all these books to Maddie and Sam. So funny.

I did make crowns, as usual, but they were thrown together in a flash and I didn't take pictures. Basically, they were open books made of paper with words highlighted in them like "love, learn, read, fun" etc.

Happy Back to School everyone!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Evan: SIX MONTHS! (Half a year!) Already! Sigh.

My sweet little pea,

On Sunday you turned six months old. I might have shed a few tears about it at breakfast, as you scarfed down a huge bowl of mangos and rice cereal. Just like that, you're a baby who eats real food and moves across the floor. It's kind of surreal, and a lot of fun.

You still have your very own look. Blond hair, big blue eyes, not looking all that much like Maddie or Sam as babies. You do remind us of Maddie in how you are inquisitive and always watching people's faces. You are constantly taking it all in.

This month was like a developmental explosion. All of the sudden you are up on your hands and knees, then you're rocking back and forth, then you're pushing up on your toes into planks and downward facing dogs, and then you're walking your little tootsies forward to your hands. Next week: sun salutations.

It looks like you'll be crawling within the month. Sigh. And I had such high hopes for a baby who would stay a baby forever. You love to barrel roll across the floor (and the bed, in the morning, after nursing, bumping into Daddy). You are all hands, grabbing and snatching and spilling and stealing before we even have a chance to react. Thankfully it's just been a glass of water here and a fistful of salad there. Nothing too dangerous. Yet.

Often the first sound out of your mouth upon waking is a raspberry. It's pretty much your favorite vocalization other than the ear-piercing, blood-curdling scream that we hear multiple times a day. Usually in confined spaces. At your six-month well check the pediatrician was amazed by the capacity of such a small guy to make such a big fuss.

But other than the screaming, you're a pretty fantastic baby. You will still fall asleep in my arms and take naps on my chest. You are sweet and inquisitive. You love to give kisses, big open-mouth, slobbery, wet kisses.

If I place you on a blanket in the grass, you make a rolling beeline for the edge of the blanket where you love to touch, pull, pick, and lick the grass and leaves. A blanket is pretty much pointless now, as you are quite mobile and even more determined to get to the edge. The grass doesn't seem to bother you at all; rather, you love to feel it in your hands and beneath you.

You can sit up by yourself, not for long, but just long enough to grab some photos. Most sits end up with you throwing your large head back and landing flat. Thankfully it's usually on a soft surface.

I'm so thankful we made it to six months. Medically speaking, the remicade you were exposed to in utero has now worked its way out of your bloodstream. Your immune system should be that of a normal baby! Yay! We've managed to keep nursing, too, which is such a good thing. Not only did you need it to build your immunity up to this point, but considering all those weight gain issues and the supplemental feeding, I'm so glad you still love to nurse. I love it too.

At six months, you are 85th percentile for height, 42nd for weight, and your head is somewhere in the 60s. You've managed to climb out of the bottom percentiles and find yourself a pretty average-sized baby. Yay for us! And yay for real food. You eat just about everything I put in front of you: squash, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, mango, bananas, apples, peas, green beans...and there's so much more to come.

All in all, it's been a good half of a year, little guy. Thanks for all the snuggles, the laughs, the midnight prayer times, and for completing our family. You are dearly loved.



Maddie: 80 Months

Dear Maddie,

Happy month-o-versary! It's so fun each 14th to gather my thoughts on the past month, record the new things you're doing, and laugh about all the conversations that have transpired. You are an engaging conversationalist, full of wonder and questions and awe. 

You are an AMAZING big sister and the most patient, loving, fun, enthusiastic playmate and helper. Every morning you run looking for your baby brother to give kisses, snuggle him close, give zurbits or "walk" him around the house changing "one, two, one, two, one two!" Evan absolutely adores you and no one can light up his face and body like the sight of your smile.

Last week you accompanied Sam into preschool, eager to see his new classroom and taking on the role of "student" as he showed you around, "teaching" you along the way. It was a sweet role reversal and I could tell just how much it meant to him that you would take the time to see all his favorite spots.

You're a late bird this year, which means we get a lovely little date two mornings a week. Today you decided on a HUGE maple bar at the donut shop. Your pink smile perfectly matched your sweatshirt as I snapped the photo and tucked the memory away in my mind. Even though it means more driving around in the morning, it's a treat to get this precious 1:1 time with you and I know even just twenty minutes together is good for your heart, too.

It's hard to believe you're a first grader, but at the same time you are so responsible and poised that you often seem older. You have remarkable emotional sensitivity and relational capacity.

On your first day of school, you triumphantly jumped in the car and deemed it, "the best day EVER!"

Of course, you are six. So there's bound to be some times where you act your age. Like throwing colossal tantrums about small things. And six year-old tantrums just aren't pretty.

One day you shared a funny story from school in which you shushed someone in line as your class was walking through the quiet zone. After you asked your classmate to stop talking, you laughed in spite of yourself because you had, in fact, been talking in the quiet zone. We giggled and giggled about that one.

In Hawaii it was fun to see you confident and carefree, excited to try new things without last Summer's trepidation. You rode on the boogie board, snorkeled in deep water, dove under big waves, and had a great time doing it all. By the end of vacation you were catching small rides on the boogie board by yourself and offering to teach Sam to do the same.

Right now you are still saying that you want to be a preacher/Mama when you grow up. But I can just as easily see you as a first grade teacher, adventure guide, occupational therapist, or lawyer. The world is your oyster, Maddie, just waiting for you to discover all there is to be seen. Thanks for letting me tag along on this amazing ride.



Saturday, September 07, 2013

Sam: Four and a Half (54 Months)

Hey buddy,

Well, we made it halfway through year four! (Pat on the back). And it was a big month. We visited Hawaii. You started your third year of preschool. You visited family in Wisconsin. And you handled it all with your typical Sam grace. You continue to crack us up with your funny faces, astound us with your detailed drawings, and drive us crazy with your stubbornness. 

In Hawaii we were able to sneak away for a couple "dates," one night we watched the sunset together in Waikiki:

At another point, we searched for the perfect souvenir. We passed lots of stores and many stands before you finally settled on the "perfect" drum. It was half the price but double the fun. It continues to bring us joy as you don your tie-dye shirt, camo shorts, and lead us in drum circles and chants. :)

You are in this great stage where you say, "Mom, mom, take a picture of this!!" and then make funny faces and pose. I pretty much love it (other than finding 100 pics of the same face you've taken of yourself with the flip cam). You love to make forts and hideouts and secret spaces and offices out of rocks and sticks and things around the house. I find little stashes of Sam supplies all over the place: forgotten apples and glasses of water, piles of sticks or rocks, backpacks filled with tools and hinges and coins and rope. I wish I could get in your brain sometimes to figure out the use for each little item.

You continue to be my snuggle bug. You live for nighttime cuddles. There are still several nights a week that you find your way into our room in the early morning, make a little "snuggle nest" on the floor, and wake up with us when the light enters the room. Sometimes I don't even hear you come in, but find you when I swing my feet over the edge of the bed. Thankfully you sleep through baby cries and even the occasional foot stepping on your sleeping body!

This month you created the most intricate drawing of a plumbing system. There was a toilet and then three pages of piping and a long, complicated explanation of where the pee pees and poo poos go after we flush them away. Your Boppa was very much impressed and might just be so proud as to hang the drawings in his office (being a waste water treatment civil engineer, and all).

We are so thankful for you, your kind and sensitive heart, your hilarious sense of humor, your endless energy, your creative brain, and all your hugs and kisses. Thanks for being our big buddy, for making us laugh and for reminding us to slow down and take time for cuddles. For as long as you will ask, I will happily end my day with you. Love you bud.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Back to School 2013

 It's that time of year: back to school! A time of fun, anticipation, a few tears, and lots of transitions!

First, a look back through the years (cue tears):

And here's our beautiful, smart, witty, lovely first grader:

Walking through the parking lot with Daddy:

Outside Room 9:

After school was out, she declared it "the best day EVER!!!!!" We are SO PROUD of our first grader! Love you Maddie girl!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Evan: 5 Months

FIVE MONTHS!!!!! How is it possible?! Stay this age forever, buddy. You are SO delicious right now. So snuggly. So smiley. So interested in the world around you. So easygoing. Evan Michael, you are truly a gracious gift of God. Every day I find myself giving thanks for the delight that you are.

This month was a month of great changes in your life. Shortly after 4 months you moved into your own bed, and then into your own room. While I enjoyed the nighttime snuggles, it was time. You still wake 2-3 times a night, but at least I don't hear (and feel) all the kicking, turning, shuffling, and rustling. 

You started blowing raspberries, much to everyone's delight. After a few days of studying my face intently, and placing your little tongue between those kissable lips, one day you blew out and your first raspberry was made, much to your great surprise and great joy. So fun.

You are also rolling over like a boss. The first several times no one witnessed it, but we found you rolled over in your crib or on the carpet. Now that you have tasted that bit of freedom, you LOVE to roll. Every time I put you down, it seems you stretch and twist, using that big cabeza and flexible torso to get going in the direction you desire. 

You are also an accomplished scooter. By digging your heels into the floor and arching your back, you can make serious progress across the carpet in a short time. But once your head hits that cold tile floor, it is not so enjoyable and you will scream out for help. 

After months of being behind, you have finally caught up in the weight department, much to my great relief. At 4 1/2 months, you were perfectly halfway between Maddie & Sam's weights at similar ages. Your head and length are in the 90th percentile and your weight is finally almost 50%. YAY!

You tried rice cereal this month and loved it. You are very interested in whatever we're eating and even try to grab food off our plates or out of our hands! It's definitely time. Next up: oatmeal, veggies, frozen fruit to gnaw on. Yummers!

Some day I know you'll give me a run for my money (hello, four years old is #sohard), but for now I'm eating up every delicious minute of having a baby in the house again. Thanks for reminding us to slow down, get on the floor, make crazy high voices, and repeat foolish behavior over and over and over in order to get one of those amazing huge belly laughs. You're the best, buddy!

Mommy's happy little camper, indeed.