Monday, December 27, 2010

The Day After Christmas

Yesterday, while raising the blinds in the girls’ room so that they could see the snow fall as they awoke, we saw our across-the-street neighbor taking down all of his Christmas decorations.  Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, before 9am, in the snow.  The sight was really quite ridiculous.  The snow was falling pretty rapidly (a rare treat around here!), and he was pulling up candycanes, stripping garland, and dusting the snow off everything so that his yard could be cleaned of Christmas before we left for church.

We truly had a delightful Christmas -- perhaps my favorite Christmas in memory.  But I’m having to fight the temptation to not just check “Christmas” off the list, moving on to strip the house of decorations, organize new gifts, and scrub the house clean to prepare for a magical fresh start on January 1.  

But this year, I don’t think I’m ready to be rid of Christmas.  I’m still pondering, still meditating, and frankly, still enjoying the Christmas lights on the back porch and our sweet Christmas tree (even if it’s only half lit).  I still want to sing the beautiful hymns of Christmas. I want to appreciate the new that we’ve been given, not rush to organize it away in a closet or storage container. I’m not ready to be rid of the extra light in our living room, even if it means that I’ll be free of artificial pine needles.  As I reminded Michael, it’s really still Christmas until Epiphany -- and I intend to celebrate as such.

When we take down the decorations, it will be that light that I miss the most.  The house will seem bare (if clean), and our rooms will feel dark.  It seems that every year I'm yearning to add new lamps to our rooms, to find some way to replace those beautiful twinkle lights. Oh, how I need the Light... 

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4-5

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Praying you have a very merry Christmas this year, and that you may be encouraged by the Hope that is Emmanuel.  Rejoice! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nutcracker Sweet

 Last year around this time, Phoebe learned that there was such a thing as the Nutcracker Ballet.  She wanted to go -- really knowing nothing other than that it was a ballet -- but we determined that our not-yet-three-year-old was just too young for a lengthy ballet performance.  But we told her than when she was three, she could go.

Throughout the year, Phoebe only became more interested in ballet.  She loves to twirl about the kitchen, read books about ballerinas, and to practice “steps” that she has learned.  We knew that she’d love the idea of going to the ballet this year, but we weren’t sure how the performance would work out for her.  But we bought the tickets, and a sweet friend who works at the studio also gave me the heads up that we could also buy tickets to a tea party with the ballerinas.  

Phoebe was absolutely overwhelmed when we brought her to meet the ballerinas. We had talked about meeting the ballerinas, and Phoebe couldn’t wait to show them her steps and warm up with them.  But when we arrived, she couldn’t eat, couldn’t even look up -- and yet, we could tell that she was delighted to see the glittering tutus and stage makeup of the big girl ballerinas.  When I took her to the bathroom, the previously silent little girl couldn’t stop chattering about the ballerinas and the ballet.  From this point on, her face was in a permanent smile... although she was still super-shy with the ballerinas when we returned.
 For the entire three-hour performance (which included a forty-five minute prelude), Phoebe sat spellbound.  We watched other children her age wiggle and talk through the show, but Phoebe remained motionless and talked only when she wanted to ask a question about the ballet or the dancers.  She couldn’t get enough of the show; her only disappointment was that she returned home without having had a chance to dance on the stage.
Phoebe has amazed me with her retention of the different steps and movements from both the prelude and the Nutcracker Ballet itself.  She twirls with a new intensity, and she imitates some of the smaller dancers perfectly.  She remembers costuming nuances and song choices, and she already can’t wait to take Nora again next year.

It has been a delight for me as a parent to watch this interest grow, really in spite of me.  I am not a dancer, nor have I ever been.  I haven’t instructed her with steps; I don’t even have a shred of rhythm.  My role has been really very mild exposure, and yet the Lord has developed this in her, has uniquely made her to delight in dance.  To watch Phoebe as a little ballerina in my kitchen has reminded me that He knits us together in such a way that will bring Him the most glory -- and for Phoebe, that may or may not include dance.  Whether she goes on to dance more formally, or whether she simply praises Him in dance in my kitchen, I am delighted to watch this sweet ballerina twirl.

Friday, December 17, 2010


We have had some serious sleep issues around these parts, and it's made for a tired, frazzled Mama who literally couldn't wade through the laundry in the hallway until last night.  In spite of it, I've desperately tried to count my many blessings.  And it has been seriously desperate around here.  My mom was here Monday for a baby fix, and I am so unbelievably thankful that her visit was so Providentially Ordained, as I do believe her presence may have prevented me from jumping off a bridge or getting myself committed.

But things really (in spite of the no-sleep, no-nap thing that's been going on from someone small) have been rather delightful.

We're dressing up like robots, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Mary (who, today, gave birth to the Lamb of God, aka Lamby).

We're also selling our wares at market, although this market is special:  you buy, the seller gives you the goods AND the money. Today, chocolate chip muffins were on the menu.

We're washing dishes and earning our keep.

We're getting into everything.

We're watching ballets, meeting ballerinas, and talking nonstop about the Nutcracker Ballet (and oh, how Nora can hardly wait until she gets to go next year!).

We've gone on scavenger hunts for Tinkerbell, dressed Mommy (and Jake) with "zebra stripes", had sisters reading to sisters, listened to Nora say "oatmeal" in the cutest way possible, tinkered in the kitchen, snuggled up with Praise Baby, and tried to remain thankful in all things.

There have been moments over the last week or so that I've really felt at the end of myself.  I've struggled to speak kindly, to wash or fold laundry (I believe there's a load in the dryer lingering right now...), to love my husband, and to even get a reasonable meal on the table at a reasonable hour.  Add to that the responsibility of "Christmas" in general -- or at least what I was feeling like was my responsibility at Christmastime -- and I've been categorically overwhelmed.

And yet, isn't that what Christmas is for?  It's so easy for me to sanitize the coming of Emmanuel, and my brain has been going through a retraining this year.  He came to us because we could not come to Him, because we were (and are) at the end of ourselves.  And oh, how I need Emmanuel... not just at Christmas, but every single day, to be God with me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

To tell

Over the last few months, I’ve been consumed, really, with work the Lord is doing on my heart. He’s exposing some really nasty selfishness and pride, and along with that, I’m discovering that I’ve developed a few unseemly habits. Lovely, right? In the midst of this, I’ve probably done too much navel-gazing, analyzing and over-analyzing what I’m doing and how. And really, I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing who-knows-what, but it certainly isn’t important stuff, the stuff that He would have me be working towards, because Heaven knows his yoke isn’t burdensome like the one I'm bearing.
And so here I am. I keep neglecting the story here -- my story, our story, but most of all His story -- because I keep finding other urgent things to do. Spots on the floor. Dust in the windowsill. Dinner to be cooked. Dishes to be washed. Budgets to be balanced. Yet my heart longs, even aches, to record and share this story. My days are full from dawn until long after dusk, but I feel He’s calling me to pause a moment and to enjoy this easy burden, to plunk down some memorial stones for the next generation that’s tucked into blankets on the other side of the house. His mercies are too precious not to record, too important not to testify about.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ruthie is Nine Months Old

How is it that our little Roo is nine months old? Have nine months really flown by so quickly?  I am delighted daily by this little Mouse as she grows and explores -- and oh, how she is exploring these days!  She’s up to so much!  

At nine months old, Ruthie is...
  • tipping the scales at 16 pounds, 14 ounces (15%ile) and is 27.5 inches long (50%ile)
  • sleeping 12 hours at night, waking some nights (okay, most) at least once.  Most of those nights she is soothed easily; she seems to be hunting for her nay-nay in the dark!  Occasionally, though, she will take a small bottle; Mommy is easily persuaded to give in to her desires.
  • napping two good naps a day, usually for about an hour and a half in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.  If her afternoon nap is shortened, she will often take a third short nap in the early evening.
  • working on getting some teeth, but none have emerged yet.  She is still generally a happy camper, although she has her moments... for those, I’m thankful that we have Tylenol and Orajel on deck!
  • crawling!  She spent last month perfecting her army crawl and backward scoot, but by the time we returned home from our Thanksgiving trip, she was crawling everywhere...and fast!  
  • pulling up!  And proud of herself, too!  I’m just thankful that she’s not walking...
  • making scrunchy face, which is one of the cutest things that all three of my babies have done.  I’ll have to capture this on camera; it’s accompanied by short, fast breaths.  
  • giving kisses, although selectively.  She does not do this trick on command.
  • flying away when in our arms; she literally flaps her arms and legs at a rapid clip while being held.  
  • into everything.  I’m having to re-learn baby containment strategies these days!  Fortunately, she responds to her name and a soft “no”... at least for now!  She particularly loves to check out Jake’s bowl and to dump the bookshelves.
  • on baby food strike, preferring whatever it is we’re eating to mush.  I can’t say I blame her!  I do try to sneak some pureed fruit into her a couple of times a day, but I’ve for the most part raised the white flag and started making her a plate.  She particularly loves her Cheerio’s, frozen peas (still mostly frozen), chicken, cheese, banana bits, noodles, broccoli, and green beans.  The other night, she couldn’t get enough Mexican ground beef... amazing!
  • jabbering and making lots of sounds:  mama, dada, nana, blah-blah... oh, how we love to hear her talk!  (She has an adoring audience, too!)
  • in love with her big sisters, and the feeling is mutual among the group.  She loves to wake Nora up from naps (and Nora asks to be tickled by Ruthie) and Phoebe will often play with Ruthie on her own.  Ruthie is happiest when she’s with all of us.  She also loves to take baths with her big sisters now!
  • wearing 9 month sleepers (although they still seem a little big), a size 3 diaper, and mostly 9 month clothes. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ruthie is Eight Months Old

Phoebe kindly reminded me the other day that Ruthie is “almost one” and that she (Phoebe) is “almost four”. While we still have four months until we hit either of those milestones... I suppose we’re closer than halfway there, which is pretty much mind boggling to me. I’m still getting over the fact that Ruthie is no longer a newborn.

I’ve truly done a terrible job of documenting life these past few months... I suppose, again, that I’m still getting over the fact that Ruthie is no longer a newborn. Alas, I will take what I can get these days...

At eight months old, Ruthie is...
  • sleeping around 12 hours at night, occasionally waking once in the early morning (5ish) to eat. She takes two two-ish hour naps a day, but if her second nap is short she will generally take a third nap for about 45 minutes. If she eats poorly during the day, her nighttime sleep usually reflects that.
  • eating 5-6 ounces of formula (we’re back on Similac now that I can get a good deal on the small cans, and I’m noticing a HUGE difference in how she’s eating) four times a day. She usually eats more first thing in the morning and at bedtime. I also still put cereal in her bottles in the morning and at night. Ruthie also loves to eat both baby food and finger food, and would probably do away with all baby food if I’d let her. She particularly loves her Cheerios, small pieces of banana, chicken, potatoes, and broccoli. We have postponed dairy for her because of spit-up, but we plan to introduce it this month and see how it goes.
  • staying awake longer when we are out and about, although she still sacks out pretty quickly in the stroller. I’m remembering that this is the “difficult” phase of outings: annoyingly short naps in the morning, followed by annoyingly short and grumpy afternoon naps. We’re limiting our outings right now for Mommy’s sanity. (Michael reminded me that we will not always and forever have babies that require two naps...)
  • spitting up less, although we still probably have two good “spits” a day.
  • wearing a size 3 diaper, 6-9 month clothes, and is learning to tolerate socks now that the weather is cooling down.
  • scooting backwards proficiently, and getting up on her knees to crawl... although she has yet to really make good forward progress. She will be crawling very soon!
  • pulling up... sort of. She can pull up on shorter things (like our large busy box) and stand in a crooked-sort-of-way with a knee on the floor. She also likes to push herself up on our toy baskets in the den, but she has yet to attempt it on taller pieces of furniture like the coffee table.
  • jabbering loudly and often. Phoebe loves to inform me when Ruthie has said “Mama”.
  • loves to cuddle, unless she doesn’t. She really enjoys sitting in a lap when a book is involved! She enjoys books with real pictures best, although she will also sit still for touch-and-feel books. Mommy is trying to be intentional with some reading time for her littlest Roo!
  • cracks up at Jake and Nora, but will laugh at anyone if they’re tickling or playing peek-a-boo.
  • beginning to share her paci and her Mousie... so sweet how she wants to share her favorite things!
  • happiest with a friend (she’s seldom alone!) and loves to play with bead mazes, chewy toys, squishy blocks, feely books, and anything tiny and illicit that absolutely isn’t a toy.
We adore our little Roo... it’s hard to believe she’s growing up so fast! Happy Eight Months, Roo!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nora is TWO

So often, I wish I could freeze time with my little people... I remember thinking that when Phoebe turned two, there was nothing terrible about it. Now that Nora has been two for a month or so, I feel the exact same way. I absolutely LOVE having a two-year-old in the house. There is something absolutely delightful - and difficult - about two-year-olds, but I absolutely adore those chubby cheeks, wide eyes, and high pitched ramblings and I wouldn’t trade this season for the world.

It’s so hard to capture the essence of our Norabelle at this age. She quite literally can do nearly anything that her big sister can do. It always amazes me when the ABCs come out of her mouth, or when she counts to fourteen accurately, or when she identifies a letter out of the blue. She converses with ease, and sometimes she makes me forget that she’s only two. Nora loves to pretend, especially with critters; it delights us to hear from the other room her talking to little bunnies or dolls and asking, “What’s wong?” in her special pretending voice. (It took me a long time to realize that she wasn’t talking to Phoebe!)

As big as Nora seems, she’s also still so small. She hates to be separated from us, and she still has a hard time going to Sunday School (one of the only times we are apart), even when her big sister is present. She continues to be comforted by her Wilbur and her nay-nay, and I think she’d hang on to that nay-nay until she turned twelve if we let her. I’ll occasionally catch myself asking something of her, and realizing --
she doesn’t understand this at all. I often forget that her understanding is not as great as her sister’s -- nor should it be! She is now, however, sleeping in a big girl bed with few issues (although she does love turning the lights on and off). She looks so tiny in that big bed, and I suppose that’s because she really is!

Nora is most certainly our spirited, social child. When Nora is sad, she’s
very sad. But when she’s happy, she’s exuberant. She hates to be alone; I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to bless this social child with two adoring sisters and built-in friends so close in age. Blanket time remains a struggle, for no reason other than she just wants to play with Phoebe. Nora especially loves her Daddy, and would remain physically attached to him at all times if it were possible. (She tries.) We are working with her on cheerful obedience (as she loves to protest loudly with a toss of the arms and curls), and Nora remains opinionated and exuberant. We have a really hard time not giving in to her!

Nora loves to pretend and dress up with her sister, read stories, climb trees (I’m a koala, Mommy!), play with dolls both big and small, write and draw, help Mommy cook, swing and slide. Nora also loves long baths with her sister having tea parties, snuggles with Wilbur and Daddy, silly songs, faces drawn on the shower wall, unloading the dishwasher, Max and Ruby, and her pink cowboy boots. She loves olives and feta, sour cream, and anything she can dip in something sticky. She loves to sit on the counter with Mommy, smell Wilbur’s ears, and to run around outside.

Oh, Nora... what a great delight you are, to us, and to all who meet you. I am so thankful God gave me you and your pudgy cheeks and curly hair. I can’t help but smile when I look at you! You’re the most precious, sweetest two year old I know!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ruthie is Seven Months Old

At seven months old, we couldn’t love our little Ruthie Mouse more! Everyone falls more in love with her every day, and it’s easy to see why. She is quite possibly the sweetest, most content little one I’ve ever been around! We had a more difficult month this month after switching formulas (Mama is still oh-so-sad about the Similac recall), but she still remains our little sweet delight!

At seven months old, Roo is...
  • sleeping twelve to thirteen hours at night and taking two two-hour naps each day. She just began to drop her third nap a week or so ago, and she seems to be doing fine with a little fussiness around that usual naptime. I imagine that if her second nap is shorter, she’ll take a third nap -- but we really haven’t gone without it long enough to know.
  • eating about 5 ounces of formula (now Enfamil Soy) four times a day. Her morning and bedtime bottles both have cereal to help control spit-up, and she eats baby food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ruthie also experiments with table food, and she loves Cheerios. She also loves to suck on green beans and carrot sticks, and she especially loves getting to sit next to Daddy, because he’s pretty willing to share his dinner (and dessert!) with her.
  • spitting up a little less, but I’m always amazed at the amount of Shout I have to use on her laundry basket.
  • still wearing 3-6 month clothes, but she’s busting out of her 6 month jammies in the feet. Now that I’ve done the seasonal swap out, she’s wearing some 6-9 and 6-12 month clothes, but those are all pretty big on her.
  • sitting up with confidence (as in, for as long as she wants, unless she’s toppled by a sister or a dog, and she loves to play in a seated position. She can also scoot backwards while on her bottom (just a few inches or so) and on her tummy (several feet, here, but usually slowly). Ruthie seems to want to crawl, but I’m praying she’ll content herself with her slow scoot for now.
  • starting to jabber and make sweet babbling noises on occasion.
  • scooting all over her crib, and seems to prefer her tummy for sleeping. Just the other day, she had pulled the monitor (which was at that point still in her crib) to her and was laying on it as if it were a pillow. Precious!
  • learning to play in the pack-and-play for longer stretches of time. She is starting to have a little separation anxiety, but I’m hoping this structured time can continue to bless her Mommy in the late afternoons!
  • loves to “fly” when you lay her down, especially for diaper changes. Her little arms and legs just flap at a rapid clip! She is the most exuberant flapper we’ve had yet.
  • is starting to get quite grabby... many times a day, I have to extract her fingers from my hair... I’m reminded now why I don’t have much recent jewelry!
  • loving to play with blocks, soft critters, and anything with a tag. And her sisters. Oh, how she loves her sisters!
  • loving to look at books with real babies, although books make a mighty fine snack, too!
  • letting us know she’s done with her food by blowing raspberries. Not the nicest table manners, but I’m thinking it’ll be a few months before she can master the sign for “all done”.
  • especially happy outside, and she’s loving our cooler fall weather these days. The stroller, the backyard swing, and the grass are all happy places for her.
What a happy seven months we’ve had!
What a happy seven months we’ve had!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


9:37am, nearly every day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Item Number for Pride

Last week, Mops and Pops generously offered to pick up the Bigs and bring them to Grandparent Camp for a few days. It took us approximately three seconds to agree, and we were all looking forward to the fun the week would hold. Phoebe and Nora had an absolute blast staying up late, eating ice cream, and in general ruling the roost for four days.

For me, it was such a treat to be able to spend some time with just Ruthie. And to go from three to one felt like such a breeze! I was feeling like supermom, honestly, with my one baby. We played, crossed things off the to-do list, went for walks, and... we braved Costco at 5:00.

Costco at 5:00 is something I’d pretty much never do solo unless it was an absolute emergency. (For the record, we’ve done it plenty of times with Michael on board and a trip to the food court on the agenda.) But seriously, it’s not for the faint of heart. But one baby was just feeling so easy, that I felt like it would be no big deal. Oh pride, how it cometh...

We pulled into the parking lot, I strapped on my carrier, and I began to lift Roo out of her seat. And then the smell hit me. While I’d grabbed the diaper bag before leaving, I didn’t check it. So after a quick peak in the diaper confirmed that a change would be absolutely necessary, I opened the bag to discover that I had on hand exactly one newborn diaper and one size four. I’ve since figured out a better solution to this problem, but I MacGyvered that size four so that it would hopefully work long enough to get me through the store. I prayed that no urine would leak, since I was planning to wear her through the store.

So off we went, and I silently patted myself on the back for my abillity to stay cool under duress with a baby on board. But before I had loaded one item into my cart, I looked down to see that Roo’s feet were turning blue. Not good. I pull the cart over by the mattresses in the back, lay Roo on the carrier inside the cart, and decide that maybe the diaper was a little bit too tight around her tummy. I make adjustments, snap her back up, and get back to work. While going through this process, a sweet mama of four sends an encouraging smile as if to say, “You’ll get the hang of this parenting thing eventually, sister!”

Three more times we have to adjust for circulation issues. And three more times, this mama passes me while I’m mid-diaper-adjustment. Ultimately, I blamed the blue feet on the bjorn and strapped her into the cart, praying she would stay upright long enough to load up with chicken, milk and diapers. (She did.) But seriously, I felt like such a first-timer on this Costco run! And I decided that no matter what, it’s a challenge to bring your kiddos to Costco!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stepping Back In

My heart has been so divided lately, wondering if maintaining this blog (however sporadically) is a worthwhile use of my incredibly limited time. These days, I hardly have a moment to sit -- much less to sit and tap out thoughts in coherent sentences. And yet, my heart still longs to share here. So here we are, perhaps in a more limited capacity, but here nonetheless.

I’ve also given this blog a new title. “Make Something Beautiful” is one of my most favorite songs, and I’ve borrowed its title for this little place as that is my daily - no, hourly - prayer as I walk through this humble, messy life: that God would make something beautiful (and He does!) out of my ugly heart.

Tentatively, carefully, I’m stepping back in, praying that this serves as a precious record and testament of the ways that He is making all things beautiful and new.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ruthie is Six Months Old

Half a year, already? Time surely flies when we’re having fun... and we ARE having fun! This time last year, still throwing up and barely managing with two other babies, I questioned the Lord’s timing for our third child. I was fearful and anxious, wondering how on earth we would make it. Now, I can’t even conceive of a life without our little Ruthie. The Lord knew what a precious gift this little one would be, and I’m so thankful that he saw fit to bless us with her when he did.

Although I still am convinced that six months old is practically a newborn, I’m reminded often of how big she’s really getting! Just the other day at the pediatrician, the mama behind me in the checkout line held a sweet newborn (just two weeks old!) in her arms. I could scarcely believe how tiny that baby was...and how enormous our little Ruthie looked in comparison! I suppose I have no choice but to admit that she’s growing up, just a little bit, every single day!

At six months old, Ruthie is...
• 14 pounds, 11 ounces (25%ile) and 26.5 inches long (80%ile). Amazingly, she is the smallest of the three girls at six months!
• sleeping from 7:30am to 7:30pm most nights, occasionally waking at around 5:00 but going right back to sleep with a Mousie and a pacifier. She also typically takes two two-hour naps each day, followed by a shorter 45-minute nap in the late afternoon.
• taking four six-ounce bottles each day, and eating solid foods at her first three meals. Ruthie has liked everything she’s tried (and gerber has made it all), and she particularly loves her fruit. Like her sisters, bananas are her least favorite food. In her bedtime bottle, Ruthie also gets a tablespoon of cereal. I’m not sure if it makes a difference in her sleeping, but apparently she could use a few extra calories.
• still spitting up like a champ, and still unbothered by it. (I finally accepted that the spit up was here to stay, solids or not, and I got a friend to make me some precious bibs.)
• delighted by her sisters, especially Nora. She loves to be held by Phoebe, but there’s something about Nora that really makes Ruthie crack up. Honestly, she can just be sitting across from Nora and will burst into laughter. Nobody, not even Daddy, can make Ruthie laugh like Nora does.
• wearing mostly 3-6 month clothing with the occasional 3 month onesie thrown in for good measure. She also wears a size two diaper.
• rolling all over the place, and enjoys being on her tummy for extended periods of time. I’ll occasionally find her on her tummy in her crib, and she uses her rolls to get around. She likes to work her way into a new spot in the crib!
• starting to become sad when she’s separated from the rest of us. Ruthie has become increasingly social, and she no longer enjoys extended “alone” stretches in the pack and play. She did, however, do great in the nursery at church for the first time this month.
• able to climb out of the Bumbo, a first for our girls. (She never really was a fan of that thing...)
• not the owner of a tooth, as we might have suspected. The hard, white spot on her gums turned out to be a cyst, which went away on its own.
• in love with her Mousie. We’ve managed to get one more little one addicted to a lovey, and she rubs the tail over her face just like the other girls do with their critters’ ears.
• a fan of sitting in the red chair and playing with the baby in the mirror. She bounces, giggles, and loves to try and touch that sweet baby.

We’ve had such a blast with our sweet little Ruthie! I’m so thankful that the Lord has given us this sweet little Mouse to kiss on all the time! Happy Half Birthday, Roo!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Breathing Room

For the first time in several weeks, I feel like I have a little bit of breathing room. Life with three little ones is beautifully full. Everyday life isn't busy - we're home all day, almost every day - but the necessary routines of life fill our days to the brim. When we add anything to the usual pace of life, I find that we're overflowing.

In order to keep my teaching certificate active (something I've been counseled to do by a few older homeschooling moms), I am taking an online, graduate level literacy class. I've shopped for time and found expensive slots in the early morning hours, and I'm falling asleep with a highlighter in hand. It has been precious to see God's hand of faithfulness in this difficult time, as I'm completing the readings and assignments on time without sacrificing my primary duties. He's also provided perfect help at the perfect times. Daily, I'm having to trust the Lord to show me how to order my day; he is truly "establishing my steps". I'm particularly thankful that my professor is in France this next week and we have a bit of a "catch up" week. I'm hoping to get a little ahead in anticipation of a July 4th weekend.

Needless to say, the energy to blog is almost nonexistent. Life is stripped to the necessities right now, and I'm scratching out bits of our days and establishing notes of gratitude in a book I keep open on my kitchen counter. I'm planning to return to the blog in August, when the class is completed and we can settle back in to our normal, full routines.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nora is 20 Months Old

Oh, our passionate, wild Nora... how is it that you are already 20 months old? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were Ruthie’s size? A few days ago, I was looking at some pictures from Christmas and I couldn’t believe the change; and yet, all of the changes happened imperceptibly. Nora morphed from baby to toddler in a twinkling, although, I suppose that is just the way it happens.

At twenty months old, Nora is...
  • speaking in full, three and four word sentences. She communicates really well, and I’m astounded at how much we actually understand.
  • finally getting those teeth! Three molars are about halfway in, and I imagine they’ll completely move in by the time she’s three.
  • in love with both of her sisters. On the off chance that Phoebe wakes up before she does and we scoot her out of the room so Nora can get a little more sleep, the first word out of Nora’s mouth is, “Phoebe?” And Nora loves to take care of her little sister, designating herself as official paci-put-er-in-er.
  • so passionate, riding an emotional roller coaster throughout the day. I’m trying to be more cognisant of times that she might need a break, and she’s trying to learn how to manage some of the outbursts. Bunny and nay-nay are often sweet, sweet comforts.
  • pretty much fearless, and can do just about anything Phoebe does. She loves to climb, twirl, dance, and swim...just to name a few.
  • singing her ABCs with pretty decent accuracy, counting to five (with help), and answering the first three questions in the children’s catechism.
  • in love with all things water - the swimming pool, watering cans, washing dishes, and generally, the bath.
  • happier with books than just about any other toy.
  • starting to play dress-up with her sister, though she seems to prefer fancy hats to fancy dresses.
  • a budding chef, as she plays at the little pink kitchen several times throughout the day.
  • a sweet helper. She loves to help load and unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, wipe spots off the floor, load the dryer, and put away laundry. Strangely, picking up toys is low on her priority list, although she’s beginning to enjoy putting things in their baskets, especially at the end of blanket time.
  • particularly receptive to one-on-one time, and seems energized after some time on the counter talking to Mommy.
Nora is a precious, exuberant delight. Her dimply smile seems to beget smiles from anyone in its beam, and her requests for “hold you me” are irresistible. Oh, how thankful I am for this little person -- and what a delight it is to watch her grow!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ruthie is 3 Months Old

Seriously? Three months? I can hardly stand it. My tiny baby is officially no longer a newborn; even the clothes and diapers declare it, as she is officially way too big for either. After three months, it seems like she's been here forever. We are still just falling in love with this precious little bug, and I'm so thankful that God saw fit to give us this sweet girl.

At three months old, Ruthie is...
  • consistently sleeping all night, generally from about 7:30pm to 6:30am. She occasionally wakes in the early morning hours, but will take a paci and go right back to sleep. She also still likes to sleep swaddled, though I'm thinking it might soon be time to start the weaning process here.
  • eating every three hours, 4 ounces at every meal. She'd probably go longer, but I'm not willing to let go of our schedule yet. Ruthie also still eats one last bottle at 10:00 every night, but she usually only takes about 2 ounces at this feeding.
  • spitting up... a lot. Some days, we go through three or four outfits. (And by we, I mean we; I'm having to change, too!) We're learning how to manage this a little better, but she's happy when she spits, and doesn't seem to be uncomfortable. This may be reflux, but since it's not causing any apparent discomfort, I don't plan to seek out any medical help with this.
  • napping pretty predictably, falling asleep with only a few minutes of fussing about an hour and fifteen minutes after she eats. The 45-minute-intruder still likes to visit at many of her naps, but many times she will go back to sleep for another sleep cycle. I have to wake her to eat for at least a few of her meals each day. Ruthie also likes to sleep with a loud fan in her room, which hopefully drowns out some of the ruckus in the rest of the house.
  • so easy-going and happy! She seldom "squeaks", and she's content just about anywhere, anytime.
  • in love with her sisters, especially Nora. (The feeling is mutual on all counts.) Nora was the first to make her giggle, and Phoebe loves to hold Ruthie and snuggle on the bed. Nora is the nay-nay specialist, and Phoebe loves to play peek-a-boo and tickle her toes.
  • showing her excitement by kicking and flapping her arms. I love this "flying" on the bed when we change her!
  • desperately trying to suck her thumb, it appears, to no avail.
  • talking and squealing with fervor, and "blooming" into a smile whenever she sees a sweet, happy face.
  • wearing 3 month clothes and a size 1 diaper.
I am so loving Ruthie, and just enjoying every little moment with her. I'm in denial about her no longer being a newborn, so I m going to hang onto her while she's tiny as long as I can!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother's Day

If you had told me on my wedding day that, before our fifth anniversary, I would have three little girls... well, I would have thrown my blue wedding flip-flops at you. I still can hardly believe it when I look in the rearview mirror and see three little car seats. When I check on them before heading to bed and I see those sweaty little curls and hear the deep nighttime breathing, I can't help but praise God for his abundant blessings and thank Him for not giving me what I thought I wanted.

This Mother's Day, it was a delight to braid hair, change diapers, rock babies, and sterilize bottles. It wasn't a particularly extraordinary day (although Michael made certain to make me feel adored), but my heart rejoiced in the everyday tasks of motherhood. I am so thankful for the contentment God has placed in my heart as a mommy. This job is unbelievably hard, but the benefits are incredible!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nora is 19 Months Old

When every waking moment of our days is packed to the brim, it feels nearly impossible to jot down a few thoughts here and there. I've taken to keeping a book open on my counter where I record some of the minutia of our days, as it's easier to scribble down thoughts than to boot up the computer and peck out real, complete sentences. Uploading pictures is another thing entirely. (My most recent upload included eight hundred pictures. Seriously.) My days are full of hard work, and sometimes it's just hard. Yet it's a delight to come back here and see what we've been up to, so peck out the sentences I must -- even if it's only every now and again.

Our sweet, passionate little Nora is now nineteen months old. I'm constantly amazed at her uniqueness, and at how she is a perfect fit for our little family. God knows our needs and desires so intimately! She is a delight and a blessing. At nineteen months, Nora...
  • weighs 23 pounds, 7 ounces (30%ile) and is 32.5 inches tall (90%ile)
  • is finally cutting those molars. And is she ever! Three are coming in at once, and they're giving her - and us - all sorts of grief. This all happened just in time for a Tylenol and Motrin recall, but Daddy came to the rescue with Walgreen's brand. She's pretty miserable, but I'm encouraged just knowing that teething eventually ends.
  • istalking all the time, of course, and now stringing many two and three word phrases together. We hear "hold you me" pretty often, but she'll also make requests followed by "please" (as in "bunny please"). I'm also sad to report that she's calling her bunny "bunny" (instead of "nimee"). She also jabber-reads books aloud, and sings along to many of our favorite songs.
  • Speaking of songs, Nora loves to request "Howy Howy Howy", which is the overwhelming bedtime favorite. She also loves 5 Little Speckled Frogs, the ABC song, and the Miss PattyCake Hullabaloo Song. But she'll pretty much sing anything!
  • ends books with a hearty "Amen".
  • now requests tutus when she hears music, and loves to dance and twirl in the kitchen. (I'm pretty sure this is old news.)
  • is a hearty eater, and is my partner in crime for weird food. Today, Nora sat on the counter while I prepared a greek pasta salad and I had to cut her off the olives and tomatoes. She was also sad to discover that the noodles were noodles, and not beans. She also licks hummus right out of the bowl.
  • can identify some of her letters accurately, and she always surprises me when she does. I can take zero credit for this; I'm pretty sure everything she knows, she's learned from Phoebe or Fridge Phonics.
  • identifies every color as blue, unless she's talking about pink... her sister has schooled her in pink!
  • is intensely passionate, and we're working with her on not thrashing. It's amazing how different children require such vastly different things in terms of discipline and training! Nora is also really sensitive, and her feelings are easily hurt.
  • is a Daddy's girl. She loves her mommy when it's just mommy...but once Daddy gets home, it's all over. She LOVES to be with her daddy, and can't stand to have him out of her sight!
Oh, how we love our little Norabelle! Happy 19 Months, Belly!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ruthie is 2 Months Old

Two months have come and gone with our little Ruthie! Sometimes I forget that she's only two months old... and sometimes, I can't believe that she's already two months old. Our days are a whirlwind, and we're busy right now with spring planting. We've also had a touch of a tummy bug in the house, Nora's cutting teeth, and I'm in the process of renewing my teaching certificate, so I'm squeezing this in so my very forgetful brain can hang onto what it's like to have a sweet little two-month-old Ruthie in the house.

At two months old, Ruthie...
  • Weighs 9 pounds, 5.5 ounces and is 23 inches long. (This was at her eight week checkup on April 27.)
  • Eats every three hours during the day, usually taking between two and four ounces at a meal. We have recently transitioned to faster flow nipples for her bottles, and we're hoping she'll start taking a little more at her meals. At night, Ruthie usually wakes once to eat between four and five, and then goes back to sleep. [At around six weeks, she was sleeping through the night, going from 10-6. She kept this up for about a week and a half, but she has started needing to eat again. Growth spurt, maybe?]
  • Takes a nap after each meal that lasts anywhere from an hour to two hours. It generally takes a fair amount of grumping to settle herself down, but she does settle herself for her naps.
  • Enjoys being swaddled, but is perhaps getting a little irritated with the Miracle Blanket. She seems to prefer a less restrictive - but still tight - swaddle when she sleeps.
  • Smiles oh-so-sweetly! It started as a small grin, but it's getting a little bigger and easier to coax out.
  • Coos when she is very, very happy.
  • Loves her bath! Our bathroom has become a little bit of a spa retreat, with all three girls getting sudsed up on a nearly-nightly basis. I can't wait until she's big enough to sit in the tub with her big sisters!
  • Is content just about anywhere! She's been an easy-going little sister, and she loves to just be where we are. She particularly loves to lay on her back and watch a fan; this usually gets her kicking and smiling. She also loves the swing, the Moby, and her bouncy seat. Her sisters provide plenty of stimulation; consequently, she spends very little time on the floor!
I was so fearful about the transition to three, and yet, God has allowed us to have a smooth and easy transition in which I feel like I'm really delighting in all three of these sweet little girls. The days are flying by, and before we know it, Ruthie will be running around wild with her big sisters. It's so hard to believe!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Survival Mode

It's 9:30 pm. All three girls are sleeping, Michael is working and researching, and my feet are aching. I'm letting my hair air-dry a little more before turning on the hair dryer, and then I will be crashing. These days, it takes me approximately three seconds to fall asleep. Life with three little people underfoot is exhausting!

Yet, we're making it. God is so good to give me sufficient strength for each day. There are days when I am standing over the sink washing dishes, thinking, "There is no way I can do one more thing tonight." But little miracles happen every night, when God grants the energy to fold one last load of laundry or put away one more stack of books. We also celebrate the miracles of letting go, for leaving things undone is so challenging for me! His grace is enough.

Having three children this close in age is no walk in the park. It is as hard as you think it might be...and possibly harder. But we're making it work! Every day, I learn something new about juggling the needs of three little girls, a husband, and a dog. We've figured out some tricks for making life work. So for posterity's sake... here are some of the little things we're doing to survive! (These are in completely random order.)

  • Get up early. I try to get up at least fifteen minutes before Ruthie's first feeding. I wash my face, take my vitamin, and start a load of laundry. Depending on my need for caffeine, I may go ahead and make a cup of coffee. Ruthie also starts her day early (6:15) for my benefit; right now, it's the best start for her schedule that allows me to tend to the other girls most effectively. (I'll hopefully bump her to a later start when she starts stretching to four hours between meals.)
  • Speaking of coffee...I am loving my insulated coffee mug. It keeps my coffee warm for over an hour, which is about how long it takes me to drink it. And because it's got a lid, I'm not as worried about drinking coffee while Ruthie's around.
  • Right now, I'm reading my Bible while I feed Ruthie in the morning. Now is not the time for in depth study, but I'm so thankful that the Word does not return void! (I also keep a Bible open on a cookbook stand in the kitchen, which is a great way to catch God's word while I'm doing other things.)
  • Popcorn at Target. $1.50 buys popcorn and a coke, and they're always kind about giving me extra little cups to divvy up the girls' share. This keeps everyone happy and occupied while we shop!
  • The Moby Wrap. A-mazing. Ruthie is in it at least once a day.
  • Blanket time for at least one feeding a day.
  • When we grocery shop, I wear Ruthie in the Moby. Nora sits in the traditional "kid's seat" of the cart, and Phoebe rides in the big part. She gets to walk after we add milk to the cart. (I've also been known to distribute snacks at Publix. Last week, we cracked open a box of Teddy Grahams... I was unprepared.)
  • A fenced in backyard is an incredible blessing. I shoo the girls outside, and I can see and hear them from the kitchen. Many a lunch has been prepared thanks to the backyard. (Favorite entertainment? Sidewalk chalk and bubbles.)
  • Cedarmont Kids and Miss Pattycake.
  • Exercise. I try to get in at least some sort of aerobic exercise every day during naptime. This doesn't always work because Ruthie is still a little unpredictable with her naps, but it makes a HUGE difference in my mood and energy for the afternoon. I'm also eager to shed this baby weight!
  • My laundry sorter has revolutionized laundry at our house. I do at least one load of laundry (but usually two) a day, and this makes it easy to throw one in without having to go through the sorting process.
  • I use naptime to get some meal prep done. This streamlines the dinner hour... because frankly, I haven't figured out how to juggle the whole getting-dinner-cooked thing gracefully. It's all I can do to stick something in the oven on time!
  • A running to-do list on the fridge helps me remember to do important things like make coffee and wash bottles.

I should also add that Michael is the best partner in parenthood...ever. I literally could not function without his help. Not only is he incredible at handling the big girls, diving in as soon as he gets home and they tackle him at the front door, but he often sends me to bed early and gives Ruthie her bedtime bottle. AND Mr. Wonderful gets up with me in the middle of the night to help get me situated when I'm feeding Little Bit. But more than that, Michael is such an encourager. He points me to Christ daily, if not hourly, and reminds me that my hope does not rest in well-behaved children, scheduled naps, or a clean house. I am so thankful for my sweet, sweet husband!

These are very hard, very happy days. And really, we're doing more than just survive... we're really enjoying life as a family of five!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

Yesterday was hard. [This has taken me four days to pretend this was yesterday.] It would be easy to look at the pictures I just put up the other day and assume that everything here is all sunshine, all the time. Although I am content - even delighted - in my calling, there are still days that are incredibly challenging, humbling, and exposing of the rampant sin in my heart.

My attitude was foul from the beginning. The night before had been unusually difficult with Ruthie, especially since she had been going longer stretches more consistently. I was sleepily washing bottles, disappointed that we were still out of coffee creamer, trying to get geared up for a full day. I especially dreaded the trip to the grocery store, which would include all three of the girls. Although I was whining in my own heart, I was particularly intolerant of the whining that emerged from the big girls' room. Phoebe seemed particularly sensitive, and Nora just wanted to be held. Ruthie, who goes back to sleep about the time the big girls are getting up, was unusually fussy and unsettled. I grumbled and stewed over breakfast.

While I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I was ready to throw in the towel. And it wasn't even 8:30. Michael kidnapped Nora and brought her to the girls' room for a little one-on-one time before he left for work. And as I scrubbed the counters, I tried to scrub out my nasty attitude. (I failed, by the way.)

By 9:00, Michael had to get out the door...and I had to get those girls dressed if we were going to ever make it out of the house. Ruthie was already crying to be fed. Michael set up the big girls on blankets for blanket time and I hurried to get a bottle ready. Feeding time was uneventful, but it wasn't long before Nora figured out how to take the top off my water bottle...and then pour it all over herself and the couch. The slipcover came off, and Nora got a wardrobe change. I also needed a wardrobe change, since Ruthie had spit up all over my back. And then, it was off to Publix.

We made it all the way to the dairy section before Nora had a complete come-apart. I am certain she could be heard in the deli, crying "hold you" over and over. (Holding was, by the way, almost impossible; with Ruthie in the Moby, I just didn't feel like I could haul an additional 23 pounds through the store.) We arrived back home intact, although I managed to forget the milk. (Remember? Complete melt down in dairy.) Phoebe accidentally dips her dress in the potty, resulting in another wardrobe change. The big girls got a little angsty over personal space with their coloring books, but the rest of the morning was relatively uneventful.

Mercifully, naptime had arrived. Except Phoebe didn't nap. Emotions were on high for the rest of the afternoon. It was more of the same all the way until bedtime, but I'm thankful that the details are now hazy. It was an all-day exercise in doing the next thing.

When the girls were all in bed, I got in the shower. When I came out, Nora was rowdy. I dressed and had the privilege of being the bedtime disciplinarian.

I was tired. No, I was exhausted. My muscles ached. My head throbbed. I was so ready to throw in the towel. And the tears came. It was as if I was too exhausted to hold them in any longer. I wasn't sad, just really, really tired. I'm thankful that Michael and I were able to decompress and process the day together.

All day long I meditated on Galatians 6:9, which says, "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." And that is so a truth I need to hear these days. In the midst of the non-stop do-gooding that goes on all day long, I need that precious reminder that we will reap a harvest in its season. Now is the season for sowing - and right now, I'm sowing in heaps of laundry, heart training, bubbles and tickles, eight bottles a day, and sleepless nights. But what an abundant harvest, in God's graciousness, this will produce!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Full Days

Nineteen diapers.

Actually, the number was seventeen. But I'm including two pull-ups in that count, since they were definitely not dry upon their removal. In one day, I changed nineteen diapers. So if you're wondering what I'm up to these you know.

Of course, I'm doing more than changing diapers. The past few weeks have been full of laundry, which multiplies by a factor of ten with the addition of a new baby and outside play. And fortunately, the days have not been full of much cooking, at least at suppertime; our sweet church graciously provided meals for us for three weeks. (These started after Mops left, so I'm just now having to figure out what's for dinner. And in fact, a friend is bringing us something delicious tonight! SO thankful for community.) And not much cleaning, either -- at least not the bathroom scrubbing kind, because I'm still enjoying the gift of Pam, who does the deep cleaning every two weeks. (If only she was here for whole-house pickup three times a day!) But our days have been sweetly filled.

With dress-up.

With dancing.

With popsicles.

With castles and dragons and playhouses.

With kisses.

With Spring wardrobe change.

With sprinklers.

With spa treatments.

With birthday parties.

With treats.

With slides.

With flip-flops.

With grandparents.

With baby smells.

And with lots of love.

Between all of those things, I'm finding it hard to even sit down these days -- much less write about our days. (And all three even nap at the same time, at least for a little while!) But I'm so thankful that pictures are worth a thousand words; it's certainly easier to snap a picture of giggling little girls than to write about them! I'm having to remember that this is a season, a time when all of my children are incredibly dependent and needy; I know I'll grieve their independence a little bit when it comes. For now, I'm oh-so-thankful for the blessing of very full days.