12 Weeks

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

AshlynnCollage11Ashlynn is 12 weeks old today.  Normally I’d be going back to work this week.  This is the first time that I have no where to go and I’m so giddy about it that I’m doing the happy dance.

Happy 12 weeks baby girl.  I’m loving this time with you!

Its Late

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

I should be in bed, its been a long day. 

The Littles and I dropped Jon off at work early this morning.  It’s the 1st day of his five-day long training and he wanted to leave early to ensure that he got a good room at the training facility.  And while I understand not wanting to leave his truck in the parking lot all week long, its never fun to wake the kids, load them up, and drive across town long before we usually start the day.  But that’s what we did. 

After Hudson admired the truck Jon was taking to Denver, we sent him off with kisses and “Bye Daddy”s.  And our adventure began.

We’ve been doing this week-long training for seven years now.  Every year for the past seven years, Jon headed to Denver for a week long training and I played single-mom during the time he was gone.  I’ve done it as a mom of one, then two, then three.  I’ve done it while pregnant or nursing.  I’ve done it as a working mom and a mom on maternity leave.  And it was hard, I’m not going to lie.  Some years it was so overwhelming that I ended up packing us all up and moving in with my parents for the week.  Some years we managed just fine, albeit the kids had a very cranky and stressed out mama by day #5.

This is the first of many years as a mama of four.  And surprisingly I’m nowhere near as stressed out as I thought I’d be.  Don’t get me wrong.  I miss him!  Desperately.  There’s just something about hearing the garage door open, the doorknob turn, and the squeals of “Daddy’s home!” that makes the weight of responsibility slide off my shoulders.  I much prefer parenting with him here, sharing the job together.  But this year feels… right.

I don’t know if it’s the 1st time that I’m not working, nor is there the dread of working looming over my head.  I don’t know if our family just feels more settled.  As if we were waiting for Ashlynn to arrive and now that she’s here, we’re complete.  I don’t know if I feel more confident in my mothering skills.  Or if I’ve settled into the role as primary caregiver.

I don’t know the reason.  I just know that it’s the first time in seven years that I haven’t felt the urge to turn and run for my parents house.  My mom even offered to let us stay at their house, and while I love my parents, the idea didn’t appeal in the slightest.  I actually relished the idea of being cozy and snug in our house with my Littles.

And so, here I sit.  It’s almost midnight, the Littles have been tucked in their beds and sleeping for hours now.  I spent some time laughing and staring into the face of our fourth-born, eliciting smile after smile from our baby girl.  And when she finally conked out, I positioned her in the crook of my arm while I completed some blog designs.  As I look over my living room, I see that its cluttered with the remnants of child play.  Race tracks, bats, cars, dress-up clothes, and books litter the floor.  I should probably be straightening up instead of writing a blog post, but I can’t help but think it’s a portrait of a day well lived.

Its been a long day, and in six hours, we’ll begin again.  I sincerely can’t wait.

Mucha Expectativa

Friday, February 18, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

tripOn Christmas morning I opened Courtney’s Christmas gift and wondered what the sheet of paper would say about my gift.  To my complete and utter surprise, it was a poem detailing a trip that the two of us will be taking together.  I looked between her and Jeremy, her husband, to ensure that it wasn’t a joke.  After all, this was above and beyond our $25 gift exchange limit.  A lot above.  From the look on her face, like the cat that had swallowed the canary, it was obvious that Courtney and I were going away for a girls weekend.

IMG_1068And not just any girls weekend.  A girls weekend that involves these two beautiful ladies!  You can read about our various meet-ups these past few years here, and here, and here, and here.  And here

During the first time Amy and I met, we couldn’t help but think that her sister and mine would be great friends.  They were both the babies of the family, both college students (at the time), and seemed very similar in personality.  They “friended” each other on Facebook, started talking through emails, got married within a year of each other, and finally made a date for coffee when Kelsey was passing through Colorado.  Sure enough, when the two of them finally met face-to-face, they hit it off as well as Amy and I did.  The four of us may have met through blogging, but you’d never know it from the texts and phone calls and emails that now happen. 

Courtney booked the tickets just a few weeks ago and we’re set to go over Memorial Day weekend.  Amy and Kelsey and Courtney and I, two pairs of sisters that wished we lived close enough to do life together in the day-to-day, and a weekend all to ourselves. 

I am so excited to hug them both again!  They truly are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.  And a weekend alone with my baby sister makes it all the sweeter.

I can’t wait! 

4 Years Old

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 11 Comments A+ a-

He's turning 4 years old today. And even though it was four years ago, I remember like it was yesterday. He was four days overdue, two days from being induced, and as miserable as I was, I was just so thankful he made it past Valentine's Day. I did not want a Valentine's baby.

We're having a quiet celebration tonight and the Chuck E. Cheese party this weekend. But Devyn has gone above and beyond to ensure that Hudson is having a special day.

First she made him a "cake" of turkey, shredded cheese, and raisins layered between slices of bread. She put it in the (unheated) oven for 50 minutes, then frosted it with a homemade frosting of powdered sugar, milk, blue food coloring, and baking powder. Yummy! (Or not.)

She then poured Hudson a cup of milk, added blue food coloring, and declared it "Hudson's Birthday Drink". To which Hudson replied that, "Its the best drink EVER!"

I'm thankful for a girl who wants to make her brother's day special. I'm not, however, thankful for the mess she made without asking permission first. Le sigh. I'll pick my battles and this isn't one of them.

Happy Birthday, Little Man! I hope its a wonderful day, blue milk and all!

My Safe Place

Monday, February 14, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

He let me sleep in yesterday.  I barely heard him wake and shower, but I distinctly heard the click of our bedroom door as he shut the kids out and left me still in bed.  I could have argued, or felt guilty for laying in bed, but I chose to close my eyes and take advantage of it instead.

I woke an hour later and made my way into the living room.  I saw the messy kitchen out of the corner of my eye, there were piles of matchbox cars, wooden blocks, and kids laying haphazardly around the living room.  I groaned inwardly, not quite ready to tackle the pigsty that was my house.  And then I saw him.

He was lying on the couch, clad in a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt.  He looked scrumptious.  And like a much better option than cleaning.

I made my way over to him and nudged his leg with my knee; he looked up, smiled, and opened his arms.  I gladly fell into them and settled myself on his chest.  He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed tightly.  I sighed.  This was my safe place.

We’ve been together for 13+ years.  We’ve been through hard times and happy times, times when we can’t get enough of each other and times when we really don’t like each other very much.  But through it all, his arms have remained my safe place.

There’s a strength there, a strength that says no matter what life throws at us, he’ll shield me from it.  A strength that says he can and will carry us through this life.  A strength that we can all depend on.  A strength he has grown into and wears well.

I remember when we could lay like that for hours, watching tv, or napping.  But as we’ve added children, our times of laying together have changed.  First Reagan climbed on and nestled herself between our legs, then Devyn climbed on and laid on top of me.  Jon groaned beneath the weight, but never asked us to get up.  Instead he wrapped his arms around all of us, and squeezed tight until we laughingly asked him to stop.  And I realized something.

I’m now sharing my safe place with our girls.  I pray they’ll find safety and strength in their daddy’s arms until God brings them their own safe place in the form of their future husbands.  But in the mean time, I’m happy to share; they couldn’t find a better safe place if they tried.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 14, 2011 4 Comments A+ a-

ValentinesCollageTheir hands are still stained pink from the sprinkles.  But they had a blast!

Begging Time to Stop

Saturday, February 12, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

Someone is becoming more aware of her world.  And she’s the center of ours.Picnik collage 

Quick Update on Miss Ashlynn.

At her two month check-up she is weighing 9 pounds, 4 ozs, and is 21 inches long, which puts her in the 10th percentile for weight and 19th percentile for height.  Our largest baby at that age.  She does seem especially long to us.

Ashlynn is wearing size 1 diapers and is just now starting to grow out of her size Newborn clothes.  She can still wear a few Newborn outfits, but size 0-3 month clothes fit her better now.

She is our gassiest baby, and I have to burp after each feeding, something I rarely had to do with her siblings.  I even had to cut pizza out of my diet, which makes me especially sad.  I love pizza.  I can eat all the ingredients separately with no problem, but if I eat a pizza we can bet the following night will be a tough one.  Sometimes its worth it, most times its not.

She’s a pretty easy-going baby, but has her fussy times.  Usually in the evening and night.  She loves her daddy and he’s the one that can calm her down the easiest.

She is really starting to interact with all of us more!  Jon and I were a bit worried about her eye contact at her last check-up, but within the past week we have noticed a huge difference.  She recognizes voices now, especially mine, and will turn her head to find us from across the room.  My favorite time is our nursing times, especially now that she likes to lock eyes and smile at me as we share our secrets.

When she was first born, she was the spitting image of Devyn.  It was like looking at Devyn’s twin.  But as she grows older, she’s turning into her own person.  I still see a strong resemblance of Devyn, but I also see some Reagan too.  Her eyes seem to be getting lighter, not darker like I’d hoped.  She still has dark hair and a cowlick that just won’t quit.  See?cowlickAshlynncollage

I could spend hours nuzzling on her neck.  Its truly the softest, sweetest-smelling spot in the whole world and I’m getting nothing done because I can’t put her down.  I’m so in love with her and savoring each and every moment!

Houston, We Have a BIG Problem

Friday, February 11, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

Last night we went to a local Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse… Its one of those places that cooks the food in front of you, the chef entertains you with flying cookware, and flames dance across the stove.  Jon and I also indulged in some Spicy Tuna rolls, the same ones I’d been eyeing during our last date in October.  Yummy!

We took Devyn and Hudson with us this time to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday.  It was Devyn’s 2nd time going and Hudson’s first.  We knew Hudson would be tickled by the experience and I couldn’t wait to watch his reaction.

However, we reached another milestone of a different kind.  One I had not anticipated happening for quite some time.

The hostess led us to the table we’d be sharing with another family, and I shared a smile with the family of three teenage girls.  Two of them seemed about the 12 – 14 years of age range.  Hudson was a little sleepy and I thought I’d wait until he woke up fully before moving him to his own seat.  I tried to settle him into my lap but he kept scooting to the far edge of my seat, and I couldn’t figure out why.

About 10 minutes passed and we finally stopped playing musical chairs, with Hudson ending up next to his dad.  As we looked over the menu, I leaned forward to ask Hudson what he wanted for dinner.  With his face tilted down, he lifted it just a smidge, his eyes darting first to the young girls to my left, before looking back down with a smile on his face.  I sat back in shock.  Like my mother-in-law said, if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that my son had obviously developed a slight crush.

DaddyHudsonThe rest of the night was very much the same.  I tried to get Hudson’s attention, only to have his attention going to the girls first to see if they were looking at him, a quick response to my question, before looking back down and smiling.  I even tried to get him to smile for a picture with Jon, only you can see that he kept his face hidden the entire time.

Sigh.

My heart broke a little tonight.  I never thought the noticing of girls happened so quickly!  And quite frankly, it’s a big, BIG problem for this mama.  I’m not ready for this yet…

Rambling, With a Side of Random

Thursday, February 10, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

V-Day has been rescheduled again.  The 1st reschedule was on account of the doctor’s schedule, the 2nd reschedule was because someone got the dates of his annual, week-long training wrong.  (The someone was neither Jon or myself…)  I’ve been joking with Jon that with all of the rescheduling, perhaps it’s a sign that he’s not supposed to go through with it.  And if looks could kill…

Jon worked 36 hours in three days.  Poor guy!  He’s exhausted and the kids have barely had any face time with their dad during those three days.  And of course that meant I played single mother while he was gone.  My patience has worn very thin and I’m desperately looking forward to my day off on Saturday.  (Thank you, Babe!  You have no idea how much I need it!)

Hudson and I attended a music class at Devyn’s school on Tuesday.  It allowed the music teacher to share with us what she’s been teaching the kids.  We had so much fun!  Devyn and her classmates danced, sang, played instruments, and recognized composers for all the families.  I was greatly impressed!

And I couldn’t help but notice that Devyn is the 3rd tallest child in her class… taller than all the girls, with only two boys taller than herself.  This is greatly exciting for the woman who never made it on the risers at school performances.  All the short people stood on the floor.

I have been greatly surprised to find that I’m enjoying American Idol as much as I am this year.  When I’d heard that Simon Cowell was leaving, I vowed not to watch.  I knew I was going to miss his snarky remarks and I wasn’t too keen on Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges.  But honestly, they’re fun to watch!  We’re actually enjoying American Idol for the first time in years.

The kids still love dancing along to American Idol, in spite of the fact that we’re just watching short tryouts.  Last night Reagan even got into a princess dancing dress for her dance recital.  And topped it off with Jon’s baseball hat.  It’s the perfect description of Reagan… a baseball hat and princess dress.

You can click here to see the picture I posted to Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, I know that it’s a new medium that many do not understand.  As someone else described it, “Facebook is for the people you went to school with. Twitter is for the people you wish you went to school with.”  Its kind of true.  I’ve gotten to know a number of amazing women on there, and our conversations crack me up.  Especially last night’s conversation regarding age.

As much as I dreaded turning 30 years old, I find that I’m really loving this new decade of my life.  I am so much more comfortable in my own skin and in who I am as a person.  There’s no need for false pretenses or images.  Its very freeing!  I can only imagine that it keeps getting better with age.

This Saturday we’re starting a new bible study.  We finished Priscilla Shirer’s study and we’re now moving on to Beth Moore’s “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”.  I’m a little nervous about this study.  I have a feeling that God and I will be dealing with some of the ugly in my life; and that’s never a fun process.

We’re settling into life as a family of six and as I’ve told other friends, I feel complete with the addition of Ashlynn.  It feels like we were waiting for her arrival and now that she’s here, our family feels whole and that part of my life feels finished.  It’s a good feeling.

I can really go either way, I can be a night owl or a morning person.  Heck, there are times I have to be both.  But lately I’ve been a night owl, not getting to bed until 11:30 or midnight.  Then I’m up by 7:00am.  I’ve really got to get a handle on this because 2 cups of coffee are no longer helping me stay awake.

You’d think that with all this staying up late, I’d find time to read a book or two.  But you’d be mistaken.  I currently have three books in my house that are going unread.  This is unheard of!  I love reading and I never, ever let an unread book sit in my house for more than a day before devouring it.  I can feel those books calling my name over and over again.

I’m officially changing my url address to www.biggest-blessings.com today, so you might want to make the appropriate changes to your links.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 4 Comments A+ a-

Hearts1LittlesCollageHearts2

To My Littles

Monday, February 07, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

Dear Devyn, Hudson, Reagan, and Ashlynn,

Yesterday we had such a great day at Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Courtney’s house for the Super Bowl.  So much so that my phone battery died from all the pictures and videos I took on it trying to capture just how fun yesterday was.  I’m glad my phone died.  Instead of reading blogs or twitter on our way home, I spent it in prayer.  The entire ride was dedicated to praying over our family, over you, and it was exactly what I needed.

My dearest Devyn.  You, my child, have a heart of pure gold.  You are one of the most selfless people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.  I pray for the right balance in parenting you constantly; that fine line between discipline and not breaking your gentle spirit.  I don’t always find it, often swinging between the two extremes of being too harsh or letting you get away with something you shouldn’t.  But somehow, in spite of me, you are developing into an amazing young girl.  I am forever thankful for your heart, your artistic tendencies, and the amazing job you do as big sister.

Hudson, oh my little man.  You have changed most of all in these past few months.  You’ve grown taller and leaner (if that were even possible), and you’ve developed into a boy.  I see in you a roughness, a wildness, that can only be contributed to “boy”.  You play just a little too rough, you’ve energy to spare, and you’ve finally figured out just how outnumbered you are in this family.  However, I see such a desire to help, to be considered one of the big kids, and I pray that we’ll cultivate that into the Godly young man we desire for your life.  I pray that you’ll pursue Him with the same passion that I see for sports and family.  You are a joy, my son!

Reagan, our little spitfire and Miss Sass-a-frass.  I wonder what the future holds for our relationship, for I see a strong will that will rival that of your Aunt Alli’s and it sometimes scares me.  You, my child, are a force to be reckoned with and we will never have to wonder what you’re thinking because it will be written all over your face.  I pray for wisdom and insight to mold that spirit into becoming a leader that stands for all things right, pure, and just.  And Miss Rea, with your strong will and sassy ways comes hours of entertainment because you, my child, are an absolute hoot!  I will never forget this Super Bowl, where you got DOWN to the Black Eyed Peas.  It was hysterical!

Ashlynn.  At this point in the parenting game, I pray for protection over you.  Protection from overeager siblings, and for your health and safety.  I am deeply in love with you, baby girl.  From the moment they laid you in my arms, my heart was lost to you.  My love was instantaneous and white-hot and I thank God every day for the gift of you.  While I’m curious about the person you are, the personality that was given to you and how I will parent you, I’m perfectly content to keep you as little as possible.  I’m soaking in these days of nursing, coos, and smiles.

My Littles, I pray constantly for the wisdom and insight to parent each of you, as a family and individuals.  I pray that we will grow the ties of siblinghood into strong, unbreakable bonds and I’m already trying to make it clear that you are each other’s best friends.  I pray it will see us through the tumultuous teenage years into adulthood where you will start to truly be thankful to have each other.  Yet I don’t want to miss out on the nuances and details that make you distinctly you.  I pray that we will be able to bring out your talents and help you strengthen them to their fullest potential.  I pray that your weaknesses will be brought to light so we can help you navigate around them.

Truth be told, my loves, I have no clue what I’m doing.  This mothering thing is hard work, harder that I ever thought it would be.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown my hands up in defeat, unsure of my next move or how to handle a situation.  And that, my Littles, is the reason I turn to Him.  Because on my own, I can’t do it.  I fail miserably.  But with His help, I’m able to find direction, patience, and fortitude.

You four are the most amazing gifts I’ve ever been given.  I sit in awe that God would allow me the honor of being your mother.  And it is a tremendous honor.

Mama

New URL Address

Friday, February 04, 2011 2 Comments A+ a-

So apparently I jumped the gun when I changed my url address.  I wondered why my latest post didn't appear in google reader and then I remembered, so I changed it back.  For a little while anyway.

Next week I'll be changing the address of my blog to http://www.biggest-blessings.com/, so you'll want to make the changes in your rss feeders, blog readers, google readers, and/or blog lists.  Update- I'm fairly certain that if you follow me through Blogger that my new url will just follow over.  We'll see, huh?

Keep reading below to see the post I wrote about Pampers diapers and my inner Mama Bear.  Its a doozy.

Side Note:  I'm offering a discounted blog design for $20.  You can click over to Munchkin Land Designs for a peek.  Update- The design is no longer available.  Thanks!

Mama Bear Emerges

Friday, February 04, 2011 11 Comments A+ a-

Between 3 and 4 weeks after Ashlynn was born, she developed a rash.  I didn’t think anything of it, we’ve dealt with diaper rashes in the past.  A little Desitin here, some Vitamin A&D there, and she’ll be good as new.  Right.

Weeks passed and there was no change.  Ashlynn happened to be with us for Reagan’s 2-year check-up and we asked Dr. Susie to take a look.  She agreed it was a nasty one and gave us new instructions for its care.  We bought the more expensive Butt Paste, we allowed her to air dry 2-3x a day, we no longer used wipes, and so on.  I even switched to a new brand of diapers for a few days.

And yet still her rash remained.

At Ashlynn’s 8-week check-up, we brought up the subject of her rash again and this time she told us to use a clotrimazole cream in case it had turned into a yeast infection.  We were told to call her if there was no change and she’d call in a prescription for the “magic diaper cream”.

A few days on the clotrimazole and still there was no change.  We were now on week 5 of a very determined, ugly diaper rash.  My only consolation was that it didn’t seem to bother her, she never acted like she was in pain.

But I was fed up and turned to the Twitter for some advice and help.  Within minutes of my tweet, I had mother after mother asking me if we were using Pampers diapers.  I swallowed hard and responded in the affirmative. I had over 10 mothers respond that it was the diapers, that their new “Dry Max” formula was causing all sorts of diaper rashes and chemical burns on babies.

I was/am livid.

I’d heard about the problem when the new diapers came out late last spring/early summer, but I didn’t think anything of it because we were a Luvs family.  Except that we always use Pampers Swaddlers when they’re newborns, they’re so soft and fluffy and seem to encase babies bottoms gently.  I had no reason to question their safety, I’d used them on all my babies and had never had a problem before.

I got all sorts of advice from switching diaper brands to suggested creams to prescriptions that worked for them.  I discovered that it took some families weeks to get rid of the diaper rash after switching brands, some even had to use a prescribed steroid cream.  All have said that once they switched brands and got rid of the rash, it never came back.

I’ve done the google search, I visited the Facebook pages dedicated to getting the word out about Pampers, I read about the class-action suit against Proctor & Gamble, and I’m steamed.  How does a company ethically produce a product that is proven to cause damage to the consumers?  How dare they continue to generate profit at the expense of babies?  And how do they argue against proof of thousands of parents who no longer deal with diaper rashes/chemical burns after switching brands?  I don’t know, but I know this family is done with Pampers.

It almost made me want to switch to cloth diapers.  Almost.  If I hadn’t had 6+ years of success with disposable diapers, I probably would’ve been on the 1st train out of there.  But seeing as this is our 1st real bad experience in those 6+ years, we’ll just continue to move forward with our disposable-diaper-loving-ways.

Obviously I switched Ashlynn from Pampers immediately and started her on a new diaper rash formula given to me by a friend, whose doctor gave to her.  (Equal parts aquaphor, desitin, and clotrimazole.)  I already see a HUGE difference, but there is still some remnants of the rash and every time I see it, my inner Mama Bear comes out.

Those Proctor & Gamble executives better hope they never run into the likes of a woman whose child was hurt in the name of profit.

Baby, Its Cold Outside

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

Why, yes, that does read -21 degrees. That's what my van read at 7:00 this morning when we dropped Jon off at work. And now we're on day #2 of no school. There's not even a dusting of snow on the ground, but the local school districts have called "cold" days on account of temps being too cold to venture outside.

Tomorrow its supposed to be 36 degrees. It'll be balmy compared to these past couple of days.

Scripture Memory Verse 3

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 4 Comments A+ a-

I’m moving on from Isaiah 43:1-3 and into the New Testament.  I thought I knew what verse I was going to do on the 1st of February, but another scripture came to my attention through Priscilla Shirer’s study.  So the verse I had in mind will be moved to the 15th of this month.  My 3rd verse:

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10, NLT

Isn’t it amazing that we are considered His masterpiece?!  Out of all creation, He considers us HIS masterpiece?!  Such a humbling thought… And He has a plan for us, a plan that is unique as we are.  Such a great reminder for me.

Ephesians210As well as writing the scripture down in my notebook, I’m also writing it on the chalkboard in our kitchen.  I love seeing it out of the corner of my eye during my numerous trips through the kitchen during my day.  Most of my memorization happens while I prepare meals, or waiting for the coffee to brew.  It works for me.

Winner, Winner

Tuesday, February 01, 2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Wow!  I never expected such a response to my post and giveaway.  It was a joy and honor to read more about you all and I’m so thankful to have you join me on this journey.  Please don’t be a stranger and if there’s anything that I can do for you or pray over you, please don’t hesitate to ask.  You can just hit the Contact button above to send me an email.

Now for the winner…

Winner,Winner

Cassie, please email me your address so I can send you the book and Starbucks gift card.  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do!