Friday, December 20, 2013

The nap dliemma

The dilemma of the 3 year old nap is something we face daily. Jim Gaffigan has a hilarious section about it in his book "Dad is Fat." I highly recommend you get the book from your library, especially if you have kids. A three year old who naps doesn't go to bed till a ridiculously late hour, yet if they don't nap, they are falling apart hard core by 5pm. Sometimes sooner. 4-7pm becomes an absolute nightmare. Lots of temper tantrums and melt downs. BUT then they will go to bed, totally passed out, at 7:30pm. So it's a trade off. Which would you rather have, I ask myself each day, a break in the afternoon, or an earlier evening to yourself with the hubs? 

It ends up being that Hailey takes about two or three naps a week. She can't really go more than two days in a row without a nap. And they have gotten shorter, if she naps it's from like 2-3pm. Which is fine with me, because then she is still tired around 8pm. 

And some days, she just ends up crashing in the couch. This is becoming something of a Sunday ritual...

I kiss that little cheek a dozen times a day, I can't help myself. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Guadete Sunday

We decorated the tree on Sunday and the kids were so sweet about it. I just sat and nursed, drank in all their sweet innocence and took a 4 minute video for posterity's sake as my grandpa would say. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Party Round 2

Friday the 13th we attended the all staff Christmas party the university hosts. It is a highly attended, very popular event and a ton of fun. I started asking around for a babysitter 2 weeks ahead of time because all my usual girls who are students would already be gone, headed home by then. And with everyone wanting to go, I knew the demand for local babysitters would be high! Luckily, my gal was available and I booked her before anyone else :) 

I was the lucky one with two handsome dates :)

It's such a fun time because we get to hang out with all the couples we are friends with. I see my mom friends often during the week, at playgroup and storytime at the library, and Luke will often run into their husbands at work. So for all of us to hang out together is really nice. 

My favorite part of the evening was dancing some salsa with Luke. There is an Argentinian couple who live here and the wife, Cynthia, teaches Spanish and her husband just got a new job teaching at CUA in DC. Anyway, they were complaining how the music was so bad and we agreed it wasn't great, and they just wanted them to play some salsa or merengue. With Luke's help, they looked up a song on Spotify on his phone and asked the DJ to play it. When it came on, they were going to be the only one's on the dance floor. So I grabbed Luke and said, "let's go!" He looked at me like, "we're going to salsa with them?!" I think I surprised him:) It came back to me and I knew what I was doing! He is a natural dancer and caught on in like 1 minute and I'd say we did ok! After it ended, Cynthia thanked me for joining them out there. I would do it again! Maybe we'll practice before next year :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

End of the year Off Site.

At the end of each semester the team goes does an off site meeting. They usually try to go to some type of relaxing retreat type place and take a few days to just rest, decompress, spend time together in fellowship and prayer and have their end of the semester strategic meeting, and one on one evaluations with Luke. If the place is able to accommodate us, the kids and I get to come along too! This past week we spent three days at one of our student's parent's awesome cabin in Virginia. Our family stayed in the finished suite above the garage and the rest of the team staying in the main house. It was really big and super cozy. And had lots of wildlife decor, haha. There was a pool table, full bar, several massive flat screen tv's....I mean it doesn't get much better than watching Thomas the Train on a 60 inch TV when your two years old.

She looked so grown up, eating her cereal with an adult size bowl and spoon on this big ol bar stool.

caught in the act of giggling :)
 I had made cut out sugar cookies with the kids at home the day before to bring with us and frost with the team. I brought everything with me to make the frosting there and I know I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record but I just can't get over what a difference a year makes. Last year they couldn't figure out how to frost really, this year they were all about it, and did a great job.

The last day we were there, before driving back to Maryland, we all stopped at a vineyard to do some wine tasting. It was my first time, (I'm so embarrassed to admit that. How can I be 29 and just went on first wine tasting?? Pathetic.) The wine was delicious and we ending up buying a bottle and ordering a cheese platter and relaxed by this huge fireplace that had a wonderful fire going.

All I can say is, sometimes I'm so thankful for smart phones and Netflix. Otherwise we would have left with the wine bottle and not stuck around! So glad we did :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Focus Christmas Party

This year we hosted the student leader Christmas party at our house. I LOVE hosting it. We put up some decorations a little early to make it more festive. We hosted it our first year here at our old house and it was fun but everyone felt a little stiff. Last year our place was too small so I think they did it on campus and the turn out was terrible. I was super happy to be having it at our place again. 25 out of our 30 student leaders came. And the atmosphere was so fun. Christmas music was playing, our first snow was falling outside (perfect, big, soft, fluffy snow), and there was hot chocolate, coffee cake, french toast. And everyone was so relaxed and having a good time. It felt like one big family! They have all gotten so close! I noticed a huge difference this year. There was so much unity and camaraderie between all of them. They did a secret santa gift exchange, with a $5 limit and you could tell people put thought into their gifts! Some of them would even say, "I know you really like these" as they were handing it to them. These students do not necessarily mix in the same crowds on campus either. But you can tell they have gotten to know one another, care for each other, and have a single mission to reach out to their peers on this campus. It was so exciting to see.

I love Casey in this picture; sprawled out in the middle of everyone playing with his train.

Everyone was holding Owen, which I didn't mind at all, but I had them all using hand sanitizer first. Yep, I'm "that" mom. I have a huge bottle of it that sits in our entry way. These kids are coming from dorms that I'm sure are just crawling with germs. I was not ashamed to protect my 2 month old!

 Hailey, our observer, was so sweet and pulled up a chair for herself and sat on the outskirts of everyone. She eventually joined in when Casey was playing London Bridges with some students. Casey was such a ham and running under the "bridge" (two students with their arms out in front of them) and then high fiving everyone in sight.

our wonderful student leaders.
Luke's discipleship chain. From L-R: Zac, John Paul, Luke, Brian and Nate. 
Later that day, Hailey and Casey went out to play in the snow. It was so neat to see the difference in Hailey this year. Way more confident and excited! Every day since she has asked to go out and play in the snow. I love it. I send them out in the fenced in back yard and they play for about 20 minutes.

First steps out in the snow and she's strutting across our front yard like she's been waiting to do this.

Looking thug-like. His glove had a hole and his poor finger was sticking out, getting cold :(

Can you believe it's only 9 days till Christmas? I can not!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adjusting to 3

I know we are just 7 weeks out, but I'm gonna say it. Adjusting to 3 kids has not been that bad. Like, at all. I am no supermom, and my kids are rascals just like everyone else's. But the transition from 2 to 3, has been so much easier than the transition from 1 to 2. And the difference is that Hailey and Casey have each other. Yes, they are best friends one minute, and enemies the next....but! They have each other! When Casey was a baby, all Hailey had was me. But now, she and Casey are playmates for one another and it is wonderful. I can also still be super involved while nursing. I have a swivel lazy boy rocker in the living room and I love it. I can face toward to "living room" or the "play area" and wherever they are, I can supervise their play - aka, end fights and enforce sharing. They build me towers with their leggos and blocks and color me lots of pictures. Hailey plays dolls, Casey plays cars, and just by talking to them and encouraging their play, they know that Mommy is paying attention to them too.

I have had the easiest adjustment and transition period yet and I think the sibling factor is the x-factor. Also, the more kids I have the more of my selfishness dies. It has to. There are more people needing me now more than ever and dying to self maybe has gotten a smidgen easier the less time I have for little ol' me. These kids really have a way of sanctifying me!

But here are some samples of things I now find myself doing as a mother of three:

When Hailey and Casey get up at 7am, and Owen isn't due to wake up till 8am, I might be tempted to put on a show for them and lay in bed that extra hour. But then remembering that when Owen wakes up at 8am, and the older kids show is over, they are ALL going to be wanting me at the same time. Or at least food, and I have to get it for them. H and C will want breakfast, which, if left alone only spells disaster, and Owen will want to nurse. So instead, I get up at 7am, and when changing Casey's diaper, and taking off Hailey's night time pull up, I put them in their clothes for the day. Yep, they are dressed and ready to go at 7am. Hey, as long as I'm changing them I might as well do it all at once. It goes faster too. And clothes stay in the bedroom. If I don't do it then, it won't happen till like 10am. Which sure, is ok, but then they run from me, wiggle more, pj's are all over the house. Ridiculous. After they are dressed, then I put on the show, give them some juice and get in the shower. When I'm dressed for the day, we all eat breakfast and then, as if on cue, Owen wakes up. Of course every day looks a little different and Luke does mornings 98% of the time. But getting your kids dressed at 7am, just might be one of the things you find yourself doing when you have three. It also then actually makes it possible to get somewhere like storytime or playgroup by 10am.

With three children we all of a sudden have a toilet paper crisis daily. Two causes here, named Hailey and Casey. Hailey now, by necessity, goes to the potty unsupervised. This happens when I'm nursing, which is often. She uses the potty....and a half roll of toilet paper. We are training her in the ways of using less. It's a work in progress. Casey, by way of escape and my inability to follow him, because you guessed it - nursing - finds his way into the bathroom after Hailey uses it (she doesn't remember to close the door which he still can't open) and he unrolls the other half of toilet paper.

And lastly, creative and strategic discipline. Newborns are needy and time consuming. Which makes enforcing effective disciple a challenge at times. I've been reading "Discipline, a Gift that Lasts a Lifetime" by Dr. Ray Guarendi and one of his tips is better to say nothing when you aren't sure how to discipline, or unable to (because hey, you might be nursing!) than give an empty threat and loose credibility. It might look or seem like they are getting away with things but really it's a matter of timing. I can't physically put Hailey in time out when I'm with Owen. And if I tell her, "do that one more time and you are going in time out," and she does whatever it is, one more time, guess what? Not going to timeout on her own. (sometimes she will, but not always) So I've had to choose my battles more carefully, use different tactics to get them to listen and obey, and when I am able to give them a consequence, be consistent and make it count.

We have had some really hard days, but I'm learning a lot every day, and mostly if they just know that I love them, that they are important, and what they care about matters to me, our days go so much more smoothly. And seriously, siblings are where it's at. So thankful we have been able to give our children that gift!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stay at Home Mom

I know there are a bunch of blog posts that have been passed around recently talking about stay at home moms. This one comes to mind right away. It's so so good. And I am by no means as good a writer as Matt Walsh is, or others. I don't expect many people to read this, and this isn't going to be a rant or venting session. I just got thinking the other day that being called a stay at home mom sounds lazy.

Think about stay at home when you are sick, or skipping work or class (although that could happen for other reasons as well). I think when you hear someone say they stayed at home, it somehow implies laziness.

Person 1: What did you do today?

Person 2: Well, I stayed home all day.

I don't stay at home. I work at home. And I don't need to go through the laundry list (pun intended) of things I do all day. I'm not staying anywhere. Ha! I am constantly on the move. I kind of want one of those pedometer things just to see how many miles I'm walking in my house over the course of a day. And I'm not wanting get into a whole debate about the worth of being a "stay at home mom" but no one would question me if I said I work from home.

I'm not one to get on a soap box about stuff or get preachy, this literally just came to me the other day as I was sitting nursing. The one time of day I do "stay". :) My mom would tell people she was a homemaker. And even though the term kind of sounds funny, I do sort of like it better. When filling out those forms at the doctor's office, where it says "occupation", I always write Stay At Home Mom and cringe a little. Not because I dislike staying at home with my children, but because, as I said, it sounds lazy. And maybe because I am aware of the stigma and flack that stay at home mom's get.

From now on I just might start writing, "homemaker" instead. Because, honestly that's what I do. I make this house a home. In so many small ways, from the diaper changing, to the cleaning and cooking, and warm touches I try to create in the way I deocrate, and let's not forget all the playing and dancing too...they all come together to make this place we call home. It is an art, it is a gift of our feminine genius, and I am blessed to call it my life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

6 Weeks Old

Today was Owen's 6 week check up. I just realized I wrote 6 Months up in the subject line and changed it! But the funny thing is, it didn't seem that off. This child is not 6 weeks old. I mean he is, but seriously, he doesn't look it, he doesn't act like it...when he was two weeks old we took his newborn baby pictures. I don't think I ever put them up here...well you are...

We had such a hard time getting him to lie down! He kept pushing himself up on his forearms/elbows!!

He is so so strong. The way his arches his back, holds his head up, kicks his legs and resists when you are changing his diaper are all incredible. And being 23 inches long at birth, those 10 lbs were stretched out, no rolls, and honestly I think it's mostly muscle! He is smiling and cooing up a storm. Yesterday I had my 6 week appointment and today was his check up. At both places, everyone was marveling over his size, alertness and smiling and cooing. He acts like a 3 month old, and looks it. I have to remind myself he is a newborn. I'm worried that by starting out so big and acting so old for his age, it's not going to slow down, if anything it will keep going and even pick up! I've never wanted time to stand still so badly. I'm eating up all his babyhood every second because I feel like if I blink I will miss it. Truly. Today at his appointment he weighed in at 13lbs, 24 1/4 inches long. I love every ounce of this big big boy!

what he is doing at this exact moment
Sweet dreams, Owen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Casey Turns 2

Today was so full and wonderful. This morning we made this plain simple white cake. But it was soon to become Thomas the Train, Casey's current obsession. Just call me the fairy godmother of cakes, you will see... :)

Before Casey woke up from his nap, I wanted to get the house ready for his party. He woke up just as I hung the first string of birthday buntings. I had made them the night before and I was pretty excited about them. When I got him out of his crib I told him it was time to get ready for the party and I brought him out and showed him the decorations.

He was so excited. He just kept pointing and saying things like, choo choo! cake! Thomas! party! He climbed right up in his chair and sat there and watched me do stuff. 

Then it was time to begin putting the cake together! I really look forward to doing fun and special birthday cakes for my kids each year. Luke gets into it too and helps with the decorating. 

He nailed the face. I mean it's so exact! It's perfect! I just wanted to keep looking at it!

Casey, of course, thought it was great.

He was so happy about his new backpack, just like his big sister and her backpack. Right away he started filling it with all his other gifts. In fact, got so heavy it made him fall over!

The best gift of all, Thomas the train from Grandma.

And to help keep jealousy at a minimum, Grandma thoughtfully got for Hailey a little something special. A princess bag made it easier to watch her brother get so many new gifts.

Casey, you have been such a joy to watch grow. You have the sweetest disposition. You are gentle, thoughtful and kind. I love the way you wrap your arms around me so tight for a hug and play with my hair in my ponytail. You never touch your sister's things, even out of mischief. You bring them to her, and are always watching your big sister's response to things. You play so nicely and how you love to dance and jump! I can't wait to see what this next year holds! Happy birthday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Owen's tears of joy

I have not been documenting about Owen nearly enough! He is such a good baby. He eats, poops, and sleeps like a machine. I have zero complaints. 

Look how long that arm is.

I have NO pictures with my baby!! This is me attempting to take one.

He is also smiling and cooing a lot now and those moments are the best part of my day. He looks at me with so much joy written all over his face. Around 1 month old babies tear ducts begin to produce tears. I always find that fascinating and notice when they begin to show. Well, the other day, Hailey was holding him in the rocking chair in Owen's room and I was leaning over both of them talking to him. His whole face was lit up with a smile and he was cooing at me. As we were talking and smiling at each other, I notice his eyes fill up with water and then as he smiled bigger and cooed more, one tear rolled down the side of his cheek. He was so overcome with happiness looking at his mama he had tears of joy. It made my eyes well up! I never want to forget that moment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hailey Loves

Hailey just wants to be loved. Every child does but she lets me know very clearly every day that she needs hugs, and affirmation. I've been trying to stop and just "be" with her more. And I'm already reaping the rewards. She is more calm, more pleasant and cheerful. When her love tank, as I call it, is low, she becomes whiny, clingy, moody, mean to Casey, name just a few. I can write it off as, "she's being three, she's being a girl, she didn't nap today" and yes, those things are factors. But really, she just needs to know Mommy loves her. 

Today we watched Charlotte's Web (the one with Dakota Fanning and Julia Roberts) during rest time and had a snack together. She got to have three unbroken graham crackers. Her favorite. I don't know if it's the brand I buy, but they break SO easily, even when lifting them out of the package. When they are all broken in pieces she's upset. 

We built a doll house together out of leggo's. 

And then she fell asleep in my arms. My three year old. I treasured it. 

We had some really hard days, she and I, in the last week. A lot of melt downs. So much whining it was unreal. And when I pray and ask God what to do, He tells me to just love her. It doesn't mean not disciplining her, I do, and I'm learning in those areas too. Thankfully, we are making strides. I'm learning what consequences are effective for her and more concrete rules are being established. I no longer feel like things are spiraling out of control and she doesn't heed my discipline. She is now. 

And I find that when I look at her and try to see her as Christ does, to love her as He does, to see her sweetness, she is such a happier child and I am one happier Mommy. Its not easy and I fail often but I am thankful to know how she feels the most loved. And knowing is half the battle as they say :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brother vs. Brother

Owen - 1 month old
Casey - 2 months old

It is proving to be a little bit of a challenge to dress Owen. He is wearing 3-6 month clothes but it is his length that is the hardest part. Wondering how soon we'll be shopping at a Big and Tall store. hahaha