Wednesday, February 24, 2010

{six months}

my jillian...sweet, sweet jilly-girl...happy half-birthday. it is a bit hard to imagine you are already halfway through your first year of life. and yet, it is hard to believe there was a time when you weren't here...when we were a family of four and not five. you are nestled so snugly into our hearts.

you have the sweetest smile...you truly are our little sugar baby. and your eyes...oh my, those sparkling, gorgeous blue eyes. you light up a room....you light up our lives. after a long day yesterday daddy commented with dismay that he hadn't even gotten to see his jilly-girl...and that he absolutely missed your precious, quick grin...your innocent adoration.

at six months old, you....

...enjoy watching your sisters...giggling at them, pulling their hair, looking at them, smiling at them. and the adoration is mutual...jillian, your sisters absolutely adore you!

...sleep like a champion...through the night from 7:45 pm until 8 am....with a LONG (usually over 2 hours) nap in the morning, a LONG (again, usually over 2 hour) nap in the afternoon, and a cat-nap in the evening (typically during dinner...thank you very much!). did i mention that you apparently really like sleeping!?

...have been working on your two bottom teeth since just before Thanksgiving...its been almost 3 months...can you please pop them through!? the teeth have really plagued you in the past few weeks, making you a wee bit fussier and clingier than usual.

...are constantly chewing and drooling...

...have recently found the joy of sitting up unsupported, and you do it quite well.

...know how to roll over but are quite the "reluctant roller"...preferring to do it only when absolutely necessary (or accidental!).

...have tried rice cereal...but you truly weren't all that interested.

...giggle and smile and coo and blow raspberries.

...have discovered your feet...and are enamored with them.

...are able to slither and army crawl backward...and turn around 360 degrees like a clock on your back or your tummy...

...absolutely adore the jiggly elephant on your carseat...you will pull his legs and jiggle him for entire car-rides.

...want to stand...and already like to take steps while holding onto mommy's fingers. you would much rather be upright than any other position.


...are amazing and gorgeous and delightful and magnificent. you are a gift, sweet girl.

...are loved beyond measure.


aspiring authors

...alternately titled "Bb" is for book....

this activity just might have been the recipe for sanity in a morning gone awry. (and if spring doesn't come soon, we might all lose our marbles....did i mention that its snowing again...for the love!) the girls sat for almost an hour working on their books...selecting just the right stickers, scribbling (err...i mean drawing masterpiece quality pictures), and transcribing their story to me. well, actually kate pooped out before she could tell me what she wanted her story to say...instead she pulled stickers off the pages, tore them in half and placed them on other pages of her book, wrapped her fingers with sticker band-aids, etc. apparently she wrote the wordless story today...but if stickers tell the story then it was a good one...all about cupcakes and ice cream and bunny rabbits...

elizabeth filled her pages with banana and monkey stickers (and then she threw in some bunny and chickie stickers on the last few pages). she is quite methodical...each page contains a particular sticker....the cover is bananas-every last banana sticker she could find, page 1-"go bananas" stickers, page 2-monkeys in pink hats (pictured below), page 4-"crazy" stickers, page 5-"monkey business" with a few leftover "crazy"s thrown in for good measure, page 6-"go wild", page 7-apparently missed the stickers...this page is plain old white, page 8-bunnies and one chick hatching from an egg, back cover-chickies...



elizabeth wanted to call her book "Peter Pan" originally. when i said, "but elizabeth, there aren't any pirates, its full of monkeys and bananas..." she replied, "oh, you're right. i'll call it 'ducky, quack, quack'". ummm...okay...

she proceeded to transcribe her story, page by page.

whats that? you want to read her masterpiece? here it is.

"Ducky, Quack, Quack"
by Elizabeth (age 4)

Blue water came.
The duckies were surprised they could swim in it.
Then big waves came and they flew away.
The waves went away to another river.
And then it happened the ducks could swim in it again. (nope...not making this up...she said, as clear as day, "and then it happened"...funny girl!)
The duckies saw a big shark and flew away again.
And then the shark swam away to another river.
The End.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ten smile tuesday...and then some!

it has been quite sometime since i updated my blog...and there has been quite a bit going on since then...

we're smiling...

-we celebrated valentine's day...mike and i enjoyed a delightful date night the thursday before. i enjoyed my first experience with sushi...all i can say is YUM! then we celebrated with our girlies on saturday morning...mylar balloons tied to their chairs and goodie bags full of little somethings on the kitchen table when they woke up. i whipped up some heart shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast...fun and tasty!

-potty training has been fabulously successful over the course of the past two weeks. in fact, i might venture to say kate is fully potty trained as long as she wears skirts (i know, bizarre...but true!). she has stayed dry even outside of the house for the past week! and, soon enough, i think she'll have the hang of it even if she wears pants!

-coloring, coloring, coloring. we have spent LOTS of time coloring lately....it seems to be the girls' favorite activity...and, better yet, they enjoy coloring together. elizabeth has become quite the talented colorer (is that a word!?) in the past few weeks...actually using multiple colors, staying the lines, etc. i am amazed at how almost overnight her fine motor skills have matured immensely...her handwriting, her coloring, her cutting...amazing! and kate...sweet kate...she would do crafts and coloring, etc. for hours on end. (that and washing her hands...over and over and over and over...in fact, she has been washing her hands to the point of getting terrible red chapped rashes on them...ugh!)

-only a handful of days (ten, to be exact--but, who's counting, right?) until jilli and i head west to meet up with an a.maz.ing group of ladies...can't wait!

-jillian is growing...and growing...and growing....and lately she has become obsessed with her feet, which i find precious. she loves to lay on her back and grab her little footsies and roll back and forth. she also is delighted by sitting up...it is her favorite position. and chewing...chewing...she is chewing anything and everything...and mommy is praying and hoping her teeth will pop through ever so soon...hopefully before we board the plane to head to seattle! this sweet girl is beyond delightful...even when she is a bit fussy from teething...mike and i constantly comment on how much we enjoy getting her out of her crib after naptime...she will lay in her crib chattering and playing happily until someone comes to get her, at which point she greets you with the biggest smile ever...every time...seriously, i'm not sure there could be a smilier babe!



-elizabeth and i enjoyed a baby shower (or girl party as libs called it!) for my sweet friend lora, who is expecting a baby girl in just a couple more months. actually, lora and i grew up together, and i get a bit sentimental thinking about our little girls growing up together...so fun! elizabeth dressed up (and let me braid her hair without any whines or complaints!), and she insisted that i too should dress up. have i mentioned how much i enjoy the age of four...



-i've been working to get back into a better "routine" at home...kate has been itching to learn (of course, we are learning even as we play...but i suppose i mean she is itching for some structured "learning" time), so i am switching up our morning schedule. this week we are doing all things "Bb"...we made bumblebees yesterday...we've played with buttons and bells and beanbags and buckets...we're singing about "b" and reading all kinds of Bb books...Bb is quite the exciting letter. up next, some Bb cooking! (elizabeth made her bumblebee all by herself...colored it, cut it out, pasted it together...oh my, she was proud!)


-school! elizabeth and i visited a co-op type school for home-schoolers that meants at our church...we are hoping there will be openings for the girls next year...as i think it would be excellent for kate to have some structure, and elizabeth is simply itching for "school". as we venture toward the very real possibility of home-schooling this was one more step in seeing what it might look like for our family. i also received my first shipment of curriculum type stuff in the mail the other day...exciting!

-having people to our house. i simply love opening our home to guests...last minute plans for game nights with friends, planned dinners, flock group meetings...i just really enjoy opening our home, so it has been great to do that several times in the past couple of weeks.

-scotch-a-roos...yum! (and, because it really wouldn't be ten smiles without a food item!)

-and more...but for now i should probably head out and fold some laundry!

{first solids}

i'm ready!


oh boy, oh boy...


can i have the spoon, mommy?

actually, i'm not so sure i like this....

but still smiling at the end...


jillian tried some rice cereal on sun, feb. 14 (happy valentines baby girl!)...she wasn't that interested and still isn't...so, perhaps we'll wait a bit longer. after all...its not as though she isn't growing. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

{one in a million}

that's my kate. yep...she is definitely one in a million.

so today she has brought full on laugh out loud giggles to her mama this morning. you see, she is potty training, and she is at the point where she does a fabulous job staying dry as long as she is just wearing undies, no pants (oh heavens...no pants...pants lead to accidents right now (just ask my friend holly who watched the girls for our date night last night...yep, i must say i did not have the honor of cleaning out the first pair of poopy undies from kate)--and did i mention it is frigid outside...doesn't seem to bother kate though). but i digress...this morning i told her to get her pants and shoes on so we could run to the grocery, her response, "i no need pants...i got my "nundies" on!" elizabeth insisted she needed pants, and kate vehemently replied, "no, i a big girl...i got my "nundies"!" the whole exchange was hilarious...and it only got better as her choice of shoes was one patent leather black shoe and one brown shoe, with white socks, of course...here she is, ready for some shopping (and yes, she is standing virtually on top of Curious George...no worries, i did make her scoot back...but only after grabbing my camera and capturing the ensemble)

what's that...oh, you want to know why her shirt is covered in random foam stickers. oh, that would be because mommy foolishly left the baggie of stickers on the ledge at the top of the steps...and kate apparently snuck out when she woke up this morning, found the prize and squirreled them away in her bed.

she also has brought smiles of delight this morning. jillian woke up wet and stinky from neck to toe this morning...and while i was washing her down, stripping sheets, and remaking the crib kate sat next to her, held her hand and cooed sweeting, "its okay ji-in boo bear (her jillian), i love you...mama loves you. its okay." occasionally she would plant a kiss on her forehead. she asked at least a million times, "mama, i rock jin boo bear in the rocky chair?" (so sweet, except that i had visions of her dropping jillian or conking her head on the wooden chair...so we saved that for later!).

and then are the not-so-pretty moments...the unhappy kater moments. and, oh my, look out. honestly, it is kind of a rare gift...the ability to completely unsettle anyone around her with a shrieking dramatic cry...a scrunched up, full on tantruming face...the "i'm not getting my way and the whole world needs to know that".

kate has this amazing effect on me. of my three girls, she is the MOST proficient at stirring up an emotional response in me. don't get me wrong...elizabeth does her fair share of pushing buttons and disobeying...and jillian cries on occasion...but neither of them have the same effect on me. and it has been this way since kate was a baby...the number of times kate has brought me to my knees in tears is too high to count. when it comes to kate i have struggled and wrestled through many insecurities. i have done battle with her and with myself. i thought elizabeth was stubborn...HA...i found the true definition of stubborn in kate. and by golly...i love that stubborn girl with something crazy fierce.

this past week has marked a milestone in my kate journey. you see, i have been growing weary...oh so weary...weary of the discipline and training, weary of potty training, weary of her thumb sucking, weary, weary, weary. tuesday morning after finding that she had once again poo-ed in her pull-up (sneaking off to do so and further convincing me that she knew exactly what she was doing--and after we had tried the potty not five minutes before)...and then was throwing an all-out tantrum and finally consoling herself by sucking her thumb...i reached a breaking point and found myself in tears--not tears of anger...nope, tears of discouragement. at the core of things i was struggling with who God made kate to be...so, so sinful and prideful of me....as if i could possibly love kate more than God or know better than God. i sank to my knees...literally, crying out to God...asking Him to help me and give me grace for the moment.

and an amazing thing happened...HE DID (i know...profound, right...i prayed, He answered...so simple and yet soooo beautiful). in the core of my heart i could hear Him speaking to me..."do you love kate?" yes...definitely. "do you love her for who she is?" of course i do. "really...even if she poops in her pants?" ouch. "even if she never stops sucking her thumb?" ouch. "even if she does things in public that embarass you?" big ouch. "even if she never fits the mold you think she should...if she throws tantrums and pushes every button you have?" big, big tears...lots of them...yes, God, i love her. it was a bit moment for me. God made kate who she is. HE gave her her fiery streak. He made her funny. He made her sweet. He made her determined and spirited. those are gifts. granted, He does not desire that she use those gifts to sin, and He does expect michael and i to train and discipline her...to bring her to His feet that she might fully surrender to Him. He does desire that those characteristic be brought into submission to His will that they might be used for His glory....but He is gracious...and merciful...and He loves us even when we are still in "process". i don't even know if this makes sense, but oh my, it was renewing. i tucked an over-tired kate into bed for a much needed, not typical morning nap...kissing on her forehead, softly reminding her that i love her. i headed back downstairs with a new mindset...remembering that the bottom-line is love....potty training, thumb sucking, tantrums...they happen...they aren't always easy...not everyone fits the same mold...but the bottomline is loving and cherishing my sweet girl...delighting in the silly, laugh aloud, crazy moments...trusting in His grace in the uglier moments.

i'm sure there are more tears to come...parenting is like that....but oh that i would treasure my babies...that i would stop in the overwhelmed moments and remember that the Sovereign God is so much more in love with my children than i could EVER be...and He is in control of their days. my prayer and meditation is galatians 6:9 (a verse a sweet, sweet friend used to encourage me a few weeks ago)..."let us not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." praying for a harvest...and praying the grace to keep doing good each and every day!

incidentally, wednesday, at the end of my potty training rope, i put kate in undies...it was a last resort. (i had resisted them...as i was ready for kate to be potty-trained but overwhelmed by the prospect of poopy pants...all the while i am quite convinced that pull-ups do just about nothing to help with potty training...so yes, i realize that i was setting kate up for failure--and then getting frustrated with her...ironic, huh?). anyway...i put her in underwear...and amazingly enough, the sweet girl stayed clean and dry the rest of the day...and the next day...and until i put pants on her and dropped her off at our friends' last night for date night. and not just stayed dry...she actually took the initiative to go to the potty all by herself and then come tell me when she was finished...numerous times....amazing! and this mommy is pretty convinced that poo-ing will come with time...in the meantime i might just be doing more laundry!

so, yep....my kate is one in a million (so are her sisters...i am so blessed...because, actually, my husband is one in a million too!). she is spirited and funny. she is smart and smiley. she is giggly and chattery. she is independent and kind. she is sweet and snuggly. she is loud and dramatic. she is cute and helpful. she is loved beyond belief!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snowdrift+four year old=FUN!

snow...snow...snow! yep, we have quite a lot of snow. with the wind it has drifted, but with our fence that means we have some good sized drifts in the backyard. elizabeth and i were outside playing while jilly and kater napped...and as she dove into a huge drift of snow i realized we didn't need a gigantic hill for sledding...nope, for my four year old, the big ol' drift would do! it took her a few times to get the hang of it, but man, she got it...she sledded down that drift (and the even bigger ones that were piled up from shoveling the driveway over the course of the past week of snow) one her bottom, on her knees, on her belly, and, of course, backwards and upside down! i think she could have spent the entire afternoon sledding. eventually kate did join in on the playing outside fun...and she too enjoyed a few times down the drift (no pics since i had to help her a bit), but she actually preferred helping me shovel the driveway!
video

my favorite part is the end...did you catch that. "and now my hands are cold"...but did that make her want to go inside...nopers! i think that was really a ploy to get mommy to stop taping her and spend more time playing. after this video we did lay on our backs, stick our tongues out and catch some snowflakes!

making a snow angel

catching snowflakes on her tongue...while plopped in a drift

backwards and upside-down


and a kater gator

and here are a few glimpses of what we're up to when we're not out in the snow!


making a playing lots of new "folder" games...which is truly satisfying a creative need for me...contact paper, scrapbook paper, sharpies, glue and packing tape...lots of fun (for the girls too!)

this sweetie bug is having a rough week or so...her bottom teeth are right there, ready to pop through...but in the meantime she has some crazy poo-ing...a nasty diaper rash to go with that teething poo...and an abnormal habit of fussyness. poor sweetie. but can i tell you how much i adore the way she sucks on that bottom lips...she has been "chewing" on it quite a bit lately.

i captured these last night...just elizabeth lovin' on jillian. elizabeth has been so into jillian lately...it is precious! i love the way they are smiling at each other in the second pic!

i have an entire post dedicated to kate rolling around in my mind...just no time to actually type it up at the moment. suffice to say, she gives me a run for my money...and then proceeds to bring the biggest smiles and laugher. can we say one extreme to another! but, i will go ahead and mention that in the midst of crazy kater-ness i was getting quite discouraged by her unwillingness to tell me when she needed to use the potty...she was successful only if i stayed on her ALL day...and seriously, i just can't do that...so as a last ditch, frustrated effort, i just put her in elmo undies today...thinking to myself, "oh my...i'm going to be cleaning out wet poopy undies all day!" but my, oh my, my big girl surprised this mama...she stayed clean and dry all day...not even telling me, just going and using the potty of her own accord several different times. go katers!

Monday, February 8, 2010

a "super" evening

even though our colts didn't pull it out in the end, we still enjoyed a "super" evening with friends. we had a small party with two other families from our flock group...and when i say small, i suppose that isn't technically true, since there were actually 10 kiddos running around (well...technically 8 running around and 2 who don't really do a lot of moving yet). good fun...great conversation...lots of fabulous play-time for the littles. it was good stuff.

to be honest...i didn't actually watch much of the game...just a few plays here and there...and i didn't even watch one commercial. i actually do enjoy sitting and watching the game, BUT what i enjoy even more than that is some quality adult conversation with my friends...friends who also happen to be moms. while the guys watched the game in the basement, the mommies chatted away. we mostly chatted about home-schooling, which did my heart so much good. and, actually, i placed my first "official" home-schooling curriculum type order this morning...and can barely contain my excitement as i wait to week or two it will take to be shipped! the timing could not have been more perfect for the "home-schooling" conversation...each day mike and i become more convinced that we will be choosing that route for our family...at least for the time being...and while i truly enjoy the time elizabeth and i spend doing "school" right now (which is very informal at this point...lots of games, LOTS of reading, painting, cutting, pasting, and workbook pages (because, seriously, she thinks they are SO much fun...she would do workbooks ALL day long, i think!)), i was also growing very overwhelmed with the reality of educating my children. i was so good to get some perspective, to be reminded to take things one day at a time, one skills at a time, and, most of all, to have fun! but...i digress...

honestly, my heart was just encouraged to spend time with other women who are real...who are striving to be the best followers of Jesus, wives, and mommies they can be...who fall short and have struggles (and admit to those struggles--oh how i wish we were all more real about how hard some days truly are!)...who are willing to share successes (and failures)...women i am blessed to call my friends.

here are some pics of our little cheerleaders...


my jilly-girl

sisters...or at least the two sisters who wanted to cooperate for a picture!

...and here is the other sister...apparently she already knew how the evening would end and was quite distressed over the loss...

...and finally...my favorite picture of the evening...five little girls...i love that they lined their chairs up to "watch" the game (although shortly after this the kiddos all ended up "playing" wii mariokart--and i use the term playing loosely since really elizabeth just drove her car backward and crashed into walls the whole time--but hey, she had a blast!). even better, you can't tell but the beautiful little sweetie in the "dorothy" dress is wearing a scary mask and sneaking up on them...priceless! :) that same little girl also happens to be elizabeth's most talked about and cherished friend, ellie...by this time the two boys had disappeared into the basement...probably to escape from the girls, who definitely outnumbered (and out-noised) them by quite a bit!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

the cutest raspberry blower EVER!

jillian claire...5 months old...precious as can be!
video

one fine saturday

this week has had its share of ups and downs...i had a post started about "overflow"...as in out of the overflow of the heart, a mouth speaks. it was a post about my own struggles with this...how some moments i am totally living in His grace and the overflow of my life is peaceful and patient and beautiful...and how other days it is just plain ugly. to be honest, a lot of moments this week have felt more on the "ugly" side...but i am learning...and walking in His grace...and praying that i would grow just a wee bit more each day...realizing that this life isn't always about miraculous and instantaneous changes, but rather, it is a about learning and changing bit by bit, one step at a time.

and, oh my, God surely is so gracious to me...to all of us, really. but honestly, i cannot remember a better Saturday with my sweet family in quite sometime.

we decided to brave the snowy roads to head to the Children's Museum to meet some friends for our friend carter's first birthday. it took a bit longer than normal to get there...but it was so worth it, as the museum was almost empty...AND it was the opening day for the "Bob the Builder" exhibit, which thrilled the girls!

elizabeth...making a face that really makes me think of my sister...but, actually, she is reminding me of my sister more and more everyday...especially with her new haircut!



honestly...kate might have had more fun than the rest of us combined...she used to be terrified of the carousel but definitely discovered how delightful it was during this trip...riding again, and again, and again!

and the sand...oh the sand...i think she could have stayed and played at the sand table all day long!

but what kate enjoyed most of all was this ball pump toy in the "bob the builder" section...seriously, she was all about showing the balls in...over and over and over and over...


our whole crew with "bob"...elizabeth was happy to shake bob's hand and give him five...kate, well, she admired from afar! :) (and jillian...well, she slept through meeting bob!--but she did continue her streak of blowing out diapers when we visit the museum!)

the girls with their crazy sunglasses from their goody bags (and elizabeth sportin' her builder hat)



and then we came home and kate put stinkies in the potty...which was a HUGE deal...because, seriously, yesterday i was this close to throwing in the towel on the whole potty training gig...she chose this gigantic coloring book as a "poopy prize" and got to stay up to do a bit of coloring after her sisters went down to rest...oh how delightful to hear her chattering away, uninterrupted by anyone else!


and we capped the day off by baking cut-out helmet and football cookies...and decorating them for our superbowl party tomorrow night. Go Colts!

and now...i need to stop blogging and hang out with my hubby dearest now that our sweet daughters are tucked away in bed!