Thursday, March 31, 2011

{sneak peek}

complete posts of jilly and luke photos coming soon (hopefully tomorrow!) now that i've had a crash course in getting them onto my blog (the file sizes on my cd from the photographer were far too big). these are pictures from 3/5/11...when my cousin's husband (i'm not sure what the technical relationship we'll just go with cousin :)) came over to take pictures. he is an incredible be sure to check out his other work on his blog or at McCardel Photography. if you are local and looking to get pictures taken, i highly recommend him!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"ten" smile tuesday

...once again, it has been too long! so here it is...a smattering of recent photos, smiles, and going ons at our house....

first i must mention how thankful i am for a good stretch of sleep last night. a week or so ago luke was doing some nice long stretches (like 6 hours!) of sleep at night...which totally spoiled and teased me. and then for the past week he was struggling with some gassyness for a few days (thankfully it seems to be MUCH better now!) and then congestion with a bit of a cold (and perhaps a growth spurt...who knows!), and he was once again up every 3 or so hours. combine that with a cold and strep throat for me, and, well, it just isn't a good recipe. the night before last i got a grand total of less than 3 hours of sleep...and that was all chopped into half hour increments. but last night little man gave me a 5 hour stretch of sleep (he actually slept more like 6 hours...if i'd have gotten myself in bed the second i put him down). then i got a couple more hours of sleep after that; i kind of feel like a new woman...a new woman with a cold and the weariness that comes with a cold...but still a much "better" woman than i did yesterday morning!

one of my favorite pics from the last week...i think it shows how much he is becoming more baby and less "newborn"....isn't he handsome?

and while he isn't looking particularly thrilled here, it is a good "size" shot. that is a 3-6 month outfit...and it completely fits him length-wise. he can still wear carters brand 0-3 month, but any other brand and he is bursting the seams. and length-wise i think he will be out of any 0-3 month stuff very soon.

he had his one month well-child visit were his "stats"
weight: 11 lbs. 8 oz. (up another pound from his 2 week weight check...a huge growth considering he dropped below the 10 lb. mark before starting to gain weight again)--he is 95th percentile
length: 23 7/8 inches...percentile-wise he is off the chart...WAY off the chart!
head circumference: 15 1/2...75th percentile

looks like he might follow jilly's growth curve closely..."big" but tall and fairly "skinny"...although he does have his share of sweet baby rolls :)

the girls are still enjoying him...and now that she is feeling so much better, jillian is starting to show more interest in him. gotta love the sweet picture above where she is helping me feed him a bottle. but also gotta laugh and remember that just after the picture i needed to burp him...and that resulted in a laying on the floor meltdown from jilly...who just wanted to keep feeding her brother.

kate...perhaps the proudest of the big sisters currently

in the realm of returning to normal...we fingerpainted the other morning (and we even did it while both jilly AND luke were awake!). luke looked on in his bouncy seat, but jilly got to get her fingers dirty and have a go at painting. if you click and zoom on the picture you can see that she did get paint on her picture, but she also tried "tasting" it several times too. :)

it makes me laugh that on that particular morning i was able to settle everyone and paint, because that afternoon we tried riding bikes outside and it was a complete disaster! we'd had a lovely afternoon excursion. a friend of ours works at a local barn, and she had a storytime at the barn with another friend (a former children's librarian!) running storytime, plus a craft, and LOTS of time to run around, explore, and see live animals (horses, mini horses, goats, chicks, cats, a bunny, etc.). the time at the barn was fabulous...mostly because lots of our good friends were there to help with my "menagerie"....have i mentioned that we have the best friends ever! (and i totally forgot my camera, but i did steal a few pics from my friend jill's blog).

elizabeth and several friends pet "little caesar"

kate and her brennan-buddy check out a horse

anyway...after story time the girls asked about bike-riding..and honestly, i had told them no several days in a row (despite the fabulously warm temps)...and i just felt bad saying no i broke out all the bikes. luke was sound asleep in his carseat. we had about 5 minutes of biking bliss. then kate was ready to take off around the cul-de-sac (but couldn't by herself because people insist on parking their cars in their driveway right where the sidewalk comes through...argh!) but i couldn't keep up because jillian wasn't really moving (and didn't want to be pushed)...elizabeth was upset because her bike tire was flat, so she had to settle for her scooter...and then luke started crying. EEEKKK! i have a feeling we'll be staying in the FENCED backyard for the time being when EVERYONE is awake and just mommy is home!

it is moments like the one above that i struggle most with...feeling like someone is always "missing out" elizabeth and kate can't just go ride bikes whenever they want because of jilly and luke...or like jillian doesn't get nearly as much one on one time...etc. but i realize that what they don't get from me, they get from one another...and, in reality, it is good to start learning the lesson now that we don't always get what we want the instant we want in (in spite of what this world would lead us to believe!).

and i have to also remember that we are having plenty of fabulous moments...some all together...some with each little one individually. we enjoyed a family walk to an italian restaurant close to us one gorgeous evening...we've had pizza and movie night...we've done lots of running and playing in the backyard...we've puzzled and read stories. the big girls and i are working our way through "henry huggins" right now. jilly is smiling and giggling and attempting to use words more and more often. life is full...full of blessing, full of chaos, full of moments to cherish and remember. i have to admit, i'm even laughing (kind of!) to see jilly hitting that, "i didn't get what i want so i will throw myself on the floor" stage...only because in the midst of all that is going on, she has to be so deliberate. she looks to see if i am watching, throws herself on the floor, looks to see if i am still watching, cries, kicks her legs...looks again to see if i am watching...realizes it is not working...and, typically, gets up and goes about her business.

"but mom...i'm a princess...don't princesses get whatever they want the instant they want it!"

but see...she is much happier!

and we enjoyed the spell of unseasonably gorgeous weather...and are now trying hard to appreciate these last bits of cold before spring TRULY arrives....chicken barley soup is thawing as i type...add some cornbread and we'll have a comforting dinner. :)

after a taste of playing outside that is truly all jilly really wants to do! she stands at the door or window and points, looks longingly, brings us her shoes....soon sweet girl...soon!

in the meantime lets make brownies. jilly enjoyed helping stir (especially since her sisters were at school and luke was she didn't have to share the job or my attention with ANYONE else!). and, yes, she was completely beside herself and distraught when i didn't immediately let her eat the bowl of chocolate!

and, finally, we finish out the pics where we started...with luke. here is our little man after his bath...he isn't such a fan of the bath itself...but he does like the snuggling up in the towel part.

and that is just a few snippets and smiles...there is so much more...

like the fact that i haven't had to cook dinner since pretty much the week before luke was born. we had hot meals delivered for an entire month...and now that those have run their course we are breaking into the dozen or so freezer meals friends delivered to MOPS before luke was born. we are so beyond blessed i don't even know what to say about is totally humbling how much people chose to tangibly love us through the provision of food. i have, however, in an attempt to find "normal" done a bit of baking here or there...and made some sloppy joes to deliver to a friend. but seriously...i haven't prepared food for MY family in so long. spending part of a sunday afternoon with my for spring dresses...and hitting the mcd drive-thru for ice cream cones and then driving around with the sunroof and windows wide-open delivering clean dishes to the homes of those blessed friends who brought meals. playing animals with jilly...and hearing her attempt various animal noises. how mike and i have been obsessed lately with "texas caviar"....i just can't get enough...i blame it on my friend kim...but, really, i don't mind...there could be worse cravings in life. spending a monday morning with my sweet friend nancy and her four kiddos after dropping libs and kate at school. i just had jilly and luke...and it was a sweet time to just chat and enjoy being together for a bit. the abundance of hand-me-down boy clothes we've been blessed with...i spent some time this weekend going through, sorting by sizes, boxing them, etc...and oh my! the book i finally got my hands on, "one thousand gifts" by ann is seriously really should check it out. i am being great ways...challenged to think differently, to look at the world around me with more grateful eyes. amazing...truly amazing. and i leave you with a couple quotes....

"This pen: this is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habit of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo. I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart. It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude."--Ann Voskamp
"Hurry always empties a soul."--Ann Voskamp

"In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives. Haste makes waste...'On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur'."--Ann Voskamp

Thursday, March 17, 2011

running through my head...

maybe i should be napping...but i also have a need to write. i am a "writer"...not in the published sense of the word (although that would be so cool someday)...but moreso in a processing my thoughts sort of way. warning...these are my thoughts...they aren't all pretty...but they are where i am, and i am learning that being real with where i am is a good thing.

this morning we had MOPS...what a blessing that everyone in our household was healthy, and we were able to go. double blessing that it is absolutely and completely GORGEOUS outside...that i could wear a skirt and flip-flops. hooray! i wanted to laugh at the number of people who complimented me on looking spring-y...the number of people who said something like, "oh i'm so glad jilly isn't in the hospital are you? how are things? well, you look great!" i actually wanted to laugh every time i heard it...apparently my exterior was masking my interior that is weary and exhausted....but operating on an abundance of God's grace (and perhaps a bit of caffeine!).

but truly, i am weary. the immediate weariness of the past month or so has an obvious culprit...the end of pregnancy. i won't lie...i tried my best to smile and not complain, but the last month or so of carrying luke just plain hurt...hurt more than pregnancy has ever hurt. he was low...he was back ached, i could barely move, and i just plain hurt, but God's grace is big. my soul was weary of the flesh was a bit frightened by his potential size and the idea of getting him "out"...but God's grace is big! (have i mentioned that in spite of those fears and all the talk of induction luke's labor and delivery was EVERYTHING i was praying for) induction, no meds, no epidural, no "complications", i labored during the day instead of all night, i was able to hold him right away...and on and on. see, He gives us gifts we don't deserve....EVEN when our hearts struggle to trust Him in the waiting.

but it isn't just this past month. when jillian was released from the hospital on monday i was hit with a barrage of emotions...mostly internal, but i have had my moments of tears. i'm surprised the emotions haven't hit harder, but God's has been so gracious, and i am doing much better post-partum emotionally than i EVER have (then again, i shouldn't be surprised...did i mention that His grace is BIG!). anyway...when she was released i think it hit me how much has gone on in the past several months. i don't know that i ever took time to fully process jillian's scare with MRSA or her time in the hospital or how hard it was to be away from her during the time while mike lovingly tended to her in the hospital (it was the RIGHT choice...but still hard!). then mike headed to the ER with her this past week, and being the second ER visit for respiratory problems my mind immediately went "there" know, that place of doubts and fears and unknowns. my mind didn't stay quickly went to the place of "doing life"...keeping up with elizabeth and kate...caring for luke...spending time with family in town...visiting jilly...just trying to maintain. and then she was released...and with that came the emotions and the thoughts...with that came the weariness and exhaustion (exacerbated by lots of interrupted sleep lately thanks to a certain handsome and precious little man).

i know that LOTS of people have harder trials...but the reality is that i am not OTHER people. God has given me grace for MY circumstances...just as He gives them grace for theirs. He doesn't call me to compare what the "hard" in my life looks like with the "hard" in someone else's life. and so i am being real...i am at a place right now where i am fighting to put one foot in front of the other and CHOOSE JOY amidst the chaos. love this quote a friend posted on FB today, "Don't postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is the lesson." (alan cohen). i have no clue who alan cohen is, but boy does that quote sum it up for me...JOY IS THE LESSON. it is not about life becoming "easier" or "less chaotic" is about choosing joy...choosing joy even when a child disobeys me for the umpteenth time....choosing joy when i am up with a bright-eyed, wide awake baby boy and everyone else in the house is sound asleep...choosing joy when my baby girl is in the hospital struggling to breathe....choosing joy when i realize how often i am "dropping the ball"....choosing joy when i feel like wallowing in the weary and the exhausted....choosing joy when things don't work out the way i WANT them to....choosing joy in the HARD of my personal life and my moments and days. i am learning...slowly...but still, even slow learning is forward progress, right?! i am realizing that i need to be spending FAR more time in His Word...soaking in His grace and truth and strength...letting His Words be my portion. i am in a season of struggling to do that...but i am striving to walk more closely with Him...and remembering that even when i "feel" alone...i am NOT...He never leaves me...He never forsakes me...even when i struggle to give Him the priority He deserves.

and then there is this John Piper quote from a short podcast a dear friend shared with me..."Yes, it is hard, but God is mysteriously loving and sovereign in ALL that comes our way. To lose him as sovereign in that moment is to lose your hope for the future." truth...sweet truth...rolling around in my soul. you see, it is so, so, so easy for me to struggle with His sovereignty and His let my momentary circumstances (and i'm not just talking about sick kids...i'm talking about marriage...i'm talking about disobedience from my children and the disappointment that can come with that...i'm talking about the day to day mundane things that happen...i'm talking about LIFE...all of it) cast doubt upon His sovereign plan. but the TRUTH is that He is sovereign in all that comes our way...HE IS SOVEREIGN in ER visits and hospitalizations (and hospital bills!). HE IS SOVEREIGN in the timing of events (like the reality that pregnant and with a brand new baby i was not the one in the hospital with jilly...something i wrestle with emotionally). HE IS SOVEREIGN in the lessons my children are learning. HE IS SOVEREIGN over the weather. HE IS SOVEREIGN in ALL. i could go on and on listing one thing after another...but the word ALL covers it...He is mysteriously loving (oh how i LOVE that) and sovereign in ALL THAT COMES OUR WAY. wow.

and so, if you see me...know this...i might have washed and dried my hair; i might have even attempted to lessen those dark circles of fatigue under my eyes with some make-up (or maybe i didn't...come by my house on the average day and you'll likely find a ponytail and yoga pants)....but under the surface i am clinging to Jesus...i am weary, exhausted, doubting, and on and on...i am not holding up on my fact, i am struggling to maintain my "grip" on Him...BUT His grace is BIG...His grip upon me is tight...His strength is unending...quite simply, when i am not, HE IS. and i am simply choosing to trust Him...with my husband, with my children, with my circumstances, and most of all, with my heart.

(ps...for an update of the past few days, jilly's hospitalization, our time with my sister here, and some cute pics keep reading the next post)...and hopefully posts with jillian and luke's pics will be up SOON!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

museum visits & hospitals & beloved visitors...oh my!

funny how crazy it felt bringing elizabeth home when she was a having a baby made life feel so much more hectic. it seems that with #4, baby luke is the calm amidst the storm...the peace in the chaos. honestly, it isn't just since we've brought him home...or even in just the end of pregnancy uncomfortable time frame...nope, life has been going non-stop since way before that. but the past five or so days have been particularly harried.

but here he is...sleeping away...hints of sleepy little grins lingering. don't you just want to kiss all over those chubby little cheeks! :)

we ended last week with some much needed sunshine and warmth...enough warmth to do some serious backyard playing...lots of swinging, sliding, running after balls, and out world, jilly figured out how to do the slide all by herself.

saturday we headed to the museum as a celebrate sweet ellie's fifth birthday. we knew jillian wasn't feeling great...she had a bit of a runny nose and a tooth about to poke through, but we decided to keep her in the stroller and go for it. the museum was a zoo...a trifecta...saturday, grandparent's day, and a new exhibit opening...but we all still had some fun...and most of all, we got to celebrate with ellie.

elizabeth and birthday girl ellie

mommy, luke, and kate

jilly chowing down on a cupcake...even a bit under the weather she knows what to do with a chocolate cupcake :)

luke's first visit to the museum

daddy with kate and libs

midway through the museum visit you could see jilly taking a turn for the worse. we decided to pack up and head home...and honestly it didn't get much better from there. jilly's breathing was getting really labored...and despite back to back breathing treatments at home we weren't seeing any improvement, and she was now running a decent fever that we couldn't get to come down. once the big girls were in bed, we made the decision that based on her breathing rate, lack of response to meds and breathing treatments, etc. mike headed to the ER with our sweet girl. that was around 9...i got luke fed and down for the "night" (ie...3 or 4 hours...ha!)...mike was updating me via text message...and eventually i caught a bit of sleep myself, knowing i would need to be half awake for the girls in the morning since mike was likely going to have a long night at the ER...but when i woke up at 1:30 and checked my text messages i had one from him, and they were still struggling to get her breathing under control, so they were admitting her for oxygen and observation. ugh....

long story short, she had a viral infection and inner ear infection...nothing serious, but enough to throw her respiratory system...since this is her second ER visit for breathing problems in just 5 or so months, we are potentially looking at asthma or allergies of some kind...but they don't diagnose anything this early age-wise. anyway...mike spent 48 hours in the hospital with her...her O2 levels dropped significantly when she slept, so the first night she was on oxygen, but after that it was just antibiotics, breathing treatments and observation until her breathing was under control. she was a fairly happy camper...and my peditrician (and the nurses) kept telling us what a great patient she is...cooperative, happy, etc. i'm glad she is a good patient...but she now totals 6 days in the hospital since mid-november, and i'm praying we can keep her out of there! but we are so thankful for the great care she received...and for insurance, praise the Lord.

the happy patient...and her breakfast

...and, once again, amidst the chaos, here is our peaceful little the ability to just conk out anywhere, no matter the noise of his big sisters.

before we knew what the weekend would entail in the way of hospital stays, we were planning a family "reunion" of sorts on sunday. my sister was headed up from NC and my parents and grandma were planning to come down for the day sunday. uncle richard couldn't make it becuase of his teaching schedule and dad (poppy) ended up really sick and had to stay home, but aunt shell, grandmommy, and GG made it to our place. GG and aunt shell were able to meet our little man for the first time...i was able to have some much needed distraction and help while holding down the fort at home (while daddy held down the fort at the hospital with jilly). grandmommy brought YUMMY lasagna and salad...paired with bread and brownies, we feasted...and chatted...and laughed...and simply enjoyed being together...a fun "girls day"...well, except for luke. :)

i must say that both libs and kate were thoroughly enthralled with spending time with aunt shell, but kate had a particularly giggly, chatter-filled time. i think she is utterly and completely smitten.


on monday the big girls went to school and aunt shell and i hung with luke in the morning. we took turns visiting jilly in the hospital (since luke couldn't be in there with us...)...and while aunt shell was visiting jilly was discharged! while daddy and jilly went home to rest, aunt shell and i picked the girls up from school a bit early and headed to the children's museum for some fun.

goofing with aunt shell

luke's second museum visit

with diego

jilly and kate loving on waya

so thankful aunt shell got to spend a little "out of the hospital" time with jillian before hitting the road....actually, so thankful for all the time we got to spend with aunt shell...she is pretty darn terrific!

...and finally, because i just can't is our roly poly little man...he isn't in cloth full time yet...needs to put on a wee bit more "leg fat" (we're almost there!), but i just can't get over the adorableness. this is an XS bumgenius AIO our friend erin gave it! he is wearing it the spirit of saint patrick's day! :)...sadly he is just about too big for it though...(can you imagine that?!--HA!)

and is to hoping i can keep on posting. i have newborn pics of luke my second cousin's talented husband took (bless his heart he spent over 4 hours with us on a saturday when luke was just a week old...and delivered CDs with over 150 images--mostly luke but some of jilly as well--the others were gone for the day when he was he printed several images in various sizes). what a gift...and for those of you who are local...he was amazing! let me know if you need a photographer, i'd love to pass on his name...i'll post a luke post and jilly post with pictures soon...i promise! plus i have lots of thoughts swirling in my brain...thoughts about joy, thoughts about being real, thoughts about being weary, thoughts about grace, thoughts about daily life...and on and on...just need to find a few minutes to post them!

Monday, March 7, 2011

this or that...

as you can imagine...

when i have to choose between
THIS little guy

THAT mountain o' clean laundry...
(thank you husband for washing every last little bit!)

...the mountain just keeps pilin' on up!
but really, i do need to get a wee bit folded sometime this afternoon or evening...

he is keeping his sisters busy too. :)

this one doesn't stay still near him long enough for a pic...but she is quite interested as well (although the transition has definitely been hardest on her...although last week was hard to gauge...she also had a cold, teeth coming in, and shots at her 18 month well-child perhaps it wasn't luke that had her out of sorts!)