Sunday, November 27, 2011

All About Audrey

Last, but certainly not least, I am finishing my "All About" with the youngest member of the family (by 6 minutes!) with little Audrey Helene.

Age: 14 months
Favorite Movie/Cartoon: Still too young to have much interest in this area, but she is slightly entertained by the Baby Einstein videos. Can I just say that I know these videos do nothing except provide mindless entertainment and babysitting? And any parent who says they never use television as a babysitter did not have 3 children 3 and under and tried to do laundry. 
Favorite Food: We are still struggling with solid foods, but cheerios are always a favorite for this little precious girl. Otherwise, applesauce, soft meats, baby food are still our go-to items for her.
Words she says: Mama, dada, bye-bye, baba, madababebo (and whatever else she can put together in one breath)
Teeth: 6 (4 on top, 2 on the bottom)-cutest smile ever!!
Favorite Toy: She pretty much enjoys tearing up all my magazines and pulling all the diapers and wipes out of the box. Otherwise, she is starting to have some interest in her baby doll.
Quirky things about Audrey: The funniest thing about Audrey is that since she can't crawl, she scoots around on her bottom by pulling herself around with her hands. She can go super fast! She is still is very finicky about touching certain textures with her hands. Her Occupational Therapist is helping her with this. The hands thing and her issues with eating all have to do with her sensory integration disorder.
Things she can't live without: Her grey, white, and pink blanket with her name on it. She curls it up around her face and chews on it (I know...that part is gross, but what do ya do?). She's never taken a pacifier, so I guess that is her oral fixation?? I'd also say she can't live without her family. She loves, loves, loves her mommy, daddy, and siblings. She is such a sweet presence in our family and brings so many smiles even on the most difficult days.
Her personality: I say it all the time, but she is truly the most content, happy child on the planet. Although she gets upset when we are pushing her in therapy, she is otherwise a very "go with the flow" child. She loves to sit in your lap and be held, but she will not "snuggle" close. The therapist said this has to do with her issues with her hands and touching things. She is my most adaptable child when we have a day where we can't stay on our normal schedule. Otherwise, I will just say that everyone who meets her falls in love with her instantly. She has a calming effect when you are with her. I think God knew I would need one child who was quiet and easy, so He gave us Audrey. 
Funny things she does: She loves to tilt her head to get your attention and then she will smile when you finally acknowledge her. If she successfully picks up a food item and actually gets it into her mouth (again, we are struggling with some fine motor skills) she will clap for herself. She also puts her hands on top of head when she is done eating. Funny girl! The other "funny" thing about her is she has crazy thick hair! You can't really tell from the pictures, but her hair is very different from Ella and Jacob. It is really wavy in the front and super curly in the back. It is going to be so beautiful when it gets a little longer, but at the moment, her hair is just out of control!

I just really can't say enough nice things about this girl. We recently visited my grandmother who has late-stage alzheimers and even she was completely enthralled with her. She sang lullabies to her and Audrey just smiled. My grandmother looked at me with a huge smile and said "I think I'd like to keep this baby!" She is really special. But, don't let her fool you! She is not a push over. I constantly find her pushing Jacob if he is crawling over her. She'll also yank toys back from him if he steals something she is playing with.

I feel like our 3 children all bring something so unique to our family. They are all different, yet they "gel" very well together. Audrey brings a certain sweetness that can calm my anxious heart. Ella loves for Audrey to come play in her room and I foresee hours of playing house and school in her room in the future. Ella already will sit next to her and read her stories. My sister is very special to me, so I am glad that these girls will get to experience that as well. 

Audrey Helene, you are as beautiful as your name...and I predict you will be as classy as your name as well! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

All about Jacob

I feel like I don't talk much about Jacob on here. That is ironic because he is probably my most needy child at the moment...although Ella is a close second.  He had a reputation during his time in the NICU for being a wee bit demanding. He was a happy little fella, but he needed lots of attention.  He pretty much hasn't changed! My lack of posting about him is usually more because I don't have near as many cute pictures of him. He is constantly on the move and it is very hard to get a decent picture of him. But, since I did an "All about Ella" post, I figured I should give a little shout out about the other little ones in this house. So, here we go: All about Jacob

Age: 14 months
Favorite Movie/cartoon: He isn't really old enough to truly watch a movie, but he will totally watch one of those Baby Einstein videos when he is in his 5 o'clock bewitching hour. It is the only way I can cook dinner. He also will show some attention to Mickey Mouse if it is on. What is it about that mouse that makes all kids so happy?
Favorite Food: Meat, cheese, bananas, and blueberries; he also LOVES water. I decided that I am not even going to give him any juice since he will drink a whole cup of water without any fuss.
Words he says: Mama, dada, baba...that's about it.
Teeth: 8, but his 4 molars are about to break through as well...he is miserable. 
Favorite Toy:  Bouncy Balls; He will roll them around and chase them all day long. He also likes the weeble wobble tree house (this has been a big hit with all my children) and sometimes cars.
Quirky things about Jacob: If he hiccups or burps, he hysterically laughs. The hiccups are the best because he will literally laugh after every single hiccup...basically leading to 10 minutes of solid laughter. Andrew and I agree that things in general are very funny to him. He is definitely going to be the class clown.
Things He can't live without: his little elephant blanket (one of the small, hand-held blankets with an elephant head on it). He does like a pacifier when he sleeps, but otherwise I wouldn't say he is overly attached to it. If you tried to give it to him just randomly during the day, he would spit it out. I'd also add he can't live without his mommy. He is very attached to me. :)
His personality: WILD! He is for sure my risk taker. I never had to baby proof (except the stairs) with Ella. But this boy...oh my! He destroys everything in his path. He is going to be the one who sneaks out of the house when he is two...I'd be willing to wager money on that. He loves to unplug everything in the house and crawl in small spaces. Crazy boy!
Funny things he does: He loves to lift up toys (usually balls) and put them somewhere high. The sofa, the table, etc. are all places he loves to put toys. If you are in the bathtub, he will bring you any toy he can find and throw it in the tub. Future basketball player, perhaps?

Overall, Jacob has been the most "typical" child. He isn't super easy like Audrey, but he is not overly fussy like Ella was as a baby (and still is).   If you are holding him, he is the happiest little guy in the world. He is a good sleeper and napper, so I am thankful for that. He is so close to walking and even took 2 independent steps the other day. I predict he will be walking (slowly) by Christmas.  He is very cuddly and affectionate. My favorite thing about Jacob is how he will crawl into my lap and lay his head on my chest and just snuggle. I wasn't sure how I would feel about a boy after having Ella, but I can say that boys are just as amazing as girls. They are special in a different way that I don't even know how to describe...not more special, just a different type of special. And those dimples...oh my word. They will have you weak in the knees, ladies!

So there you have it. Jacob=typical boy. I'm hoping having two sisters will keep him from being too rough and tough.  When he had a collapsed lung in the NICU, the doctors and nurses said they couldn't believe he wasn't showing any symptoms of being in distress. He is one tough little dude. His middle name is Pierce, which means strong...and strong he is! I love that both he and Audrey have names that mean strong. Jacob is another form of the name James, which is Andrew's middle name. Originally, we were thinking of naming him James because Jacob is sort of overused these days. When we first got married 9 years ago, we always said we wanted a little boy named Jacob...then it became very popular. But, one night when I was laying in the hospital, we both were feeling nostalgic and talking about our early married days. We talked about how we used to say we wanted a Jacob. Literally in that moment, we both looked at each other and we just knew...we had to have our Jacob! He brings a totally different dynamic to our family that we just love. I adore that little man!

Friday, November 11, 2011

All about Ella

Like her mommy, she is a city girl living in the suburbs. I say that because she likes to be on the go and wants to be dressed to the nines the moment she wakes up in the morning. She often dresses up in something and tells me she is getting ready to go to Paris. Andrew and I are convinced that is going to do something in the arts. Her new favorite activity is to listen to a book on c.d. and "act out" all the scenes. Sometimes she gets her various dolls and stuffed animals and makes them act out different characters. It is adorable. We love watching her creative mind at work. And we cannot keep enough art supplies in this house. This little beauty loves to Perhaps she will be a painter in Paris!

In all seriousness, it is fun to watch your child start to develop certain interests. I am sure these will change through the years, so I wanted to write down some of Ella's favorite things at the moment. I saw someone on pinterest put a picture of their child and then add text to the side with all their favorites for that age. Isn't that clever? I haven't tried it yet, but for now, thought I'd just list them below: So here we go: All About Ella

Age: 3 & 1/2
Favorite Movie: Sleeping Beauty, but really any princess movie (it doesn't even have to be animated. If it has a girl in a ballgown, she's all about it!)
Favorite Cartoon: Always changing but here are a few: Madeline, Angelina Ballerina, Curious George, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Favorite Music: Jazz (isn't that great? She loves it! I am sure that is because I listen to it all the time); Veggie Tales Sunday School Songs c.d.; Christmas music (I have a disc with all the old traditional pop/jazz type songs that she listens to year round)
Favorite Food: She would probably say chicken, but she really likes anything. But, if I ask her what she wants for dinner, she almost always says chicken. I also make a turkey and sun-dried tomato meatloaf that she loves. Oh, and hotdogs, but I have to limit those.
Favorite candy: Lollipops or any chocolate
Favorite toy: She loves any sort of small doll (ie-Madeline dolls) or figurines (those small princess figures) that can fit in a play castle or dollhouse. She also likes to have tea parties and "read" books to her bigger dolls. Oh, and the girl LOVES puzzles...I'm talking 60 pieces or more puzzles.
Favorite color: pink or purple
Favorite Book:  This is always changing, but she likes the following: Angelina Ballerina series, Madeline series, Fancy Nancy series, Ella Bella Ballerina books, and the Katie books. She also loves "look and find" books.
Things she can't live without: 1. She has to have her chocolate milk (carnation instant breakfast) EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. It is like her coffee...she cannot function until she's had it. Sometimes she'll ask for a second glass, but she has learned to say "mommy, after you are done with your coffee, can I have more chocolate milk?";2. she's still very attached to her pink blanket. However, she has added a second one to the mix the past few months that is grey and pink striped with her name on it. I think she grew attached to it because when we couldn't find the pink one I would convince her that the grey one was awesome because it had her name on it. Now she has to have both. She is like Linus from the Peanuts cartoon.  
Quirky things about Ella: She cannot take an afternoon nap in her regular clothes. She insists on changing into pajamas. I finally gave in to this and decided it just didn't matter. Some things just aren't worth fighting over.
Her night time rituals: Besides the usual bath and book, she has to put on a puppet show with her daddy every.single.night. She has to have a glass of cold water with ice in a sippy cup in her bed as well as socks on her feet. And lastly, she always wants me to sing "Baby Mine" and rub her head and back. And it is always followed by a "little hug" and a "BIG hug" and two kisses. It sounds a little high maintenance now that I write it out, but to us, it's just a few things that make her feel loved...and I'm ok with that. Of course, sometimes she pulls stall tactics. Her new favorite is to come out and announce "I do not want to sleep with THAT baby" and wants the baby put out in the hallway. Whatever.

And here are a few of her common things she says:
1. "When I get bigger..." or "when I get older..."
2. "When I go to Paris one day..."
3. "Mommy, don't worry. Today I am going to obey!!" (that always makes me laugh)
4. "Mommy, when you get bigger, you can wear this outfit too."
5. "Let's make an art project for... (grandma, grandaddy, grammie, poppie, daddy, Ms. Nancy
6.  "I want a hangerbur (aka-hamburger...and we won't correct her because it is just too cute)
7. "That's so silly/funny..."
8. "Look! A School bus!! When I get bigger I'm going to ride on that!" (we'll see, Ella...)
9. Instead of saying yesterday or last night, she always says "last year". time wise, everything is a year.

She is all about Santa Claus right now too. I know some people don't like the whole "Santa" thing, but we love the magic of Christmas. When she asks one day if he is real, I plan on simply telling her that it is something we like to pretend. Our Children will always know the true meaning of Christmas and about Christ's birth, but I also ok with the magic and whimsy of the Santa thing. It will definitely be a part of our day.

So, that's my editorial on Ella. She is super shy, but a super sweet little girl.  She sees only beauty and I often find myself jealous of her uncluttered mind. If I was ever asked whom I admire, my answer would most definitely be Ella. I love seeing this world through her is way better than my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Audrey: Noble Strength

This girl is doing some amazing things this week. It may not mean anything special to anyone but Andrew and me, but watching how far this girl has come these past 14 months is just remarkable. I have often felt like whenever I start to feel discouraged or anxious about her development that God will give me just enough to find hope and peace once again. It is not necessarily a hope that things will turn out exactly how I want, rather that God is still working in her precious little life.

Exactly one month ago (you can click here to read that post), I was feeling very overwhelmed by so many unknowns in my life...the unknown of how much longer before our home sells, the unknown of everything with Audrey...just simply a feeling of being unsettled. Does that make sense? Faith is such a difficult thing. I feel like I put my faith on a timeline. Basically if God doesn't "work things out" for me in what I consider a reasonable amount of time, I start to feel forsaken. It is a constant spiritual cycle for me. But, I continue to be given little gifts and reasons to keep clinging to that faith. I am so thankful for God throwing me a life preserver on those days where I start to feel like I am drowning.

Audrey has made so much progress this past week. She has started getting up on all fours and rocking like she wants to crawl. She also has figured out how to get herself into a sitting position when in her crib (and she isn't using anything to pull on!). And then this evening we watched her sit up on the hardwood floors. I was beaming!! It takes a lot of abdominal strength to do that and that shows me she is getting so much stronger.

And then tonight she picked up a cheerio and tried to put it in her mouth three times. Amazing.

I felt my anxiety level go down after witnessing these amazing strides she has taken. I asked her physical therapist (we go every Monday) if she thought Audrey would be walking by age 2 and she said that is her hope. We love her therapist. Audrey was so mad at her this Monday because she was working hard with her on flexing her legs and bending her knees (Audrey is very stiff in her lower body)...but, at the end her therapist picked her up and just walked around with her for a little while and hugged and loved on her. She said she didn't want her to leave upset and start having anxiety when she would see her. I thought that was so sweet. It is going to be a celebration the day that girl takes her first steps.

Her name means Noble Strength. I'd say, she is living up to that.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Acorns and Pumpkins: An Old Poem

An old poem describes a woman walking through a meadow, meditating on nature. While strolling about, she came upon a field of golden pumpkins. In the corner of the field stood a majestic, huge oak tree.

She sat under the oak tree musing on the strange twists in nature which put tiny acorns on huge branches and huge pumpkins on tiny vines. She thought to herself, "God blundered with Creation! He should have put the small acorns on the tiny vines and the large pumpkins on the huge branches."
Nodding off, the woman stretched out under the oak tree for a nap. A few minutes after falling asleep she was awakened by a tiny acorn bouncing off her nose. Chuckling to herself, she rubbed her nose and thought, "Maybe God was right after all!"

"You make being a mom seem so easy!" another mom said to me at Ikea the other day. She was a stranger to me. Had she not been, she would know that this is not easy for me. Sometimes I think God got confused when He gave me these three little children. Surely He meant to give them to someone with more patience and stamina than me! Yes I wanted them...desired them...prayed and begged for them...but, most days I go to bed thinking "I don't know how I am going to do this again tomorrow!"

The other mom was very frustrated with her toddler because the little girl wouldn't eat her lunch. What the mom didn't understand was that I seemed "relaxed" because I really did not care whether my kids ate their lunch or not...I was just so elated that we actually got out of the house! I also have no expectations when we go out...I know good and well that I might invest two hours into getting us prepared to leave the house only to have to turn around and go home shortly after arriving at our destination.

You see, "easy" is a subjective word. When I had just Ella, I thought it was really hard. Actually, it was hard and she still is difficult in my opinion...not because she herself is difficult, but because she is my guinea pig. Every new phase I go through with her will always be hard because she will always be my first one I go through it with. She is learning and growing and so am I. (Dear God, PLEASE don't let me screw her up!It's not her fault!)

I wish I would have had more time to explain to this mom that it wasn't that I was doing it better. I guess you could say that I've learned not to sweat the small stuff. It doesn't mean I excuse contraire! But there is a difference between a child being childish and a child being disobedient. Childish behavior still needs guidance, but not necessarily a punishment. For example, Jacob is at the stage where he throws food on the floor. He is not purposefully doing something to disobey me...he is just being childish. I still guide him and tell him "no, no." Now, there will come a point where I feel like he understands and it becomes an obedience issue. But, at the moment, it is simply a childish thing he does...I'd be popping his hand 5 times a day otherwise...and I just can't do that until I feel like he understands. I know some books/people would say/argue that you should pop them on the hand or something like that from the very beginning. I don't. Now if Ella threw food on the better believe she would be disciplined for that behavior. I digress...

My point is that I don't let childish behavior bother me. When I child acts childish, their hearts are not trying to hurt you. I think if you allow it to cause you anxiety, you will feel very burdened by your children. You will never want to leave the house. You are expecting perfection and these little ones are far from perfect. I would probably even say to just expect childish behavior when you take them somewhere. Your outtings will be so much more enjoyable when you don't expect perfection. That other mom's little girl?...she was just being childish. She wasn't being disobedient. She was just acting like a child.

I am NOT a parenting expert. But, I have learned a few things from my mistakes. Maybe God gave me three little ones because He knew I needed to "chill out" get over myself and my Type-A personality. Someone may completely disagree with me. That's ok. I know I'm just doing the best I can. I would say one of our biggest conversations through the years with Ella is when Andrew and I look at each other and say "ok. This is no longer her being childish. She is being disobedient and she knows better." There are also times where we decide that we need to just back off because she just doesn't quite get it yet.

I'm still figuring it out like every other mommy. I've just learned to extend a little grace...both to myself and my children. Maybe God was right after all. Maybe He knew I would know how to love these three little ones the way they would need.

I'm so glad He put three heavy pumpkins on my little tiny vine. So, don't ever think I have it all together. I'm just learning a little about extending grace. After all, don't we all need a little grace from time to time?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lions, Tigers, and Bears...oh my!

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I don't like to be scary movies or haunted houses for me! However, letting the children dress up in cute costumes and knocking on neighbors doors saying "trick or treat" is kind of adorable. I know wearing cute costumes is a totally Americanized Halloween way of celebrating, but I just can't do the scary stuff...ever! This was the first year we had the babies with us for Halloween (they were still in the NICU this time last year). Because I knew Ella probably wouldn't last very long (nor the babies), I had to investigate a cheap way to do our costumes. So, what you see below literally cost me ZERO dollars. Here we are as the characters from Wizard of Oz.

Audrey the Lion
I used an eyeliner pencil of mine to draw whiskers on her face

Dorothy and her ruby slippers
Audrey the Lion, Me as the wicked witch, Jacob the Tin Man, and Ella as Dorothy. We also had a scarecrow...can you see it laying down in front of Ella?

Ella was ready to go home after about 10 houses...all the more reason to not spend money on costumes. The Lion and Dorothy costumes were borrowed; I'm simply wearing black sweats and a witch hat that I've owned for probably 10 years; Jacob is wearing all grey and we just made him a little hat out of aluminum foil. The scarecrow was something we already owned. So there you have it! The Wizard of Oz cast on a budget of zero dollars!