Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts

Happy Baby - Georgie At Five Months



Well, this month's update is about two weeks late.  Whoops! My sweet girl is now well past 5 months old!

This month has felt like a bit of a whirlwind, and I'm not really sure why.  I just know that I've been exhausted with everything on our calendar and have been intentionally trying to slow down.  The last few weeks I've been telling Georgie that she's my little stress reliever, because her sweet cuddles and big smile instantly lighten my mood!  I'm so happy she's my baby.

Growth And Eating

We're still struggling along with the nursing, and my supply isn't increasing at all - but I'm hanging on, because I'm not quite ready to give it up.  She's mostly on formula now.  I'm also happy to report that she's chunked up some even since her last monthly update.  Her little legs have the hint of rolls now, and I just love her round little cheeks when she smiles!  Her hair is starting to thin - I've figured out that babies' hair reaches the peak of baldness at six months old before it starts to grow back in thicker.  She still has hair, but I can tell it's changing texture.  She is gumming everything and drooling a lot, so I feel like some teeth may poke through soon - or we may have to wait another 3 months, you never can tell.

Sleeping

I actually told Derek the other day that I feel bad for everyone in the world who does not get to be Georgie's mom (ha!) - first, because she's just so sweet and happy and delicious, and second because this baby is the most incredible sleeper I've ever heard of.  She's STILL sleeping 12 hours at night, plus a 2-hour nap during the day!  I'm getting so much sleep, I have no reason in the world to be exhausted.  When I'm tired, everyone assumes it's the baby - no, it's my own fault.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop...it is just so nice to have a fifth baby who sleeps!  Georgie totally spoils us.  I told her the other night that she's the kind of baby who tricks you into having a sixth!

Firsts

Shortly after Georgie's 5th month birthday, we celebrated Easter!  It was Georgie's first on the outside, and she looked pretty cute in her dress that matched all the girls.  We also put her in the gumbo seat for the first time, and sometimes she likes it, and sometimes she hates it.  No other firsts yet, but I think we'll be adding a few in the next month as we look ahead to starting solid foods.



Personality

She is still the cutest, happiest little thing!  She greets me with a smile each morning, smiles when I kiss her cheek, smiles when I talk to her.  She loves her siblings and will just grin at them if they give her any attention.  

She's obviously very easygoing (see above), but she tries to assert herself when she's hungry.  Even then, her cry is just not that loud or disruptive.  If she has to cry more than a couple of minutes before I get to her, her cries turn to this hopeless wail, like she's upset that no one ever takes her crying seriously, and it's so sad and pathetic and cute-sounding. 

She definitely likes me best right now, and will just watch me when someone else is holding her, then she grins when I finally take her back.  She likes to talk, and has the cutest little cooing voice - I'm looking forward to when she adds more consonants to her repertoire!



---

Sweet Georgie,

My darling girl, you are such a blessing to me!  There have been many times over the last month when I was feeling stressed, and I sat down to feed you and your smile just melted all the chaos away.  If I look you in the eye while you are eating, you'll grin at me around your bottle and give me a cute little "hum" sound, and I just feel like laughing every time you do it.  What a joy you are! Your personality is so sweet, and I just can't wait to watch it develop more as you grow.  I thank God every day for giving you to me.  I love you, darling.

Love Always, 

Mama

Don't Be Like Bob

(Four of my blessings.)


"Ah, you're Callie.  I've heard of you.  The one thing I know about you is that you have a lot of kids...so I guess I also know that you're insane."

Hardy, har, har.

Believe it or not, someone who was also a fellow Christian, by the way - we'll call him, Bob - actually said this to me once.  I gave out an incredulous "ha!" and then sat there in silence.  This is where I wish sometimes that I was a little quicker on my feet.  What I wanted to say was, "Oh, nice to meet you, Bob.  I guess the one thing I know about you is that you haven't read Psalm 139, where it says children are a reward from the Lord, and a blessing.  Buh-less-ing!"

But of course, I didn't say that, because that would be rude (hint, hint, Bob).

The reason I bring this up is because I saw a sketch on Facebook yesterday that made me laugh (you can see it here).  A stick figure family with six children and one on the way have their mouths hanging open, while another stick figure man says "You know what causes that, right?" Underneath it says "This is Bob.  Bob does not recognize blessings.  Don't be like Bob."

Apparently there are a lot of Bobs out there.  

Of course I thought it was funny because of my own experiences, so I shared it.  And then I sat there and remembered the story I shared above.  And then I had a startling realization.

Sometimes, I am also a Bob.  Because sometimes, I don't recognize blessings.  

Isn't that what discontentment is, after all?  We forget to recognize and thank God for the blessings we have.  We think what we have isn't good enough, or isn't enough, period.  We want more...more excitement, more recognition, more experiences, more things (even good things) - and when we focus so much on what we're missing, we forget about the things that we have.  The things God has so graciously given us.  

Maybe we don't actively ridicule those blessings like my Bob did, we're just overlooking them or minimizing them.  Those are two different things of course, but in practice, isn't it the same thing?  We're an ungrateful people, and whether with derision, or indifference and greediness, we snub God's good gifts as spoiled children would.  And when I say "we", I mean me.  So when I say this next part, it's a challenge to me more than it's a challenge to you.

Don't be like Bob.


Creative Contentment | A 100 Days Project


One of my unspoken goals for the year has been to get better at budgeting.

Recently I was reminded of why I need this so much when a friend mentioned a deal she found on some new clothing items.  Did I need new clothing?  No, but it didn't stop me from browsing the internet in search of a similar deal.  I have three new garments to show for it, and though I stayed within my budget to buy them, and they were good buys that will fit into my wardrobe nicely, it still makes me a little unnerved each time I look at them.  Because I know they were bought from an ugly place.  A place of discontent.

2018 so far has brought to light my personal discontent in ways I didn't expect.  The budgeting and finance issues are just one aspect - at various times over the last few years I have felt discontent with my schedule, discontent with our food, discontent with our house.  I have felt discontent with how ordinary my days are, how little I accomplish in a day, the quality of the books I'm crossing off my to-be-read list, the number on the scale.  I've felt discontent with my homeschool community (or rather lack thereof), and discontent with my walk with the Lord (because I wish I had more time and was better at making it a priority!).  

Basically, I'm tired of being discontent.

I recently saw that the #100daysproject is starting up on Instagram, and I mulled over the idea of joining in.  I did 31 Days Of Writing last October and loved being able to focus my posts around a certain theme on this blog, and I liked the idea of doing it again.  

As I was sitting there, running through different topics or activities that wouldn't be too burdensome in my current stage of life (and also wondering if it's cheating somehow to write about the project on my blog instead of Instagram), I remembered my blog friend Cassidy doing a 31 Days project on contentment a few years back.  Many blog friends have participated in these challenges over the years, but for some reason Cassidy's series stuck with me.  Perhaps because contentment is something I struggle with off and on too.  

Then it came to me: creative contentment.  If I was going to do a 100 Days Project, that's what I'd like it to be on.  Thinking outside the box when it comes to practicing contentment - figuring out strategies to help myself rest in contentment, and improving my circumstances and attitude where I am right now, with what I have right now.

I think I'm just going to go for it.  Will I write every day about this on the blog?  No, but I am hoping to seriously think about and practice contentment in different areas of my life every day for the next 100 days, and write something related to this topic at least once a week right here (and maybe occasionally on Instagram too).  That counts right?  That's my plan.

So consider this the first installment, and expect more on Thursdays or Fridays for the next few months!




Large Family Q&A - 5 Kids Under 7



People are curious about large families.  Curious enough to ask awkward questions of strangers (I speak from experience).  I don't blame them - I am even curious about families that are bigger than mine!

With five kids, I suppose we officially fall into the "large family" category, so I had a little fun with it recently and did a video with some common questions people seem to have about big families.  Now you don't have to ask me awkward questions, because I answered them for you here!  Watch the video (or scroll down for the short answers!).





1. How many children do you have? 
Five!


2. What are their ages? 

7, 5, 3, 2, 4 months.


3. What is your family structure? 
They're all our biological children.


4. How old were you when you had your first baby? 

Twenty-two, and I'd recommend young motherhood when possible. I got all five of my babies in before I turned 30!


5. Were they all planned by you and your spouse, or do you leave it up to God? 

We had to try a bit for the first two, and the last three were surprises (sort-of).


6. What is your favorite reaction to telling someone how many children you have? 
My favorite reaction is when someone tells me how blessed I am, because that's how I feel!


7. How do you usually handle negative comments? 
Um...I don't really notice negative reactions most of the time. One of the benefits of being non-observant. Still looking for a good one-liner for the (thankfully very few) times we get a negative comment.


8. What does it cost to feed your large family? 

Well, our monthly grocery budget is currently $650, but most of the kids are pretty little and don't eat terribly much. It'll probably go up in the next few years.


9. Do you plan to have more children?  
I believe we're done, but hey, I'll never say never! Derek and I have talked about leaving adoption open as a possibility if the Lord calls us that way.


10. What is your family vehicle? 

Minivan, baby!


11. Do you ever eat out?  
Not very often, and if we do, it's usually fast food.


12. How much milk do you go through in a week? 
Two gallons? We probably could go through more, but we drink water more often than milk.


13. How many rolls of toilet paper do you go through each day? 
I don't even know!


14. What is your favorite go to meal? 
Burritos or some sort of noodles.


15. How do you spend one on one time with each of your children? 
I usually take one of them with me for the beginning-of-the-month grocery shopping trip, though we still need to get back into that since Georgie has been born. Homeschooling is also giving me some one-on-one time with the older kids while we do their work, and I totally count that. We bond over math.


16. How do you manage the clutter? 
We do pick-up times at designated times of the day, but let's just say I've become a lot more laid back about messes.


17. Do you homeschool, private school or public school? 
Homeschool!


18. How do you manage the chaos? 
By getting used to it?


19. What do you do IF you get free time? 
Blogging, dabbling in doing these videos, and reading.


20. What is your #1 tip for other large family moms?  

I don't know! I don't think I'm far enough in to give advice. Someone give me some tips!



If you have a large family, feel free to grab the questions and let me know where you answered so I can check it out!


Let's Talk About Easter Baskets



(Affiliate link below. Also note that I received the book mentioned in this post for free in exchange or a review. This is my honest opinion!)

Alright, I'm just going to get straight to the point - what do you put in your kids' Easter baskets?

Easter is less than a month away!  There have been years when I put a lot of effort into picking things for the kids' Easter baskets, but since we've had a fourth and fifth baby I've toned them down quite a bit.  Last year's baskets were definitely thrown together last minute.  This year I'd like to make them at least thoughtful, since they won't be elaborate by any means (five kids, remember)!

Here are some things I've included in the past:

Summer shoes - Why not go ahead and buy something I'm going to need to purchase anyway?
Swimsuits - Same reason.
Umbrellas - My kids loved these.
Sunglasses/hats - Are you noticing a theme here?  Easter feels like the official kick-off to spring, so I lean toward warm weather essentials.
Books - Of course.  I'm actually kind of doing the book gift early this year with this book from Tommy Nelson.






If anything can get you in the mood for Springtime, it's the cute illustrations in this book!  A Very Happy Easter Prayer is part of a series, so it's written in a similar style as some of our other books, with little poems on each page thanking God for some part of the season.  I like how this one incorporates Jesus's resurrection on the last page too.  It's adorable for my little ones as a transition into the Easter season, and gets us all looking forward to Easter!  If I hadn't already given the book to my kids I would probably stick this in one of their baskets, especially for my younger kiddos.

As I'm considering what to include in Easter baskets though, I'm at a bit of a loss.  I would kind of like whatever I put into their baskets to have some connection with spiritual growth and pointing my kids back to Jesus, because more than any other holiday, this holiday is really about Him!  In a lot of ways Resurrection Day is an even more important celebration for our faith than Christmas.  On Christmas He was born, and He was born that He might die to take the punishment for our sin.  While Christmas is happy (because we celebrate the long-awaited arrival of the Savior!), it's looking ahead to something sorrowful.

Resurrection Day, on the other hand, is pure joy.  He suffered and died, but then He showed His power, proved He is God, and conquered the grave! Without the resurrection we are still in our sins, but because He rose again we can be alive forever with Him!  It's triumphant in a way that even Christmas isn't, and I want to make sure that all doesn't get lost amidst lesser things.

And I don't think it necessarily will get lost because we'll be talking about the Resurrection and everything that means in all the days leading up to Easter - but I don't know, I'd like it reflected somehow in their little gifts on Easter morning.  Or maybe I'm just expecting too much from a present for this age group (0-7 years)?  Any suggestions for me?

What do you put in your kids' Easter baskets (if you do them)?

A Tiny Thing - Georgie At Three Months



The last month of our lives have been rather crazy, and a lot of that craziness is surrounding my sweet Georgie Bea.

Growth And Eating

In late January I finally took in Georgie for an overdue two month checkup.  I was excited to see how much she had grown!  She seemed like such a tiny thing, I was curious to see her percentages.  Nevertheless I was still surprised to learn that she had only gained 11 ounces since her two week checkup.  

In case you are not familiar with the weight gain curves that doctors use, that is not so good!  She had dropped completely off the chart, below the first percentile.  In the week leading up to our appointment I noticed she still seemed so tiny and delicate, but she seemed healthy and content, and she was hitting all of her milestones. I honestly didn't realize she hadn't been gaining weight.  I still feel a little guilty about this.

Enter "Operation: Fatten Up Georgie".  For the next week I fed her every two hours and topped her off with formula at least twice a day.  Whatever I did seemed to work, and a week later when we went in for a weight check she was up to 10 pounds, 2 ounces at 3 months old! She's still tiny, but her weight is moving in the right direction, so that's good.  

In retrospect, I think her not gaining enough weight can be attributed to a "perfect storm" of a few different factors:

1. Georgie sleeps about 12 hours at night.  This is completely amazing for obvious reasons, but it was not helping her in the weight gain department.
2.  Because she sleeps so long at night, my supply had been dwindling.  However, this was so gradual that I didn't notice it until the last couple weeks when it became a problem.
3. My milk wasn't letting down properly.  I have five kids, and it's hard to find a quiet time to feed Georgie where we won't be interrupted.  I think this was making it hard for me to relax enough for my milk to letdown, which contributed to my supply issues.
4. On a normal day, Georgie is an extremely content baby, and she just wasn't letting me know when she was hungry.  I was feeding her at three hour intervals or so, but she needs more than that right now.  We now officially have her on a timer.

We'll have another weight check in the next couple weeks, but I am very confident that she is gaining weight happily now.  Her face has gotten notably rounder, and she even has a double chin.  She's even chubbed up since her three month pictures that I recently shared on Instagram!  Unfortunately my supply continues to dwindle, and I just don't have time or motivation to add pumping into an already packed day, so we've been giving her 2-3 bottles of formula each day.  We didn't make it as long as I wanted to with exclusively nursing this time, but c'est la vie. I'll just be happy if we can at least partially nurse until six months at this point.

As you can imagine, it's hard to keep up on things when you have five kids to take care of and one of them needs to be fed every two hours, hence why this post is late.  Aside from her weight, Georgie has been changing and growing in so many ways this month!



Sleeping

As I mentioned, Miss Georgie is an amazing sleeper!  She goes 12 hours at night, and I intend to enjoy this as much as possible.  I'm fairly confident she will stop sleeping through the night around four months because all of my babies have gone through a growth spurt at four months.  She also takes one afternoon nap during the day (having only one daytime nap is my tradeoff for a full night's sleep - I'll take it!).

Firsts

The day we found out Georgie wasn't gaining weight (January 25th), she laughed at me.  I can't tell you how comforting that was to me - right when I was beating myself up for not realizing she wasn't growing on track, she blessed me with sweet baby giggles.  It's a cute little belly-chuckle sound. She's mostly just laughed for me so far (and once for Derek), when I tickle her tummy.  I got the best video of her laughing at me repeatedly for a minute straight, and I rewatch it sometimes when I need a grin.  I just love her laugh so much!

She also discovered her hands.  One day I had her laying on the bed in my room while I got ready to go somewhere, and I looked over at her and she was just starting so intently at her hands.  I always find this phase so funny!  It's so cute to watch her little quizzical expression as she tries to figure things out.

We also celebrated our first New Year's with Georgie, and went to the stock show together for the first time as a family of 7.

She still rolls over both ways, but only occasionally.  However, she's such a strong little thing!  Her head support is pretty good for her age, and she pushes up with her arms really well when we do tummy time.



Personality

As I said, Georgie is mostly a very content baby, though since we've been feeding her every two hours she has gotten a little more vocal.  I think she finally realized she likes to eat.  She has the sweetest little grin, and she smiles much more quickly now than she did a month ago.  Her dimples are just the best thing ever!  I can also tell she's getting a little more attached to me - When someone else is holding her she will just stare at me and follow me around with her eyes.  She doesn't talk too often, but when she does it's the cutest little cooing/sighing sound.  If you want to hear her talk you have to stare right into her eyes and talk to her, and then she'll wait for a break in the conversation to coo back at you.  

---

Georgiana Bea, 

You threw me for a loop this month!  I can't believe how tiny you are, but your sweet little grins and baby talk reassure me always that you are doing just fine.  You are such a happy baby! Your grins light up my whole day, and I'm a tiny bit obsessed with your dimples.  I sit with you sometimes and just try to get you to smile over and over so I can catch a glimpse of them.  And don't even get me started on your laugh.  Your baby giggle puts both your dad and me in stitches - we just can't help but laugh along with you!  What a sweet little joy you are.  I can't imagine our life or family without you, my little lady.  You live up to your name.

I love you always, 

Mama



My Firstborn At Seven



Wyatt Boy, yesterday you turned seven years old.

Your birthday could have snuck up on me this year except for the fact that you have been reminding me about it for the last few months.  You are big enough now to sit down with a calendar and figure out how many days there are until things, and you were counting down the days.  This is also the first year that you had plans for you own birthday, and I tried my best to fill all your hopes with what I had.  You were so sweet and enthusiastic, in your quiet, shy way, about everything we ended up doing.

We took you to the Nature and Science museum, and walked through the gem section with you.  You are fascinated by the idea that such beautiful things can just be waiting beneath the earth for someone to come dig them up.  We took you to the gift shop and bought you some rocks for you "gem collection", and I loved seeing your face light up.  You wanted to know all the technical names, and how the gems were formed, and whether they were "real rocks" or manmade.  You are my thinker, and you love to just know things, especially anything related to physical science or biology.  You can stare for hours at books filled with birds, insects, and animals, and you always want to know how things work.

This year whenever you were asked what you wanted to be, you always replied with "a farmer and a worker".  You have been scoping out land as we drive places, trying to figure out where you could buy a farm.  But over the last month you've been talking more about being a "worker".  You want to build things.  We bought you a bunch of Legos this year, and seeing your how creativity grows is amazing.  You and your dad have built several things together, and I know that's one of his dreams for his kids come true, to sit and do Legos together with his son (and also go to a college football game together, which you also did this fall!).

We started first grade this year, and I don't think I expected to see you grow so much when we first cracked the books last summer.  You are learning so much!  It's so fun for me to see things start to make sense to you, to see how much you are learning each day.  You actually love to learn, and in that I see myself in you again.  I expect many years ahead of bonding over biology and zoology textbooks, since you seem to especially enjoy that subject just like I do.



One thing I love about you is your desire to do the right thing, and your desire for people to know about Jesus.  At Christmas time you made a little card in your Sunday School class that you were supposed to give to someone to tell them about Jesus.  If it were me, I would have completely forgotten about it, but you carried that card around in your pocket, scanning the stores to see who you might give it to.  You finally gave it to our cashier at the mall, and I'm pretty sure you made her day.  But I saw the serious look on your face as you asked her if she knew about Jesus, and my heart melted a little.  My sweet boy, I love the desire you have for others to know the Truth.  I pray you will never lose that.

Do you know how incredibly proud I am to be your mom?  You are a joy to me, Wyatt.  I love you so much, from that first moment I laid eyes on you seven years ago, and more every day.  It's a privilege to call you my son.

Love Always,

Mama

Finding Christmas Joy As A Grown-Up




The kids have been asking me every day how many days are left until Christmas.  I have to say, it brings back memories of my childhood, when it felt like Christmas would take so long to arrive.  The anticipation was almost too much!  Ah, childhood.  We made paper chains the other day for the countdown, so I haven't had to answer the questions as often.

I've mentioned before how Christmas is usually filled with more stress than joy for me as an adult, but this year feels different.  After six years of Christmas as a mom, nine years of Christmas as a married lady, this year I finally feel like I'm figuring it out.

Being due with our fifth baby so close to the Christmas season definitely has had something to do with it I think.  Not only did I get started on Christmas to-do's earlier, but I have overall put less pressure one myself to do everything this year, and I feel the difference.   So, I have to write down what is working for me, so hopefully repeating it next year will bring about the same results of less stress, more joy!  

Buy presents early.  

I bought all of the presents early this year because I wanted to finish all my shopping before Georgiana was born.  I don't think I realized how much stress present shopping causes me when I save it for December.  It has been so nice to not be out and about so much so far this year, and I feel less stressed about finances since most of the purchases are already made.

Do all the Christmasy things as soon as I feel like it.  

I used to feel like I had to save all the Christmas activities until December, and that they had to be made into a big production.  This year I am spacing things out a little more and doing all the Christmas things as the mood strikes.  Example: Christmas cookies.  If I feel like baking Christmas cookies with the kids early in December, we'll just bake whenever the mood strikes and freeze them for later.  If we feel like wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music in November, why not?  It's more fun to do Christmasy things when we feel like it, instead of "saving" the Christmas fun to the point of procrastination and then getting stressed out when we have to squeeze it all in.

Take the family picture early.  

I'm continuing my strategy of taking a family Christmas picture before our actual Christmas gatherings.  If I get everyone dressed up in their Christmas clothes and get some good pictures on a low-stress day, then I don't feel like I have to try to wrangle everyone together for a family picture on days when we are actually going somewhere.  I can just enjoy being present and not worry about it, since I know we already got a good picture of the family at Christmas.

Cut out the non-essentials.  

I don't know why it took me so long to realize that I don't have to do all the Christmas things.  I'm learning to be a little more particular about what we choose to participate in at Christmas time, because it's a lot easier for me to enjoy the Christmas season if we have more days when we aren't doing anything specific.  When we all have more room to breathe, the Christmas fun happens more naturally, and it's a lot less stressful on me.  

I also think one of the reasons I have had a hard time enjoying Christmas is because I rush around so much, trying to make everything perfect, and I don't allow myself to have time to just relax and reflect on why we are celebrating in the first place.  Having a newborn this year has given me the perfect excuse not to do things. I am enjoying Christmas so much more since deciding to say no and allowing myself enough mental rest to reflect on our Savior.  Which brings me to my last point.

Prioritize Advent.  

It's tragic really, how often I let this get overlooked in previous years in favor of all the more commercial aspects of Christmas.  I think having the shopping done before the season started has really given me the space I needed to focus less on things and more on our Savior.  He is the reason our family celebrates Christmas in the first place, after all.  

I am doing this advent devotional, and listening to my favorite Christ-focused Christmas songs, and I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on why He came (to seek and save sinners) and my part in that (the great commission).  Of course I did advent stuff in years past, but I think the fact that so much of my other Christmas prep is already done this year has left me more space to keep advent in the "because I want to category", instead of the "I have to do this or my kids won't remember that Christmas is about Jesus" category.  I am convicted that I even let the Lord get relegated to the "have to" category during Christmas.  If other things have to take a backseat for our family to have the time and space it takes to focus on Jesus, well, that's what we'll do!  It's as it should be, even especially at Christmas time.  

As I've guarded my time a little more this year, and given more of it to the Lord, I feel the joy that I've been missing in years past coming back a little.  It makes sense.  He is the only true source of Christmas joy, after all.  Everything else ends up being a disappointment eventually, but in the gift of Jesus's birth and sacrifice for us - that's where the joy is.  

And it only took me nine Christmases as an adult to figure that out.


















Do you do anything to guard your time at Christmas?  How do you make sure the focus stays on Jesus during Christmas season?

Marinating In Gratitude



Yesterday was one for the books, in the best possible way.

I feel like I should preface this post by saying that many of my days alone with the five kids so far have ended with Derek coming home right as I'm about to pull my hair out, and me escaping to wash my hair - even if it doesn't need washed - just to have a break.

But yesterday, it wasn't like that.  We had the most peaceful day that we've had, not just since adding our sweet Georgie, but in months.  I'm trying to go back over it in my head to figure out the "secret", so I can repeat it, if that were possible.

The morning went pretty normally, with the kids waking up before me.  Clarice climbed under the covers with me at some point, and I feel like I remember her reading a book in my sleepy haze.  After drifting in and out for a half hour, I finally got out of bed and got ready for the day.  The kids woke up Georgie because they went into her nursery to take care of her (which wasn't as tragic as it sounds, because I heard her stirring anyway).  I fed the kids oatmeal, I fed Georgie, and wrapped her into our Solly wrap.




She fell asleep, so I pulled out the play dough (which I've been meaning to do for the last two weeks), and read to the kids while they created things.  We read about Christopher Columbus.  We read two chapters of Dr. Doolittle.  We were on a roll, so I pulled out the next catechism question, and we worked on a memory verse, and we read the Christmas story from Luke (I figure if we read it every day for the next month, maybe they'll inadvertently memorize it).  And nobody cried (at least not until we were done with all our read-alouds).

I made lunch and got the kids down for a nap in the nick of time before Georgie got hungry.  I fed her and then practiced some reading with Wyatt while she slept on my lap.  I snuck her onto the couch and she stayed asleep, so I edited some of the pictures we had taken of her first two weeks.

Kids got up.  Pulled out the play dough again, and they entertained themselves for another hour while I chopped up potatoes for dinner.  I made dinner!  On my own!  Potato soup was bubbling on the stove by the time Derek walked through the door.

I still can't figure out what made it go right. But it's nice that it happened on Thanksgiving week, because I suspect it had more to do with my attitude than with the logistics of the day.  I watched this video, and while I'm mulling over some of it, what I do think is true is that gratitude makes all the difference in the level of happiness we feel.  When things start to feel overwhelming or frustrating, it is usually about the same time that I forget to feel grateful.  And when things go relatively smoothly it seems that it is usually because I decide to make the most of the day with my sweet children, from a heart of gratitude, instead of letting things just happen to us.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Psalm 118:1

I had this verse on my chalkboard all last year, but it is sad that I didn't let it sink into my heart a little more.  There is a reason Scripture tells us to "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)   

There is so much for which to give thanks - each day I have to spend with these sweet children, each day my wonderful husband comes home to me - it's such a blessing.  Somehow, having Georgie come at this time of year seems really appropriate, because having her here has reminded me that God didn't have to give me any of this.  But He did, and I am so grateful.  I think the Lord let today go so well to remind me what it looks like to slow down and give thanks, to marinate in that gratitude a little bit more. (Marinate - ha!  Because it's Thanksgiving week?  Turkey?  Oh, never mind.)

My hope is that I'll remember to be grateful on the rough days too, long after this Thanksgiving week is past.  

On Thursday I'll join the rest of the country in "giving thanks" - giving thanks to God for all the blessings He's given our family, and the way He has guided our nation so that we even celebrate this holiday in the first place, and for the greatest gift He gave by giving us His Son to save us.  But I want to carry that gratitude on into the craziness of December and through the New Year too.  And I wish the same for you, friends!  Because there is so much to be grateful for when we remember to slow down and look, and giving thanks "in everything" can change a lot.


Happy Thanksgiving Week!


When Encouragement Comes From A Stranger

(Written last Thursday.)

As I am typing this, my kids are sitting on the couch across the room, watching Rio.  I don't typically let them watch a full-length movie in the middle of the week, but this was been a particularly long week, and a particularly long day near the end of a particularly long week.  I decided I'm allowed.

Though the day was busy and a bit exhausting, it was good too.  We went to our mom group this morning, and as I picked up the kids from their classes they handed me their crafts.  "This is for you, Mom", they always say, and I grin and say I love it, even if it's just a paper with stickers on it.  It's sweet that they want to give me presents (even if I sometimes suspect it's just to get me to hold said crafts and papers for them).

We had a few errands to run, and I felt like we were a bit of a mess, as I usually do.  When I take all the kids into a store - especially a store with no carts - I feel like it's a constant stream of "Come here {insert child's name}", "Don't touch that {insert child's name}", and "Don't lay on the floor {insert child's name}".  People ask me how I do it with four (soon five) kids, and the truth is that when we are out in public I try my best to keep my kids close by me and not breaking anything, and I feel like we are a mini circus.  A happy, adorably cute circus, but a circus nonetheless.

Sometimes I even feel a little sheepish, like we are a bad advertisement for a big family.  But today the cashiers smiled at me and told me how adorable my kids were, even when I was too busy wrangling them to properly respond.  I kick myself for that now.  I've gotten used to not-quite-positive-not-quite-negative comments from strangers, to which I usually give a closed-lipped, nondescript smile, but the comments today were sweet and encouraging and deserved a big grin.

I was getting the kids packed back into the car when a lady came up to me.  

"I just wanted to say, you are amazing.  I have trouble with two kids, and you have four!" she said with a smile.  I laughed and said "Well, thank you! I feel like we're always a bit of a mess."  And she said, "No, you are doing an amazing job.  Your kids were so well behaved."

I thanked her again, and I guess I am thanking her a third time here.  I doubt she even realizes that her words will be remembered, but they were what I needed today.  Sometimes an encouragement from a stranger can make you see yourself in a better light, and sometimes in the middle of the minutia of motherhood you need that.  I looked at my kids and realized they really were quite well-behaved, despite my constant stream of directions that felt so chaotic to me.  They listened well, overall.  They walked in a row, like little ducklings, to the door.  They climbed in the car and got so excited over the clementines I gave them for a snack, patiently waiting while I peeled them.  

They really are very cute, and very good kids.

During a week when I am feeling overwhelmed and when I feel like I'm failing at this whole motherhood thing, I needed that reminder to step outside myself for a minute and appreciate my kids for the little people they are, the people they are becoming, and to comprehend the role I am playing in that. To look at the day, and my whole mothering journey, with fresh eyes.

I am thankful that God let that lady cross my path today, and I hope immortalizing that brief little encounter here will help me remember to refresh my eyes on rough days in the future.

I also want to remember it here, because maybe it will remind me to offer encouragement to a stranger myself sometime.  If I notice someone doing something well, or even just trying their best, why not offer a word of encouragement?  The gift of fresh eyes can so often be given this way, and it is worth a lot.

Has a stranger ever encouraged you when you needed it?



"Mom Day"



When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally take us kids out individually.  We usually were just doing a little shopping, running some errands - occasionally we went somewhere fun together too.  We'd get ice cream, my mom would maybe buy us a little toy.

I didn't grow up in a big family - there were only three of us kids, but I really loved those "mom days", as we called them.  Even in a family of three kids, it was rare to get time with mom all by myself.  I loved having her full attention, without any competition.


Guilt-Free Breastfeeding: Advice From A Mom Of Five



I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Even though this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

First I should probably clarify for new readers that I'm a mom of four on the outside and one in the oven, who I plan on nursing despite my difficult beginnings with breastfeeding!

I was never an obsessive breastfeeding advocate before I had a baby, but before Wyatt was born I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed him for a year.  I was pregnant with him seven years ago, and maybe this is the case with new mothers now as well, but I felt like the pressure to breastfeed was at the highest it had ever been.  There were plenty of studies about the benefits of breastfeeding, and I heard them all.  I felt that if I was really going to do the best for my baby, I had to try to make it to a year.  That’s what good new mothers did.

Wyatt was born at 37 weeks after an induction from pre-eclampsia, and all the nurses were surprised about how quickly he caught on to nursing.  They expected small babies to have a tougher time, but we didn’t seem to have any problems.  I left the hospital proud of my baby, and proud of myself that everything had gone so smoothly.

That didn’t last long.  

About a week after I brought him home from the hospital, we started having problems.  And by problems, I mean that I would cry out in pain every time he latched.  I couldn’t figure out what went wrong!  I talked to my doctor and lactation consultants, I read online great articles about breastfeeding trouble-shooting and about what a proper latch looks like.  But every time he went to eat, I ended up with tears streaming down my cheeks.

On top of that, I developed mastitis, which took a little time to be properly diagnosed.  I remember a few days being laid out on the couch with a fever and a hard knot in my chest, knowing I needed to nurse more often to try to get it out, but crying when I thought about it because I knew it was going to hurt so badly.

All this lasted about a month, and I started to almost resent when Wyatt would get hungry and want to eat.  Even though it wasn’t great for our relationship, I’d suck it up anyway, and scream in pain, and cry a little.  Finally someone told me something that I will never forget (even though I forget who exactly told me this amidst this painful newborn phase).  

Someone told me that your bond with your baby is more important than whether you breastfeed or not.

That little bit of advice meant so much to me - because someone had finally given me permission to let breastfeeding go if I needed to.   Someone had finally acknowledged that there are more important things in motherhood than whether I breastfed or not.

That advice helped me to take my doctor’s advice when she suggested I stop nursing on the affected side and just pump until there was some improvement.  That advice gave me permission to not breastfeed because I felt I had to, but only if I wanted to.

It was the most freeing thing I could have heard at that time in my motherhood journey, because it made me realize that breastfeeding is not what makes a person a good mother.  The love and care you have for your baby, and the bond that forms with or without breastfeeding, is what makes you a good mother.

I did end up finally healing and I nursed Wyatt until six months old.  Even with future troubles with my supply and nursing a baby with a food sensitivity (Gwen), nursing has been a such a sweet time with all my babies.  But it’s been sweeter yet knowing I breastfed my babies because I wanted to, and not because I was obligated to.  I am most proud today not of how long (or not long) I breastfed, but that it was a guilt-free journey.

So if I were to give advice to a brand-new mom today about breastfeeding, it would be that: Breastfeed because you want to, not because you have to.  Know that if everything doesn’t go as planned, you can fight through it and still have a successful breastfeeding story - or you can decide to let it go for the sake of reducing the stress on your bond, and that is a good choice too.  Your bond with your baby is not dependent on how successful you are at breastfeeding.  Loving your baby, and caring for their needs as best you can, until someday they don’t need you anymore - that’s what makes you a good mother.  Regardless of how this part of your motherhood story goes, it’s only one brief part, and not anywhere close to the most important.




5 Gifts A New Mom Will Thank You For Later

  (First note: This is my belly at 34 weeks with Clyde.  I'm bigger this time, but not that big yet, haha!)

(Also: I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a percentage of any products purchased after clicking on the links.)


Even though I am expecting a baby myself, I have to say, I am pretty excited about a few baby showers in my future - for my friends!  I know a few girls who are having babies this summer and fall, and all the imminent baby shower excitement got me thinking about my first baby shower.  When I was expecting Wyatt I spent a ton of time searching and making lists of things I needed, and I had a strategy of only registering for my must-have items.  Overall that strategy served me well because after my shower there was very little left for me to buy!  But I also have to admit that some of my most useful gifts were things that were not on my must-have list - in fact, some of them I didn’t even think I needed at all.  Sometimes other people really do know what you need better than you do.  I’m not sure I ever specifically thanked my family and friends who deviated from the list for giving me something I never knew I needed, but trust me, there was a lot of gratitude in my heart towards those who gave me the items below!  

I’m focusing on gifts for brand-new, first time moms in this post, because I have a completely different list for second (or third or fourth) time moms.  Maybe that will be another post soon!



Poncho-Style Nursing Cover 

As an expecting mom I knew I needed a nursing cover, but I honestly didn’t give much thought to the style of it.  Thankfully my aunt thought outside the box and made me a poncho-style nursing cover (similar to this one).  This was so creative of her, because this was way back when (ahem, 7 years ago), before the poncho-style ones were popular - and it was a lifesaver.  It was so freeing to have something that covered my front and my back, and it made every shirt I had “nursing friendly”. 


I didn’t even think about a nursing pillow until my sister-in-law brought me one in the hospital right after I had my baby.  If I’m completely honest, I thought they were a little silly before I actually used one - but as soon as I got that pillow, I was a convert. I quickly realized how much easier it was to use a nursing pillow than to prop up several different pillows to support my arms while nursing - and bonus, they are also great for propping baby up during tummy time exercise too!  I like the donut-shaped pillows like this one.

Baby Bathtub 

Weirdly, I never thought about this item either until my mom gave me one.  I think in the back of my mind I just thought I could wash my baby in the kitchen sink.  Maybe that seems really naive, but maybe one of you budget-conscious expecting mamas has considered the sink option too - just trust me, ask for the baby bathtub.  Baths are stressful enough with newborns without trying to figure out how to prop them up while you wash their wispy hair!

Car Mirror 

This one is technically cheating, because I didn’t receive a car mirror as a gift - not the way home from the hospital we stopped to buy one.  I realized on that first car ride that when I was sitting in the front, with the rear-facing car seat in the back, I couldn’t see my tiny baby at all!  We found a mirror attach to the backseat, so I could peek back there and see the reflection of my little bundle.  This brought immense comfort to my paranoid new-mom self.  I got one like this car mirror because it was so big!

Books 

It never even occurred to me to ask for books, for myself or the baby, but a couple friends were thinking ahead for me.  One friend gave me an adorable and thoughtful children’s book that I treasure to this day, and one friend gave me the Babywise book, which you already know I found so helpful.  Now, when I attend a first-time baby shower, I try to stick a couple encouraging, informative, or cute books in the bag with the rest of my gift, because I know how much the books I received meant to me.



Mamas - what gifts did you get that you used or appreciated more than you thought you would?

(Also check out this post on Babywise.life for more ideas for new baby items you may not have thought of!)




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