Monday, December 31, 2012

MacKenzie 37 months


It is amazing what a few months does in the personality and ability of a child. You change more and more with each day and sometimes your Dad and I will think to ourselves, "STOP! This is happening too fast...she shouldn't be able to do that, or say that, or think that."You are a funny little creature and have so many habits that we hope to be able to remember for years down the road.

You are very precise...about everything. You want certain bites of food, you want your hair done it certain ways, you want things called certain names, and God forbid you ever get dirty on someone else's terms. KiKi bought you a few different bath toys to enjoy including bath paint that is also soap...that didn't go so well considering that you screamed like Daddy was torturing you as the paint that Keegan was gleefully spreading everywhere got on you as well as the sides of the bathtub. Bath time is usually a joyful process for you and Keegan to have with Daddy in preparation for bed time, but that night it took several minutes to calm you down and convince you that you were not being hurt, that the paint was in fact, ok. Needless to say, we haven't used the bathtub paints again. You do like the tablets that turn the water different colors and the foam spray as well. I would say that your tendencies to be particular are one way to exercise control and see how much power you have over any given situation, but some things truly bother you in odd ways. KiKi also bought you a Barbie and Ken doll for the bathtub and you freaked out in response to those, we think because they are wearing swimsuits and not clothes. It isn't always drama with your particularities though, sometimes you are just trying to be exact. Lately you will ask us what something is called and if we use a new name for it you will correct us. For example, there is a lot of construction taking place near our house and you will frequently ask about the different equipment being used. If we call something a bulldozer instead of a digger you will say, "Sorry. It's a digger." You can definitely exude some know it all tendencies in your voice when you say that too.

I used to frequently write about your eating habits because when you are a baby that is one of the few things you will do or that changes over the months as you grow. Continuing to write about that will become less and less frequent, but I will note a few things. Your eating pattern is all over the place and it is hard to tell when you will or won't eat. We will make you eat a few bites of food, but we refuse to make eating a battle with you so some of the time you eat very little. You have lately asserted that rice is your favorite food, yet we have had it with some frequence lately and you have eaten it very little. You are definitely a pasta girl and will voraciously attack any plate of pasta, especially if it has tomato sauce and meatballs with it. You prefer spaghetti because you like to twirl it around on your fork. One eating habit that melts Mommy is your preference for ice cream cones. Not the ice cream, just the cone. When Mommy was your age, her Nana and Granddaddy used to take her to the ice cream store and just buy a cone for her. It wasn't because they didn't want me to have ice cream, it was because all I wanted and would eat was the cone. You can imagine the dirty looks they got (and I get) when the grown ups are indulging in delicious ice cream and all the kid gets is a dry cone!

We are surprised with how much you love Baby Johnny. You were indifferent when Keegan came into the picture so we expected as much with Johnny especially considering you don't always play with dolls or seem to be a nurturer. I would venture to say you are somewhat smitten with him because you are always asking about him or want to hold him. I love that you already seem so protective of him and of Keegan. You are a good big sister that balances torturing your younger siblings well with care for them.

You love to be active and to run around, we will sometimes play chase in the front yard before or after going on errands. You also love piggy back rides around the house and "hanging upside down like a fruit bat" in one of our arms. You have started being more silly and jumping and hopping around the house when you are playing just to use up all that extra energy you have. Frequently paired with all of this movement are usually thousands of questions about everything you observe. Sometimes we wonder where you are watching and learning stuff because you ask really good questions. Frequently you will ask us if we are "happy", particularly after you are disciplined or we have to ask you (several times) to do something. We are working on making sure you know that even when we have to get frustrated with you that we still love you and are very happy with you being in our lives.

You are still a little book worm and really love advanced books like The Magic School bus series. In fact you convinced Daddy to read three of them to you in one sitting the other day. Those are very long books for such a little girl to sit through and ask for. We are happy to satisfy your thirst for knowledge in reading these books. We are beginning to work on sounding out simple words with you and showing you that one day you too can read these books. Once that happens, you may not need Mommy and Daddy for much anymore since you can do so many things on your own.

This is only a small measure of all the things we have seen over the last bit of your life, but know that there are so many things you do that make our hearts sing.

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy


Anyone that knows us can contest that 2012 was not the year we were expecting it to be. I suppose that you could say that about any year, that we all have dreams and expectations that are just that, and that most years add up to something vastly different from what we would expect. Still, I would be hard pressed to have imagined the year we had. And it isn't that 2012 was a bad year, in fact, I think it was a really, really good year. Just different from where we thought we were going.

At the beginning of last year, our pastor at church said he wanted this year to be a year of prayer. He said that we shouldn't be afraid to pray for big things or impossible things. We certainly prayed for some pretty big things in 2012 and have been graciously provided with bigger things than we could have prayed for. God worked on our hearts and in our lives in ways that we didn't think imaginable. I have never been able to say before that I am most definitely a different person at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year until now. Even in big years this one is different. In 2001 I graduated from High school, started at Texas A & M, faced 9/11 with the rest of the country, and met the man I would one day marry. In 2004 I got married, faced the death of my grandfather, and dealt with my parents divorcing. In both 2009 and 2011 we had beautiful daughters that are blessings beyond our wildest dreams. But nothing matches 2012. Throughout all of those years change has been slow and steady, change has been marked in little tweaks and adjustments, and for the most part I have felt much like the same person at the end of the year, just a little older and maybe a little wiser. This year I have felt like there was an old me and a new me, the old me left behind in May and the new me moving forward after that. It was painful and there was a lot of sadness and fear, but it was definitely transformative and altered me.

One of the big changes that I am glad we were able to see come to fruition was my staying at home again. It was difficult to work with MacKenzie and Keegan and knowing a little one would be on the way. I know there are Moms who do it and I give them all the respect that they deserve. It's not that I couldn't do it any longer, it's that Matt and I didn't want me to do it any longer. I wanted to be home with the kids, I wanted to play with them, I wanted to take them places, I wanted to have long lunch dates at Chick Fil A where I could talk with friends and they could run around and play in the play place, I wanted to run errands and go to Target for no reason at all with them, and to be honest, I wanted to sleep in and take naps a lot of times too! We are glad we were able to make this work for our family. We think the girls appreciate having me here and feel like Keegan shows less angst with having a more stable schedule. One thing that we were reflecting on recently is how good it felt to make that decision and give notice of my resignation before we knew about Raptor's diagnosis. We felt that it made us more in control of a decision and that it was made independently of what we know now. Because truth be told, I couldn't have returned to work right now, he has too many needs that would make me a bad teacher (more on that in a different post).

Another great aspect of this year has been Matt's school progress. He has plowed through half of his coursework and will be done with his MBA at this time next year. It has been challenging at times for him to balance school and work, but we know that it is just a season, and he and our family will be all the better for it in the end. It has meant that he is away from myself and the kids at least twice a week for class. It has meant that he has had to pass on us doing things or social events so he could study. It has meant lots of lost sleep over projects and other school related tasks. He is excelling at it has been fun to watch him work hard for grades and to achieve them in his classes. He says he likes to feel his brain working again despite how tired that can make him!

Additionally, after much patience, prayer, interviewing, and waiting, Matt has a new job! He has an awesome job actually and it has filled two functions in our life of increasing our income (which is obviously welcome, especially with me staying at home) and of really fitting what Matt is good at and likes to do. Matt is working for a commercial insurance brokerage downtown and after he gets through some training will be meeting with potential clients and businesses to try and fit their needs for different types of insurance. Matt is really good and determining what people are looking for and making them feel like they got the best possible product for their business so I know he will enjoy his work and being directly compensated for it as well. He will definitely miss some of his clients at Chase, but many of them were glad he is moving up in the corporate world and felt like he was grossly overqualified for the position he held with them anyways.

Of course the biggest change in our lives this year was Johnny. We were looking to expand our family at the beginning of 2012 and were delighted in March to find out that Baby Raptor was on his or her way. Everything had gone textbook with MacKenzie and Keegan and we fully expected it to be that way with Raptor. It certainly didn't go that way after week 12. It's hard to say which day was more difficult in 2012, the day we found out it was a possibility, the day we found out for sure, or somewhere in between. It wasn't knowledge that we had ever seen ourselves preparing for. There is still so much in my mind that I am working through in dealing with thoughts about Johnny and how he has impacted our lives. There has been so much growth and change in our hearts in learning about Johnny that we never could have expected to receive this year. Everyone thinks that a baby turns their lives upside down, but Johnny turned our lives upside down, inside out, and threw us backwards and forwards a little bit too. I have so much more that I want to say about Johnny and where we are now, but it is easy to see that he has changed the face of 2012 to be a very different year from what we thought it would be.

I don't know what to think about 2012 being over and moving into 2013. I could say that I hope for a bit calmer of a year, but despite all the turmoil and upheaval in our lives, we are in a really good place. We are really happy with where we are. I feel like I should say something really profound to close this post out, but I don't really have anything that doesn't sound grossly cliche. So....We will just leave it at Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Johnny at 8 weeks


Yesterday you turned 8 weeks old! You have grown so much in the past 4 weeks...literally! You have gained two pounds and are now a whopping 9 and a half pounds and measure in at 21 inches long. You are finally reaching the end of being able to wear your newborn clothes and we had to give up on the last 20 or so newborn diapers because you needed more room in the legs. Mommy is sad to see some of those newborn outfits needing to be packed away. With your big sisters they never wore newborn outfits long enough for anything to become my favorite...with you, you have worn some of the outfits multiple times and I have really developed a fondness for them. Your Daddy laughed at me because I was trying to buy one of the outfits in a bigger size this week, but they only have it in newborn size. 

You are starting to get stronger and we are working hard on your developing the ability to hold your head up more and more and pushing with your legs. We really want you to meet these first few developmental milestones as close to on target as possible, so that means working with you daily. You have definite longer periods of awake time and it's fun to see what catches your attention and focus. In that way you are definitely all boy, instead of focusing on faces, you look for motion and movement in the room. It is hard to tell if you catch on to different voices, but you will strain your head to look at Mommy if she is holding you in her lap and you cannot see her.

You eat well from a bottle of pumped milk and will nurse a bit here and there. You generally eat every three hours and will take anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces in a feeding. Mommy likes that you take a lot more at night (sometimes up to 6 ounces) because for the past two weeks you have slept 6-7 hour stretches! After a nice long stretch of sleep like that, Mommy enjoys our early morning feeding around 6:30 and will doze with you in bed until your sisters wake up. When we take a nap or snuggle in the morning, Mommy likes to see that you will wiggle until you are close to Mommy and sleeping right under her arm close to her chest. I like being close to you too little guy!

We are looking forward to how much you will change over the next four weeks and we are sure to enjoy every moment of it. We love you much, much more than we ever thought we would.

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Legend of OUR Johnny Football

Many people have been asking us about Johnny's name. Many people have been assuming that we were honoring this person with our name decision...

Johnny "Football" Manziel

Now I admit (proudly and happily...especially this season) that we are pretty big Aggie fans. We have both been pretty much from birth. However, I don't think I would ever name a child after an athlete. We are proud to have Johnny Football as part of the Aggie family and think it is ironic that he has risen to fame at the same time we had our Johnny.

Our Johnny was actually named after this person...

No...not Grandma! Grandpa!!!

Matt pretty much told me whenever we got married that if we ever had a son, he would be named after his grandfather. I agreed thinking that Matt would forget at some point as I personally feel the name John is a little...blah. I find it honorable and nice that Matt wanted to pay tribute to his grandfather though. I tried to convince Matt of other names, but he dug his heels in. We were a little worried about naming Raptor this when we found out about his diagnosis, not knowing if it was "ok" to name our child after Grandpa (if it was a boy). Grandpa was thrilled and delighted that we wanted to name anybody after him. I was still resistant to the name until I looked up the meaning...John means "God is gracious". I thought it would lend itself to good testimony and a good reminder that throughout it all God shows us grace, even when we don't feel it. Coincidently, Grandpa's middle name is Madison which means "Son of Matthew"...we couldn't pass that one up. Many people have commented on how prestigious his name sounds...I is a bit too prestigious for such a little guy. Which then transformed to finding a nickname...Grandpa was called Johnny as a boy and I liked the idea of calling our potential son Johnny. And thank goodness it was a boy because we were still debating girl names while I was in labor! 

So there you are...sorry to disappoint anyone who thought we were "those" people who would name their kid after a "celebrity". Of course we aren't helping anything by calling our boy Johnny "Football"...or by taking pictures like this...

And we are definitely not helping by making onesies like this...