Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Johnny at 13 and 14 Months

Pics to Follow


I missed your 13 month post. It's ok, we did lots of fun things together instead! You have grown up a lot over the past two weeks or so and that will be fun to include in this post!

I think you are on the verge of giving up your morning nap. As a third child your morning nap has always been slightly sporadic and flexible anyways, but lately it seems as if you need it less and less. You will still go down for the nap, but if we wait long enough you will make it one long afternoon nap, or if we are out and about, then you are satisfied with a little 15-30 minute cat nap in the car if you can manage. You still love your afternoon nap and still sleep about 12 hours at night with the occasional extra early morning that gratefully can include cuddles and downtime after a bottle. Part of all of this probably goes with the growth spurt you are probably in the middle of as you are eating a ton of food and drinking as much milk as we can give you. You haven't been a huge fan of juice though, so we have to stick with milk for now! You are in between table food and purees and we give you a mix of both every day. You love cheerios and ritz crackers though and will gladly munch on those in your high chair as long as we are giving them to you. You will sign more for more food if you aren't too hungry (in that case you will just cry) and you wave your arms frantically when you are finished. I wouldn't count it as the "all done" sign, but it works! Other than those grain foods, you don't have anything specific that you love, you kind of rotate through different foods you will eat as far as table foods go. It will be interesting to see where your tastes lead you. Today you were enjoying feta cheese which we were very surprised by.

Part of that growth spurt has meant some major progress on wearing your glasses. For the past few days you have been happily tolerating them for a couple hours at a time! That is huge progress for you to go from not wearing them without us pinning you down to wearing them for long durations of time! You look very handsome in them by the way! We are working on "normal" crawling with you. You can scootch very fast pulling your legs and rear behind you with your arms in a sitting up position, but we want you to build those brain pathways between the left and right brain by doing actual crawling. We practice that a lot. You are also trying to pull up frequently and will pull up to your knees with ease. You also love to wave at people and will sign thank you sometimes. You love to play peek a boo and to read books if the pages aren't too long, you like to help turn the page so your attention on each page is very short. We know you love music though and like to see you bounce to all the different musical toys you and your sisters play with.

We were having some fussy spells with you not wanting to sit in your car seat, you would fold yourself over and cry every time we put you in there. You are less fussy now, so I hope it was just a stage. Something that isn't a stage however is your "mama's boy" tendencies. You love you some mama and cling to me like nobody's business. It's nice to have so much love coming my way, but it's hard when I have legitimate things that I need (or want) to do and you fuss in Daddy's arms. I know he will get his time with you one day when you are fishing, hunting, or working on cars together, so I don't worry too much. Plus, you are so easy to hold and hug that it's not a huge deal!

We have enjoyed you so much these past few months as you learn and grow. I love seeing you do your own thing and figure out how to make things work for you. You make me proud and happy every day.

We love you!
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, December 30, 2013

Keegan Shy of 3

Pics to follow


In less than two months, you will be three. I cannot believe my littlest girl is growing up so quickly that you are almost that old. 

You are the funniest and wildest little girl I have ever met. You have taken to repeating everything we say which is very helpful when teaching you manners and charming strangers and not as helpful when we are disciplining your sister or talking as parents. It was helpful as we were contemplating you being a "poster child" to recruit workers for the nursery and preschool program at church. Mr. Jim was going to take you and your classmates on stage and have you make sad faces while asking for volunteers to help fill those positions. You would have done great and have the perfect sad face! You love mr. Jim and Sunday school class, especially story time and play dough, but I think your favorite part is helping me set up the classrooms. I love walking into church with you each Sunday. 

You've said and gotten into some pretty funny things over the past few months. You love to scrunch up your face into this most impish look imaginable when laughing or teasing while we talk. We love to make you laugh by making silly faces or tickling you. You love playing with your belly and belly button and will pat it frequently! You are still sucking your fingers and if reminded about it taking all of your nail polish off, you will tell us you didn't like the nail polish anyways. 

We are close to giving up on the clothing fight with you and will probably purchase a handful of pink skirts and dresses for you to wear all spring and summer. You love pink so much that this will make you very happy and my mornings very easy. Of course we predict that it still may be problematic as you will have favorites within those pink items that we will have to battle it out over. I must also remember to take back your new Sophia jammies to get a nightgown instead. Your will is strong and I just don't think it matters to fight about the color of clothes or the style of clothing with you. I am so happy you have a style you are comfortable with and that we can provide you with that. It's minimal compared to potential battles with teenage girls later on. 

You are very into food right now, but mainly because it translates to one piece of Halloween candy if you eat well. You love to eat "tooty beans" and will sing the song along with it. Your favorite candy is starburst and you love oranges and yogurt, pink of course. You would rather have milk than most drinks and like when daddy puts a touch of flavored creamer or when mommy puts her kisses in your cup. You would eat peanut butter and jelly for every meal if we let you, but pancakes are high on the list too. 

You have grown so much over the past few months that it's hard to remember all of the wonderful things you do. We try to soak up each moment that we can and praise God for giving you to us. You are a gift sweet girl.

With a lot a lot a lot of love,
Mommy and daddy 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mac at 4 and 2 Months

Pictures to be added later


You change so much every day. We lose more and more of the toddler you with each passing moment and blink to find the kid you and sometimes glimpses of an even older you before our very eyes. Even your look has changed so much with your face becoming more of a girl face and less of that baby face we know so well. 

We can see you working at finding your place in this world, in our community, and in our family. You test out faces, expressions, jokes, comments, and mannerisms to see how people react. I love the sideways scrunched up face you give me when you aren't sure what else to do. I also love your gangly arm waving, granny high kicking, monster growling dance you will do when you are being extra silly. You practice a silly laugh from time to time to be part of jokes you don't necessarily understand and will often repeat silly things that have made others laugh to hopefully get the same reaction. 

You are all girl in most of your interests, but really enjoy tromping through the woods and the idea of "huntin'" with your dad. In fact, he took you out to the deer stand this past weekend to get you used to being out there, obeying, and being quiet. He was willing to shoot a hog, but all the animals were too full of Christmas dinner to amble by the feeder. You love princesses, barbies, and dress up, especially Cinderella and the new movie, Frozen. Daddy bought the soundtrack so you and Keegan could listed to the songs because you were asking to watch the YouTube videos repeatedly. One of my favorite things is to listen to you and your sister role play and act out different movie and tv show scenes together. Your imagination is great and your memory is nearly perfect. 

That memory will serve you well in your endeavor to become a doctor who goes out in space. You have agreed to take Johnny and I with you into space which was a very kind offer. When I ask if you are willing to work very hard for your goals you just look at me and say "Mama..." and I may even see an eye roll. We are able to bribe you from time to time in eating extra healthy food on your plate because that is what astronaut doctors would do, but lately you have actually been a voracious eater. I think you are growing and I know you were taller at the end of last week than you were at the beginning. 

You love coloring pictures, drawing, and writing notes to people. Sometimes you want them mailed and other times you want to wait to give them in person. You are ready for some sight words and phonics exercises because you are memorizing how to spell a ton of different words right now. I am proud of that and need to work on it more to supplement what you are learning at school. You loved for daddy to read you the grinch story over this Christmas season and love your big princess storybook as well. 

Mac, I simply enjoy you. I love quiet one on one time, whole family time, and observing you time. I love that you will take your hand and cup my face, that you will repeat rather grownup things like "dada, we have a problem here", and that you get giddy to see people you love. I love that you ask questions about everything and remember important facts that help you associate items or memories with certain people. I love that you seek out special time with us or with your siblings and that that is becoming important to you. I think you are amazing and I tell you often that you will never know how much I love you. 

With all the love I can show,
Mommy and Daddy!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

Pictures to be added later

Christmas this year was kind of jam packed!

We spent Christmas Eve with my mom and her husband at their home. We had Italian food, snacks, and way too many desserts. We got to spend time with my grandmother, my sister and her husband, and my stepbrother and his wife. The girls had a blast and love playing "bubbles" with the mirror ball in their retro room and "store" in the window cut outs of my their terrace area. We all enjoyed the time together. 

Christmas morning was quiet at our home. We had to wake Keegan up after we all slept in fairly late. I had made a quiche the day before so breakfast prep was minimal and loved that I could relax along with the family. At the last minute since the girls were still asleep we decided to cover up their power wheels that we got them and have breakfast first. It's really nice to do it that way since nobody is cranky and hungry as presents are opened. We did "break our rule" of three gifts each since the girls technically got 3.5 each, but the power wheels came out of my budget and would have been given to them anyways. We read the Christmas story before we opened gifts which is a tradition passed from Matt's family. After we put Johnny down for a nap, it was nice to relax, straighten up, and prepare food, while Mattie took the girls out to ride their toy. He said Mac is a faster learner but Keegan is a better driver. It was funny to see the girls and what they liked, they were most excited about the car and their very own toiletry bags in their stockings. 

That afternoon was spent at my dads. We had six kids under five over there so as we got closer to dinner being ready, I took the older four outside to run around and keep them from being underfoot. It was definitely a tradition to continue as all the kids were a little hyper with all the Christmas excitement. My dad cooked ham, turkey, lamb, dressing, and dirty rice, and we all contributed various sides. I was stuffed as we opened presents. We all enjoyed a great time. 

That night we drove up to college station and spent the next morning celebrating with Matt's family. We were able to all get together and it was the first time we had seen Matt's brother and sister in law in a year and a half. We had pancakes and waffles for breakfast and cozied up with a fire and gifts. Matt's mom has dropped stockings in favor of Godiva chocolates for the grownups which I am very much a supporter of! We just got back from our visit there so it was nice to have extra days with them. 

I think that if we were to do four back to back Christmases again, I would hold off on our presents or open our presents early. The girls handled it well, but I could tell they were really overwhelmed and not able to focus on each gift and being grateful. They said thank you of course, but it was hard for them to really get into their gifts and associate who gave it to them. Of course each year could be different so who knows!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year again!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Finger Sucking

I need help from my readers. Everyone was super helpful with ideas for Keegan taking off her diaper at night, now I'm ready to break another habit. 

Keegan has always sucked on her middle two fingers. She refused a pacifier at birth and was quite happy with her own two fingers. Part of me knew that it could one day be a battle, but the other (sleep deprived new mom) side of me was happy for self soothing that led to more sleep. Last spring we made some great progress breaking her of the habit with athletic tape, encouragement, and a promise of a prize. Then we went on vacation, left the tape at home, and she realized how great it felt to be a finger sucker again. 

We tried retaping and she rips it off even when we do in all different ways and individual wrap/wind different fingers together. 

We've tried the promise of gifts and pointed out that her nail polish is being taken off when she sucks on them. 

I know there are a ton of different other things to try, I need the nitty gritty on the options. If you want to message me or comment the good and the bad, cost, and considerations, I would be most appreciative. 

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Anna Hats

As of my girls haven't been gifted enough, I stayed up to finish these hats for them. We watched Frozen a couple weeks ago and the girls have been talking about it a lot since then. What a great surprise for them to have their very own Princess Anna hat. 

I modified this pattern


I just made the base bonnet and changed the color of the yarn for the last two rows of stirches. I may add two braid tassels on each instead of the long brown braids she wears in the movie but I haven't decided yet!

I hope they like them!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas to everyone out there. I hope this day brought great times to remember, good people to be with, and all the joy one could handle. We are overflowing with joy and Christmas here at the Howard family. But wanted to make sure to share this with our readers-

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
-Luke 2:10-11

Best of tidings to you all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I have this "thing" inherited from the Clark Griswald portion of my father that likes things to be "just so" for holidays and special events. Most of the time these things don't fall into place and I deal. Sometimes things do fall into place and I feel all Norman Rockwell for a bit. I like to have a clean house and fresh sheets to come home to after a trip, I like everything to be done before guests arrive for a meal, I have added in special soap (as special as bath and bodyworks gets) in the guest bathroom, I like presents wrapped under the tree for at least a week, better if two, before Christmas, and I really like my car to be clean for Christmas and visiting Matt's parents. 

It was hard enough for me to keep up with cleaning the car when we had no kids and I was in the jetta. Now we have three kids and I am in the awesomely huge suburban and there is very little chance that I would wash it to Matt's standards. So we go to quick quack car wash where you can run your car as many times through, they will rewash your car if it rains in a certain time period, and they have fantastic vaccuums that actually work. 

Matt and I were running errands with the kids on Monday and needed to wash the red dust that came through with some weather system so we headed over to the wash. We ran through twice and vaccuumed a good chunk of the car out. My favorite part was seeing the girls enthusiastically help wash the car. Now if they would only feel that way about helping out with laundry...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Breakfast with Santa

Since Mac was 14 months or so, one of our traditions has been to go to Chick Fil A with Santa. Both of the stores we frequent do events with free pictures with Santa and treats for the kids. Usually we do dinner, but this year we did breakfast and jammies with some of our friends. The girls loved seeing Santa and the Santa Cow. I really liked the Santa Cow's elf shoes to go with his Santa outift. The girls told Santa they wanted Barbies which, lucky for us, our friend had bought one for each of them! 

It was great for the girls to play with one of their best older friends, for us to visit with one of our best dearest friends, and to enjoy a yummy breakfast on a dreary morning. Because we don't make Santa a huge deal at our house, it's really great to have a free place to take the kids for a little picture. The kids were all extra excited this year because instead of their usual candy cane, they received free elf cow stuffed animals to take home. Chick Fil a continues to buy and earn our loyalty!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Here in Houston we make our own snow. Friends hosted a Christmas party for our small group and since the crafts were taken care of, I brought black bean soup and SNOW!

I saw the idea on pinterest and thought it would be fun and easy. All we did was take 3 boxes of baking soda and half a regular bottle of conditioner. We used white conditioner to keep it white because I read that tinted and colored will change your snow. Like the original blog said, it stays cold, it smells great, and is very similar to the texture of real snow- wet but can be packed and soft. This will definitely be a craft we continue to do, the kids loved playing it it and I can easily see making a huge batch for not much money and them playing with it for hours. 

This was the blog I got the "recipe" from http://mommasfunworld.blogspot.com/2013/01/fake-sensory-snow-that-feels-real.html?m=1. I read another blog that used shaving cream, but that costs more than conditioner so I liked this one better!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bigger Trouble

We may be in bigger trouble than we thought. 

Keegan was playing in our bathroom while Matt and I got ready for our Sunday school Christmas party tonight. As she was playing with his wallet, this conversation followed-

Me: What's that, Keegan?
Keegan: Daddy's wallet. 
Me: What's in there?
Keegan: Cwedit Cawds
Me: What do you use those for?
Keegan: Mani/Pedis!!!

Um. Wow. I don't get mani/pedis, so where did she learn that?!? When prompted, she said her gymnastics school. It was pretty funny to hear...and made me slightly worried for our future. 

Friday, December 20, 2013


I'm not the most musically inclined person. I like music, I do. I just like the thoughts in my head a lot better. And I like to sing, but I'm never entirely convinced of how I'm doing which means I rarely (ok, never) do it in public. We only present the best side of ourselves in public! Most of the time I drive in silence. Absolute quiet if possible. My girls have to ask me to turn on the radio and if possible, I turn the speakers on in the back over the front. 

How then, did I end up with such musically inclined children? I swear Mac was tapping her toes to the best of music when she was in the womb. She understands tunes and instrumental portions of music better than any 4 year old should. She has begged for violin lessons for over a year and is now begging for trumpet lessons too. She understands music. 

Keegan loves music and has better rythym and dance moves than Matt and I...ok that's not saying much...combined...ok still not saying much...you get the idea. She loves to sing and does so with her whole heart. And by the second time she hears a song she will be repeating and predicting words and lines from the lyrics. 

Now Johnny is starting to bounce along to music. 

I think their love of music is amazing, I can't relate, but I love that they have something they feel deep inside them. And it always helps that if I need to buy a few minutes of good behavior, I can always count on YouTube for music videos and songs for them to watch. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas program

I simply love the girl's school. I have talked about it before in that it's small, has a physical education component, and really works to meet each kid's needs. Wonderful! I also love their love and flair for holiday parties. 

Today, the girls had their Christmas party at school. While relaxed, it was evident the care that was taken to make the time special for the kids and their parents. The girls were pretty stoked about wearing their pajamas to school, watching a movie, and having special treats. They also love showing me around their school and all the different ways they play. It's so interesting to me to have people that I don't know (extra teachers and volunteers at the school) who know my kids. I am so grateful to have found a good fit for us. 

For the program the kids sang two songs, had craft time, a few games, a book exchange, and snacks. 

Mac actually sang the songs! Keegan just sort of sat there and waved at Johnny and I. 

The girls loved gluing buttons onto their felt Christmas tree. 

I think the kids are sad that they won't get to see their teachers for two weeks, but hopefully we will have enough great time to make up for it!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


As if anyone needed confirmation that Keegan is our little goober and potential troublemaker. I asked her for a kiss earlier today. Usually both girls oblige and give me big kisses, enough to fill me up for a few minutes. I should have known by Keegan's saunter my way and mischievous look that she was up to something. She grabbed my face as I thought to myself "Oh! This is going to be a good kiss!"  She turned my cheek towards her mouth, stuck out her tongue, and licked from my chin to forehead! Wow. The look I gave her was satisfaction enough because she stood there, giggling for several minutes, then pitter pattered off to get into more "trouble". 

When I asked her about it later, she said she did it because "I knew you no like it!" Followed by more giggling. Oh mercy. Lord, help us in high school. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reindeer Games

I have posted my views on Elf on a Shelf. We don't play in our house, mainly because I think those particular renditions of elves are creepy. Give me one that looks like Orlando Bloom's Legolas or is as funny as Will Farrel's Buddy and we may talk. 

I do think magic and fun can be a wonderful part of the Christmas season however, so we started "Reindeer Games". We have two plush reindeer that have been getting into mischief and fun at our house. They don't report on anything and the girls are welcome to cuddle with them (that's been fun to retrieve them at night). Here are some of the things they've done-

Brought the girls presents 

Crocheted for Tiny Blessings-

Gotten into the girl's candy-

Were ready to run errands-

We have pics of all we have done so far which I will share later in the season. It's been fun to do, but I'm not sure if I will do it next year. 

I don't think the girls are into it. Maybe you have to drum it up? Maybe they just aren't into that sort of thing? Maybe they like it but just don't show it? Mac will always smile and say "Those crazy reindeer" then take them away from whatever they are doing. Keegan will squeal and then find something else to do. They don't really talk about it all that much. We will see how the rest of our time with the reindeer goes and if they mention it at all as the year comes. It's a lot of pressure to find new things to do each day. I can see why simply hiding a little elf is easier....until you remember that creepy elf smile!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Throes of the Season

Christmas is near. 

I, like many, am feeling the pressure. We pressure ourselves to do more, accomplish much, look right, be perfect, cook the best, entertain endlessly, and check, check, check off of our to do list, never able to complete the list because of the never ending battle fueled by pinterest, others, and our own imaginations. "Wouldn't it be great if we could ____"

Part of me rejects the more. It says that we do more than enough, balancing normalcy with specialness, adding little holiday treats and crafts with our flexible routine of life. It says that enjoying the moments and having the memories are more important than coating them in red and green glitter, homemade snow, and the scent of cinnamon. That part of me wants to treasure each ordinary minute of my day, when Mac caresses my face, when Keegan melts into peals of tickle induced giggles, and when Johnny catches our proud gazes in his direction and smiles and claps. It says that while Christmas memories are important, the every day moments are what sustains us and thus shouldn't be cast away for the date on the calendar. 

Then there is the other part of me, the part raised by a general in Clark Griswald's army of Spreaders of Christmas cheer. I learned from the best. We did it all- cookies, fudge, chex mix, trees, lights, movies, parties, dinners, and plenty more traditions. I loved it. And still do. But I don't know how my parents managed. There is a part of me that wants to push to get it all done. There is so much I want my kids to have and to experience because my Christmases were magical. From Thanksgiving to the New Year, I felt the build up, the anticipation, of this great season. I crossed off days until our next chance to do something great and to be with more people we loved. It all culminated into Christmas Eve and Day where, more often than not, I was too excited to sleep, charged by parties, good food, and the hope for the best Christmas yet. I would never say I was disappointed. 

I want that for my kids. 

But we have to find our own way. Matt and I have old traditions we want to hold on to, but we also have new traditions that we would like to start. We have to figure out what works for our family and what the kids are even interested in pursuing as memories for us. We don't have enough hours for all the "magic" we want to create and we want moments of authenticity as well. As much as my dad was "Clark", the traditions never felt forced or orchestrated, there was always purity in our times together. 

This year, we will not get everything done.  There was a shorter Christmas season and Matt was gone for 12 days after thanksgiving. We are so happy with our family though and are pleased with the "Christmas direction" in which we are headed. We evaluate our time to decide what to hold onto, what to put off until next year, and what to place away in the memory books forever. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Drive In

Today we took the kids to the drive in. They are showing Frozen and The Hunget Games. We figured the girls can watch the first movie with us and watch a kid movie in the back while we watch The Hunger Games again. It's a little chillier than we would prefer, especially for the kids. So we started like this 

But quickly ended up like this

Johnny is fast asleep in my lap while the girls are getting popcorn with Mattie. We are having a great time even of it didn't work out quite as planned. 

It's nice on a Sunday because of way less people and an earlier show time. And we used a groupon to get a great deal. I'm glad our family can take time together for great times out like this. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Loving their Daddy

Is there anything more romantic than seeing your husband care for the other loves of your life? I am not sure there is. Mattie does such an amazing job caring for the kids too. He invests so much into working hard for us and in spending time with us, something we have more of now that he is done, done, done with his masters. He would have been scheduled to walk today, but he hates all the pomp and circumstance...both literally and figuratively. He is an official Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance regardless though and it's wonderful. 

I know he will be glad to have the extra time and brain power to devote to our family though. The girls and Johnny are so happy to have more of him poured into their lives and I am sure they, our lives, and our relationship will be all the better for it. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Picking up

Blogger wasn't working well earlier so until the glitches get figured out here is a cute picture of the girls picking up Mattie at the airport this week!

Drop Off December 2013

Yesterday was Tiny Blessing's December drop off of hats. It was a fantastic one. I know I say it each time, but this one was really fantastic. I love the growing relationship with the nurses at the hospital and how they get uplifted by the items we make. They only needed preemie/NICU items this go around, but I did take a handful of beautiful blankets donated for us. I already knew a few nurses up there when we started this whole project, now the front desk people know me, I get hugs from other nurses, and it really feels good to serve these women that take care of these sweet babies. They got treats yesterday, NICU and L&D got muffins and hot cocoa, I will have to bring extra treats for Postpartum next time.

For this drop off we were able to take (in addition to the treats) 47 hats, 12 gorgeous burp cloths, and 15 equally beautiful blankets.

 I loved making the Rudolph hat in the middle and given unlimited time would have made more...but they take a lot of work! 
 The blankets on top were for the babies who don't make it, on the bottom are Christmas blankies

 Aren't the burp cloths great?

I think this drop off was particularly important for us organizers. Two of our lead people have been unable to help much because of other life situations. Both felt really bad about not being able to contribute as much as they would have liked. My encouragement to them was that God would cover the heads he needed covered. This became evident in reality when some of our other contributors felt compelled and called to make numerous hats and we ended up with a full drop off! It just works out. I tell people frequently, while we have certain numbers of hats that we shoot for or specific measurements, that God really stills my anxiety when I get to certain point in making hats for a drop off. I will worry and worry that we aren't making enough, but at a certain point in the days leading up to taking the hats in, He tells me that my work is done. It's amazing to experience. 

It has also been a wonderful opportunity to meet so many new people. We had a crochet party recently and were able to meet a great group of women from the Sugarland area. These women are now feeling compelled to form their own branch of Tiny Blessings. It is so exciting to see this fleeting idea form into something larger than I could imagine. Our head contact from the hospital yesterday told me she was so thankful for our commitment, much less our ability to grow and inspire others. 

We here at Tiny Blessings want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. We are so glad for our ministry and while we may spend a week or two making items for our own loved ones, we will be happy to get back to work soon, making gowns and teeny Valentines hats for the new loves God brings our way. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Today, Gisele Bundchen posted this picture of herself breastfeeding her baby while being prepped for something fabulous. 

At first glance, I think this picture is awesome. Mainstreaming breastfeeding (even without a cover) is always a good thing. For that, I will give her kudos. Great job mamacita and thanks for posting. 

But, there is controversy. You can read more, both positive and negative in this article (which I got the screenshot of the image from) http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/gisele-bundchen-rebranding-breastfeeding-172500932.html

Here is my frustrating take on it and it's only my $.02

She apparently posted this picture with a caption of "multitasking". This to me, is a little ironic. As far as I see it, this isn't multitasking, it's being pampered while nursing your baby. Let the record show, that I think being pampered while nursing your baby is a fabulous idea and it should be instituted worldwide immediately. However, this is not a reality for most moms. Breastfeeding for most moms usually involves many things. A mom may be reading to her young child or helping an older child with schoolwork. A mom could be catching up on much needed sleep, dozing in and out while the baby does the same. A mom could be cooking dinner, getting ready, breaking up a fight over a toy, or doing a myriad of chores or errands while breastfeeding. These would all be multitasking efforts as well. 

But wait, you said getting ready, isn't that what Gisele is doing? Well, I had something like this in mind-
This is my friend Chelsea, getting ready while breastfeeding her son. He is actually latched on while she brushes her teeth, puts on makeup, and straightens her hair. I think it's amazing. This is a Supermom, but I think if you asked her, she would argue, saying that she was just doing what she has to. 

Frequently, I would pump while doing a variety of things. Either I was feeding the girls and helping them color or reading to them. Or, when I was working, I was usually pumping, eating lunch, grading papers, and going through emails. I will spare you the pictures, if you need logistics explained I can draw a diagram sometime!

That is multitasking, actually doing stuff, while breastfeeding or pumping. 

What worries me even more, is the image this provides in people's heads of what breastfeeding may look like. This picture is beautiful, she is gorgeous and getting even more gorgeous by the minute, she has nice "feeding equipment", she looks relaxed, it's a perfect scenario. But more often than not, breastfeeding isn't like this, at all. Frequently, fluids are leaking out, hair is disheveled and being pulled out even more, makeup is a laughing matter, mommy can't remember the last time she showered, much less put on makeup or had her hair done, and latches, especially at first, can be painful...really painful. 

My point is this. If you are a new mom and you think that Gisele is what you should look like when you are breastfeeding and if not you should give it up, then think again. You can get to that point where breastfeeding becomes effortless (no gaurantees on the prep team), but it may take some time to get there. And you are going to have to work to 1) build your breastfeeding relationship to that point and 2) find time to make it quiet and relaxing (just because that's life for the not so rich and famous). Is it worthy work? I think it's among the best! But it is work. 

If you are in a breastfeeding relationship already and you want what Gisele has, then more power to you, but don't diminish your value because that isn't you. Your baby loves you and values you sweat pants, spit up hair, and all. And I think you are pretty fantastic for what it's worth!

So Gisele, I think you rock for bringing your baby to work and for breastfeeding him or her, I am proud of you for establishing a fantastic relationship with him or her (baby must be focused with all those distractions around), and please keep encouraging others to breastfeed. But spare us the captions about all the tasks you are performing. You've got nothing on the everyday mom!!!

Sick Tips

These are just a couple of my favorite sick tips-

We have an extra crib mattress that we store under one of the cribs. When the girls are sick we put a sheet, a towel, and  an easy to wash blanket on it and use it as the sick bed. It makes it nice for them watching tv or sleeping without the risk of having to clean the couch or big bed. 

I saw this one on pinterest.

When you have medicine that needs to be taken a certain number of times per day for a certain number of days then draw a grid on the side or bottom of your medicine bottle with a permanent maker. Then mark off when it's given so you can keep track of how many doses are left. Johnny has two times a day for ten days on his bubble gum flavored amoxicillin and he started it tonight so his grid is pictures below. I just check or "x" the box when I give it to him and there isn't any guessing for when he got it last. 

On the note of medicine- invest in the syringe style medicine dropper rather than the bulb. Different pharmacies give you different kinds, but I find the syringe to be easier, faster, and more precise. 

On that note- any recommendations for a good ear or forehead thermometer? Wed like to invest in one but want it to be a good one! Post in comments or let me know!

Flight Website

My heart is full of very happy things, but seeing as it's after midnight and I have been up and at 'em for quite some time now, I will leave you with this little gem of a website. 

Travelaware.com lets you track flights in real time. I know many airlines have similar trackers, but I personally haven't seen one as thorough and concise as this one. I love how it shows the amount of time left to fly and the flight pattern of each flight. It made it very handy to time picking Mattie up at the airport today. It also made me feel better to "know" where he was throughout the day. 

Check it out if you have loved ones traveling a lot and need that security blanket of figuring out how much time is left on their flight!

Monday, December 9, 2013


My sweet boy is sick and I don't know how to help him. It's awful when you are sick, but even more so, as a baby, when you can't communicate what hurts, how you feel, or what may make things better. We have all been fighting cough/cold/allergies for a month now, Johnny included. I wasn't expecting to have to leave Sunday school early this past weekend to retrieve a very feverish Johnny who lunged for me as soon as he saw me. His fever was high so we started a Tylenol, fluids, and snuggle regiment. His fever was significantly reduced last night and my little man was laughing and playing as I watched him to see how he felt. Today I had difficulty getting his temperature anywhere near 98.6, it was always significantly lower. After nap, his fever was back and higher than any mommy would like. I hate sitting there, trying to get a good read, willing and praying that the thermometer beeps without going another fraction of a degree hotter. He is responding ok to Tylenol, but I want him to feel better! I am ready for my smiling boy to be back to his normal self!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Our HOA is interesting. They don't do anything about people who have trash in their yards, but send letters if your trash can is visible from the curb. They don't do anything about fences being made from the wrong material, but get mad about colors changing on a house. They don't comment on trailers being perpetually parked in front of people's houses, but threaten action if branches are overhanging less than 6' over the sidewalk. 

Whatever right? You have to deal with them. 

Then we got this letter from them

The bolded portion of the letter tells us that we need to submit an approval form for the changes being made to our house. As I read it I was furious because I thought they meant the only changes we had made in the past year, trimming the trees, which they have reminded us to do several times! But no. This was the building plans for the shed in our backyard. My first thought was, "We aren't building a shed." Then I realized they meant the shed that was already back there. The shed that has been there. The one that has been in place since before we moved in. Before we moved here in 2007 that is! 

It was fun making that call, knowing I was in the right and that there would be no plans for them. 

They were nice about it. It was still a waste of their time and mine. Just for that, I may have to paint the exterior or build something soon. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

No words

This picture hardly needs words. It makes my heart leap each time that I see it. One of those moments that I very quickly (and fuzzily) caught on camera to remember that exact moment...as she "exercised" on the cart in target. She rode like this from the dollar spot to the baby clothing. I love it and couldn't keep it all to myself!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Today I am proud. When I say proud, I mean the heart swelling, crying, slow clap, need lots of hugs, and maybe an oscar award winning movie based on my life kind of proud. At it's probably a foolish kind of pride because it's so normal and unworthy of an oscar or a cheer or any other sorts of accolades. 

After careful discussion about and observation of Johnny, I got this email today 

That's right ladies and gentlemen, move on over because Johnny is moving up to the Crocodile Room in nursery!

It is so not a big deal. 

Except it is!

All of our nursery classes are moved along based on milestones, the first milestone is being able to crawl. I wrote this summer about some of Johnny's buddies moving up without him. While Johnny isn't technically crawling still, he is moving with a purpose, quickly, and he is starting to pull up. He needs the extra encouragement of new toys and older buddies to play with. 

I am so proud that he is ready to move up. It has been a lot of work to get him to this point. It has also meant readjusting a lot of goals and celebrating things that I never found worthy of celebration before. It's a huge adjustment for me. Matt and I both are so used to being above average. Almost everything comes easily to us. We are great at a lot of we do. And now we reframe our focus to thinking that average sounds pretty extraordinary because anything that Johnny does, that seems pretty average, is actually fantastically amazing and has been (and will be) the product of a lot of work and effort. 

To others, Johnny being moved up may not seem like a huge deal, but for us, him being with peers his age, is wonderful. For us, being only a couple months behind is a dream. Our reality is simply being reframed to find extraordinary in the average. 

I'm not sure if it will always be like this, if we will be able to really focus on those seemingly normal aspects of life and celebrating them. For now, though, I am grateful for milestones at all, delayed or not, simply because he is in our lives. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Heart Melting

Because some moments need to be remembered forever. 

The girls were being exceptionally sweet today. They were being kind and considerate to everyone, but especially one another. They were doting on each other, playing together, and sharing without prompting. They were being deliberate in their thoughtfulness. It made me happy. 

Then I look in the back seat and see this-

They rode like that for several minutes, not talking, not demanding anything of the other, just being happy in physical closeness of the other. 

When I asked them why they were holding hands they said, "Because we love each other thiiiiiis much!"

So as the temperature outside plummeted, my heart grew three sizes and got all "toasty" inside!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Who he is

The first word that comes to mind is numb. When we learned of Johnny's possible diagnosis of a trisomy, I absolutely felt numb. I had heard people say it before when faced with some sort of traumatic news, but I never knew how it really felt until faced with the possibility of losing my child or having a serious lifelong condition. I wanted to scream "NO!", but all I could manage was quiet sobs and choking exclamations of how I didn't want this. My head felt empty. It was as if my brain had disappeared and in it's place, there sat a miniature version of myself, hugging my knees, and thinking, over and over again, "Down syndrome, Down syndrome, Down syndrome." It absolutely engulfed me. I functioned as I left the office, told Matt, picked a few things up, got the girls, and made my way home. This numbness continued. It was hard to deal with the prenatal diagnosis. We didn't have a face to look at or a name to know him by or a hand to hold, but we had an extra chromosome. And at that point, if I could have, I would have reached through the depths of my body, into his, and plucked out every single last one of those chromosomes and thrown them far away from my sweet child who, in my eyes, had done nothing to deserve such an outcome.

People tell us all the time that he is lucky to be born to us. That we are the perfect parents for him. It feels good to hear, all parents that work hard for their kids want to know that other's see what you do for your children. It's nourishing. But I don't want people to think that we are the better ones because of who we are. Truth is, we are the better ones for who he makes us, how he enriches us, and what we have to be because of who he is. Johnny is our son and he has needs. Who Johnny is, the fact that he is our son, and his needs are so distinct to us at times and so entertwined into the nature of his role in our family and our mentality in raising him at others.

He is.

And he has been since early March of 2013. God ordained him as our son and from the micro second of his physical existence, deep in my belly, 47 chromosomes were present in his first cells.

He is our son.

And has been from the beginning until the end of time. God is outside of our measurement of before, during, and after, Johnny was always meant for us. His genetic material, as flawed as some may see it, is ours, woven together to create this magnificent miracle who has my good looks, charm, and love for books and, I think, his Daddy's ability to focus on the tasks and goals at hand.

He has needs.

And we must fulfill those. We work. We play. We get tired. We triumph. We fail. We clap. We praise. We explore. We work some more. We give in for cuddles and tickles and smiles and laughs. But the needs linger over every decision we make. And the brain fears that there wasn't enough work done while the heart fears that the cuddles were too few and far between.

I have a son named Johnny. He is perfectly named. I stroke his sweet face, cover it in kisses, and squish it a few times for good measure. He has eyes that have the distinct almond shape and folds of Ds, but seem a bit bigger to me. He uses those big eyes to bore deep into whatever and whomever he is looking at, trying to figure it all out, imprinting his thoughts into his brain. He cannot help but smile, even as he cries, his little laugh will pop out from time to time as the corners of his mouth turn up for grins through his sadness. His hands are growing wide and chubby making them perfect for grasping grass to shove in his mouth, for clapping to show off, and for the best holiday handprint art. He has an extra chromosome which makes it hard for him to do a lot of things, but given the chance to take it away, my answer would be no.

School Thanksgiving 2013

The girls love their school and I agree with them, it is a great school. They pack so much into their 5 hours there, the girls come home exhausted on the two days they are there. They also do a lot of theme and holiday activities and really build it up into something special for the kids. 

A couple weeks ago we had their thanksgiving feast at school. Johnny and I went up there and had lunch with the girls while seeing their thanksgiving crafts. The girls loved showing off their hard work and then ran around the gym, happy for the extra play time with their friends. They both loved having marshmallow, cereal, m&m trail mix inside a waffle come to look like a cornucopia. In fact, Keegan was avoiding the m&ms until I told her it was candy. She popped one in her mouth and you could see the delight and realization come over her. She even did a happy dance!

These celebrations were some of my favorite times as a kid and I love being there with my kids now. We are lucky indeed!