Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 In Review

It's that time of year again! Time for the year in review. 2016 has gotten a bad rap, which makes me sad since it's the year Levi was born. Here are some more of the big events of our year:

- Lena turned 3 and we threw away her Binky with much less trauma than anticipated.

- I made it through the end of a healthy but hard pregnancy.

- Levi William was born 2 weeks early on Leap Day (February 29). I got to experience my water breaking for the first time and it was my fastest/easiest labor yet!

- Lucy lost her first tooth, followed by 4 more throughout the year!

- After a lot of puking, screaming, and an ultrasound at the Children's Hospital to rule out pyloric stenosis, Levi was diagnosed with GERD (reflux) and took Zantac for 9 months to keep it at bay.

- Lucy went from sounding out three letter words to reading entire chapter books leaps and bounds above her grade level.

- My 16 year old nephew Tayton got a fluke brain infection which required surgery on his head to remove the infected fluid.

- We bought a new-to-us van and sold the hunk of junk Craigslist lemon we had bought in 2015.

- Lucy went to her first (non-family) sleepover for her friend Elliana's 6th birthday.

- For the second year in a row, I attempted and failed many times to potty train Lena

- We got rid of our pool, but spent lots of time enjoy other peoples'.

- Justin went on a hiking/fishing trip in Wyoming for 10 days.

- Lena got to go to her first sleepover at Niki's house.

- I got a cavity filled for the first time in 20 years and greatly enjoyed the laughing gas.

- Lena stopped napping

- I tried and failed to go on a diet.

- My oldest nephew, Tyler, got married and Lena got to be a flower girl for the first time.

- We went camping over Labor Day and survived to tell about it.

- Lucy started first grade and loves it

- I started Zoloft . . . and love it. Haha. After some initial dosage tweaks, it is making a world of difference in my depression.

- I participated in Write31 for the first time.

- Justin and YouTube taught Lucy to tie her shoes

- We suffered through the worst presidential election of my lifetime.

- Justin and I went to our first marriage conference (after 11 years of marriage).

- Levi got his first teeth!

- My mom, sisters, and I skipped Black Friday shopping for the first time in 15 years. (We did it online instead.)

- I had a rough year with Lena's behavior, but she finally seems to be growing out of it and is my little buddy now.

All in all, 2016 was a pretty good year for our family. We are blessed beyond measure and looking forward to what 2017 has in store!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Levi: 10 Months

Levi is 10 months old today. I'm having a very hard time with this. The final vestiges of babyhood are slipping away, and I'm mourning the end of an era. Alas, here's what he's been up to this month:

The big news is that I'm pretty sure he's saying his first word: uh-oh! (That was Lena's first word too. I must say it a lot. Haha.) For a while, he's been mimicking it when someone else says it, but this week he's started to say it after throwing food on the floor or dropping his binky, so I think he means it!

He's also finally started to drink out of a cup a little bit. I got him some straw cups for Christmas and he has figured out that if he sucks on the straw, he gets some delicious juice (much diluted)! He still can't figure out any other kind of cup that he has to tip.

I've been working on getting him to eat more table food. He's tried lots of new things lately. He loved cheese roll-ups, blueberries, and chili. He tolerates carrots and peas. Sometimes he'll pick them up off his tray and eat them, but I usually have much more success spoon feeding it to him. He'll still eat any baby food I give him, so I try to get some veggies in him that way.
He loves pickles!

I'm trying to stretch his nursing sessions 4 hours instead of 3. As I give him more food, it's becoming easier. I know I started dropping feedings with Lucy at this age, but I don't think Levi is ready for that at all.

Sleep is still horrendous. He takes decent naps during the day. Usually 3, 1 hour naps. But he wakes up multiple times every night. I don't even keep track because it depresses me. I try not to nurse him unless it's been 3 hours since his last nursing session, but sometimes I'm too tired to care. Or I can't remember what time it was last time. Or Justin has to wake up for work at 4 in the morning and it's 3:30 and he just wants Levi to be quiet. Haha. I made Lena CIO at this age and really need to do the same for Levi. Justin might have to sleep on the couch for a week.

I forgot to update you on his reflux in the 9 month entry. Shortly before he turned 9 months, I started weaning him off the Zantac, so he was done with it by 9 months. He very rarely pukes anymore and is reflux free! Woohoo!

He's still not moving at all. He will roll around on my bed, but not the floor. He doesn't scooch or crawl or stand or really attempt to move at all. Haha. His doctor is ready to sign him up for early intervention/therapy, but I can't decide if I'm ready for that. Is there really anything wrong, or is he just taking his time?

He plays peek-a-boo, has started to figure out so-big, and loves to clap and point. I think he has great fine motor control for his age. He loves to pick up tiny things and is obsessed with finding zippers or strings on clothing. He also has a strange obsession with touching my eyelashes. Haha.

No new teeth - still just the bottom two, which is fine with me as long as he's nursing (and biting!).

He loves his grandma and expects her to pick him up anytime she walks by.

He likes to read books - especially ones with baby faces or touch and feel elements - but he also likes to try and kick the book out of my hands while I'm reading. He loves balls and his new truck that makes noise and lights up (and has a string to play with). He hates wearing a bib, having his hands washed or his nose wiped, and hates having his shirt put on or taken off.

Most of the time he is very chill, easy-going, and content. He's obviously a third-born and can go with the flow/isn't married to his routine. He still isn't showing nearly the amount of stranger-anxiety that the girls had. He'll let pretty much anyone hold him and likes anyone who talks to or plays with him. But he does love his mama, and he loves to snuggle. A couple weeks ago, I got into the bad habit of letting him sleep in bed with me when he wouldn't sleep in his own bed. Justin put the kabosh on that pretty quick, but I kind of enjoyed it while it lasted. He's just so warm and soft and snuggly. He loves to lay next to me and rest his face on mine. I love it.

We love him so much and are so thankful for him! I can't believe I'm only going to write one more of these before he'll be a year!!!

Here's a random (semi-long) video of him wherein I attempt to catch him saying "uh-oh." The best part is at the end, though, when the girls come in and he catches sight of them. :-)

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Monday 7

Well my favorite week of the year is over. I love the anticipation leading up to Christmas. It's hectic and exhausting, but so much fun. And my kids are at such fun ages to enjoy it this year. We had a great, busy week.

1. Lucy had school Monday through Wednesday (half day). Tuesday was her class party. I brought both of the little Ls along and we all had fun. Lena loves getting to do all the big kid activities with Lucy. And Levi loves that I just keep shoving crackers in his mouth to keep him quiet.
They were both smiling at me, but then half of Lena's cupcake fell into her lap. Haha.

Lucy's class did a gift exchange.
2. Wednesday night was our annual trip to Justin's grandparents' and the Meijer Gardens. The girls were really excited about the gardens this year. And Levi loved all the lights.
Looking for the pickle on the German tree.

Posing in "the pink room."

3. You guys. I think we might be making a little progress with the potty training. A few weeks ago, I decided to start a new tactic. I told Lena that she had to go potty on the toilet one time a day. She could wear her diaper the rest of the day. She just had to go once. The first day she literally sat on the toilet and cried for two hours. Lol. The next day, she wasn't happy about it, but didn't take nearly as long. After a few days, she started going as soon as I put her on the toilet. After a week of that, I upped it to two times a day. I had taken her to the dollar store earlier in the week and let her pick out 5 prizes. She got one every time she went potty. I let her have Christmas off, but today we're going to start doing 3 times a day. We ran out of prizes, so I told her she could have a piece of candy every time she goes on the toilet. She just got a bunch of candy in her stocking, so it's actually working really well as an incentive. She's voluntarily asked to go potty a couple times just so she can get a piece of candy! We still have a ways to go. She's still scared of undies and is really embarrassed about the whole situation. She doesn't like anyone to know when she's going to the bathroom. She won't let anyone take her but me. She doesn't want accolades or applause afterward. I've just been acting like it's no big deal and have instructed my family to do the same. So we're getting there slowly but surely! Maybe she'll be potty trained by her 4th birthday?? (January 23)

4. And now for the Christmas recap! On Christmas Eve's Eve the girls got new Christmas pajamas. (And Levi actually got some from Justin's parents last weekend, so he had some too!)

Then on Christmas Eve we got all packed and ready and got to Niki's by 11:30 am. We spent all day eating and playing games and laughing together.
This is how we eat in my family: cheese and carbs and a little bit of meat. (Plus lots of sweets!)

Levi lounging with Tayton during Apples to Apples
This kid loves pickles.

These girls love sending Snapchats with Rieley!

Levi putting his finger in his Binky holes means he's getting sleepy. Haha.

At some point, the girls got so hot they had to go outside to cool off.

Lena was really hot . . .

5. That evening, we all went to church for Lucy and Lena's Christmas programs. I knew we weren't going to church on Christmas Day (#heathens), so I dressed Levi up with his sisters for the program.
He was thrilled.

Lena just sang two songs with the rest of the preschoolers, but she was so nervous. I wasn't actually sure she'd even do it at all.

Waiting for the program to start.
Little old man.
Lena did great. She marched right up on the risers with the rest of her class and sang her heart out. She smiled. She rang her bells. She sang every word. She was adorable.

And then it was Lucy's turn. She did great singing in the choir and doing all the motions.

She even got to be an angel:
Second from the right.
After the program we went back to Niki's for more food, games, and fun.
Niki and Mom making food. (Dad trying to figure out the new-fangled ice machine in Niki's fridge.)

Rieley playing Legos with the girls.
Tristan wearing the creepy baby mask.

Finally we put the kids to bed (at 10:30!), so we could hide stockings and put the presents under the tree. Most of us spent the night at Niki's. We went to bed at midnight just as Levi was waking up to eat. He went back to sleep in the pack n' play after that, but was up at 2 am and spent the rest of the night in bed with me. Neither of us got much sleep after that.

6. Lucy slept 'til 7:40 on Christmas morning, and we actually woke Lena up at 8! The kids all found their stockings:

We took the obligatory "kids in front of the tree" picture:

Marlon (exchange student), Lena, Lucy, Tayton with Levi on his lap, Tristan peeking out the back. Even the cat made the picture!
Then the present opening began!!


Snuggling and talking to Luke and Esther on Skype

Levi did so great all day. It takes us a long time to open presents, so he didn't have his morning nap, but he's so chill and is happy as long as someone is holding him.

Lena got her own make up!

Lucy got a diary, and she had to write in it as soon as she opened it. She wrote "Today is Christmas. It is sooooooo fun."

A "Luke's Diner" shirt!

Lena was so sweet with her presents. Everything she opened, she told Lucy, "We can share this!" And when she opened the gift that Lucy picked out for her, she gave Lucy a big hug and said, "Thank you!" Both of the girls did great with saying thank you to everyone this year. (Last year was a disaster. Haha.)

The girls got a big present from us that I've been so excited about. They each got a big box full of presents. This is what the top of the gift said:

The first gift in the box was this:
A calendar with the dates of our trip highlighted.
The second gift said:
This was a backpack filled with activity books. Attached to the backpack was a luggage tag that said, "Come fly with me" so they'd know we're flying.
Next was this:
A suitcase filled with a beach towel, swimsuit, and flip-flops. 
Finally . . .
Inside that package were these:


We're extremely fortunate that my brother lives in Orlando, so we can stay with him for free. And we're only going to Disney for one day, but the girls are so excited - and so am I!! I'll share more details later, but this entry is long enough already!

7. So Christmas was wonderful, but went by way too quickly.
The whole fam, minus Lucy who refused to be in the picture.

We've been hanging out at home all day today playing with all our new stuff.
This is actually from yesterday. The girls each got a couple Lego sets and they've been a big hit!
My new fuzzy blanket and totally appropriate mug!

Finished Lego creation!

A whole box of balls!
We also played Bamboozled. It was disgusting!!
Lena refused to try any more after she got that first gross one. I refused any more after I had "spoiled milk." It's amazing how they can make them taste that bad. Haha.

Well if you made it to the end of this insane entry, you get 100,000 useless bonus points! Congratulations and I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!!
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