Thursday, September 29, 2016

Levi: 7 Months

I can NOT get this kid to hold still long enough for a clear picture. Haha.
My little man is 7 months old today. He's hit some big milestones this month.

A couple weeks ago he started clapping. It's adorable and he gets the biggest grin on his face when he does it - like he's so proud of himself.

He's also really started sitting up unassisted in the past week or two. I still put pillows around him because he does randomly tip over sometimes, but for the most part, he's got it down. He even got to ride in the cart like a big boy without the carseat today!
He loved it more than this picture lets on. Haha. He was too distracted by everything in the store to smile at me.
He's perfected rolling from his belly to back, and does it as soon as I put him on his belly. But he still can't roll from back to belly. At his doctor's appointment last week, the doctor said now that he's sitting up, it's not a big deal, and he's just going to skip rolling from back to belly. Haha. #turtle

He's still a shrimp. As of a week ago, he weighs 15 lbs. 9 oz. (9%), and measures 25.5" tall (3%). But he's growing on his own curve, so it's not a concern. He's just barely starting to grow out of some of his 3 month clothes. 6 month shirts fit pretty well, but 6 month pants are about 2 inches too long. Haha.

We've finally broken the swaddle habit! But his sleep hasn't been the same since. :-( He's up every three hours all night and won't go back to sleep without nursing. I know I just need to make him cry it out, but he's still in our room and Justin needs to sleep at night because he gets up wicked early. And if we move him out of our room, he's going to have to go upstairs, and then his screaming will wake up the girls. (#excuses) It's not a huge deal for me to feed him. He eats in 10 minutes and goes back to sleep. It's just ridiculous at this age. And I miss sleeping all night.

He does take pretty good naps. And he's gotten better about going to sleep on his own instead of nursing or rocking to sleep. But he's still in the rock n' play. I really need to transition him out of it, but I'm a wimp and don't want to deal with it.

He's still not eating much real food. I did purees for a while - focusing mainly on veggies. If he's anything like his sisters (and his mom), he'll hate vegetables in a few years, so I'm trying to fill him up with them now. He liked everything I gave him and gobbled it down. But then he started getting horribly constipated. I don't really understand why. I'm not giving him cereal. Just plain ole pureed veggies and the occasional apple or pear to gnaw on. The doctor suggested adding Karo syrup to his food. It seemed wrong to give the kid pure sugar, but I did it for 3 days with no results. Finally, she told me to mix Miralax into his purees instead, and that did the trick. But now I'm afraid to give him more food. I guess we're still just easing into it, slowly.

He's had a cold for a few days, so he's been snotty and grumpy and not nursing or sleeping well. But when he's healthy, he's usually such a sweet, snuggly, happy baby. He still adores the Jumperoo. Sometimes I worry that I let him sit in it too long, but he loves it and is getting good exercise! Haha. He likes playing with toys - especially things that light up, play music, or rattle. He likes reading books, but has reached the stage where he's constantly trying to grab the book and put it in his mouth. He can be a mama's boy. I'd say he definitely prefers me over most people, but he doesn't have stranger anxiety yet! He gladly goes into the nursery at church. He smiles at people who talk to him in the grocery store. He doesn't cry when I leave the room. I'm sure it's still coming, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. Haha.

He's still a big babbler. He says dada and mama and bababa, but doesn't mean anything by it. He pants and flails his arms and legs when he gets excited. It's adorable.

He hasn't figured out how to spit out his Binky when he wants to put something else in his mouth. In this picture, he's holding a [chunky] puzzle piece. He taps it against his Binky and sucks like crazy, but can't quite figure out why it won't go in his mouth. Haha.

First pair of shoes!

Growing up with sisters . . .

Monday, September 26, 2016

Write 31: 31 Lessons I've Learned in 31 Years

Last year, a friend of mine did Write31Days on her blog and I was intrigued by the idea. I signed up on the website and started getting email reminders a few weeks ago. I love the idea of writing about a certain topic for 31 days, but I really struggled to come up with something worthwhile. Eventually, it dawned on me that I am going to turn 31 on day 10 of this exercise. So it seems like a no-brainer to incorporate that. I started jotting down things as they popped in my head - random things I would tell someone if asked, "What are some of the lessons you've learned during your life?"

Now that I'm over 30, I'm a veritable fount of wisdom, so I came up with a variety of topics - lessons about marriage, parenting, and faith, but also some very trivial ones.

And let it be said that giving advice and speaking in an authoritative tone is extremely out of my comfort zone. I will probably title most of my entries as imperatives, but that doesn't mean they're hard and fast commands. All of these life lessons are colored by my experiences and my personality. What works for me might be the exact opposite of what works for someone else. I absolutely don't want this to be a polarizing series of judgments. Take what you like and leave the rest. :-)

I'll be linking back here with each day's post, so check back if you so desire. The first one will be up on October 1st!

Day 1: Don't Go to College
Day 2: Be Prepared for Puke
Day 3: There's Nothing You Can Do to Keep Your Salvation
Day 4: Learn Basic Grammar
Day 5: No One Likes the Grammar Police
Day 6: My Top 5 Unconventional Money Saving Tips
Day 7: Love is a Choice
Day 8: No One is Thinking About You as Much as You Think They Are
Day 9: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Day 10: Insist on Birthday Week
Day 11: Don't Wish Your Life Away Searching for Fulfillment
Day 12: God is Sovereign and Has My Best in Mind
Day 13: Write Things Down
Day 14: Saying "Don't Worry" is Not Helpful
Day 15: Get On Drugs
Day 16: Don't Be Ashamed of Your Post-Baby Body
Day 17: Read!
Day 18: Make Your Obsessions Known
Day 19: Don't Buy Toys Without a Volume Switch
Day 20: Just Be Who You Are
Day 21: How to Fight Depression
Day 22: Don't Find Your Worth in Your Kids
Day 23: Read to Your Kids
Day 24: Learn to Cook
Day 25: Invest in Roadside Assistance 
Day 26: Enjoyment of Christmas Should Not Be Limited to One Month
Day 27: Laugh at Yourself
Day 28: Make Friends with People in a Different Stage of Life than You
Day 29: Look Forward to the Firsts Instead of Lamenting the Lasts
Day 30: Silence Satan's Lies with the Truth of Scripture
Day 31: Always Be Humble and Kind

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. I started reading The Boxcar Children to the girls at night before bed. We're only 3 or 4 chapters in, but it's kind of blowing my mind. Who are these mysterious children with remarkable survival skills? How do they stay so optimistic in the face of adversity? Why aren't they more worried about their future? Are they ever going to go to school? Aren't people going to start asking questions about why Henry keeps appearing in town looking for odd jobs? Don't they get hungry on a diet of blueberries and milk? Do they live in a cold climate? What's going to happen when winter comes? What happened to their parents? Why did they think to pack a "cake of soap?" What kind of kid packs a bar of soap when running away? Is this how kids thought/acted in the 20s? My girls are not nearly as concerned as I am about these children . . .

2. I think I mentioned that we had a YouTube-free summer. I was feeling convicted about how much the girls were watching and the slippery slope of what was acceptable for their ages, so I outlawed it all summer (hoping they'd forget about it - haha). But they started begging for it again as soon as school started, so I re-instated it with some stricter rules. They're not allowed to have the app on their tablets - only my computer or the TV. And they're only allowed to watch the channels I subscribed to for them. Most of the time they watch Family Fun Pack - which is a vlog, but it's all about the 5 young kids in the family. I've watched many with the girls and it's totally innocent stuff. The other channel they're obsessed with is Kelli Maple. She plays with Baby Alive dolls and has these elaborate scenarios that she acts out. I actually don't mind my girls watching her, because they're inspired to create their own imaginary adventures with their own dolls. They play babies for hours sometimes. I love it.

3. Levi mastered clapping his hands and sitting up this week, at just shy of 7 months old. And he finally had his "6 month" doctor appointment. He's 15 lbs. 9 oz. (9%) and 25.5" tall (3%). The doctor was very happy with his weight gain, and impressed with his clapping skills. Apparently most kids don't start clapping until 9 months+ (#prodigy). She gave me some remedies for his terrible constipation that has cropped up since we started baby food. And he got 4 immunizations - which messed him up for the rest of the week. The kid just stopped sleeping. I don't even understand how he functions. He wakes up every 2 hours all night, screams for a while, I nurse him, he screams some more, falls asleep for an hour or 2, then does it again. And he suddenly stopped napping too. I finally got him to sleep on me yesterday, but we are not going to make a habit out of that. Oy. I'm exhausted.

4. I'm a little bit discouraged that my new depression meds don't seem to be doing much. Maybe I'm expecting too much from them, but I don't feel any different. In fact, I actually had kind of a rough week. I was extremely irritable all week. And I just feel lethargic. Like I can't do anything. I'm hoping a lot of that has to do with sleep deprivation. I'm also hoping it just takes a while for the Zoloft to start making a difference, and happiness is on the horizon for me.

5. I made a few good meals this week. I was looking for a recipe with meatballs and came across this one for sliders. It was so easy and delicious. I even added spinach for a modicum of healthiness.
Food photography is not my calling. Lol.
And then I made this spread:
Actually, the meat was all leftovers from a friend that I just warmed up in the oven. But I made that beautiful salad and pan-fried potatoes for the first time in my life. I was so proud of myself. I even added onion, garlic, salt, and pepper without a recipe. This is a big deal, people.

My new obsession is "hash." Diced potatoes, eggs, sausage, peppers, and onions. This week, I found a pre-made package at Daily Deals for $3. I just had to add the eggs. Win!
Justin said he could eat this once a week. We just might do that!
6. Here comes a sad one . . . I think I need to take a facebook fast. Ugh. I've just been convicted lately that all I do is stare at my screens. I do the bare minimum for parenting and housekeeping, but spend hours scrolling through facebook. And it just makes me angry. I can't handle the politics, and I'm so sick of everyone's opinions on every hot button issue of the day. I have major FOMO (fear of missing out), but I think it'll be good for me. I think I'll take the rest of September off and come back in time to start sharing my "Write 31" blog posts for October.

7. And now for this week in pictures:
Little stud and blue-girl
Little multi-tasking mommy
The only reason to look forward to cooler weather is the chance to get out some of Levi's adorable cool-weather outfits.
Snapchats from Lena. Lol.
Foggy morning beauty on the way to school. 
Adventures with food
Um, Hitler? 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. On Monday, I went to the doctor to discuss my depression meds. I actually feel like they haven't been working well for the past year and a half. But I was pregnant for a large part of that time, so I was hesitant to blame my emotions on the meds. I'd finally decided I'd had enough, though, and set up an appointment with my doctor. She agreed with me, based on some of my symptoms that my current meds aren't working as well as they should, so she switched me to Zoloft (which is even safer for breastfeeding than what I was already on). I share this hesitantly, because people have strong opinions about depression meds and I'm too fragile to handle criticism well. Lol. But I've been vocal about my depression in the past and want to continue. It's still there. I still fight it often. And give into it often. But I'm hoping the new meds will make a difference. The doctor told me to give it a couple weeks to start feeling effects. So hopefully by this time next week, I'll be looking like this:

2. Lena started Cubbies at church this week. It's part of the Wednesday night AWANA program. Lucy's been going for two years, but this was the first year Lena was old enough. I really didn't know what to expect. She's historically a mama's girl who does not deal well with being away from me. But she really wanted to go to AWANA like Lucy, and it's in the same classroom/with the same kids as her Sunday morning church class, so she's already semi-familiar with it. She did great! She was nervous when I dropped her off, and got a little clingy, but I just brushed her off and ran out the door before she could completely lose her mind. Afterward, the teacher (who had Lucy two years ago) said she couldn't believe how much more Lena talks than Lucy did. Haha. So apparently she warmed up quickly. And she's already asked me roughly 400 times when she can go back. Win!

3. I am so frustrated lately with my kids and bedtime. I just don't understand where I have failed as a parent. Does everyone else deal with this? I feel like my friends put their kids to bed, and the kids go to sleep. I put my kids to bed and they come downstairs and/or call for me 3,472 times before actually falling asleep an hour or more after bedtime started!!!!! I must not be totally alone, because other people have made memes that pretty much sum up my night from about 8-9:30.

4. Last year, I came across this "Write 31" thing in the blogging community. You choose a topic and blog about it for 31 straight days for the month of October. I kind of want to do it, but I can't think of anything worth writing about for 31 days in a row. Haha. I've thought of "31 Verses that Have Ministered to Me," but that's just going to get preachy. I thought of "31 Things I Want My Kids to Know," but that's going to be sappy and unoriginal. And I doubt I can come up with 31 things. Or maybe, "31 of my Favorite Books." Boring. How about "31 Days of Poems Dedicated to Food?" (Dr Pepper, How I Love thee; thy bubbly goodness brings me glee . . .) Or "31 Reasons Not to Have any More Babies" . . . followed closely by "31 Reasons Newborns are So Worth It." Hmmmm, time to put my thinking cap on . . . Stay tuned . . .

5. I've noticed lately that Lucy can't just play with toys. She has to have a narrative to go along with whatever she's doing. For instance, this afternoon the girls were playing on the jungle gym. Lucy can't just climb on it and go down the slide like a normal kid. She has to create a story. "Hey Lena, let's pretend that these are challenges. We're at challenge school and we have to practice every day. We've been here for two weeks and we're on level two already. I'm on challenge four, but you're only on challenge three. Ok, I'm going to climb up this like this and then I get to move on to the next challenge . . ." I'm pretty sure I was exactly the same way, so she comes by it honestly. It's probably great for her brain - and great for Lena, too.

6. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon volunteering at Lucy's school. Someone had a connection with a retired teacher from another school (in another state) who was looking to donate all of her children's books. Oh.My.Word. The books, people! The books! Boxes and boxes and boxes of thousands upon thousands of free books! I could have sat on that gym floor sorting books for the next three years! Our job was just to get the books out of boxes and displayed on tables so the teachers could look through them and take what they wanted. It took ten of us 2 hours and we used every empty table the school could find. And then they told us we could take whatever we wanted! Hold me back! It took everything within me to keep myself to a reasonable amount. (20 books is reasonable, right?) Seriously, people. It was my dream come true. I adore children's books. We already own thousands. We're already out of shelf space. But I can't help myself. I'm a bibliophile. I need more.

6. And now enjoy a few pictures from our week:

Little poser

He can move! Only backwards. And only when he's really mad. Haha. (He scooted himself off the playmat.)
Getting a lot better at sitting up!
Sitting in the big-boy high chair for the first time. (And being accosted by Lena, as usual.)
Love. (One of my free books. And an awesome one that is totally perfect for me! Check it out!)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. The camping recap: we survived! No bears were spotted, and we actually had a really nice time. The weather was gorgeous, the pool was heated, and the campground was the cleanest I've ever seen. Plus, Levi and I didn't have to sleep in the tent!! Justin's cousin lives two minutes down the road and they graciously let us sleep in their basement. It was the best of both worlds.

Don't get me wrong. Moments of peace like the one above were few and far between. I still think camping with little kids is crazy. I had to carry Levi everywhere, he would only sleep in my arms, I couldn't just set him down in the dirt if I needed my hands for something. The girls are incredibly needy. Lena had a rough time being out of our normal routine and spent a lot of time hanging on me begging me to hold her (when I was already holding Levi). Lucy wanted to swim the whole time, but Lena would only go in the pool if I went with her. Justin wanted to fish the whole time. I wanted to sit and read the whole time. We definitely had fun, but once a year is enough. Haha.

2. Lucy is loving first grade.
They're all excited! Haha.

She marched right in on the first day and didn't bat an eyelash when I left. She's now completed two weeks and is still enjoying it. I'm amazed at how well she's doing with the transition to all day, every day. Last year, she only went three days a week, so I expected some pushback with waking up at 6:45 every day this year. But she bounces right out of bed and gets ready! It's actually been harder on me than her. Haha. I've been forcing myself to go to bed by 10 every night and I'm still exhausted every day. Although part of that is because of Levi's sleep regression . . .

3. I've been trying to break him of the swaddle habit, and it is still not going well. I wrote about our first attempts in his 6 month update, but we went back to the swaddle during camping. Starting Tuesday, we got back to it, and I started putting him to bed in a sleepsack with his arms loose instead of pinned down in the swaddle blanket. During the day he naps for about an hour at a time. During the night he sleeps for about 2 hours at a a time, then he wakes up, plays with his binky, talks to himself, and eventually starts crying. In the middle of the night, he wants to nurse back to sleep, but I refuse to nurse him every two hours all night, so I make him cry for a while. Nobody is getting any sleep. I just can't believe how long it's taking for him to get used to being unswaddled. I thought it'd be a couple days of transition, not a couple weeks! Last night for the first time all week he slept a 5 hour stretch, nursed, then went back to sleep for another 3 hours, nursed, then slept another 3 hours after that. It's ridiculous that he's still getting up twice, but it's better than the 4 or 5 times he had been doing.
I've also been trying to start a consistent bedtime routine that I do before every nap and at night. I sing three songs while holding him, lay him in the rock n' play awake, then rock him until he falls to sleep. So my next step will be breaking him of the rock n' play/being rocked to sleep. Maybe by the time he's 2 he'll be able to sleep in the crib in his own room. Ha.

4. I came across this article a couple weeks ago and identify with it SO MUCH. I could've written it. The first half is one of those same ole same ole articles about how motherhood is so hard and husbands have it so easy - the thoughts I find myself guilty of way too much. But the second half is profoundly true and all too often left unsaid - at least in my marriage. It was convicting for me, and something I've been thinking about a lot. I tend to dwell on the bad, while I conveniently forget all that Justin does for us. He works 40+ hours a week, he gives the girls baths, he folds and puts away laundry, he clips all 3 kids' nails, he puts Lucy to bed every night - and does Lena too on nights when I'm particularly fed up. Haha. He takes out the trash and does the dishes and wakes up at an ungodly hour every morning to provide for our family. Yes, my job is difficult and all-consuming, but he never leaves me to do it alone. He's always willing to help. I loved the line in the article when the author says (to her husband), "You’re so “chill” all the time because someone in this house needs to be, and it sure as heck isn’t me." Haha. I'm a disaster, so I'm thankful for a husband who is calm and steady . . . and involved more than I give him credit for.

5. Levi is loving all the new foods he's been trying. So far he's had peas, applesauce, pieces of peach, pear, and frozen banana in the feeder thing (I bought silicone ones that are so much nicer than the gross mesh ones), sweet potatoes, and green beans. He's getting much better at opening his mouth and eating off the spoon rather than just leaning forward and slurping when I force the spoon in his mouth. Haha.

We've also been working on getting him to sit on his own. It's not going great. Haha. One day this week, I took a picture of him sitting up so nicely:
Haha, the side-eye
Then a minute later, I looked over to see this:
 It doesn't bother him, though!
Happy upside-down boy
6. One day this week I was feeling caged-in at home, so I decided to take the little Ls thrift shopping while Lucy was at school. They did surprisingly well and I got some good deals. I managed to find myself 5 long-sleeved shirts (winter is coming), a $1 short-sleeved shirt, and of course a stack of books - mostly for Lucy. That girl is a reading machine and I love to fuel her obsession. :-)

I told Lena she could pick out one book for herself and she chose "Large Print Word Searches." Lol. She circles the letter L on each page and thinks she's hot stuff.

7. Pictures
His new lip thing
Lena's all packed and ready for camping
It started pouring just as we got home from grocery shopping, so we waited it out in the car. (She had a blue sucker at the store. Can you tell? Haha.)
Trying on her new school clothes from Aunt Niki
This is what he does anytime I get my face close to his. It's actually kind of adorable how he wants to hold onto my face.
Noticing the cute baby in the reverse camera.
Trying to eat the phone.
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