Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Drew's well check and 20 week update

All was great with the chubby, smiley boy. He weighed less than he does on our scale. Usually the opposite is true, he weighs more once we get to the doctor. He weighed 18.1lbs (19lbs on our scale) and measured more than 25 inches. I guess I wasn't paying very close attention and they didn't write it down for me. Oops! Looks like he isn't quite as big as Isaac was after all.

He has a little artery on the bridge of his nose that they are going to ultrasound, but I am not exactly sure why. Something about pressure and bones closing. I'll update after I get that ultrasound done. I'm sure it will be fine though.

Drew tries to eat his dad's Pathology book while he was studying.

Drew is getting better at manipulating things with his hands. He can grab and get anything in his reach, including the doctor's stethoscope. :) He's been grabbing at my food and other things.

His appointment was on the 24th, but I am just now getting around to posting due to quite a few issues. The first was my husband's email account (the one linked to my blog) was hijacked, and I couldn't sign in for over a week. Then I had some major catching up to do, but I have been consumed with family and with getting back on track with school. So here we are on the 31st. A few weeks have gone by since an update on Drew. So he is now 20 weeks old! Wow, where did the time go?

He got a bit overly tired the week of the funeral from all the traveling around in the car and staying out later than normal. (He was a terrific baby during the whole week, being passed around and giving easy smiles to everyone.) So he recovered over the following weekend, sleeping extra. Then the night disruptions began. He had been sleeping through the night, and then he started waking a lot. We had some pretty rotten nights and just when he started sleeping through the night again, he got sick. Isaac first came down with a fever, runny nose, and a nasty cough. Three days later Drew started with the cough. He hasn't had much of a fever, thankfully. Oddly enough, he is sleeping okay at night so far, but his naps are very short because the cough wakes him up. He's actually been sleeping until 6 or 6:30am in the mornings which has been nice even if it doesn't last. Even sick he is fairly smiley, not as much as usual though.

He has no new amazing feats, but he is doing something new. He is biting me when he's finished nursing sometimes. All of my babies have done this a few times, but he is doing it a lot. I am trying to pay attention and catch him before it happens. He looks innocent enough, doesn't he?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Absent-minded Professor

Genevieve is one of those absent-minded professor types in that she is super smart, but loses things constantly and gets words mixed up. The former quality comes from her dad who is ever in search of his lost glasses, wallet, or keys. (Love you, Honey!) The latter quality comes from my side of the family, passed down from many generations, and though I don't like to admit it I let the wrong word out from time to time and get teased by my genius of a husband. In fact, I made a rather embarrassing word mix up on our first date that I may tell you about some day.

Back to Genna. Genna was telling her Mimi, a fellow word mixer-upper, on the phone recently what books she was reading. Can you believe she is reading a book about the "Kivil War," also known as the Civil War? When I reminded her about the "ci" phonics rule, she changed her pronunciation to the "Silver War."

Recently we had Little Caesar's for dinner. I got some Crazy Bread, and Genna asked for another piece of "Scary Bread" when she had finished her pizza.

There are so many things she says that I don't remember by the end of the day. I wish I could record them all. She keeps us laughing. That's a good thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Father Daughter Dance

American Heritage Girls has an annual fundraiser, a Father Daughter Dance, and this year I was in charge of helping the older girls to organize it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see its completion. When my aunt passed away, I handed over all the information in case I wasn't able to go. As it turns out I would have been able to, but the other ladies helping out sent me home to recuperate from the week. Brian took the girls though since they had been really looking forward to it.

This may be my favorite pose. They were practicing some of the dance moves I taught them. I love Genna's serious face. :)

Daddy wore a Snoopy tie!

What a lucky daddy!

Here are the two pictures they took at the dance. The first is of Genna getting crazy at the craft table.

Here are the girls getting down at the dance together.

They all had a lot of fun! I stayed home with the boys and my mom who was still in town from the funeral. We watched a movie after the boys were in bed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Wonderful Life

Today was Cindy's funeral. I opted to have a babysitter for the service for the girls and Isaac. I have been to some really hard funerals in my life and I was wanting to spare them the extra pain. I also wanted time for myself to grieve without having the kids to worry about. Drew came with us, of course. As it turns out, there were quite a few kids there which I didn't expect.

It was a beautiful service. There was a perfect balance of missing her and remembering her that I would hope would be present at my own funeral. The most touching part were the tributes people read about Cindy. The way each of her friends and family described her had many common words like beauty, grace, patience, kindness and humor. I enjoyed the funny stories told even though my eyes filled with tears. The tributes made me wish I had had the courage to write one, stand up, and read it.

As I thought about this later, I realized that though I am a terrible public speaker (and I mean terrible, I often laugh hysterically out of pure nervousness) I do have one outlet that has been working for me for almost 5 years...my blog. This I can offer. This I can give.

Cindy married my mom's youngest brother, Frank. My sister and I were in their wedding when I was 7 years old, Hannah's age. I don't remember much about it from experience, but I have heard many stories about how my 5 year old sister put on quite the performance pulling up her tights up and shaking her finger "No" at my mom as my mom tried to get her to stop. For some brides this would have been a disaster to have at their wedding, but Aunt Cindy thought it was a riot, retold the story, and laughed about it for years to come.

When they had three beautiful girls, I babysat for them until the family moved to Virginia. Then I just saw them at Christmas and sometimes in the summer. Their three girls were in my wedding as junior bridesmaids. It wasn't until I moved out of Texas that I got to spend more time with my aunt and uncle. We have had the pleasure of stopping in for visits on our way back and forth between Texas and Germany. The kids always loved to visit them, and not only because Uncle Frank always put on movies and gave them way too many sweets, although I am sure that helped. Aunt Cindy always had creative and fun activities for them to do. Whether it was a home-made play-dough volcano, well thought out crafts, or a spur of the moment taped on mustache.

By far the most memories we have with Cindy are from the last year and a half when we have lived close to them. Cindy and I shared a love for children and arts and crafts. We had many great conversations over the years. She was always so fun to be around and had a great sense of humor. I have always been impressed at how my uncle and her raised their three girls. They've become great young women and I am proud to have them as role models for my girls. Even better than all that Cindy was to me was all that she was to my kids. They have never had a grandmother live close by and Cindy filled the role of surrogate grandmother very well since we moved here. She and my uncle took the kids for craft days and even a whole weekend before Drew was born so Brian and I could go on a vacation alone for our tenth anniversary. During the summer that we moved to the area, while I was still in TX with the kids, Cindy would come over all day while Brian was at work and set up my whole kitchen, the bathrooms, and helped unpack much of our boxes, and she would come grocery shop for me when we first moved in. Before she got sick, Cindy came out to visit sometimes during the week when I needed help with the kids like when I had to paint the living room or go to the dentist. She and my uncle came to the kids' birthday parties and had us over for dinner all the time.

I am especially thankful for this last Thanksgiving. That is really the last time she was her usual self. She bought new serving pieces, set up the tables so beautifully, and had wonderful crafts for the kids to do that day. That was when the kids made the Indian costumes out of pillowcases. She set up such a cute kid's table for them. And then there was the Advent boxes she spent so much time pulling together for the kids. These are great memories, but they are not without the pain of realizing she is gone and it was the last Thanksgiving with her.

The whole time she was sick, I wished that I could be more helpful to her. I love through service, and it killed me that because of being pregnant, having a newborn, and homeschooling I wasn't able to help her out more. However, I was so blessed by her friends and family at the visitation and memorial services. First, one of her really close friends that flew in for the services came up to me and told me how much she loved my kids and how well behaved they were. Cindy had been so glad we moved close. She told me that Cindy had said, "This is what grandchildren must be like." She told me that I gave her a gift, that my kids were a gift to her since she never got to see her own grandchildren. I can't tell you what that meant to me. I was still thinking about this when someone else came up to me and said something to the same effect. For the two days more people than I can count told me the same thing more or less, that she loved my kids and thought of them as grandchildren. And I can't help but think that my Aunt Cindy was blessing me and comforting me even after her death. What an amazing woman and a wonderful life.

Cindy's family
My aunt, three cousins, and uncle

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Telling the kids

Tuesday night Brian and I told the kids about Aunt Cindy. They were at a friend's house most of the day so that I (and Drew) could be with my uncle and cousins. Brian kept them up a little late so that when I got back we could tell them together.

Isaac didn't seem to quite get the permanence of it. Hannah and Genna's first question was, "But when we go to their house who will do crafts with us?" They loved to do crafts with their Aunt Cindy. The girls cried and we did our best to comfort them knowing that there is nothing we can really do to make it better for them. That is a hard part of parenthood, watching your kids grow up in this world, facing pains that kisses and hugs can't fix. What we can offer them is the hope and promise of eternal life that Jesus has given us. Without this, her death would be simply unbearable.

This is a hard thing for anyone to accept, the permanence of death. I can still hardly believe that I won't see her next time we go for a visit to my uncle's house. How do you learn to live without someone who had such a wonderful and welcome presence in your life?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Aunt Cindy

When we moved here in 2010, we were thrilled to finally live near some family, my aunt and uncle. We move around so much that this is a luxury that we really haven't had ever. It has been a huge blessing to us.

A year ago, Aunt Cindy had her appendix out and they found the cancer. So began her year long fight. This woman had some serious style and grace, and I always thought of her as the Jackie Kennedy of cancer patients. Until Thanksgiving I could see hardly any effects of the treatment or the disease. This is not to say she didn't have any, only that she didn't let it show and certainly never complained. She didn't like to talk much about it. I remember Isaac asking her once if she was "better yet." I am sure he was confused since she didn't look sick and yet we prayed for her healing as a family every night. She replied simply, "I'm trying."

On Christmas day, we were at their house and she was definitely a lot weaker. It was shortly after that when they decided to stop treatment. When we heard that news we dropped everything and went to visit her that very day. She was having a "good" day, my uncle had told me. So we jumped at the opportunity since just a few days before we were over for a visit and we were not able to see her since she was sleeping the whole time. This was nearly one week ago today. I didn't know that would be the last time we would ever see her. If I had known I would have made sure she knew how much she meant to me, to us. If I had known I would have told her that I hung up the plaster heart hand-prints she helped the kids make for my Christmas present. For some reason it slipped my mind that day, but I had intended to tell her how nice it looked on my bedroom wall with their photos. If I had known I would have prepared the kids more for a calmer visit. I would have brought coloring books or something to keep them busy in the confines of her bedroom. If I had known I would have written her that letter that was on my to-do list for tomorrow to tell her all the things that I could not say.

But I didn't know. I thought we had more time. We always think that, don't we? Thankfully though, for every I wish I had known, there is an I'm glad that. I'm glad that we went to see her that day, on a "good" day. I'm glad that she got to hold Drew that day and he brought her a little bit of joy. I'm glad that she didn't have a long drawn out time of suffering and that her pain was easily managed. I'm glad that she had the chance to say and do the things she wanted to before she left this earth. I'm glad that her three girls are grown and out of the nest. As a daughter, I know you always need your mom no matter how old you are. You are never old enough to lose your mom. But as a mom, I know raising your kids, teaching them, and getting them to that place of independence is so very important since no one can love and raise your kids the way you would.

Cindy passed away early this morning. She was only 47. She will be so greatly missed. She was a friend to me and a surrogate grandmother to my children. My heart and prayers are with my uncle and cousins during this incredibly difficult time. I only hope I can be of some help to them.

Aunt Cindy holding Drew on Thanksgiving day

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Officially 4 months old!

Yesterday, Drew was officially 4 months old. I weighed him on our scale, and he was 19 lbs even, hanging with Isaac's growth scale. He's a sweetie pie!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Boys are noisy. Try teaching kids with this in the background.

I suppose I should be thankful that the noises are happy ones, but (confession time) noise is the hardest part of motherhood for me. On second thought, perhaps it is tied with lack of sleep. Any compounded noise is hard on my nerves. With our growing family, surely this will get easier for me to handle. More likely it is a cross to carry, and, hopefully, it will refine me in the process.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Movie Star

Getting a laugh on video has proven difficult since I have to either act like a complete fool or sing (and you don't want to hear that, trust me) to get him to laugh. Here's my best one.

The Johnny Jumperoo experience...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

17 weeks and almost 4 months old!

My sweet Drew! His new accomplishment this week is blowing raspberries. He is almost rolling to his tummy from his back,

but not quite.

His new toy experience is the Johnny Jumperoo, and it went pretty well.

I think he enjoyed it.

What do you think?

Sorry, I just couldn't

stop taking pictures of this cutie boy!

He had a good fussy couple of days at the beginning of last week which wasn't much fun for anyone, but I will not complain because I have fussy days sometimes too. Overall, he is a joy! Such a smiley boy that no one can get enough of him around here.

He goes to sleep without crying once I leave the room, but he goes through phases where he will scream while I am reading, praying, and singing to him. It is a little annoying because that is our quiet time together, or rather it is supposed to be. Sometimes he doesn't do this and settles in, grabbing onto my thumb and finger to hold as he relaxes with me. Those are the moments that I love. Sometimes he will cry at the beginning and then suddenly relax and be nearly asleep. It is possible this is when he gets overly tired, but the times when I know I have kept him up too long are the times when he doesn't cry. So I am not exactly sure if this is random or caused by the degree of tiredness. Either way, he normally cries while I zip him up in his Woombie for just a moment, but settles right away 98% of the time. The other 2% he cries a few minutes after I leave, usually less than 5 minutes though. He's a champ!

He has not pooped in the middle of the night all week which is wonderful! He is waking earlier (~5:30am) than he was when I was nursing him in the middle of the night (~7am.) Since Isaac got into such a terrible habit of waking at 5:00am or earlier. I am really trying not to make this the norm. Three times when I have left him to cry it out he has actually gone back to sleep, but just as many times he hasn't. If he doesn't I get him up at 6am. His naps have been longer this week. I guess he is catching up from the shorter ones for several weeks before that. He also is waking if he sleeps in his car seat whenever we move him in or out of the car which is a bummer because now we have to try to leave when he is awake, be back in time for the next nap, and keep him awake in the car. This is harder than it sounds because he is only awake for 1.5 hours in between naps. I can't do much with 4 kids in that amount of time. This means he is going to have to have a short nap while we are out for piano, AHG, etc. Lucky for him, we do school at home and really can't leave a ton anyway or we wouldn't get anything accomplished.

I have tried and tried to get this little guy to take a pacifier, but so far he is looking like a possible thumb sucker. He is my only kid that has ever even found his thumb more than a couple times. The others sucked on their whole fists, which he does do from time to time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Asleep at the wheel

I mean at the table! Check this out!

This is what happens when you really don't want to eat your split pea soup and you missed your afternoon nap.

I carried him up to bed after discovering him like this long after everyone else had left the table. As I am laying him in bed, he halfway woke up and said, "Mom, when I get big like you and dad..." There was a long pause, and I wasn't sure if he was awake or not. Then he repeated that part of the sentence again with another pause. Then he finished the thought, "maybe I will learn to eat better."

He is normally a good, but slow eater. I have found that all of our 3 year olds just don't eat as well and have many nights where they sit at the table for a long time before either suddenly finishing or deciding they are full. This particular night was "dessert night" which we only have twice a week, and Hannah was making these Magic Marshmallows from her cook book. Isaac really wanted some, but he was just too tired. Don't worry, we'll save his for another night. I'm not that mean!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"No interupting" clips

Wednesday, Isaac went to get a "no interrupting" clip (I made these clips that hang on a folder with busy work and each has the favorite color ribbon attached for each child) to put on me while I was working with one of the girls to tell me in a polite way that he wanted/needed my attention. He waited patiently while I got to a stopping point. I asked him what he needed. He said with his big smiley cheeks, "I love you." That was it, and he ran to put the clip back in its place. He really loves his mommy, and he also really loves using the "no interrupting" clips. :) A little bit later, he kept bothering Genna while she was supposed to be doing her independent work. I told him to "stop interrupting her work" and he replied, "Oh, can I put a clip on Genna?" No. Those are just for mommy. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another Impromtu Performance

Genna gave us an impromptu song after lunch was over the other day. It was pretty funny and a wonderful change to her tearful day the day before this occurred.

Isaac! My kids can barely stand to be out of the spotlight, can you tell? Where did they come from?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2nd Annual German Christmas Party

I guess I had too much fun at this party to take my own pictures. These are from our friends who host this party. A group of us who all lived in Germany and are now living in the same area again like to sit around and reminisce about Christmas in Deutchland. In fact, these friends are so in love with Germany that they built a German market stall like you see at the Christmas markets. Brian was majorly jealous of his buddy's wood crafting ability and free time. (His buddy already finished his residency and passed boards.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

16 weeks: sleep training in the middle of the night

Drew is 16 weeks now, but he's not 4 months officially until late next week. He doesn't have his 4 month check up until even later in the month, but I think he is over 18 lbs at the moment. In case you can't tell, he loves to suck on those fingers and hands!

Thursday night was the first day of nighttime boot camp for little Drew. I was hopeful since he has never been one to cry for long stretches at other times of the day, maybe a handful of times in his life. However, he is still pooping in the middle of the night regularly. My plan was to send in daddy for the middle of the night diaper change and swaddle if he woke.

Night One:
He woke at 10:00pm sharp for dreamfeed. I nursed him like I normally would.
He woke at 1:45am (not normal, never wakes this early.) Dad changes his diaper (poop,) swaddles him, and puts him back down. He cried on and off for just over an hour. He was back asleep before 3am.
He woke at 4:30am. We did not go in at all. He cried for about 30 minutes straight, took a 7 minute break and was back asleep by 5:20am.
He woke at 6am and I got him up and nursed him to start the day.
During the day on Friday, he was very tired and had trouble staying awake his normal time.

Night Two:
He woke at 1:15am and cried just long enough for me to wake up and hear him. He stopped and went back to sleep.
He woke at 3:34am. Dad changes his diaper (no poop,) swaddles him, and puts him back down. He cried for only 5 minutes and then was quiet for 10 and cried a couple more and went back to sleep.
I woke him at 7am to nurse and start the day.
During the day he stayed on his regular schedule nursing at 10, 1, 4, 6:30, and 10. (One minor change that wasn't his fault was a bottle of breast milk at 4 (by dad) of which he only took 1.5 oz and I nursed him at 5 when I got home since the second bottle attempt didn't go so well.

Night Three:
He woke at 3:34am again. Dad changes his diaper (poop,) swaddles him, and puts him back down. He cried for only a couple minutes and then went back to sleep.
He woke at 6:30am to nurse and start the day.
Mass cut his first nap short, but had a good second nap, a mediocre third nap, and a regular evening nap.

Night Four:
He slept through the night until just minutes before 6am which is good enough for me. And if the wind storm at 4am hadn't woken me up (and kept me up) when something hit the window, I might be a well rested mommy right now.
He did the same napping as the day before where he took three short naps and one long one (2nd nap.) He was very uncharacteristically cranky all day.

I am sure the middle of the night waking (and pooping) is far from over, but at least we are making progress and have a strategy that is working. I especially like that the strategy involves someone else getting up in the middle of the night besides me. :) Not sure that Brian feels the same way though.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Holy Family

I asked Genna who was in the Holy Family. Genna replied, "Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and God. God was his real father and Joseph was his pretend father." I tried to explain that Joseph wasn't a "pretend" father because he raised Jesus and did all the regular daddy things that her dad does with her, like play games and stuff. Her reply was cute, "Yeah, God was too busy watching over the land."

The kids did a spontaneous Christmas play the other day. I heard them while I was in the kitchen and had to get some pictures and a mini video.

Sorry for all the interruptions in the following video, but that's just kind of how it is around here these days.

Brian caught this picture while I was out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Sweetest Moment

Isaac and I have had a conversation in the past about how when he gets big he can be a dad, but he has to find a wife because I can't be his wife since I already have a husband. Before bed one night this week we were discussing him being more respectful of his brother when I am putting him to bed and not interrupt. I told him he is getting big now and has to be a good big brother to Drew. I, after being questioned, explained that he will always be older than Drew even when he is an adult. He then says questioningly, "I can be a dad and get another mom to marry?" I said you can find a wife to marry and be the mom of your kids. Yes." Suddenly his bottom lip curls out and he bursts into tears saying, "You can't be my wife?" I hugged him and calmed him down, and then tried to clarify that I will always be his mommy, I just can't be his wife. But I will be his mommy and love him forever and ever until the day I die. Well, that was the wrong thing to say, and I knew it even as the words slipped out of my mouth. There went the lip again. "You're going to die?" he asks in a teary voice. I quickly assured him I wouldn't die anytime soon (God willing.) I reassured him he would always be my son and I would always be his mom. What a wonderful moment for me to hold in my heart as he grows up and leaves me. Raising sons is so much different than raising daughters. I am so blessed to have two of each!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Playing and Organizing

This week the kids played with their new toys while I made room for the said toys by reorganizing everyone's room. I, like Hannah, LOVE to organize. On Wednesday, Hannah went to a friend's house while Genna and I spent some time together during the boys' naps. We organized her part of the room and filled out her, "Big Sister" book she got for Christmas. She had been asking for us to do that together since she got it. Genna is so easy to please. The whole time we were cleaning, she kept saying, "This is so fun, Mom!" I am so flattered that she can be so happy just to be with me alone no matter what we are doing.

Hannah was Genna's servant and dressed her up, even did her hair.

Hannah is enjoying her reading and wiggling the tooth that came out later that evening (with Daddy's help.)

Genna is showing off her Easy Feet. They saw this infomercial while I was watching the news one morning and kept talking about how much they wanted it. Genna said she didn't want to do that one legged dance in the shower, a direct quote from the commercial. I found it on sale and was slightly intrigued with it myself.

Doesn't my baby look like a real boy? Stop that growing, Buddy!

We have had Daddy home most of the week from work so we were blessed with his fire place skills on the first really cold day in a while.

Of course, Drew and Daddy did some football watching in front of that fire.

The Legos have been a huge hit with the three big kids. They have been playing all together with them very nicely.