Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Six Wonderful Months

My sweet little baby is a whole six months old today!! I have tried so hard to hold onto every stage of her babyhood and enjoy her to my fullest capability but I still feel like her life is flying by way too fast. I just want to savor these remaining months of her infancy!

Bailey is my little social butterfly, I'm finding. She's the baby that will fuss if nobody is talking to her or paying attention to her. She loves to be entertained on a pretty constant basis and that's where her two adoring big sister's come in! If she's fussing they usually cheer her up very quickly. She's also into everything already! Her interpretation of crawling is hilarious and it allows her to get into just about anything she wants. I can't take my eyes off of her for fear of her getting into something or choking on her latest finding. She keeps me on my toes, for sure! My favorite thing about Bailey, however, is the fact that she's a mama's girl, for now anyways. She lights up when she sees me and fusses for me when I walk away. The other girls were never super attached to me so this is kind of new and I'll admit, it's flattering!

She went to the doctor today for her check-up and she weighed in at a whopping 18 pounds and is already 26 inches long! These number put her in the 90th percentile for weight and 50th for height! Wow! For comparison's sake, at six months Brookie was 17 pounds, 9 ounces and Adrienne was 17 pounds, 7 ounces. She's just a tad bit bigger than her sisters were but not much.

The most exciting moment of Bailey's 6-month-birthday was when she had her first rice cereal tonight! She LOVED it. I made just a tiny bit but it clearly was not enough for her liking. She flipped out between each bite and her little hands shook with excitement as she tried to grab the spoon from me! We got lots of cute pictures and I'll try to post them soon. It was so much fun to feed her but at the same time kind of sad that she's already at this point.

I'm so thankful for my healthy, happy, beautiful Bailey girl. The past six months have been amazing with her in our family and I can't wait for the weeks, months, and years ahead as a family of five!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sleeping Success!!!!!!!!!!!

A few weeks ago I wrote about Bailey's sleep issues... She wasn't napping for me at all unless she was nursing. It made life a little bit difficult because I was essentially "on call" all day long. Then, to make matters worse, the flood happened and we were at my parents' house for about 5 nights. She didn't sleep great there (unless she was with me) and when we got home, that same pattern unfortunately continued. For about a week I was in her room each night nursing her over and over again and some nights it would take 4 tries to get her to stay sleeping. After long days with her, the long nights and evenings were exhausting.

I knew that Miss Bailey was quite capable of sleeping through the night (since she had been doing it for so long!), I also knew that she wasn't nursing for hunger during these wakings because she would quickly fall back asleep upon nursing. That told me that it was time to let her "cry it out." I was hesitant to do so because it's not a fun process and in the midst of it I feel so sad. However, having previous experience with this from the other girls, I decided to go forward with it. I told one of my friends that I felt bad doing this Bailey and she reminded me, "You're not doing it to her, you're doing it for her." That was just enough encouragement to get me going.

So, all throughout this week we have been doing this whole "cry it out" process. I've been nursing her quietly in her room, praying for her, singing her "Sleepy Jean" and then putting her down groggy but awake. I let her cry for increasingly long intervals of time and at the right times I just go in and rub her back, let her hear my voice, and then leave. The first night went great! She only cried for about 20 minutes and it was only fussing on and off. The next night was a little bit more intense, as she cried for about 40 minutes. Last night was only half and hour and tonight? TWO minutes of fussing. YAY!!!!!!!!!!  Mission accomplished!

A few added bonuses have come out of this... For starters, all of this has miraculously translated into her naps. She has taken 2+ hour naps every afternoon and this is something she's NEVER done, not even as a newborn. She's also sleeping in later in the mornings. She used to wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning to nurse (and then fall back asleep with me) but now she's sleep in until almost 9.  She's a happier, more content baby because she's finally getting the sleep she needs. I'm so thrilled!

I know that the "cry it out" method is controversial to many people... So much so that I almost don't even like talking about it. Sure, I don't love letting my precious baby cry. There's nothing that feels more unnatural to me as a mother... BUT, you cannot argue with results. A few nights of crying will greatly transform her ability to sleep and feel rested and that's definitely in her best interest!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

School Days

Brookie started back at school on Tuesday and she is absolutely loving it so far! I know we're only a few days in but each night she goes to bed with such anticipation and excitement and in the mornings, she's eager and ready to go. I sure hope she continues to enjoy it at this rate!

I must say, her school schedule is sort of running my life. Obviously I signed her up for this program but it's still a lot to manage. She could ride the bus in the mornings but we're not comfortable with that (because there are older kids that ride it) so I have to drop her off by 8. That's an early morning! And because I have to take her into her class, it's not like I can stay in my pajamas, either! Luckily John stays home with the little girls when he gets in so I don't have to dress and feed all three of them, which is nice. Picking her up is a different story, though... We have to be there at 10:45, right in the middle of Bailey's morning nap, and because John's sleeping by then I have to lug all three girls in. It's not so bad right now but it will be in the winter months when I'll have to bundle everyone up for a quick trip.

Brooke has always been an introverted and shy little girl so I was a little concerned about how she would do in school. She is already surpassing my expectations by making friends quickly and today she even told me their names. She's not usually the kind of kid who talks to people she doesn't know but I guess she's doing really well!! She described one of her friends to me today as, "That cute little girl who has a matching backpack with me." Haha. I love it!

Her teacher seems super nice and really mild mannered so I think Brooke will thrive in that environment. They seem to have really great activities for the kids so far and my girl brings home pictures and papers every day.

I really look forward to this year of growth for my sweet girl. I'm sure once we adjust to the new routine life will seem normal again but for now, these early and rushed mornings aren't fun. Nobody said motherhood would be easy though!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bragging Rights

I don't like to get all mushy and sentimental about my husband on my blog because I realize that the majority of people don't care about how in love I am or how wonderful my man is, but darn it, this is MY blog so today I'm going to! I am just so filled with love and adoration for that man and he continues to steal my heart each and every day.

Lately I've just been overwhelmingly amazed at how hard he works for our family. Throughout the summer there is overtime galore at his job. In the winter there aren't as many chances to work extra hours so like any wise man would do, he works super hard in the summer to save for winter. He often doesn't get a day off or have time to himself but he never complains. Any man can work hard and become isolated from his family but John doesn't do that... He works hard but the hours he works are at HIS expense, not ours. He's still, very much, a family man who is very present in our daughters' lives. Instead on missing out on things with our family he just goes without sleep. Again, he never complains or moans about how tired he is, like I would, but he serves our family with such joy. He's actually in the midst of a 12 hours shift right now and he's supposed to be off tonight.

He is also faithful and diligent with our family budget, carefully planning and saving, and always seeking to meet our needs. When I see him with his little green calculator working out our expenses each month my heart just bursts with thankfulness for a man that does so much for us. I love how he works all of these hours to meet my needs and never once makes me feel bad for not bringing in an income or like I'm lazy or unworthy of my needs being met.

I also love how my husband never forgets to take the trash or recycling out... Ever. He never leaves the gas tank on empty for me to have to scramble to fill. He never lets the grass get too long or the weeds overtake our garden. In the Fall he rakes and bags all of leaves faithfully and in the Winter, the sidewalks are always shovelled promptly. He is one of the hardest workers I've ever met.

So on top of being an amazing, hard-working cop and providing for the girls and me, he is a servant to so many around him. Lately he's been going to help a family that lost everything in the flood. They have been moving everything out of their house and gutting it and John has been setting time aside to go work with them. He's also been active in our church's effort to distribute meals to the community and again, he never complains or gripes about the time sacrifice.

The thing that most encourages me when I look at my husband, however, is his faithfulness to God. Whenever he wakes up for the day, he reads his Bible before doing anything else. He tries to share with me what the Lord is showing him through scripture and He leads us in a sweet time of prayer each night. He diligently teaches the girls memory verses and about the things of God. It's such an encouragement in my own spiritual walk to see his heart.

My husband isn't perfect, no man this side of eternity is, but I am so thankful that God chose ME to be his wife when so many other women would have been far more deserving. He's everything I'm not and I can truly not think of anyone else that I would rather spend the rest of my life with.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moving Forward

It's really hard to "move on" from everything that has happened here in the past week. Everywhere you go there are curbs full of flood victims' cherished possessions, the fire halls are still opened distributing bottled water and meals, we are all still having to boil water before using it and our county is still in a state of emergency. It's still a little tricky getting through some of the towns around here, as everyone is working so hard to get things up and running and the roads get shut down to allow for that. Closest to home for us, perhaps, is that Brooke's school has been closed all week and it won't open until Tuesday. See what I mean? So much reminds us that things aren't "normal" around here.

We have "adopted" a family in the next town over and John and his family have been going down helping them gut their house and clean up the destruction. I have the girls (and bad asthma) so it's hard for me to serve in that way but I've been working at the church most days helping the Red Cross distribute meals to the community. There is so much we want to do but with John working so much and having three small children, it's hard to be helpful as we could be otherwise.

I guess I just don't understand. If you go a mile in any direction from our house you will find complete devastation. Even houses down the road from us got hit pretty bad. Some of our neighbors were helping us pump out our basement and we were told that our basement looked the best out of everyone in town. Most people lost everything in their basements and somehow, our hot water heater survived and the water line stopped about an inch underneath the motor of our furnace. Amazing. We haven't tried turning it on yet (because it's supposed to dry out as much as possible) but we're pretty sure it's fine. I feel so blessed that we have endured so little but I don't get why. It's definitely because of God's goodness and mercy but if things had fared differently for us, He's still just as good and merciful. See where I get caught up?

Tomorrow I'm bringing a hot meal down to our family and I'm so eager to feel like I'm contributing. It's not about ME but it's so hard to feel incapable of making even a small dent in such a massive cleanup. I hope more opportunities to help out come my way! My heart breaks for so many around me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Great Flood

Wow, I don't even know where to begin. Our county, along with several of the surrounding counties, are cleaning up from massive flooding and some are predicting that this process could take several years. There are so many things on my mind... I hurt for my community and so many around me.. strangers and friends, alike. I'm at a loss for the right words.

I guess this all started early this week when the rain came. It was pouring and pouring day after day and it seemed to be non-stop. Brooke's first day of Pre-K (which seems like such a blur now) was on Wednesday and that's the whole flooding situation kind of came to a head. All the schools sent children home early and people were told to get to a safe place. We had been hearing of evacuations but my family and I were seemingly safe in our home. We have a sump pump that keeps water out of our unfinished basement (which only houses our hot water heater and furnace) and we figured that we would remain unscathed from all of the rain unless we lost power. Well, at about 11 P.M. that night the power died and John and I were frantically in the basement bailing out water with buckets, trying to save our furnace. It was not fun!

At around midnight we heard a siren sound in our village and we were kind of curious about what was going on but just kind of passed it off. Then, we heard someone knocking at our door telling us that we needed to evacuate to higher ground. It was very scary and we had to leave our basement, pack a few necessities, and wake up the girls. It was one of the worst couple of hours of my life! We went to the elementary school that's up on a hill in our town and there was no generator, no beds, and nothing to eat or drink . It was the most horrible and restless night I think I've ever had.

The next morning the rain had finally stopped. Our mayor came and told us that our town levy was not expected to withstand the crazy amounts of rains and that we should brace ourselves to lose everything. We were then told that if we wanted to go to our homes and get a few things we had about a half an hour before we had to either find a way out of town or go back up to the school. Let me tell you, rummaging through my home trying to decide what was important and what wasn't was the worst feeling ever. I ultimately decided to just grab the basics because I couldn't think of all of the sentimental things.

We got in the car and just drove. There were flooded roads everywhere and finding ways around was almost impossible. Looking at my family in the car and realizing that our lives might never be the same was very, very challenging as a mother. I can't even express how horrified I was but I had to try to hold it together for the girls. After a long, long drive we ended up at John's parents' house where they had power, internet, etc...

The story ends happily... For us, anyways. The levy shockingly held, despite the fact that it was no supposed to. We may have lost of furnace (but won't know for sure until power is restored) and will be without power and water for up to 2 weeks or so. The circumstances aren't ideal but there are people around us who have lost every single thing they own. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs and no family to turn to. I'm staying with my parents for now because they have power and all and John doesn't feel comfortable leaving me home alone at night while he works because there have been looters coming through and stealing from people. It's just a really tough time right now. Food and gasoline are hard to access. Also, nobody even knows when schools will resume and some districts don't even have hopes of starting back up for at least months.

I'm so thankful that God spared my family and me from losing our home and every possession we have. However, there are so many that weren't spared and who have no hope of a "normal" life for quite some time. It's devastating. I cannot tell you how awful it is to see so many familiar surroundings immersed in water and so many people hurting. Please keep our little corner of the world up in your prayers as we rebuild and try to move towards a brighter future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slow Down, Bailey!

My littlest princess has me completely amazed!! At the ripe age of 5 months she gets up on her hands and knees and rocks back and forth. Then, she inches forward, falls down, and repeats the whole process over again. It's incredible! She also does this crazy thing where she gets up on her toes and her hands, almost like she's doing a push up. I know every mama wants to think her child is a prodigy but speaking from my experience with my other two girls, I've never seen a baby this age do what she's doing!

Life is quite interesting now that Bailey is on the move! She's been known to knock over a block tower or two and thankfully, her sisters still think it's adorable. Hopefully they'll remain as patient when the novelty runs off! It's challenging to do much of anything around the house these days because she is constantly inching into walls and chairs and then screaming because she either bumps her head or can't go forward any further. It's hilarious! I found her gnawing on the vacuum cleaner cord the other day, too, so she's already starting to put crazy objects in her mouth. I had the talk with the older girls about making sure that they don't leave their toys and small things on the ground to keep Bailey safe so now they're constantly bringing me things off of the carpet. Bailey has some pretty awesome sisters!

When Bailey was born I set out to make the most of her babyhood and to enjoy it because she's our last baby. Despite that resolution, however, I feel like time has ran away from us! It's hard to believe that she was ever a newborn and I can't even believe how much she has accomplished in these few months. I sure hope that she doesn't take to walking as quickly as she's taken to crawling! If so, we're REALLY in trouble then...