I is for…

I

You have recently found your fist, which is the best thing ever.

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Happy 2 Months Old, Baby Girl!

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Oh, and I know that your bloomers are pulled up way too high.  You know why they are?  Because daddy did this a few days before your 2 month day:

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Yup.  He tagged you.  Asher didn’t want the tat, so of course he went to the helpless babe who had no say.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there to protect you… ;)

SO.  You see, your bloomers are pulled up high to cover up the beaver tat in your 2 month pictures… thanks for that one, daddy….

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You and one of your bff’s – Ivory. 

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Of course, you had to ruin the photo shoot.

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Yes, your brothers are still obsessing over you.

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9 Weeks

  • You started talking and cooing a ton this past week!  You love to be looked at, talked to, smiled to, and told you’re beautiful (right?!  I mean, what woman wouldn’t want that?!).  It makes you smile back and talk.  Sweetest thing.
  • Your cries are so soft and gentle and oh boy – after your brother Asher, it’s a refresher to mommy’s heart and soul!
  • You are mostly wearing 6 month clothing now and size 2 diapers.
  • When we’re shopping and you’re sleeping in the Boba carrier, you don’t transport to your carseat well like your brothers did.  You wake up every single time.  BUT you go back to sleep easily, especially when you’re at home in your crib, unlike your brothers.  With them, when they woke up, it was game over.  You generally just need your binky back in your mouth and you go right back to sleep.
  • You reached one of mommy’s absolute favorite milestones – finding your fist!  You can stare at it forever.  So far, you are only aware that you have a right fist.  Just you wait until you discover you have TWO of those things!
  • You celebrated your first Easter and Grandma gave you your first Easter basket (mommy didn’t even do that!).
  • Zeek is such a good caretaker of you.  He is extremely helpful to mommy when I am taking care of Asher or just can’t get to you right away.  He will rock you and give you your binky and tell you, “it’s ok El, you’re ok.  Zeeky’s here, Asher’s here, mommy’s here.”  You are so lucky to have TWO such sweet bro’s!!

Happy 2 months baby girl!  Can’t believe it’s already been that long, you sweet BRINGER OF JOY!  Love you.

A Year of Dates {March}

Say WHAT?!  Yep, we have reinstated our Year of Dates book!  (The first date we went on and a little history behind the date book.) If you remember where we left off, Skyler had made the Year of Dates book.  We were doing great with the dates until got into late summer and I was pregnant and sick through 17 weeks!  At that point, we kind of forgot about the date book completely.  While we went on dates here and there still (mostly our dates were looking at houses back then when we were in the home-buying stage!), we didn’t go on any more dates that Skyler had planned – mostly due to the fact that he chose very active dates and, well, that just got harder and harder to do!  :)

This Christmas was supposed to be my turn to re-make the book for him again, but knowing that little baby was supposed to be born end of Jan/beginning of Feb, I decided to postpone giving Skyler the date book until his birthday for March.  :)

So, as of last month, Date Book has been reinstated!  Yahoo!

I knew I had to start the book with a bang ( I swear that pun wasn’t planned.  It just came out.) because March was his birthday and because he probably thought we weren’t doing the Year of Dates anymore since I bi-passed giving it to him for Christmas and never made any mention of it. 

I decided to go all out Skyler Date and devote a day entirely to what he would want to do.  So this was the date invitation that he pulled out of the date book:

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First up, Jimmy Johns!  I actually worked this detail in last minute because we had just gotten something in the mail the day before that said Jimmy Johns sandwiches would only be $1 between 1-3 pm on the 12th (Skyler’s birthday, and when we went on this date).  Since Jimmy Johns is his favorite place to grab a quick bite, I knew I had to squeeze this in too…  Especially for only $1.  :)

We grabbed our freaky fast food and ate our sandwiches on the way to Cabela’s in Tualatin (45-60 min drive from our house).

I promised myself that I would wander around in Cabela’s with Skyler for as long as he wanted and without complaint!  He gleefully checked out the long bows and tested some out, checked out the Glock’s, and we perused the camping section.  We spent about an hour and half in there before heading out the door with new fishing poles for the boys (can’t forget the kids, even on a date!). 

Our next stop was Claim Jumper (also in Tualatin), which is one of Skyler’s favorite places to eat.  He gets the Drunk Chicken every time!  I got some Jamaican chicken dish and while it was delicious, it was a little on the spicy side.  But we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and little miss (who was just over a month old and spent the day with us) just mostly snoozed through dinner.  After we stuffed ourselves (oh yea, we shared a sizzling ice cream plate too!, we headed back to Salem.

We dropped Ellery off back at our home to stay with Grandma & Grandpa while we went to the shooting range, Tritac.

We started off easy with a Glock:

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By the by, Skyler is an awesome shot.  So robbers, beware!  ;)  But between paintball and hunting, I shouldn’t be surprised.  However, I am a horrible shot.  You have nothing to worry about with me.  Skyler kept going, “hey, you shot the head!  Great!”  and I’m all, “yeah, I was aiming for the center ring!”  Whatev.  It was fun.  :)

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Then Skyler wanted to shoot the AK-47.  Hey, whatever Birthday Man wants.  Since the gun was so big and scary, he chose the least scary target.  The carnival one.  Thanks for the compromise, Skyler!  (So much better than choosing the Meth Head or Osama targets!)

 

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Let me just say, that one was freaking intense.  I felt like a total badass, but more like a scary badass that was taking an AK-47 to a carnival… hahaha

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A little video of Skyler shooting:

But all in all – it was super fun.  And heck, we look pretty Mr. & Mrs. Smith Hott, right?!  ;)

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We had to take the targets home to show the boys.  (Another good thing we didn’t get the Meth Head target!)

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YAY for having an easy baby and being back on the Year of Dates bandwagon!  We have our April Date tomorrow night, and I cannot wait for the date and for the pictures that will HAVE to be taken.  :) 

Zeek, Age 4 and Asher, Age 2

A few weeks ago, I finally got my annual birthday photos of the boys.  I am working on hanging photos in our new house and seriously need your guys’ help!  The boys did such a good job taking pictures and I cannot decide which ones I should get large prints of to hang up!  Help a mama out?!  Which ones are your faves?

1)

Zeek 01

2.)Zeek 02

3.)Zeek 03

4.)

Zeek 04

5.)Zeek 05

Zeek 06

Zeek 07

6.)

Asher 10

7.)Asher 11

8.)Asher 09

9.)Asher 08

10.)Asher 07 Asher 06

Can you see him saying “cheese?” in the photo above?! haha

And these ones were just too cute to not share:

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Ok, now you’ve seen them… which ones do I choose for my wall!?

H is for…

H H 2

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8 Weeks

  • Girl, you are smile silly now!  You do it like it’s your day job.  Melts my heart every single time.
  • You had your 8 week check up with Susie this week.  You are 12 oz 3 lbs now and 22 1/2 inches long.  80th percentile for height and 90th for weight. 
  • Also, your daddy tagged you this week. You got your first tat.  Of a beaver.  On your belly.  Daddy didn’t remember that your midwife appt was the next day.  That was fun to explain.  :P
  • You are wearing 3-6 month clothes mostly and many 6 month clothes.  At just under 2 months.  My big lady. :)
  • You don’t have a regular schedule yet, but you still sleep a ton.  You roughly take a morning nap, an afternoon nap and an evening nap.  You are awake for maybe 6 hours a day generally.  You are like your daddy and love sleep!  (THANK YOU!)
  • Your room is coming together!  Almost done and I’m in love with it.  Everyone keeps saying, “you never know, she might not be a girly girl!” and it’s true.  You might not be.  I wasn’t.  But until you can tell me otherwise, your room will be girly girl because I like it.  :)  Plus, it’s so fun to look out my bedroom door and be able to see into your bedroom door and see the pink and frills, and also be able to see into your brothers’ room next door to yours and see the blues, browns, greens and industrial hardiness.  What a fun juxtaposition to see!
  • You still have flaky skin on your eyebrows, but it’s clearing up as is your baby acne.  So nice to see your beautiful skin again!

Good grief, I sure love your grins!

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Love you little lady!

Mom

Easter Celebrations 2015

We started our Easter Celebrations on Saturday with doing one of those big local Easter egg hunts.  We hadn’t ever done one with the kids before and since Skyler was working on Saturday (as he always does), my mom joined with me to contain the troop.

There were so many egg hunts to choose from, but I chose our local favorite farm – Bauman Farms.  This one was set up neat where it ran from 10 am – 2 pm and they released groups of 10-15 kids every 5-10 minutes.   Each kid was able to hunt and collect 12 eggs and then trade them in for prizes.  Between waiting to do the hunt and waiting for prizes, we definitely spent more time waiting in lines than we did for the actual hunt but the boys didn’t seem to mind.  Especially with the lingering smell and promises of fresh apple cider donuts to be enjoyed after the hunt.  :)

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On Easter, we all dressed up and headed to church.  We started going to a new church in August, and after going to a Saturday night church for the last 3 years, it was really refreshing to go to an Easter morning church service again!  Annnnd, I totally failed and didn’t get a single photo of a single one of us dressed up and lookin’ sharp… womp womp.

In the early afternoon, our house filled with family and ones we love.  I had fun hosting Easter (though we were missing both my sister’s family and my brother’s family). 

One of the things Skyler has had to learn about me is that I take hosting seriously.  I’ve learned long ago from my mother that you go the extra mile for your guests (even if it’s “just family”).  You make it pretty.  You make it fancy.  You serve good food and lots of it.

 So fancy I did.

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Ham, pork chops, yams, asparagus, green salad, fruit salad and rolls were all thoroughly enjoyed and once we were stuffed, we crammed in some strawberry pie and strawberry shortcake in all the little tiny crevasses that barely remained.

And all the lovely people we shared a meal with:

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 We didn’t do a regular Easter egg hunt for the boys since Skyler just tore up all the grass in our yard and it’s essentially one gigantic mud pit.  Zeek had great memories of his pirate treasure hunt from last year, so we thought we’d do just a small scavenger hunt leading them to their bags of goodies. 

I don’t like buying my boys a lot of fluff and unnecessary things and I like to use holidays as a time to gift them with new things they need anyways… so instead of Easter baskets, they got Easter backpacks.  Spiderman.  And inside they were filled with new Superman light up shoes (which they’ve barely taken off in the last 24 hours!), Spiderman watches (which Zeek has been begging for a watch since a couple of his older friends got some), with little Spiderman cases to keep their watches in, a couple books each and one candy each.  Oh yeah, and daddy picked out Spiderman fishing poles for them so that they can each have their own pole this summer. :)

Since everything was Spiderman basically, I got three Spiderman head Easter eggs and out a clue in each one of them.  We hid the 3 eggs in the playroom and had them hunt for their clues.  The clues were drawings letting them know that their treasures were down the stairs.

They squealed with glee when they found their Easter bags. 

And this is how Easter ended at our house:  the obligatory post-meal nap.  (At least for these two.)DSC_0041

And this.  (Next year, hold the grass, Grandma.)  :)

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G is for…

G

Some other pictures from this week:

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Sweet cuddles with Grandma.

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You’ve got crazy red eye, but I love it anyway.  :)  Your daddy and his princess.  A word I never thought I’d hear him say.

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Sleeping so sweetly in your new crib!

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Your poop face.

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Your yawn face.  One of my favorites.

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Your chubby smile face!

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Your adorable shoes that Aunt Donna bought for you.  I love them!

7 Weeks

  • You are putting on the chunk, little miss!  Your thighs are fattening up and getting rolls.  Your 0-3 month pants are getting more and more snug and short. 
  • You still throw up nearly every time after you eat.  I’m so over changing both of our outfits 3-4 times a day.  And feeling puke slide down into my bra.  Not the best feeling.  I’m crossing y fingers that you outgrow this soon.
  • You had your first trip to IKEA this week.  Yes, that’s note-worthy.
  • You have the weirdest non-schedule.  You will sleep an ENTIRE day, literally being awake 2 hours max, and then not sleep the next day hardly at all.  Right now it’s like 2 days of sleep, 1 day awake, 2 days asleep, 1 day awake.  Even it up a little, eh?
  • You smile so easily now.  I always forget with each babe how much it melts my heart until it happens again.
  • Your crib is finally painted and assembled and you’ve taken your first naps in it finally! (But still nighttime sleeping with mom and dad).
  • Your room is coming together!  It’s been a slow but sure process and I am loving how it’s turning out.  I want to live in it myself.  You lucky girl!
  • Your big brother Zeek took a bit of getting used to you at first – I think he was a little intimidated by you and scared to hurt you, so he didn’t often want to cuddle you or touch you the first week.  Now he’s full blown, confident big brother.  He’ll help scoop you off the floor and into his lap if you’re fussing or he’ll rock you, shush you and put your binky in your mouth if you’re in the car seat.  He loves you and loves to help take care of you.  The only thing we’ve gotta get him to do is to stop petting the top of your head like a puppy… :)

Before & After {Boys’ Room}

 Well, Baby Girl has been around for 7 weeks now, so maybe it’s time to write about something other than JUST her on this ol’ blog?!  ;)

I’ve been meaning to show you some more progress photos for at least 3 months, since the last time I showed progress photos, it was only 5 days after we had moved… in October.  I supposed now’s as good a time as any to show you more of our house updates.  I’ll start with the room we finished first: the boys’ room.  We made extra effort to make the boys’ room finished first so that they would more quickly feel settled in our new space.  Thankfully, we had recently redone the boys’ room at the old house and it wasn’t hard to put the room together once it was actually all painted and ready for furniture.

Just a reminder of the ugly before’s:

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I wish you could fully see how yucky this room was.  The paint was a disgusting shade of green which, like all the rest of the paint in the house, was a shiny glossy finish which gave it a vintage feel (and not in a good way) and made me feel greasy just walking in there.  The paint didn’t stop at the walls and was the same color all across the ceiling too.  The fan, short and stubby, had about an inch of dust build up on it and all of the wood trim had evidence of past poor paint jobs with paint sloshed all along the trim by accident.  The 3/4″ round trim had been removed from this room, leaving weird gaps in the wood floor that was supposed to butt up to the trim.  The (probably original) textured walls had been patched and repaired so many times that the orange peel texture was actually mostly flat.  The whole room (ok, the whole house) was a mess.

Here’s some of the work in progress:

Gaps where the 3/4″ round trim should’ve been.

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Replacing the trim:

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Finally painting the trim after lots of prep work (sanding is my least favorite thing ever):

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My details man.  He may be slow (perfectionist!), but he does darn good work!  You can also sort of see the 2’x3′ ceiling area above the window that Skyler had to try his hand at re-texturing.  It was glaringly obvious before.  And obvious that the previous owner of the house was not all that handy or perfectionist and did a lot of sub-par work.  OUr motto for the house quickly became, “Well… that wasn’t done quite right…” Skyler did an awesome job and really made the spot hard to notice.  You have to know what you’re looking for to even be able to tell now.  Yay for my first time homeowner DIY fixer-upper husband!  So proud of him and his hard work.  :)

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Yup – even the closets needed a total patch/repaint job.  The closets were horrid.  We removed the closet doors, took out the junky/hodge-podge shelving, patched holes, and repainted the walls, shelving, rod and ceiling.  Oh, and put some new and sturdy shelving brackets in there.

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We also gave the floors a new coat of polyurethane before we moved in.

And here are the “After’s”! (or at least, the “for now’s”… we do have a few more things to do to finish…. Like figuring out what to do about closet doors!!  I hated the bi-pass doors we removed because I want full access to the closets.  I really want just real doors that open up, but the closet opening is 2 inches smaller than the smallest door option… I think we’ve finally settled on doing it anyway and just shaving an inch off of each door… even though the “open closet” thing is fairly popular now, I just can’t do it.  I don’t like seeing all the stuff.)

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Their bedding is the Charlie Quilt Set from Target.  These have held up beautifully and make me think they should’ve come from PB Kids.  They have been washed and well loved and they still look bright and beautiful.  I love that they look quilted verses the standard comforter look. 

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The ruler growth chart has been hung (since I took these photos before baby girl was born!).  I found the little metal blue stool while out in Aurora at antique stores with my mom after an appointment with my midwife several months ago.  I loved the chippy, rustic feel of it and picked it up for $10.  This stool has been well loved and used since then!  Zeek uses it every day to get clothes out of his dresser and both boys now will run and grab it so they can stand tall and watch whenever I am changing Ellery.  :) 

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The bookshelf previously lived right inside our entry door at our old house, but after a few years of keys dropped on the top, it was in poor shape and needed a new paint job.  The boys’ room seemed a more fitting place for it since their book collection is ever growing.  I wanted a little more color in their room and chose to match the bright blue color in their quilts. 

Before:

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Pretty grungy and dinged up!  Especially with a move also.

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I had liked the effect of having wallpaper on the back of it the first time I redid this bookshelf.  I had this fun woodgrain contact paper and decided to go with it.  What’s more rustic than woodgrain, right?!

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I love the picture frame, which I got for only like .70 cents at Jo-Ann’s because somehow it flew under the radar and was like last-last-season’s decor when I purchased it.  I loved the blues & greens and rustic wood feel of it.   This picture frame is what inspired the entire room!

The little oil lamp was a gift from Grandma and it’s the coolest thing!  It’s a little nightlight but it emits just the tiniest amount of light.  Just looks like a little flame inside.

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This rhino head is one of my favorite things in their room.  However, he looks a little lonely up there and I would like to add a few more things up there with him.

The rug was an Ikea find.  I was hoping for something grey or brown, and Zeek chose this one because of his ability to use the rug lines as road ways for his hot wheels.  Was a solid argument and we took the rug home.  :)  It has held up well over the last several months, but it does show any and all specks of dirt so it gets a vacuuming nearly every day.  Oh well.

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I’m also rather fond of this little white rhino!  I scored this one and the white elephant on the book case for $15 each at Ross last year. 

 

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I had the most fun choosing new lights for this house!  I hate the ever present “boob lights” that are standard in homes and wanted to explore other options.  I was going for a more manly – rustic – industrial feel in the boys’ room and I fell in love with this light fixture from Home Depot, which was actually an outdoor light.  I love the way it looks in their room and it lights up the room well.

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We also hung new doors and got new door hardware for each room.  These are only primed, straight-from-the-store and that is one more thing we need to do to finish up – put a couple coats of trim paint on the doors!  But at least they’re (mostly) white for now and it isn’t horribly offensive until we are able to paint the doors.  :)

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Behind the door are their hooks for hanging their bath towels.

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Of course, I had to bring the boys’ light switch plate from the old house over here too.  (And yes, we truly need to change out the light switches themselves because they’re old and a little crusty, but … another day.)  :)

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We even changed out the heater vents in each room because the old ones were all dented and dingy.

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 There are always a few last touches I have in mind to add to a room.. but we’ll see if they happen!  For now, this is the most complete space in our home and I’m glad to mostly cross it off the list!

And one more picture for good measure.  :)

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More progress photos of the rest of the house to come!  (I promise.)

F is for…

omg.  I cannot even handle how cute these ones turned out!  Picture-happy-mama warning!

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This is your life:

DSC_0501 Everybody asks how your big brothers are with you.  Here’s a prime example:

Last week, Grandpa and I took the boys to a builders workshop for kids where we all built cool wooden monster trucks and baby girl – you did what you do best:

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6 Weeks

  • We picked up a couple of sound machines (one for your room and one for the boys’ room) and they are AWESOME!  You love it!  Definitely helps drown out the boys’ squabbling and bickering.  I mean, their happy, joyful, playing together sounds. 
  • You still hate wet diapers, (and I feel like I change you ever 20 minutes sometimes, because you can’t stand sitting in a wet diaper) but you at least stopped screaming when you are getting your diaper changed.  You seem to understand it means a good thing now and you are so happy to lay on your changing table and get a clean diaper on.
  • You are looking like a balding old man.  But in reverse.  You have TONS of hair on top of your head and none around the sides.
  • You’ve also had eye goop from a cold this week and and boogers.  You’re kind of just a hot mess girlfriend.  Not your most flattering week.  ;)
  • You still “spit up” like you’re puking your guts out.  I don’t understand how you’re getting chunky when it seems nothing stays down!
  • You also get hiccups every single time after you eat.
  • You have truly been such a joy to our whole family and I love how you have just made our family so well rounded. 

Love you, sweet thing!

E is for…

E

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Starting to smile, but haven’t quite captured it on film yet!DSC_0428 - edited

1 month photo that I forgot to post last time!1 month

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You still go cross-eyed a lot!  It makes us laugh.

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5 Weeks

  • Everyone who sees you (even if they saw you just last week) have been telling me that you hit a growth spurt and look so much bigger this week.  It’s true.  You look gigantic.
  • You are having less blow-out’s, thank you very much for that!
  • You still are the spit-up queen though, and you and I both go through at least 2 changes of clothes a day.
  • Your hair is starting to fall out.  :(  Your changing pad was coated in hair.  You’re starting to look like a balding man.  Sad.
  • You’re still battling a cold and your eye has been goopy this week.  That, plus baby acne, plus the balding situation… can’t say it’s been your most glamorous week, baby girl.
  • You live in your car seat still.  You love that thing.  Like your own cozy little space that your brothers can’t squeeze in next to you in.
  • You are an amazing sleeper, and I have your daddy to thank for that.  We joke that later in life, your early-rising brothers and I will go out for breakfast, and you and daddy will join us for lunch.  ;)
  • You have been pretty much sleeping all day (with a couple 30-45 minute wake periods) until about 4-6 pm.  It’s nuts.  And you still sleep at night.
  • You were given a Sleepy Giraffe by a friend and it’s the best thing ever – even though it looks a bit silly since it’s as big as you are.  It makes white noise and has been great to take when we go out.  People look at us like we’re silly giving you such a big giraffe though – like you “need” it or something – without them realizing it’s a noise machine. 

You know what we almost did for E??  We thought it would be really funny to take a series of photos of you in these goofy glasses with eyeballs that Grandma had and do E is for eyes… and I took a bunch…. and you looked creepy as all get-out.  I just couldn’t make that your “E” photo.  Couldn’t do that to you.  So eggs it was. :)  But clearly, I’m not above posting those pictures on the world wide web still…

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You’re welcome.

Love, Mom

Ellery June’s Birth Story

This post has sat for just over 2 weeks now in my “drafts” folder, with nothing more than the title written… Unlike my other two birth stories, I just haven’t known really where and how to start this one… but girlfriend turned 1 month old yesterday so I’d better just sit down and write SOMETHING before I forget everything and have nothing to write.  This will likely be fairly scattered as I tell the story… bear with me.  :)  Also, this birth story is MUCH less about blood and poop as my last two stories.  This one is much more about the emotional journey through labor, instead of the physical journey.

To those friends who have seen me in person and have asked how long my labor was this time around, I have been telling them “it took about 2 and 1/2 weeks, and 3 hours.”  For both of the boys’ labors, once contractions started, there was pretty much no going back.  No false contractions or labor starts and stops (though I had many more “leading up to labor contractions with Asher”.)  So untrue this time around. 

I felt like a first time mom again.  “What are they supposed to feel like?!  Is this it?  Maybe.” 

Monday, January 19th was the first night of my two and half week long labor.  :)  The boys’ Auntie Angela texted me earlier in the day and asked if she could take the boys out for a date that night.  I was already not feeling super hot by mid-day and told her that would be awesome of her!  Skyler was also gone that evening, so I sat alone on my couch in the silence of my house wondering, “is it labor time baby?” I had fairly consistent (though mild) contractions about 15 min apart for 2-3 hours but was overall feeling a little out of it and loopy.  By the time Angela brought the boys home, I was really feeling awful.  My mind and eyes could hardly focus on any one thing.  She helped me get the boys to bed and sat in the living room chatting with me until Skyler got home around 10 pm.  He took two steps in from the front door, looked at me and asked, “are we having a baby tonight?!  You have ‘pregnant eyes’!  I’ve only seen those twice before.”  We said goodnight to Angela and went to bed, just in case.

Morning rolled around and I had a quiet and calm uterus again.  No action.  For a few days.

About every 3rd day for the following 2 weeks were the same.  We’d call my mom and/or dad up to stay the night at our house, or the boys would get sent to their house for the night because “I think it might be tonight!”  …

It was a challenge for me mentally because I anticipated a quick labor (I was my mother’s 3rd child and was an hour and half, and so far I have fairly closely followed suit with her labors).  I had to calculate time for my mom to drive up to our house (25 minutes), for Skyler to get home from the hospital and shower if he was working when I went into labor, and for the 35-40 minute drive to the birth center in Aurora.  (Which, if you’re calculating, that’s pushing the hour and half mark pretty easily).  To say I was nervous of timing is an understatement.  It was one of my biggest anxieties for this labor.  I’ve had a few friends give car or accidental home births, and while I can appreciate a planned home birth, I was not prepared for it this time around nor did I want a van baby! haha

Every night that contractions would start up, I would walk up and down and all around the hills of our neighborhood.  Sometimes for a couple hours.  Those nights, leaving the boys soundly sleeping with my mom watching over them, strolling (ok, waddling) the streets hand in hand with Skyler in the chilly dark nights are some of my favorite moments of this pregnancy.  We talked life and counted those moments as our “mini dates”.  We talked names.  Baby was due any minute and we had no names set before us.

I had an inkling that baby was a girl based on how different this pregnancy felt (and how silly of me to think that Asher’s pregnancy felt “so different” than Ezekiel’s.  Mild differences, really.  THIS pregnancy felt different.).  I was so much more sick, baby was held soooo low, I didn’t have heartburn but a handful of times, I wanted all of the chocolate, brownies and cookies that ever existed in the world.  My mind couldn’t even barely wrap around the concept of picking out a boys’ name.  All I could think of were girls’ names.

With each pregnancy, I have asked God to give me the name of my baby.  To guide me in what his/her name should be.  I wanted the name to reflect each baby, have the name meaning be meant for them and not just choose a name that sounded nice.  With both of the boys, I had the name by week 20ish.  I was settled, knowing that would be their name if they were boys.  With both pregnancies, if it were a girl, we would have named her Ellery.

This time though, I wasn’t set on Ellery.  I didn’t want to use the name as a default, just because it had been our back up name for the past 5 years.  I wanted to name this baby what God wanted her to be named.  And I prayed, and prayed.  And quite literally begged God to give me her name, because good grief God, don’t you know I’m 39 weeks pregnant now and STILL you haven’t given me her name?? 

Skyler, from the beginning, still would always go back to, “I’ve always liked Ellery.”  He liked the other girl names I suggested, but Ellery was his clear favorite.

Eventually, I grew tired of even talking about girl name ideas.  In the last two weeks before baby, my mom and best friend were being oh so helpful in always texting me, messaging me or calling me with name suggestions.  :)  But nothing seemed right.  Again, I wanted to know it was to be her name, and not just find a nice name. 

With the inconsistent-consistent contractions, anxieties about timing and anxieties following Asher’s birth complications, I was done and tired and so incredibly uncomfortable.  Those last two weeks were about the most miserable time of my life.  I never got to that stage of “just wanting to be done” with the boys.  This time was so different.  I was so ready to be done, yet not.  I wasn’t really mentally ready for birth.  I had thoughts racing through my mind of Asher’s birth and the fears that we had that Asher had died in labor.  Even anxieties about having another colicky baby, another baby who screamed alllllll day and wouldn’t nap.  A baby that totally disrupted our family life and made us all crazy.  I feared a repeat.  I was so not ready to re-live that all again. 

While I wanted my baby, I didn’t want labor and the after pains.  I didn’t want complications.  I didn’t want a screaming baby again.  I know my anxieties and fears kept my labor from progressing and ever really starting.  As hard as I tried to get to the mental place of being ready and wanting another labor, birth and baby, I just couldn’t get there.

About the 25th of January, I was feeling quite discouraged and miserable (and was incredibly grumpy).  I remembered a necklace my sister had given me a couple Christmases ago:

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Find Joy in the Journey

I felt that I needed to put this necklace on and not take it off until after baby was born.  I knew that I needed this daily reminder.  Find Joy in the Journey.  Not just the end result, but in the journey too.  It was a daily struggle to be finding joy in that uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden phase, but I tried.

On January 26th, I had a midwife appointment.  I told them of my anxieties, my fears, my discomfort.  Susie (my midwife) checked me and I was at a 3 cm.  That was the first instance that I started to get excited about birth.  I was starting to feel pretty good about the impending due date on the 31st.  “I’m totally going to have 3 January babies,” I thought.  “How fun!”

One of my bff’s, Jacki, took me out to frozen yogurt on my birthday, the 28th.  She bought me chocolate froyo with all the treats on top that I could have wanted AND let me sit and whine to her about my state of uncomfortableness and ask for prayers for my anxieties and fears.  (If you don’t have a bff like that, go get yourself one.)  It felt good to just vent (and eat chocolate!) in the company of one of my best girls.  Therapeutic.

Later that week on one of my neighborhood night walks, I mindlessly played with the necklace.  I was reminded that the name Ellery means “Bringer of Joy”.  In an instant, I knew that this was to be our little girl’s name, if baby was indeed a girl.  Find JOY in the Journey.  Ellery.  Bringer of Joy.  I finally felt peace about the name and didn’t feel like it was just our backup plan.

My mental stability and patience were running dry as January 31st came and went.

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On February 2nd, my mom had had the boys stay the night with her and so I kidlessly headed to my MOPS group.  I wasn’t sure I would show up that week, but when I woke up in the quiet house that morning, I felt the need to have some more girl time.  I knew it was risky showing up to a group of moms (some with brand new babes!) in the fragile emotional state I was in.  Friends gushed to me at how they were so glad I showed up and was there that morning.  The waterworks started and I had a good cry fest that morning about how badly I wanted to be un-pregnant, yet… how unready I felt mentally.  Another best friend of mine, Claire (who had a brand new babe exactly 1 month old) invited me out to my favorite restaurant French Press with her and her sweet girl Ivory after MOPS.  I had no other plans and no children to take care of, so I eagerly said yes.  We sat and enjoyed some girl time and I snuggled her baby girl atop of my bump, while feeling and enjoying the soft kicks from inside by belly.  Again, therapeudic.  Snuggling that sweet baby girl was exactly what my mama heart needed.  I could feel myself start to feel more prepared mentally and ready for the birth as my arms and heart started to remember what it felt like to hold a newborn baby.

A week and a half after my last, I showed up to the midwife appointment (on Weds. February 4th) that I thought SURELY I would not be attending without babe in arms, and I tried to put on a happy face.  I was nearly convinced baby would be taking up residence inside me permanently, since I wasn’t so sure I would ever fully mentally feel ready for the labor process again.  Susie checked me again and I was 90% effaced and at a 5 cm!  WHAT?!  Ok.  Birth was a’coming, ready or not. 

Driving home again, I called up my other best girlfriend, Jessica.  “Let’s get Thai food tonight!  I need Thai and I need to spend time with you!”  She willingly accepted my invite and a couple hours later, we were sitting down to some delicious Thai dinner.  We had a great time just chatting mindlessly and enjoying each others’ company.  At the end of our time together, I smiled and told her, “you know, maybe I just needed to have one last date with all three of my best girls before this baby came!”  I started the drive home with my heart full and happy and as ready as I had ever felt to finally give birth.  In less than 10 minutes of my 40 minute drive home, my uterus that had been still for the past few days suddenly jumped into gear and I had consistent contractions 8 minutes apart for the remainder of the drive home.  When I pulled up at home at 8:30, I called my mom to let her know that (again) I was having consistent contractions and just as a heads up.

Contractions stopped around 9:30 and I decided to head to bed, discouraged again.  At 10 pm, my mom called and told me she would feel better about coming up to my house right then instead of a middle of the night phone call to rush up there, just in case.  I sighed, didn’t think it would *truly* happen that night, but gave in to make her feel better.  “Okay, I’ll go unlock the door and you can come up, but I’m going to bed.” 

4:30, I woke up with one very strong contraction.  I laid in bed and timed for 1/2 hour.  At 5 am, I looked over my timing records and watched the contractions (55-60 sec long) drop from 6 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart in that half hour.  I called Susie and she said to head to the birth center. 

I woke up Skyler and as he threw the last minute items in our van, I brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, grabbed a cheese stick for the road and woke up mom to tell her we were heading out.  She gave me a kiss and told me she loved me and we left our sweet sleeping boys who were unaware that baby was finally ready to come!

Though contractions were down to a minute and a half apart as we left the house about 5:15, the drive up to the birth center was calm and wonderful.  The night was still and the stars shone bright.  We had some light conversation between contractions and we made it to the birth center by 6 am. 

The sun was just starting to lighten the sky.  Susie and her two apprentices were there awaiting us with candles lit and the tub full of warm water.  I sat on a chair in the birth room for about 20 minutes while they used the doppler to monitor baby, check my pulse and heart rate and ask me how I was doing.  Contractions were still quick and steady, but weren’t overwhelming.  I would just quiet down and close my eyes every time a contraction came. 

At about 6:20, I climbed into the birth tub.  I mostly quietly labored through contractions for the next half hour.  Finally, contractions really picked up and I got to the place of having to moan through each one.  I knew pushing would be just around the corner, since I don’t ever get to the place of moaning through contractions until just before pushing.  Within a few minutes, I was needing to push.  I had two big pushing contractions where I just laid my head down on my arms, held Skyler’s hands and gave two big pushes without so much as a peep.

I’m not sure which of Susie’s apprentices grabbed my camera and took some photos. While the quality isn’t there, the moment is and for that I am forever thankful.

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I love the smile on Susie’s face on this one.  She sure pours her heart into women and births and you can tell she just loves what she does. 

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I remember thinking, “oh wow.  I wonder if this birth will be one of those quiet, calm births you hear about!”  With the boys, I “roared like a lion” – more of a deep gutteral yelling.  I could totally get on board with one of those quiet “zen” births!

And then.  Then it happened.  I got one pushing contraction after another and without a moment to realize what was happening, I started screaming.  Or, as Skyler would put it, “blood-curdling screaming”.  I have been calling it my “girlfriends on a roller coaster” scream. 

As soon as I let it out I thought, “oh no.  Skyler’s gotta be hating this.  (He has super sensitive ears).  I’ll try to do more of the lion-roar for his sake.”   The next contraction, I started low…  Which lasted all of about 2 seconds before going right back where it was at the roller coaster scream pitch.  There wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it.

I later learned that Skyler was literally scared for my life because he had never heard me scream in that way.  If you get the chance, ask him about it – his prospective on it is quite humorous.  Things he has said about it: “I thought you were ripping open from the inside.” … “I was about to turn around and look for a man that must have been standing behind me with a big knife.”  “I thought the midwife was going to tell me, ‘look, here’s your baby!!! … and your wife is dead.'”

15 minutes of screaming and pushing, and out popped (in what was the easiest delivery yet – despite my “death screams” ;)) a bright eyed babe at 7:25 am on February 5th.  Baby was handed to me and I sat back in the tub to catch my breath and admire all the wrinkly fingers and toes. 

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Soo blurry, but oh, I love this one.

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Baby was covered in a pink blanket to keep warm and after about 10 minutes, I turned to Skyler, smiled and said, “well, shall we see if it’s a boy or girl?!”  A quick check confirmed what I had felt in my heart – a sweet baby girl.  A girl all of my own.

“Ellery,” we said.  “Her name is Ellery.”  A middle name was not yet decided, but we knew we had Ellery. 

I got cleaned up and helped out of the tub and over to the bed.  We climbed in for a snugglefest with the newest Anderson.  I was so thankful to have had just a very small tear this time and not needed any stitches, unlike the last two times.

We called the boys and my mom to let them know that Baby Girl was born and then we enjoyed a hearty and wonderful breakfast and admiring our little sweetheart for a few hours before the boys were brought up to meet their sister.

Ellery had let go of a huge poop just moments after birth (on daddy, HA!), and so when my midwife weighed her shortly after, she weighed in at 8 lb 7 oz, but Susie added a few ounces back to her weight to account for the poop – so her “official” birth weight is 8 lb 10 oz.  :)  An even 20 inches long.  And a 13.5″ head.

Blurry phone photos:

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While we ate breakfast, we talked middle name.  I had a number of names I liked, but couldn’t decide.  I looked at Skyler and told him, “ok daddy.  This is your decision.  You choose the middle name.”  And daddy decided on June.  I love the name June and actually was really considering it for a first name, but never fully felt that it was right.  But Ellery June.  I love it.  June is my mother’s first name, as well as the month we learned we were pregnant with her. 

Family came to visit, and suddenly, our lives were taken over with PINK!

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Skyler and I were able to enjoy 2 and 1/2 lovely days at the birth center being completely cared for, amazing meals made for us and had some quiet snuggle time with our little girl and some serious Netflix marathons while the boys were cared for by my parents.

I had (easily) the best recovery after this birth than after the first two and a much easier transition from 2-3 kids than from 1-2.  Being a mom of 3 has been such a joy!  As my friend who had her 3rd baby told me a few months back, “It’s so much easier to be a mom of 3 kids, than 2 kids and a huge belly!”  :)

LOVE my family of 5 and the quick jump into the vast world of pink!