Saturday, March 28, 2015

Richly Blessed

 Yesterday it occurred to me, as it does every spring, that 9 years ago Cameron and I were dating each other seriously and having conversations about future plans that included both of us. How thankful I am for a courtship that was blessed with ease in understanding our feelings for each other and realizing within a very short time of knowing each other that we both wanted to be together forever.

Now I look at my 3 children and when I think of meeting Cameron I am in awe that we now have 3 beautiful, amazing, talented, different children that I have the opportunity of spending my days with. I am thankful for each one of them in so many ways. Elliot, I am thankful for his beautiful face and his happy and jovial personality. His ease to forgive and forget and love unconditionally. Owen, I am thankful for his seriousness and wisdom way beyond his years, and his adorable laughter. I am thankful that he cares so much about every aspect of his life within our family. Evan, I am thankful for his baby-ness. How cute he looks when he drinks a bottle or sucks on a binky or crawls in a madly quick pace across the house. Each child is so different from the other but together we make quite a team.
Just a few months away from meeting Cameron.
Being a single adult was a rough patch of life for me. 
When our family was made of only a husband and wife!

First we added Owen. He taught me, and is still teaching, what being a mother was all about!

Sometimes I feel like Owen is really an adult stuck in the body of a child!

2 1/2 years later came our happy one, Elliot.  He taught me, and is still teaching, the craziness behind multiple children!

I love Elliot's beautiful face. 
And here is our sweet little Evan Bevan. (Bevan is not his middle name, by the way! We happen to come up with funny nicknames for our kids) Evan teaches me what having 3 kids is all about. And it's the best thing in the world and maybe a little crazy sometimes!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Baby. Beach. Dollar Tree Erasers.

Soon, he will be one.

My mother heart is sad to think of this. The first 7 months were incredibly hard. RSV. FTT. Issues with reflux and weight gain and bottle drinking. But once we figured all of the issues out, things got really good around here. He is just the cutest little boy. I just love him so much.

Saturday was so perfect for our family. I think it was perfect because we had a few weekends of traveling and craziness, and it felt so good to be together again in our own town. We started a tradition last year, and we continued it this year. We went to the cutest little pumpkin patch in Madrid for the second year in a row. It is small and quiet and peaceful. It is the perfect country setting.  After picking out our pumpkins, we picked up a pizza in Polk City at our favorite pizzeria and headed down to the shores of Saylorville Lake. We ate the pizza straight out of the box and the boys threw rocks in the lake. It was so perfect. It was so fun. 

I had some heartburn last year over the fact that Evan was in our family and didn't yet have a stocking. Well, I finally fixed that problem! The first 4 stockings (E,C,H,O) were made all at the same time, which made it easy because the first one was more like a trial run and by the last one I had all the kinks worked out. I wrote down the pattern but, since it had been 2 years since making these stockings,  I found myself puzzled by some of the details. Even though it took a little longer than it did making the stockings in the past I am impressed with myself that I was able to duplicate it as well as I did (it is the red "E" stocking on the far right). Also, our stockings used to spell ECHO. I like this because my favorite Christmas song uses the word Echo. Now we really can't make a word out of this. I suppose if we had another child, it would have to start with a "T" so we could spell out "Cheeto." Or, 2 more kids to start with an "R" and an "I" to spell "Cheerio." OK, this is my OCD speaking.  And obviously these thoughts are totally foolish. Time to quiet that down. 

I changed my magnet board and printed pictures off my computer from past halloweens. I made magnets out of Dollar Tree erasers. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Life as it was then and life as it is now

Can you tell which of the above photos is Owen? Which one is Evan? (OK if you have seen the interior of my house then you will be able to tell..but they are practically twins!)

 Now that it is September and I have pulled out all of Owen's old clothes for Evan I can't help but reflect on our time in State College when Owen was the age that Evan is now. How simple life was! One small car to get around in (that we finally sold a few months ago!). Incredibly long winter breaks. Spring break. A small townhouse that was easy to clean. No craft room--just pulling out the card table in the living room when I wanted to sew or scrapbook (you know, during the two times a day my baby would nap!). Walks on the beautiful woodsy paths throughout State College. No garage! No bikes or bike trailer! Just our legs and a jogging stroller. No mowing. No snow removal. No mortgage! Four hour road trips to New Jersey, New York City, Hershey, Washington DC, Harrisburg, cute little Amish farms and markets. No food storage since we didn't have room for it anyway. Only what could fit in our cupboards (no pantry). A mother staying home with her new baby. Trips to the mall with him just to walk around! 
Life was grand and I miss that life. But oh how I love my life now. I love it so very much! I love my children--all THREE of them! I love our routine. I love making a bottle for Evan. I love things as simple as hot gluing magnets to the back of autumn-colored felt flowers for my magnet board. I love the smell of muffins baking! I love bike rides on a chilly September morning! I love driving Owen to school every morning. I love listening to the "Frozen" soundtrack in the car and seeing my 3 year old grin ear-to-ear when he hears Track Number 3 (Do You Want to Build a Snowman?) I love hearing the roar of my husband's engine as he pulls into the garage after a long, 11 hour work day. I love saying goodbye to him and his freshly-shaven face every morning. Oh how good this life is! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

After-school routines

To all of you experienced mother folk out there, what are your after-school routines? My oldest is starting school this week, and I want to give him relaxation/play/snack, etc. but I am not sure what order is best.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Summer-it's not over yet. A part of me is ready to get back into the school routine but the other part of me says let's just chill.
But chill? There has hardly been a chance.
 Swim lessons Monday thru Friday. For weeks on end!
 Bottle feeding I love it 
 Did I mention swim lessons?
 Drinking from the "water mountain" at the park 
 Someone's showing off!
 This summer has been incredible weather-wise. I have never experienced such a cool summer. Ever. 
 My kids learned to husk corn! 
 Evan finally got big enough to sport his "sport clothes"
 Elliot invented an ambulance!
 He's a bit stubborn to take a nap in his bed so once in a blue moon, this happens. 
 I watched all 3 Jaws movies. It was SO fun. 
 We've had a great summer playing with neighbors! (and hanging out in their driveway when they are on vacation! haha!)
 Having a great conversation about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
 I dub this one Elliot's "sprinkler face"
 The weather has been SO cool that we've had picnics at the the middle of the JULY!
 Owen's first time to go all the way across on the monkey bars!
 Now that this kid is gaining weight he is SOOOOO happy!
 He gets to suck on beef jerky!
 Elliot had a sick day. He requested we watch Frozen, which he got for his birthday last month. After watching it the first time he said, "watch 'Let it Go' again, mama"
 I hate it when my kids are sick because I hate for them to suffer in any way but I do cherish the moments of laying on the couch together and taking naps or chilling in the doctor's office while he sleeps in my arms.
I keep telling myself to let Owen do more grown-up things, like push the stroller. It's hard to believe that 5 years ago HE was the one being pushed in the stroller!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Date Night

Gravel road and tall, green corn stalks
This was our date tonight.

Skinny rubber tires treading through white dirt and little rocks.

Pink and purple sun setting on a hazy blue sky.

Golden-lit fireflies dancing in the corn fields.

Cellular tower in the distance blinking white dots like a string of Christmas lights.

Iowa rows of corn line the horizon like Utah mountains.

Farm houses lit up inside at the end of a long day's work.

American flag waving against the backdrop of the Heartland.

Two bikes side-by-side and sometimes single file.

A girl and boy basking in the freedom of their own sets of skinny black wheels.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Feeding Difficulties

The past several weeks around here have been wrought with feeding difficulties. Evan nurses just fine  but I have been feeling like he hasn't been getting enough milk. He is not satisfied after feedings. It is very hard for my body to make enough milk to feed him twice in a row. Even with continued sucking he wasn't getting anything more than what my body was making for him.
At his 7 month appointment he was in the 1 percentile for weight and height. That had dropped from being in the 4th percentile for height 2 months previously. He had only gained 1 pound in 8 weeks. It seemed, too, like he had been wearing most of the same outfits since March. Based on past experience that is kind of a long time for my babies to wear the same clothes without growing out of them. The good news is he wasn't losing weight but he certainly wasn't gaining as expected. Also, it is probably worth mentioning that his head circumference is in the 71st percentile, which is great. His brain is growing! The doctor also said that his muscle tone is great as well as social cues and interactions and color.
But still. Something was not right.
The doctor referred us to a GI specialist. To give you some background, for the past couple of months I have been trying to give him baby cereal and many flavors of baby food without success. After nursing, when I felt like he didn't have enough milk from me, I would try giving him a bottle. He wouldn't even suck on it.
Yesterday we went to the GI doctor. They didn't recommend this, but I brought him on an empty stomach. They weighed him before AND after his feeding. He had only gained 3 ounces, which means he was only getting 3 ounces of breastmilk. That is NOT enough for a 7 month old baby.
We went through many possibilities of why he has not been gaining weight and the doctor even ran a blood test to check for thyroid, metabolic rate, electrolytes, blood cell count, etc. This all came back normal. My hunch was that this all had to do with him not getting enough milk.  They officially diagnosed him as "Failure to Thrive"--3 words that a mother never wants to hear.
I was advised to hold off on the food for now and focus solely on him getting the milk he needs. Before leaving the hospital (that's where the specialist was located) I met with a lactation consultant who gave me some tips on how to increase my milk supply. She also recommended a specific bottle (since he had rejected the 3 different kinds I had tried giving him at home). She said it can be found at Target or Babies R Us. Well we went to Target and of course it wasn't in stock in the store and could only be purchased online. While in the baby aisle I noticed a mother searching for a bottle and asked her what she was looking for. She found the product she needed, showed me what it was (the Playtex Ventaire), and told me that it was the only bottle her baby would take. On a whim, and maybe out of desperation, I grabbed the same one.
As we were driving home I decided that I wanted to focus my efforts on trying to get Evan to take a bottle. I didn't want to spend time and energy increasing my milk supply because for one, how long was that going to take? A few days at most? Knowing that my baby was FTT I felt the need for him to consume extra calories immediately.
The GI doctor had given me instructions on how to fortify my breast milk (I had about 7 ounces in the freezer). He also gave me instructions on how to fortify formula (basically adding more powder than the can recommends)
What happened next was a miracle.
It took him a minute to get used to but he guzzled that bottle down so fast. Then he nursed both sides. 
He has happily been drinking from both sources since yesterday afternoon. I couldn't be happier. I feel like a new woman. And I am sure he feels extremely content and FULL. 
Once again I am reminded that the Lord has His hands in every aspect of our lives. I think of the tender mercies that the Lord blessed me and Evan with. 

1) Our babysitter was available and was able to watch my 2 oldest boys for 4 hours so I could take Evan to the appointments and the store to find a bottle--it would have been a lot more challenging to do these things with a 3 and 5 year old in tow. Plus, it would have been harder to concentrate on what the GI doctor and lactation consultant had to say. 

2) Initially, I took him to the doctor on an empty stomach because I was afraid we would be late and we could just nurse when we got there. This ended up being a huge blessing. The Lord put it in my mind to think about having him weighed after his feeding so I would know how much breast milk he was getting. 

3) Talking to the lactation consultant convinced me I should go to Target to buy a bottle, even though they didn't have the right one. The mother being in the bottle aisle and recommending a bottle to me. 

4) Remembering to buy formula, because the one from the hospital was several months old and it wouldn't hurt to try something new and fresh. 

5) On the way home I thought about how critical it would be for him to take this bottle and how I really needed to focus my energy on that rather than increasing my supply. What would happen if he didn't? What on earth would I do to help this baby gain weight? 
But my fears were pushed aside as that baby sucked his bottle down like a champ. And he did it at the next feeding. And the next. And the next. 
I am so grateful.