Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If you need something to make your mouth drop open, read on...

Six years ago, on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister called me with exciting news. They had been hoping for a baby for almost a year, and they called to announce that they were indeed expecting a baby. Stephen and I had been married just six months at the time and were completely oblivious to the news we would receive just two weeks later. We were also expecting a baby.
After we let the news soak in for a day or two, I called up my sister. I remember the first thing she asked was, "When did you ovulate?" She is the oldest and was hoping to have the first grandbaby. She did. Gabriel was born on August 3, 2004 followed just three weeks after by little Miss D'arcy on August 25th.

It really was not our intention of stealing Connie's thunder. She took the news graciously, though, and I think we both enjoyed being pregnant at the same time. We had a joint shower where I bested her at drinking two ounces from a bottle. We bought maternity clothes together, painted furniture for the new babies, and even picked out the same car seat and stroller combo.
Soon after D'arcy was born, we moved to Texas and proceeded to grow our little family. Julian was born in October 2006 and Schroeder in March 2009. Meanwhile, despite his Mom and Dad's attempts, Gabe remained an only child. Connie began the difficult and long journey that is infertility.
Obviously, watching someone experience this isn't the same as experiencing it, but along the way, I've learned a couple of things. Not long ago, it occurred to me that through this whole process I have never felt guilt for the ease at which we've been able to conceive. Certainly Connie has never made us feel that way. She has always been happy to have a new niece or nephew, and she even came to see us immediately following Schroeder's birth which I'm sure was emotional. Instead, I've felt a grave responsibility to never take for granted my blessings.
I've also learned to pray diligently for something, and to retain hope and faith despite the immediate reality. Connie began seeing a doctor sometime between Gabe's second and third birthdays. Three doctors, tons and tons of tests, several surgeries, and lots of medication later, Connie eventually began the process of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). I, along with my family, has been praying and hoping this whole time that God would bless them with another baby.
Sometime along the way, I had a dream. Connie and I were once again pregnant at the same time, and in one pregnancy, Connie caught up to me. After our children were born we had the same number of kids. Now, I believe that dreams can be given by God. It happened throughout the Bible. I wasn't sure if this dream should be taken literally or if it was simply given to encourage and spark hope. I shared this dream with several people, but not with Connie because I didn't want to add to her emotional roller coaster. Stephen and I were planning to have a third baby in 2009, and I was sure she would discover that she was pregnant with twins. That didn't happen, though.
Due to doctor changes, Connie was finally able to begin the IVF process in October. She thought it was funny that, once again, she would find out if she was expecting at Thanksgiving. I knew she was taking a home test on Thanksgiving morning. I woke up at 7am my time (8am her's). I thought for sure she would have already woken up and taken the test so the fact that she hadn't called me yet was not a good sign. I waited till 7:30 before I called my mom who said she hadn't heard from her. I texted Connie, but didn't get a response. So finally I decided to make the call. Her husband answered, and I thought, Ok, it was negative and she can't talk. I said, "I guess things aren't great over there."
Jason replies, "I'll let you talk to your sister." He hands the phone to Connie who casually says something that I didn't understand.
Connie says, "Did you hear me?"
I say, "No."
Connie says, "It was positive."
I say, "What the heck...I've been in tears for the last half an hour...why didn't you call!?!"
Anyway, she was pregnant which was great, yet, hard to soak in, news. She felt more confident that this was actually happening once she had a couple of blood tests that showed her hormone levels getting higher, and she felt even more confident once she had her first ultrasound which she had last Monday.
Her doctor had implanted two fertilized embryos. He told her that she had roughly 70% chance of becoming pregnant with one. If she was pregnant with one, she had another 30% chance of being pregnant with two. That was all the odds that Connie had communicated to me. However, I guess the doctor had told her that there was less than a 1% chance that she would become pregnant with triplets. When the doctor said triplets at the ultrasound, my sister waited for him to chuckle and say he was kidding. Infertility doctors don't kid about this stuff, though.
Connie is indeed expecting two identical "co-triplets" and one fraternal "co-triplet". So in one swoop, she was going to have more kids than I did. This isn't a competition, I didn't care, but it was just sort of amazing to think about.
A couple people had said, "Ha ha, now you'll need to catch up.", or, "Melissa, you are not allowed to have a baby next year." Because on top of the triplets, my brother and his wife are waiting to receive their adoption referral and will hopefully have a baby by next August so that's already four new babies by next Christmas.
"Don't worry," I said, "there are no plans whatsoever to have another one." And there weren't. At all. Whatsoever. NO PLANS. But for three or four days in a row I had woken up feeling like I needed to eat ASAP. But I am still nursing Schroeder so I just thought... I bought a test just to put my mind at ease. And low and behold, we are indeed unexpectedly expecting.
Yep! Yes, this is our FOURTh! and yes, we will have our hands FULL! We've always been planning for five kids, but we have successfully put 2 to 2 1/2 years in between the others. I was thinking we might even put three years in between Schroeder and the next one, but that is not to be. They will be something like 16 months apart. Do you think it's possible to potty train Schroeder before the baby comes? :P
So my parents will hopefully have 5 new grandkids come next Christmas! We are all a little overwhelmed and amazed and, of course, overjoyed! Overjoyed is a great place to be at Christmas. Our hope is that you will also have lots of joy this week. Merry Christmas!

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

two ways of enjoying sprinkles
and a piano and a live Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the first day of christmas my true love gave to me...

A piano and a Live Christmas tree!

My goal is to post 12 pictures (aka "The twelve days of Christmas" which Stephen says derives from the time between Christmas and Epiphany which is the that the wise men are said to have shown up) over the next couple of weeks. Before we actually leave for our journey to Indiana, I wanted to share a picture of my kids in front of our cute little LIVE Christmas tree. Schroeder is playing his new piano which was D'arcy's gift to him. She had him in our family drawing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Preparing our hearts, minds, and tummies to celebrate Christ's birth.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Happenings

I'm trying to remember what has prevented me from blogging this month. I've had loads of photography sessions which have probably contributed. I have, however, been storing up little memories this month that are definitely worth sharing.

We hear very regularly how happy Schroeder is. He seems to have a dimpled smile for everyone he meets. He goes easily to anyone, but he knows who we are. Not every stage of childhood is this easy to take joy in, so we are savoring this sweet stage.

He did, finally, get his first tooth (mid-November). I thought it was coming through back in September, but these things take time. I'm the type of mom who has nothing on hand but a little Tylenol to help him through it. Nope, no baby orajel or teething tablets. One might think that's because he's a third child, but I didn't give it to D'arcy either.

He's eating fruits (beginning of November). I'm trying to be more consistent with how often I sit down to feed him veggies and fruit from a jar. It's happening about three times a week at this point. This is probably a third baby thing. I'm already sitting down to nurse him four times a day. He eats it all like a pro, though, and doesn't seem to be picky. Remember, though, that the term "picky" eater doesn't fly in this house. A month, ago, he took to blowing raspberries with his food instead of swallowing. I'm not sure if he wasn't pleased with the taste or if he just thought it was fun. I never looked down at the label, though, to make a connection of what food "he didn't eat" aka "he didn't like". At this point, I'm not giving him the choice of what he eats so why even bother looking.

We are trying to teach him the word "NO" and the sign language motion for "more". No is used when he raspberries his food, and goes for the little speakers under the TV table. "More" would be good to know when he wants more of anything including tortilla which is my replacement for cheerios. Why buy a box of cheerios when I can tear up a tortilla that I already buy for the kids?

Why do we think he could be capable of making the "more" sign? Because our little stroke victim has worked his way up to waving and clapping his hands! This is so stinking adorable.

Last, but not least, Schroeder is pulling himself to standing. I think I mentioned this in a previous blog. He can do it in his crib which is sometimes where I put him when the kids are playing in their room. I can't trust that he won't get trampled if left on the floor, but from his crib he can stand and watch Crazy #1 & #2 play. They like to entertain him by dancing and singing.

I've mentioned previously that parenting Julian is our hardest job at this point. He still makes me smile daily, though. He is very excited for Christmas, and is taking his Fisher Price manger everywhere. He watched Charlie Brown Christmas tonight, and has already remembered his favorite line from last year which he'll say over and over and crack himself up. He loves to sing Christmas songs and Praise songs. When the song "Sing, Sing, Sing" comes on on KLove, he will belt it out. Our kids always have a song to sing which is something I love.

He sleeps with Buzz and Woody right now. Although, the minute he got Buzz, Woody definitely got a slight demotion. I think we've heard, "There is a snake in my boat!" and "To Infinity and Beyond" about a hundred times in the last couple of months. Yes, you read that right "...snake in my BOAT!" He insists that it's boat and not boot.

At the dinner table he always instigates prayer, and loves to do "Cheers". He'll say, "Let's Cheers mom and dad!" Then, he'll grab his glass and want to clink it with everyone else. D'arcy also likes that game very much.

He's all about using the phrase "of course" right now. "Of coarse I will, mom," he'll tell me.

Julian is improving a great deal with the use of a writing utensil. His left hand is getting stronger, and he'll stay around long enough to even color a whole person.

D'arcy spends most of her time dressing up and then crafting. She still loves to draw and sew and weave and paint. Doing such things is the bane of Julian's existence but is the great joy of D'arcy's.

As we approach the end of our stay in Texas, she is preparing to leave her friends. She definitely expresses sadness in having to leave. I know it will be hard for me to deal with their emotions on top of my own. She's asked Stephen if he'll be able to find a new job. We smiled and wondered, has she been talking to our parents?

D'arcy also danced at her first recital on Saturday. She'll have another one in December. This one was on very short notice, but she very much enjoyed herself. Here are a few pics from that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Williams style

I have one green and red storage container that I keep 90% of my Christmas decorations. So, no, we aren't extravagant when it comes to decorating, but there are a few things you will find around our house that help us celebrate the holidays. This is what you need to celebrate the Holidays Williams style.

Fisher Price Manger Set

With lots of little hands around, there is no safe place for a fragile Nativity set. I believe my mom found this last year at the local Christian bookstore. She bought one for her home in Indiana, and I bought one for our church. Before it could get to church, though, the kids had fallen in love with it. Every Sunday, we would tote it back home so we could play with it all week. This year, I invested in another one for our home. Julian is going around telling everyone he got a manger. "A what?" people will ask. He puts all the pieces in his backpack and carries it from room to room. The other night as he was going to sleep he asked that I lay all the pieces down so that they could sleep too.

Nativity Advent Calendar

My mother in law looked diligently for a Jesus' themed advent calendar and found this one which is also great for little hands. My only qualm is that the velcro on the back of the pieces catches the threading of the dates. It's hard to get the kids to stop at just one piece. I've stopped getting upset if the decide to get Jesus out before the 25th.

Godly Play Advent Lessons

I'm the Children's Ministry director at our church. We use the Godly Play curriculum and I have worked their advent lessons into the advent materials our pastors created for their five daughters. We use this at church, and I reinforce it at home. At some point during the week, we'll sit down and reread the lesson, look at the pictures, and light the advent candles at home. We do the last lesson on Christmas morning before we open presents. The picture is something my friend, Joy, (our pastor's daughter) created to help her family celebrate Advent. She generously let me use adopt it for my family.

Sufjan Steven's Christmas Album

I love Christmas music. Stephen isn't a huge fan, but this is an album we can both agree on (at least in December...he still can't understand listening to it in August). It's a five CD set that is eclectic, yet traditional. Check it out.

A Real, Live Christmas Tree

When Stephen and I were dating, I kept insisting that we would always have a live Christmas tree in our future home. It was kind of a running joke. So much so, that Stephen's mom bought me a Christmas Tree stand as a shower gift. The first year we were married, we headed to our local Lowe's store to pick out a tree. We picked a modest $35 one, put the top down on our convertible, and drove it home to our apartment. We had to use our butcher knife to cut the lower branches off in order to get it into the stand. A couple hours and a lot of sap later, we had a live Christmas tree. Keep in mind, that this all happened about a week into finding out I was expecting D'arcy, and by the time Christmas rolled around, I was feeling nauseous. Somehow, the beautiful scent of fresh Christmas trees got associated in my mind with first trimester nausea so for the last five years, we've put up this monster of a fake tree. Well, it's been long enough! We sold our fake one at a garage sale, and next weekend we are off to pick out a modest $35 Christmas tree and put it in our minivan!

Charlie Brown Christmas DVD

Under our christmas tree, instead of presents, you'll probably both our Advent Box, our Fisher Price Manger Set, and a basket full of Christmas books and movies. You may have guessed that we like Peanuts since we have a little Peanut of our own (Schroeder). This is definitely my favorite Christmas special, and the kids love it, too. We have the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Charlie Brown specials, and last year, D'arcy insisted we needed to locate an Easter one to keep the fun going.

Christmas Cards

I've found a creative outlet in creating a special Christmas card each year. I think three years ago, I sent it via email, but am committed to sending it snail mail from now on (barring any future financial crises). Sending Christmas cards, to me, is such a quaint tradition. When creating a card, I try to strike a balance between giving my friends a taste of what we've been up to all year and sending them a message of blessing. This is the picture we used last year. I hope to post this year's Christmas card in December for all of you to see!

Cinnamon Rolls

I can't remember a Christmas that my mom hasn't made these for Christmas morning. Yum, Yum. I still can't believe that when I joined Stephen's family, they thought the perfect Christmas food was crackers, Summer Sausage, Bill Bolt's cheese, and coffee. Add a couple of girls who can bake to the mix, and now we have some real treats on Christmas day.

We are looking forward to once again being "Home" for Christmas. We've never spent Christmas morning in our actual place of residence. Instead, our tradition is to always be in Indiana with our family during the holidays. We are thankful for jobs that have lots of paid vacation and holiday bonuses that help us make that trek every year. Since Santa Claus isn't really part of our holiday experience, the kids don't get anxious about him leaving their gifts in Texas while they're in Indiana. Instead, they rely on the fact that we'll always be with their Grammy & Poppy and Grandma & Grandpa for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kids say the darndest things...

Julian says, "My foot won't walk!" He was suggesting that his foot was asleep.

Julian said, "Mom, I hurt my finger." I say, "On what?" Julian says, "On my hand!"

Schroeder: Climbing

Over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that when I let Schroeder down on the floor instead of crawling away from me he's turning around and crawling up me. At first, I just thought it was because he loved his mama and was getting a little clingy. He does love his mama. (A couple of weeks ago, he was being held by Stephen at a restaurant. We were leaving and I stayed behind to gather our things. When I turned the corner and caught up to the family, Schroeder got this huge smile on his face.) However, loving me wasn't what was making him turn and crawl up on me. He was just excited to climb and pull up and I was the closest solid mass to help him achieve this goal.

Tonight, he pulled himself to standing on the side of Julian's little rocking chair. Julian was eating a little piece of bread, and Schroeder thought it looked good. The kids are getting a big kick out of Schroeder's new achievements. I got down this little car slash push cart from the attic, and they've been having loads of fun putting him on it. He enjoys it as well until he falls off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Recommendation: We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We read a lot of kid books at our house. I really enjoy reading to the kids. I'm pretty animated. I've even tried to use accents (when reading Charlie & Lola) but the kids protested. I usually let the kids pick out their own books, but I have veto power. No, I will not read Wall-E to you. At least not more than once a year. However, some books I enjoy just as much as the kids do.
I first heard the book, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen, at the Library during ABC club. It held my attention. The illustrations are cozy, impressionistic, and beautiful. They alternate between black and white and color. The book, like many children's books, repeats itself. The words are melodic, though, so you can almost sing through them. There's lots of fun sound non-words that make the pictures come alive some of which you just can't help but move to.
Anyway, for those of you reading to kids or are a big kid themselves, check out "We're Going on a Bear Hunt".

Sunday, November 8, 2009


D'arcy is learning to read. She has about 15 sight words that she learned in her first nine weeks, and is now working on being able to spell them. Last night, I used her sight words list to make her a little note. It read,

"I like D'arcy. D'arcy is a good girl. I can read. So can D'arcy."

I, like, is, good, and can are all on her sight word list so she just had to sound out girl and read. I brought it in to her and told her to read it. She immediately told me that she didn't know how to read, but I insisted that she could read this note. She was able to read it pretty quickly, and looked up at me with a big smile. She ran to read it to her dad, read it to herself before she went to bed, and brought it to church in her purse to show everyone how much she has learned.

Our (still) toothless wonder

Nope, no teeth, but I really lovely smile. Technicaly, not the best picture, but I couldn't resist sharing this beautiful face.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Stuff Managment

As I have begun to prepare for a move across the country to Portland, I have come to this conclusion. I don't want to move one single thing that I don't like, need, or want. That combined with the reality that we may very well be living in less than 1000 square feet of space in Oregon, made me take some drastic measures in the area of STUFF MANAGEMENT.

I have a house, three kids, a small business, a dog, and a husband who liked to collect as a child. This means that we had lots of stuff. I was overwhelmed and bogged down by managing it all. I emailed a friend looking for some pointers on how to win this war. She has more kids and lives in fewer square feet than we do so I knew she had to have some sort of method to help her cope. I have to credit her for some of the suggestions I'm about to give to you.

Two garage sales, several trips to goodwill, and lots of craiglist sales later here are some suggestions to win the stuff war.

1. Don't decide what you want to keep first and then where your going to put it. First, decide where you will store something, and then only keep what will fit.

Here's an example. I was keeping ALL of D'arcy's clothes to pass down to a (crossing my fingers) future sister. And they were all so cute, it was really hard to part with them. So I set a goal. Everything I was going to keep had to fit into 3 containers which meant that about half of what I had had to go. This helped me immensely in the sorting process. I eventually made another goal of getting it all down to 1 container!

Here's another example. I went from a toy room to a toy closet. Besides very big items and craft materials, all the kids toys had to fit into our hall closet. I made two or three passes through their toys before I finally achieved this goal.

2. If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.

This applied to the bikes that Stephen and I had as teenagers. We moved them down to Texas, and they had sat in our garage for four years without once being used. Oh, but maybe someday.... If the day ever comes when I really want to ride a bike, I'll go on craigslist (which is where we sold them) and buy one.

3. How many mugs, washcloths, hooded towels, clothes, shoes, and lotions do you really need anyway? Keep your favorites and get rid of the rest.

4. Reign in sentimentality.

I have a duvet cover that I made when Stephen and I got married that we used for the first four years of marriage. Will we ever use it again? Probably not. But it has all the factors for misplaced sentimentality. First, I made it. Second, we used it during a memorable time in our lives. Does this mean I should store it in our linen closet until I die? NO!

5. If you are keeping it in the hopes of one day fixing it...then fix it already or just get rid of it.

This applies to the shelf that I bought at a garage sale at least three years ago that needed screws worth $1.50 in order to hang it. Well, I finally went out and bought those screws!

This also applies to the stack of clothes that needed mending. One shirt had sat in this mending pile for four years. I decided it wasn't worth my time and energy and got rid of it.

Don't be held hostage by your stuff any longer!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Party

To see some of the pictures from our Community Group's Halloween Party click here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Encouragment to the Parents of 3 year olds

I was watching Supernanny the other day, and JoJo said something to the mom in distress that encouraged me. This mom had two sets of twins who had not been disciplined consistently. After a rather lengthy discipline session with one of her boys, the mom was in tears wondering if this kid was ever going to learn to respect and obey her, and ultimately begin to make better choices. This is the jist of what Jo said..."You can gain the obedience and respect of your children because you are a mom who wants to do right by her kids and are thus worthy of respect. But you have to step up and do the work."
As kids grow, they pass through many phases. Schroeder is in the height of cuteness. He's sleeping through the night. He's smiling and he has this dimple that just melts you. D'arcy is in a mature 5 year old stage. She is sweet, responsible, independent, and teachable. I feel like we are reaping the benefits of all of our hard parenting work.
And then there is Julian. Our quiet, thumb sucking, layed back toddler, has officially morphed into a talkative, rambunctious, three year old! I'm not inclined to use the term "terrible-twos". Growing up is hard, and two year olds are just trying to deal with it. It feels mean to label them as terrible. But now I know that, in fact, the term "terrible-twos" is just downright incorrect. Someone told me, "Whoever created that term hadn't met a three year old."
All of this is to say, that, although wonderful, three year olds require parents who wake up ready to do the work. It helps to remember, though, that Julian was once at the height of cuteness and will eventually be a mature 5 year old.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is the Pacifier the culprit?

Schroeder went to his six month checkup a little over a week ago, and my concerns were verified. He hadn't gained any weight since his four month checkup. He had gotten taller, but not chunkier. I had been concerned that he wasn't getting enough during what seemed to be our increasingly shorter nursing sessions. It wouldn't flow fast enough for him and he would, like a normal six month old, get distracted.

I've nursed both D'arcy and Julian to the age of one. One was my goal, and remains my goal with Schroeder. I breastfeed primarily because it's inexpensive and low maintenance. I see these mommies with their well prepared diaper bags full of snacks and bottles filled with water. That looks like it takes a lot of organization! I on the other hand leave the house with a thin, black nursing cover thrown into my purse and a burp cloth in the car seat. If either two don't make it somehow, I improvise. I also know that breastfeeding can alleviate digestive problems such as constipation commonly associated with formula fed babies. They say breastfeeding helps keep babies from getting sick with common colds and such. That seems to be true for my kiddos. They've all been relatively healthy. Schroeder has only had two days of fever in the last six months. But, of course, one can never be certain that my babies wouldn't have been just as healthy formula fed. And certainly, I breastfeed for the bonding experience it presents. By a year, I've been ready to reclaim my body and space, though.

I've never had a problem with production. From day one, I'm pretty strict about my babies only eating every three hours unless it seems to be a "growth spurt" day. On those days, I let the baby eat on demand. I've never really quantified how much I'm producing, but just been satisfied to see that my babies have grown at a steady pace, seem satisfied, and are continually using diapers.

So finding out that Schroeder was not keeping pace in the weight department made me do a little research. Why was my production not keeping up, and what could I do to jump start it? I thought the answer would be in my diet. I thought maybe I wasn't eating enough dairy, or maybe not drinking enough milk. I've been on Weight Watchers, but they have a Nursing Moms program that I even used after D'arcy's birth. And besides, I've only lost about eleven pounds in the last six months.

I went to the La Leche League's website looking for suggestions, and was surprised to discover that nothing was mentioned on the page entitled "How do I Increase my Milk Supply" about the mother's eating habits. Instead, all the suggestions centered around the baby nursing more regularly. And they mentioned that pacifier use may hinder the baby from prompting more frequent nursing sessions. In fact, the La Leche League's website suggests that pacifier use correlates to earlier weaning.

Our other two kids didn't use a pacifier past the first two months, but we have encouraged it with Schroeder as a way to prevent thumb sucking. It seemed like something we could take away at nine months or a year. We haven't found a way to detach Julian's thumb, yet. He loves his pacifier, knows how to pass it back and forth between hands, and will speed across a room to retrieve it. But no doubt, he was spending too much time sucking on that thing and not enough time nursing in order to build up milk production.

So, we've temporarily taken the pacifier away from Schroeder during the day. Well, maybe it will be a permanent switch. And I'm nursing him on command, and whenever he just needs an opportunity to sooth himself. We are supplementing with eight ounces of formula during the day, as well. I'll keep you posted.

I'm still not anti-pacifier. I think they serve a purpose for a short time, but I'm learning you must use them with care so that they don't mask other needs that the baby might be experiencing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Herbal remedies

Herbal supplements are not my expertise, but, through experience, I have found a few that have helped me during pregnancy. Maybe you could benefit from my experience.

Yellow Dock: I was anemic during my first pregnancy. You need more iron when your pregnant so anemia is common. When I was in my third trimester, my OB put me on an iron pill. Iron pills aren't great on your digestive system, and I hated taking them. When I became pregnant with Julian, my pastor, Clara, suggested I take Yellow Dock to help with my iron absorption. My midwife approved and encouraged me to eat lots of high iron food like spinach. Between the herb and topping baked potatoes and pizza with spinach, I never became anemic. Yellow dock promotes regularity, as well, and does wonders for you hair and nails. What a difference from those horrible iron pills!

Evening of Primrose: I've been overdue with three babies. With each one, I'm doing everything I know to get labor going. With Schroeder, my midwife suggested I use Evening of Primrose orally and internally to help ripen my cervix. I only took them after 39 weeks. One never knows whether you would have gone into labor anyway, but lets just say, Schroeder was born after a very short hour long labor! I'm confident this stuff did something.

Of course, talk to your doctor before taking these herbs. Keep in mind, though, that many doctors are not well versed in this kind of information so you may want to locate a doula or midwife who rely on herbs more regularly.

I would love to hear any of your herbal remedies!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Julian is 3!

The twos were definitely not terrible for this little guy. Ok, he's energetic, aggressive at moments, and he definitely learned to talk back, but he has remained teachable and sweet. In the past year he has transformed from a baby boy into a full fledge boy (He has the chipped front tooth to prove it). He is potty trained, is working on getting rid of his thumb sucking habit, and is now a big brother! We are in full force teaching him all things preschool from his numbers and letters to riding his training bike to writing with his LEFT hand.

On the day he turns three, Julian likes Kung Fu Panda, hitting a baseball, "patting" his baby brother, being power bombed by his manly friends at church, running "FAST!", singing songs like "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord", "I'm Different, Different", "Come let us adore him", and "I like to move it, move it". He also likes going to the theatre and the library, playing with his playgroup buddies, his stuffed animals "firefox", Woody, and Cookie Monster, Thomas the train, cuddling with his mommy, Flintstones vitamins, blueberry applesauce, running around without any pants, reading books with his big sister, his Daddy, puzzles, popsicles, and all his family that lives so far away in Indiana.

Here are a few pictures to commemorate his big day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Eating Expectations

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended the Six O'Clock Scramble as a means to get good food on the table in a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money, but how do you get the food from the table into the kids mouths? Just like anything else in their life, you set expectations and you enforce them.

This is our expectation: on a normal night, kids eat some of everything being served. We give them a reasonable portion. They don't have to eat everything on their plate, but they need to eat most of it. One bite in an attempt to try something is not alright. They also don't get away with eating all of one item and none of the other and then declaring they are full. They have to eat items in proportionate amounts. They also need to be thankful for the food. If I took time to cook it, I don't want to hear "ewww".

Why do we have these expectations? I heard somewhere that kids are most likely to turn into healthy adults without weight problems if they learn to eat a wide variety of foods. This made sense to me. No, not forced to eat, but taught to eat a wide variety. The term "picky eater" isn't used in my house. Yes, some kids need more "teaching" than others, but I think anybody can learn to like and maybe even love lots of foods.

Learning to eat a variety of food is all about frequent exposure. If you only have to take a bite of something to determine if you like it or not, the flavor is new and you tend to focus on what is unpleasant about it. However, if you have to get through a whole side of something, you begin to get used to the flavor and you focus on what you like about the food. Some flavors or textures you will never "love". They might never be your favorite, but you can begin to tolerate and even enjoy them after time.

I hated spaghetti as a kid. I remember spitting my noodles out into my napkin. Then I met and married Stephen who is happy to make spaghetti for the family every week. A wife doesn't turn down a night off of cooking every week. So I eat spaghetti. I still don't love it, but I eat it and on a good day I like it. It nourishes me, and the kids, who inherited their daddy's spaghetti gene, love it.

As a parent, I come to the table prepared to parent. Teaching my kids to eat well is one of the most important things I'll do. I make my job easier by minimizing the kids snacks so they actually come to the table hungry. Again, we give them reasonable portions. It's always easier to give them less and have them ask for seconds than to force them to eat food when their full. Also, if I'm having a hard day, I'll pick a meal that the kids will eat with less instruction.

The instruction looks just like it would for any other discipline. Verbal instruction and then corner time if there is disobedience. Stephen and I were talking the other day and discovered that most of the instruction we give to our kids at the dinner table is about focus not food. We give almost as much instruction when we're at Burger King as we do at home.

What's the reward for the work you do at the table? The reward comes when Julian comes in and says, "MMMMMMmmmmmm...are we having beans and rice for dinner? I love beans and rice." or when D'arcy asks me, "Mom, why haven't you made tortellini or homemade chicken noodle soup lately?" These moments make me feel loved and appreciated and good at my job.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Schroeder's Official Six Month Photos


I was supposed to be taking pictures of Schroeder to capture him at six months. Then spiderman cam in and gave me permission to take some of him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tips for Tuesdays: Post Swaddle Sleeping

A couple of months ago, I posted my method for getting a newborn to sleep, swaddling. This method works until the kid turns into a rolling ninja. You know that swaddling won't work anymore when you find them flipped over and unburritoed! This happens around the four month mark.
So what do we do now? My advise? Move the child away from your bed (or into their own room) and into their crib. This is the point when I begin to expect my children to sleep through the night (confirm this with your pediatrician but don't ask your babies' advice :)). Simply put the baby in their crib (baby should be sleepy but still awake), give them their pacifier (if you use one) and something to squeeze, say goodnight, and walk away. If they cry, wait ten or fifteen minutes, and then go in and touch them (don't pick them up), return their pacifier to them, give them back their lovey doll, and walk away.
If the child wakes up in the middle of the night. Go immediately and repeat this process. Don't wait fifteen minutes for them to totally wake themselves up. If they think they need to eat, don't feed them. Give them a water bottle. I've done this with all three babies, and after about two nights of water, they get the point. I know they really don't need it, but they sure like their midnight snacks. If you are nursing and baby is going through a "growth spurt" you might feed them for a night or two, but if it continues past the spurt, you should reinforce the sleeping all night expectation.
Moms and Dads...stick to your guns, and set a proper schedule. Those nights of sleep interruption do not have to last a full year!

Monday, September 21, 2009

D'arcy is waiting expectantly for her teeth to loosen up and fall out. I told her that her cousin Gabe's first tooth was already gone. She said, "I guess that means he's a teenager, right?"

Comparing and Contrasting

I was just thinking this morning about a family in Indiana who have five girls. They had a dress that they put each girl in and took a picture. It was kind of a fun way to see the differences in each girl. In that moment, I was sad that I hadn't taken a picture of each kid in the little Led Zepplin newborn onesie we bought originally for D'arcy. Sigh. However, I recently took a picture of Schroeder in my kids' favorite apparatus, the Johnny Jumper. My cousin Jenny gave this thing to me before D'arcy was born, and it has gotten lots and lots of use over the years. Julian spent so much time in this thing that even when he was being held, he would bounce up and down.
I spend lots of time comparing my kids. D'arcy had blonder hair, Julian lost all of his hair, and Schroeder's is kinda red. D'arcy had a ghetto booty (just look at those legs) while Julian and Schroeder are like their Daddy, their legs and their backs connect without really much in between. D'arcy and Schroeder have the same "pointy" ears, and Julian's are just sort of BIG. They all have those blue eyes, though. Their are so many blue eyes in our family that we've started analyzing the shades of blue. Schroeder's are the deepest, Julians are smokey. They remind me of pottery from the Smokey Mountains that have the blue and brown colors melded together. Me and the dog are pretty much the only ones not in the blue eyes club. Not that I'm complaining. I think I told my friend Laura in college that I was marrying Stephen so that I could have a bunch of blue eyed, blond haired babies. I guess God was listening to our conversation.

Schroeder: Milestone Mania

Schroeder is nearly six months old. As expected, he is managing to grow fast and furious. He's still a squishy, little guy, though, especially compared to his enormous and heavy siblings. Over the last couple of months he's tried oatmeal cereal (8.10.2009)and vegetables (green beans 9.12.2009), has successfully learned to army crawl and sit up (beginning of September), has mastered his Johnny Jumper, and can grab all sorts of things including his pacifier which he can plop out and back in with ease. I thought his first tooth had come through. I know I saw the tip top of it, but now it's hiding again. Oh, and I didn't mention, that we dedicated Schroeder to the Lord on September 13th while my parents were in town. No pictures of that, though, because I neglected to bring my camera.

I'm a little concerned about if he's getting enough to eat. I'm still nursing him, but it's always hard to gauge how much he's getting. It's not like the first few months when I know he's getting enough because I can feel every ounce. I spent several minutes this morning comparing him with pictures of his sister and brother when they were babies. He's fitting in 6-9 months clothes, though, so I guess I shouldn't be too concerned. We go to the doctor early next month so we'll get to see what percentile he's in. He's also suffering through some allergic reactions particularly on his face and head. It could be related to the oatmeal cereal or to contact with his sheets and car seat. He has his sister's skin for sure, fair, fair, fair.

Here's a few pictures of our little (kind of red headed) little guy.

A Birthday Party for D'arcy doo and Ju Ju too

D'arcy and Julian have birthdays just five weeks apart. D'arcy turned five on August 25th and Julian turns three on October 7th so we had a party for both of them on September 13th. I had to explain the concept of having a joint party to the kids a couple of times, but eventually they got it and became very excited. We invited all sorts of people, but the best guests of all were D'arcy and Julian's grandma and grandpa who flew from Indiana to be with us. We had a burrito bar, lots of cupcakes, a pinata, loads of presents, and s'mores roasted over a nice fire in our fire pit.

Neither of our kids had ever had a pinata for their birthday which, in Texas, is just sinful. After I picked D'arcy up from school on the day I bought it, I told her to go into the laundry room to see what was in there. She ran in there and I heard a scream of excitement.

The screams continued at the party. We had 7-8 little kids running around screaming over every little thing. "Kids, do you want to have cupcakes?" Scream. "Kids, do you want to hit the pinata?" Scream. "Kid's do you want to open presents?" Scream. After presents, all the little girls were inspired to play dress up after D'arcy received some awesome shoes and gloves.

Some of my favorite moments of the day include Julian playing with his new T-ball set and telling me "Mom, I based that ball!" which is his interpretation of the term baseball. It was also the first Sunday for football, and Julian told his grandpa, "Grandpa, stop watching that flipball!" I also enjoyed seeing D'arcy ride her scooter. She bought it with the money GG and grandma sent her for her birthday, and she has been very diligent in practicing her scooter skills. She rides it to and from school, and many times asks to go out and ride after school. Even after several hard falls, she has gotten back up and continued to practice. She has worn out the toes of her favorite shoes which were used as a scooter break.

Here are some pictures from our fun day.