Friday, February 27, 2015

A Southern Snow

We got a dusting of snow this week. Annie and JJ were thrilled. Sophie was less so. And Nora didn't have an opinion but we took her picture outside anyway.

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Daddy, save me!
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Thursday, February 26, 2015


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Happy fourth birthday, dear Annie of mine!





How did this happen so fast? :)

When I look at you, I still see the tiny baby in you, the baby who was so attached to Mama, who gave me fits about nursing and sleeping, and then turned into the best first baby ever. I see the toddler, who learned to walk and liked to explore but rarely got into mischief the way her curious brother did. I see the little one whose language took off full speed ahead before she had enough hair for even a little ponytail. I see the preschooler you've now become--independent, smart, strong-willed, lover of books and dolls and dress-up and singing. I remember the first time you were really sick, about nine months old, and how you snuggled against my chest for days. I remember your first trip to the beach, at only five weeks old. I remember dedicating you to the Lord. I remember the first time you " read" a book to me. So many beautiful memories with you, my first daughter. When I look at you, I see every age you've been in the age you are now. Each year we've had our struggles, to be sure, but it is all part of you are. Even--especially--your strong-will. You are my sunshine. Happy birthday, my love!

P.S. Can we slow this year down just a teeny tiny bit? I'm so excited to see what you learn this next year!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Her First Ballet

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The Gent and I took Annie to her first ballet. This was part of her birthday present--a special time for just her and Mama and Daddy. I was a bit concerned about how she would do. Could she sit mostly still and quiet for two hours? But she surpassed my expectations. She got bored in a few parts, but was for the most part captivated by the costumes, scenery, and dancers. And she was quite adorable all dressed up. We even curled her hair. :) Can't believe it has been almost four years since my Annie baby was a tiny newborn!

Monday, February 23, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 171-175

171. That the Gent is finished with his work travels for a while.
172. New mattress!!!
173. Taking Annie to her first ballet.
174. Mugs and mugs of tea, (decaf) coffee, and hot chocolate on these cold days.
175. Good doctors and dentists to keep our family healthy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Photo Catch-up

Catching up on our first few weeks at home. How is she three weeks already?!

Less than impressed with her first sponge bath
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Curious about the sponge bath
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Mama. Also, first hair bow.
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Aunt Tessie
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Sophie snuck in!
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Mama Rita
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Papa Gene
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Proud great-grandparents!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who does Nora look like?

Here's a picture of each of my girls the day they came home from the hospital. Can you tell who is who? Answers below!

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I made it easy and put them in order: Annie, Sophie, then Nora. Could you figure it out? We'll see how much they continue to look alike and different as they grow!

Monday, February 16, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 156-170

156. That my first day on my own as mama to four under four is going surprisingly smoothly.
157. A good night's sleep for Nora (and thus everyone) last night.
158. The smell of fresh baked bread.
159. Sweet friends from church taking care of our dinners for the next month!
160. A warm winter rain instead of an ice storm.
161. Chocolate. Followed closely by coffee. And wine.
162. My new niece!
163. Dedicating sweet babies to the Lord.
164. That Nora is nursing and growing so well.
165. Little girls in smocked dresses.
166. Sophie's cute little ponytail.
167. Taking turns snuggling each baby and reading them a book.
168. The new mattress and playroom cabinets that are on the way to our house.
169. Helpful people solving my car seat woes.
170. A court date set to finalize JJ's adoption!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rearranging Rooms

We recently rearranged all the kids' rooms. Annie is still in her room, but she does have a new lamp and bookshelf. Sophie and Nora are sharing the nursery.

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JJ has a new "big boy" room.
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The foster baby's room got a facelift, too. Crib was at Honey and Poppa's house; headboard is from Craigslist.
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And the playroom moved downstairs to the sunroom. We added carpet to warm up the space. It is a sunshiney, happy space and we love to play in there. These pictures don't really do it justice. When my new storage cabinets come in I will take new photos.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Baby Guessing Game Winners

Congrats to Bebe for getting the date right and Poppa for coming closest on the length and weight! No one came any where close to her name--we succeeded in keeping it a secret!

Monday, February 9, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 148-155

148. Nora Mae's birth!
149. Surviving Daddy's first trip out of town.
150. Supportive family stepping in to fill the gaps and help Mama adjust to four munchkins in the house.
151. Extra money to complete several house projects.
152. Acceptance and easy adjustment by the older three to baby Nora.
153. Sunshine and warmer than usual winter days.
154. Moments of quiet as everyone takes advantage of afternoon rest time.
155. Good sleep patterns being established by Nora.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nora's Birth Story

Here's the real story, with details on my cervix and all. Read at your own risk.

Miss Nora Mae took her sweet time in arriving. It all began with what I later learned is called "prodromal labor" on Monday, January 19--six days before my due date. I began having contractions that morning. They were coming about every five to ten minutes and were "real" (not Braxton-Hicks) contractions. After about three hours of regular contractions that were getting closer together, though not painful, I thought I was safe to start letting family who would be traveling for the birth know. The Gent came home from work and we headed out to the park for a walk because the weather was beautiful. My parents were at our house with the kids, the Gent's parents and my Nana were on their way into town. I went to the doctor's office about 1pm to check in with her. She confirmed I was in early labor but couldn't predict how long it would be till things picked up. By about 5:30pm the contractions were not getting any stronger or closer together, so we decided to get some dinner and then go back home to rest. I continued with this prodromal labor through the following Tuesday--one week and one day of contractions every five minutes or so (Wednesday they were about 30 minutes apart). They would occasionally stop for about half an hour, then pick right back up again, whether I was sitting, walking, sleeping, etc. Nana stayed with us for the duration to help me with the house and kids and she was very patient putting up with us all! I am not very good at accepting help but perhaps this fourth baby will teach me. :) I felt awful for having the Gent's parents drive down for the non-birth but the kids enjoyed the extra visit! However, this confirms for me that my previous labor coping strategy of "deny you are in labor for as long as possible" was a good one I should return to if I ever find myself in this state again.

Fast forward through lots and lots of prodromal labor, inquiring minds wanting to know of any labor progress, and my older children not napping for six days straight.

Thursday, January 29, began as any other Thursday. I did yoga and my Bible study and then the munchkins got up. We went to music class and Publix, then Nana and the kids and I met Honey at the park to play and then we went out to lunch. We got the little ones down for "rest time" and Honey and I went for a short walk around the neighborhood. We sat in the living room and chatted for a while. The kids got up and Honey decided to head for home about 4:45. I left Nana to occupy the munchkins in the playroom and went to the office to finish up my Bible Study Fellowship lesson. About 5pm I had my first real-real contraction. I thought "Hmmm this is probably it...or probably not and I don't want to bother anyone just yet. And I really don't want to have another baby in the middle of the night" (Sophie was born at 1:03am). But these contractions kept coming every 3-5 minutes and I could actually feel my cervix opening. During each contraction I would think "this is real" and then when it was over "maybe not." The Gent got home a little after 6 and I told him I thought I was maybe in labor. I had green beans and rotisserie chicken and brown rice for dinner and helped him get the kids to bed. By the time they were down at 7:15 I had decided I really was in labor and the contractions were starting to get my attention. I called my parents and the Gent called his parents. I told Nana I was in labor and she reminded me she didn't know anything about birthing babies (she only had four, ha!) so not to wait at home too long. I called the doctor and spoke with the doctor on call, letting her know I was in labor and would be heading in to the hospital later. I told her it was my third natural birth and I had a pretty high pain tolerance and she asked me to call again when I was on my way in. Honey and Poppa arrived around 8 and I decided it was about time to head to the hospital. I was needing to breath through each contraction (I was standing and leaning over the back of the couch, swaying and trying to get baby to move down) and wanted to get to the hospital before I was too uncomfortable but had also progressed enough that being at the hospital would not slow labor down. So we called the doctor back and set off.

With the third baby I finally timed the hospital correctly. With Annie I showed up at the very end, and with Sophie too early. This time we got to our room about 8:45pm. I had a great nurse and met the doctor, who turned out to be absolutely wonderful. She made us feel so at ease and was very amenable to our birth plan and wishes. She wasn't even going to require a hep-lock, but I told her I had lots of bleeding with my first baby and would feel better if we planned to do Pitocin after the birth, just in case, to which she strongly agreed. :) We did my 20 minutes on the monitor, answered the health questions, and dealt with insurance paperwork. I was 7-8 centimeters at this point and the contractions were requiring my concentration. When one would start everyone would back off while I squeezed the Gent's hand, closed my eyes, and blew out long, deep breaths. We took care of the annoying stuff and got rid of the monitor. Everyone except my nurse left us (me, the Gent, and my mom) and I focused on laboring. I could tell from my contractions that I was transition. At this point I began humming through each contraction, the strength of the ommmmmm (my favorite vocalization sound this time around) varying with the strength of the contraction. As these intense contractions came to a peak, I needed the Gent and Mom to hum with me, as I stood leaning against the Gent, with my head buried in his right shoulder and squeezing the life out of his left hand. But I stayed in control this whole labor (third time is the charm, apparently), never fighting the contractions or getting absorbed in the pain. I had the nurse check my progress again at some point (time had become a blur) and was at 9 centimeters. I was still able to relax in between the contractions, which I'm guessing were about 1-2 minutes apart. After laboring through another couple of contractions, my water broke, one more contraction and I told the nurse I was ready to push. I had to blow through two contractions while I got settled on the bed with the squat bar and the doctor came back. Of course at that point I had talked myself out of pushing, reminded the Gent and Mom that I did not like this part, and decided to breath through a contraction or two before beginning to push. I pushed two or three times and Nora was born. I recall that as she was crowning Mom said, "Oh, she has a full head of hair!" and me thinking "I could care less about her hair, get her out of me!" Which she soon was, and I was holding her and quickly decided she was worth it all. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sophie: 20 Months

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I feel like I say this every month, but my sweet Sophie is getting so big! Her Daddy and I get the biggest kick out of her emerging personality. She loves to play with the big kids. She is particular about the way she plays and gets upset with Annie and JJ if they do things the "wrong" (as in not her) way. Books and baby dolls and dress-up and stuffed animals remain her favorites. Her vocabulary has really taken off this month and she repeats back most anything we say. Some fun new words are apple, purple, Nora, Auburn, and Poppa. She calls JJ "Bubba" and I have no clue why. :)

She gave Nora quite a look when she met her in the hospital, but she has reconciled to the "new baby" very quickly. Nora started crying at lunch yesterday and Sophie said, "baby!" and looked at me like "go do something about that!"

Happy 20 months, Sophie Beth!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Introducing Nora Mae!

She's here! Nora Mae, 1/29/15 at 10:38pm. 8 lbs, 8 oz and 21 3/4 inches long.

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proud Daddy
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meeting Honey and Poppa
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meeting Bebe and Papa Rick
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meeting Nana
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meeting Mrs. Katie
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Sophie wasn't too sure about Nora at first but she was a big fan of her new doll. She has come around on being a big sister. :)
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I'm missing the family picture since I can't show JJ's face.

a head full of dark hair
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first shampoo
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sleeping beauty
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homeward bound
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welcoming committee
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Sophie, big sister
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Honey cuddles
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our third precious girl
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