It Works: My favorite products & a giveaway

It’s Thanksgiving week, and since I’m feeling so very thankful for this opportunity with It Works that made its way into my life earlier this year, I’m going to do a giveaway of a few products!

For those who may have missed it, I’m nearly four months into my venture with It Works, which I posted about when I first signed on. It was something I thought about for months before doing it, and I was scared and unsure and worried about what people would think and worried about whether I’d succeed.

It feels really good to be able to say now that I’m pretty sure it was one of the best and most life-altering decisions I’ve ever made. It’s added such a jolt of excitement, challenge and hope for the future into my life. I’ve made new friends and have grown closer to those who decided to take the leap and do this with me. I’ve introduced family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers to products that are helping improve their health and their looks. And beyond that, using the products myself has enhanced and improved my life far more than I could have imagined, too. It’s just been incredible all around.

Camera Roll-396So, I decided that bloggers do giveaways all the time, so why not use my own blog to do a giveaway of my own?

Check out my site and take a look at the all-natural products It Works has to offer – wraps, Greens, skincare, supplements, vitamins and more – and then either comment here or email me at erinnevworks at gmail.com and tell me what product you’d love to win and try out. I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, November 28 and notify her/him via email. Plus, I’ll choose two runners-up to receive their choice of a free wrap or facial!

This picture isn’t all the products It Works offers – just the ones I have so far. I’m well on my way to having tried them all, though!

Not very familiar with It Works and/or curious about what my favorites are? Ok, let me tell you! :)

1. Greens

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Hands down my favorite product, because of what I feel they’ve done for my overall health and the way I feel each day. They’re a powder drink mix that can be mixed with water, juice, yogurt and smoothies. I like mine in cold water over ice. The Greens give you the equivalent of eight servings of vegetables and fruits, plus a probiotic, and they offer a nice natural energy boost. And best of all, they help alkalize your body and improve your immune system, fighting off everything from the common cold to much more serious diseases that thrive in an acidic environment in your body.

Since becoming a mom five years ago, I have been sick more often than I had been in my entire life put together up to that point. Everything my boys brought home from daycare, I’d get, too. But now? I’ve been drinking the Greens for four months and I haven’t been sick yet, not even a sniffle. Henry’s brought home two nasty colds from school and has been coughing in my face on a daily basis – but nothing. I’m not saying I won’t get sick ever again, but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve been healthier these past four months than any other time of that length since having kids.

Plus I just really enjoy the afternoon ritual of drinking them. They taste pretty good, and they help curb my appetite until dinner and give me a little boost of energy to get through those evening hours. I just love them, I really do.

Greens are $33 or $35 for a month’s supply (30 servings) – $33 for the tub with a scoop, or $35 for a box of 30 individual packets.

2. Cleanser

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This was one of the first products I ordered and it’s still one of my absolute favorites. It’s a gel cleanser that lathers up so nicely and smells absolutely divine. Every night in the bath when I wash my face, I inhale deeply and feel a little like I’m at the spa. And my face feels great. Also worth mentioning – I ordered my bottle at the beginning of August and have used it every night since, and I am just now at the end of the bottle. So it lasts a long time!

The Cleanser is $33.

3. Confianza

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Anybody ever tell you that you should take a chill pill? Well, that’s what this is. A literal chill pill. An all-natural way of better dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes with everyday life. You don’t have to take it every day to feel its effects, either – you just take it on an as-needed basis. I’ve taken it probably six times now and wow, it really does make me feel more calm, level-headed and relaxed. It’s like a glass of wine without the calories, or like taking a deep breath and feeling that after effect for hours instead of just a few seconds.

Confianza is $25 for a bottle of 60 pills. Two pills is considered a serving, but I’ve only ever taken one at a time.

4. Exfoliating peel and facials (this one’s a tie)

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Really, the whole skincare line from It Works rocks my world. I’ll be honest, I’ve never used expensive stuff before, so probably most things would feel like a step up from the drugstore products I’d been using all my life. But I can report that many of my friends and teammates have used expensive department store stuff in the past, and they all agree this stuff is better. I use the Cleanser and Preventage day cream every day, and the Repairage night cream is on my next order. Lip and Eye cream is a best-seller in the skincare line, but I don’t have too many bags or wrinkles just yet to address, so I haven’t used that yet.

The exfoliating peel and the facials are two of the “treats” in the skincare line that aren’t meant to be used every day, but maybe once a week to noticeably improve the appearance of your face. The peel just came out recently as It Works’ newest product, and it’s awesome. It’s gritty and smells so good like all the other skincare products, and you leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse with cool water, and your face is bright and clean and smooth.

The facial is a wrap you put on your face that’s covered in a botanically based cream that hydrates and tightens the skin on the face. You leave it on for 45 minutes, and again, when it comes off, your skin just looks and feels so much more beautiful! It’s great for at-home pampering.

The exfoliating peel is $36, and a box of four facials is $59.

5. Greens Chews

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These are another favorite, though I seriously get annoyed at how fast my family flies through them. They’re a complementary product to the Greens, working in tandem with them by providing prebiotic support. Prebiotics nourish and help grow the good bacteria already living inside you. The Chews are a blend of more than 50 super foods, and they taste like a blueberry Starburst. They’re super chewy and take a minute or two to chew and swallow, so they’re a great little snack to grab when you’re craving something sweet.

Greens Chews are $30 for a bag of 60 chews.

My runner-up would be the wraps, which is the product the company was founded upon. I did one wrap about a month ago and the results were pretty awesome after just one. I’m not quite willing to put my two-months-postpartum stomach on my blog for the whole internet to see … but I do plan to do a full treatment, which is four wraps, 72 hours apart, once I’ve lost the last of my baby weight and just want to boost those results and tone up this loose skin. Then maybe I’ll share those results! But really, the results the wraps give amaze me time and again when I see them.

Other best-sellers include the Hair Skin Nails, New You, Fat Fighters and Thermofit supplements. Oh, and I really enjoy the ProFit protein. And I’ve been using the Defining Gel and Stretch Mark Cream on my stretch marks. I just love it all! Ha.

Check out the whole line and then let me know what you’d like to win! You have til Friday at 5 pm CST to enter the giveaway by commenting or emailing!

Back to work.

I’m three days into my first week back to work after maternity leave. Every day has gotten a little easier, and I know soon we’ll all be back into a groove.

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Monday morning was hard. I hadn’t had to get up so early or get so much done by 8 a.m. in more than 11 weeks! It was a bit of a jolt to my system, to say the least.

Ellie slept that morning til 7:20 a.m. when I finally just scooped her up to wake her up so I could spend a little time with her! The night before she’d woken up around 3 a.m. to eat and I spent some extra time with her in the nursery, just rocking her and soaking her in, and I’ve found myself taking my time with her middle-of-the-night feeding each night since.

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I am so thankful to have gotten a good sleeper this time, and I’m feeling far more rested these days than I was feeling with Henry or Ben at this age. (Though really, I think I’m just much more accustomed to sleeplessness now, since I’m still not getting all that much sleep – but these days it’s my own fault since I stay up so late! But I digress.) But I’m actually glad she still wakes up once a night to eat since I don’t get as much time with her during the day anymore! Of course, I hope she keeps it to just once a night. Let’s not get carried away. ;)

Monday morning I started to cry as soon as I scooped her up. I fed her and rocked her and just felt sad at the thought of leaving her all day. Then later when it was actually time to leave, I took her back from Shelly to hug her once more and started to cry again. Ugh.

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But she was fine and I was fine and everything was fine, as I knew it would be. Shelly took great care of her, and it was semi-nice to be back at the office. There were bagels and a welcome back greeting, and I had a pretty easy day just getting through email and getting caught up on what I’d missed.

Camera Roll-568Ellie hasn’t been eating much so far during the day – only six or seven ounces total her first two days, and a bit more finally today. I was lazy about pumping on maternity leave and only had about 14 bags in the freezer as of Monday, which made me feel kind of panicky since I had a much bigger reserve with the boys, and up to that point, I hadn’t been able to pump more than four or five ounces in a session with Ellie. But whoa, my body has surprised me! I’ve been able to pump about 15 ounces at work in two sessions my first three days back, so I should be able to quickly build up my stash after all.

Being reunited with her (and the boys, too) at night is of course amazing, and I’m realizing, again, that she’s still all mine and I still get to see her quite a bit. I mean, the evenings go fast and it’s hard to now have THREE kids who I want to give one-on-one attention to, but the boys don’t seem to mind that I pay the most attention to Ellie right now – and I am still able to hang with them, too.

And, of course, I cannot overstate what a lifesaver it is to have a nanny this time around. The mornings still feel hectic – up at 5:30, ready by 6:30 (sooner when I’m not interrupted by kids waking up, but usually I am), make the kids and myself breakfast, eat, clean up, make sure Henry gets ready for school – dressed, teeth brushed, backpack packed, etc. – feed Ellie, get all my stuff together, get dressed myself, make sure the house is picked up for Shelly, etc.

And yet, there’s so much I DON’T have to do, thank GOD. I don’t have to get Ben or Ellie dressed. I don’t have to pack up bottles for daycare. I don’t have to get them bundled up and out to the car and dropped off at daycare. Gah, I can’t even imagine how hard that would be with three kids. It was hard with just two! This is why I always said I’d have a nanny once I had three, and to have had it work out so well so far is just such a blessing.

Camera Roll-570And speaking of blessings … The first day back to work it felt weird to be back at the office, at my desk, without a baby in my belly. Ellie was with me there every day for months and months! I remember sitting at work, feeling her move around, and wondering what she’d be like. Praying she’d be healthy, that the birth would go well. And now to look at the pictures of her at my desk, to know she’s here and safe and just perfect – it’s overwhelming. I feel so very grateful and lucky, even if I am away from my sweet girl during the day. She’s in good hands, I have a good job, and we are just really fortunate.

One more day this week and then I have Friday off. I’m going to pretend I’m back on maternity leave! Because man oh man, this maternity leave was pretty much the best thing ever. I miss it! I’m sad it’s over! But as I said, I’m focusing on being grateful it happened at all. And while being back to work is definitely bittersweet, we’re all doing a-ok.

The end of maternity leave

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Today’s my last Mommy/Ellie day of maternity leave, and tomorrow’s my last official day off of work. We have a weekend upon us with not too many plans, and then real life resumes on Monday. This amazing little bubble that is my last maternity leave will then be officially over.

I shed a few tears about it this morning, and I imagine I’ll shed more than a few on my way out the door Monday. I cried the first day back with both of my boys, and the thought of leaving Ellie all day right now seriously makes my heart ache.

And yet at the very same time, I think I’m ok. I think I’m ready, or almost. There are plenty of things I’m looking forward to with being back to work – getting back into a normal routine, seeing my coworkers, having Shelly and the kids here at the house, being paid again(!) I’m taking four Fridays off between now and the end of the year, plus there will be days off for holidays, so I feel like I’ll be able to somewhat ease back into things, and it’s a comfort to know I’ll have those extra days at home with my kids.

be glad it happenedThis last week has been a good one, while also being slightly tainted by a feeling of melancholy and panic at the rapid passing of time and at knowing my leave is just about up. I’ve been reminding myself of this quote, though, and it helps. Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad instead that it happened at all.

I know how absolutely lucky I am to have had this precious time. To have had a healthy, beautiful baby girl; to be able to afford to take off work and to have a nanny a couple days a week to allow me some time with just my baby.

This maternity leave has been absolutely more awesome than I even could have hoped for. From the easy recovery after giving birth to the fact that I had Shelly to take so much of the burden off me when it came to childcare and transportation on my days with just Ellie. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, either, with summer just ending when I gave birth and now winter just beginning when I’m about to go back. I got the entire gorgeous fall – my favorite time of year – off to enjoy.

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I’ve been out and about with friends; I’ve been able to work on my new business and tackle a few things around the house I otherwise wouldn’t have; I’ve been able to savor my baby and also enjoy some extended time in my home and with my boys. I’ve gotten to take my kids down to the park when Henry’s done with school, and I’ve developed a love for Kelly and Michael in the morning. I’ll miss the leisurely parts that come with being off work, for sure.

Also, it occurred to me the other day that had I not been on maternity leave right now, I wouldn’t have been able to really experience Henry starting school. I leave for work around 7:30 or 8 a.m. and he doesn’t get on the bus til 8:20. He gets off the bus at 11:25. To have been around to watch him get on that bus and be there to greet him when he gets home for his first couple months of being in school is pretty priceless to me.

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I remember going back to work after Henry, and how scared and sad but also a little excited I was all at once. Everything was so new then – I had never put a baby in daycare before or had to juggle being a mom and an employee. I dreaded the end of maternity leave even as part of me was ready to return to normal life. And once I was back, I remember thinking ‘what was I so worried about?’ Being a rookie, I think a part of me looked at maternity leave as my time with my baby, and that once I returned to work, that was it! My time with my baby was over! But duh, I still got plenty of time with my boy, in the mornings and evenings and on weekends, and we found our groove.

With Ben, even though I was head over heels for that baby boy, I was just mostly ready to go back. Transitioning to two kids was so hard on me, and maternity leave just wasn’t very relaxing at all. I was so sleep-deprived, and being at my desk was actually going to feel like a break. I knew our daycare lady well and I loved that Ben would have a big brother to keep him company during the day.

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This time? I have mixed feelings. It’s just been different every time. I think leaving Ellie will be the hardest. She’s my last, she’s a girl … I don’t know. I don’t like the idea of leaving her. But also, I have the least amount of trepidation and dread this time. Ellie gets to stay home instead of being bundled up each morning and taken out in the cold. She already knows her care provider, and Shelly already cares about Ellie. Ellie has two big brothers to hang with during the day. I think she’ll miss her mommy (or I’m telling myself that anyway, ha) but I think the transition will be fairly seamless for her. I know she’s in great hands, and I can’t ask for much more than that as a working mom.

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I look down at her sleeping on the Boppy on my lap as I write this, curled into me and breathing softly, and I wish so much that I could bottle these moments up and come back to them again and again. I can’t put into words how much I love this little person. How much I love holding her; feeling the weight of her little body on me; nursing her; changing her; giving her baths in the middle of the day; getting her dressed; talking with her and seeing her smile; watching her face light up when she sees me.

She has my whole heart, and that heart is going to break a little when my leave is over. But life must go on, and I will always cherish this special time we got to have together.

Ellie is 11 weeks, 1 day old

Ellie’s 2-month check-up & other updates

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I’m a few weeks late on this, but I wanted to record it for future reference. Ellie had her 2-month check-up two weeks ago and was 10 lbs, 15 oz. and 24 inches long. So she’d grown 3 lbs. and 3 1/2 inches in two months. Crazy how fast babies grow!

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Also crazy that Ben was 13 lbs, 9 oz. at his 2-month check-up, but shorter than Ellie at 23 inches. I didn’t blog Henry’s 2-month check-up unfortunately, but I’d guess he was similar to Ben in weight and similar to Ellie in height. But my boys were big! And that’s why this time I feel like I’ve gotten to enjoy so much more little baby time. Ellie’s a peanut compared to her bros! They didn’t give me percentiles at the doc this time.

Shots were horrible, awful, wretched. Oh my gosh, watching your sweet baby get poked three times in a row and just WAIL is torture. I totally cried. It took her awhile to calm down – she kept crying in the room for a few minutes and then whimpered and cried the whole 10-minute drive home. Luckily though she was fine after that. A necessary evil but oh so not fun.

She’s still on medicine for reflux, and I’d cut back a bit thinking it wasn’t working since she was still spitting up, but oh, it got worse when I stopped, so we started back up again. Crazy how much this girl spits up – multiple times after almost every feeding, and there’s just no avoiding getting messed up. I’m often covered in spit-up, and she’ll sometimes go through three outfits in a day.

She’s still nursing great and sleeping quite well. Finally goes to bed most nights at a normal hour of 8 or 9 instead of midnight or later. Sometimes she’ll wake up once, sometimes twice. She did 8 1/2 hours a couple nights ago, but she usually sleeps 5-6 for her first stretch. I will certainly take it. She’s still sleeping in her rock n play in her room, and we’ll probably transition her to her crib in another month or two. No rush there!

She’s in 3-month clothes, and some 0-3 stuff still. Her eyes are still gorgeously blue, and I’m wondering if they will stay that way!

Camera Roll-348She’s the happiest, smiliest baby on the planet. If she’s awake, she’s smiling the majority of the time. Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing, she’ll smile at you. She’s no longer sleeping ALL day like a newborn, but she still sleeps an awful lot. She’s holding her head up quite well when she’s in our arms or on the floor, and when we put her on her back, she often rolls to her side as if she’s trying to roll over, but that arm gets in her way. She likes her play mat now, and really fixates on the little animals staring down at her. She moves her hands, too, as if trying to swat at them. Oh, such fun to come with all the milestones – grabbing toys, rolling, sitting, crawling, eating, walking. The first year is such fun! I LOVE having babies and I try not be consumed constantly with the thought “Oh my gosh I never get to do this again!!!” But it’s hard not to.

I feel ridiculously lucky I got a sweet little girl for my third baby. Two and a half months in and I still sort of can’t believe this precious creature is mine.

Ellie is 11 weeks old

Day in the Life: Fall 2014

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The date is Friday, October 31, 2014

Dave and I are 32 years old
Henry just turned five
Ben is 2 years, 8 months old
Ellie is 9 weeks old

The first DITL post I did was two years ago exactly – October 31, 2012. I said on Instagram that this was my ninth DITL, but it’s actually my eighth – I missed winter 2013. My DITL history is in my last one of these from this past summer. I was 25 days out from having Ellie on that day! And I was having a terrible pregnancy side effect which sort of dominated that post – yuck. So happy to know now that it went away soon after and actually wasn’t an issue after giving birth!

Anyway.

I like to switch off between work days and weekend days for these posts. I was due for a work day here, but hey! I’m on maternity leave! So my “work” days right now consist of being home with my kids. Which is certainly still work. ;) Had I done a day when the boys were with Shelly (currently 1/2 day Tuesdays and all day Wednesdays and Thursdays) my post would have been pretty boring. But I will note for the record that those days of my maternity leave have been so completely blissful! I enjoy my Mondays and Fridays home with all three, though it’s obviously a night and day difference from the days I’m home with just Ellie. And this day in particular was … not our best day. Not our worst, but definitely not our best. But it’s good to document the bad days, too, since I imagine I’ll forget most of it over time, and with only happy pictures to look back on to jog my memory, I imagine my glasses will be fairly rose-colored by then.

This day was also a bit different than my typical Fridays on maternity leave since Henry didn’t have school because of teacher in-service. So instead of only having the two younger kids from 8:20-11:20 while Henry was at school, I had all three all day. I really enjoy my time with Ben while Henry’s at school, and then my time with Henry in the afternoon while Ben’s napping (after an hour of quiet / mommy time first, of course!) But all three all day is obviously just a different ballgame.

So here’s our day – Halloween 2014!

3 a.m. – Ben wakes me up. Can’t remember why. Thankfully this is a rarity these days, as the boys usually sleep all night now, thank God.

4:53 a.m. – Ellie wakes up for the first time, after sleeping since about 11 p.m. (or midnight? can’t remember – she usually goes down for good between 11-12 these days) and I nurse her in her room until about 5:20 a.m.

6:05 a.m. – Ellie squawks and I go into her room and put her nuk back in her mouth and she goes back to sleep.

6:15 a.m. – Ben wakes up and comes into our room. He talks loudly and rolls around and generally annoys us as he always does in the morning in our bed when we’re tired and just want to sleep a few minutes longer. We each wait for the other to get up with him, and I finally begrudgingly get up and take him downstairs and put AFV on the TV. I cover him with a blanket on the couch and tell him I’m going back upstairs to lay down for a little bit.

6:45 a.m. – Henry wakes up and Dave gets up and goes downstairs with him. Ellie wakes up and I bring her into bed with me and nurse her again and she falls back to sleep.

7:20 a.m. – I check Facebook and Instagram on my phone and enjoy seeing the likes and congrats on my pics – I promoted to Emerald level with It Works the day before. :) Dave and I fight (him downstairs, me upstairs) and one day later we can’t remember why. I was just not in a very chipper mood and something he did or said likely annoyed me and I may or may not have overreacted, as I tend to do. Ellie is asleep in our bed as I get ready for the day. I don’t normally shower this early (since I’m on maternity leave and all – some days I don’t shower at all!) but Dave works later on Fridays and doesn’t leave til 8:15, so I take advantage of the time to take a shower and get ready in relative peace. I do come down for a minute for something, and Ben’s watching YouTube videos and Henry shows me that the strawberries he put in his bug house a week or so ago are now all moldy and gross. Lovely.

7:50 a.m. – As I get ready up in the bathroom, I hear Henry constructing a “trap for mom” at the bottom of the stairs. Dave tells me he made me an egg sandwich for breakfast. Very nice of him. I remember saying something like “as a way of apologizing, right?” And he responds by saying something about what a grouch I am, ha. I come down the stairs and see Henry’s trap, and he’s kindly laid two pillows at the bottom of the stairs to catch my fall. I make a big spectacle of tripping on the cardboard bricks he’s set up and fall down on the pillows. Sort of hurt my wrist in the process. Tell him he has to pick up the whole mess now. I eat my egg sandwich and a banana and chat with the fam for a few minutes.

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Dave and I are over being annoyed with each other now. Ellie wakes up and I bring her down with me and she falls back to sleep in her bouncy seat. She wakes up a few minutes later and spits up all over herself. Henry falls off his chair at some point. We groan about frost on the grass and on Dave’s car. Too soon! I ask Dave to take some belly pics – I wrapped for the first time three days ago with an It Works wrap and need to take my 72-hour pics. I put them side by side later and there’s a definite noticeable improvement!

8:15 a.m. – Time for Dave to leave, and I tell him to pose with his Halloween costume. It’s a beer pong cup and his whole department is wearing the same thing. It’s a pretty lame, cheap-o costume that he had to pay 20 bucks for and he’s not too happy about it. I tell him to text me a pic later. He kisses us all good-bye and leaves. It’s COLD and super windy out today, yuck.

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I go upstairs to straighten my hair and bring Ellie with me while the boys play downstairs. Then we all get on the couch together to watch some morning TV – I had told them that the people on the Today Show and Good Morning America will be in costume today, so we flip between those two shows. I’m most excited for Kelly and Michael, though! I’ve really gotten into their show on this maternity leave.

9 a.m. – Live with Kelly and Michael starts and we watch the whole hour-long show. There are costumes and skits and I try to enjoy it as best I can, but the boys are just ANNOYING the whole time. It really illustrates to me how spoiled and in need of constant entertainment they are, and it angers me and makes me feel like a total failure as a parent. Henry keeps asking to see costumes, even though there are costumes EVERYWHERE – in the audience, on the stage, in the skits. What more do you want?! And Ben is totally bored and wants to see “scary guys,” and anytime there’s a commercial, he asks – no demands – that I fast-forward. I explain to him that that’s not how live TV works and that he has to be patient, and he freaks out. Oh, what I wouldn’t give right now to just watch the show in peace.

Near the end of the show, they do their version of the Shake It Off video with a bunch of celebrity cameos and it’s adorable. We get up and dance along with it, and then we rewind it to do it again. This helps lift the mood a bit, thankfully.

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10 a.m. – Ellie’s asleep and I decide to pump. I’m trying to pump once a day now that I’m heading back to work in a couple weeks, but I’ve been fairly lazy about it. But today I feel pretty full, plus I just want an excuse to have 10 or 15 minutes of computer time. I think it’s actually my best pumping session to date since having Ellie, like 6 oz. With the boys I could almost always overflow the bottles if I kept going, but Ellie just doesn’t eat like they did so my supply isn’t as big.

The boys color at the table, The View is on in the background and we take a peek here and there to see the costumes on that show, too. I put a bottle together for Ellie for when she wakes up – 2.5 ounces in the bottle and the other 4 in the fridge to freeze. I get myself a second (third?) cup of coffee.

10:30 a.m. – Ellie wakes up and I change her diaper. She gives me tons of smiles and is just the cutest. I hook my iPhone up to the computer to transfer all my pics over so I can delete them and have plenty of room for DITL pics today. I feed her her bottle and she downs the entire thing like a champ. I haven’t given her a bottle in quite awhile so I’m glad she’s still willing. Ben shows me his muscles. Dave sends a picture of him and his team in their cup costumes. I text with Andrea a few times.

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I put Ellie down and get super annoyed at how ridiculously messy the house is. I spend 15 minutes or so picking up and cleaning up, and Henry says he’ll clean the sun room. I put the 80s music channel on the TV while we clean. I take Ellie upstairs to get her dressed, then we come downstairs and sit on the couch for a few minutes and snuggle. I’ve Had the Time of My Life comes on. Ben’s in a Pull-Up and has been dry all morning – I ask him if he has to go potty and he says no. But then a minute later he says he does have to go, so I take him to his frog toilet by our downstairs bathroom and then walk away, telling him I’ll give him some privacy. A minute later Henry yells for me to come see – and Ben has peed on the toilet! This doesn’t happen too often yet so we are all VERY excited. We clap and cheer and I let him pick some trick or treat candy. Of course he picks a full-size bag of M&Ms. Whatever kid – mom’s proud!

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11:15 a.m. – Henry has cleaned the whole sun room and has done a very good job. I get the boys some lunch, though it’s not much of a lunch … Henry has leftover chicken nuggets (Shelly got them McDs on the way home last night since she brought them home later than normal) and Ben has a yogurt. That’s all either of them wants right now so whatever. Ben shares his yogurt very nicely with Henry when he asks a few times. I pull down their ‘caught you being good’ jars and Henry gets four cotton balls and Ben gets two. Henry gets them for cleaning up his trap mess without a fuss; making my bed while I straightened my hair this morning “just to be nice,” cleaning the sun room and … I can’t remember the other reason. Ben gets one for peeing on the toilet and one for sharing his yogurt so nicely.

Noon – We’re all doing much better after the rough morning. The house is clean(er) and the boys are being relatively good. I get out a few little things I got for them at Michaels the other day – some cut-out paper pumpkins they can color and some Halloween stickers. I get them paint from downstairs so they can paint the pumpkins, too. This keeps them busy at the table while I nurse Ellie on the couch. (I get a little video of them first – “Do you want me to call you Jeff? Hi Jeff!”) I turn on True Tori, which I have DVRed but don’t really ever watch, since I don’t really watch much TV these days. But I’m glad it’s there for moments like these when I do have a few minutes and want something to watch.

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I put Ellie down to make myself some lunch. Things go slightly downhill for a bit – Ben poops in his Pull-Up and I have to change him, then I hear Ellie cry and I see that Henry has scared her by shooting at her with his Nerf gun at close range as she sat in her bouncy seat. There was no bullet but just the pop of the gun on her freaked her out, and I get mad. I send him up to his room and he cries the whole way up.

He comes back down and apologizes a few minutes later, and the boys go back to doing their crafts while I finish making my lunch. I have a boring salad and watch more True Tori while I eat it. The boys are in the room and very loud. Ben pees in his Pull-Up. I lay him down and his diaper is off for a minute and he sits up and says something about putting his “dirty butt on the floor” – on my white carpet – with a big grin on his face. I tell him that’s it, it’s nap time. I take him upstairs to nap at 1:40 p.m. Henry goes into the sun room to have some quiet time. I turn on the TV for him and Sponge Bob is on. I don’t really care for him watching this show, but I’m picking my battles today.

1:55 p.m. – Ben comes out of his room and I tell him to go back to bed. I snuggle Ellie and watch Parenthood from the night before. Henry comes and bugs me about halfway through, and I tell him dude, I asked for one hour of quiet time. He watches videos on YouTube while I finish my show.

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2:40 p.m. – Henry asks me to help him decorate his jar, so we paint and apply some stickers. We also mix up some sugar cookie dough that my mom had brought over but didn’t end up making with Henry. We roll the cookies together and pop them in the oven. Take them out 10 minutes later, then frost them together awhile later after they’ve cooled.

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3:50 p.m. – I’m in need of some energy, so I not only drink my Greens, as I do almost every afternoon, but I brew a single cup of coffee, too. End up not drinking it, though, since it’s bitter and too strong for my liking. Love me some Starbucks, but don’t really like it at home. Much prefer Dunkin Donuts coffee at home and vow to not buy the Starbucks stuff anymore.

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Ben’s up from his nap and is grouchy, as he often is when he wakes up. He gets over it pretty quickly today, though. I look at Ellie and realize her hair is greasy as heck once again, despite just bathing her yesterday, so I put a Team Umizoomi on for the boys and take Ellie up to a bath. Get her all clean and put her in her Mommy’s Little Pumpkin outfit. I get a little video of her squawkin on her changing table.

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4:15 p.m. – I realize it’s getting pretty late considering we’re supposed to leave for Julia’s house by 5 p.m. We’re going there tonight for pizza and trick or treating. I’ve just been lollygagging around and there’s still a lot to do! I spend the next 45+ minutes getting us all ready – feeding Ellie again, changing her again, getting the boys’ costumes ready, gathering up our stuff, getting myself dressed, etc. etc. We leave a bit late, surprise surprise. I never get anywhere on time these days when it involves getting three kids out of the house.

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5:30 p.m. – We arrive at Julia’s and she and I catch up and enjoy a little wine (mmm) while the big kids play. I ask her about her visit with her mom and Memaw, and that reminds her that Memaw left me a gift. It’s a copy of a book she wrote in the 80s (as she’s a published author quite a few times over – so cool) for new moms. She wrote a message in the front it and I get a bit teary eyed I’m so touched. Julia’s Memaw is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.

We all eat some pizza and then it’s time to get costumes on. Her in-laws are there so we can leave Ellie and Porter home while we venture out, but I still get Ellie in her ladybug costume for a photo opp. We snap pics of the big kids and the babies, and then get a group shot, too.

6:30 p.m. – Julia, Nate and I head out with the four bigger kids to trick or treat in the cold and dark on their street. Dave arrives just then (he got off work at 6 p.m.) and runs inside to grab a beer, and then he joins us as we head up the block. Henry and Truman lead the charge and we have to keep a good eye on them since they want to be a house or two ahead as Ben and Cece trail behind. There are quite a few trick or treaters out, and there are people standing on their stoop handing out candy, while others have built fires outside in their yards. It’s all very charming and Halloween-y and we have a fun time.

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7:15 p.m. – We get back to the house and Julia takes Porter upstairs to put him to bed while I take Ellie downstairs to feed her. I come back up and the kids are sorting through their candy on the floor. We visit awhile and Julia comes back down and we need to head out soon after since it’s bedtime for the kids and we’re tired.

8 p.m. – We say good night and head home. I take Ben and Ellie in the van while Henry goes with Dave in his car. I look at the passenger seat and see that the plate of cookies we baked and brought are still sitting there. Oops. I leave them there to bring to my sis-in-law’s house the next day instead.

8:15 p.m. – We get home and get the boys ready for bed. We hang in Ellie’s room a bit – Dave holds her in front of the mirror, then Henry holds her in the rocking chair. Ben loses a guy under his bed and Henry retrieves it. The boys are down by about 8:45. I take their picture in their beds with my flash, and Henry is not a fan of how he looks because of the flash and keeps asking me to re-take his picture. Ben comes out of his room a little after 9 and I snap his pic and tell him to go back to bed.

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8:45 – 11 p.m. – I stopped taking notes and pictures after this. Ellie’s always up late, so I’m sure I had some internet time while she hung out in her bouncy seat. I took a bath while she hung downstairs with daddy. I actually got her down before 11 p.m. this night, which is a pretty decent night. I did get one last picture and it makes me giggle now. It’s 10:52 p.m. and I’d just put Ellie down to sleep – but of course as soon as I put her down, her eyes popped back open! I left her like that and amazingly she went to sleep.

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11:15 p.m. – Dave tucks me in … and then I go to sleep.

That concludes this edition of A Day in the Life! It’s a good snapshot of life right now when I’m home with all three … highs and lows, constant demands, intermittent good moments. The days I’m home with just Ellie are far less eventful and oh so nice, involving more coffee, more snuggles and much more quiet. I always have a to-do list about a mile long these days, and it feels good to actually be able to cross a lot of things off the list on those days. It Works, Grateful Hearts, blogging, emailing, paying bills, working out, etc. Those are the days when I think hey, maybe I could do this stay-at-home-mom thing! But of course, then I wouldn’t have a nanny so there goes that idea. ;)

I haven’t forgotten my middle child! (Ben these days…)

Cue the mom guilt …. there hasn’t been a post about Benny around these parts in a long time. The last update post about him was at 27 months, and that was five months ago. Then there was the documentation of his Spiderman face in June, and finally, the announcement that he was done with nuks finally in July, four months ago. So it’s been months since I’ve talked about just Ben, and I’m due for an update on my beloved middle child!

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Benny Ben Ben … where do I begin?

We’ve long said that Ben was a classic middle child from the day he was born. Easygoing and fun-loving and a total spitfire in equal measures. I think that most children tend to be Jekyl and Hyde by nature, but Ben epitomizes this more than any kid I know. He’s the middle child, yes, but he rarely falls in the middle of any spectrum – he’s either way on one side or way on the other. He’s the SWEETEST, cuddliest, funniest, most entertaining boy and also the naughtiest, loudest, most stubborn child, too.

Take being in public. Henry’s a bit of a sass pot these days, but he has always been an incredibly well-behaved child anytime we take him out in public. Stays by us, doesn’t throw tantrums, listens – for the most part anyway. But Ben? He’s had me seriously rethink the whole “I don’t believe in leashes for kids” thing on several occasions. If he’s not in a cart, he’ll bolt. Run through the aisles and turn a corner without looking back. And if he’s confined and not happy about it, he’ll cry – loudly. If he wants something and he’s told no, he’ll cry – loudly. He has embarrassed us in public on more than a few occasions, and each time I think wow, I’m the mom in the store with the crying kid! This is new!

Camera Roll-289When I tell him not to do something, he’ll often outright defy me and keep doing it. Sometimes he’ll smile or do this funny face where he stretches his neck up and raises his eyebrows like “who me? I’m not doing anything,” and I can’t help but laugh, which defeats the whole scolding him thing. If he does something naughty (like the other night when he threw a book across the room at bedtime and hit me with it) I’ll yell at him and say “why did you do that?” He’ll give me this sassy, hilarious, lowered-eyebrow look like “what did I do?” and then mimic what he did and say “I was just doing this!” – and he shows me exactly what he just did. I’m like yeah! That’s not ok! But again, he’s so FUNNY when he says things like that that I just can’t stay mad.

If I tell him to do something, like go eat his food or go put on his shoes, he’ll often respond with a cheerful “nope” or “in a second!” It’s baffling sometimes how defiant he can be! He gets a lot of time-outs and will move a bit on the step or chair and say “I’ll sit right HERE.” The past week or two he’s taken to getting up immediately and saying “I want to be a good boy!” and I have to keep putting him back.

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He and Henry fight a lot, as brothers tend to do, and boy is Henry going to be in for it real soon. Ben is a bruiser and has zero fear. If Henry hits him and starts a fight, Ben is always the one to ratchet it up much higher than one would expect. Just yesterday Henry picked up one of their (soft) chairs and bonked Ben on the head with it. Ben proceeded to pick up his red tricycle and throw it at Henry, which of course made Henry cry and made me have to try really hard not to laugh and have my eyes bug right out of my head. He looked like the incredible Hulk picking that thing up! They roughhouse a lot and chase each other around, and there are a lot of laughs and oh so much noise, but often someone ends up in tears. They play hide and seek, they shoot Nerf guns at each other, they wrestle. They are just all BOY, both of them, and when you put them together, it’s just pretty much constant loudness and chaos.

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Ben is a very physical, active child, and we wonder how he – and all of us – will survive the impending winter in our small little house. We will have to get out and keep busy whenever possible! Ben loves being outside and asks every day, multiple times a day, to go outside and ride in his police car. He’s recently learned how to turn doorknobs and open doors, so now we have to keep our front door chained at the top when Ben’s inside since he’d definitely be the kid to escape and be across the neighborhood in no time.

He also continues to be a really terrible eater, like the pickiest of the picky. Won’t eat any vegetables, only likes bananas and apples for fruit, and absolutely refuses to try pretty much anything we make for dinner. We’re not really sure how to remedy the situation, since we can’t sit there and force-feed him. We just keep offering things, and he just keeps picking them up off his plate and putting the on the table (or sometimes the floor) saying “I don’t want this.” He sticks with his tried and true faves – eggs and sausage, pizza, pb&j, yogurt, yogurt raisins, crackers, oatmeal. And anything sweet, of course. So frustrating. Henry has always been picky, too, but is verrrry slowly coming around ever so slightly. He still “hates” most of what we cook and offer, but he’ll at least try new things now – some nights even without tears! But dinnertime continues to be our least favorite time of day in this house.

But! There are soooo many positives about my Ben that I must note!

I can’t overstate how funny he is. Dave has said multiple times that Ben is the funniest person he’s ever known. We think that Ben will likely have an easy time in life, making friends and making people laugh and just taking things in stride. I can’t say the same for all my children, but the jury’s still out. ;)

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He’s also a very loving child. He needs to give us “10 hugs” before bed every night. He hugs Henry many mornings before Henry leaves for school, and when he gets back home, Ben will ask “how was your day at school, Henry?” He asks me often out of the blue “how’s your day, Mom?” He looooves his baby sister, getting in her face often to rub his head on hers or kiss her forehead. He talks in a high-pitched voice to her and calls her “Eleanor” or “baby Ellie,” and he’ll say “she is so a-DOR-able!”

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He’s been pretty stubborn about potty training so far but just this week is making some major strides. Shelly puts him in a pull-up on the days he’s at her house, and he pees in the froggy toilet there without much issue. He didn’t want to do it at home, though, which was odd, but then finally yesterday he peed on our frog toilet – like a lot – and we all celebrated and cheered and he got to pick out candy as a treat. Changing his poop is awwwwwful and we can’t wait til he’ll finally poop on the toilet. Henry was potty trained right at 2 1/2, so Ben’s a bit behind. He’s just stubborn stubborn and apparently doesn’t have an issue still with being in diapers. He’ll say “Mom, I’m peeing” and then “Change my diaper please.” Or he’ll go in another room to poop and if we come upon him, he’ll run and say “No, don’t look at me, I’m pooping!” So not cool, Ben. But we’ll get there!

He also continues to be ridiculously smart and beyond his years with how he speaks and things he knows. It still surprises us on a regular basis what a smart cookie he is. Too smart for his own good sometimes!

A few other random things to note -

- He’s obsessed with America’s Funniest Videos, which we watch as a family every Sunday night. Our DVR records it and we keep the last episode on there until there’s a new one – and the past couple of weeks, he’s asked to watch it EVERY DAY, so we’ve watched the first two episodes of the season probably 25 times each.

- He’s been calling me “mama” for the past few months and I love it. He tacks it onto nearly everything he says or asks.

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- He says Henry “Hen-ray” and it makes me giggle nearly every time he says it.

- He loves to sing and knows so many nursery rhyme songs. He’s also learned a few songs from riding in the car with Shelly, though, including Shake It Off and … All About That Bass. And it’s super embarrassing but I knew neither of those songs until my kids came home singing them. Obviously Shake It Off was a couple months (weeks?) ago now, but I’m so not up on new music, and suddenly my kids are singing “I’m outta biss I’m outta biss no trouble!” and I’m like what? So then I heard it and figured out the real words, and now Benny comes home singing “I’m bringin booty baaaaack!” I told Shelly I wasn’t sure that I approved, but darn is it funny.

- And to make up for the fact (ha, not really) that she’s letting my boys listen to pop music about booties, Shelly and her mother-in-law, “Granny,” who the boys just love, too, have been teaching them the presidents in order. They know the first six, and listening to Benny recite them is the cutest thing! Here’s a little video of it I put on Instagram.

- He loves all things Halloween right now, and there’s a “scary house” at the end of Shelly’s block. Every single day that Shelly picks him up, the first thing he asks – without fail – is “can we go past the scary house?” (scar-ray) When we’re driving, he’ll ask over and over, “did you see that scary guy, mama?” and “did you see that pumpkin, mama?” about pretty much every Halloween decoration he sees.

- Ben has lots of random funny things he does to make us laugh. He’ll ask to have shorts on his head and then run around in circles yelling “I … have … shorts … on my head! I … have … shorts … on my head!” He also likes to yell the name of Henry’s teacher – “Mrs. Hojnacki! Mrs. Hojnacki!” (Hoy-nacki) When Henry comes home, Ben will ask “did you talk to Mrs. Hojnacki today, Hen-ray?” and Henry will say “yes, Ben, I talk to her every day!” And still he asks again the next day, it’s so cute.

I may come back and add to this list as he does things I want to remember about this stage. You forget so fast! Dave and I sometimes look back on my Henry updates and so often we’ll say “oh yeah! I forgot about that!”

Ben’s such a little love, and so exasperating at times, and he plays a big role in the fun and crazyness that is our family of five. We love you, Benny boy!

Ellie at 8 weeks old

Ellie is eight weeks old today!

I’m not sure I can find words to express just how enamored I am with this baby girl of mine. If you’d asked me who my perfect, most dream-worthy baby would be before I met her, I’m really not sure I could have dreamed her up.

Everyone probably thinks their baby is the cutest baby on the planet, right? Because, whoa. And along with that precious little face comes just the sweetest little personality, too. She’s just so darn HAPPY all the time, and so soft and kissable – mmm! Honestly, I kind of can’t handle it. I can’t handle the cute.

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She’s a dream, seriously. People have said this about third babies – they tend to be the easy ones. I didn’t dare believe that, though (and obviously I know it’s not the case for everyone!) – but in my case, it has actually turned out to be true so far. She sleeps (more on that momentarily!), she smiles constantly, she nurses like a champ, she’s calm and content, she’s growing like a weed.

The sleep thing is actually pretty nuts. She’s nearly two months old and she still sleeps as much as a newborn. Maybe more. It’s actually concerning some days, but most of the time it’s just kind of comical. The girl’s naps just roll one right into the next, with short periods of awake time in between. Some days she’ll be awake more than others, but some days she’ll still sleep LITERALLY all day. And on those days I think whoa, I’m in for it tonight – but then she sleeps at night, too! She’s definitely sleeping 20 hours a day still, I’d bet.

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The “toughest” aspect of the sleep situation (and I say “toughest” since this ain’t nothing compared to what I went through with the boys, and compared to how most two-month-olds sleep!) continues to be the late evening, which is when she wants to be awake for the longest period of time. Some nights it’s not so bad, and she’ll go to bed by 10 or 11, but most nights she wants to be awake til midnight or later. She sort of turns into a different baby in those hours, fighting sleep, not wanting to eat as much, not really able to relax in my arms. I often get so exhausted sitting in the nursery with her trying to get her to sleep that I’ll finally say uncle and bring her into my bed with me. That usually puts her to sleep, and then when I wake up after an hour or so, I take her into her room.

From week one, she’s given me 4 and 5-hour stretches of sleep, but the past week or two she’s increased that. Last week she gave me her first 8-hour stretch, which of course freaked me out when I woke up! Then she had a few nights of seven hours at a time, and the past few it’s been about six again – which is still amazing. I often only get to sleep five or six hours a night because of her being night owl and her brothers being early birds, but it’s still much better than it could be, so I’m thankful for the sleep I am getting!

Some nights, like last night, she’s even unhappy in bed with me, and I feel a little lost on what to do to get her to sleep. Then I get mad at her, which makes me feel super guilty since she’s such a good baby most of the time. I put her down awake last night at midnight, because I just couldn’t stay up another minute. I thought, well, if she starts fussing, at least I’ll get a few minutes in my bed first. I just need a few minutes! But amazingly she went to sleep. She awoke at 6 a.m. to eat, and then went back to sleep til 9:15! I brought her downstairs and she ate again, and now she’s right back to sleep on my chest. Such a silly girl.

I do hope she’ll start figuring out her days and nights a bit better here soon, since I want to be able to push her bedtime back and have a bit of evening to myself and with Dave again. And I just don’t want to be up til 11 or 12 every night! Plus when she’s up at 5 or 6 a.m. for the first time to eat, she of course wants to go back to sleep – and that’s not going to fly when I have to be back to work – I want to see my baby before I leave for the day! But wow – I may have actually gotten that great sleeper I was so hoping for.

A few other updates on Ellie (and me while we’re at it) …

Camera Roll-206She and I have been out and about quite a bit lately – and it’s seriously so nice to not have to worry hardly at all about how she’ll behave or if I’ll have to deal with fussy or a super hungry baby. That answer is pretty much always nope! I take her to stores and wear her in my Moby and she just snoozes. Monday night I took her to my first It Works team meeting at Starbucks. We were there for two hours and since it was evening, it was her awake time, and she barely made a peep. She snuggled with a team member of mine for awhile, and then just hung out in her car seat or in my arms. I had to stand at one point and bounce her a bit, but otherwise she was totally content. Then today I went to lunch with my friend, Amy, and my friend, Matt, who’s designing our website for Grateful Hearts Giving Network, and there, too, she just sat in the booth next to me and chilled, sleeping half the time, and sitting there awake and making a few cute little noises the other half of the time. As I was leaving, the waiter said “that’s quite the content baby you have there – made it through that whole lunch!” I still kind of can’t believe what a chill baby she is.

I mentioned when she was one month old that she had a loose hip and had an ultrasound scheduled to get it checked out. We had that appointment two weeks ago and it went well – she was awake and so cute as the technician moved the probe around each of her hips. I came home, wondering if she’d have to wear a harness, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world but would have been a bummer and an inconvenience, and I wasn’t even home an hour before a nurse from our pediatrician’s office called to say that her ultrasound results looked totally normal. So that was that! I was very relieved.

Ellie’s out of newborn clothes now and has been for probably two weeks. She’s in 0-3 and 3-month stuff, though a lot of the 3-month pants are still pretty big on her. I love getting her dressed and I can’t get over all the cute girl clothes in her closet and in the stores, and it makes me so excited to dress her as she gets bigger. I always knew how cute girl clothes were, but I didn’t let myself dwell on it since I thought I might never have a girl. But now that I do have one – oh my gosh, bring on the ruffle butts and polka dots and flowers and the pink and the accessories – I love it all!!

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She hasn’t lost any of that glorious hair of hers, and it just keeps on growing. It gets super greasy really fast, so I bathe her every other day – sometimes more. I’m sure her hair is part of the reason she gets so much attention, but I swear, I can’t believe the attention she gets everywhere I take her. People just swoon over her. I remember my boys getting attention – people love babies! – but it wasn’t like this. Someone said recently that baby girls tend to get more attention, and I think it might be true. Makes me sad for my sweet boys and for all little boys – boys are awesome and so very sweet!! I myself swoon just as much over baby boys, that’s for sure.

The one update on me I wanted to note here was my postpartum weight loss – or lack thereof.

I’m not too worried, as I know it’ll come off, but it’s a little frustrating when it came off so much faster with the boys, and since I have to be back into my work clothes in less than four weeks. I’m still up about 12-13 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight of 145, which is actually 17-18 pounds over my happy/ideal weight of 140. When Ben was 10 weeks old, I had less than five pounds left to lose. It was similar or probably even better with Henry. Boo!

I know I’m older this time, and it’s my third baby. You know what else I think is contributing to it, though? Ellie eats far less than her big brothers did, and so my milk supply isn’t as abundant as it was with them. I’m making less milk and thus burning fewer calories each day. I only pump a few times a week, even though I keep telling myself I should do it once a day! Maybe once I’m back to work and regularly pumping 2-3 times each day, the weight will come off a bit faster. Of course, with Ben at 8 weeks, he was still only giving me 3- or 4- hour stretches of sleep at the most, so there are certainly trade-offs with each babe. ;)

Life with Ellie is really wonderful. And I’ve said it several times already but whoa, the transition to three kids has been eight million times easier than the transition to two. It helps to have a good baby, no doubt, but I was also more prepared this time, too. I knew it’d be crazy town around here, and it is, but it’s mostly a good crazy. I mean, let’s be real – there’s plenty of chaos and noise and tears and mom snapping at her boys too often (which is a post for another day) but despite it all, we are all doing pretty great, and I love having three kids.