Ellie, you are six months old!

My sweet Eleanor! You are six months old today!

A whole half of a year you’ve been with us, and even though it seems like you are growing up SO fast, it also feels like you’ve been here a long time! Being pregnant with you, the weather being warm, being on maternity leave, you being teeny tiny – it all feels like ages ago. And yet I know another six months will pass in what will feel like the blink of an eye and boom – you will be one and our baby days will be officially over. It makes me really sad to think about, even though I know that kids just get more and more fun as they get bigger. But there is just nothing in this world like a little baby, and knowing you are my last makes me very sad sometimes.

But if I could have dreamed up the most perfect baby to round out our family and end my baby years with, I couldn’t have picked a better babe than you, my girl, and for that I feel incredibly blessed and lucky. You’ve been a dream boat since the day you were born, and just when I think you couldn’t be any more amazing, you get MORE amazing.

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As ridiculous as I know I sound, the words that come out of my mouth nearly every day when I’m with you are “I can’t even.” Because … I just can’t even. I can’t with that face of yours, that hair of yours, that squishy baby body of yours. Your smell, your snugglyness, your smiles and squeals. You are the just … just … aughhhhhhh. I can’t.

I could gush about you all day, but I think a better use of my time here will be to get down some facts about you at six months old. Because those I know I’ll probably forget. The rest I won’t!

– Your hair is out of control. I love it and it adds so much to your personality, but it’s getting a little crazy! It’s over your ears and in your eyes and the top still won’t lay flat, no matter how much I comb it. Headbands have gone from something I put on you once in awhile to make you look cute, to something I put on you most days, even with just your sleeper, to keep the hair out of your face. It’ll be very interesting to see how your hair style evolves over these next months and years. This girl thing is all new to me, letting it grow! Both your bros had their first haircut before they turned one year old.

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– You’ve been rolling for quite awhile and love to roll across the room and roll to reach a toy or other object, like the remote control, or cords you shouldn’t have. You can suddenly sit up quite well, though you’ll still topple after awhile if we don’t put support around you. It’s so fun to watch you play with toys, and I will tell you that even your toys bring me such joy. A pink picnic basket! I have a girl!

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– Truly, I’m still so over the moon that I got a daughter after two sons, it’s as if I just found out, even though it’s been nearly a year already since we found out you were a girl. I take such delight in your clothes and your room and your toys and your sweet little demeanor. I adore your brothers, but when they are fighting and running and being so very loud as boys tend to be, I think to myself Lord thank you for giving me a daughter for #3! Heaven help me if I had three boys running around. ;) I obviously would have welcomed that with open arms, and I did expect to have a boy. But the fact that you’re a girl – well, I’m still just tickled pink over it on a daily basis!!

– You’ve been eating baby oatmeal for about a month and you’re a big fan. We increased it to two meals a day pretty quickly, and last night I gave you your first veggies – carrots! You seemed unaffected by the first few bites, but then you started making faces. I ended up mixing the rest with some oats and breast milk to tame the flavor a bit, and you polished it right off. Next up will be sweet potatoes, and then bananas and some other fruits – yum! Then I suppose we’ll just start giving you little bits of what we’re eating before long – I’m so excited to introduce you to all kinds of new foods! Please, Ellie girl, be a better eater than your bros! All babies love veggies and fruits and pretty much all foods (beans! avocado! meat!) when they start out – but I hope you will keep on loving them!

– Speaking of breast milk, we had a little slip-up earlier this week that has me nervous about our ability to make it to a year with just breast milk, but I’m holding out hope we’ll make it. Long story short, you don’t go to daycare and so I don’t have as much control over your milk intake or our milk supply like I did when the boys were babies. I put my fresh milk in the fridge, and then Shelly feeds it to you the next day. Sometimes I freeze milk, and when I do, I throw it in the freezer and forget about it. Shelly has been kind enough to rotate out our stash, putting newer stuff downstairs and bringing older stuff up. When I went to Florida last month, I knew I had quite a bit in the freezer, like enough to last you at least three times the length of time I was actually going to be gone. I pumped and dumped the whole trip, getting rid of probably 50+ ounces of milk over those couple of days. Well the other day Shelly said hey, you know that you only have a few bags of milk left in the freezer. I was totally taken aback. But then I thought well, come to think of it, I haven’t actually frozen any milk in a long time. I just assumed I had a freezer full, since I always did with the boys. With Ben, I actually donated a ton of it because I couldn’t use it fast enough. But now with you, we’re almost out!

With the boys, I pumped at work as well as at home. With you, I’ve been lazy and I only pump at work, twice a day – very rarely do I pump at home. At work I get about 15 oz., and you drink that and a bit more while I’m gone, so Shelly’s been dipping into the freezer stuff regularly.

So anyway, we’re almost out. I’ve pumped a couple times at home to try and have a little extra to freeze, but I never get much at home, especially since you’ve often just eaten. We’ve switched to just putting water in your oatmeal instead of 4 oz or so of milk. And we do have like seven bags left, so maybe I can keep up and build a little stash back up. I don’t have anything against formula, and if we have to give you some formula bottles if we run out of breast milk, so be it. But of course, I’ve come this far with all of my babies having only breast milk their first year, and you’re still such a great nurser, I’d just like to make it all the way if I can! We’ll see, I guess.

– You’re sleeping through the night pretty much every night now and it blows my mind. I’ve never had a baby who sleeps all night and I honestly didn’t think I’d get one! You’re usually up around 5 or 5:30 to eat and then you go back to sleep til 6:30 or so, but I certainly consider that to be all night! You sleep in a sleep sack and you like to roll to your side and sleep on your side now, and I cover you with a blanket even though it makes me nervous. But we live in Wisconsin and even with the heat cranked to 70 or 72, your room gets chilly at night, and I feel terrible if your little hands or cheeks are cold!

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– You’re not really on a set nap schedule, but you do nap twice a day most days. Sometimes your morning one is the long one, other times your afternoon one is your long one. But you seem to really enjoy sleep, not fighting it like my boys always did as babies.

– You smile constantly and even though we all sort of find Henry to be the most annoying person in our house these days (ha), I think he’s your favorite. No one can make you smile and laugh like Henry can! You also adore your daddy, though you still prefer mommy. You love Ben, too, but he’s more indifferent to you, so I think that makes you more indifferent to him. He’s smitten with you when he actually pays attention to you, but he’s often just doing his own thing and not really focusing on you!

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– You’re talking up a storm these days, working on your consonant sounds and babbling “ba ba ba ba.” No dada or mama yet, though! You also love to SCREAM, like a ridiculously high-pitched scream that has us all covering our ears. It’s funny and adorable, but also deafening.

– I feel like I just switched you to 6-month clothes and now you’re growing out of most of them already. Your growth has just exploded this past month or so and you suddenly feel HUGE to us. Long and chunky and sturdy! Makes me happy and sad all at once!

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– You don’t have any teeth yet. You have your six-month appointment next week. You are starting to be opinionated about things, the most obvious example being with Shelly’s cell phone. Shelly will put you in her lap and let you hold her big iPhone 6, and she’ll put on some Taylor Swift or One Direction and you just LOVE it. You hold the phone and kick your legs fiercely. But when she tries to take it away from you – watch out! You squeal and whine and squirm to try and get it back. It’s quite funny! You also LOVE your jumperoo right now. You jump like a wild woman in it and and it’s adorable. I never leave you in it too long since I want to hold you and hang out with you! But it’s great for when we need to get things done – you will happily stay in there as long as we need you to!

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So that’s you at six months old in a nutshell! You’re just the best, Ellie. I am so beyond happy and privileged to be your mom. You are more beautiful and sweet and awesome than I ever could have imagined, and I am SO excited to keep watching you turn into a little person. Happy half-birthday, my love!

Love, Mommy

Dear Benny (3 years old)

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Dear Benny,

My sweet, crazy 3-year-old baby boy. Happy birthday, buddy!

I’ll be honest. I almost didn’t write this, but then I looked back and saw I wrote your brother a letter on here when he turned three years old, and it made me feel guilty. I’m sure this is just one of many instances like that that we’ll face over the years, since Henry’s the first and you’re the middle, and it’s just reality that the “first” of everything gets more attention. And Henry gets to go first.

I’m the oldest in my family, so I never knew what it was like to be a middle child. Your daddy is the middle, though, and because of this, he feels like he has a special bond with you. I can tell you with certainty, though, that you are loved beyond words and appreciated for the unique and amazing little person you are!

I mean, you give us a run for our money on a daily basis, let’s not kid ourselves. Three was a tough age with your brother and I wonder if it’ll be tougher with you. Some days you give me hope that three will be more awesome than not, but then other days, well… other days, you don’t. ;)

But you’re a cool little dude, Ben. You demand so much less attention than your brother does, and it’s a breath of fresh air most days. You play so well and have a big imagination and you actually enjoy being by yourself. You love playing with trucks and cars, you enjoy drawing and painting, and you love the new Playdoh you got for your birthday. Not surprisingly, you’ve developed a love of technology, asking every day “can I play on the tablet?” and more recently, “can I play the sports game, Mom?” The second you wake up you’re asking these things. Daddy recently got a Kinect for the XBox and you always want to play the bowling and boxing games. It’s hilarious to watch you get so into it, and you can really hold your own for a just-turned-three-year-old.

I need to start writing down more of the things you say, since you crack me up all the time. Last night you asked to play with glue and said “I want to glue some macaroni and cheese.” I give you pasta to glue, and it’s funny that you call it macaroni and cheese. The pins on the bowling game look like milk jugs to you, and this morning when you were playing you said “Mom, I knocked down five milks!” When Henry does something naughty, you say “Henry, you’re a dork.” You like to tattle on your brother, too. “Mom, Henry’s not sitting on time-out!”

You’ve been an incredible talker since you were a baby, and even now it astounds me how far beyond your age you sound when you speak. You’ve known your numbers and letters and colors for a very long time now. You hop on one foot and move with grace and throw a ball like a champ. You can cut with a scissors with ease and hold a pencil and pen just how you should.

But then there are other areas of your development that sometimes make me scratch my head. When I ask you to pick something up and tell you exactly where it is, you’ll look right past it. The other morning you came into the bathroom and said “is daddy still home?” and I said yes. You asked “is there someone in the shower?” and then “Who’s in the shower?” I mean, if it’s not me in the shower, who else would it be? You still scribble when you “draw,” and as we’ve talked about at length, you won’t poop on the darn toilet. But we’ll get there.

You give unprompted hugs and you say thank you in the sweetest way for things I do simply because I’m your mom. “Thanks for wiping off my face, Mom!” and “Thanks for buttoning my pants, Mom!” You can turn on the sweet like nobody else I know. Today I read back through posts tagged “Benjamin” and was reminded of just how head-over-heels in love with you I was for your first two plus years of life. You’ve always been such a snuggly, loving, happy child. Of course, I’m still in love with you! It’s just different since you’re not a baby anymore!

Your birthday has come and gone, and it was a good one. The morning of your birthday you woke up and came downstairs to a new trampoline – a perfect gift for my energetic little man! All day whenever I wished you happy birthday, you responded with “Happy birthday to you, too!” or “Happy birthday, Mom!” Shelly brought you gifts, too, and that evening after work we took you to Stone Fire Pizza Co. for pizza and some playtime. You rode a motorcycle and played games and jumped in the bounce house and had a blast. It was a fun family night! Then Sunday we had a big party for you, serving brunch since breakfast is your favorite meal – though you didn’t really eat anything besides cake anyway. I did make you eat a pancake and a piece of sausage before I’d let you have a second piece! You got lots of cool presents and were mostly a polite little guy. We were all exhausted when it was over, and I realized you would have been happy as a clam without having a party, but I’m still glad we did it for you. Next year we’ll keep it smaller, though.

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Your smile for pictures makes me laugh out loud and wince at the same time. You’re a character and a half.

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You’re my baby boy, Benny, and I love you so much. I can hardly believe you’re three years old already. You lend such a unique and delightful element to our family and I feel so very lucky that you are ours.

Love, Mom

Life update

Dave relayed this conversation to me that he had with Henry in the car over the weekend.

Henry: “Why do people smoke cigarettes? They’re gross.”
Dave: “Because they try them a couple times and then they get addicted to them.”
Henry: “What does addicted mean?”
Dave: “It’s like when your body likes something so much that it starts to want it – NEED it – every single day.”
Henry: (thinks for a minute) “I have something I’m addicted to.”
Dave: “What’s that?”
Henry: “Pancakes.”

I told him that was one of those things that we just need to write down and have to look back on and laugh about one day.

There are so many of those moments in a given week, and I often make a mental note to write them down or blog them, and I almost never do. It makes me sad that this blog has taken such a backseat lately to other priorities in life, but I don’t see that changing anytime too soon. I can only do my best to document life at least once in awhile, and continue to thank the Lord that modern technology allows me to document life at least in some small way every day, through pictures and Instagram.

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Life is super busy (what else is new) and super exciting right now, with big changes potentially on the horizon for our family. I think this year will be a year of transition for us in many ways! We’ll see how it all unfolds.

Very quickly, life lately in a quick nutshell …

All%20Photos-311Henry loves school. He had his Valentine’s Day party today and tomorrow he gets to go on his very first field trip, to a children’s theater downtown to see a show. He gets to have lunch at school and stay all day, with Shelly picking him up at 3:20. Henry continues to be a very emotional and dramatic child, crying as often as he did as a two-year-old, maybe even more. But he’s also absolutely hilarious and super smart, learning how to read and bringing tears to our eyes as he sounds out words from the books we’re reading. Dave and I had a moment a few nights ago where it hit us at the very same time, like whoa. Our kid can almost read. He needs to be near us – or his brother, or somebody – at all times. He’d watch YouTube videos all day if we let him. He’s still very much into crafts and creating things. He can be very sweet and helpful, and also the sassiest little thing you ever met. He adores his baby sis, and she loves him so much, too, laughing for him more than anyone else in our family.

Benny boy turns three years old tomorrow. It’s hard to believe and yet it feels strange that he’s only three, since he seems older than that in many ways. He’s still very much a baby, though, in the fact that he STILL POOPS IN HIS DIAPER. We were spoiled with Henry, and I can’t believe we’ll now have a three-year-old who still refuses to poop on the toilet. He’s actually scared of it, I think. No amount of bribery or threatening or bargaining or pleading or shaming or begging has worked. Nothing. It’s horrifying to change his diaper, and thankfully Dave does probably three for every one I do. Ben only poops every few days, holding it in for as long as possible. And then he’ll walk around on his tip toes and say “I’m not poopin, I’m not poopin.” Oh, Ben.

All Photos-296Aside from that, he’s the typical Jekyl and Hyde that three-year-olds tend to be. The sweetest, cutest, most HILARIOUS little kid sometimes, and the naughtiest, whiniest little boy at other times. His sense of humor is really something, though, and we think he’ll have zero problem making and keeping friends in this life. He knows when he’s being funny and totally thrives on making us all laugh. He’s a terribly picky eater, refusing to even touch a vegetable or even most fruits, or most cheese, or any meat besides breakfast sausage. He survives on yogurt, peanut butter and jelly, yogurt raisins, crackers, pizza and anything sweet that he shouldn’t be having since he doesn’t balance it out with good stuff! It’s very frustrating, and all we can do is keep trying, and hope he comes around eventually. He’s up before the rest of the household most days, and he’s the last of the kids to fall asleep at night. He’ll go down at 8 and sometimes still be awake at 10 pm up there. On those nights, he doesn’t even sleep eight hours.

He loves LEGOS and fire trucks and playing games on the tablet. He likes to color and paint, and his favorite shows are Team Umizoomi (still) and Paw Patrol. He wants a Paw Patrol cake for his birthday, and I have to see if I can arrange that, since the store I was at today did not have one in their book. We’re having a party for him Sunday morning for our family and some friends, and tomorrow night for his actual birthday we’re taking him to Stone Fire Pizza Co. for dinner and some playtime. We got him a Little Tikes trampoline that will be waiting for him when he wakes up tomorrow.

All Photos-306Ellie is still a dreamboat. I don’t really have the words to describe how much I love and adore her. I want to eat her. I wish I could freeze time and just drink her in so much more than I’m actually able to. Every inch of her is just so scrumptious and perfect, I fear I may actually smother her with my kisses and cuddles sometimes. She’s an absolutely gorgeous baby with big cheeks and sparkly blue eyes and hair that just keeps growing. She’s barrel rolling all over the place now, but will only roll to the right, not the left. She wants to get up on her knees and crawl but is definitely not there yet. She screams a lot and talks a lot and loves playing with toys. She started on baby oatmeal two weeks ago and LOVES it, and I’m excited to give her more food soon. She still sleeps really well – we had no four-month sleep regression at all! Still up once a night most nights, though she’s slept all night twice in the last week or so. I both long for and dread the time when she begins sleeping through the night all the time. There’s something really special about getting up in the night to feed and snuggle a baby, and I’ll be sad for that to be over.

Nursing is still going so well, the best experience of all three so far, which is saying something since I had a pretty good experience with both boys, too. She’s really easy to feed and eats really well and pumping is going smoothly, too. She takes a bottle well for Shelly. I feel the most at ease with nursing this time around, finally able to comfortably nurse without a boppy or pillow if I need to, and comfortable enough to nurse in public or at someone’s house without retreating to a bedroom. I nursed her on a bench at the zoo a couple weekends ago, inside one of the buildings, and as I was feeding her, I thought whoa, I just did that and didn’t even think about it – I’ve come a long way! Of course, now that I’m six months from being done forever is when I finally feel 100% adept and competent at it. Such is life as a parent, I suppose. But I’m very thankful it’s gone so well and I really pray it keeps up for at least six more months.

We’re going on a year with Shelly (next month) and she remains one of the very best things to ever happen to us. We KNOW how lucky we are to have found the most loving, trustworthy, reliable, amazing person to take care of our kids, and we don’t take it for granted for one second. We try to take good care of her, since she takes SUCH good care of us. We simply ask that she takes care of our kids, but she goes so far beyond that, doing our laundry, emptying the dishwasher, keeping the house straightened up, putting the kids’ laundry away, and doing other things as she can – washing my bottles and pump parts sometimes; making orange juice when we’re out; replacing light bulbs when they burn out; bringing the kids snacks and new craft supplies.

She brought me birthday presents last month, including a coffee mug with my kids’ pictures on it that she made with pics she had taken over this past year, and a travel coffee mug and a big bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee since that’s what we make at home. She’s just so thoughtful. And she adores our kids and is so good with them. They adore her. Ellie just lights up when she sees her and it makes me so happy. A little jealous sometimes, too, not because Ellie loves her, because I want Ellie to love her, but because she gets the pleasure of spending the day with my sweet peanut! But I know she enjoys it so much, and that’s all I could ever ask for. She’s happy to text with me every day, which I really appreciate, since I like to check in! And she sends me pics that make me smile during my work day. She is just SUCH a huge blessing in our life and we truly love her.

Dave and I are both working on side businesses and seeing some good success, and I think the drive to succeed together combined with the fact that our family is complete and we’ve got this sweet little girl now to fawn over has made us closer than ever. We’re in a really good place, despite how chaotic and overwhelming life can feel during this especially busy season of life.

Winter is dreadful, as it is every year, and we’re all more than ready for it to be over.

Every Friday night we do pizza and a movie in the living room, and I look forward to it every Friday. Dave works late so it’s me and the kids. Lately it’s been Frozen, Finding Nemo, Frozen again, Neverending Story and Annie.

My dad had copies of our old home movies made for Christmas this year, something we’ve been asking him to do for 10 years, at least. I’m so excited to watch them all whenever I have some time. Those moments are priceless. I take videos pretty regularly but beyond putting some favorites on YouTube, I don’t really do much with them, and I need to find a better way to store and catalog them for future viewing and saving.

We’re getting a tax return this year, thank goodness, since we have to do a pretty major fix to our downstairs bathroom. The inspection four years ago should have revealed it but didn’t, and basically all the pipes for that bathroom were done incorrectly and have to be removed and re-installed differently. Awesome.

This was supposed to be quick and turned into a lot. No time for many pics but at least I got an update done! That is life right now. Busy, good, cold, chaotic, happy, tiring, awesome, going too fast/not fast enough. More soon, I hope.

Day in the Life: Winter 2015

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The date is Saturday, January 31, 2015

I just turned 33
Dave is 32
Henry is 5 years, 3 months
Ben is 12 days shy of 3 years
Ellie is 5 months, 4 days

Oh DITLs, how I love and loathe you.

I was due for a weekend day this time, so Saturday it was. As is often the case, I considered not doing this, since I feel spread pretty thin these days, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t do it. And since I haven’t been blogging nearly enough lately, either, I figured at least this would give a glimpse at life right now.

A note about our nights – they’re often a fiasco. With three kids who all wake up at night a lot of nights, I am often up two or three times a night. But sometimes I’m not, and on good nights, it’s just up once with Ellie and that’s it. The boys had been on a really good streak, sleeping all night every night, and Henry’s even been sleeping later than normal – maybe finally figuring out that sleep is pretty awesome. But alas, this night was a bit of a fiasco.

I go to bed at 10:45 p.m., and Ellie is awake to eat by 11:45 p.m. Very rare for her! I nurse her for a few minutes and go back to bed.

2:10 a.m. – Ellie’s awake again. I go in there, pick her up and sit down in the chair with her, and while she normally nurses for 10 minutes or so once a night, this time she nurses for probably less than two minutes before falling back to sleep. I’m back in bed within like five minutes, and I probably could have gotten away with just replacing her nuk. Oh well.

4:48 a.m. – Ben is awake and walks into the hallway and says “I peed in my bed.” I groggily get up and he says “feel my pajamas,” and I feel and he’s sooooaked. Ugh. He’s been waking up dry for a good month or more, so we decided to stop putting him in diapers at night. So much for that. I tell him to go in his room so I can change his jammies, and he lays down as I peel them off. I wipe him down a bit with his pajama shirt, and he says “thanks for wiping me off, mom.” It’s so sweet, and it’s especially sweet considering what we normally go through when this happens.

All Photos-199Henry was a rock star at potty training at 2 1/2, and hasn’t really had accidents ever since then. But suddenly he’s five and he’s begun peeing the bed semi regularly. It’s so strange, and really annoying. It happened three times in one week a few weeks ago. When this happens, he wails and whines and acts really stubborn and as if we’re inconveniencing him when we change his pajamas and his sheets. So the fact that Ben was so calm about it and said thank you to me was really appreciated. I don’t even wake Dave up, since he’s the one getting up with the kids in probably one short hour. I take the sheet off Ben’s bed and pull everything off his mattress – I snap a pic of the pile of toys and stuffed animals I pull from his bed, which is pretty absurd. I put a new sheet on and put Ben back to bed.

6:24 a.m. – Ellie’s awake again, so I bring her into bed with me and nurse her as we both doze back off. The boys are up within a few minutes, though, and like every morning, everyone piles into our bed. Ben has his LEGO motorcycle and I have to tell him not to drive it on Ellie’s head. I snap a pic of everyone and they are not a fan of the flash on my phone. Henry tells me he wants to make me breakfast in bed today, which is something he’s never done before. He knows it’s DITL day, so maybe that’s why he’s doing it, but he doesn’t say so. Dave finally takes the kids downstairs at 7 a.m. so I can sleep a bit more. I lay in bed and doze, hearing the boys fight a few times downstairs, and hearing Ellie scream, which is her new favorite thing to do.

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7:57 a.m. – I sit up and check Instagram and Timehop. Henry comes up dressed as a police officer and wielding a gun, and he says he’s going to start my breakfast. I can hear Ellie being noisy downstairs and tell Henry to tell Dave to bring her up so I can feed her again, since I have to stay in bed anyway. He brings her up and I nurse her a bit.

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8:10 a.m. – Henry makes five trips upstairs for me – first with a tray, then with microwave pancakes on a paper towel, then with a cut-up banana on another paper towel, then with silverware and syrup, and finally with a glass of orange juice. It’s hilarious and adorable, and when I ask him why he didn’t give me a plate, he doesn’t really have an answer. I eat one pancake as he snags the other, and he drinks half my orange juice, too, saying it tastes delicious “like hotel orange juice.”

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Ben poops downstairs and Dave changes him. This is another reason why we wanted to stop putting him in diapers at night, since he then takes advantage and poops. He’s been potty (as in pee only!) trained since I was on maternity leave (so going on three months now…) but he has yet to poop in the toilet. Kid is as stubborn as they come and no amount of bribing or keeping him out of a diaper will make him poop on the toilet. He seems to actually have a fear of it, and he’s gone like five days without going before we finally give in and put him in a diaper. It’s frustrating and gross and I just really hope he comes around soon!

8:30 a.m. – Ellie’s beside me in the bed as I eat my breakfast, and when I’m done, I decide to give her a bath right away. Shelly gave her one yesterday afternoon because she had a blow-out, but she combed her hair the opposite direction and it’s a mess, so I want to wash it again and comb it right. ;)

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8:45 a.m. – Ellie’s all clean and I decide to get her dressed for the day instead of putting her in another sleeper. I don’t get to get her dressed most days since she stays home and Shelly gets her dressed, so I really enjoy it when I get to do it. I pick out her sweet little elephant t-shirt and some jeggings. We come downstairs and walk into the kitchen to see daddy, and I’m holding her up on my shoulder and we’re admiring her. Dave says something like “you’re our cutest baby by far, Ellie!” and right on cue she spits up all over her shirt and me, which is a regular occurrence with her. I tell Dave to snap a pic before I wipe off my arm, and I decide she didn’t get her shirt that badly and I’m keeping it on her!

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Ben is cutting pictures out of a Tea Collection catalog and drawing faces on some of the girls (“I made her into a zombie, Mom – a cool zombie”), and Henry is watching a love song video by the Shaytards on YouTube. We’ve had a bit of an issue lately with Henry and YouTube, as he’s just obsessed with this California family called the Shaytards, and he wants to watch them all.the.time. I don’t mind it here and there, but he sure isn’t learning anything from them, so we try to seriously limit it. The new rule is weekends only. He is ridiculously into this song and is watching it and singing along with it when I come over to snap a pic. He’s embarrassed so he hides under the table.

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9-11:15 a.m. – I have coffee, Dave makes me an egg sandwich for breakfast, we clean up the house a bit. I change the sheets on our bed. Ben plays in the sun room, Henry plays with my lip gloss. I nurse Ellie upstairs and put her down for a nap, which ends up being only about 45 minutes. I freeze the milk I pumped at work on Friday. Henry reminds me that we were going to make cinnamon rolls this weekend, so we make those, him helping me with the icing when they come out. I eat one, the rest of the gang eats two, with Ben polishing off a third. Dave and Henry head out to go to the post office and a few stores, and I stay home with Ben and Ellie. I want to give Ben some one-on-one time, so we do some Smarty Pants flash cards while Ellie sits in the Bumbo next to us. After awhile I put her in her bouncy seat and she chews on Sophie and makes noise. Here’s a little video.

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11:15 a.m. – I nurse Ellie again and she falls asleep so I put her in her crib. I set Benny up with the tablet on the couch and tell him I need to get in the shower. I have to be out of the house by 12:10 or so to meet with a woman Dave used to work with who’s interested in the opportunity with It Works. I’ve never met her before, and we have plans to meet at a coffee shop in Tosa at 12:30.

It’s funny, I had consciously decided to not really do much It Works-related on my DITL day since I realize I post about it plenty on social media, and since it dominates much of my life outside of work these days – but then this girl messaged me the night before and asked if we could meet up; and then another IW-related thing happened later in the day, too – so there was no getting around it. :)

11:15-Noon – I shower, put on makeup and dry and straighten my hair. I have a new eye shadow palette to use today that I ordered on Amazon after seeing Andrea use a similar one in Florida. Ellie wakes up again so I put her in her bouncy seat outside the bathroom to hang out while I finish getting ready. I text Dave to remind him that I have to leave soon, but he’s walking in the door right as I hit send. I gather up the stuff I want to bring, snap a few pics of me and Ellie in her mirror and one of my fam as I leave.

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12:15 p.m. – In the van and on my way. I listen to Serial – I’m on the last episode and it’s almost over. At a stoplight I message the woman and tell her I may be a few minutes late but I’m on my way. She messages right back and says she was just going to message me – her car won’t start. I’m thinking she’s going to cancel on me and I’m going to be mad I got all ready and out of the house, but she asks I can just come to her house instead. Fine by me! So I put her address into my GPS and head over.

12:35 p.m. – Arrive at her condo and message her that I’m there. She comes out a minute later and waves me up to the door. She and her boyfriend lead me up the stairs and I briefly think about how I didn’t tell Dave I was headed here instead of the coffee shop and what if I get murdered? Yes, this is how my mind works, I’m a freak.

12:35-1:45 p.m. – I do not get murdered and instead she’s super nice. Her boyfriend is outside most of the time, trying to get her car to start, which it won’t. We sit on her couch in her cute condo and chat about It Works, and I find myself getting really excited as I show her products and talk about the company and the conference I was just at. She’s very interested and I think she’ll join our team eventually, so it was an hour well spent. Plus she just seems like a cool person, so I’m glad Dave connected us. He’s been doing what he can to help me grow my biz, which is very sweet.

2 p.m. – I finish Serial on my way home. I liked it but it’s super frustrating to me, too. Who the heck killed this girl?! Did Adnon do it or not? So much of it just makes no sense. But I’m glad I listened, I found it fascinating. I get home and Benny’s napping. Dave greets me with Ellie is his arms, and Henry’s now dressed as a fire fighter. Henry tells me I got some stuff in the mail, and it’s a box of products I’d ordered, as well as an envelope from It Works that feels like it has something besides paper inside. It’s my certificate for hitting Diamond in December, as well as a nice letter from the CEO and two gifts – a Diamond pin and a leather bracelet.

I’m staaaaarving and need something quick so I heat up a few leftover pieces of pizza from the night before. We’re going to see my mom’s new house today that she and Dale just closed on this week, and I want us to be out the door by 3 pm. I sit down next to Dave and Ellie on the couch, and Ellie kind of freaks out at seeing my pizza – girl is hungry! I eat as fast as I can so I can nurse her again before we leave. I decide maybe we should try to give her some oatmeal in the morning (here!), even though I’d been hoping to hold off til six months. But it’s clear that she’s ready for more – she’s downing bottles while I’m at work, and wants to nurse a lot when I’m home, too. I feed her, then pick out clothes for her and Ben. Ben wakes up, and I get both of them dressed. The boys pick out a snack, and there’s tears from Henry, though I can’t remember why. There are many tears from Henry each day, so I stop keeping track pretty early in the day. ;)

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3:15 p.m. – We pack up and head out. Dave helps me get the kids in the van and then he gets in his car to follow us, as he’s hanging out and brewing beer with his brother tonight. His bro and my mom actually live in the same town about 45 minutes away now, which is nice! Dave plans to hang at my mom’s with us for about an hour before heading to his brother’s.

3:20 p.m.-4:01 p.m. – We make it to mom’s in about 40 minutes, which is awesome since it took us 50 or a little more to get to her old place. On the way we sing songs from Frozen (we really need to get the soundtrack, since hitting those high notes in Let It Go is not easy for me, ha) and I’m surprised that I know like every single word to the songs. I mean, I guess it’s not that surprising considering how many times we’ve seen that movie, but still. I am feeling really tired and wish we could have stopped for Starbucks, but alas, there’s not one on the way.

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4:01 p.m. – Pull into mom’s driveway and she waves out the door. I get out and she says “this is my new house!” It’s cute. (Her, I mean. But the house is, too!) We head inside and take our shoes off – no shoes on the carpet! The house is empty since they aren’t actually moving in til next weekend, and I had told the boys they’d have lots of space to run around and burn some energy. Mom’s already moved a lot of pictures in, though, so we have to keep warning them to not bang into them. We take a tour and marvel at the big rooms and all the space, as well as at how much you can get for your money when you move to a small town.

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4:15-5:15 p.m. – We hang out, visit; mom has the Beatles playing. We watch Ellie barrel roll across the living room again and again, going every time for the floor-length curtains that she can grab onto. It’s insane to me that we have a mobile baby already who I have to pull away from things like curtains and cords! I sit against the wall and nurse her when she gets hungry, and then Dave heads out. Mom has a new giraffe she bought at Hobby Lobby and she and Henry discuss what to name him. I’m not sure what they decided on, but Henry’s heart was set on “Jake.” The boys have been running around a lot and I know it makes mom a bit crazy, especially considering that she’s got framed pictures sitting everywhere, so I try to wrangle them and make them behave. But I also don’t want them to feel like they can’t be themselves and have fun at grandma’s house, either.

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5:45 p.m. – We pack up to get some dinner at Culver’s. On the short drive there, I tell the boys that they better be good, to sit in their chairs and eat their food and not be naughty. I am trying to be better about setting expectations for them before we go places, so that they can hopefully meet those expectations! They get kids’ meals and each have half of a grilled cheese and a chicken tender, plus fries and lemonade (Henry) and white soda (Ben.) I get a snack pack with a cheeseburger and fries. The boys eat well and we go up to get their dishes of custard that come with their kids’ meals. Henry wants chocolate with gummy bears, but they don’t have gummy bears so he gets Oreos. Ben wants vanilla with Oreos. On our way to get them, Henry climbs under the table and nearly trips me so I grab his arm hard and he cries, which is embarrassing. Then when we’re waiting for our custard, I tell the boys to just stand by me and not touch anything, but Henry simply cannot obey and tries to grab some toothpicks up on the counter, so I tell him he’ll have to wait two minutes now to eat his custard. He sits at the next table and sulks as we enjoy our custard. Mom and I split a scoop of Heath bar chocolate ice cream.

Ben makes a big mess of himself but they both polish off their whole dish of custard, which is pretty big for a kid size. I take them each to the bathroom, first Henry, then Ben, and the water to wash our hands is freezing. When we come back to clear off the table, there’s an older couple sitting near us waiting for their food. They smile at me and I look at our big mess of wrappers and coats and cups and bags and I say “don’t worry, we’re on our way out!” And they both smile and the guy says, oh, we love kids, we have 19 grandkids between us. Then he tells us how he coaches bowling, and they comment on Ellie’s hair. The woman tells me I have my hands full. Why yes, I do. ;)

We hug and kiss mom good-bye and then drive the few feet to the gas station next door since my van is almost on empty. It costs less than $40 to fill the whole thing – gas prices are crazy low right now! We drive home in the dark and the boys talk the.entire.ride.home. I’m feeling pretty exhausted by now and am feeling annoyed at not being able to just ride in peace, but what can you do.

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7:30 p.m. – We arrive home and head inside. It’s all a bit foggy at this point (two days later) but I remember the time between getting home and getting everyone in bed was not good. I was very tired and short on patience and I think I yelled a lot. Too much, it made me feel bad, but the boys weren’t moving fast enough or listening well enough for my liking, and it’s no small feat to get all three in pajamas, with teeth brushed, Ellie fed, etc. at the same time. I do manage to read the boys one book as we all sit on their floor, and then I give them hugs and kisses good-night before taking Ellie into her room to feed her and put her to bed. Of course, Ben won’t go to bed, and I can’t really yell with an almost-sleeping baby on me, so I just listen to him walking around outside the door when he’s supposed to be in bed. He pops his head in and I’m really not happy with him, but I snap some pics of him anyway for documentation’s sake. I think he’s talking about trying to poop, but he never actually does. I finish nursing Ellie and then get Benny into his bed, telling him not to come out again or I’ll have to shut his door. I rarely carry through on that threat, and when I do, the boys scream bloody murder until I open it again. But the threat does help, I think. Ben goes to sleep by 8:30 or so, well after Henry has already crashed, which is usually the order of things. Ben’s always the last to sleep and the first one awake out of the kids.

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8:30 p.m. – I come downstairs and see that the house is a mess but I just can’t deal with any of it right now. I am so tired and just want to sit down. I hop on the computer and have a little internet time – send a few emails, catch up on our It Works team pages from today, read a couple of blogs. I read about Erin’s daughter Annie turning five and how her favorite meal is chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli, “or vegetable soup,” and it makes me feel like a crap parent, as does pretty much anything I read about kids being good eaters.

I don’t know where we went wrong, particularly because we always cook such delicious, mostly healthy and always fresh meals that most people would LOVE to eat, and our boys won’t touch them. We have probably always been too lax about giving them a second, more “kid-friendly” meal (dumb!), and with not serving them veggies every night, etc. Honestly, nothing makes me feel like more of a failure of a parent than the way my kids eat. On holidays, at family get-togethers, out to eat, at home – anywhere. It just embarrasses me how little they’ll actually eat, and how much they complain. We’re once again trying to be much more strict, and last night they both went to bed hungry when they wouldn’t eat the super blah, kid-friendly meal of mashed potatoes, diced chicken and gravy with stuffing and corn that Dave made. We need to stick to our guns from now on – eat what we serve or don’t eat! – and we have GOT to stick to that rule right from the beginning with Ellie.

Whew, tangent.

Anyway, Dave arrives home a little after 9 p.m. and I’m surprised to hear his key in the door since I figured he’d be home late. But we’ve got a big snowstorm on the way so he smartly left earlier than anticipated to beat it home. When he walks in, though, his face is not a happy one and he’s limping and covered in snow on one side. Poor guy ate it on the ice outside on the street and dropped everything he was carrying. He was worried he had REALLY hurt himself, but luckily he was just a bit sore the next day, with a nice cut on his knee. Shelly actually went down on that same spot earlier in the week. Be careful, people! Two for two on dodging any serious injuries out there, thank God.

10 p.m. – I’m hungry so I have a quick bowl of Life cereal and then head upstairs to take a bath. Soak in some bubbles, check Instagram and make a collage of pics from the day. Get out of the tub and go through pics from the day, deleting some and making a few notes on my phone.

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10:48 p.m. – Dave tucks me in and I go to bed.

I already can’t remember what the night brought… I think Ellie was up once and the boys slept all night, and I got up with the kids the next morning at 6:30 a.m. or so. We woke up to tons of snow that didn’t stop all day, so our plans to go to the trampoline park were wrecked and Henry was momentarily upset, but we promised him we’d go next weekend. Dave shoveled outside three different times throughout the day. Otherwise we all stayed put, and it was actually a really great family day. We probably only wanted to rip our hair out like 20-25% of the day, which I’d call a success! We got stuff done, cleaned a bit, spent time as a fam, relaxed. It was Super Bowl Sunday and we watched a bit of it. Kids were in bed early. I didn’t shower, and I didn’t even change out of my pajamas until the afternoon. Definitely need those kind of days once in awhile!

Ellie’s first food!

I don’t think there’s any milestone more fun than watching your baby try solid food for the first time. Food is such a pleasure, such a huge part of life, and to watch as a person takes his or her very first bite is a big deal!

All Photos-244 I was planning to hold off on solids til Ellie was six months old; to do a bit of oatmeal to start and then introduce veggies and fruits around the same time. But the last week or so, it became more and more obvious that girlfriend was READY to eat. Shelly told me that she’s been downing 5 oz. at a time during the day and then begging for more just two hours later. When I’m home with her, she wants to nurse every two or three hours still and just chugs. She’s been staring longingly at our food and trying to grab it when she can. So yesterday I decided ok, we’ll give it a try tomorrow!

I made her a tablespoon of baby oatmeal this morning after her first nap, and I just mixed it with water since I had frozen all of my milk from the week. The whole family gathered around for the big first moment and Henry took a little video. She wasn’t so sure at first, and did the normal baby thing of spitting most of it back out the first few times. But she got the hang of it pretty quickly (and I got my own little video – so glad I did!) and ate the whole bowl! It was really fun.

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Then tonight after dinner I decided to give her more. She was WAY more excited about it the second time around, making little begging noises and frantically kicking her legs between every bite. She blew through her first bowl (which was just a tablespoon again) so I made her a second bowl. I got another video and posted it to Instagram – had to document her excited little sounds!

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I’m seriously surprised at how awesome she did her first time eating. We’ll probably stick with oatmeal til she’s six months, and then we can start giving her real food – I can’t wait! I thought I’d be sad to mark this milestone with my last baby, but it’s just exciting. And I have high hopes that Ellie will be my first really good eater – not just at the beginning, like the boys were, but as she grows, too. We have to get it right with one of them!

Ellie five months, five days old

Four-month check-up at 4.5 months

Ellie’s my third baby, the holidays got in the way, yada yada yada … Whatever the excuse, I didn’t actually call to schedule Ellie’s 4-month check-up until after she turned four months old, so by the time we got in last week, she was more like 4.5 months old. Eh, better late than never.

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It was nice to see my girl in the middle of the day, and the appointment went well. Ellie weighed 13 lbs, 5 oz. and was 26 inches long, and I had to ask about percentiles since I’ve never been given them for her. She’s in the 15th percentile for weight, 85th for height – my little supermodel!

I can’t believe what a peanut she is in the weight department, especially since my boys were always high on those charts. And I don’t think she looks particularly skinny – she rocks the double chin and thigh rolls for sure! But she’s a slender gal, and the fact that she’s grown 5 1/2 inches since her birth blows my mind. Can you imagine how much growing that is every single day?! I marvel at how not too long ago I could hold her in one arm and she pretty much fit, and now my arm only goes to her butt and her long legs just hang down unless I use two arms to hold her. Babies grow too fast! But obviously I’m thankful that she’s growing so well. Particularly since she still spits up so much of what she eats, the silly girl. Hoping that remedies itself in the next few months. The doc said starting her on solids should help and said we could feed her rice cereal or oatmeal now, but I am definitely not ready to start feeding her anything but breast milk just yet. So we’ll deal with the spitting up for the time being.

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The doc said she looked super healthy and was holding her head up well; the loose hip had fixed itself; and the way she was constantly eating her feet was a “six-month-old skill.” Ha – so advanced already. ;)

I was dreading the shots, like always, and especially since she wailed for a good 10 minutes (or what felt like it anyway) after her shots at her two-month appointment. She only got two this time, one in each leg (plus one by mouth to start, which is just adorable to watch) and I put her nuk in her mouth and my head down by hers while she was stuck twice. The first one made her eyes go wide and she looked sort of confused, and then the second one made her scream. I picked her up and thankfully she calmed down within 10 seconds or less this time, just sort of whimpering for a minute until she was sure she wasn’t going to be pricked again!

She fell asleep on the 10-minute drive home, and I kissed her head and cheeks before heading back to work. It was too much running in the middle of the day, so I made sure to make her next appointment and the boys’ appointment (yeah, Henry turned five in October and still hasn’t gone…. oops) for 3 pm so I won’t have to go back to work after.

A few other Ellie updates … we transitioned her to her crib right around four months old and she’s rocking that transition like nobody’s business. I was worried she’d miss being swaddled and miss being cozy in her rock and play, but I actually think she’s enjoying the extra space and being able to have her hands up above her head or out to her sides when she sleeps. I put her in a sleep sack now, and I do put a blanket up to her waist most nights because it’s just too cold otherwise. She’s still up once a night to eat most nights, once in awhile twice. One night recently she slept 11 hours straight, which was crazy! That was just a one-time thing, though. And I’m actually not to the point yet where I WANT her to sleep all night – I love our middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. Especially because she just snuggles and nurses for 10 minutes or so and falls right back to sleep. I love bringing her into bed in the morning for her early-morning nursing session, particularly when it’s before I’m ready to get up, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like to since the boys always come in our bed when they wake up and inevitably wake her up and/or almost kick her as they climb up.

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She’s rolling from her belly to her back pretty consistently now, though sometimes she forgets how and gets mad during tummy time. I don’t think she’s rolled from her back to her belly yet, though she tries really hard and gets close, but her arm still gets stuck.

***24 hours later update: She’s rolling both ways with such ease, it’s like she’s been doing it for weeks instead of days – or, minutes? I’m thinking she’s probably rolled from back to belly for Shelly then, but I’ll just pretend she’s brand new at it. ;) I just left her on her play mat for a few minutes while I put Ben down to nap, and when I came back downstairs she was on the hard wood next to her play mat, on her back – meaning she barrel rolled over there! Ohhhh boy. The first stages of mobility – how can we be there already?!***

She LOVES her bouncy seat still and will kick her legs SO hard to get her toys moving. She loves her Sophie Giraffe and gets really excited when we squeak it in her face. She’s getting better about holding onto Sophie and other toys and getting them in her mouth.

She’s in all six month clothes now and I just had to go out and buy her some new (used – consignment!) sleepers. She needs quite a few since she can go through three or four each morning or evening with how much she spits up. I love love love all the little girl clothes I get to put her in and I still marvel pretty much every day at the fact that I actually got a little girl. That I have a daughter. I ordered her some head bands on Etsy in a variety of colors to help keep her hair somewhat tamed. I love her crazy hair but I do think it sort of distracts from her beautiful face and makes her look very unkempt sometimes! So we’re wading into the waters of hair bows and headbands and I gotta admit, I’m a fan.

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I always say out loud that she’s the best baby in the world, and I really think she is. We can leave her anywhere and for pretty much however long we want to and she won’t complain. She just hangs out and lets us do what we need to do. I of course do not like to leave her anywhere for too long since if we’re together, I want to be holding and snuggling and playing with her! But obviously the house needs to be picked up, breakfast needs to be made, the boys need attention, etc., so she spends time just hanging and she’s cool with it. She smiles at anything and everything and is really close to giggling.

She’s just a dream and I absolutely ADORE her. And it’s a weird feeling to both really want time to slow down since I just want to curl up and cry whenever I think about not having a baby anymore and to feel so excited at the idea of all the fun stages to come with her. Time, you are a beast.

2015 goals

I missed the boat on a year-end recap. This blog has taken a major backseat to other priorities in my life these days, and I can only hope that I can get back to documenting our life on a somewhat regular basis at some point again.

I’ll just make note that 2014 was the best year of my life thus far – we did so many fun things as a family, I savored the heck out of my last pregnancy, I took on a new venture, we welcomed Ellie girl into the world, Henry started school, I had an amazing maternity leave, and we finished out the year adjusting to life as a complete family of five. I will always look back on 2014 with a happy, grateful heart.

Now it’s 2015 and I’m looking ahead. I feel that this year will be a huge one, a year of transition and of starting a new chapter. This little side biz I ventured into somewhat skeptically and fearfully back in August has now become a huge focus in my life, and something that is going to change my future in ways I never really thought possible. I always make goals for the new year ahead, but this year I actually put them down visually instead of just on a piece of paper, and I shared them with the world, in part to hold myself really accountable for them!

I reached my Diamond promotion with It Works at the end of December, which means I’ve reached an average income of $1,900/month, and I also earned a $10,000 bonus that will be paid out over the next two years. I’m in this thing for real and for good, and I’m just going to keep pressing on. Double Diamond and Triple Diamond are in my sights for this year, which equal an average monthly income of $6k and $10k, respectively, and which each also come with their own bonuses like Diamond did. This kind of income will allow me the freedom, time and money to accomplish a lot of my other goals for the year, including paying down debt, cutting back at my “real” job, building our savings, taking a vacation, giving more to charity, and more. I’m so excited for what the future holds.

Outside of It Works and my professional life, I also have goals as they pertain to me, my mental state, my spiritual journey, my parenting style and the quality and quantity of time I spend with my kids. After what’s been a whirlwind five years of building my family, moving forward in my career, buying our first house, taking on new challenges and furthering and nurturing my relationships with family and friends, I feel a deep need to slow down. To breathe. Relax. Take stock. Pray. Exercise. Focus. Simplify.

So here are my goals for the year ahead. I look forward to looking back in a year and seeing where I’ve come, and where I go from there.

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