Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cole is a month!!

I can already promise I will not be posting monthly of life with Cole. Oh, how I wish I could, but time is just not going to allow it :) But, Cole's first month as a part of our family is definetely something to be documented!
If Cole was anyone's first child they would laugh at parents who were struggling and plan to have 10 more children.  Seriously, he really is incredibly laid back and a super easy baby.  He has yet to have a crying fit (knock on wood!), and we really haven't heard much crying from him at all.  He kind of yells a few times when he needs his paci or is hungry and then just waits til someone can help him.  I think God knew that he had two older and slightly demanding sisters and his parents desperately needed a laid back little boy.
Cole is so incredibly sweet.  We have yet to see a full smile, but he has tons of facial expressions and has made small attempts to give us a grin.  We think he is going to have blue eyes and are keeping our fingers crossed they stay blue!
Cole has been eating easily on a three hour time schedule all day and all night.  He is still eating at 11, 2, and 5 like clock work at night and not doing too much stretching, but he eats for 5-7 minutes and goes right back down, so it really isn't bad at all.    He loves to be swaddled and has learned to take good long naps during the day, even with the girls running and yelling around him.
This is Cole's first little buddy, Henry, who was born 2 days after him.  They were just a few ounces different at birth, but we got them together at one month and Henry is one POUND bigger than Cole.  I cannot believe it.  We need to fatten this little boy up!  He is going to be long and lean like his daddy I think.
Sweet Cole, we cannot wait to see what personality emerges from you!  You have already stolen all of our hearts and we cannot imagine life without you!

Monday, February 25, 2013

One year in heaven

It is incredibly hard for me to comprehend that one year ago today, Clare's sweet little friend, LD's funny little buddy, and a little boy I adored was taken from this world.  It's been a year since Joey was here in our presence and a year since cancer took his life.  So much has happened in the year and as I reflect on the time without him, I cannot help but see some of the beauty Joey left in his wake.

Almost exactly 11 months after Joey's death, our sweet little Cole was born.  When LD and I found out we were having a boy and started talking about names, we had no doubt the first name would be Cole, as it was always the name we both loved for a boy.  It didn't take long for us to decide to choose the middle name Joseph, after a little boy we both adored.  But, the reason we chose the name Joseph had very little to do with Joey's memory and much more to do with who he was.

Even as a spunky little six year old, Joey was incredibly courageous and had a passion for life. Everything he did, he did it to the fullest, whether it was playing make believe or hiking through the woods.  If he was doing something, he did it with all of his heart.  Joey also LOVED Jesus...not just a little, a LOT!!!  Joey knew that he was created to love and please Jesus, even as a small little boy.  Joey was strong, witty, and incredibly joyful.  LD and I decided to choose the middle name Joseph with a desire that our sweet Cole would grow up with a heart like Joey's, one that possessed a love for Jesus and a love for life that shone brightly in his eyes and through his smile.

When we asked our friends if we could use Joey's name, they of course said yes.  But that is not the end of the story. 

I remember finding out we were having a boy and feeling fear that we would lose our friends because of the pain they were feeling.  It would have been easy, and so acceptable for them to withdraw from us because of the ache they would feel watching us have a son.  I was fearful because I adored them and did not want to lose them as friends, but I also knew that my heart had to be prepared because this was a pain unlike anything I had experienced.

Over the nine months I was pregnant, I received sweet gifts from my dear friend, gifts that showed me her love for me, her acceptance of me, and most of all her desire to be my friend in spite of the pain it caused her.

On the day of Cole's birth LD and I received the most beautiful and selfless gift I have ever received in my entire life.  We were presented with a little lovey, a blanket, that had been made out of Joey's polo shirts, which were his security blanket, for Cole.  I cannot begin to express the gratitude, heartache and love I experienced at the same time.  My sweet friend chose to push through her heartache to show love for me and my son.

Over the last year I have experienced the most beautiful friendship and selfless love.  Today as I reflect on the sweet four years our family had to get to know Joey, I know that being a part of his journey has been one of the greatest joys and sorrows I will ever experience. 

Joey - We miss you so very much, but have no doubt you have enjoyed every second of your first year in heaven!  We love you sweet boy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow day!!!

Saturday LD was traveling home from Michigan and mid morning snow started falling.  Clare was so excited and wanted to go outside, but nothing was sticking, and it was cold and muddy.  That, on top of the fact it was just me with the three of them made it easy to say no.  Needless to say, Clare had a rough morning.
Thankfully, daddy arrived home around 2pm, and by 5:30 everything was covered with snow!! This was Elle's very first snow and they were so thrilled to be able to head outside with daddy!

We have an awesome hill next to our house so the girls attempted "sledding" on an upside down garbage can lid, yes, redneck I know.  But there really wasn't enough snow to make it work.

So Clare was happy to attempt snow angels instead :)

With the help of daddy they ended the afternoon building this spectacular snow girl....she has seen better days!  They look cold and miserable, but I promise they really did have fun!!
Yay for snow...now I'm happy to not see it again til next year :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life with 3 under 4

I have finally (yes finally) stepped into life on my own with 3 littles.  Life is INSANE at the present moment, even when it is good, it is insane.  We are working on finding out rhythm and everyone finding their place in the family, but it has come with little outbursts, crying fits or pushing limits.  There have also been moments of complete bliss when everyone is gathered in the same room or I walk in to find my two sweet girls cuddled under a blanket together playing a make believe game.  I have also learned that in this season of life I have no control, and thats hard for me.  I can control what we are doing, but I cannot control my children, as much as I'd love to at times.

I've told numerous friends that life with 3 is not much different than life with 2 and I can understand why people say adding more isn't as much of an adjustment.  The biggest difference is I do not breathe or stop to sit (EVER!!).  From 6:45am til 11pm my life is moving.  Here is what our day looks like on a school day (yes, I am a schedule fanatic).

6:45 - My alarm goes off and I put on clothes and get myself ready for the day, including my breakfast
7:15 - Set out the girls breakfasts
7:30 - LD gets the girls up, dressed and starts them on breakfast while I feed Cole
8-8:30 - Brush teeth, do hair, put on shoes and coats, and pack backpacks
8:30-9:30 - Drop off at preschool (yes, this takes us an hour, which is sadly why Clare is going to a closer preschool next year)
9:30-10:30 - Cole naps and Elle and I enjoy an hour of playtime, snack and my sanity cup of coffee and if I'm really luck a shower for mommy
11:00 - Cole eats
11:30 - 12:30 - Elle and I make and eat lunch
12:30-1:30 - School pick up
1:30- 4 - Elle naps
2-4 - Clare has "rest time" (sometimes its a nap, sometimes its reading books and playing)
2:00 - Feed Cole
4-5 - Snack time and playtime
5pm - Feed Cole
5:30-6- Make dinner and girls have tv time
6:00- Dinner
6:45 - We are upstairs for the evening - baths, books, songs, family time
7:00- LD is usually home around 7
7:30- Girls bedtime
8:00 - Feed Cole
8:30- Pack lunches for tomorrow, clean the kitchen, laundry, etc
11pm - Feed Cole and CRASH!!!!!
He is still eating at 2 and 5 at night

So that insanity is more for my own personal record to look back and think "Wow, I lived a life of intensity and I survived!"  I keep reminding myself that this is a season, just a season.

Last night I read a devotional out of a book my neighbor had bought for me called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp and this is the part that struck me:
"For a moment, longer, I hold him-and life- and I hold it mindfully, attentively...thankfully.  Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential - a bubble held in awe."  At a different part in the devo she says that life is not an emergency. 

So yes, this is a season of life I have been called to and at times I can't see anything but what is in front of me.  Its a time of life when my friendships sit on the back burner, when I have no idea what is happening in the world around me and when my daily priority is that my kids are fed, clean, and feel loved.  BUT, if I choose to stop and hold this bubble, be grateful for it and choose not to hurry, I will experience life at the fullest in this chaos.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Leaving a legacy

On Tuesday LDs Grandma Jackson went home to be with Jesus.  She was diagnosed a few weeks ago with cancer and was told it would be a short fight.   Grandma was ready to go home.  She was tired, the love of her life was already waiting on her, and she was ready to join him and meet Jesus.  She passed very quickly and I pray when I am to that point in my life, I go quickly too, knowing what is waiting on the other side is far better than here.

My relationship with grandma was unique because I am not her grandchild, yet she treated me as if I was ever since LD and I met.  Her and my grandma became friends at mine and LDs wedding and the next year when my grandma passed away, grandma Jackson took over that role in my life.  Over the last eight years we exchanged monthly snail mail letters, which is such a treasure in today's technology world.  I received a letter just a few weeks ago with her expressing excitement over her great grandson who was soon to be born.  Most of the letters were about the weather, what book she was reading, her mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, and always about feeding the birds.  She was dedicated to putting bird food in her feeders so she could sit in her chair and watch them out the window.

I told LD yesterday how thankful I am for grandma as she was the one who took him to church as a child and introduced him to Jesus.  His life was shaped by her influence and prayers for him, which has shaped my life and will mold our children.  Can you think of a more beautiful legacy to leave behind than knowing you had a hand in directing your grandchild and great grandchildren to eternity?    I have no doubt she spent hours praying for us and for our children up until the last moments of her life, along with the rest of her children and grandchildren.


I wish more than anything I was heading home with LD this week to say goodbye to grandma and to support him.  After much discussion we decided it is better for me and the kids to stay home with Cole being so young.  I've fought a lot of emotions this week...sadness at the loss, frustration at the timing, fear at handling all three for a few days alone.  All of that combined with crazy hormones and 4-5 hours of broken sleep at night have left me slightly weepy.  All of the emotions led me to the same answer.  God is always about the big picture and His timing is perfect.

My prayers this week are for my sweet husband and his travels home to support his family, gratitude for a godly woman who invested in her grandson....and that at the end of three days my sanity is intact and I have not sold my children to the circus!

Love you Grandma Jackson and am so thankful for the life you lived.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The art of being home

If I am honest, I follow the cultural pattern and struggle to sit still.  I like to have a full social schedule myself, and one for the kids.  I like to know I have a list of to do's to be accomplished and activities to be done.  I struggle with sitting still and being home.
Today was our very first Saturday in 3 weeks with no company, a day to stay in our pjs and play, and of course, I struggled with it, even though I know how important it is for my mental health and for my children. 
I started thinking about how ridiculous our culture is (which I have fallen prey to so easily).  How silly it is that we feel so much pressure to introduce our children to absolutely everything our city has to offer before the age of 5, how much pressure there is to enroll them into school and as many activities as possible by the age of 2 or 3, and how a day that doesn't have a productive plan feels like a waste.  Am I the only one who struggles with this?! 
As a mom I feel guilty when we are home all day and my older two seem "bored", but I feel guilty on school days when we are in the car and my younger two are strapped in for an hour twice a day.  I feel guilty when we are out that they are not home playing and guilty when we are home they do not have entertainment.  And when I think back on my favorite childhood memories they are watching movies in my pjs, building forts in the yard and riding my bike up and down the street.  So why do I feel a need to entertain my children by seeing every park within 15 miles, seeing the latest movie in the theater or having access to all the children's places in the city? 
I do love to be on the go and that is something that will never change about me.  But I am willing to wrestle with the way I was created to find peace in being still and enjoying the simple.  My hope for my kids is that their greatest memories of being a kid are centered around playing make believe in the playroom with their siblings, making cookies with mommy in the kitchen or helping daddy work in the yard.  The only way that is going to happen is to be at home.
I say all this with so much conviction, but this morning after my first cup of coffee I asked LD what the plan was for the day and if we could grab lunch somewhere.  Thankfully, I am married to someone opposite of me, and after looking at me like I had 4 heads he reminded me we have a new baby and we are staying home - so we did.  And the day was perfect.  It is 9:15pm, and I have yet to shower, but everyone is sleeping with bellies full and hearts happy.
And here is what it looks like after a Saturday at home....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Help! Help!

I knew this transition to 3 children 4 and under would be incredibly difficult for me. I was overwhelmed just thinking about it. By nature I tend to panic first, come up with a plan and then I feel under control again...I was really trying to avoid the panic stage. 
My mom was the first to arrive and she came a week before I was scheduled to be induced with Cole and she was a HUGE help!  I was incredibly spoiled by her being here.  She kept the girls monitors in her room at night, made them breakfast every morning and provided much entertainment.  My mom by nature is a servant, but she was so selfless taking the less than glorious tasks, running errands, driving to and from school, doing baths and making dinner.  I seriously don't know how we would have made it through week one without her help.
We came home from the hospital on Saturday, and by Monday evening my dad arrived.  He was much more help than he realizes playing with the girls and keeping them occupied and holding Cole while I attended to the girls.  I am so thankful he made it down to spend some time with us.  The girls adore their Papa!

Then, for the first time ever we had both sets of grandparents at our house for one night!  LD's parents came just from Friday til Monday to meet Cole and help out. The girls were in heaven having all their grandparents here!!

On Sunday night, my sweet lil sis rolled into town from Vegas.  (Are you seeing how spoiled I've been?!?).  She is in her first trimester and expecting their first child in August.  I kept telling her we would be the crazy house for sure with me post partum and her in the first trimester, but we did great :)  Vanessa also worked around the clock to help out doing dishes, driving to and from school and assisting the girls with whatever imaginative ideas they had, such as many dance parties.
I think Vanessa painted their nails once a day while she was here..she is much more patient with that stuff than I am!  I am so thankful Evan encouraged her to come, even though I know he was missing having some time with the girls and meeting Cole.  I pray I can be in Vegas to meet her little one in August.

In addition to all the family that has been here to help, I have some pretty incredible friends and neighbors and we have had meals delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday the last two weeks and have continued meals for the next two weeks...say WHAT?!?!  I know its insane.  We are blessed. 
So, thats quite a bit of help and its about time I get in gear to handle 3 kids on my own and back to real life.  But...I get one more week before than happens.  For the first time EVER LD is taking off a week of work just to be home with us.  Thanks to PNC Bank, they offer a week of paternity and LD saved it up to use when all the family was gone. I really have no clue how I will ever learn how to manage 3 at this rate.  I know, I am SPOILED!!!



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

M is for Muffin

It is hard to believe its been 11 days since Cole has been born and we are back to normal life...with an extra set of hands.  I really feel back to normal, but am SO thankful my sister is here helping this week.

I feel like with a third child, and one of them being in preschool life just continues on when adding to the family.  As much as I would have loved a week or so at home there were doctors appointments, a newborn photo session, visitors and Clare's very important Muffins with My family to celebrate the letter M.

I knew I was not going to take Cole to the preschool in the middle of flu season, so I was planning on someone staying home with him (thinking it would be me!).  That morning I told Clare that daddy, Elle, Papa and Grammie would be going with her to Muffins with my family and I would stay home with Cole.  She was not thrilled with that idea.
So after a very interrupted sleep night I headed to Clare's preschool for a muffin :)  And as quick and fast as it was, I knew it was a big deal for Clare to have her family there, especially after most of the attention of the week has been on Cole.
Elle of course loved being in her big sisters class and would have stayed all day!
And it was a super huge treat to have Papa with us!  Clare kept telling us it was Muffins with Mrs. Lisa's (her teachers) family because Mrs. Lisa called it Muffins with my family.  Clare really anticipated seeing Mrs. Lisa's family there to celebrate. 
In the business of having a new baby at home, it was fun to spend the morning with my biggest girl celebrating the letter M!
Update on the paci:  So, I really did not want to have to type a little update on Elle, but I feel like to be real and honest and admit life is not always the way we plan I had to update that Elle is back on the paci.  After 3 weeks of giving it a try, we were super successful in getting her to sleep through the night without needing it, but after 2 weeks she had not napped and a very angry, temper driven two year old emerged.  It was not a fun or pretty sight.
So, we had decided to give her the paci only for naps.  She did very well with that, slept for naps and went down after 20-30 min. of crying, but woke up at 6:45 instead of her usual 7:30 morning time.  And again, a very angry toddler appeared.  After 3 weeks we decided this transition has just been difficult on our middle child and we needed to give her the comfort she needed to keep us all sane and get through this "survival mode" time with a newborn at home.
I'm really praying at 3 we can give it up for good, but for now...we have two paci lovers in our home, and it is a home where everyone naps and everyone sleeps and mommy is happy!