It’s official; the final installment in the Mertens family will be arriving in August. Check the post below for my play by play prior to telling anyone.
The most noticeable change in Abigail over the past month (and really over the course of the past 2-3 months) has been the speed at which her pant legs have shrunk. They were all incredibly long at the beginning of the winter (having to roll them up twice), and now, she can nearly wear them without rolling them up at all. Growth spurt! She’s doing really well academically, and we’re continually amazed and the sheer amount of assessments/testing she has to endure—most of them timed and stressful. Come on, public schools, she’s only 5. She’s still enjoying kindergarten but is so wiped out at the end of the day and asks if she can just stay home for a few days. When she was sick recently and got to miss a day from school, she took 3 long naps during the day and was a totally different kid–upbeat and obedient. I agree with what a friend of mine said, “We give away our kids’ best time to the school, and we get the leftovers.” It’s so true. Working to rectify that.
She’s nearly 4 years old and a bundle of joy and happiness most days. She wants to learn to read, and I’m debating initiating that training mid spring. She’s gotten quite adept at coloring inside the lines and loves to put on shows for her sisters and me and David that involve costumes and tap dancing and singing. No stage fright for this one. She has been a bit more whiny lately, but she’s also complained of hip and leg pain (growing pains!). She’s definitely growing out of her clothes and is comfortably in 4T items. Debating getting her 5T stuff at Wee-Trade in a few weeks at the rate she’s shooting up!
In the past month, Naomi’s walking has taken off, and she now gets around really well. She’s starting to climb more and more and has nearly figure out how to bump down the stairs on her belly (feet first). She’s gotten a few more words added to her vocabulary—yes (and will nod her head), head shake for “no,” mama (FINALLY!), Aba (for Abigail), woo woo (for woof)—so cute! Her receptive language ability is skyrocketing, though. She’s able to follow lots of simple commands and is pretty effective at expressing her message even if the words aren’t there yet. She’s still a great eater and is starting to learn the use of a fork and spoon on a very limited/controlled basis.
No nickname for this one yet. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat in mid January–159bpm, and I got to say “au revoir” to “morning” sickness. I started feeling much better by the end of the month! Our big ultrasound is March 3, and we don’t plan to find out the gender, instead allowing David to participate in delivery and announce the gender at birth like he did with Naomi. We’ve also started setting money aside for the wee one’s birth because–hello!–my insurance and ultimate maternity benefits are abysmal. This baby will be 100% out of pocket. Praising God for his provision, though, because I was recently asked to take on an extra 10-15 hours a week to cover for another SLP’s maternity leave, and I’m heating up the freelance editing channels again too to boost income. Only got 5-6 months to save nearly $5,000. Eep!
The beginning of this month marked the start of a new year and the end of Christmas break. It was really hard sending Abigail back to school. At least she got to go to her first bowling party before school started back. Fun times! We took a grand total of 6 pictures in the month of January. I had taken the month off from Facebook, and it was incredible to just enjoy family without feeling like I needed to snap 100 pictures in order to commemorate every moment. We did have a busy month with AWANA, mommy/daughter exercise (M/Th/F, Abigail and Madilyn and I do workout DVDs downstairs—so fun!), Hands On museum fun, David’s job search kicking into high gear, me working full time at Deerfield, girls’ night out with connect group gals, and more! You’ll just have to use your imagination :)
(Below is a brief log of my thoughts and experiences before we shared our news with the world!)
11/30–I’m a week late; haven’t told David yet. This would mean we got pregnant on his birthday just like we did with Abigail–this due date would be August 3rd, 2015!
12/7–two weeks late and told David. He’s in shock like me. Didn’t we just have Naomi?
12/10–took a test this morning, POSITIVE! Family of 6, here we come! Oh, and feeling rather horrible. Nausea starts within 30 minutes of waking up and fades for 30-45 minutes after eating only to come back again. Hoping this only lasts to the 12-week mark
12/15–made an appointment at MAHEC for January 14–at the 11.5 week mark. After the appointment, we’ll start telling folks. Seems like with each baby, my body gets into gear quicker. I swear my hips have already widened because my stomach is the same but my pants are tight in the hips. Eep! Sending ESP signals to my recently pregnant friends to hang on to their maternity stuff!!
12/25–Merry Christmas! Went to Greenville to see my parents and grandparents. No odd looks or questions (whew!) but had a hard time stomaching the huge meal. It was delicious, but I got full way too fast.
1/14–had our first OB appointment, 11.5 weeks. Heard a strong heartbeat of 159 beats per minute! I’m measuring right where I’m supposed to be for 11 weeks. Another appointment February 11, then anatomy ultrasound early/mid March! Told prayer group, and the ladies were dually amused and surprised. They knew we were on the fence about a 4th baby and had joked that they were just counting the days until I showed up pregnant. Ha! Also told my boss who reacted really well. Had lunch with a grad school friend, Elizabeth, after the appointment (she’s due Feb 7 with her first), and it was fun to swap pregnancy stories. We plan to tell parents this weekend.
1/15–Planning to tell the big girls tonight. Hope they’re excited! UPDATE: they were thrilled and started talking to the baby right away and asking how big it is. They both keep toggling between whether it’s a boy or a girl.
1/16–looked into my insurance and maternity benefits—horrible. This baby will be out of pocket. Considering a home birth because it’d be 50% less than a hospital birth. And considering Naomi arrived in 2.5 hours from first contraction to delivery, it might be the best option.
1/18–have told both sets of parents, grandparents, and brothers, and they were all equally shocked and excited. So nice to have the cat out of the bag! Ready to tell the world, now!
In December, we wrapped up another year of transitions for our family—the majority of which happened from May and on. Graduation, new job, kindergarten, 4-year preschool 5-days a week, new house. Whew. Busy year, but one full of blessings.
She continues to love reading, puzzles, and any sort of memory/matching game. She got her own hair brush this month (had always used a comb to date), and she has adored coiffing her own hair and making it “Elsa soft.” Abigail has also gotten into building things. She’s enjoyed blocks in the past, but David’s parents got the girls a set of MagnaTiles, and Abigail has built all kinds of creative structures. Perhaps an engineer at heart? And she’s got enough Christmas spirit for the whole family as she was upset nearly to tears to hear that we had to take the Christmas decorations down in January (they went up the day after Thanksgiving!). “Mommy, can we leave the stockings up all year?” I ultimately had both Abigail and Madilyn assist in taking down the ornaments from the tree and removing the lights so that they at least felt a part of the process.
For as well as she’s done at school (academically, anyway), she has thoroughly enjoyed the time at home and does not want to return to kindergarten on the 5th of January. She does a lot better at home and is much better behaved and motivated. If we were in a position to, we’d likely homeschool. For the time being, David and I have laid out a schedule so that both Abigail and Madilyn will have a one-on-one date night with both of us separately each month. Madilyn’s date with me is next week. Abigail’s the following. Should help with some of the homesickness.
This gal loves to help out with just about everything and is pretty go-with-the-flow. She adores Naomi and really looks up to Abigail. She and Abigail get into spats daily, but they’re quick to make up. Madilyn is still the jokester of the family and loves to perform. In fact, at her preschool performance, she was quick to spot us in the crowd and wave as hard as her arm and hand would allow. She didn’t look nervous in the slightest, and she was right on point with all the songs/hand motions, etc. Whatever this one becomes when she grows up, she’ll have an audience for certain.
Her first steps were on Thanksgiving day, and she’s continuing to add to the distance she can walk. She still prefers to crawl or walk while holding a hand, but we know she’ll get it in time. She’s taking one nap a day from 12:15-3:15pm or so, and if we are out and about around that 12:15pm mark, she passes out regardless of place or position. She’s still a really great eater and is easily bribed (if needed) to eat less desired foods with applesauce or bread. Heh. She has all her 1-year molars and 7 additional teeth through; more are starting to come. All this has made for one ornery baby. Combine that with the fact that our pediatrician suspects Naomi has an umbilical hernia (praying it’ll correct on its own), and she’s a mess for some portion of every day. When she’s in good spirits, however, she’s a goofy, outgoing girl.
A list to save time:
-Christmas parades in Hendersonville and Fletcher
-Caroling with the Band of Friends at Crowfields
-We hosted the kid-free Christmas party for our Connect Group—12 Bones for 10 couples; so nice!
-I volunteered at Abigail’s Christmas party at school, and David helped out at Madilyn’s
-We made 20 bags of sugar cookies and chocolate peppermint cookies and delivered them to local firestations, gas stations, and the airport to those working on Christmas day. We then came home for presents. It’s a nice way to get the focus where it needs to be: on giving.
-Went to Greenville twice for Christmas—once to see Greg and Chelsey, and the other time to see my grandparents; both times to see my parents. Had a great time!
-David’s parents and their dog, Simon, came to stay with us a night following Christmas. The girls loved all the grandparent time!
This past month found our family with a sense of awe and humility at the blessings God’s granted to us. We are so thankful for his provision and feel so fortunate to be where we are today considering where we’ve been the past few years. We are thankful for new friendships and the strengthening of old ones, family ties, getting settled in a new house, laughing kiddos (at least some of the time!), and being challenged to grow stronger as individuals and as a family. Happy Thanksgiving!
This girl has always loved having books read to her and showed an early interest in reading, but as of late, her reading ability has really taken off. I wish I had more time to nurture it at home as I feel like she devours any book set in front of her and doesn’t get as discouraged as she used to when she comes across a more challenging word. So cool! Thanks to an early Christmas gift from my parents, she started ballet lessons this month and is really enjoying it. It’s only one day a week for 45 minutes which is nice, and she’s picked up on a lot of the terminology already. “Mommy, look at me passe!” She’s made buddies with a 5-year-old up the street (as has Madilyn) and the girl’s older sister. It’s so nice to just let the girls run up to a neighbor’s house to play on a whim. Oh yeah, thankful for living in a neighborhood!
Abigail started ballet, and Madilyn started “Creative Movement” which is essentially an intro to rhythm and dance in general, but she gets to wear the ballet leotard, tights, and slippers. Dance is right up her alley, and she talks frequently of dancing in her fairy wings and twirling and balancing on one leg like a ballerina. It’s kind of adorable. She is the most outwardly loving kiddo of ours as she pours out affection through the day to all of us—especially Naomi. She plays with Naomi with the same gusto that David and I do. A little mama.
So this “baby” girl turned 1 this month. At her check-up, she weighed right between Abigail and Madilyn at the same age: 22lb, 12oz. She was 29.5″ long with an 18.75″ head. She had another nasty cold this month which morphed into an ear infection. Combine that with getting all 4 molars, and you’ve got a recipe for an ornery kiddo. In developmental changes, Naomi is down to 1 nap most days lasting 3 hours or so, took her first steps on Thanksgiving day (up to 8 steps now), is stacking blocks a bit more gracefully, waving hi/bye, signing for more/all done/milk/eat/water, saying dada/(ba)nana/mama/and “da” when pointing something out.
Running behind on posting this month (it’s actually 12/7 today…), so here’s a list of what went down in November for me to reference later:
-snow day on November 1
-Band of Friends singing practice
-David’s 31st birthday
-Naomi’s 1st birthday
-GNI at our house
-Thanksgiving at home
-Tree shopping at Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
Seems as though fall was short-lived this year as we had a snowy end to October! This month saw our family moving into a new home and getting settled, having loads of family in town to help out with repairs, and Naomi making huge strides as she nears her first birthday.
She continues to enjoy kindergarten and impresses us regularly with all she’s learning. She still has some growing to do in the social skills department, but we know that will come with time and practice. She got nominated to participate in the nurtured kid program (kindergarten version of AIG), and we couldn’t be more proud. That girl loves to read and is getting really into math. She enjoys helping around the new house—especially opening and closing the baby gate—and is getting into drawing and dancing. Maybe we have a liberal arts gal on our hands?
This girl’s personality just won’t quit. She keeps a smile on her face and ours and is constantly seeking out ways to keep folks laughing. She’s learning an awful lot by emulating her big sister and is really eager to get started reading. We’re working through letter sounds right now informally and might start trying toward reading after she turns 4 in February. Madilyn’s got such a servant’s heart, and one of the most frequent phrases she says in any given day is, “Can I help you?” or “Do you need help?”
Our baby has a birthday in just a couple of weeks. Wait, what? It’s been a whole year since her speedy birth? Unreal!
Naomi is now walking around with push toys, cruising while holding on to any surface (wall, table, Daddy’s leg, etc), and letting go and standing for a couple of seconds. Maybe next month’s blog will have a blurb about her first steps!
She is transitioning from formula to goat’s milk, and that transition will be complete this week. Next up, a gradual transition to cow’s milk if she tolerates it. Madilyn had a really difficult time, so we’re going to be extra cautious. Our family doesn’t consume much dairy in a given day anyway, so we aren’t too worried about how much cow’s milk she ultimately drinks so long as she’s getting calcium somewhere!
She’s saying mama, dada, nana (banana) and signing for more, all done, water, eat, and milk. She loves to dance and sure knows how to get our attention is she is displeased with something. She’s got a spunky personality and can be all kinds of serious if she wants to. You’ve got to earn a smile from her!
-YMCA. David started working part time at the Fletcher YMCA and is really enjoying it. The hours have been a little tricky with my work schedule, but we’re figuring it out. Plus, the YMCA offers free childcare to employees, so if our days overlap, David can take the girls with him until I can come pick them up. Only had to do this one time so far, and it’s a nice option to have in a bind!
-David’s parents came to town. Karon and Leo drove down from Ohio to help us with touch up paint (hired painters for the bulk of the painting but needed help with one of our bathrooms) and a few woodworking projects prior to moving in. What a blessing those two folks are! Karon mowed the lawn and painted while David and Leo worked on building new stairs for the front porch and power washing the decks, among other tasks. I kept an eye on the girls during most of the weekend but was itching to get in on the action.
-We moved! Yes, we finally moved into our new house the second weekend of October. My mom took the girls to Greenville so that we could be more productive. We started loading up my Dad’s trailer Friday morning, and all of our possessions were moved to the new place by Friday night. Wow! By the time the girls got back Saturday evening, most everything was in its place aside from pictures on the walls and a couple of stray boxes.
-Kevin and Brittany surprised us. On Sunday after we moved in, David’s brother, Kevin and his wife, Brittany stopped by on their way home to Raleigh from TN. They came to help us unpack, but we’d already finished. That meant we got to hang out a bit, and they helped me sort through the girls’ clothes bins in the garage.
-Pumpkin Lighting. Abigail’s elementary school’s PTO hosts a fall festival of sorts each year as a fundraising campaign. The girls got to wear their costumes, participate in carnival games, roast marshmallows for s’mores over small fires, eat barbeque, and have an all-around fabulous time.
-Loads of family in town. My parents and Leo came to town on a Thursday for the pumpkin lighting and to aid with projects. Late Friday night, Kevin and Brittany came to help as well. This was our first time hosting folks at our house overnight almost ever. We now have a list of additional items we need for our guests. Never had to think about that before! While everyone was in town, we got the swing set installed (Thank you, Bill and Dawn!)—I’m sure our Dads’ backs are still aching from hauling that behemoth, the front and back decks stained, the desk assembled, and the back stair support built. Productivity, anyone?
-HooplA! and Halloween. The girls and I attended Biltmore Baptist Church’s Halloween alternative (HooplA!) the Thursday before Halloween but didn’t stay to long due to the cold. While we were there, though, we got to watch a cowboy show, play some carnival games, play on inflatables, and see a few friends. We nearly froze, though, and ran back to the van after not even an hour. On Halloween, it was raining, but we all headed out for about 45 minutes of trick or treating fun. The girls were really bold this year which enabled me and David to just stand with the stroller in the road while the kids ran house to house with us following behind a ways. The girls got their 10-15 minutes at home to gorge themselves on candy before bagging it up to donate to the dentist (who sends it to troops).
Completing this blog far later than intended, but that happens when you’re closing on a house, working full time, and have a husband starting to work part time all while 3 kiddos continue to grow bigger and more amazing, but demand more and more of you each day. Whew. Incredibly blessed, but thanks for your patience!
School is in full gear for Abigail, and she’s really enjoying it. She’s got 4 specials that rotate at school (PE, music, library, computer) which she always has stories about, and the puppet center in class is her favorite. She’s still shy around new folks but seems to be making friends with the kids at her table. I volunteered one Wednesday in her computer lab, and the smile that lit up her face when she saw me and the way she showed me off to her friends was just awesome. It’s been really hard not to be the class mom and the super volunteer mom, etc…I pray I’ll get that chance in the near future. I picked Abigail up from school most every day in September, and I loved that one-on-one time in the car on the way home. She was often bursting to tell me about something new that happened to her that day.
Abigail is reading really well and picks up new words every week. She’s getting the hang of math too. Like her mom and dad, academics come easy, but the social piece of school is a little more difficult to navigate. We’ve all got our strengths and challenges!
Of note, Abigail definitely had a growth spurt—especially in her feet. I bought size 10 shoes for her at Wee Trade in August because her size 8’s were just beginning to fit well. Now that fall is on it’s way, I pulled out the size 10’s. They fit just about perfectly. Oops. Looks like I’ll be buying new shoes before the end of winter!
This gal wants to be a kindergartener. Anything that Abigail does at home, Madilyn has to attempt to copy. Madilyn is still our super sweet, zany, middle kiddo and has a huge heart for her friends and family. She offers to help with anything David and I are doing and prides herself on being able to do things by herself.
She loves preschool and comes home with the full run down of her day (“First, Daddy dropped me off, then I put my lunch box on the shelf. Then we had circle time, and I got to help with…”). She’s gotten better and better with gross motor skills and is running now, jumping 2-footed off of the bottom step, and climbing with much more confidence.
It’s been so fun watching her build a relationship with Naomi. Madilyn will get down on the floor and crawl to follow Naomi, bring her toys, “read” her books, and ask her questions about how she’s feeling. Such a sweetheart.
Midway through the month and after 4 months of trying to pump nearly full time, I was only pumping ~1-1.5oz after 25 minutes of pumping. This dwindled to below 1oz, and Naomi was a fussy mess. She was eating a TON of solid food making up for the lack of breast milk. After prayer and research, we opted to switch to an organic formula for the 1.5 months or so before she’d be on cow’s milk. It was a really hard decision, but we saw instant changes in her mood and energy levels, of course.
This girl loves to dance, blow raspberries, swing, and squeal at the top of her lungs—sometimes full-out screaming. She is now doing the signs for more, all done, and waving hi and bye. She says “dada,” for David; “mama,” for me, milk, and more; and some derivative of “ahnana” for banana. She is pulling up to standing and standing against things for long stints of time. Cruising is just beginning.
During the time before formula, Naomi was waking up at 5:15am or so in the morning, famished. By a few days after starting formula, she was back to sleeping until 6:15/6:30am. Whew! She is still taking two naps a day—one around 9:15am and one around 1:30pm. We’re anticipating she’ll drop that morning nap in the next month or so leading up to her birthday. Can’t believe she’s almost 1!
We all attended the WNC Mountain State Fair and had a blast! The girls especially enjoyed the tilt-a-whirl and watching the clogging competition. This underscored for us how much our girls love to dance—especially Madilyn. We went first thing on a Saturday morning, came home for naps, then went right back out for more fun. The girls have been asking since then when the next fair is. I just hope Madilyn will be tall enough to do whatever Abigail is doing next year. I will say, though, Abigail said she wouldn’t ride anything Madilyn couldn’t ride. Sister love.
I don’t remember what David was doing on this particular Saturday, but I loaded up the girls, and we drove down to Greenville for a spur-of-the-moment day trip with my parents. The girls got to play at the Children’s Museum for a hour or so and loved all the attention from grandparents. I loved having the time with my mom and dad when the girls were napping. They’re awesome people!
Healthy Kids races started in September, and our girls really enjoyed participating. Madilyn’s age group ran a 50-yard dash each Sunday, and Abigail’s age group ran a 1/4 mile. The whole point is to make kids excited about fitness and make it fun. Worked for our girls!
On September 25, we closed on our very first home! Move in date is set for the second weekend in October, and we cannot wait. We’re only moving about 5-7 minutes down the road into Fletcher, but we’ll be in a neighborhood and have a yard and more space. So excited!
Summer is officially over, and school started up for Abigail (kindergarten) and Madilyn (preschool) a couple of weeks back. Running way behind on the blog and don’t have a lot of time to commit this month. Keeping
We now have a 5 year old in the house! She loves to read, complete crafts (especially loom projects on the loom my parents got for her birthday), run, be goofy, and play with her sisters. She is constantly asking for David and I to “LOOK!” or “Watch me!!” She is really enjoying her kindergarten year so far and has seemed to integrate well into the new setting. It’s me and David having the trouble adjusting to not having much control over her setting and interactions. So proud of her, though. She walked in the first day without tears and by day 3, walked from the car to her class without accompaniment. Wow!
She started 3-year old preschool a couple of weeks ago and adores it. She really misses having Abigail around when Madilyn’s not in school, so it’s a good thing she’s occupied for 3+ hours of the day. In physical ability news, Madilyn is running, jumping down short distances two footed, and can go up the stairs one foot on one step, alternating feet, without holding on. For those who knew about her physical therapy a few months back, these advancements are HUGE!
Additionally, Madilyn has an incredible imagination and will weave narratives together while playing with dolls or just while sitting with me or with David. When dolls are involved, however, Madilyn doesn’t need a single other person. She can self entertain for 20+ minutes without requiring any input from us or Abigail or Naomi. Fun to watch and nice to be able to sit back.
She’s still our snuggler and loves to shower us with kisses and squeezes. When I leave for work, she assures me, “I put 65 Hershey kisses in your pocket, mommy!” She can count to 30 or more and recognizes numerals 0-10. She loves to learn!
Major strides this month. She’s crawling all over the place (as of 8/19/14), pulling up to her knees, beginning to cruise along furniture if we stand her up to it, dancing to music. She loves Snoopy (we have a Peanuts calendar) and Olaf and truthfully any mammal. She’s taking a bottle 3 times a day of pumped breast milk, then I nurse at night. She’s eating all kinds of solids and has added many to her repertoire. I honestly cannot recall all the different ones! Hates the sippy cup but will take sips from a large-mouth cup like we use. She’s been waking up around 5:30am (nooooo!) but takes two naps and goes to bed at 6:45ish. She enjoys being read to and absolutely adores her sisters and everything they do!
-Abigail turned 5
-Madilyn picked “date night with mommy” out of the reward jar–Cracker Barrell, Charming Charlie’s, OP Taylor’s
-Naomi is 9 months old
-Family apple picking at Sky Top orchard
-Meet the teacher for both girls