it's positive (again!)

Praising God for our family of 6

Our growing family August 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 5:49 am

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Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

 

January: Naomi’s saga January 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 2:56 pm

Naomi spent the better part of this month battling a mystery GI “bug” or infection or something. She threw up and had diarrhea basically every day between December 27th and January 21st. so.much.laundry. She lost 4 pounds, regressed with her potty training and expressive language, and slept upwards of 16+ hours in every 24 hour period. Unreal. Then just as quickly as it came on, the illness disappeared. All lab tests were negative (tested for viruses, bacterial infections, parasites, etc), so we have absolutely no idea what happened. We are praising God that it’s over, though, because we were pretty concerned. We made an appointment at Levine Children’s Hospital with a pediatric gastroenterologist for the end of February that we may or may not go to depending on Naomi’s health by then. Praying this never happens again!

Abigail Grace

Abigail has proven her first-child responsibility with Gideon and Naomi over and over this month. She protects her brother without any prompting at all, and it’s so sweet. She’s also started really helping out with Naomi—even in the not-so-pleasant times (e.g. cleaning up after Naomi has an accident)! Fabulous!

She started her second reading log at the beginning of the month, and had to read 60 chapters to complete it. She knocked it out in a couple of weeks. Ah! Just started the one for February—90 chapters: 45 of which have to be in her Bible. Excited about this girl’s love for reading.

Her whining and complaining has picked up a bit in the past couple of months, and we’re working to nip that in the bud. She also has a really hard time if Madilyn can do something better than her. In such a case, she usually dissolves into a pool of tears of injustice. She’ll mature soon enough. For now, lots of talks about how to handle such emotions.

I ordered her second grade curriculum, and I’m really excited about starting it later this year. I planned to do year-round home school ending for a slightly longer break in June, then starting back up mid July. However, it looks like she’ll finish first grade around the middle of May, so we may go ahead and start second grade mid-late June. Why not? We’ll just keep the school days shorter (maybe spreading the curriculum out a bit) so that she has plenty of time to play with buddies while they’re out of school for the summer.

Madilyn Joy

Madilyn has made huge strides this month with her reading—in large part to the reading log. It’s been a great accountability tool for me to ensure I’m encouraging her to read consistently. She’s about 55 lessons into “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons,” and is picking up sight words quickly. She wants to read as well as Abigail, so she will often read a little too quickly and guess at words incorrectly, but she’s making incredible progress.

She is incredibly affectionate (love language: physical touch) with everyone, especially Gideon. “I just love this little boy! *kiss kiss*” and recently started telling most every woman she interacts with that, “You’re beautiful.” I told her not too long ago that the best thing she can say to a pregnant woman is, “You’re beautiful,” and she’s applied that more liberally. I’m all for it!

This month also marked the beginning of Upward basketball games where Madilyn is a cheerleader. She’s nearly the oldest girl on her cheerleading squad, and she’s really into it. She practices her cheers at home, and Naomi has been copying her every move. Adorable!

Naomi Hope

Most of Naomi’s news this month is related to her stomach trouble. She got to experience 3 weeks of life as a gluten and dairy free child. That was tough for us to enforce, and tough for her accept. Both have been reintroduced without incident.

She’s pretty much back on track with potty training and language. I’ve been working with her intentionally for the past week on combining words. She’s not quite putting 2 words together spontaneously, but she’s been incredibly responsive to my prompting. I know she’ll get there. She’s able to communicate her message very effectively and understands everything said to her. Just need to keep working on lengthening her utterances.

Gideon Joel

This not-so-little guy is now 5.5 months old. He’s officially down to two naps a day (9-10:30am, 1:30-3pm), and is pretty consistently sleeping from 6:30pm-6am. Victory! He’s nursing 4 times a day (6:30am, 10:45am, 3pm, 6:15pm) and still hates bottles. Ugh. We will start him on solids around his 6-month-old mark. I’ve already made purees out of sweet potato, pears, peas, and butternut squash and plan to include bananas and applesauce in his menu as well. Hope he takes to it easily!

He’s giggling, putting everything in his mouth, has two teeth that broke through mid January, and started pushing up to his hands and knees on January 23rd. He’s now rocking back and forth on his hands and knees and lunging forward. He likes sitting up and is moving all over the crib when he’s sleeping. He’s also jumping like a crazy boy in his doorway jumper.

He adores his sisters but shows favoritism toward David and me. We’ve left him in the church nursery a couple of times this month, and he did really well. All in all, he’s growing up incredibly too quickly!

Notable Events

A list for my reference:
-Happy 2016
-AWANA and all other weekly activities started back
-Baabal’s for completing reading logs
-Mandy’s baby shower
-Clemson vs Alabama
-SNOW! We got a full 12″!

 

December: Christmas time is here! December 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 9:23 pm

We had a packed December, as it seems to be each year: so many great events going on, and lots of family time!

Abigail Grace

Chapter books are this girl’s new thing, and it’s hard to stay on top of how quickly she’s soaring through them. Current series of interest: “The Boxcar Children” and “The Never Girls.” Her enthusiasm for reading reached a new level when I introduced a reading log for Christmas break; fill in all the squares (30 total, each representing a chapter), and get a trip to Baabal’s Ice Cream. It took her less than 2 weeks, and these books are all over 100 pages. So glad she loves reading; I was the same way at her age.

She’s now a few weeks into gymnastics and is really enjoying it. Her big goal? To learn how to do a cartwheel. As I don’t think I can even do one anymore, it’s time for me to learn too. YouTube instructional videos, here we come!

Ballet is also of continued interest. The weekend before Christmas, her dance studio put on a mini ballet with the advanced classes; David took the girls, and Abigail especially enjoyed it. We may try to see “The Nutcracker” next Christmas if her interest continues. She’d love it!

The most exciting news in Abigail’s life came on December 20 when she made the decision to invite Jesus into her heart as Lord and Savior. She had been asking questions on and off for a few months, but she made her decision during her date night that Sunday, 12/20. David prayed first, then Abigail said the sweetest, most genuine prayer, and I closed everything up…teary eyed of course. She wanted to get baptized right away, but we’re waiting until family can be in town to celebrate with her in a couple of months. Praise God for her coming to Christ at such a young age!

We gave her a Bible and carrying case at Christmas, and she is really enjoying reading it. Unfortunately due to sickness, we haven’t been to church since she got it, but she keeps talking about how she can’t wait to bring it the next time we go.

Madilyn Joy

Over the Christmas break, I drew up a reading log for Madilyn too, but she had to complete one reading lesson with me to color in a diamond. She has made such awesome progress. We are on lesson 42/100 in the “Teach your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons,” and she is really getting the hang of it. Next up, sight words.

Madilyn really enjoys drawing, coloring, and crafting with modeling clay. Not sure if she’ll be homeschooled for kindergarten yet or not, but if so, I’ll definitely be signing her up for some sort of art class on the side. She’s got a great imagination and doesn’t get easily discouraged. It’s fun to watch her create!

She started cheerleading in November and is really loving it. She’ll cheer at Upward basketball games through January and February, and as several of our Connect Group buddies are playing basketball, she’s stoked to cheer for familiar faces.

Naomi Hope

We finally had Naomi’s 2-year check-up in December, and she’s 27 pounds, 33″ tall, with a 19″ head—the lightest of our 2-year olds yet, probably because she’s so busy, busy, busy all the time. She loves to run back and forth in our homeschool/play room and climbs anything she can. She also LOVES to dance and “sing” whenever she gets the chance.

Naomi’s language is getting better, and while she’s not using 2 words at a time all that often, she has a very large vocabulary. She’s still omitting the beginning of a lot of her words, but she seems to be adding more of those sounds in with every week that passes. Funny story, we were walking through the lobby of church on a Sunday morning, and Naomi wanted to tell me that she would eat a snack in her class. In her 2-year old speak, she tried to say “eat class,” but alas, the “cl” of “class” was left off. I’ll let you figure out the rest. And yes, she was yelling it. Heh.

Her behavior is better than the past few months, but when she tantrums, it’s pretty intense. We are just keeping as consistent as we can in terms of discipline and expectations, and it seems to be working—albeit, gradually.

A couple of days after Christmas, Naomi came down with some sort of stomach bug, and by the end of December, she was still battling it. Poor baby…probably heading to the doctor after the new year.

Gideon Joel

This little guy is 4.5 months old now and growing and changing so quickly. He was sleeping through the night for the first half of the month, and then regressed a bit. Growth spurt? Maybe. Rolling over in the middle of the night and waking up angry on his back? Oh yeah. He also had a cold for a little of the month. Man, once he is consistently sleeping through the night, David and I will be past that phase…forever. Yes!

He is in the midst of spacing out feedings and dropping a nap. He’s eating 5 times a day, but really only needs 4. It’s just a timing thing with his nap situation right now. He’s napping from 8:30-10am or so, a cat nap around 11:30/12, then an afternoon nap from 1:30-3:30pm. He’ll probably drop that middle nap soon.

Still no teeth. Just lots of drool, swollen gums, and fists in his mouth.

During his awake time, he’s reach for and grabbing things then jamming them into his mouth. He’s rolling easily from tummy to back and seems to like to do that in his crib instead of sleeping. Sigh.

He’s incredibly strong and loves his doorway jumper, exersaucer, and sitting with a little assistance from the boppy pillow. We have to really be on guard when holding him because he’ll push off with his hands or just throw his weight and nearly fall out of our arms. Ack!

Notable Events

Lots of events, so I’ll just list ’em:

-Went to Greenville for my Dad’s birthday and Christmas with Greg and Chelsey
-Had our Connect Group Christmas party at Matthew and Alison’s house. So fun!
-My parents took the girls to Greenville so we could go to the party (our great neighbor, Toni, house sat while Gideon slept)
-We had our Connect Group’s supper club at Brandon and Robin’s neighborhood clubhouse, and while the turnout was small, we had a wonderful time with great friends.
-My friend, Lisie, hosted an Arbonne party, and I used it as a great excuse for a girls night out :)
-Madilyn was the star of her Christmas play! Haha! Yes, she was the Christmas Star—the one that led the wise men to Jesus. Hehe. She got a kick out of telling folks “I’m the star!”
-On the 21st, some friends of mine and all our kiddos caroled at a local skilled nursing facility. We had 21 kids total, and it really brightened the faces of the residents. The kids got to hand out cards that they made and some Christmas cookies to boot. So fun!
-Christmas morning, we had cinnamon rolls before David headed out with the girls to hand out candy canes at the local fire station and hospital. The girls caroled for the folks too. So neat! I stayed home with Gideon so he could nap. Next year, we’ll all get to go!
-We hosted my parents, grandparents, and great aunt for an early Christmas dinner, and all had a lot of fun!
-My brother and his wife came up to Greenville the next day, and I decided really last minute to drive down after putting Gideon to bed so that I could see them again. It was a really awesome night, and while driving back to Asheville at 1am was difficult, it was so worth it.
-And what better way to end the month than with Clemson beating Oklahoma and advancing to the National Championship game. Can’t wait for January 11!! Go tigers!!

 

November: So very thankful November 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 3:58 pm

We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time this month, and in preparing for that weekend, we realized just how much we have to be thankful for. Praising God for His mercy anew every morning!

Abigail Grace

Her interest in reading continues to grow, and I’m doing my best to provide her quiet times throughout the day to be alone to read. It’s hard in a house with 4 kids—especially with the cold temps and rain keeping us inside a lot. Abigail is doing great in first grade homeschool and continues to show a preference for reading and writing (primarily penmanship over actual composition—unless it’s to a pen pal!) above all other subjects. We have a three week break for Christmas, and she’s really looking forward to the downtime to—you guessed it—read “all morning if [she] wants to.”

She is excelling in ballet (splits are her favorite thing) and just started up gymnastics. It’s exciting to see her so passionate—ballet is just about her favorite thing, ever. We are going to see about taking to her a real ballet performance for her next birthday (shhh! don’t tell!) She’d be blown away, I think.

Madilyn Joy

We’ve started Madilyn on BOB books, and she’s loving learning to read. I felt a huge push to get Abigail reading before kindergarten, and it was stressful, but with Madilyn, I’m taking a more relaxed approach, and I think it’s working out much better.

Madilyn loves coloring, and her favorite center at preschool is the Art table. She comes home with all sorts of imaginative creations. She finished up gymnastics earlier this month and told us she was sort of bored with it. We signed her up for cheerleading through Upward Sports, and she is psyched to get started. They had an introductory cheerleading clinic that David took her to, and he said she just ate it all up. She’s been showing us her cheers ever since.

She’s our super compassionate child and is always the first to run to a hurt friend of family member to try and offer aid. She thinks about others and peppers her prayers with thoughts about our compassion child, Genesis, along with friends and family for which she has concern. Really sweet.

Naomi Hope

Welcome to the start of your third year of life, Naomi. In the past month, we’ve seen some breakthroughs in her communication and behavior, though we still have a long way to go. For my SLP friends, I sat with Naomi for about an hour gathering a language sample to establish her phonological processes (both typical and atypical) and get a sense for what sounds are in her phonetic inventory. She’s got final consonant deletion for some consonants and initial consonant deletion for others, a frontal lisp, and a Spanish-sounding dentalized d/t/th. Yee haw! Working on one thing at a time…minimal pairs intervention, anyone? Ha!

She’s learning colors, sorting by shape/color, and more fine motor skills. She loves transferring objects from one container to another and likes to make “food” for us and her dolls. She’s attached to her stuffed frog (“og”) and sleeps with him all the time—napping 2-3 hours each day and sleeping 11ish at night. We went to the dentist for her most recent check-up, and her aggressive thumb sucking while sleeping has already started moving her top teeth out and forward. So begins to adventure of ending the thumb sucking. Prayers, please!

She has a really funny personality and knows how to get laughs. She’s also feisty and strong-willed. We’re figuring out how to communicate with her, though, to minimize blow-ups from her. She’s done great with potty training from before Gideon was born and is getting close to ditching diapers during naps. We aren’t anywhere close to wanting to deal with nighttime dryness yet, though. That’s a commitment!

She has a good sized vocabulary, but her favorite and most-used words are, “eat, up, NO, mama, dada, abba (Abigail), mada (Madilyn), baby, more, all-done, night night.”

Gideon Joel

This boy is now over 3 month old! At his 3-month well visit, he was 15lb 2oz (80th percentile), 26″ long (95th percentile), with a 16.5″ head. He is incredibly strong and loves bearing weight on his feet, rolling tummy to back (and nearly back to tummy), scooting on his tummy from one side of the crib to the other during naps, and has no issue keeping his head up.

He had an almost 7-day stretch where he slept a straight 12-hr stretch at night, but that was more than 2 weeks ago. Nighttime sleep has been more difficult for him, but we know it’s temporary. Trying to get as much sleep as we can *when* we can to make up for the lost Zzz’s at night. He’s napping 3 times a day still, and we assume that’ll continue until he’s about 6 months old.

He nurses 5 times during the day, and usually once at night. Going to bed in the evening is no longer an event—he just goes right down around 6:15-6:30pm. Naps are sometimes a bit trickier, but a little extra rocking beforehand helps him settle quickly.

He’s a vocal little guy with smiles and little giggles for days. We have “conversations” with him back and forth mimicking the noises he makes, and he really seems to enjoy it. We do too, of course!

He’s drooling like his life depends on it and is determined to fit both of his fists in his mouth. When looking at his lower gums over Thanksgiving, we saw what we feared was messing with his sleep—two white lines just beneath the surface. Teeth! All the girls got their first teeth around 4.5-5 months, so this is really early, but hey, he’s gotta get them sometime, right?

Notable Events

In this month, we had David’s 32nd birthday, Naomi’s 2nd birthday with Greg and Chelsey, Christmas tree shopping, Thanksgiving at our house with the David’s parents, Kevin, and Brittany in town, and more good homeschooling days.

 

October: Fall break, Baby firsts, family fun October 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 10:30 pm

Another month gone already? October was a bit of a blur—thanks to sleep deprivation and busy schedules, I’m sure. We had a lot of fun, though.

Abigail Grace

Abigail’s love for reading has extended to new places this month, and it’s been so fun. She spends some portion of every.single.day. reading to her sisters and/or to Gideon and has additionally begun reading independently for pleasure. She’ll ask, “Can I go to my room and close the door and just read for a little bit?” I did the same thing as a kid, so this thrills me to no end! Just a couple of days ago, I got her the first book in “The Boxcar Children” series that I read as a kid, and she’s devouring it! Suggestions for other chapter book series for early readers?

Our homeschool experience continues to evolve. We recently hit the 50th day of homeschool, and it’s been a fun and challenging ride. Most recently, we started Wacky Wednesdays where we do something just a little bit different and special (e.g. pajama day, silly sock day, etc). Abigail had a lot of fun brainstorming a long list of options to pick from.

We’re also figuring out ways to make what she’s learning more practical and fun instead of relying solely on worksheets and drills. For example, we’re using arithmetic skills as applied to money/money games, temperature, baking/cooking, etc; for handwriting, Abigail had the idea to have pen pals, so we’re attempting to get that underway; and for reading, of course, we’re doing more pleasure reading instead of just phonics study. So far, so good! Hoping to add in some science and art with local courses around town. Stay tuned.

I must say, though, that being in homeschool has made Abigail much more grateful for time spent with friends and really soaks up that time with pals. We make sure that it happens on a regular basis so that she doesn’t feel any sort of isolation, but she’s not surrounded by peers 7+ hours every single day, so when it does happen, she’s all about it.

Oh, and this girl loves ballet. I mean, loves loves loves it. It’s so great to see her exploding with excitement in anticipation over something like ballet! She practices at home and is constantly demonstrating her new moves. Not sure if this will be a passion that continues for years and years, but we are happy to encourage it as long as she loves it!

Madilyn Joy

I’m not sure what to do school-wise with this one. She loves preschool but has been quite vocal about how she feels left out with Abigail, Naomi, and Gideon home all day while she goes off to preschool. I was really hoping to keep her in school until kindergarten, but am open to bringing her home whenever it’s appropriate. Will keep checking in with her to see what she wants to do. She definitely misses being home and probably feels lost in the shuffle between all my focus on Abigail (homeschool) and Gideon (uh, he’s a baby and requires A LOT of time/focus/energy) and Naomi (little pistol).

She’s still our outdoorsy, bug-loving, risk-taking daughter, though. One of the pictures I have of her this month is in the backyard holding a branch of a tree up in the air like it’s a million bucks. She’s constantly got dirty fingernails and worn knees on her pants from all her digging and adventuring outside around the house. She’d rather ride her bike than walk and wants to jump off of everything. She’s still enrolled in gymnastics, but she doesn’t LOVE it like Abigail loves ballet. We’re brainstorming what she might get more enthused about, though she does say she enjoys gymnastics. Suggestions?

And in really exciting news, she just read her first two BOB books recently. She is so proud of herself (and we are crazy proud of her too)! She loves having Abigail read to her, but says she can’t wait to read to Abigail. She seeks a lot of approval from Abigail as she admires her and really looks up to her. We have been trying to make Abigail more aware and sensitive to this fact as she will sometimes brush Madilyn off a bit. Work in progress!

Naomi Hope

Oh my goodness. I love this girl so much and am pretty much certain she will be the cause of my first gray hairs. I think we were spared the terrible 2s for the most part with Abigail and Madilyn, so Naomi is making up for them and doing a great job living out her own terrible 2s. This too shall pass.

Truthfully, I think a lot of her acting out and tantrums stem from her lack of spoken language ability. She is our third child whose spoken language has come late. She understands everything we say to her but is quite limited in her ability to respond. She relies on gestures and grunts for a lot of her communication. The speech pathologist in me makes sure she at least attempts the correct word, but a lot of her verbalizations are vowelized, and she’s pretty consistently dropping the initial consonant (and sometimes final consonant too) of words. Geez. Talk about a tough case!

If you ask her any question (ANY…yes any), she will immediately answer “NO!” before considering any other answer. She has bitten, kicked, scratched, hit, slapped everyone except Gideon. Of course there are consequences for her behavior, and David and I have been very consistent with that. She’s just really strong-willed. Praying that our consistency in discipline and our overt love toward her will eventually break through—oh, and that her language would improve soon because, well, I’m trying everything I know to do from what I learned in grad school, but so far, limited luck.

She is quite the comedienne, though, and a great physical actress—mimicking movements or poses of people around her/in magazines/in books/in movies, etc. It’s fun to watch—kind of like miming or something. She’s got a great smile, and she really does love her sisters, brother, and “mamaaaaaa” and “dadaaaaa.” Heh. Can’t wait to see how her personality continues to develop. She’ll be 2 in just a couple of weeks—can’t believe it!

Gideon Joel

Gideon hit the 2-month mark this month and has had quite a few firsts: first laugh (10/9), first 12-hr straight stretch at night (10/15), first time rolling from tummy to back (10/16), and his first cold (compliments of his sisters) in addition to first coo-like talking and more happy awake time. We used the time change to our advantage and moved his bedtime back to 6:30pm instead of 7:30pm. While he did have a great 12-hr stretch a couple of weeks back, he’s pretty consistently going 7-9 hours at night before we hear from him. Not too shabby!

He’s still napping 4 times a day around 8am, 11am, 1pm, and 5pm, goes down for the night between 6:30-6:50pm, and wakes up once around 3am before nursing and going back to bed til 6:30am. Not too bad!

He hates bottles. We did a bottle bootcamp last month, and after doing mostly all bottles for two days in a row, he was downing them like a champ. But it’s really difficult (ok, almost impossible) for me to give him bottles during the week and make time to pump too to keep him well practiced with bottles. That means on the weekend when I’m working, I’m basically having to just come home to nurse him because he’s refusing bottled breast milk. Praying this changes soon!

He nurses 5-6 times every 24 hours and is pretty efficient (only 10-15 minutes total), so that’s nice! I wish I was able to savor the nursing time with him, but I’m usually in the midst of chaos while he’s eating—often having to hold him on while taking Naomi to the potty or helping Abigail with homeschool stuff. Heh. Multitasking at its craziest!

He’s still in size 2 diapers but is nearly maxing out his 3-6 month footed sleepers. Such a long baby! He enjoys tummy time for a few minutes each day and is getting increasingly happy on his floor mat and bouncy seat. He still falls asleep on me and nuzzles into my neck…soaking it all up as we are officially finished with having kiddos—no possible way to turn back now. So excited that our family is complete!

Notable events

A list of events from October to remind myself of later: homeschool fall break from the last week of September through October 12, homeschool co-op for leaf art, apple picking at SkyTop with Blythe and her kiddos, I started back to work at Park Ridge on the weekends, the girls spent a weekend in Greenville, we caught then lost then caught then lost again then finally caught a stray kitten that had been hanging out around our house a couple of days, pumpkin patch fun, family bonfire, co-op for pumpkin carving, Halloween. See you next month!

 

September: Role Reversal September 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 9:23 pm

This month saw the beginning of David’s work with Duke Energy and my transition to stay-at-home-mom life to the four kids. The first couple of weeks were pretty tough for me, but it’s gotten much better. David’s first couple of weeks of work were full of HR-related tasks, orientation, ride-alongs, etc, and then in week 3, he has started his first project and software training. So far, so good!

Abigail Grace

Homeschool continues to go well with Abigail–we are 40 school days into our 165-day year and are currently on a 2-week fall break. I am loving the flexibility of homeschooling combined with a year-round schedule. It makes the load feel a lot more manageable with more regular breaks. Also, we are participating in a homeschool co-op with a few other homeschooling families in our connect group at church. That’s been a huge blessing to me and the girls—having weekly meet-ups with other families doing the same thing we are. September’s theme was apples, so we went to the apple orchard, made an apple pie, and read apple books among other fun activities. It’s definitely something we look forward to each week!

Abigail has done great without her training wheels and learned to turn around on her own. The only thing left to learn is how to push off so that we don’t have to get her started every time. It’s been incredibly rainy the past week, so we haven’t been out and practicing but hope to be able to get out soon.

One of the things Abigail wanted to learn during fall break was how to braid. Surprising, she picked it up incredibly quickly and is able to now braid quickly and consistently. Her next request? Braiding her hair. Heh. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes!

Madilyn Joy

Not to be outdone, Madilyn immediately requested to learn how to braid as well. She’s getting the hang of it! She also requested that her training wheels be removed. She rocked it out for the day, but then we haven’t gotten around to letting her practice anymore. Ack! Gotta have a family park day once the sun decides to shine again.

In other exciting news, I started reading lessons with Madilyn a few weeks back, and she’s about 1/4 of the way through “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” (the same book we used with Abigail), and she’s doing great. She’s gotten into drawing and coloring a lot more recently and loves writing words all over her pictures, though she has to translate them for us. She’s our nature gal and loves exploring, finding bugs/leaves/sticks/acorns/etc to commenting on all their features.

She loves preschool but is already asking when she can start homeschool. Eep! Would love to have her home, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to homeschool two kids yet. Will have to revisit that idea later.

Naomi Hope

In cute and positive news: she says her name is “Na-no-mi,” and she is fearless and spunky and has a great laugh. That said, she has been my biggest challenge since David went back to work. She is strong-willed and defiant, and that fearlessness has led to several pretty significant falls and near misses (thank you, God, for keeping her away from major injuries). It is hard for me to keep right on top of her secondary to having 3 other kids to keep eyes on (one often strapped to me or over my shoulder which slows me down too).

Discipline has been (and continues to be) a tricky thing to figure out. She’s far more aggressive than her sisters, doesn’t sit still for very long, and has an incredibly difficult time with the concepts of sharing, taking turns, or listening in general. Prayers appreciated.

She’s got such a cool personality, and I know she’ll grow up into a firecracker of a young lady, but right now, she is one tough kid to handle.

Gideon Joel

A lot has changed with him since the beginning of the month—ALL good things:

At the beginning of the month, it took us 2+ hours to get Gideon completely down for the night. Now it’s less than 20 minutes. He was going 3-4 hours at night at a time, but for the past 3 nights, has gone at least 7 between meals (!!). He takes 4 naps a day, but two are long and two are short. The first short one is usually when we’re running errands in the morning while the other short one is between dinner and bed and doesn’t go more than 20-30 minutes. Can’t wait til he drops that one! Oh, and he’s a tummy sleeper like our other 3 were.
He’s nursing well, getting really strong and holding his head up for long periods of time. His first smile was on 9/12, and we are dying to hear his laugh. Hope it happens soon!He had his 7-week appointment and was 13lb 2oz, 24.5″ long, with a 16″ head. He’s put on 5 pounds since birth and 3 inches in length. Whoa! 97th percentile for height and 90th for weigh. Long, fairly lean guy!
The girls adore him and ask daily to hold him, help change diapers, will talk to him, etc, etc. Such great helpers and sweet big sisters! Naomi is finally grasping the concept of “gentle” so I can let her interact with Gideon a bit more.

Notable Events

When Abigail started learning to ride her bike without training wheels, David kept her steady by running while holding the back of her bike. This wore his back out. Then he picked up Gideon’s car seat with Gideon inside and twisted. Hello back pain! He’s still working through it but was completely out of commission for about a week. Hoping he reaches full recovery soon!

David’s parents came to town earlier in the month—right about the time David injured his back. It was incredibly helpful to have them here as they entertained the girls while I dealt with Gideon and David rested. They took the girls to the apple festival, to a park, to the hotel pool, played pickle ball, and helped with the training wheel-free riding. The girls had a blast!

The WNC Mountain State Fair came to town this month, and the big girls and I spent a day back and forth to the fair. We all had a great time, and the girls were tall enough this year to ride some of the bigger rides—such fun! We also ran into the Harrisons while we were there, and the girls had fun enjoying the whole experience with friends. Can’t wait for the fair next year!

 

August: Some Major Family events August 31, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 10:43 pm

This month, Abigail turned 6, God brought David a great job after 3.5 years of being at home with the girls and over 8 solid months of searching, and Gideon Joel was born—all within a week’s time! The rest of the month was spent getting adjusted to our family of 6: still a work in progress! Gideon’s birth story is below, or you can click here.

Abigail Grace

This girl made us parents 6 years ago; my how time flies! She had a small water party with neighbors and a few close friends the Saturday before her birthday, and I was thrilled for the built in lesson of thank-you notes. She’s always had to write them/dictate them, but this time around, she got to write on lined paper, address the envelopes, learn how to fold paper to fit inside, get the stamps on, etc. Awesome learning experience and great handwriting practice—in addition to learning the specifics about writing a letter (spacing, greeting, farewell, date placement, etc). Gotta take those incredibly practical home school lessons whenever we can!

And on her actual birthday, she got to pick all the activities (down to the meals). We started the day at Panera Bread, then headed to the Fun Depot. For lunch, she wanted grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese crackers, and bell peppers because “I know we need a vegetable, and peppers are my favorite.” Be still my exuberant heart! She wanted a quiet time with Madilyn after lunch, then she chose to head down to the Hands-On Museum before a dinner of waffles. She’s a carb lover, what can I say?

She had her 6-year wellness check on August 17. She’s 44lbs and 43.5″ tall—45th percentile for weight and 20th percentile for height. Her vision, hearing, and blood pressure all turned out great. She got her first loose tooth on Friday night and has been wiggling it pretty relentlessly since then, determined to get it out soon. “Maybe I need to bob for apples to get it out, Mommy!” Haha! She is flying around our street on her bike with training wheels but is adamant that she is NOT taking them off anytime soon. UPDATE: Tooth came out on August 31st, and she had a change of heart the same day in regards to her bike: David took off the training wheels, and she rode a little without him holding on. Exciting!

Madilyn Joy

This girl is fearless—whether in regards to trying new activities (e.g. she has been riding Abigail’s training wheel bike without any assistance, tried a somersault off the couch, jumps from high heights) or touching/picking up any living thing. Just the other day, it was a bright orange slug. She’s brought up worms, granddaddy long legs, random bugs from the grass, centipedes, millipedes, etc beaming with pride. “Mommy, look what I caught!!” Perhaps she’ll be an etymologist!

In regards to the bike, we had a neighbor gift us a smaller training wheel bike that’ll hold Madilyn over for a little bit, but she definitely needs a pedal bike of her own. Shopping around now!

She started preschool last week and absolutely adores her teachers. Not many of her buddies from last year are in her class this year, but we’re praying her outgoing personality will enable her to make lots of new friends. She also started gymnastics last week (thanks, mom and dad!) and is loving it! Can’t wait to see what all she learns this year.

Naomi Hope

Our early potty training attempt with her has proven mostly successful. Woo hoo! We aren’t worried a bit about naps/nighttime, but during the day, she’s doing really well. She regressed a little after Gideon was born, but I think that was partly due to the fact that we weren’t as diligent about asking her if she needed to go—we were a little preoccupied. Ha!

Her speech is coming along little by little, but her behavior is out-of-this-world crazy as compared with her older sisters at the same age. Whew! Doing our best to be consistent in discipline and expectations, but it is pretty exhausting with her!

On a positive note, she is our social butterfly and doesn’t shy away from many interactions—unless someone tries to hold her. She’s not a fan of anyone outside of me and David right now, for the most part. She’s also a very determined little girl and does not give up easily when faced with a difficult task. She’ll eventually ask for help, but if you offer before she’s ready, beware!

Gideon Joel

Check out his birth story for all the details on his debut. He was born on August 10 at 11:10pm; 8lb, 3oz and 21.5″ long with a 14.5″ head. He passed his newborn hearing screening on 8/12 and is all in all a really sweet baby boy.

Had his 1-week check up on August 17. He was up 5oz over birthweight to 8lbs 8oz, 22″ long, with a 14.75″ head. As he is gaining weight well and has no other issues, we don’t have to go back until he is 6 weeks old!

Our pediatrician doesn’t do circumcisions, and since we had a home birth, we couldn’t get it done in the hospital. After a lot of running around and scheduling surgical consults, a family friend of my parents in Greenville who is also a pediatrician offered to do it. Thank goodness! We were going to either have to drive to Charlotte or wait until October to have it done in Asheville in an operating room with a whole team of folks as Gideon would be over a month old by that point. Eek! So we had it done when he was 2 weeks, 3 days old. He did well, but only David went to watch. Also, they weighed him before the procedure, and he was up to 9lb 8oz!

He is a good nurser, sleeps fairly well during the day (until the 3pm-6pm span where it’s hit or miss), gets up 2 times at night once he’s down, but nurses and goes right back to sleep. He’s gaining lots of head control and only allows his head to rest against a shoulder if he’s beat. Otherwise, he’s holding his head up and looking around. He eats around 8 times every 24 hours and naps between each of those meals. I think we have the day/night confusion worked out (praise God for that!). I am somewhat dreading when David returns to work as sometimes Gideon needs a good 15 minutes to settle for sleep and then may wake after 45 minutes and need another 15 minutes. Not a huge deal, but with home school and a potty training kiddo, me having to leave multiple times messes with the schedule. Ha! In a few months, though, this newborn craziness will be just a memory.

Notable events

In one amazing week, I volunteered and shopped at Wee-Trade, God brought David a great job with Duke Energy, we went apple picking as a family, played in the rain as a family, and Gideon was born! Whirlwind for sure. David starts work on September 14, and while we both feel so incredibly blessed that he is now a part of the paid workforce, the thought of all the transitions that will occur around that time are a bit overwhelming. Prayers appreciated!

On a side note, we started daily chores with the big girls (and allowance for Abigail), and it’s been kind of awesome. They have enjoyed being a part of the family in that way, and we have reaped the benefits: clean kitchen table and floor, trash all brought to the kitchen prior to trash pick up, recycling sorted in the garage, bathroom sinks cleaned, toilets scrubbed, bookshelves organized…so great! Wish we’d started sooner, but we’re so thankful the big girls are being compliant right now. With Naomi as much of a handful as she is, we need some compliance! Haha!

 

Gideon Joel: A birth story August 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sally Ann @ 3:08 pm

This fourth bundle of joy was determined to keep us waiting just like the other three! His ultimate arrival was speedy, but the buildup started over a week before.

On July 31, the five of us went to Fletcher park for some family time. I speed walked (ok, well, walked as fast as I could) to keep up with Madilyn on her bike and carried Naomi quite a bit. The weather was perfect, and we had a great time as a family. That night, however, I had regular, uncomfortable contractions for about 3 hours. I drank some water, ate dinner, took a shower, and got in the bed to rest. The contractions stopped.

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I was on-call at the hospital August 1st and 2nd, and while I didn’t have any contractions, I had a lot of pelvic pressure and discomfort. Turns out, Jumper was dropping a little lower—getting ready little by little. We had Abigail’s birthday party on the 1st, and I am so glad that Jumper held off making its arrival so that Abigail didn’t feel slighted at all on her party day. She had a water party outside that, in total, cost about $25. Victory! With four kids now, cheap birthday parties are essential!

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I had my 40-week check-up on Abigail’s actual 6th birthday: Tuesday, August 4, a day after my due date. I was checked and determined to be 1-2cm, but my cervix was only slightly soft and not effaced at all. We had a big day planned for Abigail with Fun Depot and the Hands on Museum, and with Wee-Trade volunteering and shopping on Wednesday and Thursday, I declined a membrane sweep when the midwife offered, but I scheduled one for Friday. Some shots from Abigail’s special day:

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After the membrane sweep on August 7, I started having steady, moderately painful contractions that lasted from 5:45-11pm. It wasn’t just the membrane sweep that brought them on, however. We also got news that afternoon that God had brought David a job after over 8 months of searching and 3.5 years of being a stay-at-home dad! We were (and still are) ecstatic and feeling incredibly blessed. “What if we have a baby today too!” David stated shortly after accepting the job. With contractions at a more painful level and coming 2-7 minutes apart, we thought we just might meet our newest addition that night. We got all of our home birth supplies out and ready, made up the bed with fresh sheets, alerted Lisie Pfeiffer Photography, and got in bed to see what would happen. The contractions spaced and ultimately stopped by midnight, though.

Saturday and Sunday were full of 15-30 minute apart contractions that were borderline painful, but mostly just uncomfortable—especially if I was holding Naomi during one. Whoa! I was holding her and singing to her before putting her down for a nap on Saturday, and in the midst of that, I got a contraction. Thank goodness it was mild, but my singing stopped until it passed! At church on Sunday, David got to announce his new job to our connect group, and it was really neat for him to be able to share our testimony and for God’s hand to be so evident in our lives over this 3.5 year journey. Quite a few misty eyes in the crowd—mine and David’s included.

Later that day, we decided to go to SkyTop Orchard for possibly our last family-of-5 hurrah with some good ‘ole fashioned apple picking. Since it was a Sunday afternoon and so early in the season, we were just about the only ones there. The girls had an incredible time playing on the swing sets, feeding the animals, picking apples, and just being together. We are SO glad that we made the decision to go because little did we know, we would be a family of six the next day.

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On Monday, August 10th (Jumper’s birthday!), I was officially 41-weeks pregnant. I had an appointment with the midwife, Michelle, that morning and was determined to be 3-4cm, with a soft cervix and Jumper at -1 station. All good, encouraging news! She did another membrane sweep and sent me on my way to a non-stress test at Mission Hospital. It was surreal to be back in the labor and delivery triage area as the last time I was there, I was 10 minutes from delivering Naomi! The test went well, and over the course of the hour I was there, I only had a couple of contractions. Nothing to indicate that labor was right around the corner.

Our county had been in drought conditions for a while, but it rained Monday afternoon! All five of us traipsed outside to play in the downpour for more than an hour—such sweet memories. I tear up just thinking about it; all the joy on the girls’ faces and the pure fun we all had. Can’t wait to make more memories like that!

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I had been having contractions, but again, very manageable—borderline painful, but mostly just uncomfortable. At 5:45pm, however, that changed. I was reading a book to Naomi, and I got the first “that-was-different” contraction. Less than 10 minutes later, another one; another one 7 minutes later; and another, and another. Just that morning, the midwife had told me that, “When you go, you’ll go fast. You’re ready.” I told David and decided to head to Target to walk a bit to see if they would intensify; I also needed to pick up a couple of things for the girls and for Jumper, so it was a needed trip.

At 6:15pm, I left and called Lisie on the way just to give her a heads up. While at Target, contractions got stronger to the point that I couldn’t walk through them and had to focus on breathing. After checking out, I took a couple of steps away from the register and got another strong contraction. I rifled aimlessly through my purse so that I didn’t look so odd standing still just past the register for over a minute. I still have the receipt from my purchases that evening: 6:42pm. Amazing how close I was to meeting our fourth kiddo at that point.

When I got to the car, I started timing the contractions. The two I had in the parked car were 3.5 minutes apart. I called Lisie again and put her on high alert. Once home, it was 6:50pm, and I knew the girls would be awake for another 10-15 minutes. I stayed outside walking around and timing contractions until I knew they would be in bed. Contractions were never more than 4 minutes apart.

At 7:10pm, I was inside with David, and contractions were down to 2-3 minutes apart. I could talk between them and a little during them, but they were getting stronger. Usually “they” say to go to the hospital/call the doctor when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute, and have been happening that way for at least an hour. While that’s a good rule of thumb, I’ve found that intensity of contractions for me is more of an indicator because I had been having contractions lasting 1-1.5 minutes, less than 4 minutes apart for more than an hour, but I knew how intense they would likely become, so I knew I had time.

I texted my mom at 7:30pm, “May be having a baby tonight. Prayers appreciated! Will keep you posted,” and made the call to the midwife and Lisie at 7:45pm.

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Lisie arrived at 8:20pm, and the midwife with her assistant by 8:45pm. Contractions by this point were a little more intense but not lasting a full minute anymore.

By 9:30pm, all the home birth gear was set up and ready to go: basically every flat surface in our bedroom had been cleared off, cleaned, and used as medical equipment storage (everything from herbs and oils to sterile gloves and oxygen).

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I was checked and found to be 6cm and 100% effaced with my water intact but “bulging.”

CB3A2500The midwife, her assistant, Lisie, David, and I all hung out in our den, and I leaned against the furniture or stepped away when a contraction hit.

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By 10pm, I started squatting with contractions per the midwife’s suggestion to encourage Jumper to drop and my water to break on its own to intensify and speed up labor.

CB3A2517Yes, squatting in the laundry room/bathroom. Tile floor=easiest to clean up!

**A brief shout-out to home birth: this was my 4th drug-free labor but my first where I felt in control of my pain the whole time. Were the contractions less intense? Absolutely not! However, I didn’t have the stress of getting the kids off somewhere, packing hospital bags, and going to the hospital. I wasn’t in an unfamiliar, sterile, cold environment where I had been made to feel rushed in labor in the past. No forms to sign. No excessive monitoring (just Doppler monitoring of Jumper’s heart rate between and during contractions once an hour). I could eat and drink as I wished, be alone when I wanted, be with familiar faces when I wanted. Shoot, I even took Lisie downstairs to show her my homes chool room between two contractions at one point. Would highly recommend home birth to other low-risk mamas-to-be. Incredible!

At 10:50pm, while squatting with a contraction, my water broke. The fluid wasn’t clear but a little cloudy with brown flecks in it: mecomium (baby’s first bowel movement) in the water. With a home birth with my midwives’ practice, mecomium in the fluid means an immediate hospital transfer; however, I was progressing so quickly that the midwife felt we would have a car birth if I were to transfer. She checked Jumper after the water broke, and his heartrate was still strong, unchanged. She checked my cervix after the next contraction, but I was still at 6cm. The intensity, though, had ratcheted way up.

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I was exhausted from all the up and down of squatting, and it was making me a little dizzy, so I moved to the bed just before 11pm. I felt the beginning of an urge to push, but since I was only 6cm, the midwife encouraged me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing. I did that for two contractions, then the “beginning of an urge” became the true out-of-control urge to push.

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At 11:05pm, I moved down to my side and began truly pushing. After my first large push, the midwife said to David, “You want to come down here?” David let go of my hand to catch Jumper. After less than 5 minutes of pushing, Jumper was born at 11:10pm. The cord was wrapped around the neck twice (likely from all that breech to head down flipping Jumper was doing up until 38 weeks), but the midwife removed it, and I heard the most beautiful cry right away.

David brought the baby up to me and said, “Meet Gideon Joel! It’s a boy!”

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He and I both fell apart in a wave of shock, blessing, happiness, and gratitude for a healthy baby. He was 8lb 3oz, 21.5” long with a 14.5” head. He required a little extra suction to clear the fluid from his throat but other than that, he had APGAR scores of 7 and 9. I delivered the placenta just a couple of minutes after Gideon, and Gideon started to root around shortly after that. He latched on with a little encouragement and began to nurse.

And we were at home. In our bed. And the girls slept through the whole thing.

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The midwife and assistant cleaned up the room and drew a sitz bath for me, checking Gideon’s and my vitals every little bit. By 1am, Lisie left, having captured some of the most wonderful moments of Gideon’s birth and his first hours of life in photos.

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CB3A2743Getting weighed sling-style

By 2am, the midwife and assistant were packed up and on their way out. And it was just me, David, and Gideon snuggled in the bed.

Not much sleep happened between then and when the girls woke up at 6:45am. I was in the bed with Gideon, and David instructed the girls to, “Go to Mommy and Daddy’s room to see Mommy.” David said that the big girls’ reaction was, “Why? Isn’t it time for breakfast?” When they walked through the door, though, Abigail immediately put her hand to her mouth and was overcome (makes me misty to think about!). Madilyn had a huge grin on her face, and Naomi said, “BABY!!”

They all gathered around Gideon, and I got to tell them, “Girls, you have a baby brother!” to which Madilyn replied, “I was right!” Haha! Abigail kept saying, “He’s so cute, Mommy!” and both big girls took turns holding him before breakfast. Naomi didn’t seem to understand that Gideon wasn’t a doll and kept trying to poke his eyes. Needless to say, she was kept at bay.

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My parents came by a little later that morning to pick up the girls for a few days in Greenville while David, Gideon, and I took time to bond and get adjusted a bit. Such a blessing!

We cannot wait to introduce you to our little man! But for now, here are a few pictures of Gideon Joel Mertens at five days old compliments of Lisie Pfeiffer:

 

 
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