March 2015—in like a lion? Nah, pretty tame. April 2, 2015
We definitely had weather ups and downs in March, but for the most part, it’s been nice. And we’ve been HEALTHY all month long. I’m writing this blog a couple of days into April–and one day after Naomi stayed at the YMCA’s childcare for 1 hour. She’s been up hacking over and over tonight. Surgical masks at the ready!
Not a whole lot to report aside from her growing love for her sisters and fascination with the growing baby in my tummy. She has felt the baby kick, and it thrills her to no end! Recently, she’s gotten into picking Naomi up and giving her hugs. Also, she’s showing a lot more empathy toward Madilyn—a welcomed improvement! Ballet is still her thing, and she loves practicing her recital piece.
She misses me so much when I’m at work, and she tells me as much. One day early in March, I was able to get off of work early. I decided to surprise her at school for lunch, not sure how she’d react. I knew she’d be happy, but you never know exactly how Abigail will respond to a surprise. When her class came walking down the hall and she saw me, she exclaimed under her breath, “Mommy!!” and as I walked toward her to give her a hug, she broke down and cried. “I am so happy you came to see me at school…can you stay for a long time?” heart.ripped.out.
I feel like I type this every month, but she is truly the sweetest little kiddo. She will ask to snuggle nearly anytime I’m sitting down, will go along with most every idea Abigail throws out there for something to do, offers to help David and I throughout the day, and beams like the sun when she gets to be the helper at preschool. She loves to wake Naomi up in the morning (as does Abigail)—and by “wake Naomi up” I mean “walk into the room where Naomi is squawking and say ‘Good morning!'”
She is dropping her nap little bit little and will skip a nap every few days. Recently, David has been taking time with Madilyn on skipped nap days to teach her soccer. Her practices through Upward Sports start mid-April, and soccer is sort of David’s thing. Madilyn has LOVED the one-on-one time and has picked up the basics really quickly.
Madilyn also lets me know how hard it is to not see me all day, so on the day I surprised Abigail, I surprised Madilyn first. She had a much different reaction—positive still, thankfully! She stood up in class when I got there to pick her up and said proudly, “Everyone, my mommy came to pick me up today! Hi Mommy!” Big hugs and kisses followed.
This big girl is 16 months old and changing and developing so much with each new month. We have started to train her on utensils, and so far, she’s rocking it out with her fork; the spoon is a little more difficult, though the items we’ve given her to scoop are thin and not really ideal. Fail.
We are also beginning the process of breaking the thumb-sucking habit. She only sucks it when she’s sleeping, but hearing horror stories from other parents about how long that habit can hang around, we decided to try and nip it now. Just like we did with Abigail (who only sucked her thumb for a month), we put a sock over Naomi’s hand at naptime and tape it in place. It only took one day before she understood and would start holding her hand up for us to put a sock on at nap and bedtime. Heh.
Other new changes: first pig tails, climbing all over–including walking up our ridiculously steep driveway, is smiling on command—though it’s a bit crooked and growly (haha!), and she understands so much of what we’re saying. New words this month: ba for ball, muh for milk, a true “mama” when referencing me (hurray!!). She has all her teeth except 8—missing the incisors and 2-year molars, though she appears to be working on some now.
We had our ultrasound, and though I looked up once when the technician was in the vicinity, I didn’t look hard enough to see anything. Looked right away! Baby looked good and healthy—measuring at 9oz. My mom came with David and all three girls It sounded like a beautiful experience in my head, but the execution of it was much different. The baby is just as active as its big sisters, and both Abigail and Madilyn have felt the baby kick.
Per David’s suggestion, “jumper” will be the nickname for baby 4. Twist, Kick, and Flip have a fitting little sibling!
March meant a couple of pretty cool things: the END of my Clinical Fellowship Year—paperwork has been submitted, and I’m waiting on final confirmation that I’m a fully licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist; the beginning of covering a maternity leave for another SLP which means increased hours; the beginning of PRN (as needed) work at two other facilities in the area to start saving money for Jumper; additional editing jobs—also to save money, and David’s job search kicking into super high gear. Oh, and then there’s this other little thing: my little brother got MARRIED! Welcome to the family, Chelsey! The big girls were in the wedding, and I was a bridesmaid and played accompaniment for a singer. We had loads of fun, and the girls really dance the night away. Precious memories.
February: under a sick cloud February 28, 2015
There were some very bright spots in the midst of constant sickness (basically a non-ending cycle of colds). We finally tossed all the medicine, and all 5 of us ate huge salads and veggie filled smoothies every single day for 2 weeks; we’re all healthy now! “Let food be thy medicine” -Hippocrates
No significant news to report. She’s still doing great in kindergarten and loving reading and art. I think it’s just a part of being in a large classroom setting, but she’s been invited to a bunch of bday parties. It’s been sort of refreshing to see her decide not to go to several of them because she’s not that close as compared with when a church friend (most of whom are really close) asks, and Abigail gets stoked and can’t wait to buy a present, etc. She’s got a better grip on friendships now, it seems. Also, she cannot wait to be in Greg and Chelsey’s wedding next month as a flower girl and LOVES ballet—recital in May.
She turned 4 in February, and is looking more and more grown every month. As a special birthday treat, my parents took Madilyn to Greenville with them by herself for an “Adventure with Grandma and Granddaddy” for a whole day. She soaked up the attention and was bursting with stories about her experiences when she got back. She also had her 4-year old check up: 39″ tall (3ft, 3inches), 40lbs, and her eyes and ears were within typical range. Her weight was a little high however (Abigail was the same height at 4, but 7 lbs lighter), and has been since she was 2. We kept thinking she’d grow out of it because honestly, we eat a pretty clean, plant-based diet. However, when we discussed portion size with her pediatrician, he confirmed we were giving her too much—even though it was all healthy. Too much of a good thing. I’m writing this blog over a week into March (more than 3 weeks since scaling portion sizes), and we’ve seen a remarkable shift in Madilyn’s physical appearance and ability. So glad it appears to be an easy fix!
She is now 15-months old, and at her check-up, she was 26lbs 14 oz, 31″ long, with a 19.25″ head. Like Madilyn, the weight was high (2+ lbs heavier than both older sisters at the same age and same length). Scaled back portions for her, and noticed a difference very quickly. Whew! She’s super protective of me and won’t let David even hold my hand without losing her mind and trying to take our hands apart. Haha! She’s going from sitting to standing without holding on, doing more fine-motor tasks (e.g. “playing” the peg game at Cracker Barrel), adding final consonants to some words (e.g. duck is no longer “duh!”, it’s “dut!”), dancing lots, trying to interact more with her sisters in play, loves baby dolls (will carry them around, patting their backs or feed them a bottle), loves animals, and gets legitimately tickled over the silliest things. She’s loud and independent and has entered her first real defiance phase. Whew. We’re working to nip that in the bud as best we can. She is a joy, though!
Had an appointment for this little one on the 11th: heart rate at 147bpm, measuring on track, and discussed home birth with the midwife there who used to perform home births (and had both her kids at home). Just shy of 18 weeks pregnant and started feeling the baby kick last week. Hoping David will be able to feel it before to long. Such a neat feeling! Ultrasound scheduled for March 3. Haven’t given much time to name discussion as of yet; still have our boy name, of course, but need to come up with a girl option just in case! Suggestions for a nickname for this one? We’ve used Flip, Twist, and Kick for the others :)
A list for reference: Madilyn’s 4th birthday party with 4 friends (Maggie, Laila, Josephine, and Tyler); Wee-Trade—did great and spent less than $300 for summer clothes and games for all three girls), Greg and Chelsey’s wedding shower in Greenville—(I helped host); David’s and my 8th wedding anniversary—the second anniversary we’ve spent during a pregnancy; a huge ice storm—ice that fell on top of fallen snow; snow storm with sledding and snow angels; a ladies’ night in at our place filled with making chocolate strawberries and talking about just about anything we could think of—so much fun…I truly cherish the lasting friendships I’ve made here in Asheville.
It’s Positive again! January 31, 2015
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 :)
It’s positive x4—a brief diary January 26, 2015
(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!
December: the most wonderful time of the year December 31, 2014
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!
November: A month of many thanks November 30, 2014
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
October: New home, new temps, new milestones October 31, 2014
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).