Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Obsession Confession

Sometimes.  Like right now. When James is sleeping.  I start to miss his sweet face, so I sit down at my computer and open my photo gallery and scroll through photos of my sweet little guy. 

Like this one
 or this one
 or this one

I guess it's better than the alternative which is going into his room (can I call my walk-in closet his room??) and waking him up just so I can see his scrumptious smile.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween 2011

There are two types of people in the world--those who LOVE Halloween and those who don't.  After years of denial, I'm ready to admit that I have joined "those who don't." 

But the kids still dressed up.  And we still went trick-or-treating (AND trunk-or-treating!). And they still devoured all of their candy in one day.  And we did carve pumpkins (which was, by far, the highlight of the weekend!).  And we'll do it all again next year.   Maybe next year I'll take more pictures.  This year I took exactly two.

Grace wore a Poodle Skirt, Abby was Rapunzel, and Eliza was Erika from the Barbie movie "Princess and the Pauper"

James was a football.  I'll admit that seeing him in his costume melted my cold bah humbug heart just a bit  :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Catching up...yet again.

I feel so behind on blogging that I don't know where to start! I think I'll start with my favorite little boy in the world, James.

James is perfection.  He makes me so happy I could squeal.  And I do. Often. I think I've mentioned that. He is 4 1/2 months old.  He weighed 17.1 lbs at his 4 month check up.  Oh, i just love his rolls and chub!!!

He's still got us all wrapped around his chubby little fingers.  Especially me.  I can't get enough of this face.

He's such a calm baby.  He almost never cries, but when he does--I rush like a mad woman to his side.  I am completely guilty of spoiling him, and I have no intentions of changing.  Ever.

I tried for 4+ months to convince him to prefer his binki over his fingers.  I really, really tried.  I even put socks on his hands a couple times.   And although he does take the binki...

he definitely prefers his fingers.  These two, to be specific

And I finally decided a few days ago that I should not start a control battle with my son this early.  So, when I put him to bed, it is no longer with a binki in his mouth.  And I'm actually okay with it.  It helps that there is nothing cuter in the world than his two right middle fingers in his mouth, with his index finger sticking straight up along the side of his nose.  And when he's really tired, he grabs his right hand with his left to just hold it all in place.

It's so stinkin' cute I usually squeal at the sight and startle him awake....but then he just puts himself right back to sleep :)
I thought it was interesting that at his Dr.'s appt, the pediatrician strongly encouraged me to let him suck his fingers, and the next day at the girls' dentist appointments, the dentist strongly encouraged me to push the pacifier.  I'm going with my gut on this one, and letting him suck his fingers.  :)

James is still not on a really great schedule.  I just can't imagine how any fourth child ever could be.  But over our 2-week fall break, he truly was the boss of our schedules, and it was great.  He was his happiest self.

He slept through the night almost every night, got his three long naps, and ate when he wanted to.  But with school and preschool and soccer and ballet and errands and joy school and play dates, the kid just doesn't get to nap in his crib as much as he'd like to.  I keep hoping he'll adapt and become a great car seat sleeper, but that hasn't happened yet. 

I looooove the stage he's at.  He's still happy to play on his little mat for 20 minutes at a time.  But he's even happier to be up and smiling at ANYONE who'll look at him.

Everyone who sees him falls instantly in love.  He's so chubby and delicious, it's just impossible to get enough of him!!!

A few weeks ago James and I spent a night in the Children's Hosptial ER.  He developed something called a Petechial rash on his leg.  And although it turned out be nothing, a rash like that can be a precursor to meningicoccimia--which is really scary.

A key characteristic of petechiae is that they don't blanche when you push on them.  See the rest of his skin, how it's white from my thumb pushing on it?  that little remaining red spot was one of many petechiae on his leg.
The dr.'s just wanted him to be watched for 12 hours before they felt comfortable sending him home.  So we "slept" in a room in the ER.   The poor kid had to have his blood drawn and a catheter (really? a catheter?? just take his diaper off, wait a few minutes, and put a cup under the inevitable pee-fountain!!).  His big cry just broke my heart.  I'm so grateful the rash was nothing.

James is insanely ticklish.  He loves to play peek-a-boo.  He is still a total night owl (average bed time is maybe 9:30?), which i'm okay with, 'cause it gives me some one-on-one time with him.  He's my favorite baby boy in the whole world. I love him more than i ever imagined possible.

My sweet Eliza turned 3 in the end of August.  She's still completely in love with her dad.  She loves to do whatever her big sisters are doing.  She also loves to tell her big sisters what to do.  She LOVES to talk.  Much of the time she's not talking about anything, but she likes to hear herself speak (no idea where she got that from).

She is still a feisty little thing, who can sass and scream with the best of them.  She's probably our most difficult child, as far as the "terrible two's" stage goes.  But, she hasn't been as challenging as Grace was for me at this age.  The difference is that she and I don't butt heads, and I don't harshly judge myself as a mother based on her behaviors.  (Why couldn't can't i do that with Grace?!?!?)  She's a challenge, and drives me crazy sometimes--but usually I can laugh at her terrible behavior!!  That's something that's new to me as a parent--laughing at bad behavior.  I quite prefer it over most of the alternatives.

The dentist found cavities on two of Eliza's molars.  This was no surprise to us.   They've been visible for over a year now.  We now know that fruit has the same effect on teeth that candy does.  Or maybe even worse.  And Eliza eats endless amounts of fruit.  Her enamel could only handle so much.  We've got to go back in a couple weeks to get them filled.  And by "we" I mean "Reid and Eliza."

Eliza loves puzzles.  She can do a 24 piece puzzle completely by herself in about 3-4 minutes.  She loves all fruit, especially "clemens" (she apparently hasn't the time to say "clementines?").  She loves highly flavorful food, including Thai, Indian, and anything Mexican. She also loves the food that is on my plate more than the exact same food that's on hers.

About a week before her 3rd b-day I decided to try to potty-train her.  After 3 days of ENDLESS accidents, I gave up.  Then, about 2 weeks later, she asked to wear undies.  And kept them dry all day.  And about 1 weeks after that she was fully potty trained.  All on her timetable.

She still takes a nap every day.  Her older sisters were both well past the napping thing by age 3.  I am so grateful that she isn't.  We all need that nap. 

Eliza's in a joyschool two mornings a week.  She really likes having her own thing.  And it gives me and Abby some alone time (James is usually napping) which I like.  My friends who are doing this joyschool with me are all insane.  They insisted that we buy this intense Kindergarten-level curriculum for these little 3 year olds.  It's sooooooo above Eliza's head and I'd be happier with more crafting/painting/playing and less letter sounds. But whatever.  It makes my crazy friends happy (and yes, they read this blog--love you guys!!), Eliza couldn't care less, and it's a nice break for me.

She might be a feisty little thing, but she's also really good at saying sorry.  And she can be so stinkin' sweet, it's nearly impossible for any of us to stay mad at her.  I love this little girl, and can't imagine our family without her.

Abby is, if possible, even sweeter, kinder, and more helpful than ever before.  She truly is the peacemaker in our home.  She is so quick to obey, so quick to help out, so quick to admit when she's wrong and make it right (is she related to me?).  She loves to help clean up the house.  She loves to help with James.  She even helped me rake the yard yesterday for two hours!

On sunday our church had our primary program--which consisted of the 3-12 year-olds singing songs and giving talks--and lasted for about 40 minutes.  Abby was awesome.  There was not a soul in that church that didn't hear her as she belted out EVERY word to EVERY song.  Seriously.  She has quite the memory, and quite the set of lungs.  On the way home from church I was telling her and Grace how great they did in the program, and Abby said, in an exasperated voice, "Why did everyone in the hallways stop me to tell me how good I was??"

She's very interested in reading and writing.  She can read most simple words, and loves to write messages on our little magnet board.

She is in an afternoon preschool at our elementary school--paid for by the school district.  Although her speech has improved drastically, they are still allowing her to continue at that school for the rest of the school year.  She's so happy there, and I'm so happy with the teachers there.  Rather than teach the ABC's or numbers, they focus on social skills and creativity, which I really like.  

She is still in ballet, and loves it.  She and Grace have also started piano lessons with a teacher that isn't their mom--and it's going much better. Abby's got a good ear for music.

She loves to color.  At least 2-3 times a day she gets the markers/crayons and coloring books out and colors away.  She also loves calendars--she needs to know what day of the week it is every day, and always goes over the day's events with me each morning when she gets up.  She also loves to look at the weather with me--specifically the 10 day forecast.  She loves arranging the pieces of our family chart, figuring out who does what that week.  She loves to read books with me.  And she'll drop anything at any moment to play any game with anyone. 

Abby is a great sister and friend.  She's such a peacemaker that is sometimes makes me mad.  Like when we're sitting on the couch reading a book and her two sisters want to read with us.  They both start fighting about who gets to sit on my other side, and Abby volunteers to scoot away from me so that BOTH of her sisters can be right next to Mom.  I mean, what kid does that?  She does that with her toys, her treats--everything.  Sometimes I just want to shake her and yell "You don't have to take that from your sisters!!" but I try to bite my tongue. 

Abby can't help but smile.  If ever she starts to pout, or cry, it takes less than one second to turn it into a smile.  I love this girl and her beautiful smile so much.   

Grace and I get along better now than ever.  She's so fun to talk to.  So much easier to reason with.  As long as she's rested and well-fed (i'm not kidding about that, the girl is a bottom-less pit) she is just a lot of fun to have around.  She's loving 1st grade.  She freaked out big time when she found out that our summer vacation meant that she had missed the first week of school.  But lucky for us her bestest friend was in her class AND her beloved amazing kindergarten teacher had moved up to first grade this year and was Grace's teacher again!!  So awesome, I can't even tell you.  Her teacher has nothing but great things to say about her.  She's a good friend to all the kids in her class. She listens well. She's a great reader.  She loves math.  And in spite of sharing in my gene pool, she's a perfectionist (you should see her handwriting!).

And she's a great helper with James.


She's loving soccer--she's a natural at it (is she related to me?). She loves her coach, and will most likely be playing again in the spring.  Reid and I take turns going to her games.  Lame, I know.  My friends tease me about it all the time.  But I don't want to become so burnt out from going to Grace's games that I never allow Abby, Eliza or James to play....so that's the way we do it. :)

Between homework and soccer and Girl Scouts and practicing piano and playing with the neighbors, i don't feel like I get to see enough of Grace.  She is the reason I want more hours in the day.  I get very little alone time with her to sit and talk.  She asked me the other day if it'd be okay for me and her to go downstairs, into our guest room, every day right when she gets home from school and just talk for 5-10 minutes.  On the days we actually do that, it helps a lot. She can be so grumpy right when she gets home, and those 5-10 minutes together seem to really help her shake it off.  I love her so much, and love when she wants to talk with me!

Grace is competitive and bossy and can push buttons like no one else.  She is more drama than I ever knew was possible in one child.  But she's also fun, and a leader, and keeps me on my toes.  She's stuck in the position of "first child" for the rest of her life.  All of our worst mistakes as parents were and are made on her, yet she's turning into this funny, thoughtful, great little person. I'm more grateful than words can say that God's grace can delete our errors as parents.  His grace is saving my Grace :)

Reid has the biggest news of us all--he just started a new job!  After five really great years with his firm, Reid has moved on to bigger and better things.  Or should I say smaller and better things.  He's joined with two really great guys who just started their own firm a few months ago.  There are three attorneys, total.  Two paralegals.  One secretary.  Quite the contrast from his previous national firm with over 1100 attorneys. But so far, so good.  The work he's doing is actually similar to what he was doing before.  The hours are about the same.  The location is closer to home, but it only shaved about 10 minutes off his train ride.  So, really, it hasn't felt like a huge change here at home.  But the biggest difference is that this job is most likely the job.  Unless there's some big hiccup in the plan, he'll be with these guys for a looooooong time.  And for the first time since we've moved here, I see us living here for the rest of our lives.  Which is awesome.  Reid and I love it here. Our kids love it here.  The only thing missing is family--which happens to be a HUGE thing.  So now we just need to convince all of our family to move out here! :)

He continues to be the World's Best Husband and Father.  The kids and I can't get enough of him.  When he walks in the door he's bombarded with hugs and kisses and questions and replays of the day's events.  And he manages to make us all feel loved and important.  I love him more than ever, and constantly wonder how I got so lucky.

As for me?  I'm doing well. People often ask me if the transition from 3 to 4 kids has been harder than 2 to 3.  The answer, for me, is no.  When my #3, Eliza, was born, Grace had just turned 3, Abby was 19 months old, and i was drowning.  Grace and I were in the prime of our head-butting phase.  Eliza was colicky.  I had to stop eating dairy (and felt so, so sorry for myself).  Reid had a new assignment at church that changed Sundays from my day of rest into my least favorite day of the week--sad, but true.  Every weekday the clock slowed to a crawl around 3:30pm (when nap time was over) until 6pm, when Reid walked in the door.  I tried to fill our days with play dates, park dates, errands (Target was our safe-house), ballet classes--anything to make the days pass quicker.  And then, once Eliza was finally past the colicky stage, we had a 5 month period of sickness in our home that put a serious strain on my hanging-by-a-thread sanity.  Having three young kids babies was not an easy or really enjoyable time for me as a mom. 

That is not at all how I feel with #4.  This transition has been very different.  And we are at a very different phase of life--one that I'm actually really enjoying.  Rather than wishing the hours of the day away, I feel like I don't have enough time to squeeze in all that I want to do with my kids.  I secretly wish my kids would get sick so they could stay home.  And Sundays are my favorite day of the week because I have so much time with my kids!  Today was a snow-day, which meant eating breakfast at 9:30, playing in the snow for an hour, having hot cocoa, doing crafts, watching TV, and enjoying being together!  That is not how I felt 3 years ago when we got snowed in!!

Our days now consist of running Grace to school in the morning, running Eliza to and from joyschool or running errands, or running to the library, then running home for lunch, then running Abby to preschool, then running home for naps, then running back to get Abby, then running home to do homework, soccer, scouts and everything else that we have to do.  Constantly running!  I don't love the running part, or being glued to my calendar, but I am thoroughly loving life right now.

I think i could freeze time and live this year forever.