A Week in Australia

As it turns out, I lied in my previous blog post. Rachel DID NOT travel with me to Australia. I went alone! This had to do with a huge hold up in her visa. Turns out that one parent traveling with a child without the other parent is kind of a big deal. We had to get her birth certificate notarized, as well as other forms that documented my husband giving the approval for her to leave with me. We didn’t receive her visa in time, and as of today we STILL have yet to receive her visa! It was costly and very frustrating to say the least! We talked and prayed about it and decided that we had already invested too much into the trip and that I should just go anyhow. My hubby steeled himself for a week alone with the kids and we just figured that God had a reason for things turning out the way they did.

So when my suitcase (borrowed from my parents) busted at the Brisbane airport and I was stuck carrying it (40+ pounds – with the handle also jammed in the “up” position), I was pretty glad I wasn’t also carrying Rachel in the front pack as well as all of her milk/diapers/sippy cups, etc. And when we took ferries and buses and walked for miles and miles and toured several museums while in Brisbane – I was also glad we weren’t having to scale it way back to allow for naps and early bedtimes. And when my flight got delayed in Vancouver for 4 hours after NOT SLEEPING at all on the long 13 hour flight home, and the trip home from the airport was really long (3 hours) due to horrible traffic,  I was also VERY GLAD she wasn’t stuck in the airport and car with me. As much as I was really sad to leave her home, I was glad in the end that it worked out the way it had. Perhaps it was due to utter exhaustion on my part by the end of the trip!

Some highlights from the trip:

 -Getting to hang out with my nephews. Love these kiddos so much. 

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-Getting to spend lots of time with my sis. I sure do value time with that girl, and boy do I ever learn heaps about godly parenting from her! Here we are at the botanical gardens (free and BEAUTIFUL!). 

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-Banyan Fig tree at the botanical gardens. Super massive and cool.

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-Getting to ride the free ferry just about everywhere we wanted to go. The weather was very comfortable so it was almost never chilly. We always sat on the top!

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-Incredible sunset while waiting for the ferry one day. I wished I had brought my nice camera more than once!

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-Visiting the MacArthur Museum. A piece of history I knew very little about.

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-My sister had a medical appointment so I took the kids to the Science Centre. It was a little young for the kids but they still had a lot of fun.

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-Visiting a Maritime Museum. They had an old warship that they let us explore on every deck and room. The kids really loved it.

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-We took a couple of buses to get to the Koala Sanctuary. WOW! So many incredible animals there!

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-It never crossed my mind that I’d be petting kangaroos… and it wasn’t like there was a zookeeper breathing down my neck, either. There was an entire field full of kangaroos and people could come and go and pet the kangaroos as they pleased! (And no, we didn’t have to sign waivers, either.)

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-Seeing the mama with her joey was really fun. Marsupials are very interesting!

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-We took the free ferry at night (it runs until midnight) through all of its stops and just enjoyed the boat ride, the city lights, and all the bridges we went under. It was rainy and a little chilly, but really fun.

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And when I finally got home, exhausted and jet lagged, I arrived to happy kids and a husband who had flowers waiting for me. Talk about spoiled! I missed them all so much.

As a wife and mom of two young children, I find it pretty odd that I went to Australia for a week all by myself– it was definitely against the grain for me to do something like that. In fact, I cried when I learned that Rachel’s visa wouldn’t be coming in time! But after a week of learning about completely new things and gaining new perspectives in parenting, and having more quiet time to pray and really think– I came home very refreshed, and I can’t say that it wasn’t a good thing for any of us. Once again, I am reminded that the Lord knows what we need before we do!

 

 

 

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International Flights, Pediatric Dentists, & Weaning

In less than 3 weeks, my 11 month old and I will fly halfway across the world to Australia. She’ll be considered my “lap infant” to save money. We’ll have two flights to get there – a 2.5 hr flight and a 14.5 hr flight. As the days dwindle until we “set sail,” so to speak, all I can think of is: What in the world was I thinking?! Yes, I’m a little anxious about it. Rachel is anything but tranquil these days. She’s prone to screeching at the top of her lungs all.day.long and her chief goal is to get as many places as fast as she possibly can.

Please pray for our seat neighbor on the plane. I really hope they’re a) into babies/toddlers, and b) don’t mind a small human being crawling in their space repeatedly while they’re trying to sleep. (Because who wouldn’t love that?)

Despite the flying part, I am very much looking forward to our quick trip to Australia. My sister and brother in law and their 3 boys ran into a visa snag while returning back overseas last month and actually have to leave their country to Australia for a month while they get visas renewed. Just my sister and the boys will make the trip. So we’ll get to do touristy stuff while Rachel and I are there visiting, and then after we return home the boys will have to do school the rest of the time.

In other news, I weaned Rachel! It happened a little earlier than planned (by 1 weeks) when my milk supply dropped quite a bit and she had been up at night crying a lot because she was hungry. Her diapers weren’t very heavy either, so I decided to bite the bullet and wean her. She immediately took to cow’s milk, which was a huge answer to prayer! She’s been chugging down anywhere from 2-6 oz of milk at a time, and sleeping through the night. However, the abrupt weaning has been really rough on my body. I’ve been feeling really foggy-brained, irritable, exhausted, and headachy. It hasn’t been fun at all. I read that my prolactin and oxytocin levels are plummeting while estrogen and progesterone levels are rising. So my body is one big hormonal mess at the moment and I hope it all gets straightened out soon! Asking the Lord to help me be patient and kind, even though I feel like a disaster on the inside. Only by His Spirit can I do such things.

I took Josh to the dentist last week (I took him because I lost a bet with my husband….just kidding. Sort of.) and experienced unparalleled screaming from that kiddo. No kidding – I was surprised he didn’t burst capillaries in his little eyeballs from all that wild screaming. My ears rang for hours afterward. I apologized to the dental hygienist several times but she acted like it was all part of the 2 and 3 year old dental course. The dentist was a superstar in my eyes after he managed to scrape tartar off of Josh’s teeth (while Josh writhed and shook and screamed with all his might) without drawing as much as a single drop of blood from his gums!

And before I go — I made a big deal about discovering a bean up Josh’s nose several months back. But the truth is, he’s shoved a total of 3 beans up his nose. It’s becoming fairly routine, apparently! I may have to buy my own medical grade suction apparatus one of these days to get those suckers out (no pun intended).

Hope you have a great week! And I hope beans weren’t on your dinner menu tonight.😉

 

 

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Day 6, 7 & 8. The Sounds of My Babies.

This daily blogging thing isn’t really working out so well! I just don’t have the time. I don’t think I’ll be making a “commitment” to blog every day ever again… at least not while I have little kids at home.

In any case, I don’t think it matters a whole lot because the purpose was to help reorient myself back to a better frame of mind, and (thankfully) I am doing much better.

I want to jot down a few memories of my kids that I want to keep for a long time. As I’ve written often, Josh is quite enamored with trains these days. He’s familiar with all the different types (steam & diesel engines, and gondola/tank/cattle/hopper cars, etc.). We live really close to the railroad and whenever we drive by a train, he says in the softest, most adorable voice ever: “HIII trainnnn! Hi trains! HI TRAINS!!!” Then, if he sees the engine, he’ll shout “YELLOW ENGINE! TWO yellow engines! Choo-choo! Choo-choo!”

I go WAY out of my way just to make sure we see a few trains wherever it is that we go these days. Listening to that kid say hi to all the trains puts an instant smile on my face!

As for Rachel, I want to remember her ultra-high pitched laughter squeal. Ain’t nobody higher pitched than that girl! I’m not really sure where she gets it from. It comes out when she’s overjoyed (usually because Josh is playing with her) or when she’s hurt herself (in which case, anyone nearby should probably take cover, because their eardrums will never be the same). Her laughter squeal is one of sheer delight and even she seems like she cannot contain it. I hopes she never loses it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 5.

I just wrote a long paragraph about why today was a horrible day. At the end of my paragraph, I decided it was just a very long day, but certainly not horrible. Nobody went to the ER, and no relationships were severed.

In any case, I took a nap instead of blogging today.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Thank the Lord for a new day!

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Day 4. What I Learned By Leading Worship.

My husband said that I should blog about my recent experience as a temporary worship leader at my church.

This is a pretty fresh subject for me at the moment, and I’m not really sure I can sort it out enough to write about it just yet, but I’ll try.

Basically, the story goes like this:

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Girl (me) learns to play guitar at 17. Loves to sing. Scattered experience leading worship over the years including Bible studies, mission trips, and rarely leading for church service. But mainly just loves to worship alone or with hubby or sisters.

Over the years girl starts to feel pretty wary of being a worship leader. Doesn’t want to get caught up in the science of leading worship well. Wants to worship whole heartedly. Afraid of self-worship.

Girl is not serving at church and wrestling with that fact. Struggling to know how to serve with nursing baby and tantrum-prone toddler. Some one is always either napping or nursing.

Worship leader at church leaves and there is a huge need for both an interim and a permanent worship leader. Girl prays for a new leader and doesn’t consider filling in. After all, the Lord knows she has no idea how she could pull it off.

A couple people close to girl challenge her to consider serving by leading worship. Girl reminded gently by sister that gifts are given by the Lord to bless the Body of Christ. Girl prays about and considers it, and because she feels like she ought to, she brings it up to hubby. Hubby also has no idea how it would work out with the kids. Subject shelved for the time being.

Holy Spirit proceeds to “nudge” girl about it. Girl goes to hubby again and asks him to pray about. All the while, girl is uncertain that she is even fit to lead worship. It’s not like she’s had much time to play her guitar in the last 2 years….

Hubby decides to move forward on it and goes directly to Senior pastor at church. Girl is dumbfounded by that. Pastor calls girl to discuss it. Girl begins to lead worship.

Girl leads worship, out of obedience only. Girl ends up enjoying it much more than she ever thought possible. However, she also learns some lessons (more about that below).

Full time worship pastor hired, and he will start next Sunday. Girl is overjoyed to not be leading anymore!

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So that’s the story. As I’ve shared in my Day 1 post, I’m a people-pleaser. And not only that, but one with rather thin skin sometimes. I wish I had thicker skin, but if it’s going to happen without bitterness, it has to be a process that can only take place as I choose to listen to truth and through the Lord working in me.

Serving as a worship leader definitely exposed some of my unrest over the idea of displeasing people. Our church is small and it’s not uncommon to get immediate feedback. Although the feedback was usually positive, there were definitely suggestions. Occasionally the suggestions were not presented to me in the gentlest manner. The Lord reminded me that my aim was to please and praise Him — no one else. At the same time, I also wanted to help our congregation move into a place of worship as quickly as possible and not be distracted in any way. I learned to listen to and consider suggestions but to also be able to say “sorry” if it meant that I would not be able to lead well. This was not easy for me.

We also had all kinds of sound issues and I learned a lot about that – what a time sucker that can be! There were many times that singing a capella without worrying about mics, guitar pick ups, or words on a screen sounded heavenly to me. I reminded myself often that we could easily be worshiping in another country with none of those things (or with A/C!) and be just as content and joyful while worshiping the Lord. Sometimes, I wished we could scrap it all just for the sake of remembering that worship is an act of obedience and not about whether or not we “felt” like worshiping.

One of my favorite songs that I played was the song Behold Our God (you can listen to it here). Such great, true lyrics that have resonated in my mind over the past few weeks. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmed, I would think to myself “Behold our GOD! He is seated on the throne, and there is NOTHING too great or too hard for Him!” It was a reminder I needed constantly. And I think that is one of the perks of being a worship leader, if you happen to pick really great songs with good theology– the songs will minister to you throughout the week as you sing them while practicing.

In the end, I’m glad the Lord allowed the experience… but I’m also glad it’s over.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 3. I’m Glad My Mother Let Me Fail.

When I was a kid, I spent about 75% of my growing up years outdoors. We lived in the country, where peach orchards mostly surrounded our house. We had a horse, a dog and two cats. We had a couple of neighbor kids too, all of whom were boys and around the same age as me and my older sister.

My mom would let me go outside and peruse the country on my bike or on our horse, Wally. I skated and climbed trees and built forts. I shot about a million basketball hoops in my neighbors’s front yard, and then in our own yard after I got my own hoop for my 9th birthday. The neighbor boys and I would build ramps for our bikes to jump off of and we would take turns flying over them on our bikes. My bike was a used but good quality girl’s Schwinn — a pink frame with a brightly flowered banana seat and “U” shaped handlebars. We built these ramps higher and higher and had great fun until one of the boys took a tall jump on my bike (I guess there’s no shame in riding a pink bike like mine you’re only 9?), landed incredibly wrong and broke his arm. Sadly, that put a swift end to our bike jumps that summer!

My childhood was a little messy at times, but I had a Mom who gave me guidelines and set boundaries and then set me free to play and master all sorts of skills outside. She was in no way a helicopter parent, nor was she ruled by fear. At the same time she was intolerant of disrespectful behavior and was constantly on me for my “attitudes.” She and I battled a lot over this issue until the Lord saved me when I was 12. From that time on, I remember very few battles with my mom, and my Mom still marvels at how much the Holy Spirit transformed me quite immediately following my conversion.

Now that I’m a Mom, I find myself looking back at my childhood through a new set of lenses. I have great respect for my Mom, who worked full time from home with 4 kids, one of which was disabled. I don’t know how she did it, but she carried on well and still does as she cares for my disabled sister.

She let me make mistakes and she let me fail, often. I still remember sitting on my bed in my room, sobbing my eyes out. I was 11, and I had just gotten kicked out of horse back riding lessons. I had my side of the story, and some of it made sense at the time, I guess; but the bottom line was that I had given up, and that I was stubborn. When my Mom came to pick me up from riding lessons that day, my instructor told her that she couldn’t teach me anymore. I was officially expelled. My Mom didn’t try to fix the situation or make excuses for me. We got in the car and came home, and I was sent directly to my room. Later, my mom calmly came in, sat down on my bed, and told me how utterly disappointed she was in me. I’ll never forget it, because I felt utterly disappointed with myself as well! I had to grapple with that shame, and although it brought a lot of despair at the time, it contributed greatly toward propelling me straight to Jesus.

She also let me fail in piano lessons (also kicked out), school (not entire grades, but in several projects and tests), and in friendships. She let me learn from my mistakes. And for a driven, people-pleasing person like me, I still remember a bit of the ache of rejection that came from those failures. But even more so, I remember the lessons that I learned.

So when I think back to my childhood, I’m thankful for my Mom, who undoubtedly had way more on her plate than I ever realized as a child. I’m thankful that I wasn’t ever coddled and that I rarely ever got away with stuff, because my mother happened to be incredibly perceptive (I just thought she really DID have eyes on the back of her head!). I’m thankful that she let me run around and play without hovering. And I’m thankful that, as much as it hurt, she let me fail. Because I would quickly discover that there was nothing on this planet but Jesus that could heal those wounds.

 

 

 

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Day 2. Not off to a very good start.

So much for daily blogging. I never got beyond two incomplete paragraphs (since deleted) because I got a phone call with that required urgent action, followed by my Dad visiting and a trip to Costco, followed by kiddo bath/dinner/bedtime, and then I went to work and ran like crazy to keep up for several hours. It’s almost 3 am and I’m headed to bed!

The good news is that God seems to have immediately answered some of my prayers. I’m feeling better emotionally. I was able to have good conversations with my hubby about some of my issues. And lastly, I’ve had visitors from family most of the week– which always encourages me. Thank you Lord!

 

 

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Day 1.

I’m going to try to commit to blogging every day for a month. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’ll try. I’ve been going through an emotional funk lately (how’s that for medical terminology?) and I need to process and remind myself of truth. It’s hard not to listen to accusing lies when you’re already feeling somewhat emotionally poor.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. It’s a real drag that I’m geared that way, because do you know what happens when you idolize pleasing anyone but Jesus? Misery, quickly followed by despair. I’ve found that I can let people down; I am capable of taking the steps to do what is right in my mind, even if I know the fallout will be rough. But then the fallout often feels worse than I had imagined and I quickly become miserable and depressed over it. I don’t enjoy conflict and feel like it quickly sucks the joy of life right out of me. I often feel heartsick over it.

So, I’m sure you guessed it — God is allowing these painful situations to occur for a very good reason. Clearly He is doing a good work in me! But it is a painful process. And I think that it will be until I learn to walk so closely with Him that I need not fear what man does to me. Even if it means loneliness and isolation (a big fear of mine).

Life has it’s peaks and it’s valleys. This is a valley, for sure. However long this valley stretches for, I know He is with me– not just walking with me, but carrying me along the way.

“So our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He has mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2

 

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What’s New Around Here?

I am stuck in the midst of the hot, summer slows. Not a lot happening around here these days, other than some play dates, trips to the park, and running errands. We’re doing a lot of staying inside– where the A/C is running frantically to keep us cool 24/7. I’ll be glad when fall comes.

The kids are doing pretty well. Josh is still obsessed with trains, and builds non stop train tracks throughout the entire house every single day. He also brings the tracks to the table and the car. He would sleep with them if I let him. He knows every single Thomas the train character (not because we have them all, but because we read the books to him A LOT). We’ve been at this since Christmas. I have a feeling we’ll still be in train-wonderland by the time Christmas rolls around again.

He also recently shoved another bean up his nose. Thankfully it wasn’t up as high and I got it out right away. What a stinker! He and Rachel love to play with each other and nobody makes her squeal with delight like her big brother. He loves to hide behind the curtains in our bedroom and pop out just inches from where’s she sitting. She LOVES it.

Josh is in his big boy bed now and we recently got a clock set up that changes from a regular night-light color to green when it’s time for him to get up. He knows he has to stay in bed until it turns green. It’s pretty funny to walk in his room in the morning and see him sitting in the rocker, looking at books.

I bought a little potty and have been keeping the idea of potty training extremely low key. I let him sit on it (if he wants to) once or two a day. I put a “Josh’s Potty Candy” — M&M’s  – jar in the bathroom and he gets 1 M&M for sitting on the potty, and 1 for actually going potty. He doesn’t always go potty, maybe about 50% of the time. I honestly don’t even care. I just want him to think that going potty is “fun” and we’ll tackle potty training when he’s older– like 3.

Rachel is 10 1/2 months and is crawling and standing – anywhere she can. She’s a fast little thing and gets around the house in a jiffy! She is stilllllllll nursing (and yes I’m very ready to wean her!) and I’m looking forward to giving her cow’s milk in the next month or so. The girl seems to eat as many solids as I do these days — it’s impressive! Still no words other than “Dada” and of course the cute babbling. Things with her just seem to be progressing so much faster than with Josh. I wouldn’t doubt if she were walking in the next month! She is a very active and determined little girl. I remember reading chapter books to Josh when he was this age and he would still still for about 20 mins while fiddling with a little toy the entire time….

Here’s a few pictures to represent the summer.🙂

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Doesn’t everyone learn to do somersaults off of their toddler bed?

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Rachel 9 Months

I’m not sure where the time has gone this summer.  I’m a bit behind (what’s new?), but Rachel turned 9 months old two weeks ago!

Man, oh man.  She is SO fun right now. She figured out how to crawl and is enjoying perusing the entire house at her leisure. I found her today playing with the broom in the laundry room, and sitting on her knees in her room while she fiddled with the garbage can sitting on the lower part of her changing table. Apparently we aren’t as baby-proofed as we used to be with Josh. Either that or she just loves to explore more!

She is my cuddly baby, who loves to be near me. Whenever I scoop her up, her arms fly around my neck faster than I can say “Hi!” (She then proceeds to pull my hair or pinch my cheek, but whatever.)

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We went to Six Flags Discovery Kinddom a few days ago and left Josh with his Aunty and Uncle. But Rachel came along with us (as well as my nephews and their grandparents). We almost didn’t have room for her in the stroller, but we managed to fit her in.😉

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I wasn’t sure how it would go, but she did great. Slept and ate on cue, even. I’m not sure she even cried while at the park. I brought a quilt and found a (relatively) quiet spot so that I could nurse her and let her crawl around.

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It would seem I only have toys for big brother in my diaper bag right now. She really doesn’t mind…

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After her nap I couldn’t pass up taking a picture of her hair. Kind of hard to see in the photo. But it was cute.

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Speaking of hair, I tried to get a clip in her hair the other day. As you can see, it’s not really my specialty. I put her down for a nap and forgot about the clip until I went to get her up and realized that it was missing. After a moment of panicking (the girl loves to put everything in her mouth) I thankfully found it underneath her crib. After Josh’s bean-up-the-nose experience, I’m a little nervous.

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Grandma had to crochet her a smaller blankie a few weeks ago because her other blankie was pretty big and she kept rolling around in it during her naps until she was caught up in it really tight like a cocoon. This smaller blankie has done the trick and she hasn’t been getting stuck in it.

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My youngest nephew (pictured after this next picture) loves to play with Rachel and the other day I had to decline his request to hold her (probably because I was too busy with other things and unable to sit with him). So he dressed up Rachel instead. As you can tell, she wasn’t very amused.

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He isn’t always denied his requests to hold her…

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All my nephews just love her so much. They love Josh as well and play with him tirelessly. It’s such a joy to watch!

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Rachel with her Aunty. She’ll be incredibly different when they see each other again in a few years (*sniff sniff*).

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With Grandpa in the swing. Rachel’s pretty much up for anything these days. She was enjoying this more than I was able to capture in the picture!

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An update on weaning her: It didn’t happen. My mom came for two days in a row and I left with Josh and just let my mom keep offering her the bottle, sippy cup, or whatever she wouldn’t refuse. By the end of the second day she wasn’t taking anything or even opening her mouth. It. Was. Stressful. And oh, the look Rachel gave me when I walked in the door at the end of those days! She looked so betrayed. Since I was still able to nurse her, I wasn’t at a point where I wanted to let her starve for a few days until she gave in and took the formula. So we picked back up where we left off. It hasn’t been so bad… she’s sleeping through the night and nursing 5-6 times a day. But I do look forward to transitioning her to cow’s milk at a year old.

9 month stats: 17#4oz. 27 1/4 inches at her last drs appt. Just moved into size 4 diapers. Fits in 9 and 12 month clothes, although I keep squeezing her into 6 month clothes because I just don’t have a ton of bigger clothes. Loves solids, and eats 3-4 servings a day. Still not loving the sippy cup, but it’s offered to her (with water in it) with her solids. She has mastered picking up puffs and loves doing that. She is accepting most of mom’s homemade baby food! Hooray!

So thankful for this joyful little person God placed in our care! We love our Little Rachel! (Her Daddy started calling her this when she was tiny and it just sort of stuck, even though she’s not very ‘little’ anymore!).

 

 

 

 

 

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