Category Archives: Motherhood

Our Ongoing Home Reno & Other Updates

Hey there!

Here’s a little update on life for us these days.

House

We moved to our new fixer upper home almost 7 months ago. I joke with hubby that we ought to just dig a big hole in the backyard and start throwing money into it, because it has been one giant money pit! A mold report that came back showing high levels of (non toxic) mold less than a month after we bought the house really pushed us to replace the areas were there had been water exposure (floors, under kitchen sink) much faster than we had originally planned. ¬†And then the snowball just started rolling as one thing led to another. That’s home renovation for you, I suppose!

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve redone since we moved in:

Tear out back deck (was structurally unsafe).

Deck (removed).

New carpet in family room and bedrooms:

I didn’t really have any “carpet” pictures, but you can kind of see it here.

Removed wall between dining room and kitchen:

Before. (This wall drove me nuts because I couldn’t keep track of the kids!)

After. I love it!

Laminate in kitchen, fireplace room, hallway and master closet:

Closet doors (two sets), screen door, side garage door:

Tile floors in laundry room and kids’ bathroom:

I tried to pick tile that matched the laminate.

Replaced Kitchen counter tops, sink (chipping), faucet & garbage disposal (leaked whenever running):

Before. This wasn’t too long after we moved in.

Before.

After. My inner clean freak is very happy with having quartz counter tops now!

Tile back splash in kitchen (which we had to add because there was a big gap between the counter tops and the wall):

Pulled out melamine desk/cabinets and put in smaller desk area with upper shelving:

Replaced furnace and A/C (yes we wanted to cry when we learned we needed to replace BOTH):

New A/C.

Dishwasher (which died right after the furnace and A/C – more crying, hehe). New dishwasher will be here in two weeks.

Replaced fridge (died on moving day), stove and microwave.

Painted bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets:

Painted ENTIRE house (including ceilings).

Replaced almost all light fixtures and 2 out of 3 fans (we saved the only one that worked).

Whew! That wasn’t even a comprehensive list. And what’s sadder is that the “to do” list is still a mile long! The bottom line, however, is that we LOVE living here. We love the space (1/2 acre), the neighborhood, the proximity to hubby’s work, and also the fact that we live super close to my in laws! (And as a side note, both my parents and my hubby’s Dad were instrumental in helping us get a lot of the above list completed!)

Kids

Josh & Rachel are doing fine. Josh is just over 3 and Rachel is 20 months. I sure do love them and enjoy my days with them. I know everyone else has adorable/smart/funny kids, but some days I seriously wonder which state penitentiary my kids will end up at–because they can be quite devious! Some days Josh and I really do battle it out. I’m no marshmellow Mom in any sense of the word, so I often have to remember to look for ways that I can answer “yes” instead of “no.” Rachel is very determined and doesn’t give up easily either, but she does have much shorter tantrums, which I am thankful for!

I like to remember the following so please tune out if this is crazy boring (I imagine it would be to most):

Josh wears 3T clothing and wears a an 8/9 shoe. He weighs 31.6# (No joke, he’s weighed exactly 31.6# the last several times he’s asked to hop on the scale!) and a few months ago he was just over 3 feet tall. We took away his paci back in April and it wasn’t a big deal at all (we were shocked! And thankful…).

Rachel wears 18-24 months clothing and is somewhere between a size 5 or 6 shoe. She is only a few inches shorter than Josh. She still doesn’t have to many words, but she’s working on it every day. She’s been in a size 5 diaper for a while. I use Pampers diapers and water only wipes or else she tends to be prone to really bad diaper rash.

Don’t be fooled. They’re wanna-be felons, I tell you! ūüôā

Weight Loss

I wrote a while back about experiencing unintended weight loss. I’m happy to report that out of the 16# I lost, I gained 7-8# of it back and that seems to be where things have settled. I’m not unhappy about it, but I do wish I had a better appetite most days so that cooking would feel less like a chore.

Endometriosis

I don’t really want to go on and on when it comes to this topic. The synopsis is: The endo does seem to be back. Some months are bad and some are okay. I cut out caffeine back in February which seemed to really help with pain levels. I still seem quite unable to get pregnant without intervention (IVF), so that’s a drag. At the same time, I have little to no desire to go through IVF again (not that we could afford it right now after all these home repairs!). I’ve been thinking about my options for when things DO get consistently bad, pain-wise. One option is to see a specialist who would excise all endo (cutting it out, rather than burning it off) and see how far that gets me. Another option would be to do a hysterectomy and also have current endo excised. This may still not alleviate pain (endo grows back easily and hides, so that it can be tricky even for specialists to find) and I still may require further surgeries. In all honesty, I’m hoping avoid any surgeries at all, because the frequent pain I get from adhesions and scar tissue following surgeries is off the charts.

Well I think that covers some of the basics! Thanks for sticking it through the post!

 

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Filed under Baby, DIY, Endometriosis, Finances, Infertility, IVF, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Toddler

Facing the Giant {Again}

This morning as I was reading my Bible I came across these verses:

“Look carefully then how you will walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This is the prayer of my heart right now as I juggle raising two toddlers with my husband, managing our home, getting projects done around the house (hello new fixer home) and working part time. I want to be a light (Eph. 5:8)– not only to my children but also the community around me.

After eleven wonderful months, all signs point toward the endometriosis coming back with a vengeance. I’m so bummed. I actually thought I would have a bit more time. My periods have been barely making a blip on the radar with one, maybe two, days of mild cramping. And then this month happened. I actually believed I was possibly pregnant because I had cramping and nausea for seven straight days (around the clock) before my period started. I thought that maybe it was implantation cramping. However, my period started up 3 days late and once it started, the cramping was horrible with ibuprofen barely touching the pain. I had to rest a lot of else the nausea from the pain would become too great. It was a real drag, and lasted longer than I thought it would! All in all, this cycle affected me so that I was unable to function at full capacity for about 9 days. I’m not happy about that.

I semi-joined this endometriosis support group on facebook (meaning I occasionally read comments, but that I’m not very committed to it) and if there’s anything I’ve learned from it — it’s that so many women have much more HORRIBLE endometriosis than¬†to me. We’re talking debilitating daily pain that causes endless surgeries, nerve blocker pumps being placed, years of requiring menopause-inducing medications, loss of employment¬†and other daily activities because the pain is too great. And let’s not forget to mention that the scope of infertility affecting these women is vast. So, I have a healthy fear of endo – not only from what these women have shared, but from my own personal experience with it prior to IVF and having children. Crippling pain for two to three weeks out of the month was my thing back then, and it stunk.

I have enjoyed not living in pain and I want to keep it that way, if I have any power to do so. I don’t want this disease to try to take over my life, like I have seen it do to many other women. So I am prayerfully considering what the best “next step” will be. I want to be wise, so that I will be able to teach my son preschool, take my kids to the park and on walks, and be able to work on our house. I want to have energy to help and bless others when there is a need.

On another note, not being pregnant when I had so much hope that I actually might be (despite that <1% chance of a natural pregnancy that I had, ha) was hard– I shed a few tears over that one! But I’m glad it happened, because it revealed to me that I really do want more children. There was not a hint of “How will we afford another child?” “Where will they sleep?” or “How will we manage?” There was just sheer excitement. So this will be something I will need to hold onto loosely, because I don’t know God’s plans for our family! All I know is that His plans are BEST, and I trust Him for our future. I just have to look at Josh and Rachel to be reminded of that.

Thanks for praying for me, if you think of it. I’m going to start by getting an HSG this Friday (hysterosalpingogram). This will tell me if my remaining fallopian tube is even patent (open). If it’s not, or if there’s water blocked in the tube (hydrosalpinx) then there’s really no point in taking the time to try to conceive naturally (you know…because a 1% chance is still greater than a 0% chance…). My hubby and I will have to prayerfully consider where to go from there, depending on the HSG results.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from last December depicting God’s blessings on us through our marriage and children. How blessed we are! Pictures are by my friend Katherine Owens.

 

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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. ūüėČ

 

 

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Going Away

I’m going away. To the coast of California, where there will be fog and cool morning air and a vast ocean and waves to make me think about the enormity of God. And there will be fellowship. I’ll be going with one of my sisters and my mom. (And let’s not forget Rachel!) There will be nice restaurants, walks along the beach, and maybe some antique shopping. It’s a girls’ getaway, and to say I’m excited about it would be an understatement.

Additionally, the hubby and I are set to go on a super fancy date tonight. Thanks to his employer, we have reservations at a restaurant that we would normally not be able to afford. Of course I used the occasion as an excuse to buy a new dress and sweater. This girl can’t wear old shirts and running shorts every day of her life!

Mother’s day is coming up and I have one word: Grateful. Grateful for God’s mercy on me. Grateful for my husband and kids. Grateful that this Mother’s day I am not asking God, “How much longer, O Lord?” Grateful for a getaway to the ocean with people I love. Grateful that I get to take a sweet, happy baby along with me.

And let’s not mince words. I’m beyond grateful that Rachel just started sleeping through the night!!!!

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Stomach Flu & Booger Beans

We had one day to recover from Disneyland and then BAM! The stomach flu hit.

Until now, we were novices in the flu department. Josh is the only one who has it (so far), poor little guy. He hasn’t been able to keep much of anything down for over 36 hours. Thankfully there’s no diarrhea and he only has a slight fever. But I’ve never seen him so sad and pathetic looking. I’ll be so glad when he’s feeling better.

I’ve been puked on 5 times. I found myself amazed that even though barf was completely covering my legs and running down my socks, I was near tears because I just wanted my little guy to feel better. Ah, motherhood. It’s so hard to watch your child suffer, even when you know it’s only temporary.

On a side note, has anyone noticed that every clear-liquid related food item you’re supposed to give your vomiting child is a really bright color? (Jello, Pedialyte, popsicles, Gatorade, etc.) Our carpet has taken a beating, and I’m still trying to get red stains out of it!

Completely changing the subject to much more civilized topics, Josh shoved a bean up his nose the other day. He loves his tub of beans (that has measuring cups and plastic containers to scoop with inside) and begs every day to let us play with them. He stopped putting them in his mouth a long time ago, so I am usually happy to oblige. He played with the beans around noon one day, and after his bath that evening I noticed a booger of unusually large size up his nostril. I got a q-tip (which he hates) and tried to coax the booger out. I was rather perplexed when it didn’t work. I ran to get a bulb syringe and used that next. I became suspicious that something was amiss when Josh started to cry at my rather aggressive bulb suctioning. Suddenly, I realized¬†that this was no booger up his nostril. I yelled for my husband to come right away while I ran off again and got tweezers. Hubby¬†pinned down Josh’s arms while I applied pressure to the top of Josh’s nostril and used tweezers to clamp onto the booger of usually large size– and out¬†popped a PINTO BEAN! All I can say is: No more independent play time when it comes to beans for a very.long.time. and¬†I’m grateful we avoided the ER on this one.

I hope I have thoroughly grossed you out tonight by discussing barf and boogers of unusually large size.

You’re welcome!

 

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Getting Over a Grumpy Heart

“With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil. 4:6

I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot lately.¬†My¬†heart replaces thankfulness with grumpiness sometimes before I can even count to three. I need to stop and pray when that happens — and more importantly, I first need to think of something to be thankful for!

Last night we went to my parent’s house for the Superbowl. Josh actually did great (other than not napping) and we had a lovely afternoon. But then Rachel lost it around 5 pm and just couldn’t pull it back together. She screamed and screamed. When it dawned on me that we would need to skip a delicious tri tip dinner and leave my parents’ house prematurely, something in me sort of snapped. “Seems like it’s either one kid or the other that starts screaming and won’t stop whenever we go somewhere!” I lamented to my sister. She assured me that it all very normal and asked if I’d like a tri tip dinner “to go.” But I fighting intense feelings of disappointment and frustration.

Last night didn’t get any better. Josh cried for hours. Rachel slept great thankfully — I’m sure all that screaming wore her out! But between the two children, I did not really get to bed for uninterrupted sleep until 4:30 am. My husband covered for me so that I could get a few hours of sleep, but then that meant that he’d be getting to work late and, consequently, home late. Again, my heart desperately wanted to feel sorry for itself.

Later on this morning, I got a few text messages from my older sister. They had discovered mold inside the walls in the older granny house they’re living in (at my parent’s property –while they’re home in the states). The mold was sort of a big deal — my brother in law and my Dad had to strip the wall there down to the studs and repair it with new installation and siding. My sister chose to not¬†freak out about the mold. But I think she was fairly horrified this morning to see that one of my nephew’s blankets (that he keep on his bed) was embedded with a lot of mold. She stripped his bed and washed everything with bleach. She could have been distressed¬†about the mold (and the other 99 things that have gone a muck in that granny house since they’ve been there). She could have been scared about potential sickness or felt burdened by all the extra work. Instead, she sent me this text:

“Lord, thank you for work to do and the strength to do it.”

She is choosing to respond opposite of what her emotions are telling her. This takes great self control! It is something the Lord is teaching me right now. I may have every excuse in the world to be grumpy or to complain. But that doesn’t make it okay. Attitude really is everything.

Lastly, a few pictures. I took Josh to see his pediatrician today because right after I blogged last week he broke out into a rash following a mild cold (I think he has Fifth’s Disease, an extremely common childhood illness). Today he had a fever though so I took him in to make sure he wasn’t getting a secondary infection. I’m thanking God that he seems to be just fine!

At the doctor's office.

At the doctor’s office.

And Rachel in her new snowsuit. Can you believe this snowsuit is size 3-6 months?!! My mom kindly ordered it online for her (I picked it out). It’ll work because it has a sleeping bag effect on her so I think she’ll stay quite warm. ūüôā We’re headed up to the snow soon! I’m sure we’ll all get a kick out of seeing her in this jumbo suit. I laugh every time I look at the picture!

Sumo wrestler baby Rachel!

Sumo wrestler baby Rachel!

Hope you have a great Monday!

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Sleep, Overrated? I think Not.

Sleep deprivation is a very real thing at our house these days. Looking back, I never thought Josh would be the one keeping me up as he approached his second birthday. He used to be our stellar sleeper. While his little sister snoozes through the night, he’s awake and screeching from his crib, often for hours at a time.

A few nights of this is annoying. But we happen to be going on about a month of nightly crying sessions. Anytime from 12 am to 5 am this little dude can be heard hollering from his crib. I wish I knew what was waking/keeping him up– Teething? A long day time nap? Hunger? Thirst? Too cold or warm? Sadly there never seems to be anything consistent playing into his nocturnal tendencies. So I guess it’s just a phase we must endure.

Parenting is all about endurance, no? I looked at Josh, right after he’d thrown his sixth huge tantrum this morning, and thought “I know they say these years won’t last forever. But right now, it feels like they’re lasting forever.” So we packed up and went on another country drive. While the kids listened to Psalty (1980’s, anyone?) and slept in the car, I put an earbud in and soaked up truth I needed to hear in a sermon about Jesus. Because He really does make everything better. Not easier, but better.

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I’m watching my older sister with her boys — now 13, 11, and 9, and it gives me encouragement to keep going. They are such great kids. I remember my sister having many trying days when her kiddos were little. Times when she would even give herself a “time out” so that she could get back to a place of thankfulness when frustration was creeping in. She put in a lot of hard work (she still does) and long days. But her boys are a treasure– they are gifts from God. And they are a joy to be around.

My sister with her middle child.

My sister with her middle child.

So I’ll press on. I’ll enjoy the fun and tender moments, the smiles and the giggles. I’ll pray for endurance for all the other moments. I’ll go for a country drive if need be. And I’ll thank God that gas is only $1.91 a gallon.

What helps you get through the most trying parts of your day/night?

 

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Simply Being Here

These days are fun yet hectic. Rachel is doing great — she’ll be 4 months old in a couple of days and she’s giggly and smiley and already popping out teeth (teething at 3 months is CRAZY, by the way). Josh is almost 23 months and is and putting words together for the first time. He can be found with his nose in a book and a train piece in one hand at almost all times. It is a delight to see them both growing and learning new tricks! But lest you think it’s all roses– our days¬†also involve lots of screaming. So yes, it is fun and there is much laughter– but there is also much screaming too.

In light of this busy season, I have often wondered “How can I be serving others? How can I help out at church? What can I be doing to be a blessing?” The truth of the matter is that it’s a small feat just to make it to the grocery store,¬†let alone church. With a small baby in tote who nurses often, there aren’t really any practical places for me to be able to serve at church right now (which really makes me feel like a consumer). Josh also depends heavily on routine and schedule, and not adhering to his routine for too long means¬†a¬†complete meltdown (which happened in an extended version on Christmas day). All this is to say is that the bulk of my ministry these days is at home– loving my kids and my husband. I know many women who have several more kids than me, who home school and serve outside of the home in multiple capacities– and they are amazing! But that is not me. I’m being stretched thin these days just by getting dinner on the table¬†and both kids bathed before bedtime.

Blogger Melissa over at yourmomhasablog.com encouraged me today with her post¬†about how stay at home moms can serve God. She writes that the stay at home mom has the strange occupation of simply¬†being there. (I’ve been mulling this over as I grew up with a mom who was also “there” (even though she worked a lot from home) and the positive impact that just having her around (to keep tabs on me, or for me to ask her questions, etc) had on me.) Melissa encourages those who feel like they aren’t even very good homemakers to see that all the work they’re doing at home for their kids and husbands ¬†are being done for the Lord– that He is their boss. She writes “We‚Äôre doing these things, yes laundry and the whole shebang, because God has given us this job, this calling of being there, and we owe Him everything. So, we serve Him with our presence in the home.” She also offers several small ways we can serve the Lord, merely by being obedient to His Word and the overflow that such obedience brings. Some examples of this that she mentioned were as obvious as being a good friend to your husband– or as small as being kind and friendly to the employee¬†at the grocery store. Lastly, she encourages women to focus on their chief purpose: To know God and enjoy Him forever. She encourages women not to get caught up so much in what they can or can’t do, but to focus on making every day an exercise to dwell in His presence. Amen to that!

My whole life has been geared on getting good grades in school and being in such a place so that I could choose any career I wanted. And I’m glad I chose nursing — it has been a wonderful choice, full of hard work and promoting good critical thinking skills. But not much of my life has prepared me for the challenges of being a mother. I have relied heavily on my older sister (in a way, I’m really glad her kids are much older than mine so that I’ve been able to watch her parent so much) and my mother in this area, as I am oft in amazement in the jobs they have both done as mothers. Obviously, being a good nurse has always been important to me. But being a WISE mother trumps everything else, let alone my devotion to God and to my husband. And this is where the buck stops. As much as I miss not serving in more tangible ways outside of the home, for this season of life I can serve God by being in His presence and by serving my family. Showering others with the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control). Speaking kind words and encouragement to others, or being a listening ear when needed. (Or, more realistically for this week: Not complaining even though we’re all sick, responding calmly¬†to a toddler who’s just pitched his plate of food onto the floor, and being able to smile at a baby who screams with indignation when being put down in the baby swing for a while.)

3 month old Rachel. How we love her!

3 month old Rachel. How we love her!

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God With Us

“Immanuel, God with us.”

These past few weeks have been hard, stretching me thinner than ever before. At the end of the day, when I have failed to cook my family dinner because there have been too many meltdowns and a near-death choking event from the toddler, as well as persistent crying and spit up from the baby, I find myself collapsing¬†into our living room chair. I can hear the toddler still whining from his crib, well over an hour after he’s been put down to sleep for the night.

It dawns on me: I feel sad. Lonely. Needy.¬†It’s been a hard day and I know I’ll feel better about it after some sleep. And I usually do. How a little sleep and a little coffee tend to brighten my outlook on life.

But there is something much greater, which pours life into my needy soul, encouraging and speaking truth– again and again.

Jesus.¬†Who Jesus is and the Gospel itself, have changed everything. We read Matthew 1 yesterday in church and we read these words from Matt 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,¬†and they shall call his name Immanuel‚ÄĚ (which means, God with us).” I failed to retain much of what was being said after we got to verse 23. The enormity of these words knocked me over like a freight train. GOD IS WITH US. There has never been a time when I did not desperately need Him. But I do not live without hope. Jesus has rocked my world since I was a child, and He continues to do so each day.

I may feel sad, lonely, or needy. Being a mom¬†is wonderful, but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I may be tempted to think I’m a failure at this motherhood business. But these are just fickle emotions, prone to change day to day. They can never compare to what Jesus has done – taking my sins for me on the cross and making me perfect in His eyes. I have a great need for a Savior and I have a great need to be forgiven. That incredible day, two thousand years ago, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, everything changed. The prophecies of long ago were fulfilled, and the Messiah — fully God, fully man, came to live upon mankind. The world has never been the same.

If you’re a new mom like me, with days spent trying to reason with less-than-two year olds, or wiping spit up off of your tired face from your newborn– take hope in knowing that you are being faithful not only to your kids, but also to your Savior. And know that even though this journey feels endless (and often fruitless), He is with you all the way.

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Life With Two & Toddler Activites

After a long drought, rain is softly falling outside today. What a relief for our parched land here in California. We still need several more days of rain to reverse this drought, but my heart is thankful for what the Lord has given us for today.

This is a busy season of life for me, and I’m thankful for it. I may only have fifteen minutes to write today before someone needs their diaper changed or spit up wiped from their face. That’s okay. I’m so grateful to be home with our kids right now and to be have the honor of training their little hearts at this young age. Some days are unbearably long (why do babies get the fussiest and why do toddlers throw the most tantrums during the time of day when parents are the most exhausted?) but the glimmers of progress give me encouragement to keep on going.

Rachel is 8 weeks old today and Josh is approaching 20 months. Despite many thoughts and ideas running through my head lately, I find that little babies make my head a bit muddled and I am unable to write coherent pieces to save my life. So, in lieu of the well thought out blog post I wanted to write, here are the highlights from the last month:

Breast Milk Jaundice: About a month ago, I noticed that Rachel had a much more yellow hue to her skin one evening. I sent this picture to her pediatrician and asked him if I should be worried. I explained that she was nursing great and growing out of her clothes.

Breast milk jaundice.

Breast milk jaundice.

He had me get labs drawn and a weight done and this little girl of mine went from 6#9 oz at birth to 9# at 4 weeks old! She definitely was not dehydrated. Her bilirubin labs came back pretty elevated for her age, at 11.3 (1-2 is normal at 4 weeks old). Her pediatrician called it breast milk jaundice ¬†(sole breast milk use can be hard on the livers of some babies thus causing jaundice, and no, this isn’t related to the cholestasis I had while pregnant) and we started¬†a long journey of repeating labs to make sure it was coming down. After 5 separate lab draws, we finally got signed off by her pediatrician last Wednesday when her level came down to 5.3 and her direct bilirubin came down to 0.6 (the direct bilirubin had been 0.7 for two weeks and they were not satisfied with that). Glad to be done with breast milk jaudice! Rachel’s skin tones are now back to normal.

As for feeding and sleeping schedules, I hate to blog about it¬†because I know that for the mama who is up all night with her baby (or even toddler) it can be very discouraging to hear how “So and so is sleeping through the night!” at some ridiculously young age. I know it broke me to hear that other babies were happily sleeping through the night early on when Josh just wouldn’t sleep for¬†more than 4 hours at night for what seemed like months (after we sleep trained him life got much better, but until then I was never sure that he wasn’t hungry at night since he had never once slept the whole night. It was a vicious cycle I got caught in). I thought that since Rachel was born a month early, we’d be stuck feeding every three hours at night for a while. But that just hasn’t been the case. She’s routinely sleeping 7-7.5 hours at night and has been doing so for a couple of weeks. She eats every 2.5-3 hours during the day. I’m enjoying it so much! That being said, please… if you’re reading this and you’re exhausted because your baby just.won’t.sleep please don’t despair (like I did) but just hold onto the fact that it’s only for a season and that you’re very much not alone!

Toddlerhood and Activities: It’s been a rough ride here with Josh since Rachel came home from the hospital. It was much more difficult and prolonged than I had imagined. The days are getting easier with this little guy now, thankfully. He’s finally accepted the fact that Rachel isn’t going away, and likes to say “Baby! Baby!” over and over again. He isn’t always very kind to her, but I see him occasionally going out of his way to help her.

One time Rachel threw up several times in a row in her car seat and I was out of burp rags within my reach. At the same time, I couldn’t leave her because the spit up kept coming and I had already changed her outfit twice! At one point she looked like this and I wanted to cry but laughed instead:

Spit up central. Doesn't she look sad?

Spit up central. Did I mention her spit up also landed in my face and hair?

At this point, Josh ran over to the other side of the room and grabbed me a burp rag and handed it to me. I had never asked him to do this before, so I was pleasantly surprised!

Another time he got in trouble for throwing something that almost hit Rachel in the head (if I had not stopped the object from flying through the air in time, it would have hit her). He sorrowfully took the pacifier out of his mouth and tried to put it in her mouth so as to say “I’m sorry!” Although I told him he could keep his pacifier, that was especially fun for me to witness knowing how much he loves it.

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This kid’s beloved blankie. He loves to wander all over the house like this while running into things like doors and walls.

We’ve done a few new activities in the past few weeks. We haven’t gotten to as many as I’d like, but hey– that’s life with a newborn, I guess! I am always looking for inexpensive new ideas to keep Josh busy. If you have any ideas, please send them my way. I’d love it!

Scooping Beans. I bought bean in bulk for cheap and put them in this heavy dutch oven that even I can barely lift. I put it in an empty plastic container we had sitting in the garage and then gave him measuring cups and whatever scooping utensils I could find sitting around. I think this activity cost $4 for the beans, and he LOVES to pour them from container to container. Also, he’s pretty meticulous about the beans and whenever some fall out of the large plastic container, he carefully picks them up and returns them. It cracks me up because he’s not meticulous about much else.

Scooping beans.

Scooping beans. Notice the lack of beans all over the kitchen floor. I was surprised!

Coloring: This kid still puts everything in his mouth. I tried coloring with crayons but after a while he just wouldn’t obey and was eating the crayons constantly. So I’ve shelved that activity for now. Not sure when we’ll try it again. Maybe after he has all his teeth?

Coloring. We'll try again later!

Coloring. We’ll try again later.

Water Play. I took 4 plastic cups and a pitcher of water and let him have at it in the backyard. To my surprise, he couldn’t have cared less about the water. All he wanted to do was stack the cups! This isn’t a wintertime activity, and even on this fall day I used warm water and he still got a little chilled.

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Easy water play with cups.

Easy water play with cups.

Play-Doh! He wanted to eat this too so direct adult supervision was necessary. ūüôā He had a fun time playing with it! We’ll definitely be doing this activity a lot.

Play-Doh!

Play-Doh!

Pots & Measuring Equipment. This wasn’t a big hit. He mainly just wanted to chew on the syringe I let him play with. He enjoys pulling the plunger out and pushing it back in.

Pots & Pans.

Pots & Measuring Equipment.

For Halloween, we went cubicle trick or treating at my husband’s work. It was relatively quick (which was nice since Josh had a meltdown when we got there) and there were lots of nice families who came. Josh was a lion for Halloween and since Rachel was in the front pack, I skipped doing a costume for her this year.

On the way to cubicle trick or treating.

On the way to cubicle trick or treating.

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Our little lion.

Our little lion.

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Another sad attempt at a family selfie! Sorry Josh, we tried…

Lastly, some more pictures from the past weeks!

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I highly recommend this Boppy Lounge Pillow. They are extremely portable and Rachel loves it. Josh also likes to play on it when she’s elsewhere…

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Great Grandpa and Rachel from Saturday. Rachel is just shy of 8 weeks old here.

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End of the day snuggle time.

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Hard to get a picture of this kid that’s not blurry. He is constantly on the move.

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Pretty sure we were in the Starbucks drive through here. Got a picture to send to Daddy at work.

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The human race keeps growing because of faces like this one…

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Daddy being brave and holding Rachel while wearing a work shirt. It probably got thrown up on…

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