On January 4 of this year, we celebrated you first birthday! I can hardly believe the time has flown by so fast. It does not seem like a year ago already that you made your hasty, miraculous entrance into this world. After a pregnancy wrought with complications, your arrival four weeks early and a mere twelve minutes after arriving at the hospital should probably have given us a little window into your little personality and the fulness with with you live life. You were truly named “Eliana Joy” with good reason–you are our answered prayer, and such a joy to this house! “Full of Life” and “Bundle of Energy” come to mind when we think of you. “Spitfire” and “Pistol” are also words that readily to to mind when describing your vivacious, precocious personality:-).
You were a little peanut when you were born, weighing in at 5 lbs 12 ounces, and you remain a little peanut, barely making the charts with your 18 pounds and 26 inches. You crawl around the house with the speed of a train, but you have not attempted walking yet. Lately, though, you are trying to stand by yourself, and letting go of things to stand up unassisted for seconds at a time. I know it is only a matter of time before you take off running and never stop!
Though for the first few months of your life you slept and ate and ate and slept like most newborns, as you began to outgrow your 0-3 month clothes, you began to outgrow your need for much sleep. You don’t require nearly the amount of sleep most babies your age do (and certainly not as much as your older brother has!), and so we have learned to adapt our expectations accordingly. Most days, your brief nap time is followed by a period of independent quiet play while your brother finishes his lengthy nap and this Mama can work around the house for a little bit longer before you descend upon the place again, ready to tear into whatever is nearby. When you do sleep, you love to bunch up your blanket underneat you and sprawl out across it in a most humorous way.
You absolutely adore your brother, and when you wake from a nap and hear him playing away, you instantly come to attention, scramble to climb out of my arms, and crawl full-speed ahead towards him. Your brother, on the other hand, is not as enthusiastic about you joining in his fun, as he has usually built or assembled something that he has a definite plan for. When you descend upon the scene, your greatest pleasure is to undo everything that he has worked so hard to build. It’s all in good fun to you, but your poor brother is devastated, and you typically begin stealing toys back and forth from each other, followed by subsequent shrieks of outrage at the audacity of the other. My greatest joy, though, is when I hear the two of you laughing together, smiling over toys, and sharing sweetly. I hope you will always love and cherish and care for each other as you grow older.
As you outgrew the newborn days, you became less and less snuggly, so eager to see and explore the world were you. When we would hold you close, you would turn your whole body around and hold yourself up stiffly, refusing to be held close as it might obscure your view of your surroundings. In the last couple of months, however, you have begun to love to be held close once again. Now, we delight in your throwing your arms around us and burrowing your face deep into our shoulders as you give us a long, delightful hug, typically humming merrily as you do. Your daddy recently rejoiced as you began reaching for him as soon as he comes home from work, or when you hurt yourself, that you crawl to him for comfort, hugs, and kisses.
Speaking of your love for your daddy, he lights up your world! If you are in another part of the house and you hear your daddy come home and begin to wrestle with your brother, your face lights up and you let out a shriek of delight, crawling towards the sounds of merriment as quickly as your chubby legs will carry you. You then join in the fun with all the energy in the world. You are one of the toughest girls I know, rarely caring if you get tackled, knocked over, or trod upon by your brother in one of your many wrestling matches. You typically bounce right back up with grins and giggles, ready to take on the world, as usual.
You followed in your brother’s footsteps as far as your eating habits are concerned, skipping purees and going straight to table food at about 9 months old. Until then, you were exclusively breastfed, and you still nurse a few times a day. You’ve always been a bit of a “bottle snob,” and we have always had a difficult time leaving you if it was over a time where you were supposed to nurse. You still refuse most bottles and sippies, prefering instead to either drink straight from a glass, or out of a straw (your absolute favorite). If it is milk you are supposed to drink, though, we might as well forget it. You turn up your nose at it and refuse to drink any. Eating table food was harder for you than your brother, as he had a mouth full of teeth by your age, and you barely had two until only a couple of weeks ago. Now you have 6, and chewing foods is much easier for you. You don’t like things cut up, but rather prefer them handed to you whole, and you take little (and sometimes big) bites out of them until them are gone. You then exclaim loudly, “Mah! Mah!” (to which your brother replies, “No, no, Baby, Mama is right here,” thinking you are calling for Mama).
You are such a bundle of joy, we can hardly contain ourselves. Big Sister Rehan cannot resist kissing you over and over until you wriggle out of arms, pushing away with an exclamation of indignation. But for all your fiestyness, you are the sweetest little girl I could imagine, and we love you to pieces!
Love you always and forever,
You are three years old today! The last year has flown by so fast, I really cannot believe it. The year began with the birth of your baby sister, Eliana.
You instantly warmed to her, and she became your playmate and sidekick in all things. You guys are the best of friends. You love to wrestle her–and she loves it too!–You love to feed her your food, bend your face close to hers and ask sweetly, “Like it, Baby?” You get downright giddy when I put her on the little John Deere Gator, and you get on your bike, and she “chases” you around the house. About the only thing you don’t enjoy is her fascination with your trains. As soon as you build a track, she is sure to break it apart. We are working on patiently saying, “No, please, Baby” and then asking Mommy or Daddy for help to retrieve her before she wrecks your tracks.
Speaking of sisters, Eliana was not the only sister we added this year. Rehan, a 16-year old Filipino, came to join our family in September as she attends high school here in the States. You love having a big sister, and she adores you and your little sister.
You love to explore the world, and I love watching your eyes light up as you discover new things. Your very favorite thing right now, is trains, trains, and more trains. You enjoy adding to your collection of Thomas trains. In your opinion, I believe you can never have too many tracks or trains. Every morning, you wake up and ask to play “choo choos,” and Daddy builds you a magnificent track. Lately, though, you have your own ideas about how you want the track to go, and sometimes you grow frustrated by the tracks’ inability to go the way you want them to go.
You still love the great outdoors more than anything, and the cold is frustrating you to not be able to go out in it. Not that you mind the cold at all. You would stay outside day and night, until you hands turned blue, if I would let you! In the summer, you enjoyed the sand and water table and garden out back. You love to dig in the dirt, make big piles with it, and play in the water. You still love to pour water, and when it is not nice outside, sometimes we do “water play” in the sink or tub and you collect cups, bowls, and spoons and pour water from one cup to the other in delight.
You have been potty trained since 8 months (poopy) and 12 months (potty), but I finally was brave enough to put you in underwear all day shortly after your second birthday. When you were two and a half, we noticed you were consistently dry when you woke up in the mornings, so you started wearing underwear full time.
Speaking of sleeping, you still sleep more than any kid I know! It is not uncommon for you to go to bed at 7:30 in the evening and wake up at 7:30 in the morning, then take a 3+ hour nap in the afternoon. You are, however, much more flexible than you used to be. We can move your nap around depending on the activities of the day, and even push your bedtime late when you go to Nana and Poppa or Grandma and Grandpa’s.
Going to your grandparents’ on either side is definitely your favorite thing to do. Going to Grandpa and Grandma Willcox’s, you love to pretend Olympics with cousins Noah and Annie, ever since the summer Olympics this year. When you go to Nana and Poppa’s house, the barn with its old John Deere tractors and the pasture with its cows are your favorite in the world. You talk about it for months, begging to go see Poppa’s cows, feed them hay, and call them with “saboss.” You enjoy building your own farm setups here at home and pretending the farmer is Poppa.
Only a hint of the autism remains, after your chiropractic treatments over a year ago. Every day we marvel at how you learn and grow, how you explore your world and live to the fullest. You talk in full sentences and learn new words and phrases every day. We rejoice in your sweet disposition, your tender spirit, and your fun-loving personality.
You are such a gift from God, and we love you tons and bunches!!
Daddy and Mama
(Following is a montage of some of my favorite pictures of how much you love your baby sister:-) I tried to upload more of us together, but we were having computer issues, so I let it go for now!)
This month’s Chemical Elimination is a major cheater post. As I was preparing to do this post, Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking did one of her own, and I simply cannot say it any better than she can! She is thorough, informative, and very, very helpful! I resourced this numerous times when my own family recently was struck hard with the influenza.
Go check out her website for Stocking Your Natural Herbal Medicine Cabinet!
I also want to add this recipe for Tried and True Cold and Flu Kicker. I have not tried it yet, but I have heard great things about its wonders!
And here is a recipe for homemade cough and cold syrup!
It has become my new afternoon routine. A mad-rush shuffle to get both kids fed, cleaned, changed, read to, and then snuggled into bed for a nap, followed by a hurried prayer as I run up the stairs that Eliana will please, please actually take a nap. I warm my already thrice-warmed coffee from this morning’s failed quiet time, grab my book, and curl up on the couch for ten sweet minutes of quiet solitude. I hope. I pray.
I am reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. It has been on my reading list for quite awhile now, and I have scanned through it a few times at friend’s houses, anxious to discover the secret of contentment she seems to have found in simply recording every little gift throughout the day. But so far, I cannot reconcile the testimonies of lives changed by this simple practice, and I feel the need to really, thoroughly read this book myself. I must be missing something.
My days are a continuous blur of constantly meeting needs. From the moment I rise all too early in the morning, to the time that I finally drop, exhausted, into bed at night, only to be wakened two or three time more, it seems I am ever fulfilling someone’s need for something. Do this, do that, wash this, wash that, wipe this, clean that up, put this away. Now do it all over again. And again. And again. I love my family. But I have become bone weary. The multitude of mundane tasks have overwhelmed me, paralyzing me with their monotony, their seeming purposelessness. Each day seems harder than the one before it. Each day, I feel my soul hardening more and more, restlessness, anger, and bitterness seeping out my pores. Something has to change. And soon.
So I warm up my coffee and open my book, praying that God will enlighten me and waken me out of his haze I am living in. As I begin to read One Thousand Gifts, my heart clenches within me, and I am brought to tears. This woman is writing to me. No, this woman is me.
“I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at my children, fester with bitterness, forget doctors appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?
To live either fully alive…or in empty nothingness…It’s the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that’s lost all capacity to fully feel–this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead.”
She is perfectly, completely describing me. I am both ashamed and relieved to admit it. I read her words to my husband. He nods contemplatively, a confirming smile on his face. Yep. That’s me, alright. But it certainly didn’t used to be. Where on earth did my joy go?
One thing I know. I am done living the life in between. I want to live again. Fully, completely.
As I pick up my pen to start my own list of gifts, I find my mind wandering, grasping, searching for some mundane thing that I can actually be thankful for instead of gripe about. I scratch out one or two, haltingly, hesitantly. Now I am embarrassed. How is it that I cannot even think of the simple things to be thankful for? Have I drifted so far from the path of Right Thinking that I cannot even think of blessings? Everything that comes to my mind comes with a caveat, a sarcastic, almost bitter smile, or an exception clause.
1. The words “Help, please” from a little mouth (instead of the usual wail, whine, and ensuing tantrum)
2. A near-disaster averted due to my lightning-fast hands and reflexes
3. No nap for Baby. (Oh, well, now I can put her to bed early!)
No, no, no, this is not what she is talking about when she writes about recording gifts from God! Things I love. I can feel the negativity seeping through my pen ink onto the paper, blotting the whole thing into a mess. I am doing this all wrong. Little blessings. Real blessings. Without the complaints along with them. Lord, teach me. Teach me how to do this again. I, like Ann, want to live the fullest life. I “yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language, the fluency of thanksgiving in all, even the ugliest and most heartbreaking.”
A piercing, mournful wail wafts up from the basement, and I am startled out of my blissful reverie. There will be no nap for Baby once again today.
I close my book, dump the rest of my coffee, and choose to be thankful for the ten minutes of solitude. No, I am nowhere near arrived yet. I am still cynical, doubting, and oh, so weary. But I will pick it back up again tomorrow, keep digging, and keep choosing thankfulness. I will not give up. I will not give in.
Last month on Chris and Andrea’s Toxic Talk Tuesday broadcast, they tackled the issue of plastics. Andrea begins by once again testifying to the fact that she used to be the “‘Paul’ of plastics”–that is, she used to speak against people who spoke against plastics. But when their family faced a major health crisis, she found herself having to concede that perhaps plastic is not as great as we once believer. Plastic is one of those things that is absolutely everywhere around us now, and yet it hasn’t been around for that long. More and more studies are revealing the possible dangers from the use of so much plastic.
What IS plastic?
Plastic is the term used for a wide range of synthetic solids (polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc.) derived primarily from crude oil. Variants of plastic formed out of organic compounds have been traced as early as the Middle Ages, but it wasn’t until after the First World War that improvements in chemical technology led to the highly plasticized world in which we now live. As Andrea points out, we have always lived with scarcity. For instance, before WWII hardly anyone had a plastic comb, and after the way nearly everyone did. Now we’re not even sure what a comb without plastic would be made of! (bamboo, anyone?:-)
What is so wrong with plastic?
The newest research shows that the BPA and phthalates in plastics are endocrine disruptors. That’s fancy words for chemicals that mess with our hormones. The disruptions can cause anything from cancer, to birth defects, to developmental disorders. Studies show even low level exposure can be harmful to people, especially fetuses. While it is becoming much more widely accepted that plastics are harmful, it is taking some time to see that carry over into any sort of government regulations to that affect. For instance, BPA has been proven to be harmful in plastics and many other substances, however, the FDA only recently banned in from baby bottles and sippy cups. In the US, even though it has been proven to be harmful, they did not also ban in from food packaging, such as canned goods and frozen foods stored in plastic bags.
As Andrea so wisely notes in the program, it would be all but impossible to go totally without plastic in our world. But finding as many alternatives as possible would seem to be a wise choice. Being informed is the best way to combat this challenge!
Here are Andrea’s suggestions on how to Life with Less Plastic in 10 Simple Steps!
We use this shower curtain!
I still love soap nuts, but if you are more industrious, than here is my very detailed blog post on Toxic Talk Tuesday- Laundry Care! Loaded with info, recipes, and options for naturally clean laundry!