Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

Dear Eliana

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Dear Eliana,

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:-).395711_573603029409_1317720744_n

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!

You climb over everything in sight!

You climb over everything in sight!

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.IMG_3980

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.

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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.

This was the night you regained your snuggles.  You awakened late in the evening, feeling sickly, and Daddy snuggled you for an hour before putting you back to sleep. You've snuggled again ever since:-)

This was the night you regained your snuggles. You awakened late in the evening, feeling sickly, and Daddy snuggled you for an hour before putting you back to sleep. You’ve snuggled again ever since:-)

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.

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Father Daughter time

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).

Guacamole Girl!

Guacamole Girl!

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,

Your Mama

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Jeshuah, You Are Three–How Can That Be??

Dear Jeshuah,

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.

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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.

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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.093

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.

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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!!

Love,

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!)

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Eliana – 10 Months!

Eliana, you are 10 months old!!

By the numbers: 10 months old. 4 daytime feedings.  2 naps per day.  size 4 diapers. size 9-12 month clothes.

You are growing so fast, I cannot keep up.  Whenever anyone asked “How is life with two?” I used to say in all honesty, “Easier than one!” That was before you became mobile, my dear, and since that point, you have taken off and not looked back. You are constantly on the go and into everything, curiosity pulling you quickly from one thing to the next.

You climb over everything in sight!

Speaking of life with two, the question of “How is life with two?” has suddenly and unexpectedly become, “How is life with three?” as we spontaneously added dear, sweet, wonderful Rehan to our family in October. Rehan is from the Philippines and is attending school here this year, and we have the privilege of being her family until June.  You and Shuah love having a big sister!

The last two months have been a blur of numerous milestones for you, the most life-altering has been your ability to propel yourself across the floor at near lightning speed.  While you can get up on all fours and rock back and forth, you prefer to flop back onto your belly and pull yourself forward with your hands rather than full out crawl.  You have a mind of your own and you know what you want, and lately, what you want has been anything you are not allowed to have (TV, outlets, cords, etc) and nobody but Mama or Dada. You make your desires known with various forms of ear-splitting screeching and hollering, which we are attempting to curb into words and signs.  You love to imitate all sounds, and this week you said your first words (other than mama and dada)! As we dressed you in your cow costume for Halloween, Rehan said, “You are such a cute cow!” and you whispered “cow” right back to her.  The next day, you were on a mission to destroy your brother’s train tracks again, and as I said, “Baby, no tracks,” you breathed “tacks.”  You are on your way to talking in earnest, I think!

As far as eating and sleeping go, you continue to be very different from your brother.  On any given day, he sleeps more than you do, as you regularly take only two 45 minute naps and are revved to go for the reset of the day.  On very rare occasions I will nurse you in the middle of the night if you wake, and once in a blue moon you need a pacifier to calm you, but other than that, you sleep from 6:30pm to 6:30am (with a 5am feeding) like a dream.  The addition of two razor sharp bottom teeth have contributed to your eating much more table food.  You are now eating everything that we eat, and doing so with gusto. You are much pickier than your brother, though, and prefer fruit to anything else.  This week, you grabbed my morning kefir smoothie, and before I knew it, you had finished it all off! Now we know you can drink through a straw!

You have had a couple of “off” days, where you are just a little extra clingy, needy and generally fussy. I think you are working on some more teeth. Your general disposition remains extremely happy and fun-loving.  You love to explore the world and laugh at everything in sight.

You are growing up far too quickly for this Mama and Daddy, but we sure do love watching you do it!

Getting Back Up on My Feet–or Trying To

It has been pretty quiet on the blog front lately.  All I have managed to keep up with are Eliana’s monthly updates, and that is only eeked out because I desperately want her to have those to look back on. I wish I had been able to do it with Jeshuah when he was that age, so I try very hard to at least publish those.  I have not kept up well on the Monthly Chemical Elimination. Sometimes I simply can’t find good natural alternatives.  Sometimes we just can’t afford them.  Sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and blog about it.  While we began the GAPS diet, we were unable to maintain it.   It is very, very hard.  And very expensive.  Maybe someday…

We have had a lot going on that was either not blog-worthy, or too deep to process in cyberspace.  Some of my absence is due to the fact that, while two kids is even more fun than one, it is definitely more time-consuming!  Part of my absence is from attempting to be more present with my children and have less of on on-line presence.  That I do not regret at all:-) Some of my laxity has been two months of basement renovation stretching into an agonizing six months of boxes, piles, and drywall dust scattered across every corner of the house.  Or perhaps it is the fact I have picked up some extra hours doing bookkeeping during the kids naps a couple of days a week.  (Those naps are usually when my creative juices begin to flow a bit more freely in the quiet and solitude.)  Another issue that has been weighing heavier and heavier on my heart is the fact that, as much improvement as we have seen in Jeshuah over the last year on the autistic scale, there are some markers creeping back up that whisper that he may still have some residual issues that cannot be repaired by chiropractic care.  We continue to be concerned about a possible sensory disorder, as well as some mild cognitive and developmental delays.  And some days just are so exhausting I feel that I can barely put one foot in front of the other.  Some days it is simply the stress and anxiety of the questions of what is wrong and how we can help him that wear on me.

I have been in a season of chaos and disorder.  While my house has been in upheaval, so has everything else it seems.  I have let slide the routines that have helped maintain my sanity in the past, feeling simply incapable of keeping up, and that perhaps a reprieve from so much order and structure would do me good.

It hasn’t.

It has not done any of us any good. Especially when we cannot find any clean clothes to wear:-)

I am now trying to re-instigate order, structure and routine into our home to bring it back into some semblance of peace.  One of the biggest struggles for Jehsuah is a lack of predictability and order.  Watching him these last few months, it is apparent how beneficial boundaries and structure are for him, and how much he struggles when it is absent.  So for his sake, as well as the rest of the family, I am trying to be more disciplined.

Most of all, I am begging for grace to accomplish all of the above, and to remember it is not about trying harder.  It is not about being stronger, for when I am weak, then HE is strong! It is not about me doing my best. It is about surrendering my life into Christ’s hands and asking Him to do the work through me.  He has always been faithful in the past. I know He will be faithful still.

Forgive me for the weighty tone of this post.  I am just recently coming to grips with the fact that Jeshuah may still need additional help, and I am exhausted by the mere thought.  I am finally admitting to myself and others that we may not be out of the woods.  And while I know of so many others out there who have so much more painful, difficult situations that they are facing, this is what we are facing.  And it is hard enough. But so thankful that God is good enough. So much more than good enough!

Eliana – 8 Months!

Eliana, you’re 8 months old!

By the numbers: 8 months old. 4-5 daytime feedings and the occasional MOTN feeding.  2 naps per day.  size diapers. size 9 month clothes. 16.5 lbs (I am not entirely sure this is accurate…This is what our scale read, Nana’s scale said you were approximately 20 lbs, so you’re probably somewhere in between)

This month, you had the pleasure of going to your first Old Thresher’s Reunion! Your Poppa has been going since he learned to walk, and the whole family has been going ever since.  I knew you wouldn’t get a whole lot out of it yet this year, but you will grow to enjoy it.  As we predicted, despite spending the entire day outside in the rain, you were a dream, taking only a twenty minute power nap halfway through the day and smiling for the rest! Not even the loud, powerful steam engine bothered you.  You took it all in stride.

 

Riding the train!

In other news, while we were at Nana and Poppa’s, we dropped the Dreamfeed just before your 8 month birthday. The first night, you slept straight through til 6:30am.  I was so excited! Now that we’re back home, though, you continue to wake once or twice in the night, and I’m not sure why, other than wondering if you may be too cold down in the basement.  Once again, we eagerly await the finishing of our basement so you can move upstairs to your very own room! I am also wondering if you are teething, and occasionally I will give you your paci if you won’t settle, and that sometimes helps.  You like to chew on it excessively.

You are eating a lot more table food now and only the occasional puree. You are so good at it now, I have stopped worrying so irrationally about you choking.  I try to make sure you at least get breakfast and dinner with the family, and lunch when we get the chance,  but usually lunch is too hectic trying to get you two down for your naps.  Speaking of naps, let’s just say this is not your best napping stage.  You are going for an average of two 45 minute naps most days.  But, in keeping with your overall sunny disposition, you are still full of smiles even when you are super tired.

Milestones of the month include you scooting (mostly backwards) considerably further than you ever have, and also successfully raising yourself up on all fours and rocking back and forth.  You are very close to crawling!

You’re growing up so fast, my girl! Some days I wish I could just freeze time where it is.  You and your brother bring so much joy to our home–I can only imagine how much more joy we will have as we continue to watch you grow!

With Aunt Amy at our Olympics Party

Eliana – 7 Months

Eliana, you are seven months old! (At least, you were seven months old on August 4. Life with two gets increasingly busy!)

By the numbers: 7 months old. 4-5 daytime feedings and a dreamfeed at 10pm.  2 naps per day.  size diapers. size 9 month clothes.  Didn’t get a chance to weigh you this month.

You love when Daddy reads you stories!

This month was basically the opposite of last month in a lot of ways.  Regarding eating, I finally caved in and bought you some purees, since I could tell you were really, really eager for something more than milk, and gnawing on carrots and green beans wasn’t actually putting much in your stomach. You are really good at slurping it off the spoon, and most of the time I let you just feed yourself.  This typically ends in the need for a serious bath, as the majority ends up all over your head, and not in your mouth. However, the majority of the time we skip solids altogether and nursing is your primary means of nutrition.

Guacamole Girl!

Ellie, is everyone having fun here? Cousin Cora doesn’t look very happy…

As consistent as I was with potty training last month, this month has been an epic fail.  We seemed to hit a funk, where you would’t go when I took you, then you would go in your diaper as soon as you were off the toilet. So I got lazy and quit taking you.  One of these days we’ll get back in the groove, but I guess we know you won’t be poopy trained by 8 months like your brother! We’ll set a new goal for 12 months, deal?

Major milestones of the month include you saying “mama” quite distinctively and learning to play “peek-a-boo” by pulling clothes or blankets over your face until I say, “Where’s baby?” and then you whip it off your face and laugh and laugh when I cry, “There she is!!” Then we do the whole thing over and over and over again.  You also love reading stories with your brother, although you just want to put it in your mouth the entire time, and Big Brother tells you “No! No mouth!” in no uncertain terms.  Sometimes, it’s hard being a baby:-)

As for your sleeping, the end of month saw us moving you into the basement, which is partially finished now.  We were just really ready to have you sleep in your own room so that you could finally learn to sleep through the night.  At the time this post should have been posted, it had only been a couple of days, but you were doing pretty well on your own. And Mama was getting a lot more sleep! We also took away the paci, and after a few days, you didn’t mind any more.  You had started just gnawing on it and spitting it out anyway, so I figured it was time for another try. You are sleeping much better now, and we are all the merrier for it.

Laird cousins all together!

Twins! (cousins, that is!)

This month we traveled to visit Great Grandparents Laird in Indianapolis.  You finally got to meet your Uncle Joey, Great Aunt and Uncles and second cousins. You thoroughly enjoyed the new people and places, and even did very well on our first attempt to sleep the whole family (minus Daddy who had to stay home and work) in the same room day and night.  My favorite memory was when I put Jeshuah to bed, then got you in your jammies, fed you, and carried you into the semi-dark room.  Shuah popped up in his crib and cried gleefully, “Baby!” and I said, “Shhh, lay down, you and Baby are going to go to sleep.” He snuggled back down as I laid you in my bed and wrapped your blankets around you.  As I left the room, you were cooing to yourself quietly, and Shuah was softly giggling and saying to himself, “ohhhh, baby.”  You both fell asleep that way.  I love how you two love each other!

I sure do love watching you grow, but I wish you’d slow it down a little.  Love you so much, my little Sugar Dumpling!

Eliana – 6 Months!

Eliana, you’re 6 months old!!

By the numbers: 6 months old. 5-6 daytime feedings and an occasional MOTN feeding.  2-3 naps per day.  size diapers. size 6-9 month clothes.  16 lbs, 24.5 inches.

With Cousin Cora, 18 days younger

I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown past and how much you have changed! You hit a number of milestones this month, including moving from your bassinet to a pack ‘n’ play, scooting distances, sitting alone, standing alone (well, leaning up against the coffee table), and introducing solids.  You are still as happy and content as ever, filling our home with giggles, smiles, and an abundance of joy.  I especially love how much your big brother adores you.  When he is grumpy, just one smile from you will instantly change his sour mood into delighted laughter as he joins you wherever you are playing. He especially loves to share his tractors with you and watch you clumsily play with them.

This month, I buckled down on both routines and potty training.  I re-instituted your eat/wake/sleep routines, as well as your bedtime routine.  As usual, you responded instantly to the new routine with as much contentment as ever.  A typical day looks a little something like this:

5:30am – Nurse and right back to sleep

7:00am – Awake! Nurse, potty, dressed for the day

8:00am – Potty, Nap

10:30am – Nurse, potty, awake

12:00pm – Potty, Nap

3:30pm – Nurse, potty, awake

5:00pm – Potty, Nap

5:45pm – Nurse, potty, awake

7:30pm – Potty, Nighttime routine, nurse

You still occasionally randomly wake up in the night, and I either give you your paci or nurse you if you are inconsolable.  Every time you wake from a nap, you nurse, and then I take you to the potty.  You fit perfectly on Shuah’s little potty seat and coo and laugh the whole time you’re pooing and peeing, reaching for your toes and attempting to pull them into your mouth.  If we aren’t heading out any place, I just keep you diaperless during your whole awake time and take you potty when you either give me a sign that you need to go, or once 30-45 minutes have elapsed since you last went.  You go nearly every time I take you, and I am really enjoying the lack of poopy diapers to clean!

You have been growing in leaps and bounds this month!  When you see something you really want (which is nearly everything placed in front of you), your eyes grow large, and you do whatever you can to reach the object of your affection.  You roll and scoot and slide across the floor.  You love playing with your brother’s toys and will stand up all by yourself at the coffee table, turning his toy tractors over and over in your pudgy hands and shoving them in your mouth.  Just a couple of days ago, we sat you up to see if you could sit by yourself.  You quickly took to the new position, self-correcting to the right and left as you began to lean.  You enjoy the new view of the world, but you still would rather stand up!

You have been eyeing food a lot lately, watching us intently as we eat our lunch or dinner, so last week we decided to sit you in the high chair and give you a cooked carrot to experiment with (since we do Baby Led Weaning, we skip purrees altogether and go straight to table food).

You rolled it around your tray for a bit, grasping it with your little fingers and pulling it to your mouth.

Once you got it in there, you weren’t so sure about it!

Whenever you are awake during a meal now, we let you sit in your high chair with us, put some food on your tray, and you explore the texture and taste.

You are growing and changing so quickly now, it is hard to not want you to just stay little.  But I know with each new day, you grow more into the person God has created you to be, and I rejoice in that.  You are our Sweetie Punkin Pie, our Little Princess Piglet, and we love you more every day.