May 17, 2018

arden - four months

Well that month definitely flew by.  Arden Rae is already four months old!

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Arden's four month well check was Monday, and it went, well enough.  She got two vaccines which she hated, but was soothed with just some snuggles, and the rotavirus oral vaccine, which I'm hoping she didn't spit up too much of.  But the main take away from this appointment was that the little miss is dropping on the growth charts.  Arden weighed in at 11lbs 7oz (4th percentile) and was 23.8 in long (21st) percentile.  I can't find her print out from our weight check that was done at like 10 days, but at 4 days old she was in the 29th percentile for weight, so in my head that isn't THAT far of a drop, even though I know it kind of is.

There are so many variables that are contributing to whether or not her slow weight gain is actually an issue.  She spits up.  All the time.  Right after a feeding.  An hour after a feeding.  As soon as she wakes up.  Hell, during a feeding.  But she isn't really upset about it so thus far it hasn't been an issue.  A laundry issue, and a we always smell like sour milk issue, but not seemingly a health issue.  She has also developed some eczema.  It was noticeable shortly after I finished my Whole30 (so reintroduced a variety of foods), but became awful when the weather warmed up and especially when we went to Disney World.  So that could be food sensitivity or intolerance, or simply environmental. But there is also the fact that my sister is only 4 foot 11.  Both Chris and I lean towards the short or average end.  It is possible that she'll just be small, or have a huge growth spurt somewhere along the lines.  So far, overall, she is still gaining weight and growing so we'll just keep on keeping on.

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Right now Arden is in 3-6 month or 6 month clothing and size two diapers.  We did put one 6 month sleeper from Carter's on her, that must be marked wrong or something, because it was almost ridiculously huge.  Still haven't really ventured into her wearing shoes.  And since it went from being winter to summer in a matter of minutes there isn't much of a reason to keep her feet covered, except for maybe sun protection.  But we have a pretty large pile of cute shoes so maybe I should throw some on just for kicks.  I have actually been putting her in real clothes most days (I should use the term real very lightly, I've been doing just one piece rompers.  Two piece outfits happen almost never) so it wouldn't be ridiculous to put on a pair of shoes.

We had a good run of Arden sleeping 10-11 hours at night, but in the last two weeks those nights are few and far between.  She still isn't a terrible sleeper by any means, usually only waking once in an 11-12 hour stretch, but I can tell we're going through some sleep changes.  I won't do any formal sleep training until six months, so I'm hoping we can hang on to decent sleep until that point.  We haven't transitioned out of the rock 'n play or the swaddle, so I'm guessing it is going to take some sleep training to make it happen.  Arden has mostly been taking three naps a day, sometimes four if a couple of them are pretty short.  Really she has no schedule and I just let her do her thing.  For the most part it is working well enough for us.  She is usually up for about max two hours before she is ready to sleep again.

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Arden still has yet to roll in either direction, but she does roll to her sides now.  And naturally she is rather adorable when she lays on her side.  She can get her head and sometimes her chest pretty high while doing tummy time, but for the most part she just gives up and rubs her face all over the floor.  Her head and neck are pretty strong, but overall I don't think she is as sturdy as the other girls were at this age.  She is gaining more and more control over her hands and arms and has been reaching out for toys, and starting to swat the ones on her play mats.  She has also been grabbing her toes which just makes babies seem so much older.

The sound track to my day now includes this really awesome high pitched screeching noise.  It is rather lovely.  Ha.  It can be cute, for sure, and was definitely funny the first day or so.  But occasionally I actually want to hear what the other girls are saying or try to have a conversation with someone and Arden is just LOUD! :)  Another habit she has picked up, is rubbing/scratching her head when she is tired or nursing.  We've been putting the little newborn mitts on her to keep her from completely destroying her face, but she has still managed to get a good slice in her scalp here and there.

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Her smile is so sweet, and she is fairly quick to give it out.  She intently watches her sisters move about the house, I'm sure trying to discern what on Earth they are doing most of the time.  They're crazy.  She likes to be carried facing out so she can see what is going on.  She smiles when I sing to her.  Bottles still aren't her thing.  Really she is just a content little baby, who hangs out and goes along for the ride.

Arden's big adventure this past month was to Disney World!  Go big or go home right?  She had her first airplane ride, first big trip, first time at Disney World, all before turning four months old.  I was worried that the trip would be miserable because she doesn't love being worn, but all things considered she did really well.  There was a fair amount of crying when she'd get tired and not really want to be in the carrier, and we had to stop several times to nurse, but she slept well at night and spent a good deal of time just hanging out.  She got to ride the Teacups, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo, the Little Mermaid ride, A Nemo ride, Frozen Ever After, Jungle Cruise, go on a safari, probably a couple more I'm forgetting, and watched a few shows.  We never made it back into the park in the evenings because I always felt bad about strapping her in anymore, but ultimately we were very happy with how she (and the other girls!) handled the trip and the straight up exhaustion.  We'll definitely have to go back when Arden can enjoy it too.

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Best baby, I love you so.  Thanks for putting up with your crazy family, and being so easy going.   

May 10, 2018

arden - three months

Wrote the whole post by April 19th, edited the photos, but apparently never put the two together and posted?  Whoops.  Getting it up before she is four months old in two days!

This month didn't fly by as fast as the first two, but still.  Three months old!  Can someone please slow down time?  All of my girls are growing up so fast, I can't stand it.

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Little Miss Arden is still the petite girl of our bunch.  Obviously my scale methods are never all that accurate, but by my estimation she is 10 pounds 9 ounces.  So she gained maybe half a pound over the last month?  Still growing and changing daily, but I'm hoping her growth curve hasn't flattened out too much.  The older girls were between 12.5 and 14 pounds by this point.  Measuring length on my own just isn't worth it.  She is wearing 0-3 month clothing, occasionally something in the 3-6 month range, and a size one diaper.

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My sweet little magical unicorn baby has still been a relatively fabulous sleeper for me.  For a few weeks she mostly slept 10 to 11 hours straight at night.  There were a handful of days that she napped so well that I was waking her just to make sure we fit 4-5 nursing sessions in a day.  The last couple of days haven't been quite as good, but still I have the opportunity to get a decent amount of sleep myself.  Bed time and wake time still vary quite a bit, adjusting for how well she naps throughout the day.  Arden is usually asleep for the night between 8:45-10pm, and up for the day between 7:30-8:30am.  She has only woken once a night a handful of times over the last month, but that time has been completely sporadic.  One night she was up at 12:45am, we've seen 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00am, and once 5:30am.  Each night it took about 45 minutes to feed her and get her back to sleep, but even the night she woke at 12:45am, she still slept until 7:45am.

We sort of attempted to transition to the crib, and at first it was pretty promising.  I started with naps, and the first day she took nearly a three hour nap in the crib.  I was so impressed.  The rest of the day they were pretty short and I think I let her take a nap in the rock n play, but overall, not bad.  That continued for a few days, and I think we had almost a week straight where she napped only in the crib, but was still in the rock n play at night.  Then for a few days she just stopped napping well in the crib, she got over tired and I got frustrated.  Annnd now shes back to being in the rock n play 90% of the time.  I still try to lay her in the crib for at least a nap or two a day, so the space isn't so foreign.  We also moved the rock n play to her room at night without any issue, so we're making progress towards spending the night in her crib?  Maybe?

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Arden usually nurses about five times a day, with a sixth little top off feed, or really, an I'm tired of standing and bouncing and what not before bed so let's take the easy route to get you to sleep.  But she rarely lasts long during that feed, and totally uses me as a human pacifier.  Whatever, I'm over it.  We have also done a little work on her falling asleep on her own.  She has been successful in both the rock n play and the crib, but definitely not consistent.  She does the best in the morning, and ok mid afternoon.  But by late afternoon or the evening she just screams if I set her down.

Girlfriend has been really finding her voice over the past month.  She spends a lot of time cooing in general, and definitely seems to respond when you are talking to her.  I love it so much, and so do her big sisters.  They get a kick out of having a 'conversation' with Arden.  Elsie uses the funniest highest pitch voice ever when she talks to Arden, but it gets her to smile and coo so I guess she likes it.  :)  But by far the best noise I heard all month was a sweet little giggle!  I didn't believe it at first, as I felt it was too early for her to be doing any form of laughing, but it really is a little giggle.  It is tough to get, and if you try too hard she just spits up.  But man, baby giggles, I love them.

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Gross motor skills wise, Arden's head and neck control continues to get better, but that is about it.  No rolling over yet.  She seems like she might be gaining some control of her arms and hands, but it isn't obvious.  She often spends some time just staring at her hands though, watching her little fingers move.  One afternoon while she was flailing around she scratched her face, so I pulled the little mitts of the sleeper over her hands.  I swear she stared at them like "what the heck?!? where did they go?!?" It was rather cute.

We seem to have made it out of flu season unharmed (granted it is still 40 degrees outside.  Get your act together mother nature).  But Arden seems to have picked up a cold that one of the girls brought home from preschool.  Her poor little stuffy nose.  Really that seems to be her only symptom, but it makes it difficult for her to nurse effectively.  And we now know that Arden strongly dislikes the nose frida.  Sorry girl.  We're also dealing with some eczema.  I'm not sure if it has to do with anything I'm eating, just the weather, her being a baby, what.  But it's a bummer.  We're constantly slathering the kid in cream from head to toe.  Arden also has some pretty bad looking spots on her neck, my best guess is from her spitting up and being in the car seat.  It just looks so raw and sad.  I need to figure out a way to protect her little neck from rubbing on the straps too much.

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Love you Miss Arden.

April 14, 2018

elsie jo is five

Really she turned five two months ago, but who is counting, right?  Miss Elsie Jo is now a whole hand old.  Suddenly she is so grown up and getting ready for kindergarten!  Her emotions still get the best of her at times (so do mine, let's be honest), but she can be so sweet with her sisters.  She gets lots of praise from her teachers at school for being an excellent friend and always willing to learn.  She has started reading a bit here and there, loves to try and do math, and still really loves to draw, craft and create.

Elsie participates in dance, soccer and gymnastics.  She never can seem to pick a favorite, and she does a great job at each one.  I think she really likes dance and soccer, because she gets to do both with several of her friends.  Not that she has a problem making friends.  Sometimes she is shy, but for the most part Elsie just loves to have other kiddos to play with and is happy to befriend whoever is around.

To celebrate Elsie's birthday we started off with donuts, opened some presents, took a trip to Kansas City to visit the doll hair salon at American Girl, ate some Panda Express in the food court, opened more presents, had a gymnastics class, and got some Chilis To-Go for dinner (because we had a three week old at the time and we always have a Thea, so public is... fun...).  I think she had a great day!

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Elsie really is a character, and loves to make people laugh. And her genuine laugh is one of my favorites.  She is constantly setting up toys in a big circle to play with.  She'll get out all the Playmobil structures we have (castles, barn, etc) and put them all around her.  And then the Playmobils, her Hatchimals, LOL Dolls, etc, will play amongst them.  When she gets going she can entertain herself for over an hour just playing.  She doesn't like if I'm around while she is playing on her own.  I guess it embarrasses her?  At first I thought she was trying to sneak some sweets by me, but it wasn't the case.  She just doesn't want me around when she is pretending.  If only she could learn to pick up her massive set up of toys when she is done playing.  That sure would be something.

One thing I really love about Elsie, is that she doesn't give up too easily.  Sure she can get frustrated trying new things, but she really has held tight to the concept that if she tries her best she can do hard things.  The way she phrases things to herself makes me believe that they do a great job instilling that at her preschool, but I'm sure part of it is just her nature.  She isn't as near as much of a perfectionist as Ryann is.

For some reason she can never remember her middle name.  Her favorites include tacos, ice cream, watching dumb toy videos on YouTube, all the colors of the rainbow (but mostly red), dates with Daddy on Thursdays and doing 'work' with Papa.  Unikittys are her jam, and Target about blew her mind when the dollar section included mermaid unikittys.  Elsie also love love LOVES her baby Arden.  She tells me a million times a day how cute Arden is, she absolutely loves when she gets her to smile, and overall she is just so sweet with Arden.  A complete 180 from when Thea was born and Elsie didn't care about her one bit.  Girl is growing up on me!

Elsie girl, I can't wait to see how you change over the next year.  I love you so much!

April 8, 2018

elsie's fifth birthday fiesta

Just before Miss Elsie Jo turned five we hosted a little fiesta themed birthday party at our home to celebrate.  Which really just meant chips, queso, tacos and sweets.  Plus sombrerros.  But hey.  I had a three week old and it was snowing.  You do what you can.  Ha.

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Originally Elsie asked me for a 'unikitty hatchimal taco party'.  I wasn't exactly sure how to pull that off, so I nudged her towards her love of tacos and we settled on a fiesta.  I ordered some random fiesta decor off Amazon, my mom picked up some cacti from Home Depot, and we rolled with it.

Our taco meal consisted of your average beef with store bought taco seasoning, along with some slow cooker cilantro lime chicken we made following this recipe. Chris made a giant batch of guacamole that naturally we forgot was in the fridge until over halfway through the party.  Chips, queso and a couple kinds of salsa as well as some fresh cut fruit and veggies rounded out the meal.  The sweets included cookies made by the oh so talented Jenny, churro cupcakes my mom made, and a chocolate cake by Hyvee for good measure.

With Elsie's birthday being in February, it has always been tough to come up with activities for a bunch of kiddos in our home.  Next year we might try to do the party elsewhere (because families keep expanding and I think we had upwards of 16 children plus adults even after some couldn't make it!), but this year I stupidly got brave and decided to let the kids paint pots to go along with the cacti we got as favors.  Thankfully all of my mom friends are champs and helped out and somehow the only children who ended up with paint on them were mine.  Figures.  But the kids did a great job and the pots turned out pretty cute!  Sending them home with a live cactus that actually hurts when you touch it might have been a jerk move, but it just seemed so fitting.

Elsie loved having all her friends over to play, and was genuinely excited but each one of the gifts she received.  That girl my still have a short fuse, but she loves hard and adores all her little friends.  Thanks to everyone who came to help celebrate her birthday, she had a blast!

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March 22, 2018

arden - two months

written March 15th

My baby is already two months old.  That is just ridiculous.  I feel like I anticipated her arrival for so long, and then boom, two months have gone by.

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We had Arden's two month well visit yesterday and I was surprised by her size.  I expected her to be near 11 pounds, but the sweet girl weighed in at 10 pounds and 2 ounces, and measured at just a hair over 22 inches long.  So despite being the largest at birth, she was the smallest of all our girls at two months (see Ryann, Elsie and Thea at two months).  Her weight fell into the 18th percentile, her length into the 27th.  I discussed the amount she spits up with the pediatrician, along with her baby acne, both of which were deemed a non issue (what I expected, they are both just, unfortunate).  Overall she looks very healthy, and just suggested that if I can handle it, to maybe stay away from dairy until she is closer to five months old.  Arden didn't appreciate the shots in the slightest, but we survived and hopefully won't have to go back to the doctor until her four month appointment.

Arden is pretty much in all 0-3 month clothes.  The Could Island brand (from Target) newborn sleepers lasted the longest.  Width wise she still had PLENTY of room, but she just outgrew the limbs.  I felt like we were going to plow through the 0-3 month size, but she must have grown quick in the first few weeks and then slowed down.  She is wearing a size one diaper, and I haven't put any shoes on her at all so I'm not sure where we'd be at in those.

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I suppose I shouldn't be shocked that Arden is the smallest of the four right now, she eats the least and sleeps the most.  She is my little dream baby, I can hardly stand it.  Arden has been giving me at minimum a six hour stretch for well over a week.  Maybe even two.  The last three nights she has slept nine to ten hours straight.  I have no clue why.  I have done nothing differently.  She sleeps in an Ollie Swaddle in the rock 'n play in our room.  I'd love to try her in something flat, or in her crib, but um... I also am really enjoying this whole sleeping thing.  I've been able to work out in the mornings and often even shower.  Right now she is going to bed sometime between 9 and 10pm, and waking up anywhere between 5-7:30am.  If she wakes before 6:00am she has gone right back to sleep and will sleep another three hours.  After 6 it is a bit more unpredictable, but then she'll take a three hour morning nap if we're at home.  The evenings are a little dicey, but she still isn't super crabby.  I look forward to her going to bed a little earlier, but again, I'm getting to sleep so I'm not going to complain.

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Something else that Arden has done that none of the rest of the girls seemed able to, is fall asleep on her own.  It has only happened a handful of times, but we're going to keep practicing over the next couple of weeks.  It takes a bit to get her drowsy (swaddled and bouncing and pacing and such), but she has managed at that point, to go from a fairly alert state to asleep.  My hope is that we can get the hang of putting herself to sleep a bit more, and then work on the transition to the crib.  I go back and forth on when to move her out of our room.  With her sleeping decently at night right now, I don't need the convenience of her being next to me.  At the same time the new recommendations are something silly like having them in your room for the first year.  That ain't gonna happen.  Chris has been sleeping on the couch since she came home from the hospital so that neither of them disturb each other.

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She, in general, is just a more content baby than any of the rest ever were.  It is night and day from Thea.  She will fairly easily go 4 hours between feedings during the day.  I regularly have to wake her from her first nap to make sure we get in a decent number of nursing sessions.  For about the last week, I'd say she nursed 5-6 times a day.  We've tried a bottle once (at six weeks) and it didn't really go over well.  I bought a Tommee Tippee bottle and hope to give that a go sometime soon.  Maybe a different bottle will change her mind?  Fingers crossed, because it would be nice to actually be able to have a date night, or date afternoon, or do anything where I don't feel like I have to be around her just in case she decides she is hungry.  Oh, we're also four for four on pacifier hating kids.  I don't mind it a bit when they're older, but when they're babies I sure wish they'd at least tolerate it!

Arden's eyes definitely seem to have a blue hue to them.  But her hair still looks fairly dark compared to the other three!  I'm trying to wrap my brain around possibly having a brunette.  Ha!  I'm sure there is still time for that to change.  Kiddo has a ton of baby acne, or really the pediatrician called it something else, but her poor face just looks miserable.  And it is incredibly dry all the time, despite lots of aquaphor.  I'm anxious for that to clear up.  Her bottom lip is also split right down the middle, and it just won't heal up.  I'm not sure if it causes her any pain but it sure looks uncomfortable.

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In the last month we celebrated Arden's first holiday, Valentine's day.  But between running to class parties for the other kids (in which I didn't take her because germs) and her sleeping, I only took one measly picture.  Sorry fourth born!  I promise I love you so very much.  I'm so glad that flu season is nearing the end, and now that she has had her vaccines maybe we'll get out a bit more.  At one point I realized the poor kid hadn't left the house in like six days.  Not that she notices or cares, but it is kind of crazy to think about.  And so far she has been pretty great when we do go places so it isn't like it should be scary to go.  Unless you consider Thea in the equation.  She is my wild card.  I kind of want to put her on a leash.

Arden enjoys her bath time, and seems fascinated with her sisters.  Or terrified of them.  One of the two.  Ha.  She lights up when she hears her Daddy's voice.  Tummy time isn't so much her favorite.  She gasps and gags if we go outside and it is the slightest bit windy.

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Sweet girl, I can't get enough of you.  I love you Arden!