April 24, 2017

spring break in Georgia

We had plans to go to Georgia over labor day weekend, but then a hurricane went and rolled through, and Christopher's grandma passed away, so we postponed our trip.  Thankfully because of the hurricane we were able to change our flights without any fees, and got to use the tickets to get away over spring break.

I'd have to say this was one of the more relaxing trips we've taken to the island.  I'm not sure why, but it just was.  Travel went pretty darn well despite having to leave for the airport at 4am.  Our days typically went beach, home for lunch, pool while Thea napped, shower and head out to dinner.  Certainly not a bad life to be living.  Things to note, as usual I had a couple of non sleepers who were up before the sun, so Ryann, Elsie and I walked the beach one more to watch the sun rise.  They weren't as impressed as I hoped they would be, but it was fun and beautiful!  Also, the last time we were in Georgia Thea was a total beach lover.  This time she absolutely refused to walk on the sand in her bare feet.  She kept walking around saying "eeew! eeew! eeew!" and crying until I put some shoes on her.  We grabbed a pair of water shoes at Target, but like almost every other pair of water shoes we've ever tried (with all three girls!), they gave her blisters.  Oh and feeding the birds was a new one this time, I hated it, the girls loved it.  Surprise surprise.

GeorgiaMarch17
GeorgiaMarch17_2web
GeorgiaMarch17_3web
GeorgiaMarch17_4web
GeorgiaMarch17_5
GeorgiaMarch17_6
GeorgiaMarch17_7
GeorgiaMarch17_8
GeorgiaMarch18_9
GeorgiaMarch18_10
GeorgiaMarch17_11
GeorgiaMarch17_17
GeorgiaMarch17_18
GeorgiaMarch17_12

Tried really hard for a good sister picture in their mermaid suits.  This is as good as it was going to get!  Thea was absolutely not having any of it.

GeorgiaMarch17_20
GeorgiaMarch17_19
GeorgiaMarch17_21

They're still pretty dang cute though.  :o)

 GeorgiaMarch17_15
GeorgiaMarch17_16
GeorgiaMarch17_13
GeorgiaMarch17_14web

Someday I hope we'll vacation other places than just Georgia.  But we certainly love going to the island, and have such a good time when we're there.  Thea found a bucket in the garage recently, and has been walking around the house 'looking for seashells'.  I can't wait to go back again this summer!

April 18, 2017

baby number four {part one}

Those of you who follow me on instagram already know that I went through a miscarriage in early January.  Though she was only physically part of my life for eight weeks (twelve if you count before I knew I was pregnant), she will be a part of my heart forever.  This is her story.

I am writing about pregnancy loss and I am going to be blunt.  If this is something that may bother you, please don't read.  I know these kind of things aren't for everyone, but I struggled with (and still struggle with) how I was supposed to feel.  There isn't a right or wrong way to feel, or to heal, but this is my experience.

After Thea was born Christopher and I went back and forth on whether or not we wanted a fourth child.  I'd always dreamed of four.  When I first bought stockings for our fireplace I bought six, just in case.  Ironically I now hate those stockings, but since we already have them I'm going to get some use out of them!  But after three girls he was a little reluctant to pull the trigger again, not to mention three was already exhausting.  Did we really want to add another to the chaos?  I was about 14 months post baby when my cycle returned, and we decided we'd be pretty lax about the whole thing for a few months.  Not trying, not preventing, as they say.

One day I was shopping for Collins' birthday.  I asked Sarah if she had anything she wanted, and Sarah sent me a link to an Amazon wishlist (smart lady).  On the list was newborn diapers.  Initially I got excited that Sarah might be pregnant, but then I remembered that Collins loves to put diapers on all her baby dolls.  I texted Sarah all of this, and she responded back with, "Well, we actually might need those diapers come July." I was thrilled!  I love babies and I love Sarah so winning, right?  I was so so excited.  At some point during our exchange I mentioned that I was nearing day 40 of my cycle.  To which she shot back "why haven't you taken a pregnancy test?!"  Because my first cycle after Elsie was born was like 70 days long.  I wasn't expecting anything.  She asked me a couple more times over the next few days before I caved and ordered some test strips off Amazon.  I'd probably need a few at some point anyway.

In the evening on the day they arrived (November 9th) I figured what the hell and decided to dip one.  I was shocked when the test line showed up before the control line.  Naturally, I assumed the test was defective.  They are cheap tests.  So I dipped another one in the cup.  Same result.  For good measure I dipped a third.  All three tests were obviously positive.  I couldn't believe it.  I was in the bathroom by myself laughing, in total disbelief.  I immediately sent Sarah a text with just a picture of the tests (sorry Chris!).  I can't remember exactly how our exchange went, but I was just so dang surprised, and excited at the same time.  It was perfect!  Sarah and I could be pregnant together.  We were going to have four babies, it was decided.

Once the initial utter shock wore off I realized I should probably let my other half in on the excitement.  I debated for a brief second about coming up with something cute to tell him, said to hell with it, walked downstairs and laid the positive pregnancy tests on the desk where he was working.  I'm pretty sure he looked at me with big eyes, let out a "seriously?" and then a huge smile spread across his face.  We hugged and chatted and I'm sure I said "I can't believe it" 9 million times.  I was so surprised I think my brain blacked out for a little bit.  Ha.

Being perfectly honest, by the next morning I was terrified.  Four kids.  What on Earth were we thinking?!? Thea had literally just started sleeping through the night and stopped nursing.  I still felt like I never had any time to myself.  The baby year is HARD.  Also I still didn't really believe those cheap tests (even though I used them with my last three pregnancies), so a Target run was thrown on the day's to-dos.  I think Chris texted me twice asking me if I'd taken a 'real' test twice before I finally snuck off to the bathroom to get it done.  Sure enough, 'pregnant' popped up on the digital screen.  I was shocked yet again.  This was legit.  I really was pregnant.

Since I wasn't really sure how far along I was, and that test line was relatively dark, I wanted to get in to the doctor for an HCG draw.  But that meant picking an OB in town.  I loved my doctor in Kansas City, she was the perfect amount of peppy and to the point.  She didn't do any unnecessary hand holding, but she wasn't a jerk either.  And she had an open mind when it came to treating her patients.  Beyond that I just hate change, so the thought of not using the same doctor stunk.  However I knew that it didn't make a whole lot of sense to drive an hour+ for appointments when there were perfectly capable doctors and hospitals in town.  Chris did some asking around and came home with the name of an OB that he thought I might mesh with.

I called the office the following morning.  They told me to go ahead and come in for blood work when I had a chance, and scheduled my first appointment for December 15th.  Because I had a previous chemical pregnancy, and then low progesterone in my first trimester with Thea, I requested they check those levels as well.  At first it didn't seem like the doctor was going to agree with it, which made me hesitant to trust her, but later it was added to the orders.  I was anxious to hear numbers, so as soon as I was off the phone with them, I got myself, Elsie and Thea ready and we were on our way to the office.  I was nervous that Elsie would say something to my parents about going to the doctor with me, so I told her I was getting a flu shot.  I don't think she ever said anything to them, but I'm pretty sure she told Christopher.  I'm pretty sure that line was Sarah's idea, so thanks for that one!  :)  That afternoon I got a call from the doctor's office.  HCG was around 1500.  Shoot!  I mean that number is still a great first number, but I was hoping for something closer to 6000.  They won't do an ultrasound until HCG is above 6000, and I definitely wanted a dating sono.  It wasn't until Monday that they called with my progesterone, but it was 16 which the doctor was happy with.  They ordered another blood draw for November 22nd, and scheduled the ultrasound for November 23rd.

Again, I can't lie, I still had a 'what have we done' feeling swirling around for a couple of weeks.  I was just nervous about taking care of four kids, loving them all, giving them enough time, while still keeping an ounce or two of my own sanity.  I didn't connect to the pregnancy quickly.  I didn't take any 'bump' photos (not that there was much to see, but come on, I started at like 4 weeks with all three girls), I didn't write anything down.  It doesn't mean I didn't start imagining our life with four kids, and what it might be like.  But I just couldn't really connect.  Connection or not, symptoms hit me hard the following week.  Suddenly I was absolutely exhausted.  I was falling asleep as soon as the girls were in bed, and struggling to wake up by 7am.  All food was repulsive, and I was so nauseous.  Seriously, water and chocolate both tasted gross to me.  Completely unlike me.  Headaches were also a problem.  I was taking tylenol every six hours, b6 + unisom daily, and occasionally other anti nausea meds to keep from being non functional and throwing up.  I've struggled with headaches and nausea in all my pregnancies, but this was definitely different.  Also, I craved sour patch kids like crazy, or really the sour patch watermelons.  I usually hate stuff like that.  It was nuts.   Thus, we assumed it was a boy.  I was also obsessed with the gouda bacon breakfast sandwich from Starbucks.  They sounded good ALL THE TIME.  I ate so many in the short time I was pregnant.

All the times that they could get me in for an ultrasound, I was going to need childcare, so we had to tell my parents our news.  I wasn't sure how anyone was going to react, so I was hesitant to start spreading the news, but I needed help so...  One evening when we were having dinner at my parents, we told them we had to discuss summer plans.  Once we separated the big girls from all of us adults I said to my mom, "I don't think we'll be able to travel to Georgia in July, because I'm pregnant."  Both of my parents flashed the absolutely shocked look across their face.  Haha.  We chatted for a bit, all sorts of disbelief of a fourth, but they claimed to be excited ;).  Love you mom!  On the 22nd I went in for my repeat blood draw, HCG was over 50,000.  YES.  That is exactly what I wanted to hear.  I started googling average HCG numbers by week and was hoping I was seven weeks along.

The next morning my mom came over to watch the girls, and I headed to the doctor's office.  I was nervous, isn't everyone before seeing their baby for the first time?  When I got to the office I barely had to wait, it went so quick.  I went back to the ultrasound room, she got the image up on the screen, and said, "there is your baby!  And there is the heart beat."  The baby measured 6 weeks 1 day (dang, I was off by a week!) and the heart was just over 100 bpm.  Relief definitely flooded through my body.  Everything else looked good, I had a small SCH, but it was most likely from implantation and she wasn't worried.  Printed me a couple pictures and I was on my merry little way in like five minutes.  My official due date was July 18th.  Whoa.  We were going to have two under two.  Only for a few weeks, but yikes!  That was never something I had anticipated.  At the same time it would be nice to get through the baby years.  I love babies, and I do believe there is another piece to our family puzzle, but man, big kid years sound kind of nice too!


Baby4Ultrasound
baby four at 6 weeks 1 day

Over the next couple of weeks I continued to feel like crap, things seemed to be progressing normally, and we told a few friends.  It was so strange though, it was almost like in the back of my head I knew I'd be having to spread bad news in not that long.  I tried to ignore the feeling, I'm a constant worrier and a pessimist so I think I'd have those feelings no matter what.  But it was such a nagging feeling.  However chatting about baby four with the few friends that knew was so fun.  I still didn't feel a strong connection to the pregnancy, but I was definitely getting more excited.  Figuring out who would sleep in what room, who was going to share, all that stuff.  I started planning it all out in my head.  At nine weeks exactly I decided to break out my doppler.  I know it can be tough to find the heartbeat when the baby is that tiny, but I was successful with both Elsie and Thea that early so I had to give it a try.  It took me a while, but I managed to find it briefly.  Hearing the heartbeat, in that moment, it became even more real.

Two days later I had my first appointment.  It was with a nurse practitioner, not the OB I was going to be seeing, but she was nice and the appointment was pretty straight forward.  We chatted about my medical history, she went over the medicines I'd been taking, everything looked fine.  She was able to quickly find the heartbeat with the doppler in the office, and said it was in the 160's.  The next afternoon I got a call from the OB's office.  My doctor had reviewed my chart, and based on my history of gestational hypertension she prescribed one baby asprin a day throughout the pregnancy.  I was a little surprised by this, as it was never mentioned to me at all by my previous doctor.  I said alright, but did my own googling and asking of the doctor husband.  From what we could find, it was generally prescribed for people with a history of clotting disorders, pre-eclampsia, or recurrent miscarriage.  Gestational hypertension was not mentioned in anything we read, and my pregnancies had always been rather uneventful until 34ish weeks.  I decided not take the asprin, and planned to talk to my doctor at my next appointment.

Honestly, that decision will haunt me on and off for years to come I'm sure.  Would taking the asprin have allowed baby better blood flow?  Would her heart have kept beating?  Why didn't I just call the office and ask more questions right away?  Learn more of the risks?  I'll never have any answers.  Chris hates that it is something in my head.  And had I been taking the asprin and something still had happened, I might have wrongly blamed that.  I just can't get it out of my mind.

The following Tuesday (December 20th) I went back to the office for my blood draw.  They also took blood to send off for the early genetic testing.  I was slightly hopeful that maybe the results would come back before the weekend (didn't happen), because after going back and forth we had decided to tell the girls about the pregnancy on Christmas morning.  We both would have preferred to wait until 12-13 weeks to tell them, but Christmas just seemed like the fun time to do it.  Also, I was starting to develop a small belly, and I didn't need anyone blurting it out or them randomly asking questions without us getting to tell the girls in our own way.  We decided to wrap up a big sister shirt as one of Thea's Christmas presents.  We hid it on the bottom of the pile so it was the last one to be opened.  I would try to describe their reactions, but the video is just so much better...

IMG_9745

Is that not hilarious?  In reality Thea was all stranger danger about my brother, and apparently he looked at her wrong or something.  But it was just so perfect.  And Ryann, oh man, too fun.  Elsie reacted pretty much as I expected.  Didn't care a bit!

Ryann and Elsie were so cute.  Ryann kept asking me how big the baby was, among other random questions, and just loved me telling her what fruit it was the size of.  I think 11 weeks was a lime, and when I pulled a lime out of the fridge to show her she was just amazed making the connection.  The two also started making plans about when they were going to share a room 'for real'.  They had been sleeping in bunk beds in Elsie's room, but those were going to move to Ryann's room and they'd share that one.  And Elsie started coming up to me and kissing my belly here and there.  It was so fun and sweet.

The Thursday after Christmas (December 29th) I had a couple of girlfriends and their kiddos over.  During our play date I got a call from my OB's office, the genetic testing was in!  The nurse told me over the phone that all the genetic testing had come back normal, and that there was an envelope at the front desk with the sex of the baby sealed inside.  Of course the three of us got super excited and giddy, and I was thrilled to hear baby was healthy!  As luck would have it Chris only works half days on Thursdays, and we had plans to be near the OB's office that afternoon.  So on our way, we stopped by the office and I ran in and grabbed the envelope.  Chris wasn't ready to open it.  I mean, three girls in, he needed to be able to process either way.  He wanted to open it after the girls were in bed, with a drink in hand.  Lol.  So the envelope just sat there, nagging me for the rest of the day.  :)  Actually I wasn't too anxious to open it, of course I wanted to know, but I was perfectly fine letting Christopher take the lead and waiting.

Finally after the girls were in bed, we were standing at our kitchen island.  We both had nerves going, but eventually Chris worked up the guts to open the envelope.  He took one look at it, laughed, tossed it at me and said "seriously?!"  I wasn't quite sure how to take that so I scanned the paper.  "XX - FEMALE".  A GIRL!  It was another girl!!  For the love oh my goodness we were going to have FOUR GIRLS.  I gave Chris some hugs.  You know he was disappointed.  He didn't say it, he tried not to show it, but he was really hoping for a son.  Honestly the idea of an all girl tribe is thrilling to me, but at the same time I know how badly Chris would like to have a boy so it was bittersweet.  But nonetheless we knew.  It was a girl.  She'd be just shy of two years younger than Thea.  All those new clothes I bought for Thea, I could use for the new baby.  And all the bows!  Haha.  We texted our parents and a few of our friends.  I'm pretty sure that provided some laughs for everyone.  The odds of conceiving four girls are rather low, but at the same time each baby you have of the same sex increases the chances that the next baby will also be the same sex.  So there's that.

That night I broke out the doppler again (really I had been every few days).  It still took me a bit, but when I found the heartbeat I whispered, "hi baby girl."  My daughter.  That heart that was beating was my daughter's.  That was the last time I heard that sweet sound.

We waited until Saturday, New Year's Eve, to tell the girls.  Ryann had really been hoping for a brother, I'm not exactly sure why, and it hadn't just been for that pregnancy.  She has just been regularly asking us when she was going to have a brother.  So Chris went to the grocery store and bought pink balloons and pink candy, hoping the candy aspect would mask the fact that is wasn't a boy.  Haha.  They took it pretty well!  When they opened the package Ryann said, "well at least we can still have lots of glittery things.  I like glitter."  Me too girl, me too.  That night we went to a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house and let them in on our secret.  On Sunday I ran into Ryann's kindergarten teacher at Target.  We told her that I was pregnant, because she has four girls too, and Ryann was so excited to have a family like Mrs. G.

Baby4GirlPic

Monday night (January 2nd) I tried to use my doppler again.  I spent a LONG time looking and just could not find the heartbeat.  In my gut I knew something wasn't right, but I tried to stay calm.  Baby girl was still little, and at just shy of 12 weeks my uterus could have been on the move a bit.  Maybe the heart was in a different spot and I just wasn't finding it.  I tried again on Tuesday.  No luck.  I was getting scared, but again, tried to stay positive.  Suddenly on Wednesday morning, I was hit with a huge wave of anxiety.  I couldn't think straight, I felt like I couldn't breathe.  When Elsie and Thea were in their rooms for quiet time I tried again with the doppler.  I spent a solid 20 minutes trying to find the heartbeat.  Nothing.  I texted Chris, begging him to bring home the portable ultrasound from his office.  I couldn't keep wondering.  I couldn't function.

Once we knew the girls were asleep, I laid on the bed and Chris got out the ultrasound machine.  I felt like I was going to throw up.  He put the wand on my belly and his eyes lit up a bit, "there she is!"  But just a few seconds later he was silent.  I can't remember how our whole exchange went, but I knew she was gone.  He kept searching, looking for any signs of life.  But there were none.  No blood flow near the heart or the umbilical cord.  Nothing.  I felt so numb.  She looked perfect.  Just like a 12 week baby should, with her little hands curled up by her face, her legs tucked in under her.  Just a perfect little baby.  But her body was just twitching with my pulse.  That lifeless image, her just twitching, I think it will forever be burned in my memory.

We laid together for a while.  I didn't cry at first.  I was just shocked.  Immediately I was stressed about telling the girls.  What was I supposed to say?  How do I say it?  How was this happening?  How after hearing the heartbeat so many times, how after normal genetic results, how with all my symptoms, how was this happening?  Why was this happening?  What did I do wrong?  I couldn't lay there anymore.  I needed to move.  What I wanted to do in that moment is run away and never come back.  But I settled for cleaning.  I stayed up far too late just cleaning and crying.  Eventually I gave in to exhaustion and went to bed.

April 5, 2017

ryann is seven!

My first born is seven.  SEVEN!  I can't believe I've been a mom for seven years.  I'm still waiting to feel like a true adult, however having a first grader definitely makes me feel a little more legit.  I'm clipping box tops and signing report cards and taxing kids from this activity to that activity, but still refusing to ever drive a minivan. :)

Ryann's birthday fell on a school day again this year, so I couldn't spoil her with too many activities, but we did kick the day off chocolate chip sprinkle pancakes (but later she said she wished she would have just asked for plain pancakes), bacon, and red delicious apple slices.  She got to open a small gift (Pokemon cards, never enough Pokemon cards I guess), and then we sent her off to school.  For school birthday treats she requested glazed donuts, no sprinkles or frosting or anything.  Just glazed.  So I picked up two dozen donuts along with a McDonalds Mighty Kids Meal (chicken nuggets, apple slices, and chocolate milk) and met my girl at school for lunch.

Ryann7thBirthday1
Ryann7thBirthday2
Ryann7thBirthday3
Ryann7thBirthday4 

Chris only worked a half day so he could be home when Ryann got off the bus.  She chatted with Auntie on facetime, and as soon as Grammy came over she was ready to rip into her presents.  Now Ryann claims to love a wide variety of toys, but honestly she spends most of her time crafting and reading.  Our gifts reflected that, along with a Pokemon lunch box and a Tsum Tsum 'onesie' as Ryann calls it.  I died a little when I purchased it, but she had been asking me for 'onesie' pajamas for quite some time, and she has some sort of obsession with Tsum Tsums, so I went with it.  Girlfriend has worn it like every other day since she opened it.  Wouldn't you know pajama day happen just a week after she had it, so she has managed to wear it out in public as well.  Hold me.

We went round and round on what to do for dinner, but ultimately she settled on Olive Garden.  When I asked her what she wanted to eat, she very blankly said "breadsticks."  Like duh, woman, the whole reason we are coming is for the breadsticks.  Haha.  I think most people go to Olive Garden solely for the breadsticks.  She also had some calamari.  That kid doesn't like a lot of different foods but she loves calamari.  For her birthday dessert Ryann requested an ice cream bar at our house, and also asked that her friend, Lizzie, be in attendance.  A few days prior to her birthday she made a little toppings menu, and her face lit up that evening when she realized we actually got everything on her menu.  Wouldn't you know, Ryann basically picked the gummy bears and worms out of the ice cream and didn't eat the actual ice cream.  Thea wouldn't eat the ice cream either, just wanted M&Ms.  But Elsie and Lizzie enjoyed the ice cream bar.  I would have loved to pull her from school and take her to a movie or something fun, but I'm a rule follower and I think she still had a pretty good day.

Ryann7thBirthday5
Ryann7thBirthday6
Ryann7thBirthday7
Ryann7thBirthday10
Ryann7thBirthday11

Ryann is still our most petite child.  I don't have an measurements, she won't go to the doctor until July, but she is pretty solidly in size six clothes.  She still has fives that fit without issue, and a few things that are a 6-7 work ok.  But in general stuff if pretty baggy on her, she definitely didn't get her slim frame from me!  Recently her size 6 leggings are starting to look too short, along with fitted pajamas, so I know she is getting taller.  I've just started buying size 1 shoes, but she can still wear 13s too.

I put Ryann through a short birthday interview...

What is your name?  Ryann Elizabeth.
How old are you?  7.
What is your favorite breakfast?  Pancakes.
What is your favorite lunch?  McDonalds.
What is your favorite dinner?  Breakfast for dinner!
What is your favorite sweet treat?  Ice cream.
What is your favorite candy?  Gummy everything.
Who is your best friend?  Lizzie!
What is your favorite show?  Paw Patrol.
What is your favorite movie?  Moana.
What is your favorite activity?  Girl Scouts.
Why do you like Girl Scouts?  Um, I don't know.
What is your favorite book?  Unicorn on a Roll
What is your favorite subject in school?  Art and library.
What do you like to do in your free time?  Color, draw, read a book, or watch something on youtube.
What is your favorite thing to wear?  Tshirts and shorts.
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A tattoo artist.

Going back over last year's post, not a ton has changed.  Ryann has maybe become more opinionated and independent, but much of her personality remains the same.  She tends to have a dramatic flare when it comes to anything negative.  She is also a total goofball and loves to be silly.  She isn't shy and doesn't know a stranger.  In the first grade music program she had a short rap solo, and she killed it.  Seriously.  She loves glitter and accessories, but she isn't interested in dresses.  I'd say she is more of a punk rock/comfortable kind of girl style wise.  She isn't always a huge fan of her sisters, but she can be very helpful when I need her to be.  She is incredibly dramatic every time I ask her to clean up something or when I say we need to fix her hair.  Both are very much hated.  She also gives me an extremely hard time with homework.  Every single dang night she throws a fit and tells me how much she hates homework.  Lucky for her it generally takes less than five minutes.

She is still a stellar student, seems to grasp every concept thrown at her, and is overall kicking butt at school.  Reading is 100% her forte.  I'm not sure the grade level she is at, but her teacher said her ability is well beyond what is maybe appropriate content wise for her age.  She can finish one of her chapter books in an hour sometimes.  Favorites have included the Billie B series, Critter Club, and Heidi Hecklbeck books.  For her birthday we bought a copy of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.  I wasn't sure that it would be her cup of tea but she has loved it.  She is somewhere in the M's, and so far her favorite woman has been Hilary Clinton. 

The only class at school Ryann has had any negative remarks in, is gym.  Not all that surprising when talking about my girl who would much rather sit and read or color.  She is, well, kind of lazy too.  Which explains why she hated soccer.  "Mom the games are too long and I have to run way too much."  Their games consisted of four 7 minute quarters and she only had to play two of them.  HA!

RyannSelfPortrait2017
a recent self portrait, at Dunkin Doughnuts perhaps?  :)

Ryann is also still doing dance and gymnastics.  I thought she was going to quit dance last year, but something persuaded her to give it one more try.  She doesn't seem to hate it quite as much this year, but at the same time I can tell she doesn't love it.  Four years is a pretty solid trial period, so I suppose if she tells me no more dance, I better listen.  Wah wah.  Ry seems to be enjoying gymnastics, but there are some days she isn't even all that interested in it either.  I think she is able to see that sometimes stuff is difficult for her, and is embarrassed that it is hard/doesn't really want to put in the effort to improve.  As she said Girl Scouts is her favorite activity.  I wound up as the troop leader this year.  She loves having me there, but I don't feel like she responds to the lessons as well, and I don't exactly feel like I'm doing the best job as a leader.  I'm not sure what is going to happen with their troop going forward.

Miss Ryann still absolutely loves to draw.  Over the last year she has really enjoyed watching a variety of drawing videos and trying to mimic their styles.  I'm hoping this summer we can get her into an art camp.  I'd love to find someone who can teach her to explore other mediums.  I truly believe art is something she will really excel at, and I'd love to see where she could take her abilities.  She loves when they have art at school, and comes home telling me all about the different artists they discussed that day.

Overall I just can't get over how grown up Ryann is becoming.  She is starting to really understand world concepts, and grasp some of the negative realities of society.  It is tough to know how to best parent them through these things.  I would love to keep her innocent as long as possible, but if I don't talk to her she'll hear it from someone else.  And on a smaller level she is just so much more aware of the social aspects of school.  Worries if people will like her clothes (though I still question some of the outfits she leaves the house in!), scared that someone will make fun of her for something, notices when someone leaves her out.  I hate it.  Where is the happy fun loving bubble we can hide in?  She is lucky to have made some amazing friends with amazing families who I adore.  I'm grateful for those friendships that allow her to grow in life with confidence.

Ryann7thBirthday8

Ryann, when you came into my life seven years ago, you changed me.  I am a better person because of you.  We butt heads a lot and we don't see eye to eye, but I wouldn't be who I am without you, and I am so very grateful I get to be your mom.  I love you more than you'll ever know.

April 4, 2017

thea - twenty months

I was late taking her pictures, it was a gloomy day, and Thea had absolutely ZERO interest in being cute for me.  So you get what you get.  If all else fails her life is pretty well captured on instagram and in our chatbooks.  So there's that.

Thea_20months1

This child is going to freaking turn two in less than four months.  I can't believe it.  She is still my baby!  And she is even starting to grow some actual hair so pretty soon I bet she'll look older too.  Time is such a jerk.

Slowly but surely 18-24 month clothing is starting to seem a little on the small side.  I need to get out all the 2T bins so the smaller 2Ts have a chance to be worn!  Size 5 diapers, size 5-6 shoes, all her teeth except her two year molars, and still the sleep champion in our house.  Thea slept for 12 hours straight last night.  Say what?!?!?  I know many children do that on the regular, but no my children.  For the most part she has been sleeping about 7:45pm to 6:30 pm.  In the grand scheme of sleep shenanigans, I'll take it.  She also naps from 12:45 to between 3 and 4pm daily.  I can wake her up early from nap without too much flack later on that evening, but I try not to.  The more she sleeps the less she is trust falling off of various pieces of furniture.

Thea_20months3

Really Thea's ability to clearly say words hasn't increased, but the amount of words she says goes up every week.  She has started speaking in mostly two to three word sentences, and everything once in a while has strung together four words.  I keep forgetting to write down what her little sentence was though.  She repeats me all the time.  I try to narrate what were doing as much as possible without sounding like a complete idiot, and she repeats at least the last word of every sentence.  Let's me know I'm not constantly talking to myself.  Lol.  One of my favorite phrases Thea has used the last month is "I a mermaid!"  I got her a mermaid swimsuit for the summer and we tried it on.  Now she is obsessed with mermaids and if anything seems remotely mermaid-ish she says "I a mermaid!"  If I thought she'd actually enjoy a pool party we'd definitely be having a mermaid birthday party this year.

Thea_20months6

Instead of mermaids, I think we might go a food themed route.  Food truly is the way to this girls heart, so a party centered around one of her favorites (donuts or ice cream) seems like a good plan.  Thea continues to be incredibly picky, and has zero interest in trying new foods.  I shouldn't, but I've pretty much given up on offering her vegetables.  She gets so mad.  So squeeze pouches are where it's at.  Donuts and M&Ms are definitely her two favorite foods.  Mac n cheese and cheese quesadillas come in at a close second.  She likes a decent variety of fruits, but doesn't love it near as much as the other girls seemed to at that age.  Carbs make her happy, meat is lame.  I try to remind myself that I was a SUPER picky eater as a kid, not all hope is lost forever.  But it drives me crazy that Chris and I eat a pretty wide variety of healthy foods and Thea (and Ryann) is disgusted with them.

Thea is now counting to three.  If I ask her to count something she says "One, two, three, two, one, two... yay!" So proud of herself.  :)  Maybe by next month we'll be up to five.  She may or may not know some shapes.  The other day I was drawing various shapes (circle, square, oval, rectangle, triangle, heart, star) on a piece of paper, then I asked her to point to specific ones.  9 times out of 10 she got it right.  I don't really know how, I haven't done much with shapes around her.  I've been trying to nail down colors, but most of the time she just throws out random ones when I ask.  Although she is still pretty good about picking out yellow things.  Maybe yellow is her favorite color?

Thea_20months4

For a long time Thea has loved baby dolls, but has had little interest in real babies.  In the last two weeks though, every time she sees a real baby out and about she gets super excited and wants to see them.  Some of my sorority sisters were over this weekend and Thea couldn't get enough of "Baby Dune (June)."  At one point June was looking at an object and Thea said "Baby Dune dat Ellow (yellow)." It was absolutely adorable.  She is also currently very into classifying things as a mommy and a baby.  If there is a big flower and a little flower on a picture, it is a mommy and a baby, a big animal and a little animal, a big car and a little car.  Whatever it is, the bigger one is the mommy, the littler one is the baby.  She did decide two snowmen on her plate were a daddy and a baby, so gender classifications are starting to enter her understanding.

Thea_20months5

Thea thinks taking her shirt off in the middle of a meal is hilarious.  She enjoys copying her sisters all the time, but won't be persuaded by them to do anything she doesn't want to do.  Tutus are still the accessory of choice, with her bracelets a close second.  Shoes are also an exciting item, but her favorites are her Freshly Picked moccasins.  One of her new favorite books is Princess of the Potty, but if you ask her if she wants to sit on the real potty it is solid hell no.  We've stuck her on it a couple of times, but she usually freaks out.  She almost never wants my help with anything, little miss independent.  Diaper and clothing changes are still basically an act of war and I avoid them as much as possible.  She knows lots of the songs from Moana and loves to watch the movie, but the Frozen characters still hold a big place in her heart.

Thea_20months2

Shes a snuggly little spitfire, a character for sure.  Sweet and stubborn and I wouldn't change a thing.  I love you Thea!

March 23, 2017

elsie's pokemon 4th birthday party

After giving birth to three girls, I can absolutely tell you I never thought I'd be planning a Pokemon birthday party.  Granted I've planned a glittery dinosaur birthday party and a school bus party, so I shouldn't be all that surprised.  But Pokemon?  I dragged and dragged and DRAGGED my feet on this one.  Ryann and Elsie became obsessed with Pokemon after Christopher let them watch a few episodes of the old cartoon (which turned into many many MANY episodes).  Elsie now loves Pikachu and naturally had to have a Pokemon birthday party.  But as much as I threw a fit about this theme, I'd venture to say everything turned out pretty well.  We didn't go too over the top, but it worked and the kiddos had a great time!

Elsie4thBirthdayParty9

A friend made Elsie's Pikachu dress and I think it is so stinkin' cute.  Just another perfect way to girlie up the Pokemon theme.  It is made out of a t-shirt that I bought at WalMart.  Her bow is by Zozu Baby.  And I made the streamer background much like I made the one for Thea's birthday party.  Since I was hanging this one indoors up against a wall, I just taped the silver mylar curtain straight to the wall.  Then I tied the streamers to a clothes line and used command hooks to hang it to the wall.  Minimal effort, big impact.  I've used 2-3 rolls of crepe paper per color on both backdrops I've made.

Elsie4thBirthdayParty2
Elsie4thBirthdayParty4
Elsie4thBirthdayParty3
 Elsie4thBirthdayParty8
Elsie4thBirthdayParty7
Elsie4thBirthdayParty6

The party was from 11-1, so we served lunch.  On the menu was Panera mac n cheese, two different tortilla roll-ups, fruit, veggies and little smokies.  Desserts for the party included sugar cookies made by my friend Jenny, oreo truffles courtesy of my mom, and a chocolate cake with red frosting made by Jennifer.  I'm so grateful to have friends and family that can cook and bake.  I can make brownies.  I can make chocolate chip cookies.  But beyond that it's a toss up.  Elsie wanted lemonade to drink so we took the easy way out and bought some lemonade!

Most of the decorations were just random red, yellow and black items that we grabbed last minute at Party America and Target.  I found the idea for the favor bags on Pinterest.  I didn't follow their instructions, just created the different pieces I'd need in my silhouette software and used the machine to cut them out.  Elsie was able to help me put them together with double stick tape.  After had the first one done she looked at me with a huge smile and said "Mommy you are AWESOME!"  It doesn't take much to please kiddos and it sure is fun.

The Pikachu headbands below also came from Pinterest.  In her instructions she says to cut the rectangles 1.5 inches by 12 inches, but later in the comments she mentions only getting about 6 rectangles per sheet.  And the 16 inch ribbons plus only 12 inches of foam didn't go all the way around Elsie's head.  I think the rectangle is supposed to be cut on the 18 inch side of the foam.  We didn't do these as an activity at the party, just had them ready to go for the kiddos to wear.

Elsie4thBirthdayParty10
Elsie4thBirthdayParty11
Elsie4thBirthdayParty19
Elsie4thBirthdayParty12
Elsie4thBirthdayParty13

We lucked out with a beautiful February day, so we were able to spend a fair amount of time outside.  Excellent since Elsie's one request was a pinata.  I was trying to figure out how to pull that off inside without destroying anything.  Lol.  We also played pin the tail on Pikachu.

Elsie4thBirthdayParty14
ElsieBirthdayParty15
Elsie4thBirthdayParty16
Elsie4thBirthdayParty17
Elsie4thBdayParty1small
Elsie4thBirthdayParty18

Elsie we had a fabulous time celebrating you turning four.  Can't wait to see what you dream up for your birthday next year.  Love you lots girlfriend!