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!

March 9, 2018

thea + arden

I get so many questions about how Thea is adjusting to Arden coming home.  And truly, I couldn't be happier with how she has handled the transition.  She hasn't lashed out, and the bulk of her behavior can be attributed to the fact that she A) is 2.5, and B) has some strong willed older sisters whose mannerisms are rubbing off on her.  She tells me Arden is going to be her best friend and she loves to 'gently' rub her head.  If Arden spits up, Thea wants to be the one to wipe it off (sorry about that Arden, I know her spit wiping skills aren't the best).  When I ask Thea if she wants Arden to join us for bedtime, or Daddy to take her, she usually wants Arden in her room.  She has already asked if Arden can sleep in her bed with her.  I'm so proud of Thea and just love watching their relationship form.

photos taken February 8th, Arden was 3 weeks 6 days

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And a couple more photos of Arden because she is cute and I have them...

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February 28, 2018

arden - one month

I wrote this whole post, and I thought saved it to my drafts.  Finally came to add the photos and everything but the first snippet is gone.  I could definitely cry right now.  It is hard to come by time to write! So I'm rewriting it, as best as I can.

Damn you time.  Just like that a month has flown by.  I must have known I'd have another baby after Thea.  While I can't wait to see what each new day brings, I'm definitely mourning every day that goes by.  Arden looks more like a 'real baby' than a newborn already!

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Because her weight gain was great at our follow up weight check (up to 7lbs 7oz) Arden didn't have a one month appointment. Based on our ever inaccurate guess with our home scale, she was right around nine pounds at one month.  She is definitely filling out more and more, maybe just not quite as fast as Thea did.  HA.  Her limbs are too long for a lot of her newborn sleepers, especially if I try to put the mitts over her hands.  But 0-3 and 3 month clothes are so dang baggy.  We just opened up size one diapers because she has been leaking out of the newborns.  But it seems to be a brand issue more than anything.  All of my kids have used Pampers but they don't seem to be working for Arden!

For the most part nursing is going fantastically.  She nurses roughly every 2.5-3 hours throughout the day.  Sometimes she is fussy between then, but I try to keep from feeding her too much because she spits up so much.  So so so so much.  But she seems to be gaining weight just fine and isn't screaming all the time or anything, so I guess we'll just roll with it. We haven't tried a bottle yet, but I'm not having high hopes of it going well.  Just like all the other girls she isn't amused by the pacifier.  When I try to put it in her mouth she starts gagging and acting like I'm killing her.  Better get on the bottle thing before it is too late...

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Sleep has been (knock on wood) not too shabby.  Much like our other children, it is hard for Arden to settle in for a nap during the day.  There isn't any just snuggling to sleep, and holding her or having her on my chest doesn't necessarily keep her asleep.  However when she wakes up to nurse in the middle of the night she goes back to sleep with little to no effort.  And by some miracle the sweet girl has already been giving me a few 5.5-7 hour stretches at night.  I don't know where this magical child came from, but I think I'll keep her.  I had hoped maybe I'd actually start a child on a flat surface so we wouldn't have the dreaded rock 'n play to crib transition, but if I lay her down flat she either just plain wakes up immediately, or spits up, wakes up, and gets the hiccups.  So we're sticking with what works at the moment and she is swaddled in the rock 'n play next to my bed.

I'm going to try not to constantly compare Arden to Thea, but my gosh, Arden is a much easier baby.  Not only was sleep pretty awful with Thea, and she was fussy much more often, she also screamed bloody murder every time she was in the car seat.  Sure Arden can be fussy, but she tolerates being in the car seat really well, and over all is just calmer and more easy going.  Between that and me getting a reasonable amount of sleep, (and a lot of help from my parents) this whole baby thing just seems so much easier.  It is glorious.  Without the help of my parents I no doubt would not be fairing near as well, but they are keeping me sane and us well fed.  :)  So very grateful for them!

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In her first couple weeks of life, Chris compared Arden to a sloth, and the description was hilariously accurate.  She was fairly alert from the beginning, but all of her movements were so slow.  When she would turn her head or move her eyes, it was at a snails pace.  Once he called her a sloth I couldn't help but laugh watching her while she was awake.

Arden must have been born in the wrong month.  That baby doesn't like to be cold in the slightest.  When I'm having a hard time getting her to settle in for a nap, I stand in front of a space heater in our bathroom and sway.  It is like her kryptonite.  She often cries when someone with cold hands touches her.  She also seems fairly content when getting a bath, until you take her out and she gets chilly.  Sometimes we snuggle with big fluffy blankets and she really seems to like it.  I mean, whats not to love about big fluffy blankets but still.

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Her sisters most definitely adore her.  I think Elsie says "Arden is sooo cute," at minimum ten times a day.  Ryann and Thea tell me she is cute too.  They have all been fairly helpful with her too, if I ask them to grab a diaper or a burp cloth, things of that nature.  They also enjoy holding her, however everyone has become a wee bit nervous about getting spit up on.  Elsie was holding her one afternoon and Arden spit up all over Elsie's hand.  I thought Elsie was going to throw her for a second!  She recovered quickly though.

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Arden, sweet sweet baby girl, I am so thankful God sent you to me.  My heart needed you so much.  Me, your dad, your sisters, we are so happy you are a part of our family.  We love you so very much.