F.A.Q. 4x over

F.A.Q.’s about our Baby Surprise

(P.S. it may be helpful to read my last post, first).

**When is your due date?

On paper, March 3, 2018.  but I think we all know that my babies don’t exactly like to come on time, or even on their own for that matter (save for Bea, God bless her).  Trying to go into it with an open mind and low expectations.  (Last time was hard because we were fighting with Bea’s birthday).  This one is actually pretty close to my birthday (March 1), yes, we have a thing for butting up to birthdays!  But I actually don’t mind, really.  I didn’t want the girls to share one, or even with a holiday for that matter, but my own doesn’t really stress me out.  There are no holidays within sight of that date (save for Valentine’s day, which is PRETTY EARLY) and I’m sad this was my one shot at a leap year babe, but not possible for 2018.  Oh well!

Also, funny story, after the initial shock and excitement had worn off from telling my family, both my mom and sister said, almost in unison, “it’s not due in May, is it?”  We all had a good laugh when we said no, that would not logically make sense.  But their fears were valid.  After having three babies added to our family in short succession, all within fives calendar days of each other, we are thankful to not have another May baby this time!

**I thought you were done?

Ha!  We did too. Heart, mind, and body closed off to the idea of a 4th.  It’s true that in the past we had thought we may have 4, but something changed in me after Sibby came along and I was able to emotionally close that door and move on.  N followed shortly after me.  

There were a lot of thoughts that went into this:

1) I don’t handle pregnancy, particularly the first 12 weeks and the last 4 weeks very well

2) MG is getting older and in a different stage of life.  It felt more freeing to follow that and move the other two girls into that than to hit the “reset” button in a few years

3) My body still had not recovered from Sibby’s birth (or the past 8 months of sleep regression), and I was looking forward to continuing down that path rather than start over with another pregnancy, plus, I knew it was physically impossible for us to get pregnant at this time without help and I didn’t want to seek that out (thankfully God knew better)

4) we liked the identity we had created as an “all-girl” family of three girls.  We had big plans for the three to share a room, and we had starting making long term plans about places we wanted to take our three and big moments we wanted to share with them.

And just to show you that we really had not planned this, if the above doesn’t convince you, we had also put down a non-refundable deposit on a vacation in April 2018 as well as signed up for a mini-marathon that same month.  This pregnancy was not on our radar :).

I think in some ways, it also felt selfish to have another.  Four is a large number and I felt incapable of loving four, little individuals, each with unique personalities, well.  I also worried about babysitters watching four and felt sure that no one would invite us over to their house for dinner (6 extra mouths to feed!)

I think it’s important to share that it wasn’t planned, at least not by us, because I believe in my heart that it is a miracle we are pregnant right now.  I still had the same infertility issues that had followed me after MG’s birth, making it impossible to get pregnant without some medical help for both Bea and Sib. 

Following Sib’s birth, I had watched my body closely to see if it would miraculously bounce back this time and up until the days I took the positive pregnancy test, everything was lining up to be just as bad as before, if not worse.

I was also breastfeeding during this pregnancy, which is a first for me, and should have hurt my chances even more.  

But in a way, it gives us a lot of peace to know that this decision was not ours, especially in the hard moments.  God foresaw all of this and still saw fit to put us in charge of raising another little life.  And for that we can only feel awed and grateful.

I hope you don’t find this deceptive, but I continued to write on my blog as if nothing had changed.  We found out about this pregnancy in early July and it took me all of that month and some of the next to let it sink in, process it, and be able to talk about it.  I guess I’m not one to be good with surprises 🙂

**Have you felt sick?

Y’all know my last three pregnancies were the pits, especially in the first trimester and this one has been no different.  Well, a little different.  Another amazing miracle of this pregnancy is that I have not had to supplement the progesterone hormone pills!  So this pregnancy has been more reminiscent of MG’s.  I am so grateful because even though I have felt like death many, many times over the course of 4-13 weeks, I have been given moments of breaks and relief from it, two things I did not have with Bea’s and Sib’s.  Particularly in the mornings, I would wake up feeling normal, even though I would need some carbs and a nap about two hours later.

Honestly, worse than the nausea has been the fatigue.  It kind of put a damper on the summer because I almost had to nap everyday and also go to bed at 9pm.  That really cuts out a lot of my free time.  Getting lunch and dinner on the table everyday has been a STRUGGLE (ironically, mornings are usually the times I feel the best).  Thankfully, though N didn’t have a true summer break, his schedule was very light and he’s been a huge support to me (as he has been in all of my pregnancies).

It has also been a huge support to have my family nearby.  And I think that might be another reason God allowed us to have a fourth because we have such a good support system.  My sister (bless her, she has a 3 month old!) took the girls some and my mom did too, giving me moments to nap and breathe without trying to keep my energy up for the girls.

**Do the girls know?

Yes they do!  They found out at about 5 weeks actually, when we told my parents.  They were really cute about it and Bea kept saying, “wait, who’s baby is this?”  A valid question because Mary just had her baby, and really I did too! (Sib)

It seems like just yesterday Bea was praying for “Mommy’s baby tummy” (her cute 3 year old prayer for the baby in my tummy-Sib, which was still prayed many months after she was born). We finally convinced her to pray for “Aunt Mary baby tummy” and now it’s my turn again.

They did a pretty good job of keeping it a secret (other than blurting it out to some family–an approved, but still unexpected moment!)

**Speaking of Sib…

Yes, this baby and Sib will be my closest in age!  Less than 2 years!!  Twenty-two months apart, or actually twenty one depending on what side of the due date she falls on. Even though I desired that closeness my first go around with Bea and MG, I grew to love that 2.5 year spread and pushed it even further to 3 years between Bea and Sib. That was so nice for my body and also for the youngest child to have some time of maturing and independence before baby arrived, but we didn’t get so “lucky” this time.  We, more than likely, will have two in diapers, two in pacis, and two in cribs.  Crazy!

But, if I had chosen the spread, I don’t think I would have wanted to do a 3 year gap again, just because I was hopeful for a playmate for Sib (and the closer in age, the easier that seems to be to foster, at least when they are young).  I already didn’t like that she was 3 years behind Bea and with MG & Bea being so tight, I knew it would take a while for Sib to catch up.  I remember once telling N that if we have a fourth, lets do it close in age to Sib so that she can have a buddy like MG & Bea.  Then we both did the math and realized how soon I would have to get pregnant again to accomplish that and quickly did away with the idea.  But now here we are, and we are focusing on the positives.  Like a friend for Sib!

**Do you have a name and will you share?

Just like the last three times, we will keep our names REALLY close to our chests.  I will be devastated if the name leaks out before baby is born because I really enjoy the moment of the trumpeting announcement.  

That being said, we don’t have a firm, write-it-in-stone (or even embroider-it-on-a onesie) name yet. We are still climbing up and down our family tree, looking at different meanings and past moments of importance for our family as inspiration.  This has been the first time that we haven’t had a set name (for a boy or a girl!), but it’s been kind of fun to focus on in the interim

–Oh and by the way, it’s a girl!

I didn’t say that earlier but we found out on Thursday evening, August 24 that we are expecting girl #4!  I have to say I wasn’t exactly shocked.  The intuition was high for this one.  Maybe because I’ve only carried girls so I was already in that mindset, but I just had a really strong feeling that this was another one. My cravings were nearly exact.  My nausea was lighter BUT I wasn’t on extra hormones.  There were many similarities, and a few differences, but the thing that I always go back to is the Ramzi theory* at 8 weeks, and once again it proved to be correct for us. (*too long to explain here, but there is plenty of Google fodder if you are interested :))

–so how do you feel about all girls?

Well, some people don’t believe us when we say this, but we were actually pulling for a fourth girl. It just made the future easier to envision, plus all the clothes and toy hand-me-downs (and let’s not forget the matching!).  Of course, a boy would have been wonderful and we would have been so excited for something different (and he would have had a very close in age boy cousin who lives “down the street”), but in my heart of hearts, I was hoping for girl.  N would say the same.  We already get a lot of comments about “four girls”, “all girls”, etc, but we have embraced it and made it a part of our family identity.  And we love it.  We are so excited for this little girl to join the “sisterhood” and see who she most looks like and who she most attached to (and if it changes through the years).

Bea will no longer be our true middle child, she will now share this trait with Sib.  And we like that we are swinging back over into an even family as it could mean easier room sharing and buddying up without anyone getting left out (at least in theory).

The odds were not in our favor to have four of the same gender, but we feel pretty “lucky” the way the dice rolled this time.

-smk

Surprise, Surprise, it’s Baby Surprise

In what we have termed to be possibly the greatest surprise of our joined lives, we found out that we are expecting our fourth baby, due sometime in early March.  This came as a shock to us for several reasons, not the least of which being that I had and still apparently HAVE a luteal phase defect ever since the birth of MG.  This has meant in order to become and stay pregnant, I have needed to supplement progesterone with both Bea’s and Sibby’s pregnancies, in order to make the environment favorable for them.  

Even knowing this, and continuing to watch my body carefully, while observing that the defect was still in play, we did not take this news lightly.  We had both, separately, and together, come to terms with the idea that we probably would not have another baby, much as we loved them, as our home felt very lively and full with three and the thought of being pregnant again, while also hitting the “reset button” in a year did not appeal, particularly to me.  

In June we took a family beach vacation, our first as a family of five, and enjoyed every single minute of it.  We loved making memories with our girls, young as they were, with Sibby too young to remember anything about it.  That trip solidified more than ever that we were very content with our family size and whenever things became difficult with having a pack n play in our closet or when I couldn’t just sit by the pool and read like some of the other moms of older kids, or we had to use a high chair at a restaurant, I smiled, knowing that each year from here on out was going to improve our vacation dynamics.  We even had several conversations about it on the way home and I felt more than ever that the door to four was closed, forever.

Imagine my shock when less than 48 hours later I took a (very) positive pregnancy test.

The Sunday after we got home, I spent the afternoon doing some sewing but I found my mind drifting from the project at hand and began to wonder about some of the symptoms that had popped up that week.  I began doing some calculations in my head, saying, “surely not.”,  “there’s no way”, “that would just be impossible.”  

Then I turned to my trusty friend Google.  So many times in the past, I had turned to it, hoping beyond belief that I could find some obscure reason to give myself hope that I was pregnant.  Often, I would find something nebulous but the overwhelming signs would point to no.  This time though, it was the opposite.  

Because I was very aware of my defect, and had been monitoring it closely since Sibby’s birth, I counted the days, and double checked them on my calendar, and realized this was the longest luteal phase I had ever naturally had on my own (at least since the defect had appeared).  On one hand, I was so grateful for that and hoped this might mean that I wouldn’t need to pursue hormone therapy as I had considered doing only last month in an effort to improve it. 

On the other hand, things were looking even more so like a pregnancy was at least possible, and according to Google, it was even safe for me to take a test now, which should be late enough to give me a definitive answer.

I took this information, late on that Sunday afternoon, and stewed on it.  I didn’t know how I would feel if it were positive and I didn’t want to stir up my emotions in case it was negative, I didn’t know if I should draw N into this convoluted story.

I tried to think of an excuse to go to the drugstore to pick up some tests, as it was almost dinner time and I didn’t want to have a coded conversation with N in front of the girls.  At the same time, I didn’t want to find a positive on my own and carry it with me for any length of time without him.  

Eventually, I stopped the mind games and decided to Prime Now a 3 pack, thinking if it were negative tonight, I would need to double check in the morning, just to be POSITIVE.

During dinner, N asked me if I would like to walk after the girls went to bed (meaning in our cul-de-sac with the baby monitor), and I said that would be wonderful.  The tests were due to arrive between 8 and 10pm and that would give me some time to drop the bomb on him without any interruption from our energetic trio.

It was a lovely summer night and as it was still late June, the sun didn’t set for a long time.   N was all worked up about a babysitting conflict we had that week, where we had double booked something and we were trying to figure out a way to do both things.  “I just can’t get this off my mind”, he said, as we had spent a good portion of the day brainstorming about it.

I had given him a few suggestions, but after he said the last sentence, I said, “well there is something I can’t get off my mind that I need to tell you about.”

“Ok”, he said, his gait slowing and his eyes getting wide, but accepting, not wanting me to change my mind.

“I think I might be pregnant”

Bomb dropped.

It completley stopped him in his tracks.

“no way.”  “no way”, he said, over and over.  He did not have the luxury of an afternoon to consider it as I did.

“Well….” and then I began my saga as to why I thought it MAY be a possibility.  

But by the time I finished telling him, I had completely gone back to thinking it wasn’t true.  I hadn’t had ANY symptoms, I told him.  Other than falling asleep on the couch the past two nights while we were watching tv.  I HAD felt unusually tired this week, and maybe a LITTLE extra hungry, but what’s new?  Those things could easily be written off as something else.

I watched him closely as he processed this news.  “First, ” he said, “I just need to get the obvious negative emotions toward this possibility out of the way.  Before it becomes a reality.”  I agreed that seemed to be a logical step.  So we spoke about how this would change us.  How this could change us, be it true.

We talked a long time.  By the time we were done, we had walked many circles in our little street and talked them too.  I was convinced this was a huge stretch and that I had let myself become wrapped up in yet another emotional storyline that wasn’t true.

Just at that moment, I got an alert on my phone that the tests were on their way.  We decided to go inside to wait them out.

We sat on the couch and he apologzied to me because he said the only feelings he could feel in th moment about a possible pregnancy were negative.  I know, I said sympathetically.  It’s probably not even true.  Surprises like this just don’t happen to us.

We decided to finish the show we had been watching the night before (the one I had fallen asleep to). I ate some ice cream, but torturously forewent water because I didn’t want to dilute my sample too much.

 Meanwhile, I stalked the driver on my phone.  It looked like he was only ten minutes away.  but then fifteen passed and I saw he was going in the OPPOSITE direction of our house.  Every five minutes I looked at my phone.  He stopped over and over and drove all the wrong ways before heading back in our direction.  I had never had an order take so long.  It took him an hour to arrive after the initial alert.  And by that time, I was all keyed up.  Nervous, with a deep pit in my stomach.

As soon as our brown bag arrived, I ripped open the white box inside. “How long will it take to show up?” N asked.  I wanted to give him the standard 3 minute line, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t take that long if it were positive.  And If it were negative, we would still hang in the balance until morning.  

As it turns out, we didn’t have to wait a second.  The test line began appearing before even the control line.  I immediately went into shock.  I showed it to N, who rubbed his eyes a few times before comprehension set in.  We were definitely pregnant.

We hugged each other and collapsed on the couch.  

This is really happening.  We prayed and we bitterly let out our negative feelings, then acknowledged how neat it was that God would give us such a gift.  And out of all the curve ball things to happen to us, how amazing is it that it is a pregnancy.  

Not too ironically, I had been getting lots of verses about fear and a premonition that something was on the horizon for us.  Those gave me a lot of peace in the moment that this was a part of God’s plan and I couldn’t argue that this baby wasn’t coming to us in such a meaningful way: not by our choice, not by our doing, something we didn’t have to beg God for, or spend months wondering about, or even agonizing over if we made the right choice later. The choice was made for us and that was very freeing in a way.

Not too long into the conversation, I said, “we don’t have any names!”  My sister had used the one boy name we liked (much to our satisfaction) and we didn’t have any solid girl names on the back burner since we didn’t think we would ever need them.

Thankfully, I keep a note in my phone for just such a time as this and began reading off some of the names on my short list to N. The first girl name I said, he instantly latched onto.  Okay, this could be a sign.  

We opened up our family Bible and scoured both sides of our family tree, talked about meaningful places and things, and looked up baby name meanings.  

Baby names are our sweet spot.  This was our crossing the river Jordan.  

The next morning, Monday, I began the search for an OB.  I wanted to get in right away for blood work, considering my past history of miscarriages and supplementation.  The only problem was, I couldn’t tell anyone yet, or at least didn’t want to because I had barely had time to process the news myself.

Thankfully, only the month prior, my sister and I’d had a long talk about her OB through text and I was able to scroll back far enough to find the name and look her up.  I called and got an appointment right away for the afternoon.  This was all happening incredibly fast!

The next morning, they called me back with the good news: not only did the workup show a solid, healthy pregnancy level, but my progesterone was just as high as it was when I was supplementing.  This time I didn’t have to take a single pill!  Wow–add another miracle to our list.  Not only did my luteal phase correct itself, seemingly overnight, to create this pregnancy, but my body was suddenly making the right dosage of hormones for this baby as well.

God must really have had a plan He was working!  And I was so thankful because I always blamed the extra progesterone as to what made me extra sick and tired in my last two pregnancies.  I was more than happy to forego it this time.

Once again, I also felt so much freedom in this pregnancy.  While my last three pregnancies were riddled by fear and anxiety over trying to do everything possible to avoid another miscarriage, I felt so free from that knowing this time it wasn’t our doing.  I didn’t feel immune to bad or scary things, just a part of a story much bigger than my own.

N says one day we will look at this baby and say, “This is the reason God put her in our family.”  Or just have that sense that she was always meant to be a part of us.  And I agree 100%. In fact, the signs are already pointing that way.

Coming up next….FAQ’s

-smk

 

The Path of Totality

Just when you think you’ve lived 33 years and seen just about all nature had to offer on God’s green earth, a solar eclipse comes crashing through your city.

Being in the path of totality meant that we heard about this phenomenon for months in advance, had a run on glasses (mostly due to Amazon’s negligence) and then a last minute glut of them (loved that people were handing them out for free just so everyone in our great city could enjoy this), school cancelled (traffic issues since the eclipse was near the time of dismissal), and reports of 300,000+ extra visitors to our already at capacity city.

It was magical.

I enjoy hype anyway.  And I love when something completely stops us in the middle of a random work day and causes the whole city to look together at the sky.  How often do we actually take note of the sun anyway?  Not very often unless it is causing us distress by not shining enough or we feel too much heat from it. Although, one could argue it was actually the even less-appreciated moon that stole the show?  Either way, nature commanded our attention for at least two minutes on this otherwise average Monday afternoon.

About two hours before the 1:27pm CST total eclipse, the moon began its descent upon the sun.  It took about an hour for that effect to be visible to us.  But the afternoon light began slowly growing dimmer and I could not shake the eerie feeling from it.  It was as if the sun was making its last glow before setting, but the light was not as soft as a normal sunset.  Add to that it was in the middle of the afternoon, typically the brightest part of the day.  My internal clock did not match what my external one was saying.  The incongruence made me feel dizzy.

Right around 1:00pm, we went outside to witness the totality of the eclipse in person. MG’s school had spent all of Friday explaining the science behind the phenomenon and what to expect.  I was thankful that I didn’t have to personally undertake that and that Bea picked up a lot of it from hearing MG retell it over and over.

Under the careful mantle of our eclipse glasses, we gazed up at the sky, instantly awed by the orange sun, looking more like a moon in its crescent shape, about halfway covered.  I didn’t know what to expect from the special glasses but they literally block out all of your vision save for extremely bright lights, which appear orange.  When we had them on, we could only see one thing, the object of our affection, the sun.

We didn’t spend our entire time staring at the sun though.  We did it in little bursts, the overtaking of it more noticeable and magical as a few minutes passed in between each view.  And watching the light change around us was almost just as spectacular.  At that point, it looked like there was an Instagram filter on us.  Everyone was a little more grey and blue and the contrast was high.  One neighbor, fully prepared for this moment, passed out Eclipse gum to each of us and later Moon Pies, Sunburst, and Sun Kist raisins.

What must it have been like to witness this unexpectedly?  We can only imagine.  Definitely some talk about the end of the world and what that might truly be like.

Ten minutes before totality and the buzz began picking up.  Our neighbors streamed out of their houses and we quickly decided the best angle of viewing: one with a view of the sun AND the horizon (difficult to do in the mountains).  It was fun to be with these people.  Most we have met and know fairly well, some we have not yet.  But after witnessing history together, we surely feel a little more bonded.

We continued to switch between our glasses and looking around us.  The shadows on the ground began moving rapidly and rippling, almost like waves in the ocean.  In the last few minutes, the darkness set in quickly and we oohed and ahhed and then cheered as we, together, watched the final sliver of the moon overcome the sun.

This was the moment we had all been prepped for and we ripped off our glasses and stared at the magnificence of the scene before us.  There was a beautiful silver ring around the sun, glowing and flaring in both emerald green and eggplant purple.  It was a sight to behold.

Though I like to document things, almost obsessively, it was something I did not have the means to adequately photograph, the light from the sun only flaring up in my camera and not letting me accurately capture.  It’s rare these days that we are only left with a mental image of something we witness.  But this time, that is all I have. Even the professional photographs I’ve seen of the event don’t accurately capture the beauty of what I saw. I feel a little tension about that.  Afraid that I will forget, or somehow change the image in time against my will.  But that is how it is today in 2017 and how it has always been for every eclipse prior.

We had this miracle in front of us for two minutes but it felt like seconds.  Look up at the sky, look around you at the darkness.  The middle of the afternoon.  The birds suddenly cawing and diving in the sky. The streetlights flickering on.  The crickets striking up their tune. The animals, what are they thinking of all of this?  The girls exclaiming over every little thing. They really got it!  The horizon still holding on to its milky orange glow.

I kept looking up at the moon/sun and down at the girls and then at my surroundings.  I didn’t want to miss a thing.  Much like every good thing, it went too fast.

We were all caught a little off guard when suddenly the sun flared orange again and the moon was already moving out of the way.  It was time to put our glasses back on and watch it reverse.

For about an hour longer, the light slowly notched up but it took about that long to feel “normal” again.

August 21, 2017.

It felt nice to witness history with my family and neighbors.  And I loved replaying my videos over and over as well as reading about other people’s experiences.  That is something they did not have during the last total eclipse: a way to share your experience at large.  I think ahead to the next one coming near us in 7 years.  Our oldest daughter will double her age and our youngest will be about her age now.  What else will we have then that we don’t now? I can only hope that we, as a nation, recognize the magnificence of that event then, much like we did today.  For if not, surely it really will be the end of the world.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps 8:3,4

 

Time Prevails

I often marvel at the differences in my little three.  As I said in a recent post, I have become enraptured by the Enneagram, yet another personality study of the many I have perused throughout the years.  These things fascinate me.

Bea’s personality is much more prevalent, or dare I admit–I am much more attuned to it, when she becomes my eldest, and only talker, after dropping off her sister at school for 5 days a week, 7 hours a day.

She never went through a strong “why” phase like MG did, peppering the ubiquitous question at the end of every answer (much to my chagrin).  But I finally recognized, just this week, week two of school, week two of having significant time with her to myself, that she asks probably 2-3 questions per minute when we are together.  This is not an exaggeration.  She may not need to know why simply, but she needs to know who created the grass, do I remember that one time at the schoolhouse, and can she have a snack when we get home?. There is so much she needs to know.

I learned a term this week called transactional memory which means storing information in other people’s heads.  Apparently married couples and people who live together for long periods of time do this harmoniously.  For example, I’m not great with directions but N has a good handle on that for both of us, consequently he is our designated driver (no pun intended).  I am better at remembering dates, so I am often prompting him to pick up that birthday card or call so-in-so on their anniversary, and he relies on me to do so.  We depend on each other to store information for ourselves and then call on that person to produce it when we most need it.

I think as my girls grow, learn to talk, and then start processing information in the world, we also enter into this type of relationship.  Right now, it feels more like there is a leech on my brain, taking out all of the non-important information, but one can only hope that the tables will eventually turn as I pour so much into her.  This week, MG began talking about the American flag and its 13 stripes and what they stand for.  I, shamefully, did not remember that it had 13 stripes, but as soon as she said it, that little tidbit that left my brain, probably about 300,000 questions ago, was jogged back into short-term memory.  She is starting to outsmart me, and I am okay with that.

I reinstated “quiet time” now that we are back in the school year routine.  It’s an egg timer set for an hour and a chosen box specifically for that time, always during Sibby’s afternoon nap.  Almost every time, Bea picks the box of Littlest Pet Shop (the old school ones) or Calico Critters.  She still hasn’t outgrown her love for animals or miniatures.

At the end of the hour, she usually comes to find me, almost always in my office, squirreled away on a project before Sibby wakes up.  Bea helps herself to my “art cabinet” and the contents of the trashcan (usually scraps of fabric and paper that AREN’T off-limits).  She takes her scissors and cuts the paper into a hundred pieces of varying sizes and then scribbles some colorful words on them.  “Tickets”, she calls them.  And I often hear her mumble to herself about how fun this is to work on her little project while I work on mine.

Just yesterday, Timehop pulled up an old video from its vault for my viewing pleasure.  It was Bea, consequently the exact same age as Sibby now, sitting on the hardwood floor, paper down, marker open and scribbling.  I had written in the caption something about how what dolls were to MG at that age, art supplies were to Bea.  As it turned out, it was actually prophetic.

Last night, I watched Sibby meticulously open a silver cylinder about the size and shape of a tube of lipstick and then attempt to put the cap back on.  Her fingers are chubby and not finely tuned yet.  And the tube top takes exact precision to push it on correctly. It took about 6 tries to get the cap on each time and one try to get it off.  I was beguiled by her patience and consistent effort, two things I sorely lack, especially in frustration.  As she begins to emerge into more of a toddler and less of a baby, I am constantly wondering how much of her future self we are actually seeing.

I’ve gotten a little taste of the “next life”, the life of a school-age mom, as I have termed it, though a confusing term to others.  With Bea in school 6 hours a day, 2 times a week and Sib taking a good three hour nap on those days (and actually asking zero questions prior to these silent golden hours), I’ve got considerably more time to myself than I’ve had in a while.  Add to this, my mom and sister have been pitching in to give me a few more hours where they take the two littlest until nap time and suddenly my hours of silence, contemplation, and purpose driven tasks have increased exponentially.

I have enjoyed them tremendously (and as you can see for yourself, started blogging again).  I’ve mentioned before that I spend a lot of time day dreaming, as of late, what my time will look like when all three are in school.  I do not like going into big transitions without my “perfect plan” in place, so it is partial preparation to (hopefully) prevent failure, and partial job research detail.

While I don’t see myself going back into full time work, as of yet, I do get excited about being a financial contributor to the family again and the freedom that will buy for myself.  Even now, when I get a little bit of babysitting money or birthday money, I notice the excitement that comes with the power to buy whatever I want.

But I also don’t want to spend the next 5+ years, wistfully longing for the next thing (which is so my personality).

I’ve often wondered why we can’t have the best of both worlds at the same time.  The old ladies at the gym and the grocery store wish for the same thing I do.  That we both had more time.  They more time to enjoy the years that “went by too fast” and me more time to cross off my to-do list and to write a blog post without a hundred questions disconnecting the lobes of my brain.  Rather than being the boy with the golden yarn, I’ve often wondered why we can’t live our lives at different intervals but the same time.  A symbiotic relationship of the two distinct parts of our lives.

So, for example, five days a week nothing would change, but then two days a week, I would live my life at the end of my days and enjoy the freedoms that would come from having little to no responsibility.  Because the only thing that makes us appreciate rest is work, as is the reverse true.

Of course this is all hyperbole, and perhaps fodder for a short story I will write the girls one day. (?)

I guess the moral of the story being that time prevails.

-smk

Revive Us Again

School is back in session. Summer went out with tacit complacency, much like it always seems to do, with pizza and swimming and early bedtimes.  And as much as I hate someone else, or in this case something else, dictating my time, I have found, at least in this first week, that I have enjoyed having a routine again.

MG took right to her classroom, much like I thought she would. This year there was less trepidation from both of us.  And I am reminded of how starting kindergarten in a new state is not for the faint of heart.

This time last year, I was an emotional wreck (I think that’s actually a very accurate description), not only from the new start of school and for having a school-aged child for the first time, but also the impending move and stress of trying to sell our Indiana house. Not to mention, living away from N and also caring for an infant.

Last year I felt like a foreigner forging my way independently.  Of course N was there for our family but he also had the toll of starting over in a new job.  This year I was reminded I was not alone in all of this and I think that has made some difference in my emotional state too.

This year, I was greeted by familiar faces and felt like we are growing on the good foundation that was set last year.  Much less traumatic, much more peaceful.

That being said, the school year always feels daunting in August.  We have nine more months of this.  We have two daylight savings; we have Christmas, fall, and spring breaks; we have 100 days of school; we have PTA fundraisers and school spirit events.  It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot of items to cross off before the lazy days of summer beckon us again.

In the midst of this, Bea started pre-k this week too.  She was so excited, as was I for her. Finally her chance to have something all for herself. She is always reaching to attain the same status of her sister. Often times that works in her favor, like learning how to swim two years earlier and other milestones.

No tears were shed for her.  Not when she is just so eager.

There is a church that is next to N’s school and they have chronically shown up for us.  When we moved into our house, they showed up with a team of volunteers to move in boxes and furniture, as well as food for everyone to eat.  On big days at school, they man the parking lot,  directing traffic, handing out water bottles on the hot days, and Starbucks coffee to parents.

Waking up at 5:50am to run and shower before getting three babies fed and dressed and packed up for the day makes me weary.  But the volunteers at this church, often two generations ahead of me, smiling and serving, give me a little touch of fire from above, so to speak, to rekindle me along my way.

The school year routine has been revived, though my clumsy self always feels a few beats behind.  But far better than a year ago, and with the notion of just a little leaning in and it could all be downhill from here.

-smk

 

Summer part 2

It was just a few shorts weeks ago, I shared this post, burgeoning with anticipation on the warmth of summer’s back, all that it was going to bring me.  Now here we are, just a week before school starts and I’m finally able to put into words what this summer has meant to me.

The highlights include: a family beach trip, both big girls learning how to swim, a milestone first lost tooth, trips to the “toy store” to spend saved up money, new haircuts for the girls, three trips to Indiana to visit friends and family, a celebratory date for 11 years of marriage, and squeezing all the memory making into the everyday as possible.  Summer is my favorite.

As I am on the cusp of exiting it, I have to say, I feel satisfied with the length.  I feel as though we packed as much in as we could, and though all good things must come to an end, I feel refreshed and ready to hit the school year head on.  The girls are jointly excited for their respective schools to start (MG because she is dying to see her friends and Bea because she gets to “go to school” this year (just pre-school, but still exciting!).  I have been slack on buying school supplies this year but I have a special date planned this weekend to check the final things off our list.

While the girls have been doing all this growing up, Sib is doing her best to catch up.  While still not walking, she is getting closer each day.  She is practicing by standing, often, and quite proud of herself when she does.  She finally has enough hair, that is as white and silken as corn tassels, to gather in to a little ponytail atop her head, which makes her look a few inches taller and a little less masculine to strangers :).

She is also talking quite a bit to us, though we act like we understand what she’s saying, it is all nonsense.  Being the baby, she feels she is privileged to anything we possess.  My phone is both mine and hers.  If I am sitting on the couch, she must be with me.  A snack or a drink from the fridge must be either hidden from her sight or openly shared.  There are no two ways about it.

As I said in my last post, I have greatly decreased my sewing output this summer and have taken up scrapbooking until I get caught up.  I don’t like switching back and forth between hobbies, so once I got back on the scrapbooking roll,  I have been enjoying it. I am currently working on our 2016 scrapbook, which is about a year behind where I normally like to be on them, but I forgave myself for that a long time ago.

I also mentioned in my last post that writing is therapeutic for me and have found it to be very insightful to write now about the craziness of last summer, a year later when the dust has all settled and everything is as it should be.

Along those lines, I was introduced to the Enneagram of Personality, which I thought would be another personality quiz, of which it seems, I have taken a million in my lifetime. But I took the quiz and got a 4 and then became turned onto The Road Back to You podcast and now have been obsessing over it.  It’s been helpful because N took the quiz too and it has been fueling a lot of our conversations lately.  The podcast has been my background noise while I work on the scrapbook, so I listen and little, and type a little, and contemplate my past and my future in one setting.

I feel ready to transition back into the routine of school, but I do very much dread August. With our educational backgrounds, it has always been a bit of a grind with late nights and early mornings, and extra stress from new routines and changes.  Sometimes I find myself thinking of the fable of the boy with the golden yarn.  He was given a ball of yarn and instructed that he could pull the string to make time pass more quickly.  A small tug would pass a small amount of time and a large tug, a greater amount of time.  Every August, I almost wish I could pull that string and wind up at the end of the month, after the transition has been successfully made and the kinks worked out of the system.

But we all know how that story ends.  The little boy gets to the end of his life and realizes that he let all of the good, real moments slip away in anticipation of getting to the next thing more easily.

So that’s where I find myself today.  My present state. And coupled up with my past, the good memories and the redeemed ones, and the notions of my future, I want to enjoy every second of it.

-smk

Blog Author

Sometimes this place, this address of sweetmamak.com, feels less and less homey.  As far as hobbies go, it is not a very enlightening one.  There is a lot of effort with little reward, at least in the moment.  The reaping being best enjoyed when the girls are older and my memories are faded.  But for now, each post requires a precise tax of two naptimes (one to write, one to edit, and even then, I often hit publish after reading it for a total of 12 times, only to read it again in the different font of the blog and still catch mistakes.  All the while knowing, with the shame visible on my cheeks, that my email only readers will never see the post-publish edits I make).

Two naptimes feel heavy these days, especially during the school year, but hopefully less in the summer. As summer has been underway now for two weeks, my pet projects have begun, first with editing Sibby’s baby book, and secondly with quadruply backing up my photos (yes, I’m kind of a nut about this). With these abounding, there has been a lot less time for sewing. That’s okay because I hit a dry spell for a while (and sometimes question if the girls really even need another outfit??) but just yesterday purchased a new pattern so that has me dreaming up some new plans and has the creative juices flowing again.

The discouragement comes often, and heavy at times.  I just read an Instagram post yesterday that questioned if anyone reads blogs anymore.  The overwhelming response was “no”.   And I sadly, had to agree.  There are only two blogs (that regularly post, I’m not talking about my friends’ blogs which I lick up like a thirsty dog to an ice cream bowl whenever they post something) that I regularly read.  There’s just not time anymore.  It takes too long to jump through the links.  It seems that immediacy and brevity has replaced leisure reading and storytelling.

But storytelling is my niche, and frankly something that I often aspire at which to be better (I even wrote that sentence awkwardly to avoid the hanging preposition).  I confess I am not good at small talk (and being very introverted), often dread it.  When I am headed to an event that will require it, I spend time mulling over stories I can tell and how best to deliver them.  A benefit to being the new girl in town means I get to go to a lot of events where there are no overlapping acquaintances and therefore have many chances to hone my stories over several tries to get the punchline just right.

Sometimes I get frustrated with the slow of the blog.  With how I am never happy with a post if I publish it the same hour that I write it (I like to give it at least 24 hours to marinate before I edit and ultimately post it). With how I often think up stories to tell while I’m running, or driving, or nursing (the only times where I seem to have headspace these days).  With how bad Siri is at translating my voice to notes during these times.  With how my daily readership has decreased with the popularity arc of Instagram (but my email readership has likewise gone up).

All that being said, I am still here.  Still thinking up stories to tell you.  Though, I confess my writing has slowed considerably this summer, if not the past two years.  I hope this post to be my entrance back into it, now that my scrapbooking has almost come to a satisfied completion and I am not itching to jump right back into sewing.  I also wrote the beginning of this post almost 6 weeks ago and then forgot about it.  But I somewhat purposely forgot about it because I question if I haven’t written this same “apology” or “is anyone out there that still cares?” post many times and quite frequently in the past two years.  I believe I have but 6 weeks later, I still find a lot of truth in the words, so I decided to pull the trigger.  Humor me for now.  As I hit the publish button, I’m on my way to create some new content coming your way soon.

-smk

 

Summer

After a quick, unexpected trip North, and some end of the year craziness, today was our first true day of summer break*.  And it was every bit as magical as I expected.

*this post was written earlier but sat for a while until I could get back to it.

I was eating dinner with a bunch of moms last night and someone asked the group which we prefer: the schedule and routine of the school year, or the relaxed laziness of summer.  Only two of us were solidly in the latter group.  Everyone else said they preferred the routine.  I was stunned that I was in the the minority, but after having another 12 hours to contemplate it, I still agree: the school year is something I endure in order to thrive in the summer.

Today the girls slept in till about 8.  I didn’t get as lucky because I have been waking up to run before N leaves for work, but the payoff being I have the rest of the day to devote to them with zero interruptions while I am doing it.

Sib woke up a quite a bit earlier but lazily rolled around in her bed until I was able to get to her.  I made oatmeal, one of my favorite breakfast meals because of the variety of ways it can be dressed up.  Today we had it with almond butter and honey, and a handful of chocolate chips to entice the girls.  And because in my mind, chocolate is always acceptable for breakfast. I accidentally grabbed only two bowls at first and then quickly added a third before MG caught my mistake of not factoring her in.

“What are we going to do next?” they asked as soon as they had put the last bite to lips, their bowls already forming a hard crust of leftover oats around the edges.  I instantly felt the doubt spring up in me for an anxious second.  For one thing, I did not have a solid plan for the day yet as I wanted to take a more laissez-faire approach on day one to get my bearings. Secondly, I did not want to be their source of entertainment.  I am determined to let them spend many hours of “boredom” this summer and try not to intervene.

It’s playtime right now while I do my morning chores, I responded and they marched off merrily, MG happy to have time to play with her toys and Bea happy for a play mate.  Easy as that.

I made quick work of my chores, every once in a while hearing some verbal skirmishes upstairs.  They just need some time to acclimate, I told myself, don’t intervene.

Thanks to her early morning wakeup, Sibby went down for a morning nap, with promise of an afternoon one as well.  I set the girls up on the deck, each with a glass pan full of dried rice, and enough miniature cats, water bowls, litter boxes, and balls of yarn between them to hopefully inspire some Montessori free play.  It kept them busy for a good hour and a half.  I could not believe my luck.

Lunch was crock pot roast beef, shredded and served cold, with a small dab of mayonnaise and a proportionately larger smear of mustard, presented on gluten free white bread. On the side, pretzels in the shape of pillows with a small pat of peanut butter inside, and a plug of peach applesauce. The girls ate fast, talking through the meal, over their excitement of our plans to go to the pool next.

MG has loved the pool since she was a baby, but the past three summers, we’ve had to bribe her to get her face wet and swimming lessons have been met with many tears of fear and frustration.  This year she turned the corner, even before we could get to the lessons (another parenting lesson to just wait until they are ready?).  She has been jumping in, going under, and even trying to swim on her own, much to her own pride (which we have happily been stroking). Today she told me the first thing she wanted to do at the pool was a head stand.

Going to the pool at the noon-2pm hour usually doesn’t yield a lot of friends for the girls to play with.  Most moms of young kids are home during these hours, napping under the cool AC.  But we were in luck today as a little girl about MG’s age was there and eager to practice headstands too.

While I watched them play, LB floating lazily between us, and me keeping Sibby from plunging head first into the water, my mind instantly began writing a hundred blog posts while I tried to ESP them to my phone, less than a dozen feet away, that may as well have been a hundred.  I also couldn’t stop stewing about the disparaging comment a mom made to me on our way in that had to do with raising girls (right in front of my own little tribe, no less).  I don’t get those comments often, but when I do, they stick with me for a little while, like a bloated mosquito bite.

I looked over to the “big pool” and watched two boys, feet dancing on the concrete, hands reaching out to smack each other’s chest, in an effort to butt each other into the deep end.  They reminded me of young rams, both showing off and claiming territory, horns clashing loudly and every once in a while, locking. I feared for their safety as they were close to a corner, close to a ladder, and close to other little kids.  I tried deftly with sweeping glances to see if another adult, perhaps closer, hopefully a mom, was also watching this display.  That’s when the mosquito of insecurity bit me again.  Like maybe I wasn’t meant to have boys because I am too careful.  Or maybe I have girls and that’s why I am so careful.  I don’t know, but it’s something that nags at me the rest of the time we are there.

In another part of the shallow end, a clearly high-school aged couple was engaged in making a Boomerang video.  He was crouching on the concrete, she was practicing her jumps in the water, each time making a different face or motion with her hands.  I was struck with the silliness that goes into making those.  But the end result never looks that silly.  When we’re watching them, we don’t really think about what it took to make. And I pondered some more about all I had to be careful for.

Thirty minutes after we arrived, adult swim was called.  I had to explain it to the girls and I knew exactly what they were thinking.  Those ten minutes to a kid are the longest ten minutes of the summer.  I was there for a quick bribe though, organic cheddar ducks and applesauce pouches.  As I handed out these particular treats, I thought, I could not be a more suburban mom if I tried.  But it’s everything I wanted and exactly what I pictured it would be as I was growing up.

I’ve arrived.  Not in any worldly sense, no the opposite, actually.  I’ve arrived at the intersection of my childhood dreams and factual reality.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Long live summer,

-smk

One year

Last week we celebrated Bea’s birthday, the safe arrival of my nephew (!), and MG’s kindergarten graduation all on the same day.  To conclude the celebratory high from the week, today is Sib’s birthday. One year old!

As if having one birthday for my girls last week wasn’t hard enough (on me), this week we get to have another one!  I’ve said it before, the first birthday is rough.  Knowing that this baby will be our last makes it even harder (emotionally).

But there have been so many good milestones this month, as well as the celebration cup overflowing. Much like the parenting descriptor for young children, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

One year ago today, at about 4:56pm EST (roughly one hour after she was born, as the first thirty or so minutes were filled with postpartum contractions while the remaining details of birth were wrapped up, to put it delicately), N and I kept looking at each other and saying, “what a good day” &  “what a red letter day”.  We could not stop affirming each other in how happy we were with our freshly grown family and the miracle of a healthy birth.

There is a certain high that comes over me after birth, when the anxiety, morning sickness, and discomfort sheds off of me like the discarded hospital gown.  That high carries me through the months of interrupted sleep, the woes of carrying around extra pounds, and the out-of-control feelings wrought by surging hormones.  And then we land at year one.

Somehow at this point, everything seems to have balanced itself out, tipping the scales towards the good side, and we are still so happy and so in love with our little Sib.

As far as newborn years seem to go, this year really was a pleasant one, and I wish I hadn’t paid attention to the consternation of the fear-mongering blogposts about third borns that wanted me to believe otherwise.  My only two complaints from it is somewhere around 4 months, she forgot how to sleep at night.

Thankfully, as of this month and a three day intensive Sleep Boot Camp, we have turned the corner! Now I lay her down at 7:30pm and she wakes up at 7:30am.  I still don’t feel well-rested (it will take me a while to recover from those interrupted 7 months), BUT I do now lay down without anxiety at night and that is a wonderful feeling. Sometime this month she also dropped her morning nap, so we are adjusting to that, but with summer arriving on its heels, a new schedule is warranted anyway.  One that will open up our mornings will be most appreciated.

And I think I have to take some credit for this bad sleep.  I didn’t brush up on my healthy sleep habits in this pregnancy, relying on my former knowledge and status of two well-sleeping children. PLUS the year of 2016 added to the mix, and I got us into some bad habits (like feeding her right before every nap).  Once we turned that around, a huge improvement was noticed.

My other complaint, which isn’t really a complaint, just a negative marker from this first year, was her sick bouts.  She didn’t get sick often, but when she did, it was INTENSE.  She still has some kind of vomiting issue that hasn’t been 100% resolved yet.  My ped thinks it’s some kind of immaturity that will get worked as she gets older.  It’s possibly related to food, maybe dairy or gluten.  But it doesn’t happen every time she has those foods, so a mystery to be solved another day.

There were two times we took her to the ER in the first year and the first being a very long stay.  Thankfully our girl made a full recovery both times and is a happy little thing now.

She is moving slowly but forcefully through her first year milestones.  Most noticeably this month, she’s been pulling up to a stand and can even balance holding on with just one hand. My gut stays it will be still some time until she is walking and she has not even attempted to climb the stairs.  Consequently, baby-proofing is going rather lazily, much like her new tricks, and I am a-ok with that.

This month has been the month of messes.  There is a kitchen drawer that holds all the plastic baby things: cups, bowls, and the like.  She will empty that drawer, move on to the drawer that has metal sheet pans and cake pans (which makes for a noisy dinner prep), then move on to the baby toy basket.  She’s also figured out how to open cabinets.  Not good for our game cabinet which feels like it has a 1,000 tiny pieces and takes 100 years to clean up properly.  As of yet, at least, she’s not a mouthy baby like Bea and doesn’t seem to put every little thing inside.

She loves to pull up on our coffee table, which is just the right height for her to see everything on it when properly standing, and narrow enough to access anything lying on it.  I had gotten in the habit of keeping our two tv remotes displayed on it for easy access.  She loves to throw them on the floor.  I’ve come to determine I can either leave them there for the remainder of the day where they will never be disturbed again, or I can pick them up each time, where they will be forcefully dropped promptly.  These are the battles I am fighting each day.

Messes also come in the form of meals.  Now that she is self-feeding, I find myself dutifully vacuuming the floor beneath her chair after every meal and snack.  I’ve never wished for a dog more.  She is slowly graduating away from pouches, and for that I’m most grateful.  But still a picky little one.  She is more apt to eat proteins: meats and eggs and beans.  She will not self-feed fruit, other than blueberries.  Veggies are a limited palette.  And she does not care for cheese in any form.  I was able to get her to start enjoying crackers this month so that is a win because they take a while to eat and she is quite demanding when hungry.

That being said, she is my medium-sized baby (despite her head start at birth), coming in at 20lbs to close out her first year.  Bea was 21 and MG 18, so she falls right in the middle.  As far as height is concerned, however, she is still losing the race on that one to the other two.

Also losing the race is her hair growth…after the initial brown shock of it, it slowed, changed to copper, then to an ashy blonde.  Sometimes it curls and sticks straight up, other times it lays flat.  I still don’t really know what it is going to look like as it is the same cornsilk blonde MG’s was at this age, and now, six years later, hers is a dishwater color.

Despite my complaints above, she has been an easy baby.  Teeth have been a non-issue other than the pools and pools of drool.  Spit-up only surfaced around month seven when she would eat solids and then immediately go to her belly.  I don’t think she is our happiest baby (Bea wins that award), but I think she is definitely our giggliest.  It is very easy to pull a belly laugh out of her by force (tickle), or just by looking at her funny.  She is expressive in her entire face.

On the other hand, her cry is still a piercing newborn part-scream, part-holler.  We commented on it when she was first born and she has not ditched it yet.  She doesn’t use this technique often, but when she does, we all come running.  #thirdchildwins

If I had to guess, I think weaning will be a non-issue.  We are already down to twice a day, not because she is disinterested, but mostly because she isn’t really interested if I don’t offer.   One thing I will say about the third is that they are nothing if not flexible.  She has been going with our easy flow since day one.

Well to send off this year, I made a video, part of my tradition of the first birthday.  It has been bittersweet to reminisce but honestly, I am  thankful that year is behind us and we can look back wistfully but never relive it.  Raising Sibby has been a joy and I pray God grants us many more years together to enjoy.

-smk

Four Years

I can’t believe my sweet little angel baby is four years old!

Four seems like a big threshold.  This year Bea will be entering preschool (a milestone she CAN’T wait for, thanks to Big Sis), and suddenly there will be another adult added to the influences in her life.

Four is the age where my girls seem to come into their own with knowing what they want for presents.  MG asked for (and received) a palace pets castle at four (something Bea plays with all the time now).  Bea is asking for very specific presents this year with a Minnie mouse airplane at the top of her list.  She has also chosen her cake, chocolate with a Minnie mouse plastic garnish.  Yes, this is the year of the mouse for my little girl, but seeing as how fast those tastes change once school comes along, I am happy to indulge for now.

Three has been fun.  Her expression has exploded this year.  On her third birthday, she was stringing just a few words together at a time and spent a long time thinking before she would speak.  Now, her words can’t quite catch up to her brain as she often repeats a filler word “so, so, so, so…” while she attempts to get her thoughts out.

She has relished her time spent in “Bea school” this year and has been an excellent student.  She has learned to cut expertly, glue well, trace and recognize letters, and her coloring skills have improved.  Every single day she asks if we can do Beaschool as soon as I put Sib down for a morning nap.  I’ve also enjoyed my solo time with her as baby girl has been quite the distraction as of late, getting into and making messes when she’s awake.  It’s been nice to have the one on one time with my middle.

Some of her quirks include: she does not like to get her hands sticky/messy.  She will beg to wash them as soon as they touch any kind of food matter that leaves a residue (salt, grease, sugar, you name it). She will go the distance to eat a Rice Krispie treat, or a slice of banana bread with a spoon.  At the YMCA last week, they were having the kids paint their hands to make handprints on a sign and she outright refused, preferring instead to color and even then was peeved about the marker leaking onto her fingers.

Speaking of the YMCA, the ladies had mentioned that she seemed like an old soul.  Like she has an unshakeable confidence about her.  She is very sure of what she wants/doesn’t want, and never wavers. I think this is a very accurate description of our Bea.  I think come high school, she will be a force to be reckoned with because she will possess two compatible, but lethal traits: beauty and confidence.

She still loves her animal babies, the creepy ones with the big eyes and pacifiers.  She spends untold amounts of time every day changing their outfits and seeing to their comfort.  (she has two because she lost her prized one: Baby Bear, earlier this year.  While he was missing we replaced him with Baby Squirrel, and much to our surprise, Baby Bear resurfaced) One thing I find interesting about her is that she latches onto a toy for a day, usually something small like a shopkins or a piece of jewelry, like a ring.  She will carry this around all day in her hand.  Although I was hesitant at first, she begged to take these possessions with her into child watch and Sunday School.  She will take care of and remain close fisted around this possession the entire time.  She definitely seems to have some peculiarities about organization and her things.

Other than Baby Bear, her favorite toys are playsets (Minnie mouse camper, shopkins, dog park), and her purple watch.  She also seems to enjoy carrying around paper.  A folded notecard and especially the paper that comes inside the new toys (usually the one with instructions or the plastic ones that shows pictures of the toy in play).  Once again, she will carry the chosen thing around in her tight fist all day and grows concerned if it becomes improperly unfolded.

Bea is my first child that enjoys going out and seeing the world.  She never minds being dropped off for Sunday school or MOPS, and every day asks “so where are we going today?” She is the foil to her older sister, the homebody.  Every time we run an errand, even if it is to Costco or the bank, she says, “that was fun”.  She’s an easy one to entertain and always has been.

As sad as it is for me to watch my girls grow up, each birthday brings the potential for lots of new milestones and most importantly memories.  And that is something I will always look forward to.

Happy four years, Bitty Bea!  We love you so much!

-smk

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