2015 was very, very good for us. We had the sweetest surprise in January when we found out we were expecting Harper, and her arrival in September was the highlight of our year. Aniston has grown and changed. It was a year of big changes for her, as she started preschool and became a big sister all in the same month, and she dealt with everything so well.
2016 will be a fun year for our little family. This year, B and I will celebrate ten years of marriage, Aniston will start kindergarten (how is that even possible?!), and Harper will turn one. Time marches on, and, while I wish it would slow down a bit, I can't wait to see what this new year holds.
As I've said in years past, I love January 1. Everything feels fresh, clean, and new. 365 days lie ahead of us, and the possibilities are endless.
Rather than making a list of resolutions this year, I'm choosing a few areas of my life to focus on.
1| Spiritual Growth
When things get busy, my quiet time is the first thing to suffer. It shouldn't be that way, and I'm determined to change that. I also want this to be the year I read through the entire Bible. I've started that in the past, but have never finished.
2| Organization and Decluttering
I love being organized. I crave it, in fact. Over the last several months, though, things have kind of fallen by the wayside. I need to get things back under control. I'm planning to get rid of lots of clutter this year too. We have so much stuff, and it's just not necessary. I have drawers, closets, and cabinets that need to be purged, and the toy situation is an ongoing problem that needs to be solved.
Someway, somehow, I have to find balance in my life this year. Being a working mom and wife is hard, and I feel like I'm constantly juggling too many things. I'm going to try to simplify things this year, and be intentional with my time and energy. That's easier said than done, I know, but I'm going to give it my best effort.
We had a wonderful Christmas! It came and went too quickly (like it always does) and it was a very busy time for us (like it always is), but it was such a special time.
Aniston's preschool had a Christmas program on December 10. They made the cutest little reindeer shirts at school for the program. The program itself was just precious.
My grandparents are huge fans of traditional, background-type photographs. We never have those kinds of pictures done, so as part of their Christmas gift this year, we took the girls for a session and gave them some framed prints.
We took the girls to see Santa a few days before Christmas. We made a night of it and went to dinner with the McCumbers, just like we did last year.
Between juggling life with two kids and going back to work after Thanksgiving, things were really hectic and I didn't wrap a single present before the 23rd. Huge mistake. B and I made the most of it, though, and stayed up until 2am eating popcorn, watching Christmas Vacation, and wrapping. It was a late night, and wrapping is not my favorite thing to do by any stretch of the imagination, but I loved the time we spent together. In all the holiday craziness, it was a little time for just the two of us.
Our Christmas gatherings started on Christmas Eve at 12:30, and we attended three on Christmas Eve, two on Christmas Day, and one the day after Christmas. Whew! It was busy, but so fun, and we're very thankful to have so much family to celebrate with. We are blessed beyond measure.
It was fun to open presents, and even more fun to watch our girls, but the best part of Christmas this year was listening to Aniston tell the Christmas story and sing songs about the birth of Jesus. We're so thankful for a merciful savior, and the true meaning of Christmas!
Sweet Harper Shea, you are three months old! One-fourth of your first year has already passed, and that's so hard for me to believe.
It has been a busy month. We celebrated your first Thanksgiving. I did a terrible job documenting that with pictures, but I promise to do better at Christmas!
I went back to work on November 30. You stay with Papa during the day. We're blessed to not have to put you in daycare right now. You have such a special relationship with him already, and he is wrapped around your tiny finger.
You started cooing and babbling this month. You talk to your daddy and Papa the most, and I'm a bit jealous of that. :) You have the sweetest smile, and are the best little snuggle bug. You're at your happiest when someone is holding you close.
You were diagnosed with torticollis this month. Your daddy and I had
noticed you favored your right side no matter where you were or what you
were doing, and Dr. H noticed it before I was even able to point it out
at your two month well check on November 19. The torticollis could be
congenital, or it could be the result of how you were positioned in the
womb or how you were delivered. Regardless of how it came to be, we're
working hard to correct it and the positional plagiocephaly that has
come about because of it. This means lots of things to do at home, as
well as weekly physical therapy appointments. You are not a fan
of physical therapy in the least, and are determined to let everyone
know exactly how you feel. I'm pretty sure the entire office breathes a
sigh of relief when we leave. We're supposed to do hours of tummy time
with you every day, and you hate that too.
You weigh a little over 13 pounds, and are around 25 inches long. You are a chunky little thing with the cutest little rolls on your thighs and arms. Your squishy cheeks are perfectly kissable, and I could just eat you up!
You drink four ounces of formula every three hours. You keep a very strict schedule--no skipping meals for you. You went through a growth spurt, and for a while this month you wanted six ounces before bed and for the first bottle the next morning. You've slowed down now, though, and are back to your regular four. You take your last bottle around 9:30 or 10:30, and sleep until around 6am. I'm so thankful that you sleep well most nights--I'm not a person who can survive on little sleep, and I feel so much better than I did when you were waking every few hours. You're still sleeping in the pack and play in our bedroom, and you'll probably be there for a while. The Angel Care monitor gives me lots of peace of mind, but having you close is even better.
Your little personality emerges more by the day. You are quick to arch your eyebrows or give us your judgy baby face when you're skeptical about something. You're a little more tolerant of Aniston's shenanigans lately, but you still don't like her to touch your hands. You keep a close eye on her (that's probably a good idea) and respond to her voice. You're still pretty demanding, and I'm afraid what the doctor deemed colic may just be, well, you. Once you're mad about something, there's no changing your mind. No amount of walking, rocking, or pacifiers can calm you down. (Just ask the people at physical therapy. Ha!)
You learned to blow bubbles this month, and you do it all. the. time. I have to constantly keep a bib on you because your shirt will be soaked in no time if I don't. This is especially true in the car because those silly bubbles are your preferred way of entertaining yourself. By the time we reach our destination, your shirt will be wet all the way to your tummy.
You love bath time, and have recently learned to splash. It still surprises you when you're able to do it, and it's hilarious to watch. You've learned that you can squeal, and you think it's the most marvelous thing, especially when you first wake up. It's the happiest little sound!
You are a blessing, precious girl, and we love you so very much!
Happy Friday, friends! I'm finally sitting down to write this post at 1am , so technically it's Saturday, but let's not get caught up in the details. I have to snatch tiny bits of alone time when they present themselves...even if it's in the wee hours of the morning.
1| Blog Absenteeism
So, obviously, I haven't been blogging much lately. We had a wonderful time celebrating Harper's first Thanksgiving, and then I returned to work on the following Monday. It was a bittersweet time. I miss being at home with the girls, but I love my job and my colleagues. Trying to balance home and work has been stressful at times to say the least, but we've settled back into a routine. I think getting back to a normal schedule has really helped Aniston, and being away during the day makes me appreciate my time at home even more. Between returning to work and the Christmas season, things have been busy, busy, busy.
2| Christmas Fun
We've loved sharing the Christmas season with Aniston this year. She's at such a fun age. She has an Elf on the Shelf (Sparkle) and loves looking for her each morning. (Sparkle may be the most boring elf in the history of shelves, but even a very dull elf is fun for a four year old.) (Also, I've told B that Sparkle won't show up next year until the week before Christmas. A whole month of an elf is just too much for me.) Aniston's preschool had a Christmas program last week, and it was just the sweetest thing. She was also a part of a Christmas choir at church last Sunday, and it was precious too. Cuteness overload, let me tell you.
3| Speaking of Christmas....
I simply can't believe that Christmas is next week. Where has the year gone?! I'm still preparing at a semi-frantic pace. Tonight Brooke and I left the kids and husbands at home and declared we wouldn't be back until both of our lists were finished. We left at 5:30 and didn't get home until well after 10. I'm so tired, but so thankful that, with the exception of just a few tiny things, I'm finally finished! Now, I haven't wrapped a single gift, but I'm telling myself I have all next week for that.
Harper turned three months old on the 16th! I'm working on her monthly post. I just can't believe how quickly time is passing, and how much she has grown!
5| Christmas Break
As of this afternoon at 3:15, I'm on Christmas break. I'm thrilled to have two weeks at home with the girls! I have a long list of things I want to do with them: see Santa, go to McAdenville for the lights, bake cookies, do random acts of kindness with Aniston...my list goes on and on. I'm determined to squeeze as much fun as possible into the next two weeks!
Our weekend was busy...just like I'm sure every weekend between now and Christmas will be!
On Friday, B and I went to a Thanksgiving feast at Aniston's preschool. Aniston had talked about the feast all week, and was so excited to have two guests with her at school that day. The three year old class dressed as Pilgrims, and the four year old class dressed as indians. There was a short program filled with songs, and it was the cutest thing!
We left the girls with their grandparents Friday night (Aniston with B's parents, colicky Harper with mine--Aniston is so over Harper crying) and served Thanksgiving dinner at Celebrate Recovery with our church. We enjoyed serving (even though it confirmed that I have no business being a waitress, ever.) and the girls had fun, too.
We spent Saturday in the mountains looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Normally, I'm a stickler for absolutely no Christmas before Thanksgiving. No Christmas music, no Christmas movies, and definitely no Christmas decorations. But B is working on Friday, and he's part of the worship team at church on both Saturday night and Sunday morning, so we wouldn't be able to go get a tree until the next weekend. And who wants to wait until December 5th to get a tree? So, I went against my usual belief that Thanksgiving deserves it's own time and decorations and now we have a tree in the house a week before Thanksgiving. And now that the tree's here, I feel like I might as well just go ahead and decorate the whole house and just be done with it, but we'll see what happens.
Anyway, it was a fun trip and Harper did really, really well...much better than we expected. We definitely beat the crowd this year--there was only one other family on the hayride, and we didn't have to wait in line to pay or pick up the tree--and that has encouraged me to rethink my stance on the whole thing. It was so much quicker and easier than last year! Eric and Chelsea went with us, and we had a great time.
I have to point out that, yes, Harper's little leg is exposed to the cold, but
she had a blanket wrapped around her the entire time except for when we were taking this picture.
So, not a complete fail on my part.
We didn't make it to church on Sunday. I love that we have the option to watch online when things don't go as planned. (The website is www.christnc.com if you're interested...or if you're local and looking for a church, we'd love to have you at the Lincolnton campus!) We spent the rest of the day getting the tree situated, grocery shopping, and preparing for the week ahead. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I'm looking forward to hosting our family on Thursday!
You're growing so fast. At your well check, you weighed 11 pounds 3 ounces (40th percentile) and were 22.5 inches long (35th percentile). You are eating well (four ounces every three hours) and you're beginning to sleep better.
You've had a difficult time lately. The Zantac didn't help as much as we had hoped, and you're still having lots of issues with acid reflux and spitting up. Dr. H switched you to Prevacid and told us to thicken your formula with rice cereal. We're hoping that helps quickly. It's so sad for us to watch you cry and be so uncomfortable after you eat.
You also have colic. The hours between four and eight in the evening are not kind to us. You go from happy to inconsolable in a matter of minutes, and continue to be until after eight. It's a miserable time for everyone, and we hope this passes quickly--both for you and for us.
You smiled for the first time this month! I leaned over your pack and play to pick you up one morning, and you gave me the sweetest little grin. I absolutely melted. You've smiled lots since then. You're very stingy with those smiles, though, and make us work hard for them. You've started cooing, too, and it's such a precious sound!
You've lost some of your hair, but it's coming back in quickly. Your eyes have continued to lighten, and are a bright, clear blue.
You love to sit in your swing and talk to your birds and yourself in the mirror, but you don't care for the swinging motion at all. You love bathtime, and are content to sit in the water as long as I'll let you most days. You hate being buckled into your carseat, but love riding in the car, and it's becoming one of our favorite tricks for calming you.
You love watching Aniston, but hate when she grabs your hand--which is very often, I'm afraid. She loves you so much...even if you aren't quite sure about her sometimes. :)
You spend much more time awake now, and you're so alert, especially in the mornings. We love watching you grown and change, and we're eager to see your little personality emerge.
You're such a blessing, Harper, and we love you to pieces!
Our sweet Harper will be seven weeks old tomorrow! Time is flying, and I'm trying to soak in every bit of her being this little. After working on Harper's birth story bit by bit, I finally finished it this evening. Blogging has allowed me to preserve so many memories, both big and small, and I can't wait to share them with my girls one day. You can read Aniston's birth story here and here.
To begin Harper's birth story, let's go back to Monday, September 14. That day, I marveled to the other teachers in the grade level about how good I felt. I felt amazing...so much better than I had in months. Brooke made a comment about it being the calm before the storm, and I brushed that off quickly--I wasn't having a baby until the 21st, after all. I worked in my classroom until 6 and then went to life group with B and Aniston, feeling more energetic than I had in a long time.
After we got home from life group that night, though, the great feeling quickly faded, and was replaced with something else. I couldn't quite describe the feeling to anyone, but I just felt...off. The feeling continued, and it was enough to make me throw my hospital bag in the car before heading to my 38 week appointment with Dr. H on Tuesday at 11:40. We listened to Harper's heartbeat, discussed the plan for the c-section for the following Monday, and signed all the necessary paperwork. After I mentioned how I was feeling, Dr. H did a quick check and confidently announced that he would see me in the OR on Monday morning.
I met B for lunch, then went home and spent the rest of the afternoon resting. I blogged about Eric and Chelsea's wedding, B mowed the grass, and we had leftovers for dinner. It was the most normal, mundane night.
At 2:45am, Aniston woke up and yelled for B. He went to check on her, and I took the opportunity to grab a sip of Gatorade from the fridge--the fruit punch kind was my biggest pregnancy craving. As I walked past the foot of our bed, I felt a pop. It wasn't anything dramatic, just strange, and I didn't give it any more thought. B got Aniston settled, and we went back to bed.
At 3:30, my eyes flew open with a crazy thought: Was that pop my water breaking?!
I've never felt so dumb in my life. My water broke, and I didn't even realize it until forty-five minutes later.
I quickly woke B. While he showered, I called my OB's answering service. Since I was a scheduled c-section, I had been told to call if anything happened because they didn't want me to go into active labor. Dr. F returned my call within minutes and said he'd meet us at the hospital. My contractions were very far apart, and I only had one at home that I could really describe as painful. I called my mom to come stay with Aniston, we got a few last minute things together, and we headed to the hospital.
I love B for lots of reasons--one of which is his ability to stay calm in any situation. Even though that frustrates me sometimes (like when I'm losing my mind and he's being calm and rational), it makes us a good team. I panic, he doesn't, and we work together. The only sign of him being nervous at all that morning was that, once we arrived at the hospital, he couldn't decide where to park in the empty parking deck.
After he finally found the perfect spot (I insisted on not being dropped off at the front door), we went to OB triage and I was hooked up to lots of monitors. We spent the time listening to Harper's heartbeat and feeling her kick. We made the necessary calls and texts to family and friends to let them know that our sweet girl had decided to make a plan of her own instead of following ours, and would be arriving that day. Dr. F arrived and talked with us, and the c-section was scheduled for 7:15.
Harper's birth was so different from Aniston's. There was no rush. No one was in a hurry, and everything was calm and relaxed. I walked into the OR on my own, the anaesthesiologist put in the spinal block (the first one didn't take, and he had to do a second), B was allowed to come back, and Dr. F started the surgery. It took some effort on Dr. F's part to deliver Harper, and it was evident in his voice as he said, "Ooof! That's a big girl!" (At that point I asked exactly how big "big" was, and had a moment of fear that we were talking about a ten pound baby.)
Harper Shea entered the world at 8:02am with a tiny cry. She weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. She had the sweetest cheeks and a head full of dark hair. After the nurses cleaned her up, B brought her to me. It was love at first sight. She was--and is--absolutely perfect.
B and Harper went to the recovery room while Dr. F finished up in the OR. That's the hardest part of a c-section, I think. You've carried a baby for nine months and you're not the first to hold her, snuggle her, talk to her. I'm thankful B got that chance, but it was still hard. After what seemed like forever, Dr. F finished the surgery and I was finally taken to recovery and had the chance to hold my little girl. We stayed in recovery for a long time, and I loved our quiet time together, just the three of us.
We were moved to a room, and after we got settled B went to the waiting room to get Aniston. She was so shy when she came into the room, and clung to B's neck when he picked her up. I think it was just a situation where she was completely out of her element and a little unsure of everything at first. We were able to be together as a new family of four for a few minutes before everyone else came in. It didn't take long for Aniston to return to being her normal lively self, and she loved showing her baby sister to everyone.
Harper has made our family so much more complete. She's the piece we never knew we were missing, and we're so thankful she's here!