Friday, March 26, 2010

A Day at the Park

 
These pictures are actually a couple weeks old now, but I still wanted to share them because I love them. 
 
Two Saturdays ago, when it was a gloriously beautiful day in El Dorado, we took our girls to the park for a picnic lunch and to play for a while.  Mattie played  hard, wore herself out and took a three hour nap that afternoon.  I’m wondering how old she needs to be for me to just drop her off, let her burn some energy off, and then pick her up later?  Kidding, kidding!
 
This was the very first picture I shot when we got there, and before I had adjusted any of my camera settings.  Unfortunately, it’s a little blown out, or otherwise I might have framed it.  Love this one:
Miss Mattie was more than willing to pose for the camera this day:
 
She has mastered these things…not sure what they’re called:
 



This pole made me really nervous.  And of course, she did it maybe 117 times, with me right there saying “hold on with both hands!  Careful!  Careful!!”  every time:

See?  It’s a pretty big fall if you let go:

Here she goes…see why this was making me nervous?  All I could think was broken collar bone:
 
Of course, we did the swings:
I LOVE this picture…the look on her face is so priceless:
 
There’s a reason these are called monkey bars…because monkeys play on them:

Mattie and Matthew raced on the tennis courts:
 
It was neck and neck:

But, Mattie won:
 
Me and Pres were there too:
 
Some jerk at work recently told me those sunglasses look like the kind old people wear after cataract surgery.  And, I think I’m gonna have to go ahead and agree with that. 
 
I love these three of Mattie.  She is such a little mess!!:
 

And that was it.  If you live in El Do, and have kiddos, you should definitely check out Mellor Park.  When I was on maternity leave, I would pick Mattie up after preschool at 11:30 and we would hit one of the parks in town, and eat lunch and play for a while a couple of times a week.  It would wear her out and guarantee that she would take a nap that afternoon, which I needed her to do with a newborn baby.  We quickly decided this park was our favorite, and stopped even going to any of the other ones.  Lots to do for kids that size.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Little Miracle

Edited to add: I've had most of this post written for sometime, but have hesitated in sharing it because it's pretty personal and I am a pretty private person. But, first and foremost, this blog is somewhat of a journal for me of our family's life, and although I choose to share it publicly, I mainly write it for me. And since this is something that was a huge part of our family's life, I wanted to include it here.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we found out we were expecting Miss Presley on Feb. 12 of last year, which turned out to be exactly 8 months prior to her birth on Oct.12. And we kept that news to ourselves for sometime, but finally shared it with friends and family when I was about 10 weeks along, which just so happened to be one year ago this past weekend, yesterday to be exact. Because that was about a year ago, it's been heavy on my mind this week, and even though it’s somewhat personal, I wanted to give a little more to the story, because I feel we were blessed with a little miracle, and it would just be a sin of disobedience to keep it all to myself and not give God the glory for what he orchestrated.

Matthew and I were never a couple that had our whole life planned out before we got married. There were no five year plans, or ten year plans, or any plans at all really. At that point, we just knew we wanted to be married. And when it came to kids, we didn’t have plans for that either. To be quite honest, and I realize this would go against what any good marriage counselor would advise, we never even really discussed children in terms of how many we wanted or when we wanted them before we got married. In our defense, we married quite young – I was 21 and M was 23 – and kids were the furthest thing from our mind at that point. I guess in a general sense, we knew we would have kids SOMEDAY, and at that time, someday seemed really far away.

Flash forward several years…we had been married over four years. I had what, at the time, I thought was a good job, Matthew was in his last year of college to finish his education degree, and we had both been struck to a mild degree by that affliction that most couples get at some point in their marriage called “baby fever”. Actually, for us, it was more just a realization that we didn’t really have any reason to put this off any longer, and we both knew we wanted a baby, so why not go for it? Our big plan was to aim to have said baby in May of 2006, because Matthew would be finishing up school that month and he would have the summer off before starting a teaching job in the fall, and that would give me most of the summer off for maternity leave. As we now know, we were blessed to have absolutely no trouble conceiving, and ended up with a due date in early April instead of May, and then Miss Mattie also made her appearance a month early, so our baby planned for May came in March. I have since learned that in the business of baby making, you rarely get exactly what you want as far as timing goes.

After Mattie was born, we had babies off the mind for quite some time. And like I said before, we didn’t really know if we wanted a second at all. We were all consumed with Matilyn Mackenzie, and she pretty much took over our every thought, much to our delight. Almost as soon as Mattie turned one year old, the questions started coming from every direction…”when are y’all going to have another”, “when is Mattie going to get a sibling?”, etc. I never ask those kinds of questions of anyone (except my sister : ), because I despise getting them. Matthew and I have always had kind of an unspoken rule about family planning, and that is that we don’t discuss it with anyone but each other (and anyone reading this post, I guess). We kind of made a decision to table all discussions about future children until Mattie was at least two years old, because we knew we wouldn’t want another one any sooner than that anyway.

And then time flew, as it so often does in child-raising, and before we knew it Mattie was celebrating her second birthday and starting to become a 'big girl'. As that year went on and progressed, Mattie continued to grow and mature, and was daily becoming more little girl and less baby. The more independent (and potty trained!) she became, the more I could picture our lives with two. However, I still wasn’t quiiiiiiiite ready. I have said before that I think it’s a much harder thing to decide to have a second than it is to have a first. With a first baby, you’re kind of blissfully unaware of just how much a tiny little baby is going to change your lives. With a second, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and it’s kind of hard, or it was for me at least, to dive into that again, this time knowing that mine and Matthew’s lives weren’t the only two that were going to change. It would be a huge change for Mattie, and I wanted to make sure she was at a point where she would lovingly accept a sibling (and consistently use a toilet).

So, finally, after having this on our minds for some time, we decided in late summer/early fall 2008 that now was the time. Mattie was 2 ½, completely potty-trained, and would be a three year old by the time we had the baby, which was a nice spacing, we thought. Inconveniently enough, it was around this time that I began having some issues, and without going into too much detail in such a public forum, I’ll just say they were of the female variety. By the end of the year, it was pretty clear that the issues I was having were causing us to have some problem conceiving. I would never, ever venture so far as to say we struggled with infertility. We didn’t. We had several months of disappointment, but nothing that could compare with the heartbreak I know some couples experience as they are unable to have children of their own. I felt like I had a very small, very limited, and very brief glimpse down that painful path, and I am so thankful we were spared that heartache. But, by the end of January, I was concerned enough with what was going on with me to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Being the level headed person that I am, I’m not proud to admit that when something like this is going on, my mind immediately goes to worst case scenario. I had no idea what my “problem” could be, but I was sure it was bad and that we would likely never have another child. See? Worst case scenario! Also, I've learned the hard way that the internet is your worst enemy, and only adds fuel to the fire, when you’re a worst-case-scenario thinker and trying to self diagnose. When I called my doctor and spoke to my nurse, she encouraged me to take a pregnancy test. I quickly informed her that I had had at least half dozen negative pregnancy tests over the past few months, and I was quite sure THAT WAS NOT IT! So, she scheduled me an appointment to come in on February 19, 2009, and told me again to continue testing because sometimes it takes a while for a positive to show up. “Whatever”, is exactly what I thought.

I should mention here too that as it became clear to me that we were having a problem, I made this an issue of prayer. I know that I should have done that from the very beginning, but I’m guilty of thinking I had this all under control all by myself, as we mere humans so often do. We had no problem the first time, so why would we this time? I began to pray earnestly for a pregnancy. It’s funny how you don’t realize just how bad you want something until you’re faced with the idea of not having it, and that was certainly the case with me. I found several bible verses that brought me some comfort and assurance, and I printed them out on cardstock, put them on my bedside table, and daily prayed for this baby I so badly wanted, and claimed these verses.

During the weeks leading up to that doctor’s appointment, I began to have some symptoms that I knew could be a result of a pregnancy, but thought it might also be a result of something else, or it might also be nothing at all. I think anyone who has tried to get pregnant and had difficulty would admit that your mind can play tricks on you and make you think you’re experiencing a pregnancy symptom when you’re really not. Still, it prompted me to go to Wal-mart on a night when I was all by myself, and buy a pregnancy test. I was so sure it was going to be negative, that I bought a package of six. Pregnancy tests are not cheap, and a box of six is certainly not cheap, but I just assumed it would be awhile, if ever, that I would see a positive, so I might as well stock up. I was home alone that evening, so I took the test when I got home, and waited a while before I went back and checked on it. Imagine my surprise when I saw the word “pregnant”. You could have knocked me over with a feather! Shocked does not began to describe what I felt. I had seen “not pregnant” many times over the previous weeks, and I just fully expected to see it again. And I, being of little faith I guess, thought for sure it was a false positive. So, since I had a box full of pregnancy tests, I took another, and again, positive. And even after a second positive, I still did not allow myself to completely believe that what I was seeing could actually be true.

I called my doctor’s office the next day, and told the nurse I had spoken to before about my new development, and I even asked her what else could cause a pregnancy test to be positive besides a pregnancy. She basically told me, without coming right out and calling me stupid (bless her heart), that if I was having positive pregnancy tests, then I was pregnant (duh!). But, they still wanted me to come in for my appointment on February 19 to confirm it and establish a due date. So, I went in, had an exam, and even had an ultrasound, and found out that against what I had convinced myself were insurmountable odds, I was indeed 5 weeks pregnant and due in October. I can’t describe how nervous I was having that ultrasound. Five weeks is too soon to be able to see a heartbeat or much else on ultrasound, but you can still see some things that indicate a pregnancy, so it did give me some comfort and assurance, but not completely.

To make what is already a very long story a little shorter, I’ll just say that in the weeks that followed, I really struggled with worry and fear of miscarriage to the point that I was all but paralyzed by it. I know where and who that worry and fear comes from, but I just could not get past it. The weird thing was, I didn't have a moment's concern about miscarriage when I was pregnant with Mattie. The difference this time was I have watched so many friends go through that heartbreak in the time since I had her. Also I think it was just because this pregnancy was so much more difficult to acheive and so unlikely with the circumstances I was dealing with that I just felt like it could slip through my fingers at any time. God dealt with me and my fear until I was finally at a place where I realized that, although it would surely break my heart, my world would not end if this pregnancy terminated prematurely for some reason. I was a part of a Beth Moore bible study group at our church during that time, and one night Beth "preached" a lesson on exactly what I was going through....being consumed by fear. I have never felt so much like someone was talking through the TV screen straight to me. That was a turning point for me in that struggle, and I finally began to truly let go of the worry from that day forward.

After going back to the doctor at 9 weeks, and having another ultrasound where I could see an actual baby (Presley!), tiny little arms and legs starting to grow, and an actual heartbeat, I relaxed even more, and began to really let myself believe that we were going to have a baby in a few months! By that time, the waist of my jeans was already beginning to get tight, and as unpleasant as that was, it gave me such comfort to know I was growing because a baby was growing. We told Mattie, family, and friends just days after that appointment....one year ago yesterday.

One of the verses I had printed out while I was praying for Presley was 1 Samuel 1:27 “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has given me what I asked of Him”. I can barely read that verse and think of my sweet Presley without getting teary eyed. I wanted to put it on her birth announcement, but it just wouldn’t fit, so I’m sharing it here now. I know how blessed we are to have both our children, and there is not a night that my head hits the pillow that I don’t thank Him for it. I cannot think of a better verse to describe our 2009 than Psalm 126:3 “He has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Is that not just perfect?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Five Months

This is what a five month old looks like:
And can I just say, I think five months is maybe my most favorite baby age of all (although I reserve the right to change my mind each month hereafter). This little phase where she’s not yet mobile, still very much baby, but developing so much personality everyday – the laughs, the coos, the gummy grins - I can’t get enough.
Presley was five months old on Friday, 3-12-10, which was actually my birthday too. I was 372 months old…whoa.
Miss Presley, what are you up to at five months old?
-This month, much to your delight, you found your feet. You spend lots of time trying to get them to your mouth, without much success.
-Early this month, you finally rolled over. Only from tummy to back for now, but you are *thisclose* to rolling from back to tummy. And you beat Mattie on this milestone…she rolled tummy to back on the day she turned five months.
-You are raising up well on your arms, which makes your tummy time more enjoyable for you.
-This month you started eating baby food. And you have yet to try anything that you have not gobbled right up. I think I may have an eater on my hands. So far you are eating: sweet peas, green beans, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, rice cereal, and oatmeal cereal. And you love it all.
-Still taking 7oz bottles, five times a day. Eating cereal and fruit every morning, and two veggies and sometimes a fruit in the evenings. I think we are seeing an improvement in the spit-up with the addition of the food, praise the LORD!
-Early this month you mastered being able to reach out and grab things. This has provided endless amounts of fun for big sister. She LOVES to sit in front of you with a pile of your toys and hold each one out for you to grab, then take it away, then do another one. Neither of you ever gets tired of it.
-Everything within reach goes in your mouth:
-Chewing, gnawing, chewing. Everything and everybody. No teeth yet though. Mattie cut her first tooth at six months old, so I think we should see something in the next month.
-You are still sleeping in the bassinet in Mommy and Daddy’s room. I’ve considered moving you several times and just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. Mattie moved at six months and did fine, so I’m giving myself a few more weeks. I L-O-V-E having you right next to my bed.
-Still going to bed around 8:30pm every night and sleeping until 6:00am…9.5 hours a night. Today you took a three hour afternoon nap in the recliner with me. Loved it. And needed it.
-It has melted my heart to see how crazy you are about your sister, and how crazy she is about you. You absolutely light up when she comes around you, and she delights in making you smile. She still insists she is your favorite, and none of us can really argue with her. I hope it's always this easy between you two.
-And you are still the happiest baby I know. I think the first six weeks of H-E-L-L were a small price to pay for the baby we’ve got now. I told Mattie one day last week when she was whining about something that she cries more than you do, and it’s mostly true. You rarely make a fuss unless something’s wrong, and you always have a smile and a giggle for everyone you meet. I cannot WAIT to see what next month brings, sweet girl!

Presley has not been able to wear many of Mattie’s baby clothes yet because the seasons they were born in were different. BUT, with the warm weather we had last week, I tried to squeeze Pres into a few of Mattie’s summer things. The outfit she has on in these pics was one of my favorite of Mattie’s when she was a baby. And below is a pic of Mattie rolling around on the floor in it just like Pres. Why does it make me so happy to see my second baby wearing my first born’s clothes? Not sure, but I do love it.


Those two heads could not look more different, could they??

The Birthday Party Where the Mama Worked Herself To (near) Death

I can't explain why, but for some reason, I love to make Mattie's birthday parties as hard on myself as possible. I’m into hand made and custom things (which would explain my Etsy addiction), and I like a birthday party that reflects that. I know I'm not the only mama to do this (I'm looking at you, Kennebeck!), and I think deep down it's only because we want the day to be perfect, and special, and memorable for our little ones. I’m all about the details, and will be the first to admit that I sometimes take it overboard. BUT, my little girl has loved all her parties, and that makes it worth it. On to the party recap:

Mattie is currently obsessed with the Disney Princes. Not the Princesses, but rather the princes that star in the Princess movies…Prince Eric, Prince Phillip, Prince Charming, etc. So, when I asked her earlier this year what she wanted her birthday party theme to be, she said “Prince Phillip”…he’s her current favorite. Hmmm…I don’t think BirthdayExpress.com has Prince Phillip party supplies for little girl birthday parties…WEIRD! I had to explain to her that it would be completely inappropriate for a four year old little girl to have a birthday party theme based on a grown man, so we needed to think of something else. Once she got over her disappointment, she chose Ariel. Ok, I could work with that.

I spent the entire week prior to the party working on making Mattie’s dress to wear. This was the first dress that I’ve made all by myself with no help from my sewing mentor, mom (other than a little instruction on cutting out the pattern, and a tutorial on putting the hem in). It wasn’t extremely difficult, but it wasn’t fast work for a beginner. I worked on it right up until Friday night when I put the hem in in and called it done.

Especially for You did the monogram, but the rest was all me and my Singer Simple:

I will say that I washed and dried it just today, and it held up through that process, so I’m calling it a success.

I debated about whether to do the party at mom and dad’s again or find another location. Our house just isn’t big enough to host that number of people. I was so glad I planned it for their house because they have since sold and will be moving, so this was the fourth and final birthday party of Mattie’s to be held there. Special. Below is the party table:

I did the cupcakes as kind of a backup in case my cake flopped. I think I’ve done that every year.

And here is Ariel in cake form:

I had in my head what I wanted to do, it was just a matter of making it happen, which proved a little harder than I expected.

At 10:00pm on the night before the party, my first attempt at this cake had failed and gone in the trash, and I had burned two pans of cupcakes. I was in a bind with only 12 hours till party time. So, I decided the best thing I could do was go to bed and get up early the next morning and start over. Which is what I did…made a flying trip to Wal-Mart at 6:00am, got more supplies, came home and flew into high gear to be ready by 10:30am. I literally finished this cake right before walking out the door, which is why if you look close, the tail is kind of sloppy. Ang drove while I held the cake as steady as possible on the way to mom’s, and we had an Ace of Cake’s moment as Ariel’s water base tried to crack along the bottom.

We knew with having more kids invited this year that we would need some activities to keep them busy. Sooooo…Matthew watched a few videos on the internet on how to make balloon animals, and learned how to do a sword and a dog. And a hat apparently:

And Aunt Gigi volunteered to do face painting, but she did not watch any online tutorials and instead choose to wing it. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Papa volunteered to go first since the little girls were being timid:
This was supposed to be a monkey, but we thought it looked more like a vericose vein, or birthmark:
Mattie got a pink snake…she has kind of an obsession with snakes:

Rylee got a hula girl…I love the look on her face here:

Mackie got a zebra that she LOVED:

Here is Mattie tearing into her presents:

And, in all my attention to detail, I forgot the candles. So Mattie had to blow out a votive, which was surprisingly OK with her.

Here’s Mattie on her new scooter from Sadie:
DSC_0501
Here’s all the kiddos together:
Mattie, Sadie, Holden, Lex, Mackenzie, and Rylee
All in all a fun party, and Mattie loved it all. And she’s already started talking about planning her 5th birthday party. Yea! We’ll just have to find a place to have it first. And pick a theme that does not involve adult men.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Silly Sisters

This is a short video clip of Presley's belly laugh. She is such a happy baby, and nothing makes her laugh more than her big sister. Mattie doesn't even have to do much of anything, and it delights Pres. This was as we were leaving a restaurant, and saying goodbye to Angela and Jeffrey before they headed home Sunday...we had taken a few pictures, and Mattie was running around kind of wild, and Presley was laughing so hard at her. This is a clip of us doing this once, but we had Mattie run at her about 15 times, and everytime, same thing-Presley cracked up. If I've watched it once, I've watched it a hundred times. This sweet little belly laugh just makes my day, so I'm sharing it:


video

Chew, Chew, Chew, Swallow

Hear that noise? That is the sound of me eating my words as I am now part of the 99.9% of the universe that is on Facebook. Please don't judge me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Four

I cannot believe it's almost time to add another candle to the cake for this little girl.

My heart is heavy but happy at the idea of Mattie getting so big so fast. I know my sentiment is not unique or different than any other parent who has watched their child grow seemingly in the blink of an eye. And I know that time will continue to fly, and will only fly faster the older she gets. But, this is one of the many phenomenon of parenthood that no one can prepare you for. I just did not expect to get here, four years later, so fast. For me, there is no better word to describe watching your child grow than bittersweet. So bitter to think that we are so close to kindergarten, one quarter of the way to a drivers license, fourteen short years away from legal adulthood. But so sweet to watch her personality grow, to have a front row seat to see her become who she's going to be, and to have the supreme privelege of just being her mama. All I can do is soak it all in, take as many pictures as she'll let me, and pray that when I'm very old, my memory will serve me, and I'll be able to call to mind these times that I know are the best of our lives.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

She's Rolling!

Presley started rolling over last week. Only from tummy to back for now. Here's the few pictures I got.

Here she is ready to go and so focused that she's dripping drool:


She's got the arm straightened out, now all she has to do is lay over:

Just fyi, those are green beans on the leg of her onesie, not something else that's the same color. Promise.
Here she goes:
She did roll off the blanket and onto the hardwood, but no babies were harmed in the making of these photos.
Here she is so proud of herself after Mattie and I clapped and cheered for her:
And some sweet little baby legs and toes just because they're cute: