Monday, November 21, 2016

Christmas Pictures 2016

Thanksgiving is three days away.  Three.  Days.  Away.  For me, it's the start of the holiday season and I actually really love it, stress and all.  I love getting together with my family, Christmas gift shopping, listening to Christmas music on the radio, watching holiday movies, decorating the house.  It's my most favorite time of the year.

And one of the things I love most about the holidays is getting the kids' Christmas pictures taken.  Sure, we take them to the mall to sit on Santa's lap and get a quick photo while we're there.  But I love taking them to Target for our Christmas card photos.  In years past, I've dressed the kids in Christmas pajamas {which I LOVED, by the way} but this year we went more formal since it's Lincoln's first Christmas.  And I must say, even though I'm hugely biased, I absolutely adore the way they all turned out.

Bailey and Gerry were surprisingly patient and well-behaved while waiting our turn, and they took direction from the photographer really well.  Lincoln, who is my little smiley guy, pretty much just stared blankly the whole time we were there.  We had to work to get the smallest grin out of him, but we managed to get a few and I'm in love.  These are just a few of my favorites.

My favorite little people

Lincoln, 7 months

Gerry, almost 4 years

Bailey, 6 and a half years

My Little Loves

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Been Too Long

You guys. Life with three kids is crazy. There have been so many times when I've wanted to sit down and write out a blog post, but then I get distracted by one thing or another and just never get around to updating. Next thing you know, four months has gone by and I've yet to write out a single thing. So. Here's a quick update on what's been happening in our little world. 

1.  Bailey started first grade. And she loves it. And she's doing so well!  Her teacher says she's a good student, polite, and well-behaved. And, really, what more can I ask for?  We just got her school pictures back and I can't get over how grown up my girl is looking!  She's growing up fast (too fast) and has developed her own sense of style and attitude. She's just incredible, and I love watching her grow into her own person.

2.  Lincoln is now 6 months old.  That's right. My tiniest baby is half a year old already. He's 22lbs of happy sweetness, and I love him like crazy. He's sitting up on his own now, and trying so hard to crawl. He has two teeth, but isn't a fan of solid foods just yet.  He's our little love.

3.  Gerry is still as goofy as ever. My sweet little boy. I worry sometimes that he gets overlooked as the middle child. Lately, his behavior leaves something to be desired, and I wonder if maybe that's his way of making sure he still gets attention. Of all the kids, Gerry is my little clown. His goal in life is to make people laugh, and he's constantly testing out new material. He loves to laugh and be active, and when he asks to snuggle up with me you can bet that I'll drop whatever I'm doing and snuggle. 

4.  Scott and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary this week. Holy still feels like I walked down the aisle a week ago. 

 That's it for now. I can't believe I was actually able to write this much without one of the kids's a miracle!  



Monday, June 27, 2016

Happy 6th Birthday, Bailey!

My very first baby is 6 years old today.

Six years old.  Let that sink in for a minute.  She's officially closer to being 10 years old than she is to being a baby again, and I almost can't handle it.  I say this on her birthday every year, and I'm sure I always will, but I still so very vividly remember the day she was born, and I can't believe that six years has passed.

My girl, on the day she was born
Bailey is, and always has been, an amazing kid and she astounds me every day.  She's got an abundance of sass and spunk, but can be so caring and loving at times that it almost hurts to watch.  Her smile...well, her smile just lights up my whole world.  She grins with her whole face, missing front tooth and all, and it completely transforms her.

The end of a successful t-ball season with the Rockhounds

She just graduated Kindergarten and she's so damn smart.  So smart.  She's reading and writing and doing simple math.  She loves to draw and sing and play outside.  She wants to be a mom when she grows up and her favorite color is "all of them".  She likes to play sports, and her interests in that respect range from t-ball (see photo above) to dance to cheerleading, and now she's decided that she'd like to try gymnastics.

She's brave.  So much braver than I ever was or could hope to be.  She's outgoing.  She makes friends easily.  She's funny and sweet and so much more amazing than a simple blog post could ever hope to convey.

Bailey and her bff's

On the day she was born, I didn't know what to expect.  I knew that there would be sleepless nights and dirty diapers and temper tantrums.  I expected smiles and boo-boos and some 'tude as she grew older.  But nobody prepared me for the absolute, raw love that I would feel.  The pride I would discover in being her mother.  The happiness that she would bring me every single day {yes, even now that she's 6 and has the attitude of a PMS-ing teenager some days}.  I didn't expect that.  I didn't expect her.  She is so much more incredible than I could ever have imagined.  So much more incredible than I could ever be, and I love her with every single piece of myself.

Six years ago, she made me a mommy.  And she hasn't stopped amazing me since.

Happy, happy birthday, Bailey!  "I love you more than anything else."

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Congratulations, Graduate!

Back in August I wrote this post on Bailey's very first day of school.  Yesterday, she graduated.  From Kindergarten.

You guys, she's going into 1st grade.  How did this even happen?  She's going to be 6 in just a few weeks, and I'm honestly floored.

Yesterday morning, I helped Bailey prepare for her graduation much like a mother helps her daughter get ready on her wedding day.  She sat up in bed just before 7am and I heard her yell, "Yay!  Today is a special day!"  There was the slipping on of her graduation dress, oh so carefully.  The buckling of her dressy sandals.  The curling of her hair.  The sweep of gloss that she just had to have on her lips.  Every step of the getting-ready process was an exciting one for her, and when I dropped her off at school she couldn't get out of the car fast enough, so eager to meet her classmates and get the graduation show on the road.

Our family took up an entire row in the gym.  Before the kids started their procession, a slide show played for the parents.  Picture after picture of our kindergarteners throughout the year set to music that {I'm sure} was meant to be upbeat and happy, but that made me tear up instead.  Sending her off to school this year was one of the hardest things I've done as a parent {silly, I know} and I used to worry about her every day.  Is she having fun?  Is she making friends?  Is she eating enough?  Drinking enough?  Does she miss me?  Is she sad?  My anxiety was relentless.  But then here was this slideshow with picture after picture of my girl and all of her friends.  Playing on the playground.  Holding the baby chicks that their class hatched this spring.  Wearing smocks in art class.  Dancing around the classroom.  Reading books.  In every picture of Bailey on that slideshow she wore a smile on her face.  Every one.  She was fine.  More than fine.

Pomp and Circumstance played.  Honestly, how do parents hold it together when their kids march to that?  It was adorable.  One by one, our 5 and 6 year olds processed through the doors to the gym and down the aisle to take their place in front of the stage.

There are four kindergarten classes, and each child was called on-stage individually to shake hands with the principal and to hug/high five/shake hands with their respective teachers.  Bailey's name was called, and she walked across that stage like she owned the place.

The kids performed a few songs for the parents, complete with hand motions and shimmying of the hips.  Bailey was, strangely enough, shy for the first few songs but once the third and final song played she got into it.  It's her favorite and the one she'd been talking about and practicing at home for weeks.

The entire ceremony took less than an hour and the kids were all dismissed right after.  Bailey was so proud of herself, and I'm so thankful to her teacher.  Ms. Bono doesn't know it, but I was hard on her this year.  In the beginning, I didn't agree with the way she handled some issues in the classroom.  I complained about the lack of information she gave us, and generally started the year off being one of those pain in the ass parents that I hate.

Growth is a process.

In retrospect, I was wrong.  She is a good teacher and she was good to my daughter.  Bailey loves her and has nothing but positive things to say about her, and I wish that I had spent the beginning of the year listening to the wonderful things Bailey had to say about her rather than letting my own worries and anxieties color the way that I felt about her.  Bailey had a fantastic Kindergarten experience.  She learned so much and made so many friends and has become such a confident learner.  And I have her teacher to thank for that.  Because of the experience that Ms. Bono gave her in Kindergarten, Bailey is looking forward to first grade.  She's excited about school.  She's reading and writing and becoming a more creative and thoughtful thinker, and for that I'm grateful.  I'm happy...thrilled, even...that Bailey spent this year with a teacher who saw her for the amazing little person that she is, and fostered that in her.  I only hope that Bailey is as lucky in the teacher department next year.

There are just 2 half days left in this school year, and then she'll officially be a first grader.  She's come so far in the past 9 months, and I truly can't wait to see what she does next year.  I know she's going to be incredible.  Look out, world.  Here she comes!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lincoln: 2 Months Old

Lincoln is two months old today.  Already.  I used to smirk at the parents who said things like "I can't believe my baby is a month old already!" and "It feels like she was just born yesterday!"  And now, look at me.  I'm one of them. 

Seriously, though.  We welcomed Lincoln two months ago, and it already feels like he's been a part of our lives forever.  He fits so perfectly into our little family that it's hard to imagine him not having been there all this time.  He's an angel of a baby, always smiling and cooing, and perfectly content to just hang out.  He's still a snuggle bug and is happiest when he's wrapped up in someone's arms. 

I don't know his exact weight just now (he's got a check up tomorrow afternoon), but I'll come back and update when I do.  I'm guessing he's somewhere in the 10lb-11lb range.  He's eating like there's no tomorrow lately.  I don't have him on any sort of feeding schedule just yet, but he's been sucking down 6oz every few hours, sometimes more.  He's a great sleeper.  For the last two weeks he's been going to bed for the night around 9 or 10pm and waking up for a bottle somewhere between 4:30 and 5am, then going back to sleep until around 8am.  Last night, we got a solid 9 hours out of him and it was amazing.

Right now, we're still in the blob phase.  Lincoln's not doing much in the way of rolling over or sitting up but he's got great head control and makes regular, normal eye contact. Tummy time isn't his favorite these days, but he's perfectly content to hang out on his belly if he's lying on top of Scott or me.  He's happiest when he's got a full belly and is snuggled up in our arms, and I'm perfectly happy to indulge him.  He's by far the cuddliest of my three babies and I'm eating it up.
Bailey and Gerry are still in love with him.  They're always asking to hold him or give him a bottle, and they're quick to sit down and chat with him or sing him a song. It's so awesome to watch them all together.  Lincoln smiles at them like they're the greatest things on earth.  Gerry is the proudest big brother.  Just ridiculously happy to have this little person to help take care of. 

I know I say this all the time, but we're so in love with this little boy.  Look at that face...who wouldn't be?  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lincoln's Birth Story

There's nothing I love more than reliving my kids' birth stories.  I'll never forget their births, but it's so nice to have a tangible story with pictures to look back on, and Lincoln's is no exception.

I found out I was pregnant for the third time in August 2015.  We'd come back from our summer vacation a few weeks earlier, and I remember that for a few days after I'd felt a little bit nauseous off and on.  I assumed I was drinking too much coffee first thing in the morning and not eating enough, so I'd just scarf down a banana before my second cup of the day and go on my merry way.  It wasn't until day 5 of feeling like crap that I started to wonder if maybe there was more going on.  I remember I was standing at the sink washing dishes and complaining to Scott that I wasn't feeling good.  "Well, you're not pregnant", he said matter of factly.  But as soon as the word "pregnant" fell out of his mouth, I started wondering.  Could I be?  We'd been going back and forth for a few months about whether or not we wanted to add to our family, and had finally decided that we'd hold off for now because we had two family weddings coming up the following summer, one of those being out of the country, and we were in a good place with Bailey and Gerry.  We figured we'd maybe start trying after the weddings and see what happened.

Unlike with Bailey and Gerry, there was no sweet moment where I came out of the bathroom after taking the test and smiled and announced the news to my husband.  Instead, I took a pregnancy test later that morning in the bathroom at Target while I was picking up school supplies for Bailey and Scott was at home wrangling the kids.  I honestly wasn't expecting a positive.  Truly.  But there it was.  I floated through Target that morning with a smile on my face.  When I got home, I called Scott upstairs to our bedroom and said, "Soooo...remember how we decided to wait until next year to maybe try for another baby?  How do you feel about squeezing three kids in this tiny house?"  This may have been the longest wait for a reaction out of him, but eventually {after the initial freak-out} that slow smile spread across his face.

I was pregnant.  We were doing this again.

At 12 weeks along, I took this picture of Bailey and Gerry and posted it as our "official announcement".

Both kids were so excited when we told them they were going to have a new baby.  Between Bailey starting school and me being swamped with daycare kids, the weeks almost seemed to fly by and before I knew it we'd hit week 20 and were headed to our gender ultrasound.  I remember walking into the office with Scott and Gerry and climbing nervously onto the table.  At that point, I hadn't been feeling as much movement as I had with Bailey and Gerry, so I was just praying for a healthy baby.  The tech moved the doppler around, got a great heartbeat, took measurements, and told us that baby looked healthy and perfect.  She asked us if we wanted to know the sex and I almost--almost--told her no.  I had my girl and I had my boy.  This time, I wanted to be surprised.  But...Scott really wanted to know and we'd have to face the wrath of Bailey if we didn't come home with a definitive answer for her, and so we asked the tech to yes, please tell us.  She moved the doppler wand slightly to the left and there it was, unmistakable.

We were having a little boy.

Another boy.  Another little man in the house.  Another protector for Bailey {not that she'll ever need one}.  Another mama's boy for me.  Another sports enthusiast for Scott.  I spent the drive home that day imagining what it would be like to be the mother of three children.  I was over the moon.

The next 5 months passed slowly.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I became more and more uncomfortable as the baby grew.  Scott and I discussed {and argued over} baby names.  We moved Bailey back into the smaller bedroom and bought her a brand new loft bed, and set up the bigger bedroom for the boys.  My mom and sister threw me a sprinkle.  I washed and folded and put away teeny tiny baby clothes.  I rearranged the boys' bedroom 500 times.  I packed and re-packed my hospital bag, sanitized bottles and pacifiers and the breast pump.  I watched my belly grow and grow, and I took about a thousand pictures to document it all.

I rested as often as I could, which wasn't very often.  This little guy put quite the strain on me, and by the time I'd neared my due date I was ready to be done.  I still loved being pregnant, reveled in my giant belly and in the baby kicks and rolls and hiccups I felt.  I took pictures of my naked belly, stretch marks and all, because this is very likely our last baby and I wanted to have as many photos as possible to look back on.  I talked to Bailey and Gerry about the baby, and let them feel him kicking and rolling.  I complained.  A lot.  I was in pain but so very, very happy.

Not surprisingly, my due date came and went.  I went to bed every night, hoping to be woken sometime before dawn with contractions.  I had an OB appointment on my due date, and induction was scheduled for the following week.

The last picture I have from my third pregnancy

We made arrangements for Bailey and Gerry, and went in for my induction at 8 days past my due date.  My mom met Scott and me at the hospital at 6am and by 7:30 I was hooked up to pitocin and ready to go.  I was well past my due date.  Baby was super low and heavy.  A midwife came in and checked me around 7:35am.  "I get off at 8am", she said, "and this baby is going to be here before then."  Sweet!  I could handle 25 minutes of contractions.  I was ready.  It was go time.  We all thought he'd be here right away.  My mom even offered to pick Bailey up from school at lunch time to come meet her new brother.  That's how sure we all were that he was going to be here any minute.

8am came and went.  No baby.  My pitocin had been turned up from 2 to 10 and I was still only having moderate contractions.  I got out of bed and walked around for awhile.  Swayed a bit.  Changed positions.  My nurse brought in a birthing ball and I bounced on that thing like my life depended on it.  Still, nothing happened.  We'd been at the hospital for about five and a half hours when my mom and I sent Scott to get lunch.  There was literally nothing happening at this point.  Not a thing.  While he was gone, the nurse came back in and turned my Pitocin up to 12.  A few minutes went by, my mom chatting away and me lazily surfing Facebook and texting friends, when a strong contraction hit.  I closed my eyes and breathed through the pain and thought, Finally.  That felt like the real thing.

I thought that we'd still have a while to go, but a few minutes later another strong contraction hit.  And then another and another until they were just about one on top of the other.  By this point, I was closing my eyes and softly cursing until the pain crested, still undecided on whether or not I wanted an epidural.  Scott wasn't back yet and, after I'd had a few more contractions and my breathing {and cursing} grew louder, my mom quietly asked if I wanted her to call the nurse.

At that point, I'd figured this was quite possibly the very last time that I would get to experience a birth.  So, why exhaust myself with painful contractions when I could get the epidural and enjoy these moments this one last time?

Within minutes of making the decision, the anesthesiologist had arrived and Scott was back with a lunch that he and my mom wouldn't get to eat until much later.  When I was in labor with Gerry my epidural failed and I felt every ounce of pain and pressure in the hours and minutes leading up to his birth.  Because of it, I was so focused on making sure the epidural worked this time that I didn't realize how close to delivery I really was until I started shaking in transition.

The next few minutes are a blur, but before I knew it nurses and the midwife had come in, Scott and my mom were "in position", and I was pushing.  With Bailey, I remember the epidural working so well that I felt almost zen during her delivery.  There was virtually no pain and just the tiniest hint of pressure that let me know when I was having a contraction and could push.  With Gerry, there was intense pain and an incredible amount of pressure that was almost frightening in the moment.  This delivery fell somewhere in the middle.  I felt no pain from contractions, but a constant pressure that was painful and a bit scary in its intensity.

I vaguely remember my mom standing by my head and counting to 10 with the nurses as I pushed.  I remember the sheer exhaustion I felt and the fear that my exertion was doing nothing.  I remember letting my head fall back onto the pillow between contractions and muttering, "I don't think I can do this."  I remember Scott encouraging me to keep going, telling me "He's almost here."  I remember the nurses instructing me, "Breathe.  Push.  Count to 10.  Take a break."   I remember, in the middle of all of that, the midwife suddenly and sternly telling me, "Stop.  Don't push.  Stop.  Breathe through this contraction.  Don't push."  I remember my mom echoing her, a bit more forcefully.  "Jess, don't push.  Don't push."  I remember the nurse's grip on my leg tightening for a brief moment, and I remember knowing in the back of my mind that something wasn't quite right but just focusing so hard on following the midwife's instructions.  I remember a moment of quiet, and the look on Scott's face--a mix of confusion, fear, revulsion.  The cord was wrapped around my baby's neck.  Three times.

To her credit, the midwife sorted it out quickly and carried on as if nothing had happened.  "Push when you're ready", she said.  And I did.  And just like with Bailey and Gerry, I replayed in my mind all the years that had led to that moment, from my first date with Scott to our wedding to each of our children's births.  It's a wonderful thing, in that moment, to take that sweet trip down memory lane.

After what felt like forever {but Scott will be quick to point out was really only about 30 minutes} our boy came wailing into the world at 1:39pm.  The nurse placed him on my chest and I got my first good look at the little person I'd been growing these last 10 months.  I gazed into his eyes, counted his fingers and his toes, spoke softly to him, and snuggled him close.

He was perfect.

They took him after awhile to be weighed and measured {21 inches long, and 7lbs 12oz}, and Scott and I decided on his name.  Lincoln Joseph.  Lincoln, because Scott loved it {it was the name of a character in one of our favorite tv shows and we'd always said that it would be a strong contender for another baby} and Joseph, because it's my father's middle name.  A bit "cool" and a bit traditional.  It suits him well.

Shortly after he was born, Scott's parents brought Bailey and Gerry to meet their new baby brother.  And then after that we enjoyed visitor after visitor.  Lincoln and I were both exhausted but I was so, so happy that he was here.

He was a dream baby from the very beginning, and I've loved every minute of being a mom to three.  He completes our family in a way that I couldn't have anticipated before he was born, and I can't wait to see the kind of person he becomes.

Welcome to the world, baby!  

Lincoln Joseph.
Born April 7, 2016 at 1:39pm.
21 inches long.  7lbs. 12 oz.

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lincoln: 1 Month Old

I don't know if it's the fact that he's another boy or that we just didn't know what we were doing when Bailey was a baby, but Lincoln is a dream.  Like Gerry, he's super chill and calm, and really only cries when he's hungry and we're taking too long to feed him.

At one month old, Lincoln weighs 8lbs. 7 oz. (less than Gerry weighed at birth) and it 23 inches long.  He's bottle fed right now, and is a great eater.  He's not sleeping through the night, but we'll get there.  Right now, we're getting anywhere from 1.5-3 hour stretches before he wakes up.  We're exhausted, but he's an adorable reason to lose sleep.

He's a snuggler.  Big time.  And I absolutely love it.  His favorite thing to do right now is to snuggle up on my chest, whether he's wide awake or sleepy.  Add in a big, soft blanket and it's like the best thing ever for both of us.  I'm eating it up, and taking as many opportunities as I can to really relax and cuddle with him before he's too big to want to anymore.  I've got about a million pictures of him just like this:

What can I say?  My boy's a love bug.

We're just now starting to get a few teeny smiles out of him, here and there.  I have yet to get one, of course.  Lincoln is all about the love for Scott right now.  As soon as Scott is within his line of sight or he can hear him, Lincoln starts with a tiny hint of a smile.  He's starting to coo at Scott, too.  Daddy gets smiles like this one:

And then I lean in, and get THIS.

No big deal.  I don't need a smile from my baby.  It's not like I carried you for 10 months and then went through the pain and exertion of labor and delivery.  Smile for dad, that's cool.  

Like the rest of us, Bailey and Gerry adore their baby brother.  They're constantly asking to hold him, to give him a bottle, to snuggle up next to him.  I love watching them together.  I knew Bailey would be a great big sister; she was wonderful with Gerry.  But I wasn't too sure how Gerry would handle being a big brother and having a new baby in the house.  If I'm being honest, I was a little worried.  But he's been so amazing.  He takes care of his baby him kisses, asks to hold him, talks to him.  He sings You Are My Sunshine when Lincoln gets fussy.  He's slipped into the role of big brother so seamlessly it's like he's always been one.  He and Bailey are the best siblings I could have asked for for this little guy.

So, now that we're one month into this whole "having 3 kids thing", it's not as bad as I was expecting.  I have moments where I kind of feel like I'm drowning a bit.  When all 3 kids need or want something at the same time and I feel like I'm being pulled in 10 different directions.  But those moments are few and far between.  So far, I'm loving being a mom of 3.

I mean...come on.  Just look at them.

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