Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Goodnight October

I got all of these pictures loaded and the post titled last night and then.... the baby woke up.  Unfinished. Undone. Untended. Pretty accurately depicts my life these days (and this space is no different). The past few weeks have been a complete blur. Collin is nearing the finish line with the house he is building and has been working around the clock (I think he logged 200 hours in 2 weeks time). But with the flip of the calendar I always feel like we have hit a bit of a reset button. So while I'm lamenting the fact that in just a few short days my baby turns ONE I'm also rejoicing that October has been put to bed. 

Goodnight, October. 

Good morning, November

Maybe, if luck will have it, I'll see you around here more in the weeks to come.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dear Stella: Months 4 - 7

Dear Stella Bea,

Oh sweet girl, I have to apologize, I never found the time to write you a letter after your fourth, fifth, or sixth months.  It nearly brings me to tears to admit that; each of your brothers have a letter for every single month and it bothers me so much that you won’t have the same. But the truth is, with each passing year our lives get busier and busier and finding a time to sit quietly amongst the working and schooling and sports playing has been impossible these last few months.  I told myself I would write separate letters anyway, even if they were late, but as each day passes the sad reality is sinking in deeper and deeper and I need to just admit it to myself: I’m not going to get those letters written. But today I have a rare moment of quiet and while you and your brothers and Dad nap I wanted to catch you up on the last few months.

When I last wrote to you at three months you had just started to smile and coo; and your brothers loved to hold your hands and talk to you; as the days have gone by those adorable coos have turned into full fledged chatter. Oh Baby Girl, you, my dear, are a loud one!  As your brothers were non-stop movement you are non-stop talking. We know you are awake in the morning when we hear your first squeals of delight – you rarely cry first thing in the morning, you either push yourself up on your arms and start babbling or roll over and break into song, as if to say “What a glorious day!” Either way we have to pick you up as soon as we hear you lest you wake up your brothers. And with those early morning squeals the day has begun – you talk in your bouncer, on the play mat, when it is quiet, and when everyone else is talking. You talk during mommy’s book clubs, at church, in the store, and throughout your brothers’ baseball games. More than one person has said, in reference to you, “Wow, she’s really a talker!” 
You say Baa Baa Baa, Maa Maa Maa and Daa Daa Daa. You talk and talk and talk; unless, that is, someone new comes up to you and squeezes your adorable little feet or dares to pick you up, as strangers are known to do, then you furrow your brows and look for mom.

 Oh yes my sweet baby girl, you are a Mama’s Girl. And it could not delight me more. You’re brothers were never this attached to me. I mean I was mom, so of course there was a certain measure of attachment, but everyone in this house knows that if you see me walk away or out of the room there are usually instant tears from you – even when Daddy is holding you.  You are my side-kick, my constant companion, my best girl, and if that never, ever changes I would be ever so happy. In fact, it is my hope that in 10, 20, THIRTY years you will still want to be this close to me, still lean to me for comfort and still have this much faith and trust in me.

Since the last time I wrote you have also started moving so much more. You are not crawling or anything yet (though when you have something solid to push your feet against you have been known to get up on your hands and knees and start rocking) but you push up on your hands and are definitely starting to move around.  You didn’t start rolling consistently until after 6 months but now you roll all over the place – the other day I hadn’t been out of the room for more than 10 seconds when one of your brothers called “Mom, she’s under the couch!” We can’t set you on your play mat and expect you will be there for longer than 30 seconds these days.

 You’ve also started eating solids.  We started you on them at 6 months with rice cereal. I really thought you were ready, you were showing interest, but quite honestly it was kind of disastrous. You didn’t care for it at all and you spit out more than you swallowed making the clean up tedious.  Maybe this is the way it was for all of your brothers and maybe I just had more time/energy to deal with it then but this time around I said forget it.  So we stopped and tried again at 7 months and guess what??  You were like a pro at 7 months.  It went so smoothly and you get messy but not THAT messy and you get so excited when you see me preparing your bowl.  In addition to rice cereal you have tried butternut squash and yams. You liked both but preferred the yams, I think. Tonight I’m going to whip you up some zucchini. I’m really looking forward to this summer and feeding you all these fruits and veggies as them come in season – fresh food is one of the perks about being a fall/winter baby.

 Let’s see…what else can I tell you about you? You are known around here as Stella Bea, Stella Bella, Bella Boo, Bea Bea, and like your brother Nolan sometimes we just call you by your middle name, Beatrice. You have the chubbiest little thighs and cheeks and I just can’t help but kiss them constantly. You have blue eyes and your hair seems to be getting lighter; I’m still not quite sure what color it is going to be. You have a penchant for falling asleep in your high chair. You love your chewy rosary, wooden rattle, blue elephant that makes all sorts of noises, and this little computer that Nolan found the other day tucked away somewhere. It lights up and makes sounds and you kick and pound and cheer when you see it. You are wearing 9 month clothes and size 2 diapers. I’m not quite sure how much you weigh right now but at your 6-month check up you were 15 lbs, 13 oz (38%) and 25.5 inches long (24%). This is right in line with your two big brothers who were 15 lbs 6 oz and 15 lbs 13 oz, respectively (each between 25 and 25 ¾ long)…..apparently Nolan was the runt of you four, he only weighted 14 ½ lbs at your age. Speaking of those big brothers, Stella Beatrice, you may be the luckiest girl in the world, you have three brothers who love you so, so much.  They would do anything for you and there is no doubt in my mind that as you grow up they will be ever so protective of you. That makes my Mama heart so happy, but not at all surprised, loving you is easy….you make it easy, because you are such a delightful little girl. Happy 7 months, sweetie.

I love you,

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Eight years ago I celebrated my very first Mother's Day as a mom.  To be honest, I don't really remember the specifics of that day, I believe we had a cook-out at our house but I could very well be mistaken.  What I do remember though is the Mother's Day just before that one.....nine years ago today.  I was actually pregnant but didn't know it yet and I remember that day being really, really emotionally difficult.  All I wanted, more than anything in the world, was a child of my own. I've been thinking a lot about mom's this week and especially of those to-be mama's and those who wish to be mama's; I know this day can be very difficult for the latter. 

Today I found myself reflecting on all of those mother's who have gone before us, my Grandma Bender and Collin's Grandma Lu in particular.  Last night my mom and I were talking about her parents....my mom lost her mom when she was seven, my grandma lost her mother when she was 12 and she and her sister were raised in a orphanage.  I never knew this before last night.  I honestly can't fathom growing up without a mother and it made my heart ache for all of those that have had to endure that pain.

The weather was gorgeous here today and Collin and I were lucky to get to spend the day with both of our moms having lunch on Papa and Busha's back deck.  The baby was passed from lap to lap and the boys played in the woods while the rest of us soaked in the sun, listened to the birds, and chatted.  It was the perfect Mother's Day celebration.  

I feel so thankful to have the opportunity to mother each of these children, grateful to have my mother and mother-in-law guiding me along the way, and so happy to be surrounded by friends and family who set such amazing examples of motherhood

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Highlights

~ Chocolate before breakfast ~
~ New sunhats and field guides ~
~ First Easter dress ~
~ The return of the Alleluia ~
~ Celebrating at Papa & Busha's ~
~ 150 hidden Easter eggs ~
~ Lemon Meringue Soup (opps!) ~
~ Basketball, basketball, basketball ~

We had a fabulous Easter Sunday and hope you did too!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dear Stella: 3 Months

Dear Stella,

You are now three months old and quickly careening your way to four months. It has been on my to-do list to sit down and write this letter for the past three weeks but February has been a busy month…more on that later, let’s talk about your third month…

Your third month, the month of January, was quite possibly one of the best months on record for our family.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of November and December, trying to keep up with your brothers’ school schedules and all the holiday preparations, January was a nice calm after the storm.  Our family made some big life changes this month and I think we all benefited from it.  Our mornings were lazy, sleeping in on a daily basis, and our afternoons were just the right mix of work and play.  Because we were no longer constantly on the go and shuffling you from place to place you were finally able to settle into a nice routine; and if there is one thing you should know about your Mama it’s that I love routine! In the morning after waking you are typically up for an hour or two (that time seemed to grow over the course of the month) and then you go back to sleep for a nice solid stretch of 3 to 4 hours.  This is when your Dad and I would tear through the house cleaning or trying to get “projects” done while your brothers played. You usually wake up around noon or 1 pm ready to eat and then spend the afternoon entertaining us.  You nap sporadically in the afternoon but not typically for very long stretches. The very best part of this new routine, though?  Bedtime!!  A month ago I remember telling myself over and over that “this too shall pass” in regards to your nightly scream fests.  But to be honest with you, I’m not quite sure I believed it.  If I could I’d go back to the Mama from last month and give her a hug and assure her, it will pass. You have officially declared your bedtime to be 9 pm and I typically bring you into bed with me and read a book while you nurse and then dose off. The only thing that isn’t delightful about this is if we miss it.  Ooooh Baby Girl, you are feisty when we miss your bedtime.


I think if you took a poll around our house it would be unanimous that our favorite thing about this month has been your smile and coos. Your brothers do not pass up a moment to sit in front of your bouncer, hold your hands, and make you talk to them. You and Hutton have a particularly strong bond at the moment.  He likes to entertain you and knows how to calm you when I need to set you down for a moment to get something done. Equally as much as they love to hear you talk it breaks their hearts to hear you cry.  When we are at home they call for me frantically when it appears that they can no longer settle you and when we are in the car they sing your name, Stel-la Be-a-trice, Stel-la Be-a-trice, until you calm down.


 So, now it’s time to talk about the not so great moment of this month. My return to work. On February 1st I had to jump back into the working mom role, a role I would, quite frankly, love to leave in the dust.  I tried hard not to allow myself to get caught up in the thought of returning, knowing it would do no good to focus too much on it and instead tried to enjoy every last second I had as an at-home mom.  I think we all did pretty good and to be honest my return has gone about as smoothly as we could all ask for.  What didn’t go quite as smoothly was my very first day back, which required me to be in Milwaukee and required you to take a bottle.  Oh your poor Dad, you cried a lot that day wondering what the heck this thing was and where the heck was your milk already? You only drank 5 ounces the entire day but you made it through. Taking a bottle is something you still aren’t very good at and something we should probably practice a little more.

At three months I’m not quite sure how much you weigh, but I know you are growing nicely as you are really filling out your clothes.  You were still wearing size 3 month clothes and size 1 diapers at the three month mark but it was apparent that those both needed to be moved up soon. You still have blue eyes (can you tell I’m not yet convinced they will stay blue?) and your hair is a mix of darker strands on top and strawberry blonde on the side. You warm up to the idea of baths more and more each time we put you in there. You like to be carried facing out so you can see everyone or facing in when you are tired so you can nuzzle your head into my neck.  You loathe the car.  LOATHE. I am hoping you will grow out of this soon but for now I dread having to take you just about anywhere. You have the chubbiest little cheeks and thighs and I just want to gobble you up on a daily basis. I thank the Lord daily that he sent you to be with us.

All my heart,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

an anniversary

On Monday we celebrated the anniversary of Keaton's baptism.

This is something we were good about doing with the kids when they were young and we've been really terrible at doing the last few years. And speaking of terrible, I did a terrible job at frosting the back side of this cake. This, top-layer-is-about-to-slide-off, cake.  Ah well, cake is cake, it matters less what it looks like and more about how it tastes, right? (It's already gone, so I think it tasted okay.)

We all gathered around the table, brought out his baptism photo, found a white candle to light, and sang the "Happy Birthday" song except used the words "Baptism Anniversary" which doesn't work all that well but Keaton didn't care, it was a special day and a special cake made for him and he was beaming none-the-less.

Then he opened his little gift, a hand painted St. Francis of Assisi, his very favorite saint, the patron saint of animals and the ecology (would you expect this nature-lover to pick a different saint?) He asked for this for his birthday and I had ordered it but once it arrived decided to hold on to it for this occasion instead. I think that was a good decision.  Keaton was thrilled and it made this special day just a bit more special.

Isn't he just beautiful?  When I opened up the package he took my breath away; I think he is even prettier in person than in this photo.  He was custom made from In the Loft on Etsy.

Back in 2009, I wrote about Keaton's baptism day here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Stop the Presses!

This guy requested Tea Time with Mom!

How can I not oblige a request like that?

So we were swept away to a chimney-corner nook where we found flowing brooks, trees and crooks, and flying fairy looks in our winter picture story-books.

Oh you guys, I am seriously loving poetry time. I still have so much to learn but these sweet little poems have increased my appreciation for this art so much.

Speaking of learning, this guy is also trying to master the "tea pinky". We might have a little ways to go.

When tea time was over I noticed Keaton's cup was still full.  

"Aren't you going to drink your tea, Buddy?" I asked.  He was raving about it to his brothers who choose milk instead.

"Nah." He told me. "I only like it with cookies."

Ahhh, I see how this goes.  Oh well, looks like I'll be making more cookies if it brings them to the table for poems.

Happy Weekend, everyone!