And Then There Were Three

So far I've been posting lots of angelic pictures of Walker, while Travis and I have enjoyed the peace and quiet of life with one child.  It was delightful while it lasted, but now that we're a full house again, peace and quiet are a thing of the past! If you've been wondering how it's going this week, now that all the kids are back under our roof, this post is for you.  And for those who thought I looked so rested and relaxed, the last laugh is yours now!  Ha! 
Before Ava and Carter came back on Tuesday afternoon, we went to the store and picked out a little big sister and big brother gift from Walker.  They knew they had a surprise coming and since I knew that Trav would be gone at a meeting on their first night home, I thought I might need a good activity for them to be consumed with while we all adjusted to our first night together. 
I also pulled out their baby blankets, which I had packed away for a few years while I was looking for something for Walker.  I thought they might get a kick out of seeing them with their name and birthday on there.  This is my favorite baby blanket from Pottery Barn Kids and I've been meaning to get online and get one ordered for Walker too.  I love how soft they are and of course, I love the option to personalize them! 
They've stayed in perfect shape mostly because I used them so sparingly so that they'd have them someday.  At the time it seemed smart, now I just wonder why I would think they'd want these as adults??  I officially handed them over and now they are both sleeping with them :) 
While I counted down the hours til my big babies came home, Walker was also clearly thrilled to see them! 
Just like I knew they would, the minute they walked in the door and kissed me, they went searching for their surprises and immediately found them! 
Carter's been playing Legos with his friend Owen for a few months now and he has really shown how much he loves them.  I wanted to wait until these were something he could reasonably do without me and that he was excited about.  I knew the million pieces was part of the deal but I just wanted to be sure that both kids were ready to take care of their little creations and keep track of the extra pieces as much as possible.  
We picked out a little construction site set and an excavator and Carter was thrilled with both!
Ava also wanted this set the first time she spotted it and she was so excited to build Ariel's lagoon together! 
After the excitement of the Lego gifts calmed down, they discovered the other gift waiting for them, Walker! Love this little pick of all three of them.  It's so weird to see a third person in their pics, I'm so used to Ava and Carter together! 
Such a sweet big sister!  Ava wanted to hold him immediately and she did a great job. 
We asked Carter if he wanted to hold Walker and he said "nope"!  Ha ha! He was content to come over and look at him, to "pet" his head, and give him a kiss, but he wasn't interested in holding him yet.
Ava was happy to take his turn!  
Our first night was a hilarious dance with me alternating between the needs of all three until bedtime.  I rotated turns with the kids as we built the little parts of their lego sets, while stopping to feed Walker or change him, or make dinner in between.  It was my first taste of reality with all 3!
I'm thankful we had this little distraction to keep everyone busy and happy while I answered lots of questions about Walker and what I was doing or what he was doing all night.  I got my first taste of what it's like to feel totally overwhelmed, but I had to keep reminding myself that we are just going to have to figure this out with time and that it's a season that will pass and get easier.  
It was incredibly sweet to look at all three of my kids and just marvel at how the Lord has truly blessed us with a full house.  I missed Ava and Carter so much while they were gone and yet within an hour of them at home I also realized that my days of relaxing with Walker were over!  It was like a whirlwind when they walked in the door and it hasn't let up yet.  
Carter has been the one I've worried most about in this new transition.  He's so used to being the youngest and the only boy, and he's not really had to share his stuff.  That's the beauty of a girl and a boy.  They each have their stash of toys and rarely do they overlap!  He's done better than I thought so far, he loves to check on Walker and pat his head or "help" me burp him.  I'm thankful he and Ava have each other to play with and I can tell that being with her feels familiar and safe to him.  He's struggled only when people have come to our house or yesterday, during our photo shoot when he didn't want to do anything I asked him to.  I know he'll adjust and do fine over time, but it does rattle me to see him act out or to see his tears when he falls apart.  He's the one who isn't gentle by nature or quiet ever and while both things are a little necessary these days, I don't want to always be harping on him either.  He's got a tender heart and I know he's trying to handle everything and all the changes in the best way that he can.  I'm reminded of how quickly I tend to lose my patience and how greatly he needs me to be patient with him right now.    

No one ever tells you the endless stream of things to worry about or the ways your kids will humble you and all your parenting "skills" until you are in the midst of it, feeling like you have no idea what you're doing.  But that's where the Lord comes in to affirm that we don't know it all and remind us that He does.  I'm not struggling to feel like I have enough love to go around, I'm just struggling to feel like I'm loving everyone well and according to what they need...and the Lord keeps gently reminding me that I don't have to do it all perfectly or even falsely believe that I'm capable of doing it all.  
With three little ones under our roof, I know that I need Him now more than ever before! 

 These are the days when life needs to stay as simple as possible so that we can all get through a day without extra stress or commitments.  I decided on that first night that survival was basically going to be the name of the game this summer!  As long as we all got dressed in something, had at least one decent meal a day and managed to get some fresh air if we could, we were all going to be fine...right??    
It's become very apparent to me that keeping up with the house is going to go downhill and when or if I have even a pocket of time to clean up, I have no desire to spend my time catching up!  That will change as things settle down but right now I'd rather rest and snuggle with someone instead of doing yet another load of laundry or loading the dishwasher again.   
Ava is doing great with the transition so far.  She has risen to the occasion of being a great big sister and is very concerned that she is being a good helper.  I love that about her but I'm always trying to free her up from the need to please us by what she does or the responsibility she tries to take on when she doesn't need to.  She's got such a people pleasing way about her like her Daddy and she's a driven firstborn, which I totally get because I am one too.  I love praising her for the way she helps out and for how she anticipates what I might need, but I've also realized that a sharp word from me can quickly hurt her.  

If you really want to know the nitty gritty of life with three, it's not easy right now! I am running on a short fuse with the lack of sleep and the stress of juggling everyone's needs, but the Lord has been good to open my eyes so that I can see how I am either building my kids up or tearing them down with the words that come out of my mouth.  I wish it weren't so, but that's the honest truth of this new reality.  It's hard with 3 and I've had a lot of time on my own with them this week.  I have a feeling having three kids is going to reveal my need for Jesus once again and show me just how much I need to shift my dependence on myself to a dependence on my Savior.  
Even still, with all that overwhelms me right now, this is truly an amazingly sweet time.  I love each one of these little peanuts and as often as I can I'm trying to get my arms around all of them, whispering how much I love them.  That was a great reminder from Ann Voskamp a few years ago, about raising kids.  In her opinion, the taller children get, the more they need to be hugged and affirmed.  We tend to do the opposite, love on them when they are young and then pull back as they get older.  Obviously some of that is totally appropriate, but it just reminded me that big kids still need that physical expression of love too.  She also made the case for the child that is struggling the most or having a hard day, they are the one who need to know you love them unconditionally and with a heart of grace. 
It's amazing how one tiny little person can totally change the dynamics of a home! 
Mostly though, he's changed it for the better! We are all getting a kick out of a sleeping newborn here there and everywhere.  The kids are doing great about keeping the noise level down when he is asleep, although we aren't keeping it totally quiet because we want Walker to learn to sleep through the chaos.  As the third, that will likely be his experience for his growing up years! 
We all marvel at his tiny fingers and toes, the noises he makes while he sleeps and the way he curls up in a ball when we hold him.
You can see how long he really is in this shot.  Diaper changes are not his favorite thing right now but he's getting used to them.  After he squawks a little (or sometimes a lot) he goes into this pose with his fists by his face while he sucks ferociously on his paci!  Ha! The kids get totally nervous when he's screaming.  It's a common sight to see one or both of them with their fingers in their ears while he's crying.  They both love to tell me, "Mommy, Walker's crying!  He needs you!"  as if I can't hear the screaming myself  :) I've been trying to help them relax and understand that crying doesn't hurt him, he's just trying to tell us what he needs.  Not sure that's working yet!  Ha ha! 
Most of the day this little guy is asleep but when he's awake, we are all in his face talking to him and looking in those big eyes.  
Ava likes to call him "Walkie" and Carter likes to call him "Walker Ranger"!  
We are all in love with our Walker Cole and we are enjoying these days tremendously, with lots of coffee to help us! Almost equally overwhelming is the way our friends, family and church family have come around us to love on us and support us as we adjust.  We have had so many meals already and our fridge is just overflowing.  Our big kids have been able to go swim with friends and have even had little gifts delivered for them too.  My friends have been so sweet to check in with me, fold my laundry, run to Costco for me and offer other ways to help.  We had a sweet friend from Church take some unbelievable pictures of Walker and all of us, both in the hospital and this week at home.  They are SO darling, I can't wait to show you! We know the Lord is wrapping his arms around us through the tangible help of friends and family.  He is truly meeting all of our needs in this season and we are thankful.  
I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I'm totally exhausted! It takes a lot out of me just to make it through a day, but I'm doing it with enough grace from the Lord to handle it hour by hour.  My recovery has been good, I feel so much better than when I was pregnant, sometimes I forget I still need to rest from the c-section until I start feeling sore again.  I haven't started driving yet but next week I should be good to go.  Walker is doing so well through the night and getting good chunks of sleep helps so much.  The other day when I got up in the morning, Ava took one look at me and gasped saying, "Wow Mom!  Your tummy doesn't look like Walker's in there anymore!"  And then she clapped for me, ha!  
At least I've got my own cheerleader to see me through  :)  
However, I am operating out of my bed a lot right now! Fortunately my kiddos love to snuggle up for some Mickey Mouse and Walker and I are always game for that too  :)  

So there you go, we're making it!  Next week will be a whole new set of challenges as we get out for a few appointments and get used to the circus that is loading and un-loading from the minivan.  I love having three kiddos and all that comes with it!  
This summer will likely be one we won't forget, but I know how quickly it goes so I am savoring all of it...the good, the bad and the hilarious! And believe me, nursing round the clock with a 5 year old and almost 4 year old watching, has brought lots of the hilarious  :) :)  The questions I've answered this week and the conversations we've had are nothing short of funny and classic!!  

We are so blessed and thankful for life with Ava, Carter and Walker! 

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