This Time Last Year

Hello blog friends! I'm afraid to say we're nearly strangers these days, but the proof may be in the pudding...My intentions to update the blog are so strong, but my follow through is not. Typically a nap or just ten minutes alone wins out! Anyway, I'm happy to be tapping on my keyboard just a little bit on this Friday morning and I'm sort of in the mood for a little flashback.

I dug up some fun pics from a year ago! I find myself looking backwards in my iphoto library a lot. I enjoy seeing what we were doing a year ago but mostly I just marvel at the way our kids keep growing. I like to tell them that despite what Mommy tells them NOT to do, they insist on getting bigger and I don't like it! That always makes them giggle and Carter usually tells me "But Mom, I have to get bigger! God keeps growing me up!" I suppose that's true, but it is simply amazing how fast these early years go, even though I swear some days seem to never end, right? 
This is truly the season of long days and short years! 
 A year ago Carter was adorably cute.  He still is, but look at that baby face.  I could eat him up with a spoon!  I also can't help but notice the mischief in that little smirk...yep, that still hasn't changed  :) 

Last year at this time he was freshly potty trained and we were cautiously confident that we could go anywhere without fear of an accident.  For the most part that was true!  He did great.  We were also in the middle of the 3's, which I happen to think is the hardest year.  The temper tantrums, the unreasonable thinking, the desire for more freedom and the longing to do everything "by myself" makes for an exhausting year.  When I think about how far we have come in the obedience realm, I am grateful. We survived a hard year and I see fruit in him every day from the struggle.  We still have lots of training and forgiving and patience to extend to one another but we have turned a corner with Carter and I love the little boy he is.  He makes me laugh and he is funny! He is also very affectionate and snuggly and for sure he is ALL BOY!  He never stops moving.  
And speaking of growing up, look at how little Ava looked last year! She was 4, about to turn 5 and she's got that same baby face in this picture, although at the time she looked so old to me. Last year we were loving Preschool with her and enjoying the ways that stretched her and grew her. She played school every single day at home, mimicking her teachers and roping Carter into being her student. I wrote on a million "line leader" slips of paper for every toy or doll or name she could think of. She religiously carried ziplock baggies around the house for months, pulling out a name to see who the "line leader" would be in her next imaginary game! We got such a kick out of that! Preschool was a wonderful thing for Ava and she loved every minute of it. 

I spent so much of last year worrying and stressing about Kindergarten. We weren't sure where we would send her or what the Lord would have us do. It was a major exercise of my own faith to lay those anxieties about my baby girl at the feet of Jesus and ask him for wisdom while confessing my tendency to worry rather than pray. It's so good for me to remember that season last year and to now see how the Lord has answered those prayers and paved a path for Ava that has been good. Kindergarten has been great and we are pleased with her school and especially with her sweet teacher. We see how the Lord is using us to be a blessing and to love a whole new group of peers and families and also how He's used new faces and friends in Ava's life too.  It's been a learning experience for all of us, but He has been so faithful through all of it. 
Ava was so excited and ready to have a baby in our family and she spent lots of time mothering her baby dolls in preparation. She was a wonderful helper through my pregnancy and the whole thing was very exciting for her. I knew she would do a great job as a big sister again and I was right.  She has been so sweet and it's amazing to me how much more she can help me with a year later! 
Last year I was worried about Carter feeling left out when Walker would be born but I'm thankful I don't see that struggle in him so far. He adores Walker and spends the most time playing with him. I got to spend a lot of one on one time with Carter last year while Ava was in preschool and what a blessing that has been to both of us this year.  Carter has really grown up this year and is doing a great job as a big brother.  
 Last year we were trying to imagine how different it would feel to add another baby to our family after a few years of it just being the 4 of us, and yet now when I look at this picture of them, I immediately think "Where is Walker?"  I can't imagine life without him and I love having three kids. 
 It's especially odd for me to look back last year and remember how much pain I was in. I was in the end of my second trimester and my SPD had gotten much, much worse. Walking was a problem and even worse, sleeping. I do remember crying and thinking I would never survive that pregnancy and that I could not be a good Mother to Ava and Carter because it was so hard to do anything. I'm sure there were quite a few hormones influencing that train of thought but the pain was real and so were my ever increasing limitations. Last Spring was HARD for me but this Spring I am so thankful and so grateful for the product of all that pain, our precious Walker. He was so worth all of it!
It's interesting to look backwards and think about the things that kept us up last year...Some of those fears never happened, some were not really a big deal at all, and some were completely imagined. I remember my Mom talking me through some stressful things in college and saying to me, "Steph, in 24 hours will this really matter?  Or in 6 months, will this be over? Is it really worth all this stress??" I've always tended to jump 20 steps ahead into worst case scenario thinking and a healthy dose of perspective is usually the remedy I need. God has seen us through this past year and He's taught us so much. He has stilled our fears, validated some things we prayed about, answered us in ways we weren't expecting and has poured out his spiritual blessings again and again as we've remembered to act on His Word and His promises. As our kids grow up and as I look back and see the seasons that have already fallen out of our grasp, I often think "We are doing this, Lord. You are seeing us through and meeting our needs and life is happening whether we think we're ready or not." 

So here is my deep thought for this Friday morning...God is faithful and He is all we need!


Eight Months Old

Walker, you are 8 months old now! 
I haven't been very timely about getting these updates posted on schedule lately, but better late than never I suppose? There are so many things I want to remember about this month and I'm very aware that if I don't record it now, it will be gone from my memories, later.  You have had so many BIG changes this month! We all feel like we are just along for the ride while you discover new things and learn new tricks everyday.  Carter told me today, "Mom, I just love our baby so much!"  He was talking about YOU Walkie and I know the rest of us echo the same sentiment.  We adore you!
After all your sickness finally ended, I took you to the doctor for your 6 month well check and vaccination appointment, 2 months late!  We needed you to be well before we attempted all those shots, but at least we have some recent stats about you from last week! 

-You weigh 19lbs and 4oz. putting you in the 46th percentile.  You dropped a bit in weight, which is very normal because you are on the move now!
-You are 28.5 inches long, which also puts you in the 76th percentile for height. You trend on the tall and thin trajectory, although we feel like we are carrying a sack of potatoes these days, you feel so big and heavy all of the sudden. 
You currently wear size 9-12 mo in clothes, although 12 months is probably a better fit.  You continue to grow out of clothes about as quickly as I fold, sort and organize them in your drawer! We've moved you up to size 5 diapers, which concerns me a little bit, considering size 6 is the biggest out there and you're only 8 months old! I have a feeling I will be buying size 5 for a loooooonnnnnnggggg time to come!
We are so thankful that you have been sleeping great this last month! You nap between 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon.  At bedtime you are sleeping between 11-12 hours, which is also awesome.  Now that you are so active, you are sleeping hard to make up for it!  You've turned into a tummy sleeper and a side sleeper, we find you in all sorts of positions in your crib and you love cuddling up with your soft blankies. 
You usually wake up before your siblings do and we bring you to the living room with all your toys and turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which you seem to love! 
We don't pretend that you understand it or have any idea what's going on, but all the bright colors and the music seem to catch your attention and make you smile! You love to watch Praise Baby in the morning or just before bed as well.  We put you in your rock and play and it seems to calm you as you work that paci and rub those blankies on your face. It's rarely quiet around here and you seem to be very used to that!  When it's quiet or we all leave the room, you are not happy about it  :) 
You started saying "Mama" and "Da da da da" very clearly this month! Last month you started with "Ma ma ma" every now and then but now, I am your go-to word!  In fact, whenever you are mad or stuck or annoyed or lonely, you yell at me.  You very loudly yell, "MAMA, MAMA, MAMA" over and over until I come get you and solve your problems  :)  It's both delightful and exhausting! 
You are full on part of the gang now! You love to be in the middle of whatever Ava and Carter are doing and they love to have you with them. You haven't started destroying their stuff YET, but that is definitely around the corner and will likely test their excitement about having you play with them.  But for now, you are so much fun for them.
You caught what we thought was another cold this month, but as it turned out, it was your first double ear infection and your first time on antibiotics. The germ factory that is Kindergarten and Church, finally caught up with you and took it's toll.  We felt so badly for you, but thankfully your meds did start to work...
...but not until we got a stronger dose and added some breathing treatments.  I had to bring everyone in after all the coughing and sneezing fevers and as it turned out, all three of you were sick with something! 
So with 4 antibiotics, and a plan to do breathing treatments every 4 hours for everyone, we slowly got better.  It was a good two weeks before we were all back on our feet again!  You were a trooper but we are so thankful to see you healthy and happy.  We hated seeing you so miserable and hearing your congested cough.  That is the price you pay when you have older siblings but hopefully we can build up your immunity system now so that down the road we won't have so many issues. 
Carter introduced you to a bunch of cars and the two of you played for hours on his car mat.  You were fascinated with the whole thing and did what most boys do, you held a car and spun its' wheels over and over while the gears in your head turned too.  It's so funny to see you latch on to cars and trucks and airplanes.  You're going to love having an older brother to play with!
We put you in the tonka truck one afternoon, the same truck that you laid in as a newborn for photos...
 Just look how you have grown! 
It was very cold this month and with all of our sickness, we didn't go out very often, so we did tons of this! 
At the beginning of the month, you mostly stayed where we put you but as the month wore on, you started spinning around on your tummy and scooting yourself to different toys you wanted. 
It didn't take you too long, however, to start getting up on your knees and rocking back and forth!  You haven't totally figured out how to crawl forward on your knees but you do go backwards and you have perfected the art of the army crawl. 
You twist yourself in all kinds of moves but you've now figured out how to go from your tummy to a sitting position!
You LOVE your new freedom to roam and can drag yourself all over the house exploring and getting into new forms of trouble!  You are SO proud of yourself and so are we, of you. I know one of these days you're finally going to figure out how to move on those knees and then we'll really be in trouble. You get yourself stuck in all sorts of predicaments right now but it's a good thing we have all these extra sets of eyes to keep track of you and rescue you!
We did celebrate your first Valentine's Day this month! 
You got over your ear infections and cold a few weeks ago, only to be in the throws of teething right now! We can tell your poor mouth is hurting you and the pediatrician could see several bottom teeth just waiting to poke through.  It has affected your eating and your mood and we are trying to help you work through it. 

Speaking of eating, this month you love: 

-Puffs, any flavor.
-Baby food, you will eat just about any fruit, all the orange veggies and lots of mixed combinations of fruit and veggies.
-Teething rice husks, you love those!  Especially the banana flavored ones.
-Cinnamon, Maple crunchie snacks. You go WILD for these! You grab for them like it's your last meal and you eat them as fast as you can! 
-Apples and grapes in your little net thing so you don't choke.
-Pancakes, in tiny portions, mixed in with one of your snacks.
-Formula. You still drink about 4 bottles a day and you almost always finish them. 

You don't love:
-Real chunks of fruit, like bananas and apples, pears or peaches.  You are not interested yet.
-Yogurt.  I can't figure out why you don't love that, but so far your don't?  Maybe it's the cold temperature? 
-Pasta, ham, cheese, bread...we're wondering if your hurting mouth is the reason you aren't into real food right now, but for the most part your head and close up your mouth when we try to get you to eat actual food.  I'm sure it's a phase and so we just keep trying, I think those teeth will help out if they ever decide to come in! 
Grampy and Grammy came to see you this month while Daddy was on a retreat. You were funny with both of them, happy to see them and to play, but you made it clear that you wanted Mommy several times too!

You love your Daddy!  He is the one who can get big, belly laughs out of you and who makes you light up when he comes home.  The two of you play a funny game where you growl back and forth at each other and it makes you giggle!  I know as you get bigger and more mobile, you will LOVE playing with your Daddy and keeping up with him!

Carter is still your companion most days!  He is a great big brother and he just loves it when you wake up so he can run in and snuggle with you and make you laugh. 
One of the sweetest things we did this month was to stand with other families at Church and pray that you will grow to love Jesus as we commit to raising you in the ways of the Lord.
We stood with you as a family, which was an adventure, but we wanted to mark this special day together. We love you so much and we are soaking up these months that are full of development and joy, but more than anything, we pray that you will love the Lord and submit to Him in your life! He loves you so much more than we do and He created you with purpose and intention. 
He has a plan for your life Walker and we pray you will trust Him with it! 

Happy 8 months, Walker!! 


Seven Months Old

Happy 7 months! 
Oh Walkie Talkie,  you are such a sweetie!  We love you and can't believe that 7 months have come and gone already.  
I am a sucker for those kissable cheeks of yours and that little profile.  
I don't know how you do it, but you just keep getting more adorable with time! 
You are such a happy little guy, but oh dear, you started your seventh month off with a bang.  
I think those sad eyes say it all...
 You ushered in the new year and another month with your first cold, which was terribly sad for everyone.  But especially you.  We tried to see if you could beat it for a few days but after it became apparent that you were not getting better I took you in to the pediatrician. 
We were tired of seeing you so miserable and your sleeping was all over the map because you couldn't get any relief from your coughing and and congestion.
Thankfully we were able to rule out RSV and Pneumonia but you did have some fluid in your ears. We came home with a prescription in case you needed it, but thankfully you started to feel much better within a few days. We did learn while you were at the doctor that you now weigh 19lbs, which means you gained almost 2 pounds from your last appointment! I think all that baby food is really helping you pack on the pounds. 
We did make one purchase for you this month and it has proven to be a lifesaver in helping you sleep at night.  This little rock and play puts you at just enough of an incline to really help relieve the pressure in your ears and keep your congestion from launching you into a coughing fit.  We really wish we would have bought this back when you were struggling to sleep through the night a few months ago, as you love it and sleep great in it.  We only had to use it for a few nights before you were able to go back to your crib, but the sleep we reclaimed over those nights made this worth every penny!  Once we got you feeling well again you lapsed into a beautiful pattern of taking two naps a day, usually a few hours each time, and then sleeping between 11-12 hours at night.  We are so thankful!!  
All of that sleep did the trick and before we knew it, you were feeling and acting so much happier!  We saw the sparkle return to your eyes again and you let us dress you like the Texas Ranger who bears your name  :) 
You began really preferring certain toys this month, especially this light-up book. You love to sit and stare at the lights and we are noticing how much you love to sit on our lap.  You are definitely a social baby, you don't like it when the room empties and you find yourself all alone...we hear lots of squawking or downright crying when we walk away.  You LOVE to have all of your people around!
 After making the bumbo seat work for awhile, we finally bought you a new highchair that sits up at the table with the rest of us.  With a bigger table in our kitchen we didn't have room for our big highchair so you got a brand new one!  Your Dad thought I chose a girly pattern but I couldn't help it, I wanted it to look good in my kitchen...sorry buddy! 
 Despite the fabric choice, I think it's safe to say, you love it! From the first time we strapped you in, you were all smiles.  I think you really love seeing what we're all up to during dinner and of course you are all about eating along with us.
And speaking of eating, you figured out how to grasp puffs by yourself this month, although you aren't quite efficient at using your pincer grasp yet. You mostly just grab a handful and then try to get something in your mouth by way of stuffing your whole hand inside.  We have to watch you carefully so you don't get too many in there but you are quite proud of yourself!  

Your favorite kinds of baby food to eat right now are: 
rice cereal
and sweet potatoes

You don't want anything to do with green veggies or prunes. 
We can't say that we blame you. They do not look or smell good!  You also decided this month that weren't thrilled about nursing anymore. You sort of just weaned yourself and preferred the bottle so much more. I fed you first thing in the morning for awhile but by the end of the month, we transitioned out of that and now you are consuming formula and baby food exclusively. I was a little sad to let that stage go, but you made it clear you were ready to be done and we were both happy to give up the wrestling match that nursing had become! 
 You've turned into a wild man in your exersaucer now.  You love to stand up and bounce all over the place!  It makes me smile to think you are the third sweet face I've been privileged watch enjoy that thing.  You've loved the view in there for a couple of months now but it's really great to see you play with all the toys and lights!
The Christmas tree was very fun for you to watch over Christmas and we kept it up through January because all of us loved the sparkling lights on those cold, winter days.  By the end of the month I knew it had to come down, however, as you kept rolling yourself closer and closer to it and even reached up to grab an ornament or two!  Ava and Carter got a big kick out of that and laughed like crazy, which made you want to do it again and again.  How fun to enjoy your first Christmas with all of us giggling along as we watch you soak it up.
 Grammy and Grampy came this month to help Mommy while Daddy was on a 5 day ski trip in Montana.  Grammy and I felt so bad after we propped you up for a picture and then you fell over and hit your head on a cabinet.  You had a pretty big bump on your forehead for the rest of the day...You are definitely sitting up, but you are not totally steady yet.  I think I shed at least a few tears while you cried about your bump!  So sorry, buddy! 
 We also took you shopping with us and moved you to the big seat in the cart for the first time!
You LOVED it!  
And you looked so old to us.  Homegoods is like Mommy's favorite indulgence, so get used to that seat Walker  :) 
 One thing that began changing this month is how much you wanted to be in on the action with your siblings.  Now that you are on the floor so much, you found a way to roll and scoot yourself closer and closer to them so they would play with you too. 
 You were so proud of your big self and you are so lucky to have built in playmates!
 They adore you Walker and for now they love to have you close to them and to include you too.  You get so tickled to see them every morning and the same is true for them.  Daddy and I love seeing you three together!
More and more you began sitting on your own and playing with all your's fun to see baby toys in our house again and to watch you delight in all of them!
 You have grown so much in this month of January and we just love you, buddy!
 You are the best little brother and you make your big sister and big brother laugh constantly. 
For the first time you were lunging out of my arms at the play land to get down on the floor with Carter and all the other kids...
 ...and when it's not freezing cold, we've started using the stroller for you as opposed to always keeping you in your infant seat!  You also love that new view, but it will be so much sweeter when it's not winter and you don't have to be bundled up.
 Every month with you keeps getting better and better, Walker!
We're so grateful for you, the third monkey in our bed! 
Happy 7 months, Walker Cole!