Meanwhile, in Iowa...

Last week Travis and I squeezed in a couple of hours alone before Texie went home and Trav got on a plane for a mission's trip.  It was a short bout of freedom but oh so worth it!  We managed to run to Costco for new luggage and then to the mall while we got the oil changed in the van.  Yes, it was a glamourous night out!  ha ha!  We didn't care.  It was our first trip without all three kids with us and we enjoyed every second!
The night before he left, he said his goodbyes to Walker and said he hoped he'd be sleeping through the night by the time he came back! 
Wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for the same thing!
He had to be at the airport early in the morning so we woke the kids and they got some last minute snuggles and kisses in.  
 After I got back it was time for the rest of us to pack up too!  But first this little guy needed a bath.  Trav's Mom took some pictures of the chaos for special attention to Ava and Carter in the background.  
 They love to watch Walker get a bath but it makes them nervous while he cries.  They often stand there with their fingers in their ears! Ha!   
I always have to reassure them that we're not hurting him and that I'll be done in just a few minutes...
He usually cries at the beginning but eventually settles down when the warm water runs down his back and in his hair.  Gotta love a clean baby!!
Especially when his freshly washed hair looks like this!
Totally handsome for sure  :) 
And a little temperamental too...

We had big plans of our own while Travis was away, we had to get ourselves to Iowa so that these two  cousins could meet! 
 My nephew Sawyer is only 4 months older than Walker and we were anxious to get to my parents' house so we could see him too and so that Walker could meet his Aunt Jennie and Uncle Dave for the first time.  We wasted no time going on a walk with these two babies in the double stroller!  
Aren't they cute??
We also had a very special traveler to pick up from the airport for our drive down to Iowa.  My sister Stacie flew in for the week and we were so excited to have her.  
Walker was excited to meet her for the first time too! 
So sweet. 
 Grampy and Walker, reunited again.
 There are no shortage of arms for this boy to sleep in!
 The big kids were also thrilled to get to my parents' house so they could have lots of fun too!
Love this big girl!
 Summer and sprinklers.  They just go together perfectly, don't they? 
 The weather here has been gorgeous, although unseasonably cooler than normal.  They were loving the idea of the sprinkler but it was a little chillier than they would have liked.  Amazing how kids can overcome that and just keep playing though.  I know I wouldn't have lasted in ice-cold water!
 Also, no matter how many water toys you have, a plastic cup is still their favorite thing to play with!
 With the addition of Sawyer and Walker in the mix, the boys are officially taking over in our family.  
 Carter definitely has some buddies to play with in a few years! 
 Every morning it's big news when Walker and I emerged from our bedroom.  We're always greeted with lots of "Hi Walker!  Good morning, Walker!"  and "Can I hold him Mom?"  So sweet.  
Grammy is the nighttime snuggler while Walker takes his last little snooze before bed.
 We took advantage of the beautiful nights as often as we could.  
 Sawyer is already being indoctrinated into the Hawkeye fan club...
 Walker will be right behind him!
 The kids found the american flags and suddenly it was Memorial Day all over again!
 And Walker just slept through it all!
 We tried to have a little cousin meet n' greet but Walker was clearly not in the mood!
 Sawyer was un-phased by his fussy cousin, thankfully.  
Walker is exactly like Carter was, one of his favorite things is to be in your arms while throwing his head back to look at you, arching his back until you swear he's doing a backbend!  So odd, but it's just what Carter used to do too.  
Cool enough for a little sweatshirt and sunny enough for a hat, gotta love that forecast!
We took the kids to the splash pad one afternoon and they got a good luck at the river with Grampy.  
They've been doing lots of fun things every day and painting is one of their latest loves.  Ava has been into watercolors for awhile but Carter recently decided he wanted to try too and he did great!
Meanwhile, Walker and I have been doing lots of bonding in the Baby Bjorn during those fussy times at dinnertime and at night.  
We are anxious to see Daddy again, although we are doing just fine and I am especially enjoying all the extra hands and help!  It's a beautiful summer week in Iowa and we are making the most of it for sure! 


Trial Run

Whew!  Taking a minute for a deep breath and an update today.  Life has been very full these last few days and we are thankful Trav's Mom has been here to help.  I'm posting some pictures from last week, which was my first real week by myself with all three kids.  
 Long story short, Walker is doing well and we can't get enough of him!  He is the highlight of every day and we all love to just sit around and watch him right now.  I am feeling like I'm picking up on his tendencies and finding a little bit of routine and rhythm to his schedule.  He's a total cuddle bug, which is fun and as much as I can I'm happy to indulge him, but with two more who need me too, I'm trying to juggle spinning plates most of the day! 
We started the week out with a bang after Trav left for work and I found myself with the challenge of getting all of use dressed and out the door for Walker's 2 week pediatrician appointment.  Miraculously, we did it!  We even made it there on time, which felt like the kind of satisfaction I feel after the whole house is clean or whatever.  Walker did great at his appointment.  He gained more weight and weighed in at 8 lbs and 6 ounces, which put him in the 30th percentile for weight and the 70th percentile for length.  Ava and Carter were very good to and the nurses were sweet to bring them a coloring book and stickers to occupy them while I fed him before we left.  I'm sure visits with all 3 won't always go so smoothly, but I was grateful to the Lord that my first one wasn't terribly traumatic!  
Look at that sweet face, is he not the cutest 2 week old??  
 Walker's appointment was right before lunch so I'd already told myself it would be easier to just grab lunch while we were out and then depending on how it was going, maybe even run to the mall for haircuts.  Ava and Carter were way overdue and I felt like we could do it and guess what?  We did!  Right now with Walker sleeping so much, these kind of errands feel do-able and it doesn't hurt that the indoor playland is right next to the kids haircut place, which was a perfect reward for being obedient while they both got a cut.  I will admit, while driving home from a big morning out, I felt equal parts proud of myself and also like I had just run a marathon.  We got home and I felt my exhaustion hit.  Although I am feeling so well in my surgery recovery, I still have to remind myself that I need rest as it hits me hard when I over-do it.  
Gratefully, we had a yummy meal coming that night from my dear friend Leanna!  Look at Walker staring in her eyes, isn't that cute?  Last week was definitely one where he "woke up" and we started noticing how much more alert he was for longer stretches of time.  I was so thankful for a ready-to-eat meal on Monday night, we needed it! 
 That night we also crossed another milestone off the list when we gave Walker his first bottle.  We've started our kids on a nightly bottle pretty early in the game, at our pediatrician's recommendation, so that we wouldn't miss the window for them to take one.  I'm still nursing exclusively but letting Trav help me at night with a bedtime bottle while I pump.  
We didn't know how it would go but Walker took it like a champ and has almost every night since! Such a blessing to have that ability to give him a bottle because it buys us a little more flexibility with sitters or family, or even some ease while we're out and on the go.  Yay Walker!  
You were exactly two weeks old when you drank your first bottle!
Sweet boy! 
After our big day on Monday, I spent most of the rest of the week just like this.  I
n my jammies and snuggled in bed.
 Most days, all three kids piled in our bed with me and we just sort of did life from there! It was very fun to enjoy Walker together and for him to really begin to look at Ava and Carter while they talked and sang to him.  I know we're going to love watching their sibling relationship grow over the next year! 
 Thankfully Walker is great at taking a paci and it's very necessary as he is a raging sucker!  Ha ha!  That's part of the reason he nurses so well but in order for me to not become his pacifier all day, the paci has become our best distraction.  
 Speaking of nursing, I love this pose!  Another satisfied customer, ha ha! 
On Wednesday, a sweet family from Church made us an amazing meal, including this black bean soup and I could have eaten every day for a week!  It was amazing and totally hit the spot.  Have I mentioned how thankful I am for friends who've made us meals?? 
Meals make afternoons like this possible...
 The 3 amigos! Love how Walker is looking at Ava.  
 And so fun to see my giants next to him.  It's amazing how big they look now! 
 I got and still get, many requests for them to see/touch/watch/sing/hold him all day long.  
 And they are so sweet with him, I'm happy to oblige! 
 Carter really fell in love with Walker last week, and has been very gentle with him everyday.  
 Ava has been in love since the minute she saw him but has become the best little helper to me.  She's always running to grab something for me and is learning some tricks to help calm Walker down.  
 It's not that everything has been perfect around here or that we haven't experienced some hiccups along the way.  The normal fighting or the tears over hurt feelings or disobedience stuff is still happening, but I guess what encourages me the most is that none of it seems to be related to Walker joining the family.  They are mostly un-phased by him and when he does "interrupt" us, it's mostly to all of our delight.  I think I said it last week but I'll say it again, the one who is having the hardest time is really me.  Not because things aren't going well but just because I am the one who juggles the most at home right now without my normal amount of sleep and with hormones that are all over the map.  But I know this too shall pass, this is only a season, and then we'll cross the finish line into the next one with it's challenges and struggles too.  
 Really, we are all just enjoying this little face around here and all that goes with it.  I'm so thankful I have nothing on my plate except caring for my kids and helping Trav.  He's getting ready for a mission's trip this week, an international one, so my hands have been especially full while we all get ready for that.  
 But last week gave me the boost of confidence I needed, and we will have help so it should be fine! 
 My sweet friend Nicole brought us another delicious meal at the end of the week and got to meet little Walker!  We used to meet together on a pretty regular basis when Ava was just a baby and now the Lord has given Nicole two sweet girls and he's added two boys to my brood too!  Such a blessing to have friends in the thick of raising kids!  She looks pretty great with a boy in her arms, maybe that will be the next addition between us??  :) :) 
 By the end of the week, Carter really started asking to hold Walker a lot more and was very interested in everything he did.  
 He sure loves his little brother and is the one who has his hands on him the most right now.  
It will be a while before these two are playing together, but I can't wait for that day because I think they are going to be a force to be reckoned with! 
Ava has also turned into the protective big sister.  We went to a wedding over the weekend, and she was always wondering "Where is Walker?  Who is holding Walker?" 
Poor guy, he scratched his cheek that morning, but he was in good hands with one of Ava's favorite babysitters!  This was the second wedding we attended last week and so far Walker is a perfect wedding guest.
 After we left the wedding we drove to the Mall of America to pick up Trav's Mom, who flew in a few hours earlier. 
This was Texie's first introduction to her newest grandchild and she declared he was a mini-Carter too, as soon as she saw him.
 With her help we made it to Church on Sunday and these three squeezed some cuddles in before we went.  I am loving the sight of all of my kids together.  Adding Walker to the mix has not been traumatic or overwhelming, really it's been very easy and incredibly fun to watch.  
He has a great big sister and brother to love! 
I also got to sneak out for a little dinner with some girlfriends that night and of course, the man about town got to join us! 
I guess this is the life of the third, he gets around way more than his siblings did at this age but I know by now this is the easiest stage to be on the go with a baby!  It will only get more challenging as he gets on a tighter schedule and eventually gets mobile and wiggly, so I'm taking advantage of this while I feel up to it and when I have help in town! 
We are in love with this guy and he is making this transition much more do-able than we imagined!
Sure, we are tired and I will be excited for him to sleep through the night soon so we can too, but he's just so cute that it's hard to get too upset about waking up with him in the night.  Thankfully he always goes right back to sleep after he eats and has never had a problem confusing his days and nights. 
My first real week with Trav back to work was a good one.  This past week has been crazy trying to get Daddy packed for a mission's trip and making some plans for the rest of us too.  But I do know that life with 3 is pretty great.  When I remember to just take the days one at at time and not get too far ahead of myself, or add extra plans in that make life too complicated right now, I am surprised at how nice this has been.  I know I've got days ahead that will make me want to pull my hair out, those are inevitable, but for now this season is good.  I'm glad it's summer and we don't have lots of demands on the calendar yet.  School starting will be a whole new can of worms but again, one day at a time and one child at a time, right??  We are doing well over here and gearing up for the next set of challenges after Daddy leaves for his trip.  But so far, so good!