Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Babies. . .

Prepare yourselves for a nice, long update on my three babers. . . or just look at the adorable pictures and skip the rest. :)

Caleb J

*Well, I thought it was about time to update on my three babies. And yes, I still refer to them all as 'baby'...and probably will forever! Little Caleb is not so little anymore. As you can see above, he is turning in to quite the chubbers. Love it. He fits right in with his brother and sister.
*Before he was born, Ethan and I talked about how it'd be fun if Caleb was more of a mix of us, and we definitely got that. He has dimples and blue eyes like Benjamin, and dark hair and a round face like Anna. Sometimes I see Caleb and I think he looks so much like Ben-Ben's baby pictures, and sometimes he will look just like Anna's. So fun getting to know him.
*We've been talking about nicknames for Caleb, and nothing really seems to work. I call him Caleb J. a lot, and Ethan occasionally does too. We also call him "little fatty" and "chubby McChubbs" on a pretty regular basis. Oh, and Ethan sometimes calls him "Clob," but I always tell him to stop. And he always tells me to stop when I call him "Jonesy". hehe. Other than that, no nicknames. (Anna and Ben-Ben both had/have lots of different things we call them...maybe it'll come with a little more just can't force this kind of thing. :)
*He is definitely a more high maintenance baby than my other two, for obvious reasons. He is considered a "high risk" baby because of his Chronic Lung Disease. (That is what he was officially diagnosed with, leaving the hospital. But again, it is something he can grow out of with time...or it may "become" asthma.) He is seeing a pediatrician that I love, Dr. Cindy Anderson. He still has some breathing issues. He is getting enough oxygen, and his lungs look pretty good, but he just has to work hard to breath - retractions, wheezing, grunting, etc. Caleb's doctor recently put him on a 5 day course of steroids, and also breathing treatments given through a nebulizer a few times a day to be taken indefinitely. The steroids were ROUGH! The most common side affects are sleeplessness, upset stomach, increased appetite, and irritability. Seriously?! Yeah, poor Caleb (and poor me!) had those symptoms for sure, but we are done now, and he's getting back to normal. Caleb seems to like the mist of the breathing treatments, and often gets super smiley during that time. Oh, Dr. Anderson also recommends Caleb see a Pulmonary Pediatric Specialist, and the closest one is in Grand Rapids. So, we will be taking a little trip down state within the next month.
*We've been laying low since Caleb has been home. He's only been to Doctor appointments (of which he's had plenty!) and to Chuck and Melissa's house a handful of times, and no where else. We're very careful about washing hands and germs in general, because if he gets sick, it could turn into another bad lung infection and send him back to the hospital. So far, so good. Another challenging thing about the babers is, because of Caleb's breathing troubles and a tongue-tie, he takes FOREVER to eat. He eats about every three hours during the day, but it takes between 30 to 60 minutes to feed him. At this age, Anna and Benjamin could pound one down in 5-10 minutes. With the long feedings, the occasional fussiness (normal stuff, and side affects from various medications), giving breathing treatments, and with all of the doctor appointments, my mom has been such a lifesaver when she's available to help occupy Benjamin (and Anna too, when she's home from school). Ben-Ben and Anna are so lucky to have her for a Gramma....and, honestly, they've also been watching more movies than normal with all the busy-ness of the baby. We'll get back to normal soon, right?! I have had plenty of opportunities when I have all three to myself, and it's doable, but I am so blessed to have my mom around to help, and other family (my dad LOVES feeding Caleb bottles, which is super sweet, and very helpful...and just this past Sunday Melissa babysat Caleb so Ethan and I could go to church together). So, yes, such blessings and help which is very appreciated, especially with Ethan gone doing clinicals much of the time.
*Okay, just a few more things about Caleb. He does not like to be swaddled. Crazy! We were big in to swaddling with the other two, but Caleb is just not in to it. He's also pretty hit and miss with a binky. It's interesting getting to know this new baby, and see what works and what doesn't with him. One good thing, something he shares in common with his two siblings, is that he is a great sleeper. Well, he could use some improvement during the day...he's a little sporadic when the other two were a little more scheduled, but he is consistently a good, little sleeper at night. He goes longer between feedings at night, and sleeps soundly. Yay!

Benjamin Bear

*I love this boy! I love these pictures that say so much about him. Ben-Ben is a happy guy, that loves to play and be silly. He also loves to cook, and even cracks eggs himself! And the last picture shows that Benjamin loves his big sister. I know I've said it many times before, but I love overhearing them play together, and observe all the creative, fun ideas they come up with together. My little Ben-Ben is turning in to such a sweetie. I think that the things that made him "harder" for us than Anna peaked around his second birthday, and it's just gotten easier and easier with Ben-Ben since then. I really wouldn't describe him as having the "terrible two's." He can be a little mischievous, and he is definitely stubborn at times. But, he is so much easier to talk to, and explain things to, so I think that helps him to avoid tantrums, and other "unfavorable" behavior that is often thought typical of two year olds. And it's just his sweet personality. :)
*I'm not saying he's perfect, but I've just been reflecting how easier he keeps getting. And, I know it's not just me...he's been getting positive feedback from other mom's at play groups/play dates, from his nursery leader, and from Ethan...who has a different perspective since he's gone for big chunks of time. hehe. We've especially noticed improvement during sacrament meeting. Before we moved here last July, Ben-Ben would hardly be in the meeting room at all. He was just too noisy, and would also run out on his own. Now, he still has trouble whispering and staying occupied for the full time, but his behavior has improved greatly. When we do occasionally need to take him out, we bring him to a room that we call the "time out room," so then he wants to be good so he can go back into the meeting. Oh, and downstate we were always late to church, so we wouldn't get there until about 30 minutes into the meeting (shame on us). For whatever reason, we are always on time now, so that means Ben-Ben is being pretty well behaved for the FULL hour and 10 minutes. Yay Benjamin! There is still room for improvement (could he just learn how to whisper already?!), but I'm so happy with the progress he's made. Okay, back to my main point . . . I, the completely biased mommy, :) think all of this is especially impressive because Ben-Ben has had a lot of major events happen in his life lately: Daddy gone on different schedules, new living arrangements, all the drama of my hospital stay and Caleb's birth, transitioning out of naps, a new time consuming baby brother with health issues (who he is so sweet to!)...and Benjamin is the type that thrives on routine and structure. So good job handling everything, Little Man! Even though his world has been pretty crazy lately, Benjamin Bear is still such a sweetness! Love him!
*Like I said, I really think that Ben's ability to communicate so well has really helped him in so many ways. I knew he just wanted to be understood! :) And boy, can he get his point across. Ben-Ben is such a good, little talker. I wrote down a sentence he said to Anna the other day. It's a long one, but that's not out of the ordinary for him....I just happened to take a second to write it down so I wouldn't forget. Anna and Ben were taking turns pushing each other around on a toy car. It was Anna's turn, and she said, "My turn, Ben." Benjamin replied, "I can't push you right now, Anna, because, because I have to put on hand 'satizer first." He's only two, people! And he says everything so clearly. The only word he didn't pronounce right was 'sanitizer', but he's since fixed it. I wish I had more time in the day to write down the impressive things he says. But, unfortunately, I don't. Sometimes when someone says something, Ben-Ben will ask, "What does _______ mean?" And then, sure enough, within the next day or so, you will hear Benjamin use that new word or phrase or idea correctly. Such. A. Smartie.
*Again, thanks to my sweet momma, Benjamin and I have had the chance to start going back to a few play dates, MOMs Club stuff, the library, and to just run errands together. We really stay in A LOT since Caleb has come home, but it's pretty unrealistic for a two year old to never go anywhere until the spring. I think he'd go crazy. Since Anna gets to go to school everyday, I try to arrange it with my mom so at least a few times a week, Ben-Ben and I get to go out for an hour or so. Thanks, mom! I love alone time with my little guy. It helps me appreciate him more, and recognize his strengths. And it's just fun! Also, sometimes in the evening, if everyone is just going crazy from being inside, either my mom or I will take Anna and Ben to the library, or the Dome, or to a place with a play area, and let them get out their energy, while the other stays home with the baby. WE CAN'T WAIT FOR SPRING!!! :) Even Benjamin is getting anxious for warm weather. When we were driving by the Lake the other day he said, "I like to play in the sand at the beach. Do you remember, momma? But it's too cold now." And he said the last sentence with a bit of melancholy in his voice. Too true.

Anna Belle

*Anna loves her dance class. We were able to go to an open house they had, and I loved being able to watch her "perform." She listened and followed directions so well. And when there were a few moments of down time, Anna was always dancing around, and bowing to everyone. hehe. I overheard other parents mention how adorable she was. (They didn't know I was her mommy. :) I can't wait for her recital in the spring! Needless to say, Anna is super excited for it too. She's such a little performer. I really want to get her involved in some kind of theatre group next year. The world needs to see her. :)
*I feel like I don't have as much to write about Anna, but I'm not sure why. I guess, maybe it's because she goes to school everyday. I'm happy that she gets to go have fun, and learn great things, and make good friends, and play at school, but it also makes me a little sad that she's having all these experiences that I'm not a part of. And she's only gone for 3 1/2 hours everyday! Too bad I don't have the patience for homeschooling...maybe later. :) Tonight when I was tucking the kids in to bed, Anna told me, "Olivia, um, she's my friend at school, and we really like Hannah Montana." When I told her I thought that funny, she replied very seriously, "It's true. We're grown up girls, mom. And we're cool." Okay, I laughed out loud after she said that. And, just as I suspected, when I asked her who Hannah Montana was, she couldn't quite tell me. (I knew she'd never watched or listened to her at home.) I told her she was a singer, who was actually named Miley Cyrus, and maybe we could see if the library had a CD of her music, or a DVD of her singing. Is her music even appropriate for five year old girls!? :) And so it has begun...Anna is such an original, I hope she doesn't get sucked in to what everybody else likes "just because it's cool." Hannah Montana...psha!
*What else about my sweets? She is probably the best big sister any little brother could ask for. Anna has been great at occupying Benjamin lately, and thinking of fun things for them to pretend since I've been super busy with the bambino. Oh, a cute story. Yesterday after Anna got home from school, she was already bundled up, so we let her stay outside to play and explore for a while. We'd look out the window every so often to check on her. Well, she got stuck in the lilac tree/bush in my parent's front yard. Her foot was twisted between two branches and she couldn't get it out, and was laying in the snow. Anna told us that she said a prayer to Heavenly Father that He would help her, and that she wouldn't have to stay out all night, stuck in the tree. Precious! My mom saw her, after probably less than five minutes had passed, and she "rescued" Anna. I thought it was sweet how calm she was about all of it, and how much faith she had in Heavenly Father, AND that she thought the worst case scenario was that she'd be out all night long. As if we wouldn't notice she was gone until morning! That made me laugh out loud. What a sweetie!
*Okay, last thing about Anna. She is still obsessed with the Fancy Nancy books, and always wants to be super fancy. One of the Fancy Nancy books we recently checked out from the library was about poetry. Nancy was explaining that she likes to get inspiration for poetry by taking a nice, relaxing bath with candles, and bubbles, and soft music playing. Anna begged me to let her take a fancy, relaxing bath, and I told her she could on the weekend. Ethan actually helped her set it up, and she even wanted snacks! How adorable. I love that I have a little girl I can do all that fun stuff with. . . not that I took a bath with her, but nails and hair and all things "fancy."
Well, this post turned out so, incredibly lengthy. But how else am I supposed to remember all of this stuff about my kids?! (I already have a pretty bad memory...yikes!) And I needed to take some time to reflect on the positive...the last two days were a little rough. I am so blessed to be the mommy of my three sweet potatoes. It does get hard and overwhelming for me at times, but I love my kids, and I am lucky that they love me back, and stay so patient with me. Anna, Benjamin, Caleb . . . my sweet, precious hijos!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Feliz Cumpleanos A Mi . . .

Getting ready to blow out the candles as my sweeties sing to me.

Anna and Ben-Ben bringing me breakfast in bed. A family shot on my birthday. And two pictures before a date night with my baby!!!

So, my birthday week was just fantastic. I think it helped that Anna and Benjamin were so excited to make my birthday super special. And it didn't hurt that I looked for the little things to feel celebratory about. Things like: Birthday eve soda...hehe (when I hadn't had any in days!), my dad happened to be awake in the middle of the night a few times this past week (he has sleeping issues, big time) and offered to feed Caleb since he was up anyway...awesome surprise!, birthday morning breakfast-in-bed thought up by Anna and carried out by my sweet momma (my white bedding miraculously stayed clean even with two excited kiddies jumping all around), very thoughtful gifts, many sweet birthday wishes, cake and ice-cream...yum!, D-LISH birthday dinner at Chuck and Melissa's on Sunday, some fun play dates (getting out of the house even for a play date is pretty special these days :), birthday massageS from my sweets, DATE NIGHT WITH ETHAN!!! (it's been awhile), going shopping to spend some birthday exciting!, and I'll just cut myself off now. Oh, and I have a few more birthday things to look forward the LaJoice "ladies luncheon" at CoCo's for January birthdays. Yay! And, Ethan and I plan to have a weekend getaway in the fall to celebrate both our 30th I'll still have that to look forward to for months! :)

Anna and Ben-Ben were so excited that it was my birthday, especially Anna. She really wanted my day to be special, little sweetie. Anna (and Benjamin too) even had a hard time falling asleep the night before because she was so excited to celebrate with me. And woke up at 6:30AM super excited to start partying. Geesh. Anna even got tears in her eyes when she had to go to school and asked me, "Please don't start celebrating until I get home, mama." As if all day was going to be one big party. Ha! She made sure to dress up all fancy when we were doing cake and ice cream that night, and brought me a princess crown to wear too. :) My mom took Anna shopping to pick out a present for me and she was so thoughtful about the in, it took a long time for her to choose. Having little kids definitely helps make your birthday extra special. Hehe.

I was so excited that Ethan and I got to go out on Saturday evening. As part of my parent's birthday present to me, they sent us out to dinner, AND provided the babysitting. So special, so fun. Our alone time is few and far between these days. After dinner, we did some shopping. I'm sure it was boring for Ethan, part of the time, since I had birthday money to spend and wanted his opinion on things, but he really tried to stay involved. What a kind husband. My fav was probably looking around a sports store in the mall, you know, to look for some stuff to get excited about my New Year's goal. Anyway, they had Foosball, and Ping-Pong tables set up and Ethan and I played some ping pong. So fun. I never felt like playing when I was preggers, so it'd been a while. It was a close match, but I got greedy at the end and Ethan won. :) What a fun night!

So, a very successful birthday week. Thank you to everyone who had a part in making it special. And now I am 30. Many people asked if I feel old. Um, no. I think it helps that I am happy with what I've accomplished and experienced in life so far, and where I am now. Plus, age just doesn't seem to matter as much, at least to me, once you get past the high school years. (I have friends in their 20's, 30's, and 40's, so it's just not a big deal. :) And, I've said it before, but I am really looking forward to my 30's and what this decade will have in store for me and my sweet, little family. Everyone gets older, so there's no point in trying to hide it, fight it or dread it, right? I LOVE BEING THIRTY!!! I am excited to see what the future holds.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011, Bring It On . . .

So, I want to share some of my new years goals and thoughts in my "family journal" (and for all of you, faithful readers :). Don't get too excited, I'm keeping things really simple this year, goal wise. But first, to share a few things mentioned in my last post that we've been up to lately. . .

We went to the U.P. Children's Museum with the MOMs Club the other week. Very fun. I got involved with the club back in Sept/Oct, but then didn't get out to any Nov/Dec activities...for obvious reasons. I'm excited to become more involved again. And the twice a month Children's Museum activity is one of my favs...mainly 'cause the kids love it so much. Not that it's at all easy to chat with the other mom's while trying to keep tabs on two little ones. :) Love the curious, yet nervous, face on Ben-Ben in the picture in the reptile area. Benjamin was so excited that his "own friend, Logan" was there, AND his cousin Rorie too. Sweet. Anna was excited she got to come with us since she was on Christmas break, and she happened to run in to a friend from school. Love seeing her play with friends...she's such a sweetie. (Side Note - Ben's favorite shirt right now is this football one, and he picks it out EVERY time he sees it in his clothes pile. I've hidden it now...not that there's anything wrong with it, but he has more adorable and "trendy" clothes that need wearing too. hehe. Other Side Note - The missionaries from our church do volunteer hours at the museum, and happened to be there that day. They do a good job entertaining the kiddlets. :)

I mentioned before that Ethan's Grandma, Lee, came for a visit the week after Christmas. It's always good to see her, and for the kids to spend time with and get to know their Granny. I love the picture of Caleb and Lee. He was so awake and alert that evening, and was just bonding with everyone. Second pic - So the mattress in Chuck and Melissa's basement is more for playing and less for sleeping. The kids use it as a trampoline, and sometimes the adults get involved you can see above with Uncle Jake-y. Fun, fun. The last picture reminds me that we need to take a four generation picture (take out my boys, and put in Rorie). And it also reminds me that my little Ben-Ben is not so little anymore. Doesn't he look humongous in this picture?!
These two pictures are just classic. A sweet, adorable moment with Auntie May-May snuggling with her newest nephew, as Grampa Chuck looks on...and then there's the second picture. I can just imagine Caleb thinking to himself, "Don't eat me Grampa!" It was fun getting lots of family time in over the holidays. And now. . .
***2011, Here I Come***
You know, 2010 had it's ups and downs. A lot of major things happened...some hard (and stressful), some good (and fun). Either way, I'm excited to put it behind me, and move on to a fresh, new year. So, I love setting goals, and love even more to accomplish them. This year, I want to keep things simple...just two very important goals that I put a lot of focus on. Here they are:
1) Get Healthy! Now, I don't mean go on a fad diet or lose a ton of weight. I tend to approach my health more realistically than that, with less focus on weight and more focus on actual health. As many of you know, I had a very stressful pregnancy. My body just seemed to fall apart (which we now realize was a "pregnancy related" thyroid problem that is easily fixable, and will take care of the blood pressure issue too!). Also, pregnancy in general makes me feel pretty crappy, and so I tend to become a lot less active. I was working out pretty regularly before I got pregnant, and that pretty much stopped within the first few weeks. So, now that my baby making days are behind me, and I'm entering a new decade in my life, and just because it's time...I want to get healthy. Really healthy. I love feeling strong and in shape when I'm working out regularly and eating well. I don't do "diets"...I go for the more common sense thing - lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and legumes, lots of water, only the occasional treat, and portion control. As far as the exercise/active part goes...that's going to be trickier until the spring. Sadly, there is not money in the budget for a gym membership right now. But I plan to start regularly using the Wii Fit, maybe get some workout DVD's from the library, and work in occasional walking/jogging at the Dome. I am excited. I love getting healthy, and getting muscle back after being preggers. I love the way I feel when I'm eating things that are good for me. And like I said before, I don't have dreams of anything super dramatic...I've never had aspirations of being "skinny" or anything. I like my body type and my proportions...I just want there to be a little less fat and a little more muscle. I'm thinking that losing one or two dress sizes would be ideal. Nothing extreme...and very doable. I want to run a 5k sometime this spring or summer...and running is NOT my strong suit, so that is a very impressive goal for me. :) I also want to train for a triathlon (but compete in a team to start out). Wish me luck, and I'll try and keep you posted. On to numero 2.
2) Patience and Love. My second goal is to be more patient and loving. I know, that's such a general statement, and I'm still not quite sure exactly how I'm going to accomplish it. . . I'd gladly take suggestions. I want to see the good in people. I want to stay calm even when everything gets crazy and busy, as it tends to do with three little kids at home. I want to find ways to show love toward my friends and family and acquaintances, and to remember we are all children of God, and deserve love and friendship. I want to stay patient and loving toward my super sweet, SUPER PATIENT, husband, even when we disagree about something. :) So, to make that happen, all I can think of is to pray for it daily. Perhaps, make a reminder sign to put up that I will see all the time. When I "slip up" I want to, when possible, get a few minutes alone to reflect and calm down. Reading scriptures or other uplifting material daily, to gain strength and peace, and learn from examples could also be very helpful for accomplishing this goal. Oh, and maybe have calm music playing to help set the tone of peace and patience. Hmm, reading back, this kind of implies that I am normally some out of control, rude-y pants, that can't stand people. That is not the case. However, there is room for improvement. When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, my patience often takes a back seat to "snappiness" and less than positive feelings. I want to change that. I want to become a better person, and look for the positive. I feel like I can become a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend by focusing on love and patience.
***Typically, in addition to a health goal and "quality" goal, I also like to make a financial goal, a family goal, a relationship goal with Ethan, an educational goal (I'm big on being a life long learner :), and personal improvement goal. But again, things have been crazy, and I just want to focus on these two goals for this year. AND, in addition to working towards these goals, there are additional things I am looking forward to for this year...biggies, like: turning 30!, Ethan graduating!!!, getting our first real job and income!, getting our own place again!! :), watching my three beautiful children grow and develop, and all the little ups and downs along the way. Hope you all have a beautiful 2011!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year, New Baby. . .

Since little Caleb has come home, life has been a blur of all things baby. Feedings every three or so hours, soothing the occasional fussiness, changing dirty clothes and diapers, sleeplessness - for me and my annoying insomnia problems!, rocking and singing, bathing, more feeding, etc. all while trying to keep two other little ones happy and entertained. It's a little overwhelming. When I had Benjamin, going from one baby to two was a piece of cake for me. Everyone said, "Just wait until you have your third." I thought they were just being dramatic, but they were right! I feel like there is rarely a spare second in the day to rest or re-group. BUT, I am trying to remain focused on the joy of it. Your kids are only in this precious, adorable "baby" stage must be treasured, no matter how tired you are! So, here are a few beautiful moments, amid the chaos and noise.

A peaceful, sleeping baby lying on my chest is just priceless, and oh so cozy. I love it.

Giving baby Caleb his first bath was quite the experience for the whole family. I love that Anna and Ben-Ben want to be so involved with their new little brother. And a squeaky clean baby, just the way I like it! Love the fresh, soapy scent on a little bambino.

I've really tried to find plenty of opportunities to give Anna and Benjamin some one-on-one attention. Even if it has to be super quick, it has been so meaningful for all of us. Whether we just snuggle for a minute and chat (see above), sing some songs, read a book, or play a makes all the difference. (I can tell that little Ben-Ben especially - the two year old, middle child - needs some reassurance that he is still important, and loved, and at the center of our world.) This time to focus on the kids individually is even more important now that Ethan has started his first 10 week clinical placement on Monday. He is gone a lot now, traveling back and forth, and we miss him. I especially miss him at night, because that was his "specialty" with the baby, since I have the before mentioned sleeping issues. But, we will make it through!

Photos Above: A sweet brother, sister hug. A picture of Anna holding little Caleb for the first time (just look at those dimples!). Anna and Ben-Ben trying to entertain their little brother (he's so lucky to have them :). And the last picture shows Caleb meeting his cousin, Hudson, for the first time. They are just one and a half months apart, and I see a beautiful friendship in the making. Hehe.

More adorableness from my three sweet cheeks. I feel so much happiness seeing all three of my children together, and loving each other. Having three kids in five years is busy and hectic, to say the least. But, it also makes for some very sweet, precious moments. Sometimes I find myself anxious for the time when all three will be more self sufficient (all potty trained, bathing themselves, getting their own snacks, etc.), but I try to remember to slow down and enjoy these moments too. I know I will miss this stage when it's gone. I LOVE these babies!
Well, besides the new babe, we had some more fun to ring in the New Year. I'll have to post about that later, but it includes a visit from Ethan's Grandma, a yummy New Year's Day tradition, a fun visit to the Children's Museum, and some other randomness. I still need to solidify my goals for the new year, and I'll be sure to share some of them with all of helps me feel more accountable. :) Hope you all had a very happy New Year. May 2011 bring happiness and peace to you all!