Wednesday, December 28, 2011


For us, like most people I know, December is a crazy busy month. We had Christmas parties, programs, caroling, birthday parties, sleepovers, homecoming, Christmas and in the mix of it all, diagnosis day of our sweet Olivia. Needless to say, to fully enjoy the Christmas season, I have to be intentional about it. With the help of 3 very lovely little girls, it was not that difficult to have fun. Sometimes I had to think like a 4 and 5 year old to let loose but that seemed to work!
Back on the midst of all the chaos, it is so easy for me to either get so caught up in all the emotions and forget to realize how great our life really is. December 11th was diagnosis day and let me tell you, that day is scarred until the end of both Greg and my existence. No matter how busy we stay (and I go go go until it's over!) there is a lingering sadness that cannot be shaken. That day we went to church, ate lunch out, went caroling with the girls' Sunday school class and came home to a nice surprise. I have no idea who it is from but this was hanging from the mailbox with a note that simply said, "THINKING OF YOU GUYS TODAY" It really lifted my spirits along with the other messages that I had received that day!

The next day was long. We had school, preschool, cheer class and no Greg home that night. I was busy hauling all three girls in and out of the cold rain, house looked like a tornado hit it (as usual these days) and I had a knock at the door. A lady brought me a plate of cookies. I do not know the lady, she told me that the teenagers at the Christian Church in town were making Anonymous Angel Cookies (?) and someone had anonymously turned my name in to receive some cookies. The note attached said to pass a blessing on to someone else. I was really feeling uplifted, 2 blessings, 2 random acts of kindness in 2 days! I did not know what I could possibly do to pass on a blessing right now, I was just too caught up in my own life. I did not have time to bake anything, I was emotionally vulnerable and just exhausted with my life.
Fast forward to today. This is in no way me bragging about myself, just grateful that I was in the right place at the right time. Since Greg is working around St. Louis this week, the girls and I had plans to go to St. Louis early this morning, spend the day and overnight there and head back home tomorrow. I have been fighting a cough with OTC meds and sheer stubbornness for a month now and finally broke down and made an appointment at the doctor office. That delayed our plans until the afternoon. Of course I did not have our stuff packed so what would have taken 15-20 minutes takes an hour with a crying baby.
I walked out of the house, slightly discouraged by the laundry piles folded all over our living room but still determined to have a good night away. Start driving and wonderful! I needed to fill up my gas tank, why I did not fill it up with just one kid with I know! I decided I would fill up in Vandalia. As I am getting off the second exit, a white SUV is pulled over and an older lady is walking up the exit so I pull over to see if she needs help. Her car had run out of gas and she was traveling from Ohio to St. Louis to see her daughter. I was able to give her a ride to the gas station and back to her car. When we got back in the car at the gas station, the song Blessings by Laura Story started playing!

****Quick disclaimer**** I would NEVER recommend pulling over, especially with my little girls in the car under normal circumstances. I have driven by many broken down cars but this time it just felt right and thankfully, it was!****
The girls and I were able to continue back on the road after a slight detour. Of course they thought I was nuts letting someone get into our car that they didn't know. About 10 minutes into driving I was thinking about how all of this stuff that slowed us down could have been just so that I could stop and help this one person. Then song This is the Stuff by Francesca Battistelli comes on the radio. I could not help but laugh and just appreciate that all of this crazyness in this life really has a purpose and comes full circle! It is just a reminder that my timing, no matter how big or small, is not the same as God's timing. Sometimes being patient with all the "stuff" can open our hearts to his perfect plan :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

5 months

Yesterday Claire turned 5 months and boy has she grown so much! She was on the lower-mid level on the growth charts but now she is on the upper end. I'm sure it all has to do with her tongue being clipped but she has grown from 0-3 month months and almost out of 3-6 month clothes in the last month.

Lots of pictures and updates from the last month......

Claire enjoying a dance with Daddy at homecoming

Feedings: Still breastfeeding but thankfully the feedings are spacing out. We have finished our rice and she has been eating oatmeal. I don't think she likes it as much as the rice but she eats it anyway. I have been pumping in the extra milk in the morning and before bed and froze an extra 300 oz!

Claire has been sitting, I have to stay close because she will suddenly tip over! Claire and her cousin Aiden, I hope they are best friends growing up!

She has found her toes and loves holding onto both feet at the same time. Rolling over is still progressing slow! Greg has finally seen her roll from belly to back. She rolled from back to belly a few times but none of us have seen it! This is what I get from her......

Then she relaxes to her back, I walk away and come back to this.....

Sleeping is right on track overnight and she is finally getting a general timeframe for daytime naps. The most exciting thing this month is that she has found her voice this week. She will coo and babble just because when before we would have to talk to her to get her to make the noises. She also loves loves loves to laugh! Especially at her sisters, they do not even need to do anything more than look at her and she is laughing uncontrollably!

I am so thankful to be entering the Christmas season with a baby this year! And I have taken a thousand pictures to show it. Makayla and Hannah are just not as patient with the pictures so I am taking it all out on Claire....not that she minds!

I don't know if it's because I am older, because Claire is not the first or because we lost Olivia (or all 3!) but I have just really soaked in each stage. I wish I could go back and slow down with Makayla and Hannah because I know how quickly they really grow and change!!

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Busy Weekend!

To say we had a busy weekend might be an understatement. We were on the go from Friday morning until Sunday evening. Here is a quick recap of our festivities :)

Greg's Christmas party was Friday during the day. We got Makayla off to school, Hannah over to my grandma's before we headed down to southern Illinois. The company he works for is in Anna but his party was at Giant City Lodge, about 2.5 hours away. Of course Claire came, if it were closer I would have left her too but it was a long day for no mommy time with a busy weekend coming up. Before leaving I just had to have a picture of Claire with one of the dinner guests :)

Makayla was the little flower girl for Altamont's homecoming. Friday night was the game. You would think that her curly hair would be a quick fix, and typically it is. After having it down all day for school and no time to wash it and start over, I brushed through the tangled mess, curled already curly hair and ran out the door. She did wonderful and did not seem at all shy!

After the game we took Makayla and Hannah over to a friend's house, they were having a sleepover with some other girls. They all decorated their own gingerbread houses, how fun!

We picked them up the next morning around 11 and headed out toward their cousins' birthday party. I did not get any pictures of that but they had a great time and ice cream cake!!! We had about 3 hours downtime at home before we needed to start getting ready for the homecoming dance. I put on a movie and told the girls to rest, no talking! Hannah took a nice long nap, Makayla just "couldn't get comfortable" but was super whiney so the rest was good for her.

Makayla and Hannah had baths before dinner. This was so I could blow dry Makayla's hair straight and curl it again....crazy, I know! I decided to do her hair up for Saturday, I was not in love with the down curls. There are so many good pictures but since most are on facebook I will not post a bunch here.

Hannah also loved going to the dance, she liked to watch the dancing and checking out the pretty dresses.

Sunday morning was church and in the afternoon Makayla and Hannah's class were going Christmas caroling. Once again, no pictures of this but they had a great time doing it. By the time we got home Sunday evening, we were happy to be home!! All 3 girls went to bed easy enough. I was so tired I crashed on the couch before 9, I'm not sure if Greg tried to wake me up or knew that I wouldn't budge but I slept there all night! Although this weekend turned out great and we all had a good time, next weekend is empty and I plan to keep it that way!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fun Stuff From Pinterest!

I just recently discovered the world of Pinterest about a month ago. I was sitting at a MOPs meeting and a couple of friends were talking about it and were in shock that I had not heard of this. I checked it out and I LOVE it! I am not sure how much I will actually accomplish beyond a whole lot of pinning but I did manage to do 2 things last night.

One was a hairstyle, nothing too fabulous but it will be cute when I master it. No pictures though. I also saw fabric headbands. I thought this would be fun for the girls with some tulle that I already had at home. These fun little accessories probably cost a whole $.50 to make.



Check out these curls....all natural! For both girls, I just had to bobby pin in place!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Claire 4 months

Last Monday Claire turned 4 months and I am just getting to updating her info! I have managed to lose our camera so I was holding off to add some pictures. Unfortunately I cannot find it so cell phone quality pictures will have to work for now.

Claire had her 4 month checkup and shots yesterday. She is now 15 pounds (63%) and 25 inches long (68%)! It is absolutely amazing how quickly babies grow and change. I am so glad I am soaking it all in this time more than ever. She did wonderful with shots, no fevers or much fussiness and she didn't even need tylenol!

At 4 months Claire is sleeping like a champ! I couldn't be happier with this. Typically she goes to bed between 8 and 9 and sleep until 7. The last 2 nights it has been 7-7:30pm to 7 am! I love a baby who loves her sleep! In turn, our nap schedule is not always the best and she is a very light sleeper during the day but I'll take it.

She is still 100% breastmilk for feedings but also started eating rice cereal Sunday. She LOVED it and tore it up! I expected some resistance or funny face but she acted like she has been eating from a spoon since she was born. She does want to take over the spoon so we are still super messy.

Cloth diapering is still on track, we even got a blue jean pattern one. Pictures to come if I ever find that camera! She is still in small size but I need to start preparing for the next size up. If we do not have more babies or have a boy, I will have quite a diaper sale!

Rolling over is not a priority for this girl! I know she is capable of it but she just does not care. She has rolled from belly to back several times but probably not for a month. She will roll from her back almost all the way over to belly then just lay there. All she needs is a swing of one leg and she would be over. She gets floor time everyday but could probably use more. I am just afraid for her since she is likely to have big sisters doing cartwheels over her head, no joke!

Claire can grab and hold onto almost everything now. It is amazing to watch this develop, it literally happens overnight. One day she realized she could do it and nothing within reach is safe! And of course, it all goes straight to her mouth.

With all of this good comes some bad. We have a problem.....of a big kind. I have never dealt with this with any of our babies......we have a thumb sucker! She seems to go for it while sleeping but she is just so cute doing it!!

And look at that nice round head, I know my anencephaly mommies understand! I don't think I will ever take that for granted again, it could be the size of a bowling ball for all I care, as long as it's all there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

OAP Week 3!

Operation After Picture Week 3

I'm very excited to report my 4 pound weight loss in the last 2 weeks!! I was too busy in the beginning of last week to weigh myself so when I finally did I saw 4 lbs and it stayed off!

My goal 25 pounds total and 10 pounds by Christmas. So yay! Only 6 more to go in about 5 weeks is attainable. I am not getting as much exercise as I would like. I was able to get a day of Turbo in and some walking this week. I have been eating much better overall and hope when the exercise is stepped up the results come in faster.

I am keeping this one short, so much cleaning to do this morning. Have an amazing week!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OAP Week 2

OAP or Operation After Picture, Week 2 is here! Sadly, I have been so busy the last 2 mornings that I have forgotten to do my weigh in. Mornings are very critical for this timing. I have to empty my bladder and pump off whatever Claire does not eat before I weigh myself. Funny as it sounds, it makes at least a 2 lb difference!

Here's how last week went:

Monday-Did a short Turbo Jam video and had a blast! I love this workout and thought I could handle more but did not want to push my luck.

Tuesday-I know I did something but cannot remember! Hello MommyBrain!

Wednesday-Met with a friend at the rec center in Effingham to walk. At first I thought it was a long shot because Claire was just not in the mood. I got her fed and we were able to get some laps in. We also added in lunges and squats. HOLY MOLY! My legs were just not ready for the amount I did, which is still small compared to where I left off.

Thursday-Hurt so bad that the thought of getting up and down off of furniture left me standing for long periods of time and/or not getting up unless I absolutely had to. No scheduled exercise but I did try to work my legs in the hotel pool.

Friday-Still tortured walking, standing, sitting, ect. My wonderful hubby really massaged my legs and it was a life saver! Now I can get busy again this week since I can actually walk and using stairs at church was not a torture chamber for me.


I will post weight loss next week when I rememeber to weigh myself! I hope if you are joining on this journey, you are having great success!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Night Away

Last night we had a much past due night away. Makayla had no school Friday and Greg was staying in Champaign for work so we all ran away again. Champaign is only about an hour and a half away but Miss Claire did not approve of this journey apparently and cried half the way there.
This was a low key getaway so Greg and the big girls went to pick up pizza while I fed Claire in the hotel room. After dinner we hit the pool. This is always the highlight of an overnight stay for Makayla and Hannah and it was Claire's first time in the pool.

Check out the swim diaper!

Daddy and his girls going down the elevator

Claire loved the pool, it was a little cool but as long as she had Mommy she was a happy baby

"Mommy, help me!!!"

Makayla loved the "hot, little pool"

I was pleasantly surprised that everyone slept so great. Claire did not wake up and the girls did not even try to fight going to bed. I was woken up in the morning by Hannah standing by my head telling me "I like staying at the hotel but I like staying at grandma Judy's, grandma and grandpas and home more than the hotel."

After breakfast we headed back home and Daddy went back to work. On the way home we stopped in Arcola. Since this is this a huge Amish area, I thought it would be fun to try to find horses and buggies out. We did not see any but we really should have driven over to Arthur for this adventure. Arthur is not too far but Claire was starting to get cranky and I was not sure where to stop to feed her so we got back on the interstate.

We stopped to see our favorite veteran in Mattoon on the way home, my great-grandpa. It was neat to talk to the girls about Veterans Day. They now know what veterans are and they were so excited that they knew so many!

The girls with their great-great grandpa. Hannah is being very difficult with pictures lately and as long as I have her in one, I do not push for too many.

Claire and Bob, sharing wisdom

Now we are home sweet home, Makayla and Hannah are staying the night with grandparents. It will be awhile before our next adventure, darn school! But I'm sure the timing will be just right when we all need a break :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lazy Day

This is about all we are getting accomplished today in this house! Claire is napping on my belly, Hannah is snuggled up with a blanket on my feet, cartoons are playing. We do not do enough lounging and I feel a little worn out so here we are! I just wish Makayla was home with us too :(

I need to go grocery shopping so I'm debating venturing out to Subway for lunch but not sure if I even want to do that. We have more than enough food to get through the rest of the month, I'm sure, but the easy stuff is gone and it will take some preparation.
Hannah and I have decided Subway is on the menu. If you see us out, don't judge my comfy clothes or Hannah's non-matching clothes. She has a purple leopard shirt and pink sequined tulle skirt. I have just started letting the girls pick their own clothes and most of the time I cannot ignore combos like this. She will not let me take a picture, this blur is the best I have!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Operation After Picture: Week 1

Last summer, after I had Olivia, I began my first round of Operation After Picture. What this means is that I am ready to lose some baby weight and working toward an "after picture" that I can feel proud of :) Fortunately I did not reach that first goal because I have my sweet little Claire to show for it. But now Claire is out of my body and I'm ready to shed the evidence that she was in there!!!

I typically do not share my weight with anyone but since I am turning over a new leaf, here's a picture to start this journey.....

Seriously though, my goal is 25 pounds to lose. I would love to lose at least 10 by Christmas, which is completely doable if I lose about 2 pounds per week.

It will be a challenge this time of year to stay motivated to do enough exercise at home but I am hoping blogging on Mondays will help keep me accountable. At this time gym memberships are just not in the budget but I am pulling all the knowledge that I already have and going fully in!

Please say a little prayer for me that I am actually physically able to exercise at home. While pregnant with Claire, I developed pelvic pain for the first time. By the end of the day, if not sooner, I would be unable to walk and get up and down of the couch. Sometimes just walking from the living room to our bedroom would be nearly impossible and I would have to roll myself in bed because I could not lift my own legs up. I have not fully recovered but I have confidence that I will not push past my limits and will only work to make myself stronger.

Feel free to share some of your own weight loss journey with me, we can help encourage each other!!!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Weekend!

As always, our family had a busy busy weekend. I love Halloween and just about any reason to do something fun as a family. I love picking the costumes and getting the girls dressed up and all the festivities that come along with it.

Friday night was slow and relaxed at home since it was game #7 for the World Series. I had one happy hubby though when the Cardinals won!!! He was very excited knowing the last 3 times the Cardinals won the World Series were the same years he, Makayla and Claire were born.

Saturday was a great day but we had tons of running to do. Makayla and Hannah had sold Krispy Kreme Donuts as a fundraiser for their cheer team. We did not sell that many but got all those healthy donuts delivered! We had the Altamont Halloween parade Saturday afternoon with Step by Step. It was a great weekend for weather, it was a little windy but tons of sunshine! I got pictures of the girls on the float after it was over. The studio got 1st place and Best of Show for the float, at least I think that's what the two awards were!

Sunday afternoon they were in the Effingham Halloween parade which we almost missed because sleepy mommy took a long nap! We did make it though but the girls left the parade candy in the back seat. I met them half way through to give them the candy and walked the rest of the way with them. That evening we took the bigger girls to Panic in the Park while my grandma came to sit with Claire. The park is only a block from our house so we walked there. I did not think it was a great idea but the girls had seen the stuff getting set up and were begging for over a week to go. We had to carry them after about 2 minutes into it but we survived with no tears until the chainsaw at the end, haha.

Of course Monday was the biggest day of all, trick or treating!!!! This was probably my favorite year for it since having kids. Makayla and Hannah were excited to say "Trick or Treat!", last year they were still really shy about it. We had planned on using a theme for the whole family but the girls really wanted to pick out their own costumes.

Makayla was a cowgirl

Hannah was a purple bat but the wings broke Sunday so she was calling herself a cat.

Claire was a baby piglet, I absolutely love animal costumes for the first year!

Claire was asleep within half an hour and stayed sleeping for awhile, then she was over trick or treating and ready for bed. What can I say? This girl loves her routine!

And a family picture, they didn't turn out well but at least we have one :) The girls wanted us to have costumes on so I told them our sweatshirts made us college students, haha, that satisfied them.

Needless to say, the girls are candied out and still on a sugar high. Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

3 months

Three months and she is acting like it's nothing! Just look at her :)

She still loves being swaddled, maybe that's why we are getting plenty of sleep.

Miss Claire is just growing and I have still not found out how to make her stop! I was a little sad, it's time to move up in diapers . All the supercute newborn diapers have to be packed away until we make another little bottom to fill them up, unless there is a boy, then we are almost back at square one.

The newness has worn off with Makayla and Hannah and we have faced some jealousy that was not there in the beginning. Nothing too major but I have been making sure to sneak in extra big girl time whenever I can. Here is all 3 girls with their cousin Aiden, poor little guy will grow up with females all over the place!

It's not the best picture but getting 4 to look good at the same time is quite the challenge!

Last Thursday Claire had an appointment with an ENT about her tongue tie issue. We had not had any problmes until about 2.5 months. Suddenly the nursing sessions grew longer and I would then have to pump and feed her what I had emptied out. I just do not have time for that! She also began having latch issues and choking while eating and mommy was very sore through this. While in the office, I was sent to the waiting room during the snipping of the frenum. I told the doctor that I did not want to leave but she explained the process. I was worried that Hannah would not handle it well so I tearfully went to the waiting room, the entire process only took about 5 minutes. She is recovering well and I have already noticed her latch has improved.

Here's a couple more pictures from the last month.....

And a family one from the little local pumpkin patch.....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2 months!

I'm a little behind on Claire's 2 month update but here it is! Claire turned 2 months old last Wednesday and she has changed so much in the last few weeks! We had her 2 month appointment and shots yesterday. Claire is now 11 lbs 2 oz and 22 3/4 inches long. She falls in the 50% for weight and 60% in height. She now coos and smiles just because she wants to, it doesn't take so much work. Although I do miss the excitement of a smile after working so hard for one, it's wonderful to smile and get one back so easily. She will also let me put her on her belly for a few minutes at a time now, she is not a huge fan of tummy time but loves laying on her back.

We had some fun taking 2 month pictures with all 3 girls, I probably took over 50 and only 5 were actually usable so here they are!

This picture was taken last so her head lifting skills are better than this. I was excited to get a cow print diaper for my little baby calf, she eats enough to be a baby cow anyway! Maybe I should get a matching nursing cover, ha!

Sisterly love!

It was a challenge to get Claire's head up enough to see her face but here it is!

And another!

Saturday my uncle stopped by and always gives the girls a dollar for their piggy banks, Claire is already claiming hers! This picture cracks me up

Other updates:

Makayla and Hannah are still awesome sisters but the newness is wearing off and life is settling into a more natural routine. They will still talk to her and try to get her to smile but they are not over the top unless people are visiting and they are showing off.

Breastfeeding is still going great. We actually made it through church Sunday without having to nurse until we got back home, what an accomplishment! And we are still on track with cloth diapering. I am not sure how much I'll enjoy it in the winter since sunning will not be much of an option but we deal with that when we get there.

I am excited to watch her grow and change. Some days I just want her to stay this little and never get bigger, then she does something new and it is so exciting and I cannot wait to see more.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hannah's Big Week!

This week was a big week for our little Hannie. She has been asking when she gets to go to school since Makayla has started kindergarden and her time is finally here! This is her first time at Frog Pond and she just loves how the school looks.

Before taking Hannah, I dropped Claire off across the street so she could have some special time. At first she did not want pictures but kept asking for more after I took one. This is one of my favorites, she is so gorgeous!

She has been asking for a week to have a zoo party so Thursday evening I told her she could have one Friday. We invited some friends and cleaned the house. The only zoo themed attractions at the party were the Zoo Pals plates and the monkey on her shirt. Our healthy snacks were chosen by Hannah. Cookies, M&M's and white donuts, she also asked for chips but I figured this was enough junk for one morning!

Here is one of the 2 zoo like shirts that we could find in our house....

By the end of the week our whole household was worn out. Makayla really wanted to take a picture of her sister, Hannah did not want a picture taken so she hid. This is what Makayla came back with.....

She did cheer up and has been enjoying the weekend with her favorite parents and sisters :)