Sunday, September 14, 2014

4 Months Old

Dear Raye,

Two weeks ago you turned four months old. We've had a pretty busy couple of weeks so I haven't been able to write to you until now, but better late than never, I suppose.

This month has been a pretty big one for you. You learned how to roll over from your back to your tummy a few days before you turned four months old. And just like when Noel did it, you spent the better part of a couple of days rolling from back to tummy and then whining or crying about it. But you're getting better at actually enjoying tummy time, and you've decided you like to sleep on your tummy most of the time. Since you learned how to roll to your tummy we decided we had to break you of your swaddle, and that was rough going for a few days. Rough, I tell you. But we made it through and we're all happier for it.

This month you got your first stamps in your passport as we traveled across the ocean. You were a champ at jet lag and did pretty well recovering from it. You can go at least 7-8 hours at night without eating, but you certainly don't usually do it…most nights you wake up around 12 or 1, and then again around 4 or so, and again sometime between 6-8. We're working on getting you on a loose schedule now that we kind of know how life is going to look, but it's slow-going.

One of your first international flights.

You are still a big baby and I've pretty much packed up all your 3-month clothes and have pulled out all your 6-month things. And they just fit you really well, which I'm a little in disbelief about. You weighed 15 pounds before we left America. Fifteen. Eek.

Last weekend we went camping. You spent the nights bundled up in your snowsuit laying on your back and you couldn't roll over. So it took you about 4-5 days to remember that you know how to roll over. It was really pretty funny.

This month you learned how to "work" some of your toys. You learned how to hold onto and shake a rattle, how to hold onto Sophie the giraffe, and how to kick your legs to make the toys dangling over your play mat shake. You learned how to clasp your hands in front of you and how to grab the pacifier to take it out of your mouth. Sometimes when you're on your tummy you'll push yourself up a bit and I can see that scooting and crawling are in your near future.

You are so cute, Raye. You're such a joy. Other than not sleeping all night you are such an easy baby. You love to be held, love to look at your sisters, love it when we sing to you, coo at you, talk to you, and so on, love to sit in the swing we borrowed, love bath time, love to be on your play mat, and love to eat. The only things you do not love are having a dirty diaper and being too tired or hungry. I am so thankful for who you are already, as you make it easy for me to thoroughly enjoy you when I can and to not feel guilty for not doting on you when I don't have time. I am so grateful for you.

I love you,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Moved. Again.

As I think most of you know, we moved again. So we're back on the far side of the pond and are just unpacking and battling jet lag, and although the jet lag is mostly conquered, I think, the unpacking definitely is not.

We arrived back on this side of the ocean on Saturday night almost two weeks ago. We had a fairly easy go of it with the flights since two of them occurred when it was the middle of the night for us. All the girls actually slept a bit and other than that they just watched shows on the iPad or on the in-seat televisions. They colored a bit but really they were all about the television. And hey, when you're cooped up on an airplane with at least 200 other people, you do whatever it takes to keep your kids quiet. So major television-watching it was.

We spent Sunday in a fog, visited some friends for a few minutes to bum some internet and let people know we made it. Monday afternoon we started the apartment hunt. Wednesday evening we moved in. Yes, we got an apartment and signed all the necessary paperwork and got all of our things that had been in storage moved in in less than 24 hours, I think, which is a miracle for here. We actually wanted a different apartment (this one is huge and I'm a little uncomfortable to have locals over) but people didn't want to rent to us because of a few reasons: 1) we have three kids, and 2) we're Americans. Combine those with the fact that all the students just got into town and have rented almost everything up and our selections were quite limited. So we got this huge apartment and I'm very grateful for it.

We're still in the process of unpacking and cleaning, and tomorrow a man will come to put in some more kitchen cabinets and counter space. And hopefully soon it will start to feel like home and we'll have less and less work to do and more and more time to start living life.

In the meantime it's been in the 90s. The bigger girls and I all have colds. And our hot water has been out two of the seven days we've lived here. But we have a home. And for that I am happy.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

3 Months Old

Dear Raye,

Yesterday you turned three months old. Every week that passes just has me in more disbelief that you're another week or month older…time is just flying. You are such a chill and content baby…I enjoy you so much. I think I enjoy you as a baby more than I did your sisters…with Lane I didn't know what I was doing and was stressed out all the time, and with Noel I was so tired that I was just…tired. I'm just enjoying you, soaking in your baby-ness.

Two days ago you rolled over for the first time, from your tummy to your back. You did it over and over and over again. And then yesterday and today you haven't done it even once. I think maybe you decided you didn't need to get out of tummy time after all. You're doing better at tummy time these days and even enjoy it and like to look at yourself in the mirror for a few minutes. You've laughed for us a few times, mainly when I tickle you beneath your ribs or when we're doing "dancing baby." You love "dancing baby," which is where I grab your hands in front of your chest and gently bounce you on our bed. The second I grab your hands you turn your head to the side and smile really big. It's so cute.

Your first dip in a swimming pool. You did actually enjoy it…Daddy just took too long to get a picture and you were getting tired.

Tonight we played "flying baby" where I laid on my back and held you up over me for a second or two and then set you back down on my tummy/hips. You just looked at me and talked and talked, and every time we did the "flying baby" thing you would just talk some more. I wish daddy had been here to see it because it was so. cute. You're just so cute. You love to sit in your bouncy seat and bash those spiders with your feet until they're clanging around and swinging like crazy.

Raye, you are a huge baby. You're not fat (although you do have some super cute chunk on your thighs!), you're just big. You're long and big and everyone always thinks you are five or six months old, not barely-three. A few weeks ago you wore an outfit that was Noel's…I have pictures of her wearing it when she was seven months old. You were like 11 weeks old. You're wearing 3-month or 3-6 months clothes pretty solidly now…I think you should be able to keep wearing them for at least another month or two.

You're nursing better now although you seem to have reached the "age of distractibility" already. You don't nurse well if we're in public or if your sisters are making a racket, but if it's quiet and just me and you then you nurse well, and quickly. You'll smile at me sometimes when nursing these days. It's sweet. You also have gotten where you prefer to sleep in your bed. You will fall asleep in the car seat, but usually only if the car is moving and you wake up as soon as the car door opens, or you'll fall asleep in the baby carrier, but you prefer your crib. We've been home a lot and allowed you to get comfortable there…things are about to get crazy again so you're going to have to learn to sleep other places pretty soon!

Snoozin' poolside.

And you're still not sleeping through the night. But it's alright…we're getting ready to move back overseas so I've just kind of been lazy in the "sleep training" department. I don't see the point in training you to sleep all night just to move you to a time zone that's nine or so hours off and then expect you to readjust. So we'll just work on that once it comes, and I'll just keep feeding you a couple of times in the middle of the night until then.

Usually after I nurse you at 6 a.m. or so I just let you sleep the rest of the morning in our bed.

Raye, you are such a sweet, easy-going baby. Everyone comments about how laid-back you are, and quite honestly you make me want to have another baby, like, yesterday. I love you so much and am enjoying getting to know you and can't wait to see what kind of a little person you're going to turn into.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Noel: 2 1/2 Years Old

Dear Noel,

It's been a long time since I wrote you a letter, dearie, so I figured it was high time I sat down and wrote one to you!

First of all, I'm sorry that you don't have all the same cute photos of your third year that Lane has. It's nothing personal. It's not even that you're the second child. It's that we've been in America ever since you turned two and life has just been crazy all around. I really hope to do a better job documenting some of your likes and dislikes and funny things you're doing, but I make no promises. Because honestly, when I have a few minutes to do things like that, most of the time I'd rather spend the time making memories with you than preserving memories. So play time usually wins out. Sorry, sweetie.

Sidewalk chalk! 'Nough said!

But on to the fun stuff. You, my dear, are hilarious. You are so, so verbal and it's absolutely amazing that you can pretty much hold your own in a conversation. You might start your sentence a million times before you find all the exact words you want to use, but you can hold a conversation with anyone. You could probably hold a conversation with a rock as well. But that's neither here nor there. You like to talk. I think you're fighting for attention and expressing yourself so we pay attention to you. Anyways, you say some really funny stuff. Like when we go outside and it's sunny and you want your sunglasses you'll exclaim, "My eyes are hot!" You say "buh-diculous" for ridiculous and "mead" for "need." And one of our favorites is that you ask us to do things with you "for a few whiles." It's like you've confused "a few minutes" with "a little while" and it's just so stinkin' cute. A lot of the time when we ask you a question you answer ambiguously: "Noel, do you want breakfast?" "I fink…" It's rarely yes or no, it's "I fink" or "I fink so." You've started to say, "That hurt my feelings" when you don't like something that someone's said, and just today when I was telling you that you had to eat one bite of spaghetti (you don't like red sauce) you told me, "I don't like those words." Ha! You're a hoot.

You are very, very emotional. You've always been this way, somewhat, but now that you're emotional and two, it makes for a lot of crying around here. You pitch a lot of fits and whine a lot, and you'll burst into tears because you're in trouble, and then five minutes later when you're still crying and I ask you why, you honestly reply, "I don't know!" through all your tears. You are also slow to warm up to people. You don't like crowds of people you don't know, and you don't really like anyone new, no matter how old or young. After you're around someone for awhile and get used to them then you can be best buddies, but until then you will most likely scream and yell, "Mama!" and run from them every chance you get.

You love the carousel!

Lane is your very best friend. You love to play with her, and you girls are actually getting good at playing together. Lane still drives a lot of the action, but you are usually quite happy to play along. Although you also hold your own a lot of the time…you don't let her take toys you're playing with or tell you what to do when you want to do something else. You have a great imagination and can actually be quite bossy when we're playing with you: you know exactly how you want everything to go and if we're playing "wrong" you will correct us. How a second-born child got as bossy as you I have no idea, but I'm glad you're not a pushover like a lot of second-borns are! And you love Raye…you say all the time, "Raye is so cute!" and you love to "pet" her and snuggle her. You can't wait to play with her.

This summer you've been wearing 3T clothes for the most part. You have some 2T things that fit, but mostly you're just wearing all 3Ts. And you're in a size 7 shoe. You were 36 inches tall and 29 pounds at your last doctor's visit (in April). You tell me frequently, "You're my best mommy," to which I reply, "You're my best Noel." Although really, if we have to call it like it is, you're a daddy's girl. You love your daddy and will choose him over me most of the time. I have my moments, but honestly, you prefer him.

You have really enjoyed swimming this summer.

You love to sing. You know all the words to Jesus Loves Me, the Auburn Fight Song, Glory, Glory to Ole Auburn, Auburn's Alma Mater (can you tell that Daddy is starting you young?), Sanctuary, Bless the Lord, and a host of other songs. You love to be read to and currently love our Pete the Cat book. You also love animals, especially any animal that will let you pet them. So you really enjoy petting Mimi and Papa's cat Ty, and any other cat that will have you.

You're a good eater. There are, of course, things you don't like, but you're pretty good about eating a bite or two of them. You've started putting the bite of something you don't like with a bite of something you do like in order to "make it yummy." You like almost all vegetables and most fruits (you're not a fan of cherries or nectarines right now). You love to drink milk and I kind of have to force water into you. You also love juice but you don't get it often, so it's a special treat. You also, of course, love dessert and almost any kind of bread or pasta. And cucumbers. Oh my goodness do you love cucumbers! It's the funniest thing to me just how much you love them!

You colored this in April…you were 2 and maybe 4 months. Impressive, I think.

You're pretty good at coloring and painting and artsy things, although I think you only do them because Lane loves them. If it weren't for her I think you'd just prefer to play most of the time. But we've taught you how to hold a pencil or crayon the right way and you're getting pretty good at staying in the lines. You also are learning how to write your name and can do the O, E, and L with no problems, but connecting the middle line in the N gives you some trouble. But you're doing really well.

You know all your colors, can count to 20 (although we need to work on numbering things while you count them), know all your letters and all basic shapes. You've been potty trained for almost a year now, although you had a lot of accidents up until January or so. You've been sleeping in a big-girl bed since December and you rarely get out of the bed. You still sleep with bunny, blankie, and 'raffie (your giraffe). You hate for me to give you pigtails which is so sad because you're so cute in them. You can put on and take off your pants and undies, and some of your shoes.

Your first time to Florida.

Noel, you're a sweetheart. You're very, very two-years-old these days and pitch lots of fits and demand your own way, but you're also very, very sweet and are fairly compliant and obedient. Every day you get a little more independent and it's fun to watch you grow and develop and learn new things. We are so, so glad you're a part of our family.

I love you,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2 Months Old

Dear Raye,

A week ago you turned two months old. You and I were in Texas visiting one of my good friends, so that's why I didn't write to you then. And since we got back life has just been busy. But lest you think that you are third and therefore never get anything the first two girls get, here we go.

Snoozin' in the bed.

This month you have just become even more sweet than you were before. You are such a good baby. Everyone comments on just how good and easy-going you are. You rarely cry anymore unless you are starving or exhausted. Most of the time when I put you in bed all swaddled up you will just lie there and kick your legs and look at stuff until you fall asleep. You don't cry yourself to sleep unless you're just past the point of no return in the tired department.

Snoozin' at the zoo.

A couple of weeks ago you got your immunizations and you were so, so fussy. It just broke my heart because you're never fussy. You were also weighed and measured and you, my darling, are a chunk. You're up to 23.5 inches long and 12 pounds, 13 ounces. You'd gained 4.5 pounds in seven weeks. We had to pack up your newborn clothes and pull out the 3-month stuff already. Goodness. You also took your first airplane ride(s) and went to your fourth state, Texas. You were a champ on the plane and gave me no problems at all.

In the airport waiting for our flight to DFW.

For awhile you were doing really well sleeping at night, only waking up once around 3 a.m., but recently you've figured out how to work your arms out of your swaddle so it seems that that is the reason you're waking up at around 1, and then around 4, and then around 6. I should just break you of the swaddle but that presents us with another "problem": you've found your thumb and hands, and you like to suck on them. And I'm not up for you being a thumb sucker, so you're staying swaddled until I can get you to like the paci better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can break you of the thumb and finger-sucking, since I did it with Noel. We shall see. But if you could start sleeping longer at night again I'd really appreciate it.

You usually start out about like this...

And end up about like this.

This month you started cooing at us and smiling a ton. If anyone will talk sweet to you you'll just grin and coo back. Except Noel…the poor girl loves you to death and always wants to "pet" you and talk to you, but she's just a little too loud and in-your-face for your preference…and you usually end up crying when she's trying to kiss on you and hug you and talk to you. But she'll learn. And you'll develop thicker skin. =) This month you also learned how to use your feet to kick the spiders that hang down over your bouncy seat. It's really funny to watch you carefully lift your foot to kick a spider. We're all impressed. And your umbilical cord finally fell off at five weeks, so you've finally gotten some tummy time. You're still not a big fan, and honestly I don't put you on your tummy as often as I should because it means I have to watch you like a hawk so you don't bash your face when your neck gets tired, but hey, we're working on it. And your neck is quite strong when we're holding you upright. So you might not roll over as early as your sisters did, but you'll catch up to them in no time.

Kicking spiders!

Tummy time.

Raye, you are such a sweet, easygoing baby. Everyone in our family loves you and you are such a sweet addition to our other girls. I'm so excited to see you grow and interact with them and figure out your place in our crazy little family.

I love you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life Lately

When was the last time I wrote a real post on here? I feel like it's been forever. I mean, I love my kids, but gosh, they take up all my free time! But like a friend who's a mommy of six once told me, "If you have one kid, they take up all your time. If you have two kids, they take up all your time. If you have five kids, they take up all your time!" So I don't really feel like I'd have a lot more time if I had fewer children. Maybe if I had older children, but not fewer…

Anyways, life. Life is crazy up in these parts. Here's why:

Playing in the pool at the Memorial Day gathering with Shannon's stepmom's side of the family.

Lane. Ahh, my dear Lane. Smart as a whip and stubborn as a mule. Still. We have moved past the tantrums stage, past the basic disobedience stage (mostly), and now we're in the manipulative shrew stage. This girl tries to talk her way into whatever she wants. She's also getting some sass and attitude, which is not acceptable. So we're giving her a drop of vinegar on her tongue when her mouth says something as nasty as vinegar tastes. Not sure if it's working, but we're working on taming the tongue.

Checking out the fish at the aquarium in Gatlinburg.

Noel. Dear goodness I love that girl but she is oh. so. two-years-old these days. She's super smart and very verbal, but she is so stinking emotional. Hence lots of fits are being pitched in the Scarbrough household these days. She cries when she doesn't get her way, and then she cries more when she gets in trouble for crying from not getting her way. She has become more work than Lane, and that's saying a lot since she's always been the easier of the two of them.

Love the look on her face.

Raye. Well, let's face it. All newborns are a lot of work. Raye is pretty easy-going and mellow but she still requires the basics. I'm so thankful she's a quick eater. Most of the time we can be completely finished with a feeding session in 20 minutes, including changing a diaper and burping her, and even changing her clothes if necessary. She's sweet and calm but she is still a baby, so adding in the unknown of her schedule and needs on a daily basis and it just helps things be a little crazier around here.

Shopping. Since we're getting ready to head back overseas we're stocking up on stuff for the next three years and replacing what's worn out over the last four years. Clothes and shoes for me and Shannon (he actually needed more clothes than I did…I needed mainly clothes to get me through the 10-pounds-heavier-than-normal-because-I-just-had-a-baby stage. But I needed more shoes than him…I've only had one new pair of good shoes in the last four years). Random spices, medicines, kitchen supplies. Sheets and mattress protectors, luggage, and so on. I'm so tired of shopping!

Surgery. About two days after bringing home a certain 8 lb., 5 oz. chunk from the hospital, I developed tendonitis in my left wrist. Of course I didn't know that's what it was until this past Wednesday, when I found out and scheduled surgery for Friday. It was a last-minute decision in order to fix the problem the quickest so we can still try to make it back out of the country by the end of July. I did it without sedation, and am recovering nicely, although I feel a bit like a gimp with my wrist in such a huge splint. I am grateful to have more capabilities than I thought I would, though!

The girls attended Vacation Bible School a couple of weeks ago. In order to earn some money to put in the offering plate I set them to work gathering sticks out of the yard (it has stormed SO many times here this summer…it's crazy how much it's rained!). I think they did a pretty good job for 2 and 4 years old!

Doctor's visits. Since Raye was born we've been to the doctor…too many times. Three times for Raye, plus a hospital visit for her hearing screen (that they forgot to do while we were actually staying there). Twice for Shannon (basic physical and bloodwork). Four times for me (basic physical, six-week postpartum checkup, initial visit to the orthopedic surgeon, actual surgery). Once for Lane (double ear infection and strep throat). And we've been to the dentist, too. Both Lane and Noel have been for a cleaning, and I went twice for the two stages of a crown (gotta say that as much as it stinks, I'm grateful that after four years overseas the only thing that Shannon and I needed was one crown each…not too bad when the only work you need done is to fix old work that's just…old.). Anyone counting? That's eleven visits just to the doctor and four to the dentist in the last seven weeks. And there's more to come: Raye's 6-week check-up and immunizations this Wednesday. Noel still needs the last booster in her rabies vaccination series, and she needs her hepatitis A booster shot. These involve driving almost an hour to the department of health in downtown Birmingham. I'll have a follow-up visit from this surgery in two weeks. And surely between now and then someone will get sick and need to go to the doctor for a prescription. Yikes.

A rare photo of all of us on the train at Dollywood.

A bit of fun. *I went to the movies for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long without Shannon. I went with some ladies from church and we saw "Moms' Night Out." It was definitely not quite a mom's night out for me since I had Raye in tow, but it was a cute movie and I definitely enjoyed it. *We bought year passes for the Birmingham Zoo and we've taken the girls three times so far. We're looking at taking them again today if the rain will hold off. It's so nice to be able to go for just a couple of hours and not feel like we have to stay all day to "get our money's worth." Even Raye has been to the zoo. *I went shopping a couple of times and got some new summer clothes that will hopefully fit me after I've lost the rest of my baby weight: maxi skirts and a dress and modest tank tops. It's so great to be wearing something other than maternity clothes! *We spent a week in  Gatlinburg on a much-needed vacation: we just swam and let the girls watch a few more shows than usual, ate special treats, spent a day at Dollywood, and just got to be together without other things pulling us in a million directions. My dad and stepmom and sister and her family came for our weekend there, and Shannon's dad and stepmom and the girls' cousin Alexandra came for the rest of the week. It was a good break for us all.

Daddy in the pool with both his girls.

Getting healthy. Shannon's cholesterol is too high, he has about ten pounds to lose, and I have at least ten pounds left to lose, really more like 15. So we're on a diet…lots of fruits and veggies, not many carbs or sweets. It's so nice to feel like cooking, because that last month or so of pregnancy was just miserable and I did NOT want to be on my feet cooking anything. Now I want to be in the kitchen, especially with it being summer and there being lots of good, fresh produce available. We joined a gym and Shannon's been going regularly for a couple of months now, and on alternate days he exercises his shoulders and upper back (as prescribed by the PT he saw for six weeks while we were in North Carolina in response to his injuring his shoulder last summer). I went three times this last week and am doing the Couch-to-5K program. Now that we think we're done having babies I actually see the point in getting back into shape. =)

So there's a bit of what's been going on around here. I'm headed to Texas on Sunday to visit a dear friend and the bigger girls will probably spend time with their grandparents while I'm gone so Shannon can get some work done. After that we'll be mostly just trying to get ready to move back overseas and keep our sanity!

Monday, June 2, 2014

1 Month Old

Dear Raye,

Today you are one month old. I think this has been the fastest month to pass by in history. It seriously seems like just yesterday that I was miserably pregnant with you and begging the doctor to induce me. It's also amazing to me that I have three daughters. Three. My heart is so full, and I'm so grateful for each of you.

Your first time to "Doughnut Friday," where daddy takes the girls for doughnuts. Mamoo was there, too!

You are a very good baby. I bought a sling/wrap to carry you around in so that you can get some good naps in if we're out and about a lot, or if you're just having a rough day with naps. But as of today you seem to be getting the whole nap thing. You fell asleep in your little travel crib, on your own, without much fussing or crying, three times today. Yesterday you had a nap or two in the travel crib where you fussed for about 15 minutes, but you didn't cry or scream like you sometimes do. I will be very happy when we figure the napping thing out, as so far that is the hardest part of having three kids: when you don't want to nap so I just have to hold you or comfort you…it makes getting anything else done (or spending time with your big sisters) nearly impossible. So I'm happy that we're making some progress there. You are sleeping well at night, though, so for that I am grateful. You generally wake up twice in the middle of the night, but this past week you've done a 5.5-hour and a 6.5-hour stretch without eating, so you were only up once in middle of the night those nights. I'm hoping that you follow in Noel's steps and sleep through the night by three months…maybe you'll even do it earlier since you were over two pounds heavier than her when you were born!

You have passed the super-sleepy newborn stage (and let's face it, since you were 12 days late we didn't get but a couple of super-sleepy days) and are alert and wide-eyed and taking it all in. You've smiled a few times this month and cooed at us a few times. You are perfectly content to look around and don't demand to be held all day, unless you're overtired, and then you just want to sleep in our arms. I think that your ideal wake time length is 50 or 60 minutes…you like to be awake and will keep yourself there if we don't get you to sleep in time, but if we get you in bed before the hour mark has passed you seem to sleep better.

You haven't had any tummy time this month because your stubborn umbilical stump just won't fall off. Your neck is strong, though…I can tell from letting you lie on my chest and lift your head, or when I'm burping you and you look around…you have good head control for a 1-month old. I took you to the doctor almost three weeks ago and you had gained 1.5 pounds from your birthweight…you were 9 lbs, 13 oz three weeks ago. Surely you are a good ten pounds now, if not 11. You are a fast eater, usually finishing in about five minutes per side. You have a little bit of baby acne but not too much. You still have a ton of hair. And the general consensus seems to be that you look like Lane (and therefore like your daddy).

This month you've met all of your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents except for your Uncle Sean. You took your first road trip through Georgia (briefly) and on to Tennessee. You got your first passport. You went to the aquarium in Gatlinburg, although you slept through the whole visit. You've had a lot of adventures already. Your big sisters love you so much…they love to "pet" you, and Noel constantly says, "Raye is so teeny." They're glad you're here, as are the rest of us. It's been a wonderful month, and we pray for many, many more with you.

We love you,
Mommy (and Daddy)