Thursday, October 9, 2014

5 Months Old

Dear Raye,

Another month has gone by and you'll be half-a-year old before I know it. Five's gone so quickly. You are seriously the most chill and relaxed baby ever. And everyone says so.

This month has been a fun one as you've started vocalizing and playing with toys even more. I don't remember when your first laugh was, but you've been doing it for awhile now. You love for us to "get" your neck or your ribs and will snicker and laugh. You love it when we talk "baby talk" to you and will just grin and coo and try to touch our faces. You found your feet and have put them in your mouth a few times, but mostly you just like to grab them and look at them. You also like to examine your hand and then slowly bring it to your mouth to chew on.

You're still sucking on your thumb or fingers but will take the paci if you can keep it in. You're just not going looking for it after it's fallen out. Hopefully soon you'll actually prefer it and keep your fingers out of your mouth. You got a hangnail this month that got infected and now we're having to keep a couple of socks taped to your hand to keep it dry so it can heal. It's like torture to you because you love to have your hands in your mouth! But it's looking better and hopefully in another couple of weeks you won't need to keep the socks on your hand.

I weighed you this month and you weigh 16 pounds. Sixteen! But you've only gained a pound since we left America two months ago, so I'm glad to see that your weight gain is slowing down and that maybe the clothes we have for you for this winter will actually fit you this winter!

This month we gave you some rice and oat cereal, but you were definitely not a fan of them. In fact, you blow raspberries to spit them out. So I think we'll just give it another few weeks before we try again, because after four tries of rice and four tries of oats, you were still just spitting them out. I thought that maybe you were needing some more calories because you kept waking up in the middle of the night. But in the end we decided to let you cry it out for a few nights to see if it helped, and lo and behold, it did. Now you go to bed around 7 and sleep until 5 or 6, and I feed you once at around 10. You might wake up and cry for a few minutes in the middle of the night but for the most part you are sleeping much better. And we all feel better and more rested because of it.

Your first taste of rice cereal.

You are a drooler and a spitter. You spit up so much it's amazing to me. I think it's because you prefer to be on your tummy now and the pressure from the floor on your tummy just pushes the milk back up and out. I'm excited for you to learn how to sit up so that maybe you don't spit up as much. And you love to put everything in your, fingers, burp cloths, all of it. So there's a lot of drool going on around here, too.

Raye, you are so sweet. You're such a sweet baby. You really love your sisters. Noel loves to hold you and Lane loves to make noises in your face and watch you smile. I love to snuggle you after your 10 p.m. feeding when you pretty much just sleep on my shoulder. And Daddy just loves to hold you and talk to you. You are a good listener, after all. We love you so much and are so glad you're a part of our family.

I love you,

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Life Lately

I keep telling myself that one day I'll actually write in this little space of my own. And it just keeps on not happening. But one day, when I'm not studying a language 20 hours a week and when I don't have a not-sleeping-well-at-night baby, perhaps I'll resume. Until then, if you're holding your breath that there will be posts here more than once or twice a month, keep holding it, because I doubt that will happen anytime soon. But one day it will. Just not today.

So, a bit of life lately.

1) A new home. Shortly after arriving here we began to look for a new apartment. We found one quickly and got all moved in the day after we signed the contract, and we had our internet up and running by two days later. We have a huge place (for here), almost 1200 square feet. It's three bedrooms and a storage room, and two bathrooms, which is practically unheard of here. The kitchen is a little lacking in the comfort department but I can make due. And our living room / dining room area is a little cramped but once again, not a big deal. Overall we're very happy with our place and it's turning out nicely. I haven't done much to make it feel "homey" yet but we have gotten most of the kinks worked out of the rest of the place, so hopefully soon I can get to the finishing touches.

The sunrise out our living room window.

2) Sickness. Seriously, two weeks ago I woke up absolutely freezing. I took a shower and went to my language lesson like usual (well, usual for the previous three days) but by the time I came home I had a huge headache. I let the girls watch television all afternoon while I just moped around in misery, and I went to bed at 7:15 that night, right after I had nursed Raye. I woke up the next day feeling better, but then on Monday Shannon woke up with the same thing. And mine seemed to come back. Add into it a mild case of mastitis, a hangnail-turned-infected-finger on Raye, and colds that we all got right after moving here and it's been a long six or seven weeks.

3) Packages! My mother-in-law did some shopping for Lane for some fall/winter clothing since there was nothing out when we were looking in July and August. So she sent some fun packages with clothes for all the girls and new Auburn hair bows and sticky-back velcro (for do-it-yourself window screens) and a cheese slicer for me. It was a load of fun opening the packages. Thanks, Sharon and Milton!

Whoop whoop for new clothes for the girlies!

4) A visa run. Raye's visa expires in about a week and Shannon's and the girls' expire at the end of this month, with mine to follow in early November. So tomorrow we're taking a little trip out of the country.  We should be gone about two weeks and then will (hopefully!) be coming back with brand-new visas valid for three years. Until then…we'll just be road-tripping it with three kids in tow. Loads of fun. At least we'll get to see someplace new, and we don't have to check any bags or deal with airport security!

5) Parenting. Ok, maybe I shouldn't go here, but just in case there's some mom out there who has some kids fairly close together and is feeling like she's drowning…I hear ya. I was totally there. I think I had about 3.75 years of parenting…stress. Like, major stress. But stick with it. It passes. Kids get a little older and start to actually like each other and play together and life gets easier. So I feel like life now is actually easier, parenting-wise, than it was a year ago. And I have an extra kid now! So hold out hope and stick with it.

Me and my girls.

So there you go. A bit of life lately. And now, I'm off to continue what is so characteristic of my life: packing.

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.