Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lydia's story

Blogging just isn't making it into my priority list lately. Maybe soon, but for now, here's a new favorite of Lydia.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Precious Brother Moment

After my quick mention about Drew and Evan getting to explore in our backyard together when they're big boys, Drew could not stop talking about it! For the next hour, he told us all about his plans.

"No girls. No Mommy. No Daddy. Just me and Evan. I hold Evan's hand. He no be scared. We go to water (there's a little creek behind our house). Jump! Just me, Evan. Big boys!"

And my heart swelled with thankfulness for my sweet family of two boys and two girls. And joy to hear my big boy be so excited to play with his baby brother.

I've been shocked by how gentle Drew is with Evan. He gives him sweet kisses on his head and little hugs. I rarely have to tell him to be slower, softer, gentler. In the picture above, he put a lion stuffed animal on Evan's head!

The girls are another story. They want to be super involved in every process with Evan, so I'm always reminding them to slow down, don't move him, be careful, be gentle, give him some space...every time he's awake. It's all because they adore him, but I'm not sure it feels all that loving to Evan most of the time!

They've been thrilled to see Evan smiling, even at them a few times! Here are the best smile pics I've gotten so far.

Off to prepare for a fun weekend with AJ's college buddies and their wives. We're so excited for this belated 30th birthday celebration!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2 months

Sweet Evan is two months old already. Life is pretty fast paced these days, so I just want to take time to write down some thoughts from life with him.

I often call him the perfect baby. I've thought each of our babies was easy, but this guy seems almost too good to be true.

He loves his pacifier and is great at holding on to it. I can't think of a moment that it didn't work to calm him.

It is a rare moment when he really cries hard. He sleeps so well, hangs out happily while awake in his bed, sits or lays wherever we put him and rarely makes a peep. The way I know he's getting upset is by his grunts, huffs, and puffs. He seems so mild mannered.

When he does cry at the end of a nap or in the middle, it is like an on/off switch when we pick him up. He stops immediately. I've also noticed recently that he stops when I start talking to him, before I pick him up. I love being the one whose voice calms him.

He is enthralled by toys above him. He didn't love his bouncy seat until I added the bar of toys. He's often found staring above, watching and reaching for the toys he sees. The big kids have made a game of cheering "Go Evan!" while waiting for him to touch a toy then saying "Yay!" when he does. It's fun to see them all "playing" together already: here's a video!

The newness still has not worn off with the girls. I love that they still say, "AWWW" pretty much every time he wakes up from a nap or they've been away from him for a little while. Jenna loves to take his pajamas off for him and has been asking when she can change his diaper.

Drew often asks, "Where's my Evan?" He gets lots of top-of-the-head kisses from his big brother. It's not always easy sharing Mommy, though. When Drew wants to be held instead of Evan, he'll often say, "No feed Evan. No feed Evan." Drew says his name E-nan.

He sleeps so well. Last night was his best night yet: he went 8 hours between feedings and gave Mama several solid hours of sleep in a row!

He's a crane necker. Since he was just days old, he often pulls his head back when being held facing the adult. He does that during tummy time too which helped him roll over 3 times between the ages of 2 and 4 weeks! I was shocked! He also loves to look back at whoever is holding him. He could win a staring contest any day!

He's beginning to smile and coo. Best mother's day present ever! The easiest way to get a smile right now is to stroke his chubby cheeks and talk to him.

Until a few days ago, he's seemed consistently solemn and serious. His daddy says he has a constant scowl. That's pretty true, and it's funny to get that look back from him when I'm in his face being silly and trying to get a smile out of him. Here's the scowl during his one month photo session with Mom.

He's growing differently than our other kids. By differently, I mean he's chunking up quickly! He's already in 3-6 month clothes exclusively.

He looks just like Drew's baby pictures. I will need to be sure to label baby pictures, or I could easily confuse them someday...especially since they wear most of the same clothes.

Since we're planning for Evan to be our last baby, I find myself soaking up the moments to hold him, kiss him, snuggle with him, and watch him. We all love him dearly.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quotes I don't want to forget

We're getting along pretty well as a family of six. We're on our own this week, and things have gone well, but I'm looking forward to my parents' arrival tomorrow. I'm excited to have more adults to give attention to the big kids who have been great but could use some more quality time. Evan has already been welcomed into one of the most commonly played game at our house: train.

And a few sweet moments that I had to get in writing:

"Can we keep him for a long time?" -Jenna

"Can you see me, Baby?" -Drew while laying on the floor, peeking under Evan's door. Evan was crying in his bed, and Drew looked like he was attempting to pass him a book to cheer him up.

"He's the cutest baby ever!" -Lydia

"I'm a real mommy!" -Lydia after opening a new doll from Uncle Leroy and Aunt Patsy. She was trying to make the pacifier stay in the baby's mouth when the magnet inside the doll's mouth made it stick for the first time. She was shocked and thrilled!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evan's Birth Story

First, a little background. I had a c-section with the girls because Lydia turned breach at 36 weeks (how? we have no idea!). It was scheduled at 37 weeks, and I had zero real contractions while pregnant with them. My recovery was incredibly easy for a c-section, but I chose to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) with Drew. I went into labor naturally two days before my due date, had to wait to get my epidural so long that I was a 10 when the nurse checked me right after the epidural took effect. Ouch! Then, I pushed for two hours before the doctor helped coax Drew out with forceps (not because he wouldn't fit but because I couldn't seem to get him pushed out correctly). I've never met another person who feels this way, but my recovery from my vaginal birth was definitely harder than my c-section recovery.

Knowing that my circumstances with Drew were unusual, we opted for a VBAC again with Baby #4. It's better to not induce labor with a VBAC, so I'd been trying to prep my mind to go past my due date (March 16) so that my expectations were realistic. However, I was a 2-3 at 36 weeks and a 3-4 at 38 weeks, and my doctor said he'd bet I wouldn't make it to my due date. So I quickly found myself longing to meet my baby as soon as possible! The suspense of whether this was a boy or girl made me especially excited to have this baby!

Labor with Evan was completely different from my experience with Drew, and for that I'm thankful! With Evan, the story began on Sunday (the 6th) morning. As I was getting the kids ready for church, I realized I was having pretty regular contractions--not really painful but noticeable and fairly frequent. I started tracking my contractions during Sunday school and church, and they were 5 minutes apart for a couple hours. They still didn't hurt though, but I expected that to change any minute. Instead, the contractions stopped for a while. I went for a long walk that afternoon to try to keep things moving, and I did have more painless contractions that evening. Then, in the middle of the night I had contractions that were painful enough to make me get out of bed and look for a more comfortable position every time I felt one coming. I got up and took a shower, planning to call Joanne (my mother-in-law) to ask her to come after I showered. Well, they quit again. I was bummed! So, I went back to bed and had some more but they were still at least 15 minutes apart.

The next morning I was pretty disappointed because this was different than what I had expected and different from labor with Drew. I had my weekly OB appointment that afternoon and started noticing some pretty regular contractions before I left the house. Sitting in the waiting room, they were getting a little painful and were 10 minutes apart. So, the doctor checked me and told me I was a 5-6! Whoa!!! So all those contractions really were doing something. He was nice and encouraging, but I left confused. Since I was Strep-B positive and having a VBAC, he said it would be better to not show up at the hospital at an 8 or 9. He said sometimes this can happen without seriously painful, regular contractions. But, he also didn't tell me to go to the hospital. I called my mom confused, and she said we should pray for clarity about my decision.

Well, the clarity came right away. Even on my way home, the contractions began to be 5 minutes apart and were getting more noticeable. That continued for 2 hours, so we made phone calls to get the kids taken care of, packed, and headed to the hospital. It was still very strange because although they hurt, I could still walk and talk through these contractions. I wished AJ could tell me whether or not we should be going to the hospital, but I had to make this call on my own. He didn't know how I felt or what we should do. After getting to my room at about 7:00, the nurse checked me, and I was still a 6 but the contractions were continuing to be regular and more painful (still nothing like with Drew though). I got the epidural a little while later, before I was in agonizing pain, which was awesome! I continued to progress while trying to get some rest. AJ said he felt so strange and useless because I never really needed him up to this point. Then, at about 10:15 pm, I felt a steady trickle of water and had AJ come see if my water had broken. It did! I got my second dose of the Strep-B antibiotic at 11 pm which was perfect timing and better for the baby to have those two doses. It wasn't much longer and I was a 10 and started to push at 11:15. I was nervous about this part since it didn't go smoothly with Drew. However, my nurse's coaching, my sweet hubby, and encouraging doctor made this go-round so much better! It also helped that I had done this before and that my epidural was just right so that I could feel how and when to push. I guess I was pushing hard...the next day I saw what looked like freckles on my face which were popped blood vessels from the pushing process and muscles all over my body were very sore. There was a tense moment when the doctor cut the cord in a hurry because it was wrapped around the baby's neck, but it passed quickly. At 11:46...sweet Evan Michael was born! I remember the nurse saying "Look between your legs" and I was straining to see if this was a boy or girl. I could see most of the baby but not the vital parts yet. Then AJ called out "It's a boy!" I wish I had a recording of him saying that. What a moment. All I could think about was Drew and this little guy playing and doing boy stuff with their daddy. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness, joy, and delight at this perfect addition to our family.

They cleaned him off a bit then laid him on my chest (this was the first time they didn't have to whisk my baby away to check him/her out). A little while later, the nurse was cleaning him up some more and told me he was doing some snorting and that she thought he needed some skin-to-skin time with his mommy. That was such a sweet time especially when he was breathing great after snuggling with me.

In the first few hours, Evan stuck his tongue out a lot and kept his eyes open quite a cute!

It wasn't long before Evan had his first visitors. Caleb (Drew's middle name is after him) and Hannah Shelburne (former students from Midland currently living in northwest Arkansas) drove down (3.5 hours) as soon as they heard I was at the hospital. So kind of them.

That night I couldn't sleep because I was so distracted dreaming about my new little boy and adding him to our family. We are so blessed and so thankful! We love you so much already, precious Evan!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's a BOY!

Evan Michael is here! He was born March 7 at 11:46 pm. He was 7 pounds 11 ounces and 20 inches long. It was a great labor and delivery...details to come. It's been a great first day with him! Here's a few favorite pictures from his first day of life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jenna and Lydia turn 4

We had lots of fun celebrating the girls' birthday! Like usual, our celebration was spread over a couple weeks. Our traditional family outing to honor the girls was a trip to Fayetteville for a University of Arkansas gymnastics meet. The two competing teams were ranked in the top 20, and it was close all the way til the end. The atmosphere was super fun--mascots, cheerleaders, fun music, popcorn. The girls seemed to enjoy it, and it was a special treat to get some time with Uncle Ben, Aunt Maggie and Tusk.

The day of their birthday a sweet co-worker of AJ's brought the girls a Tres Leches Cake. Yum! She brought it early that morning, so we had to eat some for breakfast!

It's becoming a common request to visit The Wonder Place for a birthday. It wasn't very crowded on this Tuesday morning, which was a great treat!

The blowing scarfs, veterinarian's office, and the water table were a few favorite activities of the day.

That night we went to Macaroni Grill for Jenna's macaroni and cheese and Lydia's spaghetti. Some opera singers sang the girls "Happy birthday" in Italian, and we enjoyed our time together as a family.

Sweet girl with her elephant cake. Jenna's great at making people laugh, is pretty steady emotionally, and is an encourager.

The Lydi-Lady cake. Lydia loves to dance, dress up in fancy clothes, and is a real tender-heart.

They don't seem to mind sharing their birthday at all! It's so fun to watch them grow up together.

The weekend after their birthday, our neighbors and Grandma and Poppie came over to help us celebrate. Our neighbors, with kids at similar ages to ours, have been a big bonus of this move. The kids play together often and are truly sweet friends.

Lydia was the first to have Happy Birthday sung to her and then blow out her candles. I love the way Jenna's hand is on her sister's back while she works to blow out all four candles.

Jenna's turn. It took both of them several blows to get all the candles out.

We love you, Jenna and Lydia! What a joy it is to be your parents! We're grateful for these four years we've been privileged to enjoy with you.

A Baby Shower

I need very little for this baby boy or girl. By the way, I'm loving not finding out the gender and feel some extra excitement to meet this baby because of all the unknowns! I have bins with bedding, blankets, clothes, baby equipment, and more. Even still...I was really thankful when a friend told me she wanted to have a shower for me. It was just good to realize that in this past year God's provided some neat friends who want to help celebrate this new member of our family! It was mostly my MOPS friends plus AJ's mom and a couple other friends from here in town. It was just fun to spend time with those girls, and I felt so loved by all the work that went into that Sunday afternoon.

Just before the shower. It sorta looks like I'm propping up my baby belly on the counter.

Cute cake that matched the cute invitations. They had lots of yummy food!

Some favorite gifts were diapers and wipes (of course!), this new drying rack that looks like grass, steam cleaning bags for cleaning bottles, pump parts, etc., and some cute neutral blankets.

The sweet hostesses: Susan and Tammy. They thought of so many little things that made the day really special. Thanks girls!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


AJ left town for two and a half weeks to help with a Chick-fil-A Grand Opening, so the kids and I went to spend some time in Colorado with my parents. My dad generously flew both ways so that he could drive our mini-van back and forth so that I could attend to the kids for the 15 hour drive. The kids did great, and we had a wonderful time! It was full of a little bit of drama, though.

We stopped in Tulsa for the night to break up the trip at Uncle Brock's house. This was where our stomach bug began. The good news was that Jenna was grown up enough to puke in the toilet for the first time! Yay to avoid a mess!

The first day we were in Colorado, we went to eat a restaurant in a former train depot, and Drew loved it.

The train drove by then parked right outside the window beside our table. Drew's dream come true! After lunch, we took the kids to their first theater movie: Tangled. Drew did fine, but our sensitive girls couldn't handle the intensity of it. We kept trying to talk them into making it through, but eventually we had to walk out.

During the weekdays, my parents worked most days, so we spent time with friends, went to my dad's basketball games, and just enjoyed relaxing. One night I went out with some college friends, and my parents kept the kids. Jenna was fighting another round of the stomach bug, and at one moment she rolled off the couch. My parents went to check on her, and her eyes rolled back in her head then she puked. They were worried she was having another seizure (like she had at 15 months), so they quickly called 911. She was with it again in a few seconds, and the paramedics and my parents determined she was probably just dehydrated. They didn't have to take her to the hospital, but it was definitely scary!

On the weekend we were there, my parents did a few special things for an early celebration of the girls' birthday. They had a ladybug and elephant pancake for breakfast then we went on to the childrens' museum in Denver.

This place was impressive and quite crowded too!

Lydia loved the stage area complete with neat costumes and ribbons for dancing. Grammy even made some similar ribbons that the girls got for their birthday a couple weeks later!

Drew loved the train table and kept his engineer hat on as long as possible. He knew it was perfect for him; he loves to tell us that when he grows up he wants to be a train engineer.

On the way home from the museum, my dad was driving and all of a sudden felt dizzy then couldn't see for a few seconds. He was able to pull over safely, but it was scary to wonder what could have happened on another road or in a different situation. It encouraged him to see a cardiologist who told him not to drive for the next 1 1/2 months. That complicated our plans for him to drive us home in a few days. We decided to switch roles and have me drive and him entertain the kids, which was a good plan until the stomach bug struck again the day before we needed to leave in order for him to catch his flight back home. Ugh!

Tea party with Grammy. Drew did not want to be left out of the dressing up.

Thankfully I felt quite a bit better the next day, but my dad came down with the bug the next night in a Kansas hotel (and my mom got it too, back home alone). Ugh again! We made it to Tulsa the next day, and Brock and Harmony took good care of us. Dad missed his scheduled flight but was able to reschedule free of charge. The flight day was full of delays due to snow, but eventually he made it home about 36 hours after we had originally planned before the sickness and delays. Lots of drama, but it made home even sweeter to return to!

Belly Update

Here's my baby belly at 35 weeks. The pregnancy continues to go well, and Baby is head down and ready for another VBAC. We're all getting excited to meet this baby, especially to know if we're adding a boy or girl to our family. A fun treat I won at the end of this pregnancy: a makeover! At MOPS they had a drawing to have a hair cut and color by a girl who used to cut hair at a fancy salon and now stays at home as a mom. Also, we have a Mary Kay consultant in the group who did my make-up. What great timing to have some help feeling pretty here at the end!

New Year and Snow Days

The days surrounding New Year's were so nice! They were full of play time with new toys, getting organized, and seeing old and new friends.

What a treat to meet Miracle Baby Silas Smith while they were in town visiting family.

This boy set himself up in a little chair in front of a bowl game and was all smiles about watching football.

We had an unusual amount of snow that fell several different times in January and February. This was the first year the kids were old enough to enjoy it much, so it was perfect timing! The first snow was while "Uncle" Caleb and two other MCA students were here visiting on their way to Siloam Springs.

This was the kids' first snowman. The other favorite activity (especially for Drew) was sledding (on a baking sheet) down our neighbors' driveway. We've found a good use for their steep driveway several times this winter.

We were in Ozark for some snowy days also, and Grandma got some fun pictures of the kids!

We've loved the snow, and now we're loving the warmer Spring-like weather!