Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Hair Scare of the Pull-Ups Princess

Meet two-and-a-half year old Lydia Faith. She's at an age where everything she says is cute, because she talks in big girl paragraphs with a little girl voice. She doesn't want to be left out of whatever her brothers are doing, whether it's playing outside or watching a Diego DVD (though she seems to have a preference for Blue's Clues and Hide 'em in Your Heart).

She's always hungry (except at mealtime), and usually very specific in her requests. "I am a little hungry. Can I please have a string cheese?" will soon be followed by "Mumma, I am so, so hungry," as she follows Mumma through the house like a puppy. If she sees me at the blender, she'll ask for a smoothie or for some of my Shakeology. She doesn't need naps; in fact, if she crashes on the couch or in the car (or at the table during snack time), she wakes up crying and miserable.

She has been wearing underwear for nine months, but still requires frequent reminders to go to the bathroom (which she has been able to do independently for about 6 months). She asks Daddy to help her do pull-ups and loves going to open gym, where she runs and climbs with gusto. She's both tough but emotional, rough but cuddly, sassy but sweet.

She loves her Mumma, but she adores her Daddy too. She regularly asks him to buy her a pink bike and (like her Mumma!) any other pink thing she can name. She loves to pour out her affection on him: as he was leaving a few days ago, she raised her voice above the household din to tell him, "I kissed your leg because I couldn't reach your cheek!" If she wakes up in the middle of the night, a snuggle from Daddy makes everything okay. Last time this happened, she staggered down the hall around 11pm, rubbing her eyes. Daddy scooped her up, took her to the bathroom, changed her Pull-up, and tucked her back into bed without any conversation. Then, in her bluntly inquisitive two year old way, she suddenly perked up and asked, "What are you guys doing up?"

At dinner a few days ago, when the boys started telling jokes (for some reason, all of us sitting down to dinner together cues them to launch into one of their bad-joke giggle fests) she told her own knock-knock joke. She answered "Who's there?" with "Macaroni penguin."

"Macaroni penguin who?" we asked.

"Macaroni penguin Santa Claus!" she laughed.

Don and I declared her joke to be the best one invented by any of our children (a record which wasn't tough to beat).

She loves to help, but don't even think about taking one of her jobs. ("No, I'm talking to Baby Abby!") She can identify some letters and numbers, inlcuding "L for Lydia!" And if you try to call her anything else, (say, "Lyds" as Hayden calls her, or some sugary pet name), she'll respond, "Don't call me Lyddie! Call me Li-dee-yah." Or perhaps, like today, she will set you straight on her nickname of choice, like when she told Daddy, "I'm not Honey. Mumma is Honey. I'm Sweetie!"

She may only get her shoes on the right feet half the time, but she has a sense of fashion, knowing what socks coordinate with an outfit, and loving her pink cowgirl boots.

Up until recently, she also liked to ask for ponytails. It wasn't my intention to give my no-longer-a-baby-girl a grown-up looking haircut, but I had a little unsolicited help from my favorite (if mischeivous) five year old. Though I certainly wasn't happy with Hayden's hair hacking misdemeanor, I am oh so thankful that he left it long enough for me to even off into a decent looking bob. Add a pretty hairclip, and it almost looks like we did this on purpose.

She's busy and demanding, but she's wonderfully lovable. My Lydia is growing fast, and I'm sure her hair will too.

Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.

Song of Solomon 7:5

Monday, February 13, 2012

Four Months of (Abigail) Joy

...All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

~ Psalm 139:16b

When Lydia was three months old, I wrote a post about her first quarter-year of life. I intended to do the same thing for Abby, but somehow she is already four months old, and the days are flying by faster than I can record them. Before another quarter year escapes me, I want to jot down some notes about my quickly growing baby girl.

Ten days old

Like her sister, Abby didn't want to be put down for the first two months out of the womb. Then, right around eight weeks, I was finally able to lay her in her activity gym for a few minutes without any fussing. Now she reaches for toys and chews on blankets and other things that come near her mouth. I have never seen a baby make as many spit bubbles as she does; at times, her little mouth is like a fountain of foam. When she isn't bubbling, chewing, or complaining about her wet diaper, she gives out some pretty charming smiles. All of her siblings adore her, and Lydia is the first to sing or talk to Baby Abby when she cries, but she seems to have a special fascination with watching and smiling at Donny. She would let Donny hold her in the early weeks even when she cried for Hayden and Lydia. Certainly, there is no shortage of people to love Abby, and I'm thankful that she gets plenty of attention even if I cannot constantly be the one who gives it to her.

She has hated baths since her very first one in the hospital, so I have limited my attempts to bathe her to about once a week. Whether I gave her a sponge bath, put her in the washpod, or laid her down in the big tub, she screamed through every minute of her early bathing sessions. It wasn't until she was over three months old that she learned to tolerate getting clean, and it still isn't her favorite thing. She also doesn't seem to love being worn as much as my first three babies did. I'm not sure if she doesn't like it because I don't put her in the sling or carrier as often I did with the younger ones, or if I don't wear her as often because she doesn't like it. Thankfully, she'll tolerate an Ergo ride in the grocery store during our weekly excursion, but if she isn't super sleepy, she usually objects to being snuggled up close in a sling.

Abby is also my first baby who actually nurses only when she is hungry. My other babies have nursed for comfort and to fall asleep, but if I try to nurse Abby too soon after her last feeding, she isn't interested and may even protest. She is a night owl, often staying awake until midnight or later, but I can't complain since she sleeps well for the rest of the night. Since she was born, there have only been a handful of nights when I had to actually get out of bed and walk with her in the wee hours of the night. In fact, in late December, she worked up from sleeping a five or six hour stretch in the Pack N Play bassinet to as many as eight or nine hours! Since we rearranged at the beginning of the year and she got a cold, her sleeping has not been quite so undisturbed. We got a rocking stand for her Moses Basket, which fits nicely in our new room, but I usually bring her into our bed at the first sign of nighttime fussing. Most of the time, she settles back to sleep quickly in the early morning hours, and sleeps in late enough that I can get up and complete most if not all of my workout before she opens her eyes around 9 or 10am. The Moses basket has also been great to keep in the bathroom, since Abby will usually lay there content, whether awake or asleep, while I take a shower. She may fuss later in the day, but I am always amazed at how good she is, even from an early age, while the shower is running!

All of our babies have been given several nicknames, and Abigail is no exception. We typically refer to her as Abby, but Abs is common as well. For the first couple weeks, Don called her Peanut and I called her Sweetness. Donny called her Abby Apple because her tiny newborn head was the size of an apple!

Then I started calling her my Lovebug, and the name has evolved to include variations like Lovebuggy and LoveyBug. When she fusses, we call her Crabby Abby. And because Don and I spend are so familiar with Beachbody workouts, we occasionally give her fitness nicknames like HipHop Abs, Abra-gnome (named after the P90X2 Abrinome exercise), or my personal favorite, Ab Ripper X. Given her Ceserean birth, I think Ab Ripper is a very fitting name! Of course, she has also been called Lydia, Lyddie Bitty, or Lyds on (significantly) more than one occasion. I suggested early on that we recover from our confusion by calling her Li...ttle Abby. Whatever name we give her, it truly is a joy to now have two sweet little girls in our family!

The 5 pound, 9 ounce newborn who was lost in her car seat is now over 12 pounds and holds her head up with pride. In the last couple weeks, she has started to laugh when tickled - or sometimes, just when we talk to her. I love her when she laughs at me or Daddy with her big gummy grin. She isn't always happy, but her crying usually means that she is wet, tired, or possibly hungry, and some loving attention can generally remedy the situation. I am looking forward to watching her personality unfold as she grows, but for now, I am happy to enjoy every smile and coo of the beautiful Abigail Joy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Crazy Happy Siblings

I love these little people!
I am so blessed to bask in their smiles every day.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.

~ Job 8:21

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When Daddy Clears the Land

It's late afternoon, and it's quiet in the house. I am alone with a happily nursing baby. The older three children are outside with Daddy while he does some yard work before the sun goes down. Suddenly, the door bursts open, and the loud wails of an unhappy seven year old echo down the hall. I assume some minor injury has brought about this obvious over-reaction, or perhaps the typical "so-and-so took my such-and-such." But no, this time Donny is in distress for a different reason.

"Daddy is cutting down my favorite tree!" he cries. "MAKE HIM STOP!"

The peace of the afternoon is shattered. I spend the next half hour attempting to calm, console, and explain the situation to my eldest child. Donny has a tendency to, well, over-react, and we generally try to discourage such unnecessary drama. At the same time, I don't want to brush off his concerns entirely. Several months ago, when a logging company came to clear the land next to our house, he had a similar day of distress over the felling of the trees. Though that is now forgotten, Daddy taking the chainsaw to a young oak in the yard has brought the tears rushing back.

I attempt to explain that Daddy surely had a reason for cutting down the small sapling; we have to trust him. Even though Donny liked it, it wasn't his tree. It wasn't his choice. Daddy was trying to clear the land completely, and this oak was not part of his plans. We don't plan to live in this house forever, so eventually, we would be leaving it behind anyway. And really, truly, this is not such a big deal. It's just a tree.

As I speak, I can't help but see how my advice applies to my own life. How often do I burst into literal or figurative tears over something that, in the grand scheme of things, really is trivial? A screaming baby, an angry spouse, noisy children who refuse to listen, a throbbing headache, my inability to conquer the laundry mountain - these moments can be for me what the chainsaw was to Donny. Compared to someone else's problem, they are nothing. But in the dusk of the moment, I want to cry out, "Make it stop!"

Eventually, Daddy comes in, brushes the wood dust off his shirt, and sits down on the couch beside the now-calm boy. He explains why he cut down the small tree. In vivid strokes, he paints a picture of the yard he wants to create - a place of plush grass where the children can run and jump and play ball. To achieve the dream, the tree had to be sacrificed.

Again, my heart is stirred with empathy. What dreams does my Father have for me that I am too small and foolish to understand? All my crying and complaining over my petty sorrows is so fruitless, and only blocks me from seeing what He is doing in my life. Sometimes to achieve it, pain must come. Things must die. Sin must be uprooted. And even if the problem seems miniscule to everyone else, it hurts. Yet my Father has a beautiful plan, if only I can look past the sticks and stumps of sorrow to see it.

And so I pray that when the trials of life are crashing around me, and my own selfish sorrows threaten to overwhelm, may I curl up in the arms of my loving Father, and trust that He will work it out for good. Whether my difficulties are real or imagined, something better is coming. My Daddy loves me, and I trust that He knows best.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:17