Thursday, May 26, 2011


We do not have a beautifully-manicured backyard.  It is actually mostly weeds, if not entirely.  But it is awesome for hunting bugs.  There is an old, partially-broken, stone walking path, and under every stone is a small colony of bugs, especially roly polies.  For more than a week now, the boys' very first morning activity (after breakfast) has been bug-hunting.  They spend at least an hour, sometimes two, outside with their bug bowls.  When they are done hunting, we take a picture of all the bugs they've caught, talk about the interesting ones, and then let them go for another day (I seriously wonder if they are catching the same bugs day after day...I'm pretty sure I've seen that big roly poly with the speckles before...)

I LOVED critters as a kid, not bugs as much as birds, reptiles & small mammals, but I have many happy memories of time spent outside (and inside) with my little adoptees.  My parents were always really cool about letting me raise & care for all kinds of animals.  I plan to follow in their footsteps, if any of my kids have the same interest.  Either way, I'm glad to see the boys enjoying God's creation so much right now on these beautiful spring mornings.

 The area of the yard where the boys find most of their bugs.
 Caleb's bug collection from yesterday morning:
  Ethan's morning bounty

The bugs just after we let them go yesterday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lydia Update

Lydia is six-weeks-old now, and she is such a delight!  All my newborn babies have been precious, but circumstances are allowing me to enjoy Lydia more than I was able to before.  With Caleb, since he was my firstborn, our initial bonding was shadowed by the insecurity and uncertainty of figuring out how to be a parent.  I had dozens of baby books battling it out in my head as I experimented and struggled to determine my parenting style.  With Ethan, he was a very fussy baby, and we were at a very chaotic and stressful time in our life (we moved from Florida to Alabama when Ethan was two-months-old).  Now, 5-year-old Caleb and 3-year-old Ethan entertain each other very well, and I have so much time just to hold and stare at this precious little daughter who has already added so much to our family.

On to the update on Lydia...she is such an EASY baby!  Caleb was pretty easy, but I was too busy trying to do everything "right" to really appreciate it.  And Caleb was not a good sleeper, in that he woke every few hours during the night for months on end.  Lydia, on the other hand, is easygoing when she is awake and is a champion sleeper, both at night and at nap time.  At night, she sleeps 9-10 hours only waking once (after 6-7 hours) to nurse.  During the day, she is awake for 1-2 hours, and then she's ready for a 2-hour nap.  She sleeps about 18 hours out of 24 right now, and most of that sleep is in her crib or in the Newborn Rock 'N Play next to our bed.  But she is flexible and she will sleep anywhere when needed. If we're out and about, she goes down easily in the baby carrier or the stroller and at church, she sleeps contentedly in our arms.  For her early morning nursing, she nurses in our bed and then goes back to sleep next to me until the boys get up.  I know that she is only six-weeks-old and that she will grow less malleable as she gets older, but I've never had a baby who was  this sleep-flexible at any point, so I'm stoked :).  It is so wonderful to finally have a sleeper!  I have quite a few friends and family members whose babies slept through the night and napped well at an early age, and I've always hoped I would end up with a baby like that someday.

As far as her temperament when she's awake, she is pretty content 95% of the time.  She's not smiley in general (at least not yet), but she does smile consistently when she sees me and sporadically at Marcus and the boys.  She is getting better and better at holding her head up, but she lacks the unusual strength that both boys had (they were both holding their heads up consistently around two-weeks-old).  Her eyes are very communicative and intense: I often think that she is looking at me curiously, asking for a play-by-play of what is going on around her.  She is definitely most content and relaxed in Mommy's arms, but she is happy to be held by the rest of the family and friends, as well.  She fusses after she poops until we change her.  She loves her warm bath, and doesn't even cry when I take her out and dry her off.  She does not like her car seat and regularly wails through car rides. She loves to be wrapped up and warm, but not swaddled: she likes her arms to be free.

My mom has told me for years what an easy child I was: slept through the night by six weeks (without "crying-it-out"), potty trained around 22-months with the whole process taking about 24 hours, very compliant and eager-to-please preschooler, and only needed one spanking my entire childhood (probably could have used a couple more when I was a teen :).  I've listened to these stories and shaken my head at how different my experience has been with the boys.  Now, based on our first six weeks with Lydia, I'm starting to hope that maybe one of our children will follow that path.  I'm not counting on it or anything, but she sure has been a delight so far!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bedtime Bliss

I've had this post in the works for a while, but there hasn't been a sufficient lull in other news to move it to the top...until now :)

I posted a little over five months ago about the "musical beds" we struggled with through the second half of 2010.  I mentioned then that we hoped setting up the bunk beds would start a new era of bedtime consistency, and did it ever! Shortly after that post, we set up the bunk beds and moved the boys back into the same room.  I continued keeping Ethan's nap less than an hour long and not putting Caleb down at all.  The result has been the return of our child-free evenings!  For more than five months, they have both been asleep by 7:30 pm almost every single night.  YIPPEE!!!  Of course, they are still up around (usually before) 6:00 am every morning, but that's just because they (unfortunately) only need 10-11 hours of sleep each day.  Being a morning person, I can handle early mornings much better than late nights.

For the past five months, bedtime has been enjoyable and predictable once again: pajamas, brushing teeth, trip to the potty, reading books, sharing hugs & kisses and saying prayers.  The bunk beds have been just the ticket to give the boys the perfect balance of togetherness & separation.  Caleb is able to drift right off to sleep from his top bunk perch, tuning out the wind-down chatter of his younger brother below.  And neither of them feel the need to crawl into our bed during the night, since they have each other.  Marcus and I have breezed through several seasons of our favorite TV shows during our lovely, quiet evenings this year.  Even Lydia's arrival hasn't interrupted that, since she (unlike her brothers) is a champion sleeper and still spends most of the day and night in peaceful slumber.  I am so thankful that this third child of mine seems to need a lot of sleep, after five years of Energizer-Bunny little boys :)  With any luck, she may actually continue to sleep as many hours as the sleep books recommend for her age!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tornadoes & Toys

A couple of weeks ago, on March 27 & 28, our neck of the woods got hit hard by a bunch of tornadoes.  Birmingham didn't suffer as much as Tuscaloosa, but the damage around here is still staggering.  Thankfully, we did not personally suffer any damage to our property and only lost power for a little over 24 hours.  Actually, we lost power because of the tornadoes and storms on Tuesday evening, and therefore we were out of the information loop during the even more severe weather during the afternoon on Wednesday.  Thankfully, one of Marcus's bosses (who still had power), heard that we were out of power and invited us to bring the kids to their house and spend the afternoon & night in their basement.  They were staying on top of forecast for the second set of storms, and knew it wasn't a good idea for us to be  in our basement-less house with three little kids.  I'm still amazed at their thoughtfulness, since they had just brought their second child home from the hospital three days before!  And in hindsight, realizing how little we knew about the second storms in our powerless house, and realizing how differently Thursday could have gone if the storms had followed their originally projected path right through Hoover, instead of turning north, I am even more grateful to Dr. & Mrs. Burnett.  So our night of historic tornadoes was spent pretty peacefully, eating chicken alfredo & crescent rolls and visiting with the Burnett's in their basement while all the older kids watched movies and the newborns slept.

Unfortunately, many others around here have a very different story.  Our church, like many others, has been busy organizing and mobilizing to help with the relief effort.  We're all helping any way we can, with donations and labor and time.  One of our elders sent out a motivational email to his "Tree Team" (tree and debris removal), reminding them of the old adage: "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at at time," to encourage them.  The amount of work to be done and the needs of so many displaced families is truly daunting.  Since Lydia is attached to me for feeding, all I've been able to do so far is clear out our pantry of anything we don't need right now for donations and sign up to babysit other people's kids while they go out in the work groups (and keep mine, too, so Marcus can go).  

Our church also started a toy drive for the kids who lost their homes, and Caleb and Ethan spent yesterday morning going through all of the toys in their playroom and deciding which to donate and which to keep.  Let me set this scenario up for a minute... Caleb and Ethan love their toys.  Some of their friends are not really that into playing with toys and most of their toys sit on the shelf and collect dust, but Caleb and Ethan are not of that race.  They play with their toys all day long: together, independently, with their friends, etc.  There are really not any toys in our play room that go weeks without any play time (the Toy Story toys would have been happy to land at our house :).  So, back to my point, this selection process was no easy thing for them.  I didn't force or even persuade them to give up anything, and the rule was that if either of them didn't want to give it away, then it stayed.  Even so, they together chose about a fifth of their toys to donate to the kids who lost everything.  Some of them were kind of hard for Marcus and I to let go because they were recent purchases or longtime favorites, but we kept our mouths shut and let them give as they saw fit.  We were both very proud of the pile they collected, and we look forward to taking it to church on Sunday.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Alabama Adventure

This weekend, our family finally made the long-awaited trip to Alabama Adventure, a local theme & water park about twenty minutes from our house.  We thought about going last summer, but Ethan wasn't tall enough for most of the rides, so we waited until this summer.  We bought our season passes back in February, so Caleb has literally been counting down the days for three months.  We had a chart on the pantry door with a square for each day, and he has "X'd" off every day for close to 80 days.  Most mornings for the past few months, he has started out the day by counting how many days remained until Alabama Adventure opened for the season.

We had to postpone our trip by one week because of the tornadoes, but this past Saturday turned out to be everything Caleb and Ethan hoped it would be.  There were no crowds, hardly any lines, the weather was perfect (75 to 81 degrees all day) and the rides were great!  Caleb and Ethan got to ride all the rides that they were tall enough for, and most of them multiple times.  A lot of times, they didn't even have to get off when the ride ended because there was no line, so they just stayed in their seats and rode again!  Their favorite rides were the kiddie roller coaster, a race car ride, the bumper cars, the log ride and the family raft ride.  They would have enjoyed the water park more and spent longer there if the water hadn't been so cold.  (That will change I'm sure in just a few weeks.)  As it was, we spent most of our time on the theme-park side.  

And one-month-old Lydia did great all day long.  She slept in the stroller most of the day, nursed every two hours just like at home, and hardly cried the whole day.  Thanks to our big stroller and a nice little sun hat, we were able to keep her out of the sun almost completely.  Since it was not crowded, Marcus and I were able to take turns riding rides with the boys while the other one stayed with Lydia.  He would go with them on a ride and then I would go with them the second time, or vice versa.  I thought that I would end up just tagging along with Lydia most of the day, so I was very glad for the lack of lines that allowed me to participate a lot more. We got out there just before it opened at 10:30 am, and all three kids did so well all day that we stayed for eight hours and didn't head home until 6:30 pm, just before closing.  We had a wonderful family day and I are looking forward to many more this summer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nanna & Papa's Visit

This past weekend, Nanna and Papa came into town to meet Baby Lydia.  The morning they left Searcy, we still had no power from last week's storms.  Thankfully, the Alabama Power Company came through and restored our power before they got here.  Despite the emotional heaviness from the aftermath of the storms, we still had a very good visit.  The boys enjoyed swimming in Nanna & Papa's pool (at their hotel), spending an afternoon at Overton Park and another afternoon at the Hoover Sports Park (followed by some nearby hiking).  Marcus and I enjoyed Papa taking us out to three of our favorite restaurants, playing "If" in the evening after the boys were asleep, watching Nanna enjoy Lydia, and all worshiping together at our church Sunday morning.  

Caleb and Ethan really enjoy their Nanna and Papa!  Nanna brought her bathing suit this time so she could enjoy the hotel pool with the boys.  Each night at bedtime, Nanna sat in the boys room and told them off-the-cuff stories (at Ethan's request) and read books to them.  Papa got pretty silly on Saturday night, chasing the boys around in circles in our playroom.  He also played soccer with Ethan and pushed him in the swing at the park forever, making him Ethan's new best friend.  Caleb is in a very "boy" stage right now, thinking that all men are the epitome of coolness, so he needed no prompting to fall in love with Papa.  Ethan also got very attached in this short weekend, enough that he had a 10-minute meltdown at church when he had to say goodbye to Nanna & Papa.  Thankfully, we were able to console everyone with the promise of a vacation in the mountains with Nanna & Papa in just six weeks :)