Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Noelle's Words

We had another great speech therapy session today, and her therapist said she definitely noticed an increase in sounds and words from Noelle since her last session two weeks ago.  It makes me so happy to hear that the therapist is pleased with her progress!  Praise the Lord!

Today they did a puzzle with farm animals, read "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed", and had a tea party.  The therapist uses a lot of repetition, and often has Noelle look at her mouth to model how a word or sound is made with her lips.

I thought it might be fun to record some of Noelle's current "words"- how she says them at least.  There's already been progress, and it will be fun to look back and see her development.

Noelle at 15 months

* mama- First time she said this without any prompting from us was when she was being dropped off at nursery and did not want to be there.  She often uses this one when she's upset.
* mommy- She will use this one and mama when she is pointing out that I'm mom, or pointing to a mom in a book we are reading.
* daddy- She will use this when pointing out Luke.  But she will call him mama if she's upset.  Pretty much anyone is mama when she's upset.
* hi and hello
* bye and bye-bye
* no and yeah

Noelle at 17 months- around when we first had her speech assessed

* foo- food
* I nee- I need (for anything she wants- and often she points to herself)
* buh- the b sound stands for a variety of words, and I have to use context clues to figure it out. It can be bug, ball, belt, bus, and probably others that I don't always pick up on.
* kuh- cracker or cookie
* mik- milk (which she used to use the ASL sign for)
* wah- water or wrap
* ple- please (still sometimes uses the ASL sign)
* duh- dog
* stick- for stick or sticker

Noelle almost 21 months

* up- although she's also started saying uppie
* dow- down
* nap- napkin
* moh- more (previously used ASL sign)
 * hep- help
* hah- hat
* neck- necklace
* see- same (this one took me a little while to figure out, but she kept pointing out things that matched)
* hop
* pah- pad
* uh-oh

Noelle at 2 years

As I'm writing this out, I'm realizing she has many more words, but hopefully this captures a bit where she's at currently.  I'm so proud of her, and she continues to amaze me with her development, both speech and cognitive.  It's such a blessing watching these little changes happen over time, and I'm so thankful I get to be home with her to see the day-to-day growth!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hard Moments

All day Saturday, that night, and into the next day it was rough.  Motherhood is just straight up really hard sometimes.

mother's day with two kids!

Two of my closest friends from college came to visit on Saturday, and Jonah was fussy basically the entire time.  Definitely not putting his best foot forward.  But thankfully, they took it in stride, and we were able to enjoy some Ritas Ice together and take the littles to a local park.  Noelle missed out on naptime since we had visitors, and by late afternoon, she was in meltdown mode.  She only wanted daddy and she wanted things her way. 

Night time didn't get any better- Jonah would fall asleep when I was nursing him, and as soon as I placed him in the bassinet, he would start crying.  I was up with him from 11:30 to almost 1:00 playing that fun game. Soon after he was (finally!) asleep in our bed, Noelle started crying.  I got her from the crib, but there was no way all 4 of us were going to fit in our bed.

I tried to sleep with her in her big girl bed (a twin), but thankfully Luke came in and offered to sleep with her in there. But of course, as soon as I left the room, she started calling for mama.  So after our fun game of musical beds, I ended up with both kids in our bed, and Luke in the twin.

daddy and Noelle on Memorial Day 

As much as I love being a mom, there are many, many times when I want to throw in the towel and hand my kids off to grandma (or anyone!) and just have a break!  A break from the fussing/crying/screaming infant and the whiny, disobedient toddler.  (Confession: when Luke is home, I take really long showers just so I can have a long moment to myself.)

But I love them, and I try to remind myself in these moments that they are each a blessing from the Lord. I get to be their mom.  God has put them in my care for our time on earth.  To love and discipline. To play with and teach.  And to raise up knowing the Lord.

In these hard times, I find myself doing a lot more praying for grace and patience and love.  God certainly knows I need it.  And He is faithful, always reminding me that I need Him.

I just want to remember that motherhood is not all hugs and sunshine.  It's hard.  It's exhausting.  Down the road when my kids are older, I want to remember that so I can encourage other new moms that I know.

And as hard as motherhood is, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Christmas 2013

Friday, July 25, 2014


Sometimes it takes looking back at old pictures for me to see how much my littles grow in such a short period of time.  I really can't believe we already have a 3 month old!  I've been taking pictures each month of Jonah with his little monthly sticker tie, and comparing him in size to one of his stuffed animal whales.

Jonah at 1 month- obviously unhappy
Jonah at 2 months- even more unhappy
Jonah at 3 months- finally got a non-unhappy picture
It's amazing to me to see how much bigger and fuller he has grown!  I love that he has some meat on his bones! And I'm praying that he continues to become more and more of a content and laid-back baby.

And just for fun- a picture of Noelle at 3 months vs. Jonah at 3 months.

Noelle was just growing out of newborn clothes at that point, whereas Jonah has already grown out of his 0-3 month clothes.  It's so fun how different each and every baby is and how they grow in God's timing.  I love them!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jonah: 3 Month Update

Happy 3 Months to our little Jonah!

Height and Weight: No official doctor's appointment at 3 months, but based on me holding him while standing on our scale and subtracting my weight, he weighs about 12 1/2 pounds.  And he's way too wiggly for me to measure length, so we'll get that next month.

Sleep:  The last week has been pretty awful!  He'd been doing so well, consistently going to bed around 9, waking up for a feeding between 1 and 2, and then again around 5.  But the last week, he's been waking up 3 or 4 times, and the other night he woke up at 4:30 after finishing eating at 3:30, but when I tried to feed him, he just fell asleep and then cried when I put him back in the bassinet.  Luke ended up taking him down to the basement, where he was awake until 6.  I'm praying we can get back down to one wake up a night!

                                                            Care Bear and Jonah are swaddled and ready for bed

He is a very inconsistent napper, but I think that's partially my fault for not really putting him into any kind of routine.  He does not sleep well when we're out and about, and a lot of days he will just take little cat naps throughout the day and be really fussy during his awake periods (though I have no idea what the root of the fussiness is at this point).  Just this week, I've been trying to focus on his patterns more so I can get him into a routine and maybe get him to nap consistently.

Eating:  He still eats a good amount, though it's hard to say because I often try to feed him whenever he's fussy, which is all the time.  We've been giving him the zantac that the pediatrician prescribed at his 2 month appointment, but so far does not seem to be helping.  And I've eliminated dairy from my diet, but I know that can take a few weeks.  I'm thinking I may need to eliminate other things as well to see if that helps.

Diapers/Clothing:  I went through his clothes over the weekend and took out all the little hats, as well as the 0-3 month sleepers.  Even the 3 month sleepers are getting a little snug.  But if a 3 month outfit doesn't have footies, he still fits it pretty well.  He's still in size 1 diapers, but I have a feeling it won't be too much longer till we're switching those out!

Social/Milestones:  Lots of smiles!  At least during his brief happy moments throughout the day.  When he does have a happy moment, he is very smiley and will coo back and stick out his tongue.  I haven't been pushing tummy time like I probably should so he hasn't really had much chance to be on his tummy. Hopefully once his fussiness calms down some we can work on that.  He's also started clasping his hands together, and gets a firm grip on my hair and shirt when I'm feeding him.

                                           family picture on Noelle's 2nd birthday- Jonah was being fussy as usual

Likes:  Still seems to like bath time, especially when we're pouring water over him.  If he's fussy prior to going in the bath, he'll start crying once he's been in for a little while.  Likes having lots of attention after he's had a good stretch of sleep and wakes up happy.  Sometimes a walk outside can help him stop crying, especially in the evenings. And of course loves to eat!

Dislikes: He really dislikes the transition from the bathtub to the towel- poor kid screams bloody murder. Doesn't like to be on his tummy.  Does not like dirty diapers.

Fun things we did:  At the beginning of July we celebrated Noelle's 2nd birthday and went to the Amish market with Nana and my sisters, where Jonah slept and ate.  On the 4th of July we bought our mini-van, and then had some friends over for a cookout. In mid-July, Luke was in a wedding, so the littles were left with grandma one evening for the rehearsal, and with Nana for about 8 hours on the wedding day.  Jonah cried for most of that time and refused to take the bottle until the end, but they all survived.  We went blueberry picking with Nana, and had a few play dates sprinkled throughout the last month.

Some more pictures from the past month:

dressing the littles in coordinating whale onsies

all nautical for church

sitting on daddy

Monday, July 21, 2014


Just wanted to remember some things that have happened in the last few weeks. :)

* Noelle had her first public temper tantrum.  Thankfully, the Lord was giving me an extra portion of grace that day because instead of just getting frustrated (which I was), I couldn't help but find it humorous.  We were out grabbing just three things from the grocery store, so I strapped Jonah into the ergo and figured Noelle could walk for the 5 minutes we would be there.

the car shopping cart from our previous trip

Well, on the way into the store, she spotted the carts with the fun little cars attached to the front that we had used during our last trip to the store.  She insisted on going over to them, and when I said no, she started crying and wouldn't come with me.  I took her hand and led her into the store, but she pulled away from me once we were inside and stood there crying, saying "no" and pointing outside.  At one point, she sat down on her hiney, and scooted along the aisle that way until I picked her up and carried her with me.  Needless to say, a 5 minute trip turned into at least 15 minutes.

* Jonah has been quite the fuss bucket for the last 6 weeks or so, and a friend suggested I try going dairy free just to see if that would help him.  At just two days in, I had already unknowingly consumed dairy.  But I'm trying to keep going and am using Pinterest to search for dairy free recipes.  And googling everything! This has led to getting information on the Whole30  and Paleo diets.  I figure if I use recipes from those, I'll be good.

The big thing for going dairy free was giving up my little bit of coffee in my creamer.  And my favorite Starbucks drink.  But no worries, I googled it, and as long as I order a soy mocha, it's still dairy free.  Just costs me close to $5!  And I really miss my chocolate!

* Running is really important to me and gives me some alone time where I'm not attached to a child.  On July 19th, I ran 6 miles- the furthest I've run since having Jonah, and the furthest I've gone since March.  I started off feeling like I was not going to make it very far, but felt pretty good by the end.  It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty, but it feels so good to be building up my runs!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blueberry Picking Adventure

Yesterday morning involved a lot of this...

Jonah being his cranky self

So it was a good thing we had an adventure planned for the day.  My mom had texted me the day before to see if we wanted to go blueberry picking at Larriland Farm, and I was all for it!  Especially since we've been having temperatures in the low 80s and no humidity.  In Maryland. In July.  Definitely not the norm.

My mom came over and we packed up a sunscreen covered Noelle, and a somewhat less cranky Jonah, and headed to the farm.  Noelle brought her own bucket, we picked up bags, and then headed down a row of blueberry bushes.

 this girl loved having her own bucket

My mom mostly stuck with Noelle to help her pick out the ripe blueberries.  Noelle's method was one in the bucket, one in her tummy.

Jonah slept in the stroller next to me, while I tried to fill up a bag with as many as possible.  The deal was that if you collected 10 pounds, it was cheaper per pound, and we figured between the three of us, we could maybe pick that much. Not so much- I think we picked less than 3 pounds total and we were out there for over an hour.

After we finished picking, we had a little picnic next to the goats and alpacas (or llamas maybe?), and watched the tractors driving back and forth.

Overall, both kids did great and we got to enjoy a beautiful summer day!  And now we have some yummy blueberries to devour.

Noelle and Nana checking out the goat

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nursing Party

One thing I love about motherhood is how it gives me an instant connection to and community with other moms.  Moms who have babies, moms with middle schoolers, and moms with kids who are grown.  They've all "been there" in this phase of babies and toddlers that I am currently in.

At church the other day, per the usual, I ended up in the cry room feeding Jonah.  I joined a friend who was nursing her little guy who was born in June, and we were soon joined by two other mamas who gave birth to boys in May and July.  We had quite the nursing party going on.  There was easy conversation as we asked how things were going with the newborn, how older brother was adjusting, funny things older siblings were saying these days, and how much sleep we are (more like aren't) getting.  There was also laughter at the baby sounds of burps, gurgles, and toots.

In general I'm a shy and quiet person, not very confident in striking up conversations or talking to strangers. Once I found out I was pregnant with Noelle, I felt an instant connection to other pregnant women I knew.  I remember meeting up with a friend for lunch whose due date was the day before mine and we talked about what it was like finding out the gender, if a name had been picked yet, and how we were decorating the nursery.  After Noelle was born, I suddenly found myself able to talk to moms with babies in the grocery store, asking how old there little one was, or telling them how adorable he looked in his outfit.

I was also on the receiving end of it- people love babies and love fawning over them.  I was approached by moms of all ages at church who graciously shared advice and memories of their babies, as well as by complete strangers when out and about who would coo and talk to my baby girl.  I even had one woman offer to hold a crying Noelle while I was out shoe shopping, and, as I hesitantly handed her over, the woman's middle school aged daughter said "my mom loves babies!"

It still amazes me how these little blessings from the Lord play a part in our lives, bringing together families, and even bringing together friendships that might not otherwise have begun.  I'm sure as my kids get older, I'll be the one reaching out to new moms telling them how I miss the snuggly newborns and the funny toddler moments.  But for now, I'm so thankful for this time in my life and the connection I share with other new moms.

a newborn Jonah

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jonah and the Whales

As soon as we found out I was pregnant with Jonah, I was convinced that we were having a boy and so we only talked boy names.  But we had such a hard time coming up with a name that we both liked!

Luke is the middle of 5 kids and all of them have Biblical names.  He wanted to continue that tradition with his own kids, which I was completely on-board with as long as we could pick a name we agreed on.  Other than it being a Biblical name, Luke didn't really have any other criteria.  I, on the other hand, wanted a name that wasn't common, had a good meaning, and could have a nickname associated with it.

monthly pictures with a whale

While Noelle isn't technically a Biblical name, it means "Christmas" and we wouldn't have Christmas without Christ.  And also, Christmas is by far my favorite holiday!  Aside from the holiday being about celebrating Christ's birth, Luke and I also got engaged on Christmas.  I love the meaning of the name, I love the nickname Ellie, and I had only met one other person named Noelle.  Her middle name, Amanda, means worthy of love. And we certainly love her!

We came up with a few boy names that we liked and kept coming back to them: Jeremiah, Thomas, Josiah, and Titus. We eventually settled on Thomas Luke, but Luke wasn't a huge fan of using his name as the middle name. The name Thomas means "twin", which has no significance to us, but I did like the idea of calling him Tommy.  So we were settled on a name.

About a month before my due date, my mom and sisters threw me a baby shower.  Back when we had officially found out we were having a boy, my sister had designed an invite for a baby shower for a boy with a little lighthouse.  I loved the design and told her that I was all about whales for a baby boy.  So she took out the lighthouse and added in a whale.  Well, that ended up prompting quite a few people to buy clothing and blankets and even a laundry basket with whales on them.  Even one of the three handmade blankets had a whale on it. And I loved it!

the invitation my sister designed

After the shower I was telling Luke all about the whale stuff, and told him I thought it would be funny if we named the baby Jonah to match the whales.  Luke said he liked the name and suggested Thomas as the middle name.  And thus, the name Jonah was inspired by his baby shower!

just the newborn sized whale clothes

Though the Jonah of the Bible isn't the greatest person to look up to, I do love that the story shows how God uses us sinners and points to His redemption.  We pray that Jonah will come to know and love the Lord as well!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Snapshots of Our Day

A few pictures that captured our day yesterday...

After Jonah's 5:30 feeding, I got out for a nice run.  It feels so good to be running again, even if I am slow and can't go very far!  Most of my runs lately have been between 3 and 4 miles, but I'm loving the time to myself, and how it wakes me up for the day.  Makes me want to sign up for a race!

Noelle had her 2 year checkup!  She did a great job and let the doctor examine her while I took care of a fussy Jonah.  She was 23 pounds (8th percentile) and 32.5 inches (18th percentile), and the doctor was happy with her overall demeanor and interactions.  I shared my concern about speech, and the doctor referred me to go see a speech pathologist.  Once we got home, I called our insurance and then the speech pathologist to schedule an appointment for an assessment.  The earliest appointment they had is October 3, so I'm glad I called when I did!

While Noelle was napping, I fed Jonah and then put him in the bumbo for the first time.  He loved it!  He has been super fussy lately so it was so much fun getting a smile out of him.

And Jonah's 3rd outfit of the day. Let's just say the first outfit was so poopy, it required an immediate bath after unsuccessfully removing it without some smearing.  And then just lots of spit-up soaking his second outfit.

Once everyone was up from their naps, we took a little walk down the block until we saw daddy get home. Noelle, as usual, was carrying something (this time a bucket) and collecting flowers, rocks, sticks, and leaves.

Daddy grilled out, and Noelle ate her first hot dog in a bun.  Sort of.  More like she at the hot dog out of the middle and then ate the bun. Needless to say, it was a good thing it was bath night.

Most of our days are simple and laid-back, and I love it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Speech Therapy

Ever since I got pregnant for the first time, God has taught me a lot about trusting Him and not being anxious. When I got pregnant, I worried about miscarriage or having a baby with a disability or that something I did/ate/drank was going to cause harm to the baby.  When I was pregnant with Noelle, I remember breaking down into tears thinking that I had lost her.

I always had to come back to the idea that no matter what I did or didn't do, the baby was in God's hands. No matter what happened, He loved that baby far more than I ever could.  And no matter what happened, God had a plan already mapped out for that baby.

Noelle at her first birthday photo shoot (Heather Boockholdt)

I've heard stories about parents holding their children in their arms as they die from cancer and I cannot even imagine that pain.  Just thinking about it always brings tears to my eyes.  There are so many things that can go wrong (or right for that matter), and I can't control them.  God already knows my children's futures, and I have to trust Him.  And believe me, that's a constant struggle.

Thankfully, both of my kids have been born healthy and happy.  But, our big hurdle currently is getting Noelle to talk.  She just turned two at the beginning of July and only says a handful of words, and even so, it's usually just the first syllable.  She does seem to comprehend what we're saying, but just doesn't communicate back to us with words. A year ago at her 12 month appointment, the doctor showed a little concern because the only thing she said at the time, was "uh-oh".  The norm for 1 year olds is to be able to say 3 words.  By about 15 months, she stopped saying "uh-oh", but did say "cat" and "dog" and used them appropriately.  

Beach Baby- 14 months

At that point, the doctor suggested we contact the Infants and Toddlers Program in our county to have her assessed and see if we qualified for speech therapy.  They came out and did the assessment, and though they agreed that she was a bit delayed, suggested holding off on therapy as she was still really young, and to call them in a few months if her speech didn't improve.  Fast forward to when she was about 20 months old, still not much improvement- she would say "sit" when she wanted us to sit somewhere and "uh" when she wanted up- the speech therapist came out again to assess her and suggested we move forward with therapy.

I am so thankful for this program!  It's a government funded program in the county and is free for us.  The therapist comes to our house about every two weeks and spends about a half hour reading and playing with Noelle to work on specific speech improvements.  The therapist is great and points out specific ways that I can do things with her throughout the day, and then leaves us with homework on specific words and sounds to work on until the next visit.

Being a goofball- 19 months

Even though everyone around me is quick to reassure me that she will be fine and will be talking soon enough, I've done some research about speech disabilities that make we worry about her future.  I worry that if she does get diagnosed with a speech disability, she may have to go to a special school or even learn sign language to communicate.  That would be a whole new world for us, and one that we would gladly enter if it meant being able to communicate with her.

At her two year appointment, the doctor was encouraged that the therapy seemed to be helping, but suggested I take her to get developmental pediatric services to have her assessed by a speech pathologist. I'm now in the process of figuring out what insurance covers and then will make an appointment.

this girl mimics everything! taking her giraffe's temperature

All that being said, I still have to give it to God constantly.  He is in control, He knows her future, and He loves her much more than I can.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

You Know You're a Mom When...

* you're willing to touch the carpet with your bare hands to figure out where your son spit-up/peed/explosively pooped.

* you test drive a mini-van and decide that doing that makes you feel more like a parent than actually giving birth.

* modesty just isn't as important when you're in labor and right after giving birth.

* you've sat in your car breastfeeding a baby.

* it takes you 15 minutes to get out the door to go anywhere.

* your daughter pees on your foot right before bathtime and it doesn't even phase you.

* you can eat breakfast/lunch/dinner while standing and bouncing a fussy baby around.

* you wake up in the morning and go to put your contacts in and realize you were so tired the night before you never took them out.

* you walk around all day with a spit-up covered shirt, because really, why bother if it's just going to happen again.

* you are so out of it you try putting your son's size 1 diaper on your daughter's size 3 hiney.

* you love the Starbucks drive-thru because you don't have to unbuckle any kids!

And this is just currently. I'm sure there will be a whole lot more of this kind of crazy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Noelle!

My dear sweet girl, my little miss, my Ellie,

I cannot believe you are already two years old!  Time has gone way too quickly since you were born. It seems like I was just finding out I was pregnant and rejoicing that the Lord chose to bless us with a baby!

It has been so fun to see all the growth, changes, and learning that has happened over these two years. Within a week of your first birthday I saw you take your first independent steps.  Now it's hard to think there was a time when you weren't walking on your own!  It's always amazing to me the things that you understand, and just how much you are able to mimic what people around you are doing.  I remember I spilled some water out of the cat's water bowl and went to get a towel to wipe it up.  You opened up the towel drawer and grabbed a towel to come "help" me out.

Though we are still working on things in the speech department, you have increased your vocabulary quite a bit in just the last few months.  You at least attempt to say more words, and it makes me so proud! You love to point out things like water, whales, shoes, sticks (and stickers), buses, bugs, and so much more.

And I so love being your mom!  I remember the day we found out we were having a girl and texting everyone we knew to let them know.  It was exciting to know that I would be having a daughter, and would get to watch her grow up.  And you will always be the one that made me a mommy. You are a mix of a girly-girl- carrying around a purse and chatting away on your cell phone, and tomboy- always picking up sticks and rocks when we go on walks

You bring smiles to our faces on a daily basis.  You know when you're being goofy and will keep doing whatever it is that is making us laugh just to keep us laughing.  You like to make sure that everyone in the room has a coaster/plate/pencil/whatever it is that you are passing around!

You love to see your Grandma and Nana, and grandpas, and aunts, and uncles.  Since you were the first for everyone, you are so very loved!  They always ask when we're getting to a family event because they want to see YOU!

You love your Care Bear and your Curious George, and it seems like you always have at least 4 stuffed animals and babies in your crib with you.  You love to put diapers and pajamas on them, and wrap up your babies like you see us do with Jonah.

You love to eat- especially black beans, fruit, bread, and cheese!  You can eat more than one piece of pizza all by yourself, and you and mommy can devour a carton of strawberries in one sitting.  You still drink plenty of milk, and always drink off of mommy's water bottle.

You're a great big sister to Jonah.  When we brought him home and daddy laid him on the floor, you laid down next to him so you could get a close look.  And whenever I sit the two of you next to each other, you love to lean over and give him a kiss.  His crying doesn't seem to bother you at all, and you have done a great job of sharing mommy with him.

We love you so incredibly much, and feel so blessed to be your mommy and daddy.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He blessed us with you!

Happy 2nd Birthday!!