Sunday, December 17, 2017

Clara Irene: 5 Months

The last few months have been an absolute blur, but here we are with an almost six month old. I figured I better sit down and get somewhat of a five month update together before Clara is half a year old!

I have no idea how tall she is, but around when she hit the five month mark, Luke stood with her on a scale and she was just over 12 pounds. She is growing for sure, and my mom even commented the other day on how much bigger she seems since we moved in with them.

Clara's sleep habits leave a lot to be desired. As in I desire that she would sleep more. Naps during the day are when we're in the car or when I'm nursing her. Within minutes (or sometimes seconds) of me laying her down, she pops those eyes wide open. At night she's waking up three times, usually around 11, 2, and then sometime between 4 and 5. And sometimes she's restless and starts fussing minutes after I feed her. We haven't been swaddling her and those arms of hers just seem to have a mind of their own! So much flailing around.

Once we're in our own house again, we'll do cry it out. She needs to learn how to self soothe and I need sleep! But for now, I pretty much have a baby by my side 24/7. It means I'm not getting stuff done and I've been zero help with the move. But it's a season and one day she'll be all grown up. (Nooooo!!)

Whenever she's hungry, I nurse her for a few minutes and then give her a bottle of formula. I have no idea how much she's actually getting from me, but she seems satisfied and is growing with both. We'll keep up the little nursing sessions for as long as we can, and keep upping formula as needed. 

Clara sleeps on her back, which I think is part of the problem. She really just doesn't spend much time on her tummy so that's probably a milestone we should work on. Especially since she hasn't rolled from back to front yet. The day after Thanksgiving, I gave her solids for the first time! It was carrots and she sort of just gummed it around and spit it out. And because life is crazy, I haven't given her any solids since then. Poor third child!

She has spent more time in the Bumbo working on that back and neck strength, and she can do short amounts of time tripod sitting. She loves smiling and grabbing her feet. She likes to do a little growl when she's holding a toy, and she grabs on to napkins whenever she can. In general she does pretty well in the car seat, especially if Noelle is next to her and can talk to her.

She likes mommy, people in general, being held, smiling, holding toys, and chewing on things.

She dislikes being set down and sleep.

It seems like we did so much! The road trip to Nashville to house hunt, her first Halloween and Thanksgiving, the craziness of packing up our house and moving in with my parents. Driving in the car to drop off older siblings, hanging out with Holden, and lots of extra time with Nana and Grandpa.

Baby elephant

After church picture

Family pictures!

Staying warm with Daddy while at Loveless Cafe in Nashville

Family selfie

Thanksgiving day!

Eating some carrots

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


1. So I finally went back to the podiatrist since I've still been having achiness in my ankle/foot and haven't run since July. The doctor ordered an MRI, which turned into a run-around. I showed up for the scheduled MRI appointment, and when I answered that I hadn't had my period in a few years, they told me I needed a blood  pregnancy test before I could get the MRI. So two weeks later, I finally got it done and went back to the doctor to talk about the results and what to do next. The MRI showed that my deltoid ligament has a tear, which he was surprised by because it's pretty rare and is almost always associated with a trauma like an ankle fracture. The plan is to try orthotics and go from there. And now of course finding a podiatrist down in TN!

Ready for the MRI!

2. Noelle cheered at her first basketball game this past Saturday. She LOVED it and she is so stinking cute in the video Luke took. They even did a stunt where they lifted her up. So adorable! I'm sad she won't get to finish out the season here, but we'll have to find her a squad in TN. We are planning on her being able to cheer for homecoming and then leave after that.

3. We've been having Tuesdays with Holden. I love that I get more time with him before we go and I pretty much just plan on no time to myself on those days. :) He is such a happy boy, and he still loves to tackle the big cousins with a big ol' grin on his face. And sticking his fingers in Clara's mouth is another favorite. (Oh the germs!)

4. I need to get my act together and write up a five month update for Clara now that we're already closer to six months. I don't want to forget the details but poor third child mixed with holidays mixed with a major move is kicking me in the butt. Plus, let's be real, this baby does not sleep anymore. She takes a handful of 20 minute naps throughout the day, often in the car, and night time usually involves three wakeups. If we were in our own home, we'd do cry it out. But in the meantime, we're officially co-sleeping.

5. Getting in the Word. I so fail at this, and I so don't want to. One of the instagramers I follow (@biblesandcoffee) put out an advent reading plan and invited anyone to join her. I started out being consistent, and then way fell off the wagon. I know resting in the peace of Jesus, and anticipation of His return is so much better than trying to do it all on my own. Let this be a reminder to myself to spend time with Him!

Monday, December 11, 2017

House Hunting

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Luke and I left the big kids with Nana and Grandpa and headed down to Nashville to look for a house! Our MD house was (finally) officially on the market, and we knew we needed to look at houses and get things moving on that end.

Luke was constantly looking on Redfin for homes in the Nashville/Franklin area that were in our price range, and sending me anything that looked like something that fit what we wanted. We had come up with a list of must-haves, and things that were preferences, and based on that found some houses to look at. We sent that list ahead of time to our realtor, who is a good friend of Luke's brother.

my backseat buddy

Since we were bringing Clara with us and knew we'd be in the car a lot, we left Friday afternoon and stopped about halfway down to spend the night in Wytheville, VA. Overall Clara did really well in the car, but I spent about 90% of our driving time sitting in the backseat with her. When we got into Nashville on Saturday, we quickly stopped at an open house, and then met up with the realtor to look at three houses. The next day we saw four more houses, and by the fourth one I was done. It's fun looking at houses and getting an idea of what you want, but the actual going around to look at everything, especially with a baby, felt overwhelming to me.

At the last house, I had just started to feed the baby a bottle so Luke went in with the realtor while I sat in the car. We were late for our showing time, so the couple that lived in the house was still home, but left once Luke went in. After awhile, Luke came out and asked me if I wanted to come in and look. I asked if it was worth it, and Luke said he thought so, so in we went. As we looked around, we talked about how this bedroom would go to the girls, this one to Jonah, this would be the kid's bathroom, imagined them running around in the backyard, and riding bikes up and down the street. The more we talked about it, the more we liked it!

We headed to a Mexican place for sustenance and to sit down and talk about everything we'd looked at. As we talked, we came to the decision to put an offer in on that last house! Crazy big decisions are always best decided while eating Mexican. :)

Our trip also included looking at two schools for Noelle (of course we loved the one that was too far from the house we put the offer on), visiting with our friends who just had their first baby in October, and some quality time with Luke's brother and his family. We ate at the Loveless Cafe, did a quick trip to what will be our local Target with a Starbucks, and drove on many roads that will become familiar to me eventually!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cookie Baking 2017

For at least the past five years my mom has gathered me and my sisters, my mom's best friend, the girlfriend/wife of her best friend's sons, and occasionally others for a day of baking and a cookie exchange. My mom and I spent the last week making our dough and then baking ours so that the oven would be available to the other five ladies coming. My mom made her delicious cranberry chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and cut out sugar cookies. I went with monster cookie bars and snickerdoodles. The big kids "helped" by cutting out the sugar cookies and getting their fingers all over them, and spreading their germs by licking the beaters. ("It's so good I just can't stop eating it!" -Noelle)

Well in typical unpredictable Maryland weather the forecast called for snow starting at some point today. By 10:00 when the flurries had just started, all but my sister had called out, worried about the weather getting worse. But no worries, the three of us will still walk away with close to six dozen cookies. Heather baked her cookies while we chatted in the kitchen and listened to Christmas music. Luke took Noelle and Jonah to Noelle's school where she cheered at her first basketball game!

Once they came home, and Holden had woken up from his nap, we bundled the kids up to play in the two or so inches of snow. Jonah wore hand me down purple snow pants and pink gloves, and Holden sported a light pink winter suit. I took Clara out for a short bit so she could experience her first snow. And as usual, she loved watching the big kids run around and throw snow.

After that we cozied up by the fire, "helped" Nana decorate her tree, got Ledo's pizza for dinner, and ate about 1000 cookies. After all the food, we braved the (not bad) snowy roads to enjoy the train garden at the local fire station. It was a pretty idyllic Christmasy day!

And of course what made today the best was because daddy got home last night from his first week working down in Tennessee!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another "First" Holiday

Such a late post, but Clara celebrated her first Thanksgiving!! Another last "first" for our family. It's one of those things that makes me want to keep having babies!

Thanksgiving this year was perfect for being our last Thanksgiving while living in Maryland. My mom hosted and had her best friend who joins us for every holiday, Luke's parents and sister, my sister, Jason, and Holden, and Jason's mom and step-dad. All four grandkids had all their living grandparents from both sides of their families in one place for the holiday.

her first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

My sister Becky surprised my parents by showing up on Thanksgiving morning after having my mom convinced that she was spending the holiday with one of her friends in Colorado. She arrived the night before and slept at Heather's house, and then the two of them came over that morning to go for a walk. My dad was holding Clara watching the Thanksgiving Day parade when they arrived, and I could tell that as soon as my dad heard Becky's voice, he sort of cocked his head like "is that Becky?" So I grabbed Clara so he could get up and give her a hug. And of course, my mom being my mom, her first thought was how she was going to add Becky to the table for dinner. (Becky made 16 people at the table!)

Clara seems to do best when she can watch all the chaos and motion going on around her, and naps best when she's sleep-nursing attached to me. She did take a short nap on Thanksgiving, but spent most of it awake and with us. Dinner was a tad crazy as Jonah ended up falling asleep on Luke's lap for a short bit and woke up right as dinner was being served so he was quite cranky. Luke was trying to take care of him while I balanced the baby and trying to convince Noelle to eat more than just bread for dinner. #carbsforlife

The house was full, our bellies even more full, and I was definitely feeling thankful for the many blessings in our lives!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Reading and a Birthday

The five year old is getting better at taking pictures, so hopefully that means Luke and I can get more pictures of the two of us that aren't selfies. Even if there are 10 of the same picture from an awkward angle. 

These two are my little goobers! And driving my parents a little bonkers (especially since they have them for a long weekend while we're house hunting in Tennessee!) Jonah does a lot of whining and collapsing into a mess if something doesn't go his way, and when I asked my dad if any of us were as whiny when we were kids, he said no. But it's also been 23 years since any of us were 3 years old. :)

We've been kicking our holiday cheer off a smidge early this year. With all the time we spend in the car, I pulled out our Pentatonix Christmas CD to listen to, and I'll also play Christmas music to "help" the kids wake up in the morning. And of course the grocery store had these mini Christmas trees all set up for sale. With not being in our own house this year, I'll have to get creative with involving the kids in decorating!

This girl brought home reading homework this past week and READ to us!! I mean she couldn't read every word on each page of the books she brought home, but she could read some of the simple sentences that contained her service words and word family words. Luke and I just kept looking at each other like how do we have a child who can read?? And the best part was that she was so excited to pull out the little books and read with us. It is SO fun seeing her learn! Also, the other week when we were driving around Noelle was in the back seat going "vuck, vuck, vuck" since their newest word family was the "uck" family. I asked her to spell it for me because I wasn't quite sure I was hearing her correctly. "V-u-c-k!" :)

This past Wednesday was my dad's birthday, and we celebrated with tacos for dinner and cupcakes for dessert! Heather, Jason, and Holden joined the fun as well, which I am so thankful for any extra time we get with them! While the kids were watching the Lion King, we sat the four of them on the couch with Grandpa to take some pictures. Of course, in true little kid fashion, not everyone was looking!

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Breathe, just breathe

Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

This is the chorus to "Breathe" by Jonny Diaz, and every time I hear it, I cry! I have been SO bad at resting in Jesus in what is probably the busiest, most stressful season of my life. The verses in the song are what my life look like ("it's off to the races everybody out the door"), and instead of looking to Jesus, I let the stress take over and just go go go. The to-do list, the not being able to do anything on the to-do list because kids, the constant running around for school, errands, life! But God is there, ready for me to come to Him. To soak in the living water of His Word. I need Him more than anything else, and even though I know that, I still put other things ahead of spending time with Him. Jesus, help me to love YOU first!

Whenever we've gone back to our house to work on things, we pretty much make the older two watch t.v./play on the tablet. Otherwise they just undo all the work that's been done- aka they dumped out a trash bag full of shredded paper all over the basement and jumped on the bed that I'd already made three times! Basically we tell them, don't touch anything, take your shoes off, no food or drink near the carpet! It's a season, and maybe we'll continue the rules at our new house so that we keep it cleaner. ;)

This past Wednesday, Noelle had her first day of cheer practice! She is so excited about being a cheerleader for her school, and I'm loving seeing her be a part of a team and to see her excited about doing something. She won't be there for the entire season, but she'll get to cheer for some basketball games, and potentially do a special homecoming performance if we're still here in early January. The coach is incredibly sweet, and is coaching 36 girls kindergarten through 12th graders! I'm sure we'll be able to find a dance or cheer program for her to do down in Tennessee. 

I had Holden all day on Wednesday and while Noelle was at practice, I took the rest of the gang to get donut holes. Which basically turned into Holden and Jonah running around a mostly empty Dunkin Donuts, and Holden flirting with the one employee and anyone else who came in.

On Thursday my friend Jess called me while she was out walking with her newborn baby girl. She and her hubby moved down to Nashville just over a year ago, and getting to talk to her was a sweet surprise. She has been so excited for us to move down there, and so encouraging. I know I'll be reaching out to her a lot once we're down there, and I love that she's already been such an encouragement in my walk with Jesus in the 5+ years we've been friends. I also can't wait for her little girl and Clara to be Nashville besties!

Jess in the middle. After she pushed Jonah in the stroller on our run- already prepping for her future baby over three years ago. :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


We are getting ourselves ready to move to Tennessee, and it has been absolute craziness!! Luke and our parents have done a TON of work on our house including painting, filling holes, staging/decorating, cleaning, and more. Luke has been at the house for our carpet to be completely replaced, and for some window panes to be replaced. My parents invited us to come live with them (I'm pretty sure my mom is regretting this now!) and we took them up on it because I had NO IDEA how I was going to get the house ready/keep it clean in order to sell it. I literally have been no help on the house except for the few frantic packing/cleaning sessions I've had while Clara naps. The rest of my time is spent handing out snacks, wiping butts, making food, driving to and from school, handing out more snacks, putting the baby down for naps, nursing, making more snacks, etc. I am the busiest I've ever been, and most of that time is spent on three of my favorite people. (Which I love doing- for the most part- I just feel bad that I've been no help getting our house ready.)

Luke painting away in the kitchen

We've been living with my parents for almost two weeks now, and it has been super helpful. Luke basically has gone to work and then straight to our house to work on stuff. We have quite a bit packed and stored in my parent's basement, and as of Monday, the house has officially been photographed for our realtors to do what they need to do. Now I just need to pack up a few more things and clean the fridge/shelves in the kitchen, and that will be more of the nit-picky things. Once the house sells, we'll really only have to focus on moving out our big furniture and taking out the things we used to "stage" our house.

Luke accepted the job in September, and he officially starts on December 4th. He'll be down in TN for that week, and then work from home in MD until January 8th. After that, he agreed to be down there full time, so we're praying that our house has sold and that we have a house down there. In the next few weeks, we're hoping to go down to look at houses, and put in an offer with a contingency if we see anything we love. It's been a bit of a whirlwind, and it feels VERY overwhelming at times, but we have had SO much help.

Holden with the "Coming Soon" sign in the background!

If we don't have a house figured out yet by January, I'll stay here at my parent's so that Noelle can continue school here. But it would be sad to be away from Luke without any definite time frame of being all together again. Luke went around with a realtor when he was down there for the interview, and got an idea of some of the different areas. There is a little Christian school that we want to tour and so we've mostly been looking at houses online close to that school. We'll see where we actually end up! Luke's brother and his family are down there, and we have a few friends in the Nashville area, so hopefully we won't be too far from any of them!

I've mostly been focused on the house, and so have mostly been feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But the more I think about actually leaving, the more sad I feel. I've lived in MD most of my life, my parents and one sister are here, and many of my closest friends. I'm already gearing up for a somewhat lonely first year in TN since I know it will take me awhile to build friendships (super introverted over here!) Luke has been warned that his role as my BFF will be even more important since I won't have the adult interaction I'm able to have with MOPS and school and play dates that I enjoy here. But God has been leading us in this decision over the last few years, and we know He will provide what we need!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

An Anniversary and the Time Change

1. Dating Anniversary- Today marks 13 (!!!) years since Luke and I first started dating! Luke called me up in my dorm room and asked if I would meet him at "our spot", aka the middle of the quad. I knew what was coming because our friends Kate and Joe had already talked to let the other know that we were indeed interested in being more than friends with each other. So then we had the whole "I like you" talk, and then walked around campus for awhile in the FREEZING COLD! While being spied on by Kate and Joe. We were 19 and cool, and totally knew what we were doing when it came to being in a relationship. :)

Just a picture of a picture from the instax picture we took at my friend Kristen's wedding. I love this picture of us. It's blurry, and I'm not looking, but it marked a super fun weekend, and reminded me of how good it is to get away from our kids and just be us. This was two years ago, but was the longest we'd been away together since having kids. Ah, someday we'll get to do it again!

2. The Time Change- Daylight savings has not been my best friend. My dad kept telling me- you get an extra hour of sleep over the weekend. And I kept telling him, but we have small children! And of course Jonah was in our room in the (new) 6:30 timeframe asking why I was sleeping still because it was indeed morning. And Clara was awake from 3:30 A.M. to 4:15ish A.M. yesterday morning, and today at 5:15 a.m. because who doesn't want to party in the wee hours of the morning when you've already woken up twice before during the night to nurse. Hopefully soon we find our new sleeping normal that I'm hoping involves more sleep. 

good thing she's so cute!

3. Library Time- We haven't been to library time since the summer, but that's mostly because our favorite library time is Monday mornings, and both Noelle and Jonah are in school during that time-frame. Yesterday I knew I had some time to kill before getting Holden from my sister, so I decided to take Clara to library time with our favorite Mr. Chris. And she was actually really into it! She had her eyes glued on him playing his ukelele, and she watched all the bigger kids dancing around her. We were only there for about 15 minutes before Heather called me, but it was Clara's first library time experience just for her!

4. Holden- And speaking of Holden, this kid is just the best. When we have him in the mornings, he's relegated all the way to the back seat of the van by his little lonesome, and he's still so happy. I have to get to him by opening the trunk, and he always greets me with the biggest smile! Also, he loves Jonah, and whenever Jonah sees him, or hears that Holden is coming, Jonah freaks out and wants to hide. Holden loves to tackle him, and Jonah just squeals. We will miss our little Holdy!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Halloween 2017

Tuesday morning started with the usual early hustle to get us out the door to get Noelle and Jonah to school. My brother-in-law's work schedule changed and they now need someone to watch Holden Monday through Thursday in the mornings to early afternoon. My mom is already committed to a Bible study on Tuesday mornings that does not provide child care, so I volunteered to take Holden on Tuesdays. And Halloween was our first Tuesday  with him! Heather dropped him off, I threw the four kids in the car, and we headed out to drop off Noelle (thank goodness for the drop off line so I don't have to get every one out!), and then we went to drop off Jonah. Since there is time to kill between dropoff times, I've been going through the Starbucks drive-thru more than I should! Which I did on Halloween morning (still loving the vanilla sweet cream cold brew!) 

Jonah was super excited to have his fall harvest party that morning, and wore his one and only Halloween shirt that most definitely needed a wash. 

When we dropped Jonah off, I didn't have shoes for Holden, so I wore Clara and carried Holden.

Clara was dressed in a little pumpkin outfit that Holden wore last year for Halloween. Such a cutie with that little green stem on top!

We went back to our house and thankfully, Clara napped away in the car seat, and Holden ate a snack and wandered around while I furiously cleaned the kitchen. After she woke up, I took some pictures of these sweet cousins together in their Halloween garb.

Holden got picked up after lunch and after we got Noelle from school, I did some more cleaning at our house while Clara napped and the older two played and had some tablet time. Then we ate a quick dinner and got ourselves dressed in costumes!

Noelle had originally wanted to be a cheerleader, which she dressed as when we went to Main Street trick-or-treating the Thursday before Halloween.

But on Halloween, I could not for the life of me find her cheerleader costume. (Turns out it was hanging in her closet- I'm losing my mind!) But thankfully that morning she had mentioned wanting to dress as Elsa instead. So, Elsa she was! And Jonah decided to repeat last year's costume- Marshall from Paw Patrol.

This year was the first year that they really seemed to get it and were SO excited to go out and get candy. We went further than we have in previous years, and Jonah had no problem talking to people as they handed him candy. He told a couple of people that his mom said he wasn't allowed to have hard candy, so he should get chocolate. After about an hour we headed back to our house where Clara was still sound asleep. She had worn her skeleton pajamas on Halloween Eve and all day on Halloween underneath her pumpkin. Cutie!

And since Clara slept through trick-or-treating on actual Halloween, here's a picture of her in her elephant costume (what Noelle wore for her first Halloween!) when we trick-or-treating on Main Street.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Clara: 4 months

Oh sweet girl, how are you already four months old? One third of the way to turning one. In some ways, it seems like you've always been here, been a part of our family. And yet I also feel like you were just born. Don't grow so fast, little one!

Height and Weight: At her appointment last week, she was 10 pounds 14.5 ounces (2%) and 24.5 inches (53%). Growing growing!

Sleep: Clara's sleep hasn't been great lately. Between fighting a cold and trying to transition her from the rock'n'play to the pack'n'play, there have been mulitiple wakeups. But I know we'll get to the day when she's sleeping through the night and I'll miss those middle of the night snuggles.

Naps are pretty inconsistent. If we have the time she'll usually take at least one long one, but a lot of time those naps are broken by us needing to go somewhere or do something. Thankfully she handles it pretty well- I just feel bad that there's no consistency.

Eating: At this point she's probably getting most of her food via formula. After about 10 minutes of nursing (only on the right- she refuses the left!) she'll then drink 2-4 ounces of formula. At her well check on Tuesday the doctor noticed her spitting up and suggested trying a reflux formula. Thankfully the doctor's office had samples, so we'll give that a try to see if that lessens the spit-up.

She eats about every 2-3 hours throughout the day, which usually looks like nursing/bottle before we leave to go somewhere, and then again when we get home.

Diapers/Clothing: Clara is still in size 1 diapers, and just this week, I pulled out her 3-6 month clothes. After getting rid of all the boy clothes I've been holding on to, it's hard to think about giving away newborn baby girl clothes. I know friends will use some, and my sister is getting some in hopes that she has a girl someday. :)

Social/Milestones: This past month has been full of cooing, smiles, and the beginnings of a giggle. She'll clasp her hands together in front of herself, and grip on to things with those tiny fingers. She blows lots of bubbles, has really good head control, and tolerates brief periods of tummy time. When she sees herself in a mirror (like above her swing) she'll often smile and coo at herself. She also sat in the Bumbo for the first time!

Likes: She still really seems to enjoy bath time and does well with the water being poured over her head. She still likes to be swaddled for sleeping, but those days will be over once she can roll over. She of course loves being held and talked to, as well as being worn in the wrap.

Dislikes: We still have car rides where she screams about being in the car seat, but is doing SO much better. Other than that, she really only cries when she's tired or wants to be held. I'm praying her easy-going personality continues!

Fun things we've done: This has been a busy month, but Clara was mostly along for the ride or stayed at home for the farm field trips. I took all the kids to Sharp's Farm with friends, and we went up to Grove City for homecoming. We had fun with friends at MOPS and during play dates. We got to enjoy a dinner with all four grandparents, and do some work on the house before moving in with my parents. It was definitely busy, stressful, but full of fall fun!

A few pictures: