Tuesday, November 27, 2012

{ Five Months }

I can't believe she's five months old today. She is a treasure. So much joy.

She is constant ribbons of drool spilling from that rosebud mouth.

She is bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.

She is Daddy's little sidekick, big enough for a little rough-and-tumble in her games with us.

She is half-crabwalking {moving her legs to propel her headfirst or in circles}.

She is my Little Bitty Pretty One, and we dance to the Bobby Day version of that song almost daily.

She has a big bald spot on the back of her head and sports little bows held on with corn syrup.

She is squawking a lot as she tries out new sounds.

She is a frequent spitter-upper and major manufacturer of dirty laundry.

She is quiet and mellow when she wakes up...until she sees me, and then she glows and grins and squeaks happy.

She is wide grins full of gums, and chewing on everything she can reach. Hands. Clothes. Bibs. Toys. My hands. My face. The Ergo. But mostly Sophie the Giraffe.

She is still most unappreciative of tummy time.

She is refusing to take a bottle from babysitters {except Grandma and Grandpa}.

She is a night owl who stubbornly sticks to the belief that bedtime is at 10:30pm--but I can't complain because she sleeps 10-12 hours every night.

She stares at our mouths, transfixed, as we eat, drool cascading from pouty lips.

She loves to talk and kick and roll during diaper changes.

She is finally fitting in the hot pink jeggings from Aunt Nan!

She sucks and chews on her tongue and lower lip...so funny when she mutters as she does, because it makes her look like she's thinking really, really hard about what she's "saying."

She is a happy bath-taker.

She is impatient with books and loves to touch faces.

She is a frequent napper--usually not awake more than two hours before she falls apart.

She is getting better at entertaining herself in the carseat...but when she hates it, she hates it.

She is an occasional thumb-sucker, but generally prefers two fingers.

She is too long for 0-3 month one-piece outfits: her legs stick out the bottom and her shoulders are too tall.

She is not a big fan of the Bumbo.

:: how she generally feels about having her picture taken ::
{note the "Little Peanut Miss" onesie--a handmade gift from this friend}
:: how she generally feels about the Bumbo ::
She has slightly thicker hair now and that one wild two-inch hair in her cowlick that sticks up like an antenna after baths!

She is soft squishy cheeks and long-fingered hands and the most expressive eyebrows ever.

Her first five months could have looked so different. But they haven't. They've been "normal," if there is such a thing--beautiful and hard and exhausting and full of more joy and love than I knew possible. Grace upon grace has colored our days and filled our hearts and hands to overflowing. Five months.

We love you so much, Elaina Rae!
Happy Five Month Birthday!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

{ Thankful }

for three days in a row of sleeping in for my sick husband.

for coffee. with cream. and sugar.

for sunshine outside our windows.

for "it's a wonderful life" with good friends.

for little girl's unbridled ecstasy when she sees me after she wakes up.

for pumpkin quinoa chili from this friend's blog.

for leftover chocolate pecan pie for breakfast. x2 days.

for a vacuum. {seriously. have you ever considered what your carpets would look like without one?!}

for telephones.

for a new job for my brother.

for hot water.

for all the busyness that makes up my daily life. i'm really really thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

{ on fear }

In my head, I do battle with SIDS daily.

I think that I have a great excuse for being freaked out that sudden infant death syndrome may sneak into our home: We've already been the ones with the perfectly healthy baby who is suddengly diagnosed with a serious anomaly on her second ultrasound. We've been the 1 in 400,000. We've drawn the short straw once already. Suddenly dangerously ill babies are no longer something that happens to "other people." That was us. Fear covers me like a cloak and I walk through my days and nights wondering when "it" is going to happen to us again...whatever sinister thing "it" may be.

I sneak into her room to check her breathing. Naps. Nighttime. Whenever she's asleep.

Often I get a little knot in the pit of my stomach when Mike leaves for work in the morning. What if Lainie doesn't wake up and I'm the only one here?

Last night Lainie just wouldn't fall asleep. She woke up every hour between 9pm and 1am, and then again at 4:15. One of those times, after I got her settled again and was thinking something along the
lines of "at least if she's crying I know she's alive," the Holy Spirit nudged me.

I think I'm protecting Lainie from SIDS. I put her to sleep on her back, with a pacifier. I try not to let her get overheated. I follow the recommendations.

And I pray for her. Every stinkin' time I put her down to sleep, I pray for protection from physical danger. {That's my code phrase for "SIDS" because I don't want to actually talk about it, say it, admit it--so I sort of wink at God when I say that and hope He knows what I mean.}

Somehow, I think that if I do all the "right things" and pray for her, that she will be okay.

The flip side is that I also think that she is one forgotten prayer away from...you know, "physical danger."

I had a crystal-clear mental picture of how I approach praying for Lainie's safety: God is a cosmic machine that's about to dispense SIDS, and as I pray I'm punching specific buttons in a certain order. As long as I punch the right buttons in the right order, Lainie escapes harm. Thus, I deceive myself into thinking I control Lainie's safety. The flip side, though, is that if I forget to pray--if I say the wrong words, or put them in the wrong order, or whatever--then it's my fault if something bad happens to her.

I was now quite awake and quite uncomfortable. Though I try to deny it, this is exactly what I'm doing. It's like chanting spells, or offering sacrifices, or following some hand-me-down superstitions to try to appease some capricious mythological god.

I remembered a conversation Mike and I had a day or two earlier, where I shared my irrational fear of there being an earthquake while he's at work and I'm stuck and can't get to Lainie. He said that whatever happens, earthquake or no earthquake, Jesus loves us and will take care of us. Jesus loves us just as much each day earthquake-free day as He does if and when there's an earthquake. An earthquake doesn't mean we are in more danger than when there is no earthquake; we are still loved and protected by Jesus, and if Jesus is who He says He is, we have nothing to fear. Earthquakes don't take Jesus by surprise. Neither do naps, or a mom who's too tired to mumble a prayer, or the mysterious list of unknown-but-possible-causes of SIDS. And Jesus is bigger than all those things--His love is bigger than any harm that can be caused by any earthquake. His love is bigger than SIDS. He loves Lainie more than I do, and whatever comes into her little life, it has to get through the hedge of His love around her first. A hedge that is completely independent of--and not reliant on--me praying.

I remembered this from an Elyse Fitzpatrick book I'm reading:

"We are loved by God, and we live in His world--not in a world of fate or luck or karma. Oh, glorious, shocking, transforming truth! We are loved by God! We belong to Him! No superstitions, no lists, no getting our act together to make Him love us. Simply believe."
And I realized: I'm not praying for Lainie because I believe God loves her. I'm praying for her like one who believes He doesn't love her. I'm believing lies, just like Eve in the garden...just like all our ancestors, I'm listening to the accuser instead of the Savior. It was--is--so shocking, so gut-wrenching to see how pervasive this lie is in my life. How often I choose to believe and act on lies instead of truth.
I've been mulling over this all day, between diaper changes and spit-up clean-up and washing dishes. Praying for Lainie feels so free now, like cramped wings taking flight after being bound for a long time. Ann Voskamp and others often speak of preaching the gospel to themselves, and I have always been a little tentative about that. What exactly do they mean? How do you do that, "preach the gospel to yourself"? Now I think I know. It's recognizing when I'm believing a lie and replacing it with Truth. It's asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to me and change my heart.
This is all very unfinished and mid-process, and I'd love to think it through some more before publishing this post. But my very-much-alive little girl is shrieking in the next room, and if I don't post this now it will be January before I can finish this train of thought!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

{ In Which There is a Wedding }

Our friends Daniel and Lisa got married at this beautiful church in Port Gamble on November 4.
As if the church and white picket fence aren't already to die for, it is situated in a tiny little community FULL of beautiful old houses and white picket fences...on the water...requiring a ferry ride to get there.
I die.
:: Isn't this little baby on her first ferry ride the cutest thing? ::

:: See? Just across the street in front of the church = part of the Puget Sound! ::
Daniel and Lisa asked Mike to read Scripture during the ceremony, so we went to the rehearsal on Friday as well as the wedding on Sunday. The church is just as breathtaking inside as out--the walls are this amazing blue color, with ornate plasterwork along the ceiling. The original wooden pews are still in use. There is even a little balcony--you reach it by climbing the narrowest stairs ever--with stained glass windows where you can ring the bell. {The balcony also makes a nice, swanky nursing nook.} Unfortunately the light inside wasn't great so you will mostly have to use your imaginations.

:: Joanna holding Lainie's little friend Julia ::

The whole village of Port Gamble consists of houses like this. It looks straight out of Anne of Green Gables. I love it!

:: Even though it's blurry, I love this photo from the reception! Love! ::

Little Miss was a trooper! She fell asleep partway through the ceremony, and slept happily in the ring sling for the first couple hours of the reception. She was snug as a bug and I'm so thankful she still sleeps well when I wear her--it is a total lifesaver in situations like this.
Side note: Can anyone explain to me what it is about traveling that causes diapers to explode? Is it that the further you get from your home, the leakier diapers become? Or is the force with which poop is expelled proportional to the fanciness of the clothes the baby is wearing? Or is there some magical ratio of number of outfits Mom packed to number of outfits soiled? Or do ferries give baby poop special diaper-escaping powers? I'm just asking. Because Lainie pooped through two outfits before the rehearsal, and then two more before the wedding.

The reception was in a big one-room pavilion with huge windows overlooking the water. Gorgeous! But there wasn't anywhere to nurse or change diapers except the bathroom, so I ended up sitting on the floor of the handicapped stall to feed Lainie. Kind of gross but I am still trying not to think about it. We were leaving the bathroom at the same time as one of the waitstaff, and as she held the door open for me, she said, "Not that I was eavesdropping or anything, but the way you talk to your baby is the sweetest thing ever." That totally made up for nursing on a bathroom floor!
Another funny bathroom story: Right after we got to the reception hall, I went in the ladies' room to fix my hair...and a man walked out of one of the stalls. We both did a double take.
Me: "Am I in the wrong bathroom?!"
Him: "I don't know, let's check!"
He opens the door, looks at the sign, face turns white, looks at me, says, "Oh sh*t!" and bolts out.
At this point I should mention that there was assigned seating at the reception.
I nearly busted a rib trying not to laugh when we walked up to our table a few minutes later and this fellow and his wife were seated there, too!
:: betcha didn't know ceiling fans are hypnotic, did you? ::

And thus was the second of three weddings we're slated to attend between in September and December. Apparently it's a good time of year to get hitched!

Friday, November 16, 2012

{ Stay }

Linking up with Lisa-Jo over at Tales of a Gypsy Mama for this week's Five Minute Friday. The challenge? Write for five minutes using her one-word prompt--no editing, no backtracking, just write.

Five Minute FridayThis week's word: Stay.


Stay right here.
This is where I want you to be.
Don't try to live in the future.
Don't anticipate this afternoon's naptime and what you hope to accomplish in the 90 minutes she {may or may not} sleep.
Stay here.
Stay with the drowsy mumblings of her half-asleep and nursing.
Stay with the fat cheeks about to split in two from the sheer joy of her huge, huge grin.
Stay in this moment. It will be gone so quickly and you can never get it back.
See how much she has already changed in 4 1/2 short months? Tiny newborn forever gone.
Stay here. Stay right now. I am giving you the gift of this day, hours strung like pearls on a chain of moments, and you can never have more than one at a time. Never have anything but the one I give you right now.
So don't dream about this afternoon, or tomorrow, or when she can crawl, or when she can entertain herself better, or when you will sleep through the night consistently. Today is the gift. Tomorrow is tomorrow's gift, and if you try to live in tomorrow...you miss today.
Stay here. It is the center of my will for you. It is exactly what you need today. It is exactly what she needs today. Love her today. Soak her up today. Kiss Mike with gusto today when he walks back through that door.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

{ Lainie's Dedication }

We dedicated Lainie at church on October 14. Dedicating a baby doesn't impart salvation or anything like that. It's a way for us as parents to publicly acknowledge that a) our child is a gift from Jesus, and b) we commit to bring her up to know and love Jesus. By doing it with our church family, we all acknowledge our responsibility as the body of Christ to encourage and help one another as we raise our children together. It's beautiful and meaningful...perhaps especially when you've gone through the medical ups and downs we did before Lainie's birth!
My parents and my youngest brother Obediah stayed with us for the weekend. One of my other brothers, Emery, and his wife Becky were also in the area for Emery's job, and they were able to spend most of Saturday and Sunday with us, too. The only one missing was Joe. Nevertheless, we had a great time! I don't think anyone minded the cramped quarters: Seven adults and a baby in a two-bedroom condo is a bit tight, but we took a "the more, the merrier" outlook.
:: Grandpa Duck and Lainie Rae ::

:: awwwwww! ::

:: Obie hadn't met Lainie before. ::

:: They were quite smitten with each other, I think! ::

:: Grandma and Elaina ::

:: Becky and Em--the way Emery is petting Lainie's head with one finger cracks me up! ::
Most of the photos of the dedication itself aren't very good. Two other couples dedicated their baby boys that morning, as well; remarkably {considering the size of our church}, we knew both of them!

:: happy little family ::
Most of the weekend was spent cooking, eating, and playing games. Gosh, we made HUGE quantities of food!! Sweet potato kale soup, BBQ pulled chicken, meatballs...I am not adept at cooking for more than two people, but somehow we didn't go hungry. One thing I really love about hanging out with my family {and miss about living "over here"} is playing games. We spent hours playing Apples to Apples and Scum...it was a hootenanny! Maybe I just need to be more proactive about bringing games and suggesting we play them at family get-togethers and social events "over here." Thoughts? How do you game-playing folks win over the non-game-players?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

{ Public Service Announcement }

In case you were wondering, alcohol-free wine tastes like
weird grape juice.
Since the alcohol has been removed, I guess that's actually what it is.

Friday, November 9, 2012

{ Quiet }

Five Minute FridayIt looks like that random morning when the baby sleeps till 10:30am.

It looks like those 15 minutes when she magically entertains herself without getting bored.

It looks like driving home from church, holding hands with the Mr., while she naps in the carseat.

It looks like 2am feedings, when we are both probably more asleep than awake.


There's more of it than you'd expect in a house with a four-month-old.

But it's still hard to protect, to use properly, to cherish. I'm tempted to fill every moment with silly songs and peek-a-boo and narrating my every action to the little girl glued to me with her eyes.

I had no idea what a gift quiet is. How hard it would be to snatch a few moments with You now that I'm a mama.

I don't want to fill all these moments with laundry, dishes, grocery lists, a quick phone call to catch up with a friend. I want You to be my first choice in the still moments. You to be my first choice for an "adult" conversation. You. I want to find You in the quiet.

If I don't choose to spend time with You, will she? If she doesn't see You incarnated in my life, how will she know You?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

{ #Blessed }

I never want to forget:
How blessed I am.
That this is my view.
That my baby girl is healthy.
That she didn't spend the first few months of her life in the hospital.
That she had a record-breaking short hospital stay and lightning-fast recovery.
That her life, and mine, could have looked anything but "normal."

Even the nights when I feel like she will never.fall.asleep...I have a healthy baby crying lustily in her own crib. She's alive. She's strong. Her lungs and diaphragm are clearly in perfect working order. I am so, so blessed to have a baby at home who would rather stay awake and play with me than sleep--even if she cries and doesn't fall asleep for hours. She could be hospitalized. She could need major help breathing. She could have significant lung problems. She could have long-term digestive tract problems.
She doesn't.
She could still be living at Children's Hospital.
She isn't.
Today was sunny and mild, so we walked up and down the beach. She was mesmerized by the waves. She was unimpressed with the ferry. She stared at little boys feeding stale bread to noisy seagulls. She licked the Ergo nonstop.

May I never lose sight of the incredible, innumerable gifts we've been given.
May I never take a moment with this precious girl for granted.
May I never forget what could have been.
Thank you, Jesus, for what is. We don't deserve it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

{ 133 Days }

Little Miss Lainie Bug,
Today you are 133 days old. Nineteen weeks. Almost four and a half months. One hundred thirty-three days doesn't sound like very long at all...yet at the same time, it feels like I've said "Good night" and sung you "Jesus Loves Me" hundreds or even thousands of times. There is less and less of the helpless newborn about you; more and more you are a thinking, learning, feeling, exploring, opinionated baby.
I still swaddle you up for sleeping. Nighttime and naps.
You still have the BEST facial expressions!

On October 19, you said "hi" two me--twice--while I was changing your diaper! You hear me say it all the time, and I probably would have thought it was a fluke except that I had just said it to you several times..and you said it back, twice. At your four-month checkup, I told the pediatrician, expecting her to brush it off as coincidence. But she thinks it's entirely plausible; she said you're a very smart baby, and given that you are pretty vocal, it's quite possible that you actually said "hi" on purpose.
Speaking of four-month checkups, here are your stats at four months old:
Weight: 11 pounds, 10 ounces {6th percentile}
Length: 24.4 inches {45th percentile}
Head circumference: 16.2 inches {65th percentile}
And, just as I was telling the doctor that you haven't quite rolled over yet, you rolled farther over than I have ever seen you do before; the doctor moved your arm up an inch or two from your side, and bam! You rolled onto your tummy! Granted, you had a tiny bit of help, but you looked quite pleased. You haven't managed that trick again, but you lift your head and torso up really high during tummy time. It's super cute. I'll have to take pictures and post them in your next letter.
You are still an itty bitty thing, but your brain is growing at an amazing rate! In the past few weeks, you have really started to develop little rolls on your thighs and upper arms, and the "fat folds" around your wrists are getting deeper. Your cheeks are plumping up, and you feel sturdier. Part of that is probably because you l-o-v-e to practice standing and bouncing up and down with someone holding you.
You have the classic baby bald spot on the back of your head.
You excel at sleeping. Though I wish you weren't such a night owl--you don't usually fall asleep till between 10 and 11 pm--on average you sleep for 12 hours at night, waking up twice to eat {usually between 2 and 3 and again between 6:30 and 8}. As for naps, they are a little more sporadic, but frequent: You fall apart if you're awake for more than two hours at a time.

Speaking of sleep, on October 29 you started sleeping in your nursery. For everything, nighttime and naps. We're all sleeping just fine, in spite of the fact that this makes me feel like I don't have a little baby any more. You're growing up. You sleep in your own room. And you still talk in your sleep, too: On Monday morning I went to get you because I heard you talking. You were still sound asleep--100% Daddy's girl!
You laughed for the first time on October 26, the day before your four-month birthday. Daddy was holding you, and I did something that made you produce this deep-throated chuckle that sounded like it came all the way from your belly. Girlie girl, that made our month!! There is nothing like hearing your baby laugh for the first time! For a while, I'd thought you were really close to laughing, and I'd been praying that it would happen when Daddy was home--and it was! Since then you've laughed a few more times, but only for me, and never at the same thing twice in a row.
You love to roll onto your left side. Only your left {that was the side you were lying on in the womb, so I'm not too surprised}. You will be on your back, then you stick your feet straight up, hurl them to the left, and scoot yourself up a little {toward your head}. Frequently you will scoot yourself 180 degrees, essentially pivoting your body around your head--once you did a complete circle!
You suck on your fingers. All. The. Time. Usually it's just the first two fingers on either hand. And the drooling!! You go through a couple bibs a day!
A couple weekends ago, the three of us went on a walk at a park near our house. I only discovered it this fall, and wanted to show your Daddy because there is a trail that goes waaaaaaaay down into a gulch with a creek at the bottom.

:: you and me at the top of the big hill ::

:: some of the steps ::

:: on the bridge ::
Enough talking. Let's get to the good stuff--pictures!

:: me trying to copy your silly face ::

:: hanging out with Daddy on a Saturday morning ::

:: and helping Daddy answer emails ::

:: having a blast scooting around on the dining room floor ::
You love baths now. You smile and coo at the bottles of shampoo and the soaps. You arch your back and smack it back down, making big splashes that delight you. You kick your legs and swish your feet and just have a jolly old time.

:: love those baby blues! ::
Happy 133 days, Lainie Rae!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

{ It's November }

Late last week, my laptop keyboard was finally replaced, so now I have a computer and internet when Mike isn't home. The enforced technology fast made me realize how much time I fritter away on the computer when I should be doing other things. As inconvenient as it was to have to zip through checking my email and all the little blogs/sites I like to browse regularly--on Mike's laptop, in ten or fifteen minutes between putting Lainie down for the night and going to bed myself--it was also refreshing. I could just do life during the day. No getting sucked into the interwebs.

But I am really glad to be able to blog again, and download approximately 647 photos off of my camera.

I'm making a point of not saying anything about the elections. Political conversations make me want to crawl out of my skin. The End.

It's amazing how much I can accomplish when (a) I get up at a decent hour, and (b) I spend time with Jesus early in the day. Lately Lainie has been waking up twice at night to eat, instead of just once, which makes it sooooo easy to sleep in until she wakes up. This morning she woke up to eat at 6:30, and instead of going to bed after she fell asleep, I took a shower. Read Acts 10. Spent time with Jesus. Picked up clutter. Made this amazingly delicious Paleo jambalaya. Made this amazingly delicious Italian sausage/chard/lemon lasagna. And washed the dishes, all before Lainie woke up at 10:30. Yes, I am proud of myself. Note to self: pride is a sin...

Speaking of Lainie, Little Miss Boo has her first cold. She is really stuffed up and sneezes continually. She hates having her nose suctioned, which is unfortunate for both of us because I've done it at least half a dozen times already today. She's still happy and sweet as ever, even when she can barely breathe through her nose--poor baby!

Let's see. What else happened while I was away?

I got a haircut. Postpartum hair loss is brutal and two-foot-long brown hairs everywhere drove me bananas. I refuse to believe it's a "mom chop," because isn't the purpose of that so the baby can't grab your hair? Lainie can definitely still reach my hair. I unwrap strands from her fingers on an almost hourly basis.

:: before ::

:: after ::
As you can see, we also went on a date. Fancy dinner out with our friends Lisa and Daniel. It was nice to dress up, enjoy a great meal in a classy restaurant--I had pear and gorgonzola ravioli--and not worry too much about Lainie. I don't think a mama ever gets to the point where she doesn't worry at all, does she?
And yes, my skin is vampire white by nature.
In spite of the fact that I have made pie crust approximately once before in my life, I agreed to make four pies for Lisa and Daniel's wedding rehearsal dinner last week: Chocolate pecan, pumpkin, apple, and strawberry rhubarb. In spite of my gross lacl of pie-making experience, they turned out quite well.
Though Elaina is still a teensy weensy thing by any estimation, she has put on weight. Look at these photos of her getting a bath--the first one was taken on October 10, the second on November 2:

She's plumping out a little! :-)
Tempted as I am to ramble on, I probably don't have much time left before Lainie wakes from her nap, and I haven't brushed my teeth yet today. I'm gonna go do that. Later!