Friday, December 28, 2012


Dear Miss Peanut,
It's hard for me to believe, but yesterday you turned six months old! How can it possibly be half a year since you were born?!
Here are the stats from your six-month checkup today:
Weight: 14 pounds, 4 ounces {16th percentile}
Height: 26 inches {53rd percentile}
Head Circumference: 17 inches {83rd percentile}
You are quite proficient at rolling from tummy-to-back as well as back-to-tummy. Tummy time is still high on your list of Least Favorite Things to Do, but you're a champ at push-ups. That big ol' noggin of yours is pretty heavy, though, and it often lists to one side...and then over onto your back you go!
You are really good at sitting up with a little support. You hold yourself quite steady, but can't quite sit up alone yet.

:: I call this your "jaunty pose" ::
Sometimes you like sitting in the Bumbo, and sometimes you really really don't. Here's another example of that head tilt I talked about--it's just such a heavy thing to hold up, isn't it?

In the last couple of weeks, you discovered your feet, and you LOVE to chew on your toesies. Those bulky cloth diapers make it really difficult to get your feet to your mouth, so every time I change your diaper, POOF you grab your right foot and shove it in your mouth and start talking about how much you love it. Cutest thing!
You smile all.the.time....but especially for Mama.
You are very quiet and observant when we are with other people.
You have become very attached to Mama and Daddy, to the point where you often burst into tears if someone else holds you {even when you can still see one of us!}. I've heard that separation anxiety is a normal, healthy development at this stage, but it's awfully difficult to see you cry so hard when anyone else holds you.

:: I couldn't resist the "My first Christmas" outfit! ::

:: playing with measuring spoons ::
In the last month or so, you have decided that a bottle is an unacceptable way to eat. At first we thought it was just because you had some new babysitters, but then you refused a bottle from Grandma Mandy--your most frequent babysitter--for the whole five hours Daddy and I were at the Messiah! Fiddlesticks. This may definitely put a crimp in our date nights, but soon you'll be onto solid foods and that may be our saving grace.
In the last two weeks, you've started waving back when people wave at you. You're very shy about it, which makes it all the more endearing!
You are always super happy when you wake up on your own.

:: helping Daddy with his Bible study ::
You still like being carried in the Ergo--you little snuggle bunny!
You entertain yourself in the carseat now, often not fussing at all when we're out running errands. Glory hallelujah!!
You sleep like a champ. Putting you down for naps is a breeze, and while you always fuss at bedtime, when you finally fall asleep, you only wake up to eat once {between 3 and 4am} and then sleep till 8 or 9am. Bliss.

:: sporting a hat from Aunt Peggy ::
Much to our surprise and delight, on Christmas you seemed to grasp the concept of unwrapping gifts and would grab the paper and pull. It was so much fun to help you unwrap your presents!
:: Helping Daddy read one of the World Vision gift cards from Grandma and Grandpa Duck. They gave money to help care for an orphan in your honor! ::

Remember in the Anne of Green Gables books, how Anne wanted to have violet eyes? When you wear this purple onesie, your eyes really truly look violet-colored. You are so stunning, baby girl!
And now...the hat.
I wanted to get you an animal hat for Christmas, and when I found this pink owl hat on Etsy, I knew it was meant to be on your head. I'm not sure what you think of it, but you look so stinkin' cute wearing it!!

:: notice the high-waisted granny jeans! ::

Ohhhhh, Baby Bug, I could just eat you up!!
Grandma Mandy gave you a gorgeous navy blue holiday dress. It's satin and velvet and has bows and a crinkly tulle underskirt and it's the fanciest dress you've ever had. You wore it for Christmas Eve with Grandpa Dan, Grandma Mandy, Auntie Mar, and Lawrence, and my-oh-my did you look lovely!

:: Daddy with his princess ::

You love to touch faces and give big, open-mouthed, slobbery kisses.
You blow bubbles and suck on your lower lip and chew anything you can get in your mouth.
We celebrated Christmas with Daddy's family this year. You were a trooper for the super long day, even taking a couple naps {short ones} in the pack 'n' play. You enjoyed opening gifts, playing with your new toys, and smiling at everybody. Especially Lawrence.

:: helping Mommy unwrap one of your presents ::

:: this hat is too much cuteness!! you look like a little Ewok! ::

:: chillaxin' with Daddy ::
We celebrated your actual six-month birthday by letting you try a banana. You watch us closely when we eat, so I figured you would be all over a tasty, squishy new "toy."
Not so...not so at all. As a matter of fact, after the first minute or two, you seemed downright annoyed to be stuck in the Bumbo with Mommy and Daddy grinning at you and making fools of themselves trying to get you interested in the banana. You briefly examined the banana, tried to pick it up a couple times, stuck it in your mouth and gnawed a little once, and then you were over it.
:: "They seriously think I'm gonna put this in my mouth?!" ::
Oh well. We'll try again soon, maybe with something more exciting like an avocado or mango!
 Six months old is so much fun--we love you lotsies, Lainie Rae!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

{ A New Look }

A couple of nights ago, I was lying in bed after a 3am feeding, drifting off to la-la land, when I started seeing images in my head of the furniture in our living and dining room, arranged differently. I thought something along the lines of This will help me fall asleep and promptly set about re-arranging our living space in my mind's eye. It was fun and it did help me fall asleep. This went on for a couple of nights, always as I was falling asleep in the wee hours--that sounds really weird now that I'm reading it typed out, but don't worry, I firmly believe it was the Holy Spirit. Yesterday I had a splitting headache all day and meant to take a nap when Lainie slept in the afternoon, but by now I was itching to move sofas, so instead I spent an hour shoving very heavy furniture around a very small area. After all, we are still planning on moving in the next few months, so I have limited time to play around with this home of ours...and for someone who reads multiple design blogs, I've done very little to change up our living spaces since we got this furniture. By the time I was done, I wasn't sure if I liked it, so I decided to take myself up on the offer of a nap and laid down. Fifteen minutes later, Elaina woke up, so the two of us tweaked things some more and eventually I was satisfied and...dare I even say it?...actually quite pleased. As the hours passed, I began to really like this new arrangement. Of course I didn't take before pictures. Maybe you remember what things looked like?

This is where the dining table used to be. I can't believe I'm posting these pictures...look at our crooked gallery wall! I drug both sofas into this spot, one after the other, to see which fit better. And then I had to push the {ridiculously heavy} sideboard down a foot so it wasn't covered up by the sofa.

The dining table switched spots with the sofa. It fits perfectly next to the fireplace. Here's the amazing thing: This arrangement makes our whole condo feel about three times bigger! Our living space is now one big open area, instead of being clearly separate dining and living areas. It feels so much bigger and more open. The only drawback is that the sofas aren't near each other, so if we have company and sit on the sofas we'll have to crane our necks and yell.

More tweaking is in order: the bookpage wreath needs to be moved up and over a bit, so it isn't running into the lamp on the table. And we definitely need to replace the torchiere that died a couple months ago. With no ceiling lights in the living room, it's quite dim. The twinkle lights are doing all they can, but they're just twinkle lights!
I was nervous about Mike's reaction, and he was quite startled when he walked in the door. After a few minutes, though, he proclaimed that he liked it...he liked it a lot.

Just for kicks, here's our Christmas tree. I love the wrapping paper I found at HomeGoods--lovely teal and silver Christmas trees and coral printed on white paper. And a Mason jar full of twinkle lights? Yes, please!
I probably won't have a chance to post again before Christmas, so Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

{ It's the Most Dairy-Full Time of the Year }

A couple weeks ago, Miss Lainie had some symptoms--very mild--that her doctor says often indicates difficulty digesting dairy. She suggested I stop eating dairy for a few weeks and see if Lainie's symptoms go away.

What?!! No dairy? I have spent my entire life pitying people who, by necessity or choice, do not consume cheese...half 'n' half...butter...and all the lovely things made with dairy.

But I love my daughter, so after a day of mourning, I stopped eating dairy.

:: What? You can't eat dairy cuz of me? ::
I gotta say, the holidays are probably the worst time of year to eliminate dairy. It's not the little daily things, like a bagel with cream cheese and half 'n' half in my coffee, that bother me as much as the special, Christmas-only goodies I'm missing. I made four batches of soda cracker candy and a couple batches of nutella sea salt fudge, pretty much my favorite things ever...and it's all been either given away or sitting in the fridge, waiting to be eaten by others. By the way, I have a new definition of willpower: making the aforementioned treats and not even being able to taste them. Honestly, I don't think anything else has required such sheer determination. My explanation is that everything else I've abstained from, for whatever reasons, had significant consequences as an additional deterrent. The only reason I'm not eating dairy is because Lainie had some extremely mild, extremely short-lived symptoms that didn't bother her at all and which may or may not be caused by dairy...and when she isn't even bothered by it, I feel like the only reason I'm denying myself is out of principle and theory. Gah. It's awful. And I realize, to my embarrassment, how much I am ruled by my stomach. How often, how automatically, I shove food in my mouth to deal with {fill in the blank}. When I have to stop and read labels before shoving said food into mouth, and then not eat whatever I was about to consume, I realize how frequently I eat just for comfort...distraction...whatever. It's humbling, to have an unnoticed idol revealed this way.
I'm also super blessed by many friends who have already traveled the dairy-free road and give me tips and guidance. I was already cooking probably 70% Paleo--which is, among other things, dairy-free-- at Mike's request, though both of us were unwilling to give up dairy, so I'm already familiar with a lot of dairy-free recipes and resources online. A total blessing. But I really really hope Lainie isn't allergic to dairy! Or anything else, for that matter. Not being able to eat dairy is a walk in the park compared to, say, not being able to eat gluten. I don't even know how we'd do that. Little Miss has her six-month checkup after Christmas, and we'll talk to her doctor about what to do at that point. I'm praying she's not allergic anything and that we can go back to our good ol' creamy, milky, cheesy way of life!
Until then, I'll be enjoying coconut milk in my coffee {it's actually super tasty--I may keep doing it even if I can have half 'n' half again!} and Trader Joe's coconut milk ice cream {it's delicious}. See? It's not all bad!

Monday, December 17, 2012

{ When it's Dark }

I'm not afraid of the dark. And I love all four seasons. But the last couple of years, come November and December, I've wondered if I have seasonal affective disorder {SAD}. Previously I've attributed the mild depression, listlessness, and general malaise toward all aspects of life to different circumstances. But it's happened like clockwork enough Novembers in a row for me to take note. While I definitely don't have all the symptoms, I'm upping my vitamin D intake and considering a light therapy lamp. One of the reasons I've refused to consider it might be SAD is because I grew up in Idaho, which has equally short days and early sunsets in winter, but recently I realized the difference is that in Idaho, it is often sunny during the day in the winter. Not so in the Seattle area. Not so at all.

A couple nights ago, I realized that celebrating Jesus' birth in the darkest, depressingest season of the year is appropriate. Eternal God, outside time, Creator of everything, entered our darkness. Our filth. He took on a fragile, helpless human body. He was born {and I've been there--it's messy and gross and I can't even imagine God being born}. He willingly entered this sin-strewn world. He didn't just rescue us from our darkness, He entered into our darkness. He bore it. He lived in it. And at the end He did what we never can: He bore all God's wrath for of my sins, and the sins of every other Christian. He bore all the punishment we deserve...why? To rescue us from our own darkness. He entered our darkness so we don't have to spend eternity separated from Him--from everything good and beautiful and holy. He saves us not only from the darkness of sin in this world, but from the darkness of eternal separation from Him.

When I think about that, the dark afternoons aren't so hard to bear. They remind me that I don't have to bear the crushing weight of my sin. Jesus already did. God has no wrath left for me--none!! Not even for the sins in my future! Jesus paid all my debt. Something shifts in my head, and I can't wait to celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25. Without His incarnation, without His sinless life in my place, without His death for my sins and resurrection that promises me eternal life, whoa. December is really bleak. Life really does suck. But with Jesus? What's a little three-month patch of no sunshine compared to being ransomed from death?!

So now I have Christmas lights on and a mug of hot spiced cider to keep me company while Lainie naps--no Christmas carols though, which might wake her up...and the 4 o'clock-ish sunset time doesn't really bother me.

And with that, Lainie's awake. Later!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

{ Christmas Downtown }

One Christmas tradition Mike and I are revamping to accomodate our family of three is the fabled downtown Seattle Christmas date. Last year we had so much fun: A full day of sunshine, glorious colors, beautiful decorations, Pike's Public Market, good food, gingerbread houses, and no throwing up. This year, Miss Peanut is 5 1/2 months outside the womb, instead of a mere 11-week-twinkle in my tummy, which made things ever so much different!
For starters, it rained the whole day--when we left home, it was borderline snowing. This was actually a blessing in disguise; because the weather was sour, crowds were minimal. I was shocked that the market wasn't packed at noon on a Saturday in December.
We talked beforehand about what we really wanted to do, knowing that how long we could stay downtown depended on Lainie's disposition. We both wanted to ride the carousel, and I wanted to walk through the market. Anything else would be icing on the cake. Normally Lainie goes about two hours between naps, but when we're out and about {meaning that she is entertained by things and people other than just mommy} that easily stretches double. She's a happy tired baby. 
First we went to the carousel. Lainie approached it as she did the rest of the light, noise, and color she encountered that day: as a quiet, poker-faced observer. She wasn't scared at all!
:: it is really hard to get good shots on a carousel, when you and your subjects are on separate, independently moving horses ::

:: Hi-Ho Silver, and away! ::

Then we went to the market. Forgive me for not snapping any photos...I'm in the process of forgiving myself.

A kind lady offered to take our photo. Several people stopped us to comment on what a cute baby we have.

Lainie's bodysuit cracks me up--she looks like a giant pink Peep! It's a bit big, but it is the warmest thing we had for her to wear. She couldn't have moved if she wanted to, but she was toasty!
Another thing I just noticed: Aside from the scarf, I'm wearing exactly the same outfit I wore on our Seattle date last year. LOL...if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
By now it was raining harder, and we were getting hungry. All of us. We kept walking by these amazing-smelling shops, and because I can't eat dairy right now {I'll tell you about that next time}, most of it I couldn't eat. All Mike wanted was coffee from the original Starbucks, but the line was literally stretching out the door. So, after feeding Lainie in the car, we had lunch at an Indian restaurant. My dairy-free coconut curry was delicious, though I did covet Mike's garlic naan. Just a lil bit. And then we headed home.

This year's outing looked so different from 2011's, but it was still so good! If the weather had been nicer, we probably would have stayed out longer, but when you're cold and wet and getting wetter, going home to cozy up for a nap sounds pretty enticing.
What are your Christmasy plans?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

{ Finding Balance }

Every Christmas I struggle over how to keep my focus on Christ. It's so easy to get caught up in trying to do every Christmasy craft that catches my eye on Pinterest, baking and candymaking, parties and carols and so much bustle and clamor that I often arrive on December 25 feeling breathless...and ashamed. Realizing I have literally not spent any time thinking about the Incarnation or preparing my heart for Christmas. And then I get frustrated: Christmas is about Christ, and here I've been worrying about whether or not I made enough fudge, if it will be funky by that party, when are we going to put up lights, when to brave the mall to get that gift, etc.

As a married couple, Mike and I have tried to place a high priority on Jesus' incarnation instead of the materialism that seems to just explode this time of year. Now with a little one, we are continuing to be intentional about centering the Christmas season around Jesus. {Not having a TV and not going to the mall in December make it easy to miss a lot of the commercialism, but boy do I ever do an excellent job of coveting and comparing via the internet!} Mike and I also have a handful of nice Christmas traditions we've established, and as our family grows and changes, we want to continue incorporating them into the holiday season--as long as they remain meaningful and fun. We've been talking about our expectations and how activities and traditions will be different with a five-and-a-half month old baby in tow. Add to that the fact that Mike is very busy at work, so time and energy are precious commodities. Suffice it to say, turning my heart toward Jesus instead of "stuff" and molding our plans to fit around Lainie's needs has proven to be an exercise...but a rewarding one!

In spite of Thanksgiving being a week early, Advent still snuck up on me, and I found myself putting together our muffin tin Advent calendar on November 30th. In years past I've written a different little activity for us to do each day, ranging from "Buy festive lattes on the way to church" to "Put change in a Salvation Army bucket" to "Find mistletoe...xoxo." This year, I knew it would be stressful to have a daily "assignment." Instead, I wrote prompts for each day to help us remember the gifts Jesus has given us, like
A gift you can see
A gift you can taste
A gift that's alive
A gift that you didn't expect

It only takes a minute or two to read the day's prompt and share with each other specific gifts we're thankful for. I also sprinkled an activity in every few days, like having candy cane cocoa and burning a Christmas CD...things that are easy and we to want to do anyway.

Speaking of Christmas CDs, every year that we've been married, Mike and I have spent an evening perusing carols online {iTunes? Zune? I don't know} and taking turns picking 12 songs to burn onto a CD. This year's album is by far the most lackluster. I've listened to it a couple times, and it's like we didn't even try--it is boring, my friends. Boring. Probably because we were both hallucinatingly tired and juggling a wiggly baby between us. Better luck in 2013?

And speaking of Advent...I tend to be a legalistic nitwit about it: We have to do the readings daily, and if we miss a day, we must catch up. The reality for us this year is that many weekdays, we have very little time together. Mike leaves for work before I get up in the morning; he's super busy and sometimes has to work from home in the evenings. We are still trying to convince Lainie that her bedtime is before 10:30pm; so we frequently spend a couple hours each evening in that continual exercise of endurance, patience, and about-to-fall-off-the-cliff-of-insanity known as "putting the baby to bed." So we read our Advent devotional, Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey, together when we can, and I keep up with it during my quiet time. Just cuz we can't do it daily as a family doesn't mean we can't do it at all...or that I can't do it on my own.

A couple weeks ago we went to Wights, a local nursery/garden store that goes whole hog for Christmas, to buy The Ornament of 2012--another tradition. I wore Lainie in the Baby Bjorn, facing out, and I think she stuck her arms straight out like a happy octopus the entire time, trying to touch everything.

:: we both look frightened...charming. ::

And can I just say that after having a 12 pound baby in a Bjorn, I am sooooooo glad I spent the money to buy an Ergo--my shoulders were killing me after a few minutes, but I can wear her in the Ergo for hours without pain. Seriously, if you're gonna wear your baby, an ergonomically correct carrier is worth the money!!

And that's how we're trying to find balance this Christmas season. Trying to choose things that turn our hearts toward Jesus, bring us together as a family, and resist the pressure to make this just another commercialized spending extravaganza. Jesus gives us Himself. He is all we need.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{ Help, My Fingers are Stuck Together! }

My glue gun and I have been busy during naptime.
Don't kid's taken me over a week to finish these two super easy, super fast crafts. And that's even with leaving dirty dishes piled on the counter and little bits of leaves and grass stuck in the carpet for days. Never take for granted all the free time you have before babies--even if it doesn't seem like much, it is PURE GOLD! Even if it's only 15 minutes at a time!
First off, we have a book page wreath {tutorial here}. I was itching to do a new wreath, and have been toying with how to fill up the blank space on this wall for awhile. I tore apart on old wreath and used the wreath form, and I already had an old thrifted copy of Little Women that was torn up from a previous project. I used a red satin flower from the old wreath {tutorial here} and made a green felt flower {tutorial here} to add some festive flair. The only thing I had to buy was more glue sticks for the glue gun!

 Next up, wine cork coasters. Mike and I have saved the corks from most of the wine bottles we've opened since our dating days. Some are displayed in vintage canning jars, but the collection is starting to get a little out of hand. We're always short on coasters when we have guests, so I whipped these up in a jiffy. They are plenty big enough for even a giant coffee mug to rest comfortably. and they are surprisingly stable. It was fun to pick out the most visually interesting corks and arrange them so that the ones with bigger patterns were on the outside, so more of the cork "art" is visible on the finished coaster.
You can see the glue up close, but I don't really care. I'm also not sure how well they will hold up, especially with repeated exposure to hot beverages. A tutorial I saw online said you HAVE to use crazy glue, NOT hot glue, but I tried that and the corks refused to stick together. Go figure.
Christmas is only two weeks away! Can you believe it? I'm guessing these will be the only "Christmas" crafts I do this year, but that's okay because in a condo this small, it doesn't take much "stuff" to decorate for the holidays!
What have you been making lately?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

{ It's the Most Wonderful Tiiiiiiiiiime }

...of the year!

How is it already December, pray tell? I could have sworn that Halloween was last week. My own home betrays my sense of time: Our tree is up and decorated, twinkle lights strung, and--get this!--most of the Christmas shopping done! {Thanks to the internets.} I've been listening to this Christmas album constantly for the last week or so; the last song gives me chills every time. Let me share a couple verses with you:

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new.

Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere his people be
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

{ lyrics by Dustin Kensrue }

Beautiful, isn't it? It blows my mind to think of God--God--living with us. Humans. I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but in October I went to a womens conference at my church. Elyse Fitzpatrick was the speaker, and though the conference was called "Counsel from the Cross," the bulk of her talk was about the gospel and what that means for our identities and our daily lives. Now, I have never read a single one of her books, though I own at least one, but wow...Jesus met me in her words. I've known Jesus all my life, as far back as I can remember, but something about the way Elyse presented the gospel and tied it to real life--it's like a switch flipped in my brain. I get the gospel and Jesus and Calvary and grace in a different way now. A way that makes my breath catch. A way that makes a way that causes me to actually believe that I am a worse sinner than I can imagine, and that God loves and welcomes me more than I will ever know. I "get" the way Elyse thinks and speaks, if that makes any sense. I came home hungry for Jesus, and in my spare quiet moments {ha} I've been listening to audio recordings of some of her other talks online. In the midst of this, I'm also finishing up reading Redemption by Mike Wilkerson, which looks at the gospel through the lens of the Exodus story of the Israelites being delivered from Egypt. The section I'm in right now talks about how the whole point of the Bible--the whole point of God's redemptive plan--is that God might live with us. Make His dwelling among us. Which ties in with a lot of the truths I'm mulling over from Elyse's presentations. And it's Christmastime, the season when we celebrate God sending His Son to redeem us from our sin by living with us and dying for us, bearing God's wrath in our place. I feel like there are a lot of loose ends God is gently weaving together in my soul right now. It's an exciting place to be.

Oh--and have any of you heard of this book, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith? I am dying to read it! I read a review of it that piqued my interest, but Mike was I dug around online and found that Tim Challies gives it his "absolute highest recommendation," which only makes me wish for an audio version because when am I going to have time to read another book? Guess I'll add it to the pile...after I read at least one by Elyse Fitzpatrick. ;-)

And with that, I'll close. If I don't wake Lainie up from her nap now, we may never get to sleep tonight!