Friday, February 28, 2014

The fullness of February

 February brought more fun as I continued to grow into my role of mom to two.  Madeleine has done a great job adjusting, and she continues to play well at home (many days) since it's hard for us to get out and about with four-nap Clara!  Madeleine has such an exceptional imagination, and she continues to be lots of fun.  Whether she is singing "Do you want to build a snowman?" into Clara's doorknob or coming up with all sorts of adventures, she continues to be a delight (most of the time.) 

We were able to celebrate Cason's 33rd birthday with a fun, low-key, make-your-own-pizza night.  We had a great time celebrating Cason!  I even made cupcakes with twizzler bites on the top.  That's love!

 Valentine's prep got underway, as I had a fantastic little cupid to help me!  Madeleine loved making things for her class and for our family.   As I've said before, I really enjoy Valentine's day much more now that I am a mama!  She was a great help, and she loves any time she can help cook!
Madeleine's party in her class was so cute.  The kids have grown so much this year.  Of course she had a photo op with Avery.  Avery's family had a tough February as her baby sister Kate was born on the 7th with some health complications.  She spent the whole month in the NICU, but Avery and her parents handled it amazingly!
I love making a big, gaudy deal out of Valentine's day for my sweet girls and husband.  It is just too much fun being a mom during this holiday.  Madeleine was delighted by the hearts she got on her door each morning, and she loved waking up to a decorated breakfast room!
After our family breakfast, we jumped in the car and headed north to Denton.  Cason had a long weekend thanks to President's Day, so it was fun to go celebrate his birthday again, Valentine's day, and have the Monday holiday to really maximize our trip.  We ran some errands in Plano on Saturday, so Gran and Granpa met up with us for lunch.  Granpa gave Clara her lunchtime bottle. :) 
We enjoyed an impromptu chipping contest in the backyard as well.  Madeleine was a real sport about collecting all of the balls that did NOT go into the hot tub.
We ventured to the zoo one Friday - we have a great family membership, but this time we went also for a friend's birthday party.  Thankfully my sweet friend Sara Beth has Fridays off of work, and my sister Liz has every other Friday off of work, so they happened to be free to join us, and I sure appreciated the help!   The weather was perfect for Clara to mostly stay snuggled in the Moby, it was chilly but not too cold.
I also had the chance to go visit previously mentioned baby Kate in the NICU.  It was such a miracle to see how God was continuing to grow and heal her body, and I loved stroking her sweet hair.  What a beautiful baby with a powerful story!  For more of her story, visit Shannon's amazing blog! http://www.shannonpurnellowen.blogspot.com/
It was definitely a full and fun February!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happy 3-month birthday, Clara!

Dear Clara, 

We are so excited to celebrate three months with you!  February has been a fun month, and we were excited to have you join us for Daddy's birthday and Valentine's day this year.  You fit in so very well with our family, and we just can't imagine life without you!  

After your 2-month shots, it was time for you to go to the church nursery on Sunday mornings!  You are loved so well there.  Ms. Judy, who took such good care of your big sister, is also your first Sunday School teacher.  She loves you very much. You began this month with a little congestion, and for some reason, that was making it hard for you to nurse.  We started feeding you with mostly pumped bottles, both because it seemed easier for you, and we really wanted to make sure you were getting enough food.  That has translated to always nursing you first thing in the morning, but you prefer bottles the rest of the day.  It actually works pretty well for our busy family!  You have moved over to your bed officially - no more rock and play sleeper in your room.  

You are still very peaceful and love to be cuddled. You still love the Moby, and that makes it easy to take you places and get you to sleep when we are out and about.  You love it when, after your baths, I give you a little massage before bed.  When it gets to the tummy part, you almost always have little baby toots, and it is just so cute. 
One thing you are not always laid back about is your carseat.  You typically are sleeping in it or screaming in it!! Another thing that we were disappointed to find out this month is that you were uninsured!!  When Daddy went in the system to add you after your birth, there was a glitch, and you weren't added. :( Long story short, we had to pay out-of-pocket for your 2-month check up and shots (!) but we purchased you your very own insurance plan.  Goodness gracious. 

You continue to develop more awareness, really responding to us, focusing on different things, babbling, and you even gave me your first giggle.  February in Texas has yielded days when you were really bundled to days when you felt the grass with your bare feet!
We love you, sweet thing!

Love,
Mommy

Friday, January 31, 2014

Just...January

Welcome 2014!  We started January with wedding festivities but also really settling into life with our two chickies after the holiday season.  Madeleine enjoyed playing with her new toys, and we rung in the new year with fondue and a Baylor Fiesta Bowl game, unfortunately not a win, but hey, we looked cute!

Since Clara came home, the kitties had been acting a little unusual, making more messes, etc. We thought they might be randomly having a hard time with the new baby (there wasn't an issue with Madeleine.)  Anyway, it got really out of hand, and we came back to a huge mess after Christmas.  We made the tough decision to let them go.  Well, when we took them in to try to get them adopted, we found out they were actually really sick (the reason for the messes) and they had to be put to sleep.  We miss them lots and lots, and even though we were sad they had gotten sick, we felt better that it wasn't just an adjustment thing, they really had a problem.  Poor babies.  Miss you Winston and Theodore!  We had a great 5 1/2 years with you!
Madeleine had some good fun with our cleared out living room - after the kitties were gone, we steam cleaned all of our rugs and carpets.  Our living room quickly turned into her dance floor.
Before the wedding, Madeleine got her hair cut, and we had a lunch date with Daddy at Corner Bakery Cafe - one of our favorite spots.  Clara just kept getting cuter and cuter.
The weekend after the wedding, Anne and Patrick came to visit - Patrick ran the Houston Marathon!  They were so sweet to come by to visit with us and meet Clara.
Cason had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, so we spent some time at the Arboretum. 
Madeleine also had fun riding her new bike in the neighborhood, but sometimes she needed to "stop for a little rest. 
The weather wasn't all balmy - we had two "ice days" where various parts of Houston were hit with varying degrees of icy weather.  It was quite cold, but all it brought to us were some icicles.  We spent a lot of time inside trying to stay warm, and once Madeleine wanted to "play beach."
We had a really nice date night with our friends the Halgrens - we went to Backstreet Cafe and a wonderful American Songbook-type show at the Houston Symphony.  We had such a nice time!
I was honored to be among the hostesses for Baby Charlie Carpenter's shower!  It was a really special celebration with lots of yummy food!  We are so excited to meet him - J.T. and Noelle are going to be such good parents.
We went to the Arboretum once more with the Owens before our second "Ice Day."  While there wasn't much of a storm, the excitement felt by the city and the uncertainty in all the preparations sure makes for some fun, and there's nothing wrong with staying cozy indoors, especially when you have a two-month old.  The Texas weather is so crazy.
The girls were up to their usual shenanigans, just being hilarious and lots of fun!  I'd say our January got off to a great start!!



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy 2-month birthday, Clara!


Dear Clara,

We can't believe it has already been two months with you!  Believe it or not, your second month was almost as eventful (maybe more?) than the first!  Your first Christmas, your first New Year, Baylor bowl game, first wedding as well as some great milestones.  Let's talk about you and your sister.  You two are the cutest things.  She really loves to take care of you and see exactly what you are up to.  She wants to know how your diaper is when it's time for a change, everything!  Daddy and I started talking to her in your "voice" so many times she says "what does Clara say about that?" and we just make something up! :)  We can't wait to see how your sweet friendship develops.

You continue to love bath time.  Many times we bathe you in the sink while Madeleine has a bath in the tub.  It is a wild and crazy time.  You are so peaceful though...a really peaceful, content baby.  You were having an aversion to the bottle when we first tried to introduce it again (remember you had to have some tiny colostrum bottles at the very beginning. You mostly nurse 6-8 times per day, but we are adding bottles in here and there, strategically. 

You are starting to really "get" bedtime too.  At the end of second month, you got to the point where you would sleep about 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. ... looking good, sister!  You slept in your rock and play in your room, mostly, but we are beginning to move you to your crib for some naps. 
You LOVE being bounced to sleep (and you typically survive the transfer, so this is making me delay the inevitable cry-it-out stage) and you love napping in the Moby.  You still take a lot of naps, so I am thankful for that cozy spot for you, since you love to be held!  For now, you come with me to my Tuesday morning Bible Study, Motherwise, and you just hang out in the Moby!  It really works out just fine; we get lots of snuggles.
You enjoy the jogging stroller - you had your first trip to Memorial Park to jog one day with me while Madeleine was at school.  We also continue to take lots of family walks in the neighborhood.
You are getting more and more alert and observant.  You are starting to really focus on things, coo, look around, respond to our voices, smile and just be more "awake" in general.  You have a very melodious, sweet voice.  We love hearing you "talk!"
You and your sister looked so cute at church on the first Sunday you matched.  I have been skeptical about matching clothes, just mostly thinking it's kind of hokey...then I had two girls!  It's fun!  Not every day, but it's pretty cool, Clara. 
 At your 2-month appointment, you looked really healthy.  You are more petite than your sister was at this age - at 11 lbs. 9 oz., you are in the 56% for weight, at 22 1/4" you are in the 38% for height and you have a big head, circumference was 15 3/4" and 92%!  You were not a fan of your shots.  You cuddled with me even more that afternoon.
Clara, we love watching you grow!  Thanks for being such a sweet addition to our family.

Love,
Mommy



Friday, January 17, 2014

Julianne and Ben are married!!

Our 2014 started off with a most joyous wedding!  It will be the year of weddings since both of my sisters are getting married this year - one in January and one in August!  It was quite the whirlwind for me personally, as well as our family.  We were overjoyed to have 3/4 family members in the wedding party (matron of honor, groomsman and flower girl) but that is a lot of responsibility when you also have a six-week old!  Thankfully my sweet mother-in-law came to help out and attend the wedding.

On Friday the festivities began with Julianne's bridal luncheon at Ouisie's Table (where I had mine! awwww)  Madeleine came with me, and I explained to her all the rules surrounding this "big girl lunch party for AJ."  She did pretty well, however I think she conned everyone into giving her some of their bread.
 I got her home, but she didn't get a nap before it was time for the rehearsal.  Oh well. :) It went well, but poor Trish had Madeleine and Clara in the car on the way home from the rehearsal so that Cason and I could attend the rehearsal dinner at Rainbow Lodge.  Anyway, Trish was on 610 for a long time (rush hour!) and Clara screamed and Madeleine finally fell asleep.  Go figure.  She is now up for sainthood. :)  The rehearsal dinner was beautiful and so much fun!  We were so happy to be a part.  Ben and Jul, Liz and Matt and Cason and I were all at one end of a table, and we had so much fun together.  It is a blast finally having my sisters in more of the same life stage as me.  I think I can wait at least a little while longer for them to become mamas too. Ha.

The wedding day arrived and it was a beautiful, crisp January morning, the 11th.  I went out to meet up with the bridesmaids and get my hair and make-up figured out.  Again, so many logistics with a newborn around, but we got it figured out.  It was a fun day of prep.  We got to the Belltower on 34th (their wedding venue) around 5 for a 6 p.m. wedding.  There was a lot to do in that hour...put on my dress, practice singing with the string quartet, pictures, pumping (ha), running after Madeleine... it was crazy.  Madeleine had a great time getting ready with the big girls, and of course she loved her flower girl dress!
When it came time for Madeleine to walk down the aisle, I was very nervous.  I knew she knew what to do, but Cason and I were on stage, already in our places, so we just had to hope for the best.  She began walking down the aisle very slowly.  She got overwhelmed about halfway down, and she covered her eyes!  It was so cute.  I breathed a big sigh of relief when she made it.  Then I had to transfer my mental energy to my next responsibility - singing!
When the doors opened for Julianne to walk down the aisle, the big doors in the back opened up, and she was at the top of a beautiful staircase.  She walked down (so gracefully in that big dress and heels!) and met my dad at the bottom for them to walk down the aisle together.  It was absolutely stunning!

It was a beautiful and holy ceremony with lots of special touches.  I was excited to sing with Liz, but we had some issues during sound check.  I told Cason to please tell my dear friend Laura that I would be making eye contact with her during our song to give me some eye contact and some direction on how we were holding the microphone.  I am so thankful for her and the fact that we have sung together so many times that we can help each other out in situations such as these!  It went just fine (we sang "How Deep the Father's Love For Us") and the ceremony ended pretty soon after that.  Just look at those lovebirds up there - so happy.

As far as pictures after the ceremony went, it was, as my dad would say, a goat-ropin', mainly because of Madeleine.  She was running wild (see below: no shoes) and I was in a formal dress, heels, and oh, by the way, I have a six-week old.  Good night, it was crazy.  But, these pictures look fairly normal, right? :)

We sent Clara home with our sweet friends Amanda and Megan, and then Trish came to the reception with Madeleine.  She didn't last too long before we sent her home too.  Wild woman!
It was lots of fun.  I still had some responsibilities to juggle after Madeleine left...make sure you are in the right place at the right time for your toast, and then go pump again.  Hey just keeping it real.  I felt like I didn't get to talk to near enough people, but it was still a fantastic party.   Julianne was a stunning, happy bride, and everyone was having a blast.  My granpa owned the dance floor just as he did at my wedding almost seven years ago!
Ben is a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so his cake was a vintage logo of the Steelers, and as they left, we twirled wedding towels around, made especially for the occasion, to copy their "terrible towel."  It was so much fun!!
I had a great time, and we all got GREAT naps on Sunday afternoon (see Clara below, snuggling with mommy, still in her "wedding hair."  Happy wedding day, Jul and Ben!!