Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy 6-month birthday, Madeleine!

Dear Sweet Madeleine,

Six months? How can it be!? You are growing into such a precious little girl, and I cannot believe we are to the six-month mark! I think it is so special that you celebrated your two-month birthday on Christmas Eve and now you are celebrating six months on Easter! You give us another reason to celebrate these special holidays that are such an important part of our faith.

After a busy start to your sixth month, we didn't really slow down much...well at least you didn't! You continue to amaze us with your developments. You are learning how to use your mouth for many things - spitting, blowing raspberries, "talking," laughing, squealing, chewing, exploring toys and whatever else you can put in there, and you are finally learning to swallow well. You have two little teeth that have cut through your gums, and boy did we hear about it. This is a picture of when they first broke through.

And here you are eating a yummy combo of sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apples and blueberries. This month has been challenging with your daytime sleeping, or lack thereof, as well. You have continued to sleep well from 8ish-8ish, more or less, so most everyone would say we have no reason to complain. Complain we don't, we just want to help you with your NAPS - we know you need them! A four-letter word in our house this month, they were a cause of constant consternation for you and for your parents. We did get some reflux medicine about halfway through the month that has really helped you sleep longer than 45 minutes at a time. Unfortunately you still fight your naps, and you've given up your thumb, so you've been crying yourself to sleep - sometimes for 45 min-1 hr! I have tried to reintroduce the paci to no avail, but I have about six different kinds in your crib in case the Spirit moves. :) I am happy to report that this is getting better, but oh how this tried my patience! You are a great on-the-go napper, falling asleep easily in your carseat and oftentimes sleeping through several stops, getting in and out of the stroller. Last Monday you didn't take a nap until 4pm. Yes. 4. pm. and that was only because I put you in the jogging stroller. You cried through your morning and afternoon nap that day. Gracious! This pic was a Sunday afternoon after church - just a little catnap after one of your feedings. See? Naps are awesome. On these days when we were just trying to make it through, this was our theme song.


I saw it on a Chase commercial and it got stuck in my head. So many times I'd walk you around the house singing the chorus and adapting it to us. "Keep on, keepin' on, Madeleine and mom are keepin' on..." It was just a good reminder that we are in this together, on the same team, and we are both figuring things out! Aside from naptime, you have been a champ - typically in a good mood (despite not sleeping well some days) and now you seem to have figured out how to take a morning nap of about an hour and an afternoon nap of about two hours.

Your increased coordination has been a game-changer too. You physically could roll back to front and front to back for awhile now, but now you are using it to your advantage. Just in the past few days you have started rolling back to tummy alllll the time. To reach a toy, as in this video:


Rolling with a purpose from Allison White on Vimeo.

You also roll in your crib without realizing it...this picture cracks me up. We put you to sleep on your back with your head at the other end of the crib. We went in there to check on you before we went to sleep and this is how we found you - flipped over and turned around! You have even been trying to roll on your tummy in the tub! It's amazing to watch you learn. You've developed such an awareness of cause and effect.
If I pull on the plastic chain, I can get it down from the arch over my play mat.
If I put my lambie love over my eyes, it blocks out the light.
If I bat away the snot sucker, Mommy has a hard time getting it to my nose.
If I kick my legs in the tub, I have fun splashing.
If I bang this cup on another cup, it makes a noise.
If Mommy throws a shirt of a burp cloth on my head, I can pull it off and play peek-a-boo!


Peek-a-Boo from Allison White on Vimeo.
The Moby continues to be a life-saver for quick errands. You can sit up but not very well, so I still can't put you in a shopping cart. You always look so cute, just bouncing on the front of me. We get lots of smiles when we are out and about. You continue to love being outside. The weather is slowly getting warmer, so we have really taken advantage of these gorgeous spring days. You love the trees and birds, and the breeze really soothes you.



You continue to be more and more fun to interact with, and we have loved watching yout personality develop. We are so thankful for you on this Easter, Madeleine, and God's sacrifice of His son takes on a deeper meaning for us as well.

Here are a few more sweet pictures from your sixth month! Some time in Waco, playing with Kellen and a weekend with Granna and Grandad!









We are so in love with you, sweetheart! Thanks for bringing more joy to our lives than we could ever imagine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A very special bridge

(source: city-data.com)
(source: texgenweb3.com)

To anyone who went to Baylor, the Waco Suspension Bridge is old news, but indulge me for a minute while I put on my Texas History teacher hat. A brief history on the bridge: it was built in 1870 by the same company who would later build the Brooklyn Bridge. For a time, it was the only bridge crossing the Brazos River. Before the tornado, this helped Waco's economy immensely as so much traffic (including the cattle drives!) would cross at that point.

My Granpa (the one holding Madeleine by his garden in a previous post) has early memories of the bridge. His parents came from Czechoslovakia, lived on a farm outside of Mt. Calm (east of Waco) and had eight children, my granpa was the youngest. When he was nine months old, his mother died in a car accident. They lived a life of hard work on that farm, but he has fond memories of coming in to Waco to sell eggs and butter on the weekend. Here are his memories of the bridge:

"In order to sell the eggs and butter, Dad would make a trip to Waco, where he could get a good price. My first memory of going into Waco was when I was about 5 or 6 years old and my sister Martha was about 7 or 8. We thought traveling about 20 miles was a big trip and going to Waco was, well you could call it like going to Europe these days. When we were coming close to Waco, which did not have many businesses or housing at that time, the suspension bridge was very visible from a long distance. Oh what a beautiful site. The Golden Gate Bridge in California could not have been more awesome. The only bridges that we ever saw, were tiny wood bridges that crossed a creek. This suspension bridge crossed the Brazos River, WOW! And little did I know that my oldest granddaughter, Allison, would someday become engaged on this bridge. Waco, was so beautiful for Martha and me. This city had everything, all kinds of stores, a theater, hamburger joints, a great big square that had a giant Court House. This square also had a big parking lot that was for people like us coming into town for groceries and other essentials. Dad would park the car and gave Martha and me each a quarter and turned us loose to do whatever we wanted for a couple of hours. This is what we could do for 25 cents, go to a movie for 10 cents, buy a hamburger for 10 cents or 2 hotdogs for 10 cents. Soda pop 5 cents. So, a typical two hours included a hotdog 5 cents, soda pop 5 cents, a movie 10 cents, and had 5 cents for a nice candy bar at the movie. Boy! we where in high cotton! Being in "High Cotton" was just a saying when things were great because when we were picking cotton that was tall, we didn't have to bend over very far and the cotton was usually much better in these areas and we could gather more in a shorter time. Dad was always more proud of us when we could gather a lot of cotton. Buy the way, no pay for working on the farm, but we sure did enjoy the 25 cents when we went to Waco! I also remember the first pair of blue jeans I ever owned that I bought all by myself in Waco. Before I ever had a pair of blue jeans, we young boys wore unionalls or overalls. Ha, unionalls were one piece suits that had a big flap on your bottom area that buttoned up. This flap was so you could unbutton the flap and squat and do your business. You never knew where or when you had to go, so this worked real well. There were no bath rooms. By the way, when I went to buy the blue jeans, the lady asked me what I was looking for, and I told her I was looking for brad pants. I thought that was what blue jeans were called because they had the little copper brads that all blue jeans had at that time. She didn't know what I was talking about, but we finally found what I was looking for. Ha, again I was in high cotton."

Such sweet memories - and can you imagine "turning loose" a 5 and 7 year old? Needless to say, times have changed!

As a Baylor student, it was a popular place to go take a walk or take pictures before formals and such. Some daring friends of mine even jumped off the bridge (!!!) but not me. Too much of a play-it-safe girl, but I did enjoy its lovely lights and a beautiful view of the river, the sky and downtown.




As Granpa mentioned, it was also where I said "yes" to Cason after he proposed. It was a beautiful proposal - complete with the sunset, a scrapbook and a surprise dinner with our parents downtown at Diamondbacks afterward.



We were in Waco last week, and I decided it would be fun to take Madeleine to such a special place in Texas history and in our family's history. This big bridge makes her seem so tiny. (Disclaimer: she didn't get any splinters and we cleaned her hands off after this little photo shoot!)



I think she liked it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Clueless

Any other moms out there feel clueless? Having a baby will do that to you. I feel a little bit duped. I mean, kind of like I did in my journalism classes in college.

Let me explain.

All my life, growing up writing in school, I was told by my teachers to "be descriptive!" and "elaborate more!" And those writing exercises in elementary school where the teacher would put a detailed picture on the overhead projector, and we were supposed to write pages and pages describing the picture - remember those? Anyway, I got to college. I double majored in history and public relations, so in my history classes, I was still writing those flowery papers. My journalism teachers rocked my world. They told me to make things as short and to the point as possible. PR and journalism is all about saying as much as you can with very few words. Wait a second! For my whole life, had I been trained: "Don't use 'said,' use 'replied' or 'explained' or 'retorted' or ANYTHING but the boring word, 'said.'" In press releases, we could use no other synonym - just "said" when referring to someone who spoke. I felt like my whole life I had been trained to write the wrong way. No one in the real world, except for creative writers, writes in the way we were taught in grade school.

Parenting is a little like that. I use the term loosely because I don't feel that Cason and I are truly parenting as far as influencing little Madeleine and the person she will turn out to be. We aren't into discipline yet, we aren't into biblical and moral instruction yet, but we are building a foundation of love and care as well as security and meeting her needs.

I feel duped and clueless about parenting because for most of my life in situations and relationships, A+B=C. Simple cause and effect. If this, then that. If you want to make good grades, do this. If you want to succeed in your job, do that. If you are needy and insecure, your boyfriend will find you unattractive and annoying. If you are confident and independent, your boyfriend will enjoy being in a relationship with you. If you leave your dishes out, your roommates will be unhappy. If you take out the trash and replace the toilet paper, your roommates will be happy. If you focus on yourself, you will always fall short. If you focus on the Lord and others, you will be much more content. These sort of lessons you just pick up along the way. Babies don't really know too much about this sort of logic. :)

In any scientific experiment, for the experiment to truly work, you can only have one variable. Babies have many. When Madeleine cries, I have to run through the checklist. Hungry? Tired? Wet? Gassy? Teething? Bored? Just plain bad mood? Some of the above? It's hard to know - nay, I say impossible! She's showing signs of being tired (fussy and rubbing eyes) so I put her in her crib for a nap. She's screaming. Would she rather be playing? Is she trying to manipulate me? Was she really tired? Should I go in there? This book/website/friend says THIS. Should I leave her in there to cry? This book/website/friend says THAT. I don't want her to think she can always get her way if she just fusses enough. I'm the parent. It is naptime - she should stay in there. I want her to be able to trust that when she is upset, she can count on me. I'm the parent - I should go comfort her.

Can I get an amen?!

My desire for her to be on a good schedule doesn't come from a selfish place (it really doesn't!) so that I can get things done, it comes from wanting the best for her - good rest and a comfortable routine during which she can operate and feel safe.

So, I take it a day at a time. I try not to put too much pressure on myself or her. She doesn't know she's supposed to run on a schedule. :) In the meantime, I enjoy the heck out of her. I love that baby girl so much and can't imagine my life without her. Right now she is teaching me far more than I am teaching her.

Don't make my mistakes. Know that parenting will come with good days and bad. Days when they "get it" and days when they dominate your schedule. I am learning to use the resources I have, but ultimately get wisdom from the Lord on exactly how to raise Madeleine and respond to her needs. He knows her better than anyone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A lot can happen in 10 days...

Goodness gracious. Somehow we packed the following things into the ten days of March 24-April 2. Looking back, I'm not sure how it all happened, but it did, and it has been good! Brace yourself for some cute baby pics. :)

- Madeleine's 5-month birthday
- Our house was treated for the termites we have...or had, blech. My mama bear instinct kicked in big time when we found out we had them. Don't quite know why God made those, but our wonderful pest control man took care of them and gave us a great deal! He's treated my parents' house for the past couple decades. Let me know if you need his number.
- We hosted our last Veritas small group, so bittersweet, oh how we've LOVED these families - more on this later.

- I got a haircut - way shorter than I intended, but I like it now!
- We got all new grass in our front yard!
- We went to the Symphony Ball. So beautiful - it was Arabian-themed, so there were peacocks, jewels and bright, draped fabric everywhere. Yummy meal and drinks, fantastic live band and the BEST people watching.

- I went to a baby shower for Katie Holt and baby Kayla, coming soon!
- We hosted our last Veritas social - a Mexican-themed dinner.
- We launched a new Sunday Bible Study Class. For those that know us, you know we have been super involved in our Sunday Bible Study Veritas for the past 3 years. Well, the class was and is fantastic, the Lord blessed us and we grew, so big that we needed to start another class. We have an amazing group of couples walking alongside us, and for now, Cason is teaching. Our class is called Inside Out, and while it has been hard, we are so happy that God has led us on this path.

- I had my "well woman exam." Whoopee. Let me tell you, it is super fun when they get backed up and you wait for an hour with a 5-month old who has to be held or be in the stroller the whole time. Needless to say, she wasn't so happy, and I just told the nurse to not pay attention to my blood pressure reading or my heart rate. :)
- We embarked on a cross-Texas road trip - two days, five towns.
- We made our first quick stop in Waco. Madeleine had a bottle in the lobby of the Baylor Bookstore from her AJ, and she got to see the Bear Pit for the first time.



- We went to Cleburne and visited the Bristers! Oh how her Aunt Heather, Uncle Larry and cousins loved on her. These boys are going to give anyone that messes with Madeleine a terrible time. :) Her dad showed off her increasing thighs. Poor thing. :)







- Cason and his dad visited Grandaddy Pop in the rehab facility - he broke his hip a couple weeks ago.
- Heather's best friend Amber did my toes. They are leopard with a flower on the big toes...I mean why not?

- We traveled to Denton. I found some pictures of my sweet husband when he had long hair, (can y'all believe him?!) and I got to run my favorite route - through Denton's historical district, to the town square/courthouse and back!


- Madeleine's Nana manages the Dialysis Cottage in Gainesville. We took her there and all the nurses just loved on her! Cason put her bow on her Pop. :) We took Madeleine to Cracker Barrel too. I think she liked it. She fell asleep there and went on to sleep for two more hours while we ran errands.



- We took Madeleine to see her Great Grandmother at her nursing home. It's amazing how a baby can bring happiness to those who are tired or suffering.

- Madeleine loved on her Pop and Miss Nancy. (Yes I open my mouth and swallow when I want my baby to do well eating rice cereal. It's subconscious. When I was little, and sometimes now, my mouth opens and closes to mimic scissors as I cut. So what?)




- We played nertz and Bill and I beat Cason and Trish in spades. :)
- Madeleine got to see family in Plano too! She loved her Great-Granpa and Great-Gran's garden.


- She cuddled with her Great Grandma Carole.
- She saw her Great Uncle John, Great Aunt Suzanne and second cousin Brooke. At the table, she entertained with spoons and ate her toes. Someone needs to teach that baby some manners!



- We came home with blackberry plants from Gran and Granpa's garden, homemade pickles, salsa and jelly. Grandma Carole made us homemade cookies, but they didn't make it till this picture. :)
- We took Madeleine to Parents' Night Out at church and had a date night.
- We ran in our church's Aid Sudan 5K while Madeleine stayed and played with Miss Erin and Everett.
- We had game night in College Station. The Housers grilled some delicious chicken, ribs, steak, kebabs and vegetables (!), and we bid farewell to our sweet friends the Marlatts. They are moving to Oklahoma. :(
And that, my friends, was the last 10 days.

Now this happened tonight, but it was worth mentioning. Poor Madeleine screamed her head off going to bed - teething we think, or she is traumatized from the last 10 days of activity. (wink!) BUT, when she finally went to sleep, she was turned 90 degrees to her left, and that is a big deal in our house!