Saturday, August 31, 2013

10 things that happened in August (second edition)

Last year I did a 10 things in August post, and so I thought I'd continue the tradition. I do anything to help this terrible month pass quickly. :) This year is a little sneaky because the first two things on my list technically happened in July, post-cruise, but in the last couple days of the month.  I am such a rule-breaker.

1.  While I missed the ocean views, spa treatments and food of the cruise, our first Monday back I had another amazingly fun view: two-year olds painting in our kitchen!  Dakotah and Mabel both live on our street, and combined with Madeleine, they make quite a formidable trio.  We have a scheduled once/week play date on Monday mornings.  I am so ready for this heat to be through so they can run around outside!  These girls can wear princess dresses with the best of them (don't ask about M's ensemble in these pictures) but they are also super tough.
2. We also finished up July with a trip to the Noah's Ark pool with our friends the Bettises and the Lusks.  Unfortunately, I took all the photos before the Lusks arrived, but we had a great time.  Madeleine ate an epic lunch after swimming, and per usual, poached a lot of the boys' food.  Que sera, sera.
3.  The first weekend in August, we headed to New Braunfels for Baylor Summer Bunch!  It was so much fun to be back at T Bar M because the whole group spent many of our elementary-high school years there on our summer weekend trips.  2000 or 2001 was the last summer there, and boy did we miss it!  It was so much fun to bring Cason and Madeleine there - a lot changes in 13 years!  Madeleine really enjoyed seeing her Waco friends Emma and Ava, and she made fast friends with everyone else if she didn't quite remember them from previous trips.  She got a kick out of the deer on our cool morning walk, and she was quite the ham at the swimming pool on Saturday afternoon - after lots of fun jumps into the pool (not just jumping off the side to someone, but jumping off the side with a running start by her Daddy or Grandad while they carried her and jumped!) she wanted to do it "again."  Daddy and Grandad were worn out, so she announced to the entire group at the pool: "Who wants to be my special grown-up?!"  What a character.
4.  One morning, Madeleine and I dressed as pirates and princesses.  That same morning we found a toad in the doorway from the playroom to the kitchen.  We shooed him out the back door with a broom.  "Get out of here frog!  You are a silly guy." - Madeleine  I do not dwell on how or why there was a toad in my house.  Never before has this happened, and I hope, never again.  Hey, our lives aren't boring!
5.  We grabbed a quick dinner with our friends the Rabes and the Housers.  The Housers are such a dear family to us, but they have moved to College Station - we don't see them nearly enough.  They have precious Kohen as well as Knox on the way, but they were on their way to Galveston for a kid-free weekend.  We were glad to snag some time with them at Escalante's.
6.  We got cable back - no more studying thanks to Cason passing the CFP, and we just couldn't imagine a White family home in which we didn't watch College Gameday on Saturdays in the fall (along with myriad other cable-only football games.)  On a completely unrelated note, Madeleine picked a carrot from Granna and Grandad's garden and ate it right away.
7.  We celebrated our very last social with our HFBC Life Bible Study class InsideOut.  God has blessed our class so richly with lots of growth, (we started as a launch about 2 1/2 years ago!) so now we are two classes: Journey and Catalyst. It was a tough process, but God has taught us all a lot, and we are excited for the new chapter!  Anyway, the Owens' hosted a wonderful backyard luau (my only contribution was pulled pork) complete with leis, glow sticks for the kids, umbrellas in our drinks, and lots of outdoor water fun for the kids...and Mark Gold.
8.  Madeleine finished up her summer session at school (Tuesdays and Thursdays) with a unit on royalty (check out Madeleine and Avery's matching crowns) as well as a pajama day on the last day of school.  To say the kids were going nuts on that last day is an understatement.  Madeleine did think it was "so silly" to wear PJs to school, and if you combine that with the sugar of cupcakes, well, it's pretty crazy.
9.  During the week between summer and fall sessions of school, Madeleine, Mom and I took a trip to Plano for a few nights, mid-week.  As much as I love being there for holidays, some of my favorite times are non-holiday trips on which we just enjoy hanging out.  I guess this was our fourth three-generation roadtrip!  (Not pictured: dinner with Uncle John and Aunt Suzanne as well as my lunch date with Anne Pal Smith to The Mint, per usual!)

Madeleine had a great time getting into all of Gran's toys and "dress up" items.  Many of these things she's had since I was a little girl!  Of course, she also loved accordion time with Granpa.
If it wasn't a head scarf or an apron, Madeleine might dress up in an old skirt of Gran's, or one of her special polka dresses!
She had lots of fun playing at her Great Grandma Carole's house too - notice another improv dress-up outfit (aren't Great-Grandmothers nice?)  She pretended to sleep on the hearth like Cinderella. :)
Of course Madeleine enjoyed lots of time with Granna, reading books that I read when I was a little girl and taking a walk to the park (before it got too hot, of course.)
And we even got to have dinner with Nana!
All in all, it was a very fun trip.  Plano and the people who live there are always dear in our hearts. 
What happened to her nose?  Well right before we left town, she and daddy were playing "magic wand" with her play broom.  Madeleine waved the broom around like a wand, then when it was Daddy's turn, he waved it with so much magical power that the handle came apart from the broom bristles, and the broom bristle piece hit her square on the bridge of her nose.  Sometimes daddies have the worst luck.  To add more guilt to a casualty of make-believe play, Madeleine asked him several times "Daddy, why did you hit me with that broom?"  We had to explain to her every time: "Madeleine, it was an accident.  Be mad at the broom, not your sweet Daddy."  

10.  We geared up for fall with Back-to-School Sunday at our church, and finished the month with a workday lunch out with Daddy.  Madeleine might have gotten some ketchup on her daddy's dress shirt, but I think it was worth it. :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Third trimester, first pregnancy post

How cliche am I for just finally getting around to writing about this pregnancy?  I was never a week-by-week pregnancy blogger with Madeleine or anything, but we certainly want to share and remember some things about this pregnancy too!

So here I am this week, 27 weeks into things!
Let's back up a bit. 

Finding out and sharing the news:
We had a bit of a timeline with this baby, and we were shocked that things went "according to plan."  We didn't want to start trying until February in order to not be too far along to go on our cruise (can't cruise past 24 or 26 weeks) as well as definitively be past Cason's CFP test in July, and it had always been our hope to have this baby three years apart from Madeleine.  Well, in March we were surprised and gladdened by the positive pregnancy test, taken the week Cason found out about his promotion at work (blessings abound - another sandwich!) and the week before I ran in the Bearathon with Liz. (!)  We didn't have the good fortune to tell our families so conveniently together like last time, but we were going to see both sides that very week, so it was still lots of fun to break the news.  I told my parents on the patio of Cafe Express after a trip to the zoo we had in preparation for Ben's proposal to Julianne the following week.  They were so excited!  I also got to tell Julianne that week.  We got to tell the Whites and Bristers the following weekend when we went to a ballgame of Collin's the night before the Bearathon. I told Liz right before the race - that she would have to take it easy on me since I was pregnant! She was so excited.  I was excited to have the race done early in my pregnancy and at only three minutes slower finish time than last year.  We told more friends and family following that weekend.
We did it, baby! 
After we got closer to the second trimester, we posted the news on facebook with this:

First trimester:
I always wondered what would be harder - being pregnant and working or being pregnant and being a stay-at-home mom.  I kinda had two hard things in that I was mostly a SAHM, but I was still working for Community Cloth part-time.  It was really tough because I was so, so, so very tired.  I know I can't really complain because I still haven't experienced morning (or all-day) sickness, but it was tough.  I told my boss fairly early so that we could work on an exit plan for me.  While I knew I would miss working at Community Cloth, I knew that with a fall due date and juggling two kids, it would just be too hard for me to do it all.  I wanted to leave the agency in good hands at a relatively calm time in our calendar year, so we worked on a transition-out time of April-June, basically.   Poor Cason had to deal with my nesting instinct kicking in very early.  I think I found Madeleine's big girl bed frame and headboard on Craig's List the week after I found out I was pregnant.  He encouraged me to "cool it," finish strong at Community Cloth, REST (since I was so crazy-tired all the time) and pick up the nesting projects later.  I gladly obliged. :)

Our first appointment with the midwives was good but not as "glowing" as it was last time.  With the second pregnancy, they know that you gained 50 lbs. (even though you had just run a marathon prior to the pregnancy and it all came off within a few months, for goodness' sake) and your baby was 9 lb. 1 oz. the first time around, so they tell you things like "don't eat sugar" and that you need to take your glucose tests early (once again, didn't pass the first one, but passed the three-hour one with flying colors.)  And sometimes you have a weird deal where your pap smear comes back positive for chlamydia, and you are fairly certain that's impossible.  That wasn't fun at all, but my sweet midwife let me re-test and send it to a different lab, and everything came back just fine.  All clear.  Goodness gracious. (Apparently this is a thing - I came across message boards with lots of posts when I googled "false positive pregnant chlamydia test." As if pregnant mamas didn't have enough to worry about!)  This pregnancy has also seemed more expensive and complicated insurance-wise too, despite our fantastic PPO, but that's a soap box for another day. 

Madeleine seemed pretty excited about the baby, but she definitely had some anxiety about it.  We told her one morning, and she said "Mommy can have a girl baby named Violet (a friend of hers), Daddy can have a boy baby named Jake (another friend of hers) and I can have a girl baby!"  So not sure she quite got it at the beginning.  She went through a clingy phase, and she also woke up from her nap one day asking me "Mommy, do you take care of me?  Mommy will you always love me?"  I have tried to reassure her throughout the pregnancy that we always love her and she is going to be a great big sister, etc. 
Madeleine with her new headboard, pre-paint and practicing her maternal instinct.

Second trimester:
It was great to get my energy back just in time for summer!  We spent lots of time at the pool and doing our various activities like summer weddings, VBS, Houston 1:8 etc.  It was ironic that my job was ending just as my energy was coming back, but oh well, you can't plan everything perfectly.  In June I went on a hunt for a Boppy pregnancy pillow I had borrowed from Ally when I was pregnant with Madeleine, and I couldn't find it ANYWHERE.  Apparently Boppy makes one now that has velcro detachable pieces, but when I tried it it just kept coming apart any time I rolled over or adjusted in my sleep.  Boo.  I finally bought a used one from Natalie (these sisters really came through for me!) and it has saved my nights.  I can get so much more comfortable and sleep so much more soundly. 

We had our gender appointment in mid-July, and going into it, while we do want a boy at some point, we felt like it was a win-win because I have such dear relationships with my own sisters.  We were excited to find out we were having another girl!  Cason called it and wore a pink tie.  Her personality is already different from her big sister's.  She wasn't putting on a show for us during the ultrasound - she seemed a little more demure, and we did get to see her yawn!
After sharing our fun news, it was fun to get a few fun items from Granna and begin to really celebrate and brainstorm names. 
I had a favorite, but Cason couldn't really think much about names with all the studying he had going on.  While we were on the cruise we decided on...
Both are family names.  My great aunt Clara is who we visited in March up in Philadelphia.  She is an amazing, strong, independent woman who also has such a generous and caring heart.  She never married or had children of her own, but she always loved on her nieces and nephews as well as her grand nieces and nephews with such selflessness and interest.  She also traced our family history back all the way to our ancestor on the Mayflower (Edward Fuller) and beyond!  We liked the classic sound of the name, the idea of using a family name, and we thought it sounded great with Madeleine.  Louise is my Gran's (mom's mom) middle name.  If this little girl has half of Gran's selflessness, tenacity, work ethic and love, she will be in good shape.  It has been so much fun to hear Madeleine begin to identify with "Baby Clara" and watch her talk about her and give her kisses.
This was the first matching outfit set we bought for the girls in Belize.  Madeleine decided baby Camille could wear Clara's for now. 

Third trimester:
Well, I've only been here a few days now, but I think it's off to a good start!  My main craving throughout my pregnancy has been berries.  All kinds of berries.  I haven't had any crazy cravings, I'll just get on a kick for about a week with things (must have hummus/HEB's chicken salad/big leafy salads etc.) and then the craving will pass.  I've been making a lot of smoothies too, but that's not that different from my non-pregnant regimen.
My weight gain has been much better too - I think I'm only up 17 lbs.  I definitely won't (shouldn't!) hit 50 lbs. this time!  I attribute this to the walking Madeleine and I did so early in the pregnancy, and now again that the mornings are cooler, as well as the fact that I really don't spend much of my days sitting, period.  I feel like Madeleine and I are always doing something, and even if we are home, I am not great about taking time to sit.  With my first pregnancy I sat all day every day in my office and walked some with Cason.  I have loved wearing most of my normal clothes still, just with my pants or shorts supported by the Bella band. Here's to hoping Clara is in the 8 lb range, but if not, I birthed one 9 lb. baby, so perhaps I could do it again. :) 

This pregnancy has been a whirlwind and a blessing.  In many ways, it is different from the first time around, but it feels no less miraculous or special in it's own way.  We are so excited to meet Baby Clara in about 3 more months!  Here we go again...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

W. Cason White, CFP!

Cason began classes to prepare for his Certified Financial Planner at Rice in September of 2012.  He was gone until 9:30 or 10 every Monday and Wednesday nights, and he spent many more hours than that studying. 

He received textbook after textbook in the mail, most several hundred pages in length, and he read every. single. page.  Between his class schedule and studying (an average of 15-20 hours a week outside of class) Cason, Madeleine and I all made sacrifices.  He missed a bachelor party ranch weekend, Madeleine's Fairy Bear debut at First Fest, all the men's nights for our Sunday School class, small group participation, Zoo Lights, Houston 1:8, and other opportunities for trips and social events with other couples.  It amazed me how hard he worked and his relentless dedication was inspiring.  He made time to study and watch extra sessions on trips, while he folded laundry, etc.  His balancing act was incredible.  He even had some help from some furry friends.
I know we tired our friends and family of our prayer requests during the year of class and studying, but it was tough.  We had a few other things (good and bad) going on that complicated our lives and increased stress (my car wreck, my time working with Community Cloth, church involvement, parenting a two-year-old, getting pregnant, Cason's promotion in March, etc.)

God was in every detail, and we were looking forward to the test finally happening in July so we could (hopefully!) move on with life.  The Friday before his test was when his sweet Grandmother passed away.  That made the week of the test a bit more stressful with trying to get to Denton and back for her services before his test, but we were grateful that the timing was that way instead of a few days later or while we were on the cruise.

Both days of the test (several hundred questions) Cason came home completely mentally drained.  It was really very tough with all the details and exclusions, qualifications and math he needed to remember.  At the end of the test, we just switched gears to the cruise and put it out of our minds (maybe I did a better job with that than he did!) since we wouldn't get results until several weeks later.  The week of the anticipated results, he got a little gloomy.  I didn't notice it as much because we'd had some sleeping drama with Madeleine, so I just thought he was tired.  Last Tuesday (earlier than we thought) he called me while I was registering at Babies 'R Us.  "I passed!"  He said, when I picked up the phone.  I was so confused with it being out of context, and he said "I passed my CFP test!   I am in shock!"  I was so excited for him, and he has a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.  If he hadn't passed, he would be gearing up to start studying again to try again in November.  YUCK.  And we have a baby coming that month too - that wouldn't have been stressful at all.  :) We were so grateful to the Lord for carrying us through this time.  We had a great impromptu celebration that night with my parents at Escalante's.   Madeleine and I are so proud of Cason for his dedication and stewardship of this opportunity, and we are thrilled he will have this to carry with him for the rest of his career.  Way to go, Cason!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

2 and 3/4

I feel like 2 3/4 is a magical age, maybe akin to Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4.

It's not magical in that everything is always great...we are still working through some of the issues surrounding the terrible twos, but all-in-all I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel for some greater understanding and rational thinking on her part. :)

I wish I could bottle her up right now...as kids grow, it's an amazing gift that the Lord gives us to say "No THIS!  THIS is my favorite stage!"  I hope to say the same thing one day when Madeleine is 29 years old and I am enjoying the same friendship with her that exists between my mom and me.  Also, I am unabashedly not a baby person.  Babies are fine, and I am looking forward to having another one, for sure, but baby stage is not my favorite.

Here are a few things (including her priceless one-liners) that I want to capture about Madeleine in this moment.

Learning, analogies and observation:
"I know so many Davids.  David in the Bible, David in my class, David Laurel's Daddy and Baby David, Elmo's lovie!"
"This tea set is made of glass and it's fragile.  I learned that word on Sesame Street."
"I think 'dandelion' starts with D just like 'Daddy.'"
"I'm not going to pick my scab.  The only thing I can pick is a flower."
"Mommy, I think the baby is reeeeeaaaaalllly hungry and you should eat my carrots." 
"Daddy you are so silly, my hair is yellow like the sun."
"I think Marshall's probably has marshmallows."
"Pandas eat bamboo!  What do frogs/birdies/bears/insert animal eat?"
"Ouch!  That just hit me in the head like Goliath."
"I just got dumped out like a shovel at the beach."
Evaluating things she put in the potty: "Look it's like a dad and two little kids!"  "Look mommy, it's a pyramid one and a smashed potato one!"  "Mommy!  It looks like a carrot, but we don't eat it, it's poo poo."
"Mommy, what's inside my body?"
Climbing out of the pool: "I'm just like a drippy octopus!"
"Oh look a Santa hydrant/a cake cloud/etc."
Many of our car conversations go something like this:
"Mommy what's that place?"
"Saltgrass Restaurant"
"Can we eat there?" 
"Sure"
"Do they have juice?"
"Probably so."
"Do they have a playground?" 
"No, not there."
"Oh that's very sad."
Another car conversation, as I dusted off my control panel/radio in the car:
"Mommy!  What are all those little bugs?"
"Oh that's just dust that is catching the sunlight"
"You can call that dust, but I call them magical fireflies!"
We also had a lengthy car discussion (some might say argument) once about whether or not Cher was a girl.
"I like to do projects."

Confidence:
"I'm the strongest girl in the world.  I know I can do it if I keep on trying."
"Mom, can I roller skate on a mountain/ride a big girl bike/have that dress/play volleyball/etc. when I get bigger and bigger?"
"Mommy, I love to touch the bottom of the pool!  Can we go under together?"

Music:
Madeleine loves to listen to her "Deep in the Heart of Texas" CD, Christy Nockels "Into the Glorious," CD, her Bible songs and the radio.  She can remember a song after hearing it once, and some of her favorites include Maroon 5 "Daylight" (I told her a little white lie that it was a song a Daddy was singing to his daughter about leaving for work the next morning "'And when the daylight comes I'll have to go, but tonight I'm gonna hold you so close...") To continue her Maroon 5 preference, she also likes "Love Somebody."  ("Mommy, his name is Adam like Adam in the Bible!") She likes "I don't care (I love it)" by Icona Pop ("I want that 'crash my car I love it' song!") and she likes Taylor Swift.  One of my most favorite preferences of hers is "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers.  It's our song.  We love to sing in the car together "I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheaaaaaarrrtt!" She continues to still love the classics - - "Jesus Loves Me," "Twinkle Twinkle," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "That Good Old Baylor Line," and songs from Daniel Tiger, Veggie Tales etc.  Some of my favorite Daniel Tiger ones that she sings are "Thank you for everything you do," and "If you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath and count to four.  One, two, three, four..."  She also likes classical music because it sounds "magical" and she can "dance ballet" to it.

Favorites:
She is really into pretending now, and her independent play has been fantastic.  It's amazing to have her disappear to her room or playroom for 20-30 minutes at a time while she does a puzzle or "puts Camille to bed" (Camille is her baby doll that she named after our friends' daughter) or plays dress up.  So much fun.   She loves to read, and her attention span has really developed.  This bookworm mama is happy about that.  She's really started to play maternally too, with lovies and dolls.  I'm sure some of that is her age and development, but it does give me confidence about how she will handle becoming a big sister in November.  She still loves to be outside, playing in water or digging in the dirt.  I'll be happy for her to play dress-up as long as she still loves roughing it outside!  She loves to find "Green Green," her name for the Geico gecko.  She named him at a not-so-creative time in her life.  She goes nuts when she sees him on TV or on a billboard.  "Mommy look!  Green Green is in a cowboy hat!  Howdy, cowboy Green Green!"  Her token "hey pay attention to me!" question is "What's your favorite color?"

Spiritual:
"I talk to God when I'm scared to see what's going on"
"Mommy, what's 'glory?'"
Conversation in the backyard:
"Madeleine, do you hear those birdies?"
"Yes Mommy, they are singing a very pretty song."
"What do you think they are singing about?"
"They are singing 'Jesus loves me sooooooo much!'"
She continues to retain Bible stories and concepts, and she is showing more of an aptitude for scripture memory.  It's so much fun to talk to her on the way home from church about her Bible Story that morning.  "Hannah wanted a baby and God gave her Samuel!" "Paul was a good helper."  Every now and then she loves to read her Bible in the morning with Pum Pum.

I have talked to other mamas about how amazing it is to see God use your children in ways you didn't even know they were capable of being used.  They develop their own little ministries.  We had an example of that in mid-July, just before Cason's test and the cruise.  Cason's Grandmother has been sick for a long time, suffering from dementia, alzheimer's, etc.  Her health has been declining for a long time.  Things escalated and she started to really struggle.  She had already been in hospice for a few weeks and we knew the end was near based on what looked like some strokes.  Sweet Grandmother kept hanging on, despite Trish and Heather being with her and telling her it was okay to go.  They had been at the nursing home for a long time, so I was sending them pics and videos of Madeleine throughout the day to pass the time and lift their spirits. At one point in the bathtub, M decided to sing "Jesus Loves Me" on a video I sent to Heather.  I asked it to play it for Grandmother.  When Madeleine was done singing, she let go and passed peacefully.  It was so incredible to see God use her in that way.

Lest you think the last few months have been sunshine and roses, here are a few things that have not been so great.
  • She had a confounding potty training regression.  After we potty-trained her in February, she went a good three months without an accident, then all of a sudden, for about three weeks, she had a ton of accidents.  It was just like she didn't care, or she liked changing undies, or the newness wore off?  Who knows, but like many stages, I just wanted to know when it would end.  Thankfully it did.  Don't you wish you knew those end dates at the beginning?
  • She had a frustrating sleep regression for a good portion of the month of June. FRUSTRATING.  Purely developmental?  Pre-baby anxiety?  Who knows, but it was really, really hard.  It was worse than having a newborn again, truly.  She was up several times in the night - once SIX ti mes.  This girl has never had nighttime sleep drama, other than crying it out as a baby.  We basically had to do that again - put a toddler-proof doorknob on her door and leave her to figure out self-soothing again.  It was so hard to hear her crying and/or banging on the door, but it was so sweet when we made it through the phase.
  • Madeleine can be borderline OCD, based on her toddler need for control.  During the sleep regression, we would come into her room and she had allll these little things she wanted, just like a tiny dictator.  Even now, when she is going to sleep, she wants her whole room picked up (yes we make her do it) and she gets all out of sorts if she notices something that "should be in her playroom" is in her room after we have left.  She also has a very specific script and intonation she wants us to do when we leave her room at night ("Bye!  See you after my nap!  Okayyyyy!" and we say it back to her.)   We are currently trying to break her of this too.  She also can be strangely opinionated about whether my hair is up in a ponytail or "long."  Also, her undies have to match what she is wearing. Seriously.
  • And of course, the general toddler 0-60 mood swings or tantrums.  Like I said at the beginning, she is coming out of these, but she still has her moments.  Her disobedience is hard too.  She is far too crafty to say, throw her dinner on the floor or flat out say "NO!"  She will sneak out of her chair and come over to me and say "Mommy, I want to give you a hug and a smooch!"  Also, we are really working on her gaining respect and obedience with adults.  It frustrates the fool out of me when she just flat-dab won't listen or do what I ask!  The only authority she seems to respect, currently, is the police.  No joke.  So you better believe I use the security guard at church to try to spur her on to obedience while she is at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Don't judge...desperate times. :) 
Decorating her "reminder."  

She is really an amazing girl.  I love talking with her and hearing her thoughts.  I love watching her sensitivity and inquisitiveness grow.  She is spunky, fun and brave.  We are so grateful to be her parents!