Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck the Halls, Traditions Old and New

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Even with three children underfoot we have managed to get the house cheery with holiday spirit.  Right after we had breakfast with Santa, we popped in a local nursery and picked out the perfect Christmas tree.  Everyone got in on the decorating action, even Grace!

Our newest tradition this year has been our sock advent calendar.  Each day I have an activity, project or just something fun to do as a family written in the Christmas sock.  Bradley pulls out the paper, and we work on something new each day.  I lined up the socks on the ABC string in the basement…

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A lot of the activities are little projects I found online, crafts from Michaels, etc.  But, some of them are drinking hot cocoa after dinner, watching “The Grinch that Stole Christmas,”  “The Polar Express,” making Christmas cookies, driving around as a family to see the Christmas lights, making gingerbread houses, and many more.  It has been so fun to spread out all of the holiday activities and do a little something special each day.  Bradley has been SO into the sock activities, and Ellie is learning to do a lot of them along with her big brother.

The first day of December was Christmas tree stickers…

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Chris putting the angel up on our tree

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And of course I was so excited to get this little girl’s stocking in the mail after Thanksgiving.  I still have to take a picture of our mantel with all of the stockings hung up.  I sometimes can’t believe I have that many children, and our house is so full! 

Deck the Halls!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweet Holiday Memories

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What an amazing Christmas memory…Breakfast with Santa at the Boar’s Head Inn.  Beautiful decorations, sweet children dressed in their holiday best, and a yummy breakfast complete with hot cocoa.  This picture is my favorite of the morning.  There were beautiful nutcrackers lining the hallways and Bradley and Ellie were in awe of them.  The decorations were just plain amazing, I think I was as spell bound as the kiddos.

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Sweet Grace slept away in her car seat during the whole breakfast, so we didn’t take her out for the family photo.  Especially considering this was the best we got, Bradley in tears and Ellie not looking at the camera.  Tis’ the season!

Last year this was Ellie visiting Santa ~

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It is amazing how much can change in one year, a crying toddler, and a whole new member of our family to bring to breakfast with Santa.  I never would have dreamed it in a million years that we would be a family of five this Christmas!

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We went to breakfast with our great friends, Brandi, Kevin, Anna and Grey.  I met Brandi two years ago when we were taking prenatal yoga and both pregnant with our girls.  Anna and Elli are only a few days apart from each other and are best buddies.  She has become such a special friend in my life!

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Then we headed outside for our carriage rides.  Here are the kiddos waiting patiently for the horses to return.

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It was truly a breakfast to remember!  I love this time of year, the spirit, the wonder and seeing it all through my children’s eyes makes it even more special.  Merry Christmas!

 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Batman Birthday Bash

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My sweet boy turned FIVE last week!! I can hardly believe it!  I feel like we celebrated for days and he was on cloud nine for a week.  It was actually nice to have the focus on him, since everything has been about the new baby.  I keep reminding him that he is so special, he made me a mommy.  He is obsessed with how old he is compared to Ellie and Grace.  He asked Chris in the car recently, “when I am 100, how old will ellie be?”  chris said, 97.  “Yes! I will ALWAYS be older.”  Chris just said that he hoped his children will live to be that old.   

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You can see that we are still obsessed with all things superhero.  I am trying to embrace it, since I see lots of girly parties in the future too!  Batman it is!  I tried to make it somewhat sweet with little Batman masks, and a happy birthday banner that I finished up the week before my c-section.  Literally, this entire party was done before Grace arrived.  We hardly made it to the bounce place on time with our entire crew.  I can’t imagine doing it at our house! 

This was the first year when Bradley and I sat down to really make the guest list together.  He has so many buddies from school, he is quite the little social butterfly. 

Ellie got in on the batman action too! 

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Since life is crazy right now, and I am trying to write this post while I run up and down the stairs dealing with Grace I will give you the play by play of the party in pictures…

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Of course there was a cake, a little bit of coloring, and lots of balloons…

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Sweet friends from our neighborhood, school, family and lovely friends we have collected over the years…

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This little (big) boy that wouldn’t go down one of these slides just a short time ago was on a mission.  Sliding, spinning, chasing friends, and just plain having the time of his life!  I haven’t seen him quite so happy or pumped up!

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Of course little sister wanted to be a part of the party too!  We had quite a week with her leading up to the party, more on that later!  I was trying so hard to catch him coming down the slide…love this one!

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Then of course there were more celebrations during the week.  Here is Bradley with his fifth birthday loot from mom and dad.  Building was the theme…knex, trio blocks, and a batman costume to top it all off.  I hope to put some thoughts together about my littlest first born boy turning five.  What a milestone for him and for Chris and I.  Five years.  If the next 13 go as quickly, I am in trouble when he heads to college. 

He is such a sweet, kind, and special little boy.  I hope he knows just how much he is loved. 

Happy Birthday Bradley-boo! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Meaning of Grace

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I finally got my act together today and took some pictures of sweet Gracie today.  She is approaching on six weeks old, but what the heck!  I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought, so so cute!  I am going to attempt to do one a month and then put them together in her room somehow.  They change so fast!!

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I have wanted to sit down and finally put some thoughts together on having Grace and what this whole experience has meant to me.  For a good part of my twenties I was looking for forgiveness.  After being in a horrible car accident my life was changed forever.  Part of my healing was helped by meeting Chris.  He was my little knight that scooped me up when the world was falling apart around me.  The amount of tears that he wiped from my eyes it too great to even count.  When most guys would have run in the other direction, he met me where I was and held my hand while I grieved the most tragic experience of my life.  I will never forget the love and compassion he showed me in those dark moments and months of 2002 and 2003, and the many years following. 

After years of reflection I feel that I emerged from the accident a better person.  I am much more aware of the fragility of life and the impact I would like to leave on the people around me.  I used to tell Chris that I always wanted a sign that I was forgiven.  I could rationalize in my head that what had happened was an accident, but in my heart I carried a heavy burden.  So dark and deep that I could only share it on my saddest moments.  Although I had already had two other children, this third pregnancy was that sign for me.  We had spent so many months and tears praying for Ellie, and she was such a special gift.  With Grace I walked around for weeks not knowing that a beautiful life was growing inside me.  I had always had a little place in my heart and mind that wanted three children, but I didn’t want to let myself dream too big. 

After my accident I spent so many nights wondering why I was left here to endure such pain.  I felt so confused about why something so tragic would happen to me and to another family.  Next year I will have my ten year anniversary of my accident.  I often wondered in the beginning if I would ever be able to think or talk about it without breaking down into a sobbing mess.  I wondered what lay ahead for me, when the pain would ever ease up, and I could get through  one day without thinking about it and his family.  I remember going to the beach with my Dad the summer after it happened.  We were sitting at a diner eating pancakes and he asked me how often I thought about the accident.  I told him probably over 100 times a day.  I remember the shock on his face.  It was consuming me, eating away at me, and I was afraid the pain was going to gobble every good part of me up.  Only leaving a shell of myself left to go on living.

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Getting that positive pregnancy test was a moment of unexpected joy.  It was such an amazing feeling, almost as if God had given me a little gift.  If you look up the meaning of the name Grace, it means Grace of God, forgiveness.  To me that is what she is.  Just a little slice of heaven that I get to call my daughter.  I feel honored and humbled to have three healthy and beautiful babies sleeping in our house.  I hope I can be the best mom there is for them.   

Now ten years later I know why I am still here.  I am here for Chris and for my family.  I am here to raise these beautiful babies.  I am here to learn about the amazing power of forgiveness, and the power of love.  Chris and these three babies have filled a hole in my heart that I didn’t think would ever heal.  And Grace was that last little piece of forgiveness.  That “sign” I had been looking for all those years ago.  I know this process will never fully end.  But I have reached the best place I have ever been in.  Even up to my eyeballs in baby poop and newborn diapers.  I am right where I should be, and I finally know that now.  I love you my sweet Gracie.  Thank you for choosing me.      

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Little Moment to Breath

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I am finally getting a chance to sit down and jot some thoughts at 10 pm on a Sunday night.  Life has been busy.  I know we use that term a lot, but I feel like I can truly say it with meaning.  Taking care of three children is not a job for the lazy.  Motherhood is an all encompassing position.  When you have a toddler that gets into everything in the house, and newborn that requires massive amounts of time to sit and nurse life can get interesting.

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I am doing my best to take it all in and just go along for this crazy ride.  A mighty hard task for a perfectionist A type personality.  Chris was sweet enough to snap these pictures on the eve of Thanksgiving.  We were making handprint turkeys with the big ones, while Grace napped (check out the monitor in the background…)

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I have been doing my best to get creative around the house.  We have been home bound a lot.  Who wants to take our crew anywhere besides a short walk to the playground?  There is a lot of divide and conquer between Chris and I.  Chris with the big ones while I nurse the baby, or me giving the big kiddos their bedtime bath while Chris rocks Grace during the witching hour.  Pretty much that is life around here.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.  But, I will admit I have a countdown in my head to the upcoming weeks when things get a little bit easier.  When Grace can nurse more quickly, when we are getting sleep at night, and when all three of my children go to bed at seven and I don’t see them again until seven the next morning.  That will be a sight to be seen.

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I nurse this little babe at night and think about creative blog posts about newborn life.  Topics I would love to write about once I had the time…sleeplessness-its cruel, the truth about postpartum, breastfeeding is hard, babies are awesome, how do people have four kids?, the list goes on and on…

I think “Life in a Haze” would best describe the past five weeks.  I have hardly pulled out my camera.  I have had “Four week Photo Shoot” on my list of things to do for a week.  This picture on the changing table was the best I got…back to life in a haze. 

As much as I am talking about being tired, Grace is actually doing really well.  She is definitely fussy and doesn’t settle between  8 or 9 until 11 or 12 am.  Once I can get her settled she is usually down for the night!!  Usually she will only wake up around 4 for a quick feeding and then back to sleep until 7 or 8.  The trickiest part is getting her down for the night.  There is a lot of rocking, swaddling, bathing, massaging, nursing, bottle feeding, we will pretty much do anything for those four hours to get her to bed.  She will fall asleep easily in your arms, but the transition to the bed just doesn’t happen.  Often she falls asleep in the bouncy seat with it on and then I go turn it off once I know she is asleep.

There have been a few horrible nights, and I mean horrible.  Chris and I both living on three to four hours of sleep and just laughing at the state of our lives and our bloodshot eye balls!  There have also been some nights when she nursed at 11 and didn’t wake up once until 7…heaven!!

Grace during the daytime is absolute BLISS.  I have NEVER had a baby like her.  Maybe I am more laid back, maybe it is her personality, maybe I just feel more confident? 

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She feeds in the morning, I let her look around at the kids for a few minutes, I swaddle her up and lay her down.  She yawns a few times and falls asleep.  I’m Not kidding!  No rocking, no pacifier, just yawns and puts herself to sleep.  She will usually nap for THREE hours!  It is unbelievable.  This cycle will repeat itself a few more times throughout the day.  Every once in a while she is a bit harder to get down for her nap, but she is a great napper so far.  I hope it keeps up!  It is the only way I am able to keep up with the other two and grab a wink of rest in the afternoon.

She rarely cries more than once or twice and then she seems to patiently wait until you come and get her.  Just the sweetest little baby I have ever had. 

That is my life right now in a nutshell.  Babies, milk, crafts, and children…

I hope to get some posts about the holidays and my wonderful son turning FIVE next week!  Oh yeah, and that four week photo shoot too!!  Off to bed!

Love, Clare

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Takes a Village

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It truly does take a village when you have a baby.  I cannot say enough about the amazing community we live in.  I feel so lucky to call it my home.  We are surrounded by great, great people.  We have had so much help since Grace arrived.  I don’t know how I would do it!  Cali set up a “meal train” for us, and we have had meals coming every other day since Grace came home.  People are signed up until the middle of December!! It is amazing!  I don’t know what I will do when I have to cook again?

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On Sunday Megan and Brandi had a “sip and see” for Grace and I.  They had so much wonderful food and it was so great to see a lot of friends.  It was just a little get together for all of my friends that haven’t had a chance to visit with Grace yet.  She was the center of attention and slept through the whole party!  Sweet little thing!

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Speaking of Grace, she is doing great!  We have had a lot of progress with nursing, and she is getting better and better with each day.  I am still pumping extra bottles throughout the day to offer her when she needs it.  It is still A LOT of pumping and I will be so glad to be done with that machine.  I told Chris when I am totally done nursing Grace I think I may run over that thing with my car.  Man that would feel good!

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Another part of the village has been my Mom and our babysitter.  My Mom has been coming EVERY Monday!  It is such a huge help to have her come weekly.  She has been picking Bradley up from school, and helping me in the afternoon.  Getting children up from naps, feeding Ellie dinner, driving Bradley to gymnastics.  It is such a great way to start the week, with a bit of extra help and adult conversation.  Tuesday and Thursday we hired a babysitter (I use the term loosely) for Ellie.  She is actually my friend’s Mom and she is great!  She was a first grade teacher for years, had three children, and it so helpful.  It truly does take a village…

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And getting outside to play never hurts!  I definitely feel more home bound than ever, but once I get Grace settled, Ellie and I have spent a lot of time outdoors.  We just get bundled up and head to the driveway for some fun!  I guess I will venture out some day with all three kids, just not quite yet!

Love, Clare 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two Weeks

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It is hard to believe that two weeks has gone by since we have brought sweet Grace home.  I was just looking back at my posts about Ellie at this age, and the difficulties of having two children.  Little did I know what was in store for me just one year later!  Chris and I both said today that once they are here you just can’t imagine what life was like before them.  Did we ever only have two kids?  It seems like a distant memory already!

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The transition from two to three seems to be going as smooth as it can be.  There are moments that feel like chaos, and there are moments when the stars align and life seems to be as perfect as can be.  I am working hard to take it day by day, not to get too overwhelmed with the future.  Just live in the moment, rest when I can, and feel lucky when I get to take a shower.

Everyone was resting today at the same time, so I pulled on my sneakers and when for a thirty minute walk all by my lonesome.  I only made it up to the pool and back.  But the chance to listen to music and not think about nursing was perfection.

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Nursing is still an uphill battle right now.  Gracie is gaining lots of weight, but it is because I am pumping extra milk and give her another bottle at every nursing session.  This upcoming week will be my first week doing this by myself, with Ellie, Bradley’s school schedule, and our normal every day routine.  We’ll see how it all fits in.  I am truly praying that she gets the hang of things here soon, because I’m not sure how long I can maintain the nursing and extra pumping.  She may have to be my first hybrid baby.  Part breast milk/part formula, unless we can get over this hurtle in the next week or two.  I really feel at peace with whatever happens.  I have to be realistic about life with three, and not put too many expectations on myself. 

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This little one has continued to make me smile daily.  I am interested to see how her first week of mommy and gracie time goes.  I am sure there will be a lot of Elmo and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse watching going on.  Again, trying to be realistic.  There aren’t many options for outings when it takes over an hour to feed Gracie.  She seems to be taking it all in stride.  She is very interested in Gracie, and follows me around the house while we feed, pump, and do laundry.  Just another day in her world.  Well that and being addicted to stickers.  I swear I have a picture of Bradley in his PJs covered in stickers too.  If only my brain was working, I could actually look it up on the computer. 

Off to get the grunting newborn and pop dinner in the oven.  Week one as a solo mama of three, here I come!!

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