Life with a Third Child

Last weekend Ruth turned 4 months old, and again I am faced with the reality that “oh, my sweet, tiny baby will only be so little for so long.” She truly is such a sweetheart, and I’m trying to cherish this time as much as I can.

Ruth is a happy baby. If you need someone to lift your spirits look no further than this darling. Her smile is one of pure delight, and her cute little giggles immediately brighten our day. Lúthien loves to talk and sing to her, and Rainer calls her “Ruthie Ruth.” [He calls his stuffed dog and blanket that he sleeps with his “doggy dog” and “blankey blankey,” so it’s only fitting that his little sister gets a cute Rainer-ized nickname too.]

Life as a family of 5 has definitely been an adjustment in a zillion different ways (as I expected). I had some small idea of what to expect from observing my sister-in-law and friends with 3-4 kids, and now that I am a mother of 3 under 3.5 years, so much of what they have told me about their lives makes so much more sense. For instance, the most difficult part of mothering right now is not taking care of the baby, it’s keeping up with the big kids.

I’ll count my blessings and say that the during the first two months, Rainer and Lúthien adjusted beautifully to the family dynamic change. Plus, we were spared during flu season unlike our rockstar friends who seemingly all caught it. March and April have been a whirlwind as a family though for multiple reasons. Ross has been busier with work lately, so there have been even more nights where I go solo (difficult for the both of us, not just me). And we just got over our very first sick family epidemic (to be melodramatic).

Honestly it could have been worse, this wasn’t the flu or any of the icky viruses like hand, foot, and mouth. I have no idea what it was though, and it started off with a fever, then nausea, then a nasty cold. In total, we were all sick for two weeks. Lúthien ended up developing an ear infection from it, Rainer took awhile to get better, I was weakened quite a bit and it affected my milk supply, and even little Ruth caught it but praise the Lord, she didn’t throw up or refuse to nurse or anything. And again, praise the Lord, while Ross was affected by the virus, he did not get as sick as the rest of us and he’s the one with an autoimmune disease.

But yes, about the big kids, dearest Lúthien and Rainer. They love each other a lot. When the other wakes up from a long nap, they greet each other like they’ve been separated for two days (unless they’re super groggy). But goodness do they know how to drive each other (and me) crazy. We’re also running into a lot of behavioral issues lately, and I’m sure a lot of it has been because of the craziness lately.

I have a feeling that we will be on the other size of “survival mode” soon, however. I’m beginning to sleep train Ruth, which has actually been relatively painless and tearfree this time around (knock on wood). Once she can sleep better on her own, there will be more of an ordered sense to our days. She is also beginning to “play” more, and the big kids take so much delight in cheering her on through the next milestone.

Parenthood is this exhausting balance of giving of constantly giving of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wouldn’t change a thing though. The joy always surpasses the sacrifice. Sure, it’s hard, but I am so grateful for this gift of motherhood. I pray for the grace to help form my kids, but goodness, they are definitely helping to form me too.

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What I Read 2017| What I’ll Read 2018

2017 was a good year of reading for me. It might sound silly (and I talked about this in my rambling post last year about my reading list), but after college where I was reading multiple books of theology and literature a week, I had fallen away from the art of enjoying literature. Last year was the year I finally began to reclaim my love of reading.

At the beginning of summer, some friends of mine and I started a book club and it has been wonderful! We meet about every month and a half at each other’s houses with food and wine, and whoever hosts gets to pick the book for the month. It has been such a great experience to read (or reread) books of another’s choosing, as well as to have the opportunity to discuss them with friends.

I didn’t exactly follow my reading list from last year. It was probably overplanned and too detailed for me (I work best with a set but loose outline). Not to mention, I became interested in other books along with our book club’s pick. So here is what I actually did end up reading:

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This was my first Wendell Berry novel, and I now consider it as one of my most favorite books. It is heartwrenchingly beautiful. It follows the life of the main character, Hannah, who lives in a small rural town in Kentucky. Highly, highly recommend it.

The Last Gentlemen by Walker Percy

My favorite Percy book that I’ve read so far.

The Second Coming by Walker Percy

The satisfying follow up book to The Last Gentlemen.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

nonfiction. Written by an American expat living in Paris, this book was an entertaining look at the differences between American and French parenting. The French aren’t perfect by any means, but I found their refined approach to food and manners really valuable.

No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel

I never had the chance to finish the book, but I should probably read it again in the future. Very enlightening and practical read.

33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley

I absolutely loved this. This is essentially a consecration to Divine Mercy in the school of St. Therese.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

This was our first book club selection and my first Austen read other than Pride and Prejudice! I had probably read Pride and Prejudice two or three times but never anything else, but now I prefer Sense and Sensibility over it. Such delightful characters and Colonel Brandon 4eva.

Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This was our second book club pick and my third read through of this merry, adventurous book. A classic and fun, summer read.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Another book club selection. Technically I had previously read this in high school, but this read through was like reading it with new eyes. I definitely did not appreciate it as I should have when I was a young teen. Such a haunting and heartbreaking (yet frustrating) story.

Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien

This compilation was released last year and is the last book of J.R.R’s writings that Christopher Tolkien will publish. It contains several versions in prose and poetry of the story of Beren and Lúthien. I loved it, but if you have never read The Silmarillion you may feel a little lost at first. I would definitely recommend at least reading the chapter on Beren and Lúthien in The Silmarillion first.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollerla

This was a book club read and the novel that I selected. I probably loved this book the most out of the group (everyone else seemed to have some qualms about it) but I adored it. I think in many ways this book has some wonderful insights on love, relationships, and culture without taking itself too seriously.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

This was another book club selection and reread for me. My first exposure to this book was when Ross read it aloud to me when we first started dating. My second and third reading it, I was still a starry eyed girlfriend. However, this was my first time reading it as a married woman, and I believe it impacted me the most this time – particularly the last section regarding Davy’s death. If you have never read A Severe Mercy, I highly highly recommend it. Easily a favorite book of mine (if it isn’t obvious).

———-

And this is what I hope to read in 2018, with room for growth (with any other books plus book club picks) :

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigurd Undset

I started reading this trilogy in December, and I am still in the midst of it. It takes place in fourteenth century Norway and follows the life of the character, Kristin. The story is captivating, the characters complex. Undset received a Nobel Peace prize for it in the 1920’s. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Oh. My. Goodness. Just read it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This is our first book club selection of this year!

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

Need more Percy in my life.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

I absolutely loved her Death Comes for the Archbishop, so I’m looking forward to this.

The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery

Nonfiction:

When We Were Eve by Colleen Campbell

This was recently release, and I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

Brave New Family (collection of G.K. Chesterton’s writing relating to the family)

Theology and Spiritual Reading:

33 Days to Merciful Love by Michael Gaitley (reread)

I’ll be renewing my consecration this lent.

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict

I love love love Papa Ben/Ratzinger’s writings, but I have not actually read his Jesus of Nazareth books yet.

Apostolate of Holy Motherhood by Mark Miravelle

This has been on my list for awhile but I have never gotten to it yet.

Poetry:

I also need more poetry in my life, so I plan on revisiting these poets throughout the year.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

John Keats

Richard Wilbur

Rainer Maria Rilke

Do you have any new favorites or suggestions? Let me know! 🙂

Birth Story of Ruth Siobhán

Writing out my birth story has always been cathartic for me, helping me to process the experience and to document the labor and birth while they’re still fresh in my mind. If I could sum up each of my births in a general statement, my first would be my “natural birth attempt + a terrible hospital experience,” my second would be my “powerfully healing natural birth,” and this third birth would be my “smoothest birth with a unplanned, yet deliberate epidural.” Strange title, huh? Let’s begin.

[And as usual, in case you missed it this is a birth story and yes, I go into the details so stop reading if that is not your thing. ;)]

My last month of pregnancy coincided with Advent, and it was both beautiful and frustrating. It was meaningful awaiting the birth of our child and the birth of Christ, however part of me was so tired of waiting and I greatly desired to just have the baby before Christmas. It didn’t help that it seemed like everyone I knew that was pregnant and due that month (or even after me) were all having their babies before me. After going 41 weeks with the other two, I should have been used to that by then, right?

By the time my due date rolled around, I was still pregnant as usual. Two days after my due date was a Saturday. We had received an Audobon family pass from my in-laws for Christmas, so in an effort to get in some family time and get my mind off labor we drove into New Orleans to spend the morning at the aquarium. It ended up being more trouble than what it was worth, since it was incredibly crowded from all the New Year’s tourists. The aquarium was mostly hot and stuffy with people everywhere, so needless to say we basically visited all the exhibits swiftly and left for home before lunchtime.

Later that night, Ross and I hung out watching the Durrells in Corfu on Amazon Prime and eventually went to bed around 11. Barely thinking about it, as I got ready for bed I put my birth plan on the kitchen counter along with my checkbook and phone charger as if I would need them the next morning (heh heh).

At 4:15am I woke up with regular contractions coming at around every 6-7 minutes. To avoid waking up Ross, I moved into the living room to labor by the light of our Christmas tree. Compared to my previous two births, things were picking up much more quickly. Pretty soon I moved back into the bedroom and woke up Ross. Contractions were every 5 minutes and I began feeling the need to moan through them. By then it was probably about 5:30am. Ross texted his dad (who happened to be in the middle of his weekly adoration hour) to give him a heads up that they should probably pick up the kids soon.

Around this point, I began to have a lot of anxiety about the birth. I knew that I wasn’t in transition and that I still had a while to go, but for the first time ever in my life I began to think, “I want an epidural.”

As we began to slowly pack things up and get dressed to leave, there was a strange 20 minutes where my contractions all of a sudden decreased to 30 seconds in length and to 2 minutes apart. We called my doctor and the hospital, alerted my in-laws, and around 6:30am we were ready to head out the door. Before we left contractions began to calm back down to being a minute long and 5 minutes apart.

After saying goodbye to the kids and leaving them with their Mimi and Pawpaw at our house, we went out into the chilly and wet dawn (where I discovered that contractions totally up their game when your body’s cold). Eventually we got to the hospital and inside my room. It was quiet on the delivery floor much like last time, and the nurses were even sweeter.

Once we were settled in, and I was free to labor around the room, I vocalized to Ross for the second time about how I was considering an epidural. Though my body remembered how to let go and loosen up during contractions from my labor with Rainer, the problem was that I honestly didn’t feel like I was in a good place mentally and emotionally.

While laboring on my feet and on the yoga ball, I allowed myself time to ruminate on the epidural decision. I knew that no matter what, especially if I were to get an epidural, I still needed to help get baby into a good position. Ross and I talked about it for a while off and on, and eventually I made my decision knowing that he would support me in whatever I chose. Around maybe 9 or 10am, I told my nurse my final decision with peace – that I would get the epidural. I waited as long as I could because I knew there was a limited window of time left. By this time, I had moved to the bed to labor leaning back. It was honestly the most comfortable position to labor in strangely enough.

Around maybe 11am, the epidural was put in, and then…we relaxed. The quiet and the peace was so comforting. It really was what I needed at the time. Beforehand my anxiety was really tensing me up, and it was a relief to have that quiet time with Ross to reflect. We talked about name ideas, I listened to Bishop Barron’s homily for that Sunday morning, I read the Mass readings. Around 12pm I requested a peanut ball because baby was sort of up bunched up on my left side. (It’s basically a huge foam peanut shaped ball that you put in between your legs while side-lying to help open up your pelvis).

Praise God throughout this entire time my contractions didn’t slow down from the epidural. Instead they seemed to have picked up with intensity, and as time passed I could feel baby get into a better position. Ross and I drifted in and out of sleep. At some point my nurse checked me after I said that baby felt much lower. My water bag broke as she was checking me and she announced that I was at 8-9cm. Pretty soon after that, I began to feel the urge to push and I could feel baby move down on her own with each contraction. By this time the other nurses were in the room getting things ready, and I was worried my doctor wouldn’t get in on time because baby was really ready to get out. Once he did arrive, they helped Ross get ready as well (he was going to catch her, like he did with Rainer). I pushed once until baby was crowning, and then I pushed again and there she was in my arms in her newborn glory of vernix along with that sweet, sweet relief and wave of peace. After just 13 hours of labor (short for me, since I’m usually laboring for a day and a half), our Ruth Siobhán was born at 3:13pm on New Year’s Eve 2017 on the Feast of the Holy Family, weighing at around the same birth weight and length as her siblings, 8lbs, 6oz and 20in.

Everything immediately following the birth was wonderfully seamless and non disruptive. For the first time, I was actually able to keep my baby skin to skin with me from birth until hours later. I had never been able to experience that before (Lúthien swallowed meconium and had to go to the NICU, while Rainer swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid and had to be checked out in the nursery for a couple hours). Our pediatric nurse was lovely and encouraged me to take my time with Ruth. In fact every single one of our nurses was wonderful.

I rang in the new year that night while she was nursing with Ross dozing on the hospital couch nearby while fireworks went off from a few miles away.

———-

Reflecting back on the birth, especially after discussing everything together with my husband, we agreed that while the epidural was not “planned,” it was a decision made with careful thought that gave me peace. My pregnancy with Ruth was an overwhelming time for the both of us for several reasons, and the stress and anxiety seemed to carry into the birth. And while I still highly value the experience of natural and non medicated birth, I am also learning the importance of giving yourself grace.

Introducing Ruth Siobhán

I wrote the following while I was probably 4 days postpartum. Now little Ruth is 8 days old.

Welcome to the world, Ruth Siobhán. Birth story following…whenever I get to it. 😉

The last time I was able to write a full blog post and actually publish it was in…August?! (There are so many drafts in my WordPress files). Here I am once more after a whirlwind of a stressful and emotional but blessed autumn and Advent and Holiday season.

We are currently living with my very generous in-laws who just happen to be 2 miles away. They have a live-in elderly Aunt and Uncle, so this was the best solution until we can get back on our feet (my husband had to get back to work just 3 days after the birth). I’m currently trying to take it easy and be gentle on myself, and soak up any alone time I can get because I know things will get cray-cray once it’s just me, the kids, and the dog.

How am I doing? How are we all doing? Well. We are doing well. I am so grateful for how everything is working out thus far. I can sense that God is being generous with us to prepare for the weeks and months ahead. Ross, however, is honestly working the hardest between the both of us and bending over backwards to support us all. I won’t elaborate, but I will say that I have never been more honored and proud to have him by my side and the head of our family.

So far the transition to a family of five has been gentle and gradual. I don’t know if it’s the fact that this is my third newborn, and I am much more calm and confident in my mothering, or if Ruth is just extra darling, or both; but oh my goodness, she has been way more relaxed as a newborn compared to the other kids. I know, I know, this is JUST day 4, but I am so grateful. (I’m sure I’ll be laughing next week, but for now, I’m just thankful for the past few days).

The two other children are adjusting alright so far, and they are certainly keeping their Mimi and Paw Paw as busy as possible. Lúthien loves her little sister, and Rainer is mildly interested in her. I haven’t quite allowed them to spend that much time with her, only because they are getting over colds and right now in Louisiana cold and flu season is the worst (literally). Hopefully I’ll soon be able to confidently let them love on her (safely). As far as adjusting to the new family member goes, Lúthien wants her to “always stay little” and Rainer is missing his snuggles with his mom. He’s a bit of a mess right now, but he is still his usual goofy, sweet self.

Little Ruth is a darling. Compared to her siblings, so far she seems to be the most relaxed as a newborn. She doesn’t often cry, except when she needs a new diaper. Nursing was a little tricky the first few days, but we’re doing really well now. And to my delight, she loves to be swaddled unlike her siblings.

We are so in love with her name. As per tradition, we waited until she was born to name her. With Rainer and Lúthien we weren’t able to settle on a name until the next day, but with Ruth we gradually came to the name “Ruth Jeanne” or “Ruth Joan” during labor. Her first name was inspired by Old Testament Ruth. Each of our children, including our two in heaven (Charles Dominic and Lily Zélie), bear the middle name of a patron saint of ours. St. Joan of Arc has always been a favorite of mine and Ross since we were children. About an hour after she was born, Ross learned that the name, “Siobhán,” (pronounced shiv-ahn), which he had been drawn to throughout the end of my pregnancy, is the Gaelic form of “Joan” or “Jeanne.” He looked up, telling me with tears in his eyes, and I knew, this was Ruth Siobhán.

August Update: Pregnant while corralling two toddlers

I realize that I never actually officially announced (nay even written about) our pregnancy to the blog, though I alluded to it (aka blurted it out) via a photo caption mentioning a “baby bump.” But yes, we are expecting another little one around December 29th! I have a feeling this Advent will be the most meaningful one of my life so far. It won’t be the first time I’ve been pregnant during Advent, but nine months pregnant during Advent…totally new. 🙂 When people ask me when I am due now though, I usually say around New Year’s. Both Rainer and Lúthien came at exactly 41 weeks, so I’ve learned enough to imply that I’m due later than expected. And this time around, I’m going to do myself a favor and just “expect” to still be pregnant on New Year’s Eve. (Watch my water break at like 38 weeks…just kidding…)

So…here we are already at 22 weeks pregnant!

Side note: Ross took the photo because he is currently working on painting our kitchen grey and he realized my dress matched the wall, lol. It’s hard to tell by the picture, but they’re about the same.

We found out about lil bebe around the start of April, and after keeping the news to ourselves for a few days, we told our immediate family members and close friends specifically asking for the their prayers. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and in my pregnancy with Rainer prior to this child, we lost a twin early on. So needless to say, I was very nervous. Thankfully, my provider at the time was working closely with me in monitoring my progesterone levels every two weeks, while I also took progesterone from about week 7 until week 13. And if you were one of the friends or family members that kept us in prayer, thank you so much. It was such a comfort knowing that we were not in it alone.

The anatomy scan at the beginning of this month at 19 weeks showed a healthy baby girl, yes…a girl! We went back and forth between deciding whether or not we wanted to find out the sex. With Lúthien, we were actually told by the sonographer at 20 weeks that she was a boy, and we finished out my pregnancy believed that she was…until she was born revealing otherwise. With Rainer we decided to wait until the birth which was a such a profound and beautiful experience for me. This time around though, I’d almost prefer not knowing again. I loved the mystery last time around, plus I can’t help but doubt that she is a girl. After all, after my pregnancy experiences, who wouldn’t feel one hundred percent sure? But at least now I can be practically prepared with clothing, and we can begin to narrow down names. As per tradition, we will not name her until we meet her face to face. And I am SO excited for that.

My first trimester went along well. Again I was blessed with very minor morning sickness. I can be such a baby when it comes to food aversions and queasiness, but I know other women have it much, much worse that I did. Currently I am still in the sweet spot of the second trimester. I can feel the baby kick all the time now. I visibly look pregnant in public now and not just very bloated.  And while I am beginning to need to change the way I bend down or lie down, I don’t quite feel “large” just yet. Honestly though, this has been the most mentally and emotionally taxing pregnancy yet. Thankfully, Ross has been tremendously supportive and such a rock for me.

What I have been loving even more this time around, is the support of our community of friends here in Louisiana as well as others from out of state. In our circle of friends here at home, there is always someone who is pregnant. I think it used to be a joke, but it’s frankly become a fact of life and I love it. When we found out about this baby, a couple friends in the area had just given birth; and now I’m sharing in this pregnancy with a handful of other friends who have due dates a month or two after me. It’s wonderful not being the “odd family out” with three kids under 4 and doing this crazy yet beautiful family thing alongside friends.

As far as life with Luthien and Rainer goes, recently that have begun sharing a room, and surprisingly it is going pretty smoothly! Up until the middle of this month, Rainer had actually just been sleeping in a pack n play with a 5 inch spring mattress inside. (Technically it’s the same mattress as our crib mattress, just smaller in length). The baby crib had been left unused in Luthien’s room this entire time, we just didn’t want to take it apart and move it into the third bedroom.

Anyway, just two weeks ago I decided it was time to get Rainer out of that room and out of that pack n play and into the crib in Luthien’s room. I honestly did not expect it to go well because I sort of did it on a whim. We were supposed to be spending a week in Austin in a hotel room together though, so I figured it was time to make the transition. The first night, luckily Ross came home earlier than expected (half the time I put the kids to bed alone during the week), and we waited it out together. After many trips in and out because someone was crying or shouting or had to poop, they eventually both fell asleep within an hour. Every night afterward the time it took for them to fall asleep slowly decreased. Usually Luthien realizes she needs to use the bathoom again, or Rainer throws his blankets out of bed, but now it only takes 20-30 minutes for them to happily quiet down and fall asleep.

And let me tell you….it is SO freeing. Before we made this transition, I was still rocking Rainer with a bottle before I put him down. Now I just put him in the crib, tuck him in, and hand him his bottle. He loves the fact that his sister is just on the other side of the room. I realize that some kids temperaments just don’t work well enough for room sharing, but Rainer and Luthien really balance each other out so far. And it is so sweet to come in at the end of the night to check up on them in the same room. As far as naps go, Rainer sleeps in the kids’ room, but Luthien has begun to drop her nap. She might nap if she is extremely tired, but thankfully (again, this is totally her temperament) she is perfectly happy sitting in the playroom playing quietly alone. If she wants to lay down, we lay out her sleeping bag and she’ll snuggle in.

Also, remember how I mentioned Austin two paragraphs ago? We were supposed to spend the week there for Executive Council with New York Life for my husband (all expenses paid), but Hurricane Harvey came right in time and it was canceled. Please continue to keep all those affected by the flood in your prayers. Ross and I have several family members in Houston, and somehow none of them flooded even though a handful of them had to evacuate – praise the Lord!

Since Ross was going to be off work anyway, we decided to take a “stay-cation.” He puts in a few hours here and there, and with our spare time together we are going on outings around town and painting our kitchen (ok, Ross paints, lol not me). We hadn’t had any real family time together longer than maybe three days for the past….I don’t know…three years?? So it’s been wonderful to just soak it all in, even if we’re not in a new city or camping in the mountains.

Another Virginian Excursion, Summer 2017

I treasure my trips home to Virginia each year. They usually happen just once a year in the context of a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we travel by car making it in two days with stops along the way, often visiting with friends in North Carolina. This year the reason for the visit was twofold: to witness the wedding of my longtime best friend of nearly 15 years and to make up for lost time with family.

travel

Our trip up looked quite different from our past two road trips as a family of four. This time I flew alone with two toddlers. Before the trip, I made sure to consult with friends who had completed the same feat (thank you for all the advice!). I probably would not have decided to do it, had I not personally known anyone else who had made it possible. All in all, it wasn’t terrible and considering everything that could have happened, it went pretty smoothly!

first flight of the trip

I think the biggest rut in the trip was just the fact that I didn’t pay attention to where our layover was on the flight over – too far away, leading to a flight twice as long as necessary. Other than that, no one had a meltdown like I fully expected, no one cried during take off and landing, and there weren’t any terrible delays (we almost had a two hour delay, but it was a false alarm).

on the way back to Louisiana

There were a few minor mishaps on the way back like Rainer pooping in his diaper after we had already made a bathroom trip with only ten minutes before boarding (this happened twice, lol). And then our gate changed three times in ATL but that was about it. There was normal whining from the kids, and I was pretty squished by Rainer. And they screamed all the way home from the airport at the end, but by that time it was the very end of our trip and I was back with Ross, so it didn’t matter anymore. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. So yes, I flew up with the kids alone and then Ross followed two days later.

wedding weekend

Rehearsal night

Me and the bride (and lil baby bump)

The wedding weekend was absolutely beautiful and such a dream. Madison (the bride) and I have known each other since we were 11 and 12 when her family moved next door, and we’ve been best friends ever since. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding, and it was such a gift to be the Matron of Honor in her’s.

2013

The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were wonderful. The groom’s family hosted on a family member’s gorgeous lakefront property. It was such a lovely night spending more time with Madison and Ben and meeting more of her close friends from over the years.

The wedding day was a beautiful whirlwind. It was my first time ever being in a bridal party, and it was surreal getting ready in the home that I used to spend so much time in as a child. Ross, my mother, and sisters were such champs taking care of the kids. I was separated from them nearly all day, and they were still adjusting being away from home after so many busy days.

Words can’t describe just how beautiful their wedding day was and how grateful and honored I am to have witnessed it. It brings me such joy to know that she is with such a wonderful man, and it was such a gift to see her so happy.



The reception was a blast, but also quite tricky. The kids (Lúthien, really) were kind of a mess by the end of the day. And poor Ross was trying to make it through the rest of the evening with a splitting headache. Nonetheless, we made the best of it. I was nervous all day about my toast, but Ross helped edit it so that I was able to truly convey what I meant to. And the kids ended up having a blast dancing.

 

I spy a nose picker

 

beach

Two days later Ross left us to return home only to leave the next day for a conference in Dallas. Meanwhile, my family and I spent three days at Virginia Beach.

my mommy and I and a goofy child

We all had a blast, most especially Rainer and Lúthien. Lúthien loved playing in the sand with my dad, while Rainer was pretty content sitting in his baby pool of ocean water. (Sidenote: I’ve been begging Ross to just take us on a day trip to the beach here, but now I realize how foolish that would be with just two adults. Hah hah! It was really nice having all the extra hands).

While we were in VA beach, we spent the nights visiting with my Naval brother who lives there, I was able to meet up with my sweet friend, Chiara and her adorable 6th month old son, and we brought the kids to the aquarium – which was a huge hit.

Luthien’s face is the best

 

weekend at home

The last few days of our visit were spent at home, with my brother, Joseph (who now lives in Raleigh) coming to reunite us all. We all relaxed together and managed to squeeze in an afternoon at the park, lunch out, a cook out at home, Mass together, and a family Cold Stone outing in just a couple days. I even managed to meet up with my dear friend, Corinne right before she left on a weekend trip.

first time all together since 2015

the godfathers 

It has been about two weeks since I’ve left now, and I miss my family terribly. In many ways, my 10 day visit was a little vacation for me. There was always someone ready and willing to watch the kids if I needed to meet up with a friend or do something simple like take a shower. I only “cooked” once the whole visit, but it was just to put a big salad together. My first day back at home was a bit of a shock, especially since Ross was home alone sick all weekend and not able to do much. But even aside from the help, I miss having the constant company of my sisters. When I left home for college, my youngest sister was only 10. Now both my sisters are in college and they feel more like my peers. And of course, I miss my parents and my brothers, as well.

Though I love Louisiana and I love our town, my husband’s hometown, I cannot help but feel like I leave of piece of my heart in Virginia or North Carolina every time I visit. Ross feels the same way about both places. But feeling that draw, and recognizing the unique qualities about these places only reminds me that our hearts were made for another truer, more beautiful home.

Anyway, the kids and I are thrilled to be back with Ross. Though we had a wonderful time in Virginia, we missed him greatly in the week we were apart.

Rainer, 13 months (AKA – breaking the radio silence) 

**I just found this really scatterbrained update on Rainer that I never published because I thought that wordpress accidentally deleted it. Here it is about a month late.**

I’m well aware that it’s been months since I posted last. Not that I ever post regularly, but c’est la vie. I needed to take a step back, but I’m back and ready to write about those topics I love most.
So, Rainer is now 13 months old. He is even sweeter than ever. 

This age is one of my favorites, where they are still very much baby and just barely a toddler. He still wants cuddles, even more than before actually. Remember that time I wrote about sleep training?? Hah. Well, I think he fell out of it by February…? Don’t get me wrong, we needed him to be sleep trained when he was. And having him sleep trained was glorious and very much needed for awhile. But then teething happened and a virus and then low milk supply, and this Mama just really wanted to rock her baby to sleep after awhile. It might not be as convenient as before, but it’s what I want now. I am only trying to gradually get him back in the habit of putting himself to sleep though.


Around 10 months old I began supplementing little man. He had stopped gaining weight and never seemed satisfied after nursing. And so with a lower milk supply (and counsel from his pediatrician), I began to give him formula several times a day coupled with nursing sessions. In the beginning I felt really sad. Supplementing was totally new to me, but I eventually felt much at peace once I saw how much happier and fuller he seemed to be. I think it’s safe to say that he is now officially weaned as of just a week ago. My milk supply has almost diminished. Honestly I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that we’re no longer nursing – because it would just be too sad to think about – so I’m just coping with cuddles at nighttime.


But really though, he is so much more affectionate now, especially with his dad! His favorite word is “Daddy.” Not “Dada,” but “Daddy.” He says it all the time. If I mention Ross’ name once, he will chant “Daddy, Daddy” over and over again. If he hears a car outside the window, he looks out babbling “Daddy, Daddy.” Once Ross gets home he’s just “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” You get the picture. It’s too adorable. Of course he will refuse to say “Mama.” If I ask him to say “Mama,” he will repeat “Daddy.” I guess it’s my turn, because Lúthien wouldn’t say “Daddy” for the longest time! The rest of his vocabulary (that he actually uses and doesn’t just repeat) so far just consists of “yummy,” “doggy,” and “hi.” He understands a lot more now though, and even though he knows the signs for “more” at the dinner table his favorite method of asking for more food is screeching.


Speaking of food, both of my children have decided to be picky at the same time! It’s become a bit of a problem with Lúthien all of a sudden, which I’m trying to curb by reducing snacks (and it’s been helping! along with some patience…). Rainer loves his protein. He’s all about his eggs in the morning and loves most meat. Avocado, blueberries, apple, and banana are among his favorites, but he shuns sweet potato and broccoli (Lúthien’s favorites when she was his age). And of course, he loves his carbs. And little man made it serious business to eat as much birthday cupcake as he could. Ok…so I guess Rainer’s not that picky. I was never picky as a child, so I guess I have a higher standard…lol.

By the way, we got a DOG. Probably not the most prudent decision, but it happened, and I’ve always dreamed about having a pet when the kids are little versus big kids. My husband is in love, and so is Rainer. Lúthien and I are pretty partial (lol), but he’s a great dog and Ross is training him very well. His intention is to bring him bird hunting and Brego is performing very well in the training sessions! He’s about 6 months old now.



As far as milestones go, Rainer is not quite walking yet, but I believe we are just days away! He has been taking his first steps little by little, and today he has his first few steps of 4-8 at once. I am so excited, because I was hoping he’d start walking before our trip to Virginia to see my family in July.