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Monday, April 17, 2017

Unexpected Blessings

On April 9, right on time, we welcomed our fourth child into the world after a quick 13 hours of labor.


Samuel Michael
Our rainbow after a stormy year.

April 9, 2017
4:01am
7 pounds 15.5 ounces
21 inches

Loved more than words can even describe

 






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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A letter to my {first} daughter: 8 is great!

Gianna -

Another entire year has passed by, inexplicably. This year has been one of so much growth, maturity and general happiness.

We were able to spend a week at Disney World this summer and you were tall enough to ride all the rides which was really fun! What a fun age to visit the most magical place on earth – you were just as excited to see everything, meet all the characters and experience all that there was to experience but old enough to have a little bit of freedom to choose what rides to ride and understand that sometimes we have to wait in line.

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You ended first grade with such a positive attitude, went to math and reading tutoring all summer, and here we are 3/4 of the way through second grade – and you’ve NEVER stopped working hard and trying your best. I am so proud of the effort that you put forward and the growth that we have seen academically, especially now, with a full understanding of what and a bit of why, you struggle. Now that we are working on a plan and working with an educated understanding of what is happening (some processing speed issues, a math comprehension disability and some innatention issues) I know you are going to SOAR! We’ve tried various interventions at school and at home – some successful, some not – but the school has been fantastic, accomodating, all things wonderful and helpful. I’m looking forward to getting a formal plan in place and really just watching you blossom as you learn.

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You’ve been such a huge help around the house and a role model to your sisters. You do your regular chores (almost always) without a fuss, help with extra things when needed and sometimes when you are hoping to earn an extra privilage. I am reminded often that your heart is one that takes service to heart and understands how to give of yourself to others so kindly. I am also often reminded that those big emotions you’ve had all your life, are still present and growing. You are sensitive, to a fault sometimes, you carry around your feelings right on your sleeve and really feel for others when they are upset/happy/etc.

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This year you spent a lot of the summer dancing and kept up with dance throughout the year. You wanted to badly to try out for the competition team but this isn’t going to be your year for that – which you so bravely and maturely accepted and understood some more work is necessary. You are also going to try softball this spring, which should be interesting. Justice has quickly become a favorite store, emojis, rainbows and unicorns are things you enjoy, it is the most adorable thing to watch you FaceTime with your best friend, texting with you is pretty adorable as well.

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In just a few weeks you will be taking your first holy communion and I am so proud of you. You’ve been present and engaged in each PSR class and you are taking the whole sacrement seriously. I can see God working through you and I can see you growing spiritually each day.DSC_1038

The one thing that I can’t get over is how you can act so old some days when you are still so little. We can have a mature conversation at dinner and I tuck you in with all of your stuffed animals. It keeps me humble and grounded in the present – you ARE still little, but yet big. I still love to watch you play and use your imagination – it is a thing of beauty the way your imagination puts stories together. You’re the sweetest big sister (a little bossy, but you know, oldest child!) and so excited to welcome another sibling into the house. When we told you that this bundle would be arriving you had happy tears, which is the sweetest ever.

You are my little best friend, I love the moment you walk into my office after school each day so I can hear all about what happened while you were gone. Spending time with just you, to really hear what’s on your mind and in your heart lifts my spirits as much as it probably lifts yours. I am always in your corner, little lady.

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I love you so much it hurts -

Mommy

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A letter to my {fourth} baby

Hi baby!

We are nearing the end of our journey together as just the two of us – the one where you heard my heartbeat from the inside every day as you grew. I’m sure some days it was beating much faster and frantic while others it was calm and steady – that’s just how life has been: a mix of the frantic and busy with the calm and steady. I’ve felt your rolls, your kicks, your waves and your hiccups. I know you best right now and I am doing all I can to keep you safe inside until it’s time to come out and show us who you are!

The truth is, I’ve been scared a lot while you have been growing, unsure if we would make it to the finish line where we get to meet you and love on you for all of the days ahead. I think that fear has kept me a bit silent, in general, but has had no impact on how much I’ve enjoyed this ride. You have three sisters (more on them in a second) but you also have five siblings watching over us from heaven and I really wasn’t sure we would ever make it this far together - but we have. Every day has been a blessing so far and we are almost to the end of this part of the ride, I have a feeling those angel babies have helped to make your rainbow shine brighter.

Gianna, Aleesia and Vivian are your sisters – they are excited to meet you and are starting to get a little anxious about when you might be coming. Gianna will love on you and mother you with her sweet, oldest of all, soul. Aleesia will want to hold you and snuggle you until she doesn’t want to anymore – I’m excited to see her continue to grow as an older sister. Vivian will think you are really cute but she won’t understand that you are going to actually live with us at first and that she has to share her mommy even more. They will each love you the best they can – I have no worries about that. I know you will love them too.

Your dad and I have probably not spent as much time focusing on you from the inside as maybe we have with your sisters in the past and it has no reflection on how loved you are, it just is how things have happened and maybe for a few reasons – our lives are busy and we fall asleep too fast when it’s finally quiet here and as a defense mechanism because we have experienced a lot of heartache in the past year. But we have really felt your presence the past few weeks – we’re ready to meet you and to know you and to love you with our arms wrapped tight around you.

There is no doubt that you are joining a family that keeps a busy schedule (two working parents, three busy siblings, lots of great family and friends to keep in touch with) but there is also no doubt that regardless of that busy – we are deliberate with the time we take and make to be together, support each other and love on each other as much as possible. We certainly have our own brand of loud, organized chaos, as I’m sure you’ve heard from the inside, that gets us through the day. There are parts of our routine and schedule that will absolutely change when you get here and while that makes me nervous, I can’t really anticipate just how much change will occur so I find peace knowing it will be okay – we are adaptable!

So soon we will know if you are another beautiful girl or our first handsome boy joining our family – it has been really fun (for me!) waiting on this surprise and I am starting to get quite excited to find out just who you are in there. We’ve only ever prayed for a healthy child and truly, it doesn’t matter either way – you are already loved to the moon and back!

My sweet, strong (seriously, I have felt your movements so strong and deliberate) little rainbow baby – join us as soon as you are ready because we are all ready for you, so long as you’re ready for us.

xoxo

Mommy

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Prep Work

It’s April, which means it is officially baby month! That just creeped right up on us, didn’t it? (no, it didn’t really – but a lot of days it feels like it!)

Baby number four – feels like we should probably have it all together at this point and totally know what we need to have, where the baby will sleep, how it will be transported, what’s it will be named, etc. But let me tell you, we certainly do not have it quiiiiite all together, but mostly.

Until we can decide who will be sharing a room, the baby will snooze with us in the Halo Bassinest that we bought – I am hoping it is as handy and wonderful as it appears right now! All of baby’s belongings will bunk up in Vivian’s room.

We have the car seats arranged (what a chore that was) in the car, so we are set there.

I bought diapers the other week and we are set on wipes, thank goodness!

We have a few outfits for now, the girls picked out new blankets and a wubanub for the baby and I feel like that’s as set as we are going to get.

I put some things in the diaper bag that I want to have at the hospital. I have a bag out for myself with a few things in it, but I know what I still need to get together when it’s time to go.

The biggest amount of prep work that’s been happening though is the cleaning, nesting if you will. I’ve been hyper sensitive to any mess, toys out of place, laundry not complete and all of the deep cleaning type of things that we don’t often think about (washing all of the cabinet faces in the kitchen, for example) have been my focus! I am sure I am driving everyone a little nuts because I just can’t NOT do this stuff.

However, I will tell you – I absolutely love sitting down at night to a house that is clean – nothing much out of place, smelling good and then I know that if/when someone needs to come over in the middle of the night I won’t be worrying they think we are slobs! It’s also gotten me to get a few other organization projects done and this weekend Mike got the outside spruced up a bit.

I’ve also fully enlisted the girls’ help with this task of keeping the house in order and as much as they complain, they are still great help to me. They have regular chores that they do daily/weekly that are always a help to me but they’ve been really good about helping out with some of these extra tasks – even Vivian! I know they feel proud knowing they helped and I am greatful they are much lower to the ground than I am!

There’s also been the prep work for a lot of life happenings coming up outside of the arrival of this little nugget! I got their Easter baskets prepped and ready a few weeks ago. Gianna’s birthday presents are wrapped and her birthday treat is ready for school. I always pack lunches for the week on Sunday, so that’s all set for this week plus a detailed schedule of what’s happening/where everyone needs to be is ready to go at a moment’s notice. I’ve gotten quite a few things ready and lined up for Gianna’s first communion and party which is early May. That’s just the big stuff – lots of other things going on here, as spring is busy, but we are as prepared as we can be for something that will happen 100% outside of our control!

In addition to preparing the house, the girls, our schedules I’ve been doing a lot of work preparing myself for birth. I’ve been working on some meditation, figuring out which essential oils keep me the calmest, getting in exercise when I can and visiting a wonderful chiropractor once a week to ensure my body is positioned and aligned to help this baby fall out. I pray that things go as wonderfully as they have the last 2 times and I feel confident that I am ready to do this again (99% of the time, there’s always that 1% question until show time).

1 more week, officially, until due date – who knows when this is all going to go down but I can tell you that I finally feel as prepared as I am going to get. And to answer the unasked questions - I feel great, no I’m not miserable at all (seriously, I’m not!), I am sure it’s not twins, yes I’m looking forward to finding out the gender and no, we don’t have names picked out!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Button Pusher

When Gianna was 3.5/4, she had all the opinions and expressed them sometimes very loudy, but she generally listened and took her punishment when necessary. She could certainly push our buttons but overall, her issues were her issues and typically she didn’t make things harder on herself by misbehaving that much more.

Aleesia at 3.5/now 4? She is what I have deemed the button pusher. When she misbehaves? It is 100% on purpose and typically compounded by additional misbehavior. When she’s tired, the button pushing becomes even more intense. She’s in the “I don’t ever need to nap” stage so if she has a bad nights sleep, doesn’t nap, we are pretty much setting ourselve up for a rough patch at some point in the afternoon/evening.

Case-in-point: tonight, she needed to put on her pajamas but she didn’t want to (which I already said was fine) so she laid on hallway floor and purposely tripped Gianna. So then she had to stay in her room for the rest of the night. Since she wouldn’t go to her room voluntarily, I had to bring her in there. Once she got in her room, she was super mad so she threw everything from her bed on the floor, screamed and kicked her feet repeatedly. When she was done with that she kept coming out of her room. We eventually got her all calmed down, tucked in (still in her regular clothes) and asleep but WHEW that girl!

Just when I think I know what will either a) hold off a meltdown and/or b) shorten a meltdown she proves me wrong and my normal tricks don’t work. We’ve been using essential oils to help (we have a trantrum tamer blend that works along with just bermgamont on the back of her neck) but sometimes I forget to grab them in the middle of dealing with her current issue. We’ve been diffusing orange and cedarwood too which sometimes helps.

In the middle of the chaos, it can be so difficult to remain calm, and I don’t always. I want her to feel comfortable expressing her feelings, but screaming, yelling, disrupting the entire house isn’t the appropriate way to do it – she understands that (afterwards) and it’s getting slightly better. But she’s also getting better at figuring out EXACTLY which of my buttons to push and when.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

The belly is growing!

I love to capture our life in pictures and we recently had maternity pictures taken. It had been gorgeous the entire week EXCEPT for the morning that we were to be outside – it was cold, the girls were marginally cooperative, but nonetheless our beloved photographer was able to capture some great shots of who we are.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Fever!

Here in Ohio we’ve had a pretty mild winter that has most certainly had us forgetting all about snow and looking forward to consistently warmer temperatures.

Which means, of course, that as we approach the start of official spring in 10 days that it is going to be freezing and snowy! There is no question that I live in the wrong area of the country with as much as I (have always) despise winter and being cold.

Regardless, we are STILL looking forward to spring because it is sure to bring a lot of fun for our family! And with the fun, comes a totally crazy schedule. And you know, a new baby!

Gianna and Aleesia (& their cousin Luci) are preparing for their dance recital in May – they have 2 dances each this year and it is sure to be stinking adorable. Aleesia just started a once a week sports class, which she LOVES. Gianna will be starting softball in a couple of weeks, which should be interesting. I hope she enjoys it! On top of the kids stuff, Mike is back to being a head lacrosse coach so we have to take his practice/game schedule into consideration also.

Gianna will be turning 8 in April (which I can’t believe at all) and she is preparing for her First Communion in May as well.  We also have Easter approaching, my niece will turn 1 soon and the girls have spring break and Mike and I will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary (again, kind of unbelievable how fast that went by)!  Our weekends through June are pretty jam-packed with the exception of my recently instituted “no plans Sunday afternoons” so that we can get our house clean, laundry done, projects accomplished and try to fit in some snuggling and quality time before the total chaos of each week begins.

I feel like there are other things happening simultaneously as well, but I think they are mostly school related and some of what’s going on there requires a whole separate post. We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if there wasn’t 100 things happening at one time, right?! This new baby will fit right into our routine, at least that’s been one of my prayers lately – for a smooth adaptation and entry into our family.

Some things that have helped me to (attempt) remain calm amidst the chaos are to be diligent with keeping an organized schedule (in 3 different places!), meal planning, preparing all of Gianna’s lunches on Sunday nights so it’s one less thing to do during the week, keeping things picked up before I go to bed (it helps, even when I don’t want to do it) and honestly, giving the 2 older girls some responsibility to manage their own stuff/stay organized. As I tell them on the days when cooperation is lacking – most of what we do every day is FOR THEM, not me so when they don’t help out by listening and being ready when I need them to be, they suffer in the end.

It sometimes feels overwhelming, but then I remember that this is our season of life – the chaos, adventure, etc. won’t be here forever so I try to find the joy in it even when really I just want to pull my hair out and hide under the covers!

Talk to me about your spring – what is going on in your life? What are you looking forward to (or not!)? What helps you to stay organized and maintain a cooperative household?!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pancakes & PJS Party

We celebrated Vivian adn Aleesia’s birthdays last month with a pancakes and pajama’s brunch party – it was such a fun party to plan and who doesn’t looooove pancakes and hanging out with friends in pjs?! It was an awesome party for a newly minted 2 and 4 year old.

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We used some simple decorations in pink, blue, purple and gold that were left from one of the many parties we’ve had in the past as well as a few new ones from the dollar spot at Target – super simple.

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I set up a little craft for the kiddos – just some cocloring sheets and fruit loop necklaces – they honestly just played in our playroom 90% of the time but a few fruit loop crafts were made.

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We also had cereal as our thank you gift.

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We served pancakes (obviously! and also thanks to my stepdad!), a vegetable egg bake, bacon, fruit and yogurt. We had cookies, cake and donuts for dessert!

Check out these awesome caks and cookies – so lucky to have such a talented local baker.

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We took a break from the playing and sang to these pretty birthday girls

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And the big(gest) sister was a total goofball the entire morning!

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We are so lucky to have such awesome people in our lives, but there were 30 kids under 8 here (yes, really) and as much as I wanted to get a picture of all of them i knew better than to even attempt it!

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The only part of hosting parties that is difficult is that I can’t also photograph the party – but suffice it to say this was a simple, effective, easy to pull together party that can be “themed” any other way you want.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A letter to my {second} daughter: F-O-U-R!

Aleesia!

Today you move from a threenager to a big four year old! I think I will always remember how excited but scared I was for you to arrive – I had NO idea how to be a mom of more than 1 girl but I quickly figured it out.

I figured out that you were just what I (we) needed – the challenge, laughter, salty and sweetness you bring to every.single.day keep us continuously on our toes. We need to keep our eye on you because, well, you’re mischevious! You’ve cut your own hair, drew a mural on the wall (it was a good cat…) and turned yourself into cat girl. You often hide things in your pockets, sneak candy in your room, sneak things out of your sisters’ rooms, play a mean game of hide-and-seek, go outside when no one is looking, play with makeup that is definitly not yours, and ask for forgiveness for all of the above later.

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You have always loved to snuggle and I hope that continues into the age of four – I cherish the moments where you snuggle up to me and cover me with your blanket. Especially these days when we are always on the go and there aren’t a lot of moments when just the two of us spend time alone.

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Speaking of alone – you LOVE to be alone with me, or daddy, or any other adult in your life – it’s as if you are an only child holding the spot of second-oldest. I can’t explain it exactly but you certainly behave the best, have the most to say and simply are so especially enjoyable when you get a chance to shine alone whether that is while Vivian is napping and Gianna is at school or if we are on a special trip to Target.

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Some of your favorite things to do are: talk about everything, read books, color, listen to music, go to the library, read books, dance, sing, play with your American Girl doll, read books, snuggle, make people laugh, play outside, play with the dog, do math (no, really!) and make crafts. You love your dance classes this year. You love school – your favorite parts are drama and music (no huge surprise there!). You are starting to make some of your own friends, watching your initial shyness bloom into your ‘true’ personality around others is really fun! You love dance and I am loving watching all that you are learning there each week because your skills are improving so quickly!

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You’ve taught me that whatever I learned being Gianna’s mom before you were born doesn’t matter because you are YOU and I need to learn to be Aleesia’s mom. That means big bear hugs and soft speaking when you start to get a little ahead of your emotions and more negotiating and explaining than I might *want* to do to avoid a full melt-down. There are days when there are more tears, definance and overall attitude than I know what to do with and then there are other days where we enjoy so much laughter, smiles, jokes, kindness and sweetness that my heart bursts into a million pieces. We both need those happy days to fill up our tanks as a means to handle the hard days. When you REALLY laugh, I think the whole world laughs too – it is infectious!5.30  (144)6.2  (24)DSC_0937

This year you are going to become a big sister again and you are SO excited – a level of excitement I hope continues once the baby is here! You ask so often about the baby, love to feel it kick and wiggle and offer up many name suggestions which I love to hear. You have grown SO MUCH as a big sister this year – you watch over Vivian and help as much as I could expect you to. You tell me “I can handle this” when you know certain things need to be done and it is really sweet – as much as it is hard to see at times, I see a servant’s heart forming inside of you. The pride that beams from your face when you have helped someone is unmistakable.  You enjoy playing with Vivian and teaching her things – we have a little ways to go with sharing and taking turns, but the growth I’ve seen is imense this past year with so much more room to grow and learn from each other.  You’re a pretty fabulous little sister too – looking up to Gianna so much. And let’s not forget your cousins – you adore them and you and Luci – well you might as well be sisters!

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We often refer to you as our little Gypsy – you love adventure and to be away from home whether that means spending the night with Grandma or one of your aunts or heading out of town to a hotel! We went a few different places this year, one of which was Disney World this summer (your second time) and you have asked to return nearly every single day since – recently you told me we HAD to go back so that you could show Ariel your hair since you cut it! You love to explore – there isn’t much that scares you or that you won’t try (for better or worse). I hope we can always feed your sense of adventure and exploration – it is contagious.

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Four is going to be a year of continued, rapid growth – another baby, more preschool, trying new sports and continuing with dance, making new friends and growing current friendships, learning more and loving on others to the best of your ability. You’re going to continue to blaze your own path, there is no doubt about it!

I am proud of you every day and I love you more than words can say. I hope you feel loved for all the minutes of your life – especially the hard ones.

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Love you!

Mommy