Kirsten Grace – Month 12

Kirsten!
You are 1 year old today! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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This year has gone by faster than any year I have ever experienced, feeling almost impossible that 12 months have passed since you came (rather reluctantly) into our arms. It was a long, hard labor (nearly 28 hours after my water was broken) and I can’t say I’d want to do that all over again, but I am so thankful I did. Darling girl, you have been the most incredible grace in our lives. WOW. Being your mama is the greatest joy and the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I have no idea how someone can scream and cry and keep me from sleep for almost a year (well…closer to two with the pregnancy-night-pee-thing) … and still bring more joy and bigger grins to my face than I ever believed possible. Kirsten, you are a paradox of stress and relief, frustration and celebration, and I absolutely am head over heals for you.

Let it be known: I would not change one thing about you. Not ONE THING. (It’s as the eloquent poet Sandra Boynton says, “I love what you are, I love what you do, fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!”)

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You are an investigator. You love turning the pages in books, preferring grown up books to your own. You examine toys and tissue boxes. You watch us play piano or guitar and you very intentionally mimic our movements. First thing in the morning when we greet you in your crib, you start pointing left and right, up and down, saying “Dah?”…asking us “what’s that, what’s that?” You know trees, cat, light, book, etc. You continually pull everything out of cupboards and drawers. We actually found you had bit through a Kcup and had coffee all over you. Yum. I also ended up bungee cording your dress drawers to keep you from dismantling your clothes 10 times a day.

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You love food. You have mastered the “squooshi” packets for eating yogurt and applesauce and cottage cheese, but for the most part you’d just assume eat what mom and dad are eating. You have adventurous taste buds. You seem to dislike most fruits, oddly enough, but will go to town on a bowl of chili.

You are musical. On the first day with your “band in a box” you had learned that the cymbals go together and which piece to use with the triangle. You love the “drum set” I made you out of oatmeal canisters, happily imitating our rhythms. You play the piano and guitar gently and intentionally. You sing. You could care less about TV unless the theme song to The West Wing comes on. (Let’s be honest, that is some brilliant orchestration. Good taste, little girl.) When I nurse you before bed I hum “Hush now, my baby” from The Prince of Egypt and whenever I stop, you make a few grunts to indicate, “Keep singing, please, mom.”

You have a vibrant personality. You laugh loudly, you cry loudly. You have a flair for the dramatic. You are hysterically funny, using your eyebrows and facial expressions like a second language. When you feel demanding (about food or wanting attention or demanding to be closer to your pal Landon L.), you screech with the highest pitch I fear all the dogs in the neighborhood will come running. You know what you want and are very unlikely to be a pushover.

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You are a lover. You want to be near both mom and dad all of the time (though no cuddling, please). You give kisses now with an opened mouth and a “Mah!” You still flap your arms wildly whenever you see either of us (or Landon, of course). You give your stuffed animals and other toys kisses too.

You may be an extrovert. You love people and happily bounce from person to person. You are joyful to be around and most everyone seems to enjoy being around you. I am thinking you lean extrovert also because of the way you refuse to be rocked to sleep. Once you’re done nursing, you won’t let me hold you and rock you to sleep. Nope. You want your bed, to decompress by yourself. This reminds me of my own tendencies – if there’s someone in the room I can’t help but interact with them. So to rest and relax, I need quiet, alone time.

You have 5 teeth, you stand without holding on, you’ve taken 1-½ steps. You crawl like a speed demon, take two 1-½ hour naps a day, and sleep through the night from 7-7. (Praise the Lord for sleeping through the night. Oh my gosh, I cannot thank you enough, Child.)

Kirsten Grace,

May you never doubt the Love of God,
The nearness of His Comforter, the Holy Spirit,
Or the friendship of Jesus.

May you be confident of your giftedness,
Humble in your confession,
Genuine in your love of all people.

May you grow in grace and in knowledge of God,
Serving him first, always.

Praying this for you,
Mama

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Kirsten Grace – Month 12

Kirsten!
You are 1 year old today! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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This year has gone by faster than any year I have ever experienced, feeling almost impossible that 12 months have passed since you came (rather reluctantly) into our arms. It was a long, hard labor (nearly 28 hours after my water was broken) and I can’t say I’d want to do that all over again, but I am so thankful I did. Darling girl, you have been the most incredible grace in our lives. WOW. Being your mama is the greatest joy and the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I have no idea how someone can scream and cry and keep me from sleep for almost a year (well…closer to two with the pregnancy-night-pee-thing) … and still bring more joy and bigger grins to my face than I ever believed possible. Kirsten, you are a paradox of stress and relief, frustration and celebration, and I absolutely am head over heals for you.

Let it be known: I would not change one thing about you. Not ONE THING. (It’s as the eloquent poet Sandra Boynton says, “I love what you are, I love what you do, fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!”)

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You are an investigator. You love turning the pages in books, preferring grown up books to your own. You examine toys and tissue boxes. You watch us play piano or guitar and you very intentionally mimic our movements. First thing in the morning when we greet you in your crib, you start pointing left and right, up and down, saying “Dah?”…asking us “what’s that, what’s that?” You know trees, cat, light, book, etc. You continually pull everything out of cupboards and drawers. We actually found you had bit through a Kcup and had coffee all over you. Yum. I also ended up bungee cording your dress drawers to keep you from dismantling your clothes 10 times a day.

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You love food. You have mastered the “squooshi” packets for eating yogurt and applesauce and cottage cheese, but for the most part you’d just assume eat what mom and dad are eating. You have adventurous taste buds. You seem to dislike most fruits, oddly enough, but will go to town on a bowl of chili.

You are musical. On the first day with your “band in a box” you had learned that the cymbals go together and which piece to use with the triangle. You love the “drum set” I made you out of oatmeal canisters, happily imitating our rhythms. You play the piano and guitar gently and intentionally. You sing. You could care less about TV unless the theme song to The West Wing comes on. (Let’s be honest, that is some brilliant orchestration. Good taste, little girl.) When I nurse you before bed I hum “Hush now, my baby” from The Prince of Egypt and whenever I stop, you make a few grunts to indicate, “Keep singing, please, mom.”

You have a vibrant personality. You laugh loudly, you cry loudly. You have a flair for the dramatic. You are hysterically funny, using your eyebrows and facial expressions like a second language. When you feel demanding (about food or wanting attention or demanding to be closer to your pal Landon L.), you screech with the highest pitch I fear all the dogs in the neighborhood will come running. You know what you want and are very unlikely to be a pushover.

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You are a lover. You want to be near both mom and dad all of the time (though no cuddling, please). You give kisses now with an opened mouth and a “Mah!” You still flap your arms wildly whenever you see either of us (or Landon, of course). You give your stuffed animals and other toys kisses too.

You may be an extrovert. You love people and happily bounce from person to person. You are joyful to be around and most everyone seems to enjoy being around you. I am thinking you lean extrovert also because of the way you refuse to be rocked to sleep. Once you’re done nursing, you won’t let me hold you and rock you to sleep. Nope. You want your bed, to decompress by yourself. This reminds me of my own tendencies – if there’s someone in the room I can’t help but interact with them. So to rest and relax, I need quiet, alone time.

You have 5 teeth, you stand without holding on, you’ve taken 1-½ steps. You crawl like a speed demon, take two 1-½ hour naps a day, and sleep through the night from 7-7. (Praise the Lord for sleeping through the night. Oh my gosh, I cannot thank you enough, Child.)

Kirsten Grace,

May you never doubt the Love of God,
The nearness of His Comforter, the Holy Spirit,
Or the friendship of Jesus.

May you be confident of your giftedness,
Humble in your confession,
Genuine in your love of all people.

May you grow in grace and in knowledge of God,
Serving him first, always.

Praying this for you,
Mama

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Kirsten Grace – Month 11

Dear Kirsten,

Oh goodness, sweet girl, I missed your 10th month post completely. I saw it coming, I saw it fly right past me, and I consciously decided not to chase it down. It’s hard for your mom to let stuff go…to say “I need some margin in my life and I have none right now.” So last month that is exactly what I did, I let it go. And somehow, I am certain you still love me and if you ever read these letters when you’re a little older, I think you’ll smile and say, “Oh mom, why would you worry about that? Of course it’s ok!”
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Baby, you are my absolute favorite person in the whole world. These past two months have brought more wonders to our lives than I imagined. Man, those first few months are just tough. The nursing, the teething, the (no) sleeping. But we got through it together and now I feel like we’re having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have. At least once a day you and I get in these laughing fits…I do something that makes you laugh, or you do something that cracks me up…and off we go! It’s hysterical and so life-giving.

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You have learned to wave and point! Every morning when I pick you up from your crib you want to go to the window, open the drapes and we have “Hi, Outside!” Something out there really gets you excited. You love riding in your k’tan under my umbrella over to church, hearing the raindrops. You have come around to loving walks. I look forward to you asking me to take you for a stroller ride. I just love those times together.
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You love feeding yourself graham crackers, peanut butter toast, and cheerios. You drink with skill from your sippy cup and are trying to use a spoon. Most of the time you demand food from mom and dad’s plates rather than something separate for you. You like curried potatoes, chili, and pizza. You have shown some dislike for bananas and don’t seem interested in my chicken noodle soup, though you eat every other soup I make. Maybe it’s the black pepper?

Your body fought a cold for about 2 weeks in November and finally the doctor gave you your first prescription for Amoxicillin. It never slowed you down, though. Kirsten, you do not sit still. You are a little investigator, always going, going, going. I’ve tried to snuggle with you, but it never works. That’s ok. You’re a learner and an independent spirit. And I don’t think anyone doubts that you love your momma, even if you don’t love snuggling.

We’re still breastfeeding, though I think we’re both working towards weaning. You normally nurse when you wake up in the morning, once before a nap, and once before bed. And all glory to God in the highest….you are SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! The past week we decided it was time for sleep training. I was still getting up once or twice a night with you, plus nursing you at 5 or 6am when I woke up and then laying you back down. It was torture, sheer torture, letting you scream in your bed for somewhere around 45 minutes. Our hearts were racing, and it took intense will power to stay in our bed. (It was more sleep training for me, I think, honestly.) Seeing you in the morning no worse for the wear, made the decision a lot easier. After the third night, I would hear you now and again, but I could go back to sleep and ignore you for the most part. And now, for the last three nights, I haven’t heard one peep from you (or at the most it lasts for 20 seconds!) You sleep from 7pm to 8am. Holy moly! After 11 months, I am finally catching up on sleep!

IMG_8905This shift in lifestyle is making me feel slightly more comfortable with the idea of being gone for 8 days in January (for my Master’s degree residency). Little girl, please know that leaving you is the hardest thing I think I’ve done. I’m not looking forward to it, but knowing you don’t need me during the night is comforting. You do wonderfully with your daddy during every other part of the day, so by then, I know the two of you will have a blast!

 

For as much as you are a momma’s girl, you are a daddy’s girl too! You still get all bouncy and kicky and grin spreading ear to ear when you see either of us.

 

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You love books more than any other toy. You love playing the drums (on boxes or whatever). You love playing the big piano and smile with such pride up at me.

You clap enthusiastically when I cheer “yay!” You gently pluck mom or dad’s guitar strings. And the only time you sit still is when daddy sits by you, playing guitar. You have an affinity for animals that is tough to rival. Wow, you might actually love dogs more more than mom and dad based on the flapping you do. Landon is one of your favorite friends, and you get (a little too) excited whenever you play with him. (He’s had a few scratches on the face from you talon-fingernails and all the love you’re trying to shower on him.)

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You crawl like lighting and stand up with ease, letting go now and then.  You walk along tables or chairs holding on. We’re waiting for the big moment of first steps any day!

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and your dad and I are looking forward to reading our Advent Devotional together and lighting our own Advent wreath. We’re going to do stockings on St. Nicholas Day and exchange three gifts for each person – something spiritual, something practical, and something extravagant. 

We love you, Kirsten Grace. Oh my word, do we ever love you.

Kirsten Grace – Month 9

My dear, sweet Kirsten Grace,

Every time I walk into your room to get you from your crib, I am physically overwhelmed with love and cannot seem to utter any other greeting than an overly-exuberant, “Hi baby!”

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I know you are hardly a baby anymore. You are growing up before my eyes into a unique little kid, one with a tiny tooth and a gigantic personality. We simply adore you, Kirsten. Sometimes your dad and I fight to get down the hall to your room first, so eager we are to greet your smiling face. We often find  you standing up with your wubbanub puppy pacifier dangling from your mouth. As soon as you see either of us, your excitement is obvious – arms flapping, body bouncing, legs kicking, and a grin from ear to ear filled with a joyous “panting.” This is the same greeting we receive when we pick you up from the nursery or a babysitter’s house, or even if one of us has been gone from home for a while. I don’t think anyone doubts your love and affection for mama and daddy.

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This month you’ve grown fast and furiously. You took your first “crawl”…just one crawl…early on in the month, but still seemed to prefer the cautious safety of sitting or rolling like an old pro. On Monday September 19th – after two nights of 12 hours of straight sleep (glory to God in the highest…the first full night’s rest you’d had since month 3…) you decided to start crawling like it was old hat. By the end of the week you could easily follow the cats all the way down the hall and into the red carpet room. (Thanks 1960s for that beautiful design gift.)

You are pulling yourself to standing with ease and thankfully can sit back down without fear or tears. (Or tears for fears.)

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I am convinced you prefer to wait on any skill until you’re certain you can master it on the first try. This is not unlike your father, which he admits. :)

Speaking of your dad, it is pretty obvious that your looks highly favor his. And I think it’s adorable. Last night, an acquaintance saw your newest pictures and had the thought, “Who’s the new baby? Her looks have changed so much and she suddenly looks just like her dad.” But even so, you are a lovely little girl with your very own looks and expressions and personality.

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We love your vibrancy and enthusiasm and your great big passion for all things!

You are responding to the word “no,” eating practically grown up foods – quinoa, old fashioned oatmeal, peanut butter toast, curried vegetables, soup, and every sort of mashed fruit or vegetable we put before you.

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I am thankful for the gift of a successful 9 months (so far) of breastfeeding. Those first weeks were nearly unbearable but at the time I knew nothing different and forged ahead. Being able to nurse you is a gift. I am so glad you still want mama, but I see your preference for real food beginning to form. You are going much longer between nursings, only once a night and sometimes going to bed or nap without it. It is exciting and a little sad to my mama-heart at the same time.

We love watching you learn and investigate everything. We love hearing your deep, belly laughter. You sing now when I start to play the piano. You “talk” to us all the time…bababa-ing, mamama-ing, dadada-ing all the livelong day.

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You love your cats (especially your new kitten, Dot) more than anything. You can play by yourself with blocks and you love books, especially daddy’s big books. You have pulled the protective covers out of the outlets on the first day they were installed. You ate a fistful of cat food and didn’t seem to mind it. And mom & dad won’t be taking you to a “tipping” restaurant for the foreseeable future, thanks to your falsetto singing screeching vocalizing (?)
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We love having you with us, Kirsten. You have rocked our world forever and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

love,
mama
PS – At your nine month well-child visit, you received your third hep B vaccine and got great remarks from Dr. Aza and Nurse Julia. We love them!

You are becoming our little circus peanut, hanging out in the low end of the percentiles, but looking  happy, healthy, and full of life! You are 26 inches tall (grew just half an inch since your 6 month appt!), putting you in the 8th percentile. You weigh just an ounce under 18 pounds (just 2 pounds up since June), which is the 33rd percentile. And your head circumference remained the same, putting it in the 63%. Yay for all the brains! :D

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Kirsten Grace – Month 8

My sweet baby girl,

You are growing up so beautifully and (just as I’ve been warned) so quickly. I am cherishing your gummy grins while they last (for your teeth still haven’t decided to make an appearance). I am soaking in our moments in the rocking chair, nursing you before nap times and bedtimes (for I already see glimpses of their disappearance). I am trying to remain calm when you are shrieking like a banshee whether out of glee or anger (for I know eventually the days will come when you’d be mortified to have anyone witness such outbursts). I am loving your growing affinity for mama and daddy (for your love for friends…and Lord, help me, boys…will someday be upon us). I adore you bouncing gleefulness and your cheerful arm flapping (for I know you will be on the move before we know it and I really don’t mind your lack of mobility at the moment).
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first time exploring Lake Erie with mama

This month you have tried more foods that I could probably list, and you seem to love them all. Green beans, watermelon, peaches, zucchini, tomato, and all sorts of summer produce have graced your plate (and your face and arms and hair). It definitely appears that you are teething, but we don’t see anything poking through just yet. You gnaw on everything like your life depended on it. Beyond my better judgment you chewed on the edge of a table in the restaurant last week, mouth gaping and tongue waving in eagerness every time you began leaning forward to gnaw once again. It was hilarious and disgusting and adorable all at once.

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Like most kids, you seem to enjoy non-toys almost more than actual toys. The best way to keep you occupied and quiet in public is sitting you on the floor next to something like mom’s bag to just look at and poke at and grab and of course chew on. Paper and napkins and books are your favorite items, loving the crinkle and the texture. There is nothing that gets you more quickly angered than taking away a piece of paper you were chewing on. Wow, the wrath surfaces instantly. (But, Kirsten, my dear, we just really don’t want you to eat paper, that is gross and unhealthy.) And currently you are sitting on the kitchen floor joyously and inquisitively playing with a metal spoon and sauce pan. What fun!

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Aside from those items, you do have a few favorite toys.  Your puppy dog pacifier now goes everywhere with you. It is a must for bedtime and nap time, but also nice to have when we go out, keeping a pacifier from rolling tables away from us. (The Wubbanub is an incredible invention.) A couple weeks ago, you had your first encounter with your very own baby doll. She is a soft-sided Cabbage Patch handed down from your Zia (Aunt Ashley). You just light up when you see her. Blankets (especially their tags) remain a favorite and your crinkle book is a winner (we just happened to misplace it, unfortunately.)

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You are rolling over professionally now and getting close to pulling yourself to standing or rocking into a crawling position. You just seem a disinterested or perhaps fearful, or maybe a little of both. Like I said, I am content with your immobility at the moment, for it makes some things a little easier. I do really look forward to the day of walking hand in hand with you to the church, though, or having you crawl into my room just to find me. (Let it be known that I do not look forward to those eerily quiet moments when you are sure to be doing something mischievous, like climbing onto a bookshelf or getting into the Vaseline or plastering your body with my makeup.)

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You seemed to have adjusted to using the church nursery as your second bedroom, napping more readily most days of the week while we work or have worship practice or whatnot. I have constructed various baby monitors out of tech devices using Google hangouts. (Though your screams are heard throughout the church building if all is quiet.) There had been many times a poor unsuspecting parishioner entered the church for a meeting or a service project and woke you up without meaning to. They felt so terrible, and yes, I would love for you to sleep, so I made signs to hang in the hallway to ask people to be as quiet as possible, or at least warn them that you are asleep. It’s a little jankity but it works alright and we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do.

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cherished kisses from great grandma Mary Fish (93 years old)

We are still faithful users of the cloth diapers (you’ve avoided rashes for many months now). You still adore bath time (which happens most frequently in the kitchen sink). You go to sleep well, but you have slept through the night since sometime in the third month when you led me to believe we had won some infant parenting award. Nope. Not even close. You wake up yelling (yes, yelling) at least twice a night, sometimes three or four times. (I cannot even remember what it was like to get a full, undisturbed night of rest, which just blows my mind because it was of utmost importance less than a year ago. My, how times change.) During one twilight rendévous I typically change your diaper because it is pretty inevitable that you will spring a leak otherwise. But you will then go back to sleep after nursing, keeping me up for just about 15 minutes each time. Not bad, I suppose. (And thinking of my future self who will likely be laying wide awake in agony when you are experiencing some sort of high school crisis or deciding on college or staying out past 8pm with your friends, I will take these sweet innocent nighttime encounters any day.)

Kirsten, I love you, everything about you. You are crazy and intense, yes, but you are MY crazy and intense girl. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. You know what you need, you have vast expressions that rival my own, and you have a smile that can instantly win over the sourest of moods.

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Keep being you, Kirsten Grace. We love you.

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Kirsten Grace – Month 7

My sweet Kirsten,

Wow! What a joy it is to be your mother! Watching you grow and develop, experiencing the world’s sights and sounds through your perspective is so much fun. I am being transformed, daughter. Through mothering you, the Lord is opening my eyes to his grace in new ways. I am being tested, challenged…will I give mercy? Will I seek His grace? How will I respond when I’m frustrated and exhausted and everything seems to be going wrong? Will I take credit for the days that go smoothly…or will I find God’s gifts in those times? 

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I am thankful, sweet girl, that the Lord in his mercy waited to call me to motherhood. I am thankful because holysmokes I don’t think my spirit was ready for this crucible all those years ago. This is hard. Time is a bigger premium than I can describe. And I notice how selfish I still am. (How am I still so selfish?!) For all of the difficulties and pain and “opportunities for growth” that mothering you has allowed me, I am beyond thankful. Growth is sometimes painful. Crucibles don’t have comfortable connotations. But you are the most wonderful gift I could ever be given. You do give me countless opportunities to step deeper into my Christ-in-me identity. And you do bring more joy to life than I ever knew possible. (Have I mentioned how motherhood is a paradox?)

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You are just over Seven Months Old and I am loving this stage. With every passing day and week, you become more independent, more funny, more personable, more loving. Your smile is truly contagious (as Gramma says). Your expressions are boundless.

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love the big personality you have. There’s no doubt that intensity and a flair for the dramatic are hard-wired into your being, and with that extreme comes possibilities for deep, Christ-like compassion and true, Spirit-led love for others. You are a leader in the making, Kirsten Grace. I see your strength of personality, your unique combination of traces of me and traces of your dad. We pray that you will root your life deeply into Jesus and use your very evident gifts of passion and fierce tenacity for the Kingdom of God.

You are a gem, my girl, beautiful and unique and priceless.

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This month you’ve fallen in love with all sorts of new foods. You’re still loving butternut squash and sweet potato, and you’ve added apple, pear, avocado, banana, spinach, carrot, zucchini, mango, and chicken to the mix. The mesh feeder has been a fun and wonderful tool to introduce new foods. There were two pears on the counter that were super soft so I sliced them up and gave a piece to you in the feeder. After just a few minutes, you’d eaten both of those pears! You haven’t been too sure about banana, but a semi-frozen cube of banana in the mesh feeder was devoured. Carrot wasn’t high on your favorites, but in the mesh feeder, the puree was gone quickly! (Thanks, Amanda, for this great gift!)

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You’ve been sitting like a big girl in your high chair to eat. We could have put you in the high chair months ago, I think, but there was something very grown-up about the idea of you in a high chair that made me hold off. But you were ready for it and now we are too. It’s so much fun watching you experience our favorite foods in raw, real form. I love feeding you things that I can take bites of because they’re foods I love too!

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You’ve turned a corner this last month with Sunday mornings. I know how tiring and long Sundays are as a pastor, and I can imagine they feel even longer and more tiring when you don’t understand why you’re still at church and why can’t I just be with mommy and daddy? But this last month, you really seemed to start settling into this aspect of life as the pastors’ kid. Part of it is the time I’ve spent with you in the nursery during the week, nursing you and putting you down for a nap in the pack ‘n play. Being a mom and a pastor, I’ve continued to hone our church nursery into a place that is comfortable and clean, that provides for all the possible needs of babies and their parents. It’s a cool bonus gift from God, allowing me to step into a place of hospitality by way of motherhood.

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Anyways, Sunday mornings has brought a decent number of before-church naps which aids your nursery-time tremendously. God has also brought a growing number of new families with new babies to our congregation so our nursery is a fun-filled place for you to be. You seem to be a people-person through and through. When you’re in their alone, you tend to fuss. When there’s lots of friends around, you’re happy as a lark.

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You’ve started reaching for me, which I adore. If I’ve left you with daddy or a friend or family member for a while, you’ll have been peachy-keen-content for quite some time. But as soon as I walk into your line of site, you start fussing rather dramatically. I love that you love me so, and seem to have a crazy-desperate need to be with momma right now. But really, Child, you’re just fine. Take a deep breath. It’s all good.

As much FUN as it is watching you grow and become more whole YOU, it is a true privilege to call you ours. We love you, Kirsten Grace, and that is one thing that won’t ever change.

Always,
Mama

A few fun facts:

  • you love water bottles, almost more than any other toy
  • you started practicing with a sippy cup and you’re getting the hang of it
  • you are now consistently able to get a pacifier back in your mouth
  • you’re sitting up like an old pro
  • your hand dexterity seems to be strong: you’ve been passing toys back and forth from hand to hand since before your six month appointment
  • you have started mastering the grown-up, real-food poop. Holy cow. Poopy diapers have diminished from a few a day to about every 2 days. But wow, you are a CHAMP at poop. whew-whee.
  • your bedtime is between 7:30 and 8 and you let us know. I still nurse you every night before bed.
  • you sleep until 1 or 2am, nurse, then back to sleep until 5 or 6, nurse, then back to sleep until 7:30.
  • you’re not really consistent on any sort of daytime naps.
  • you love Tavie.
  • you love watching screens.
  • you flap your arms and bang on the table constantly; we think you might be our next cajon player on the worship team
  • you have powerful vocal chords and a crazy high falsetto
  • YOU FINALLY ROLLED OVER! A few times now we’ve found you on your tummy in your crib. Go, you!
  • you like taking rides in the stroller or on my back when we go bike riding
  • you are starting to play
  • you bounce when you get really excited
  • you fed yourself your own bottle for the first time

Kirsten Grace Month 7

Kirsten Grace – Month 6

Happy Half Year Birthday, Little Girl!Kirsten Grace Month 6

6 months already?! What the heck?! I’ve taken to saying, “She’ll be 19 years old tomorrow,” as a way of bracing myself for how quickly time will go. You are a such a gift; I’m treasuring every moment. I find myself stopping and just being present with you even while I’m in the middle of working or cooking or being busy with one thing or another. You’re becoming so great at being a part of our daily, working, traveling lives that it would be easy to miss the gift in the little mundane moments. But then I look at your and respond with this gigantic, eager grin from ear to ear and I can practically hear you saying, “I love you, momma” with those big blue eyes.

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I love you, sweet girl. I love you.

This past month has been tremendously developmental for you and subsequently tons of fun for your dad and me. Just this past week you started your first foods and loved it. You started grabbing the spoon and pulling it to your own mouth on the second round! I had planned to feed you pureed versions of the foods we love and so far it’s been a big hit. We did butternut squash mixed with breast milk for a week and then yesterday afternoon you had avocado mashed with a little breast milk. You did great with both!

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I was surprised to discover – both from your cues and then from the info I looked up for some guidance – that you would still want to nurse just as much once starting purees. Apparently your calorie intake goes up and nursing stays the same. One book put it a way I really loved: Baby will continue nursing for the calories and start eating foods for the fun of it. Eventually, she’ll be eating foods for the health and calories and nursing for the joy of it. And then stop nursing altogether. Sounds like a nice progression for me.

I’m so proud of both of us for making it to 6 months exclusively breastfeeding. We did it, little one. I had read that “they” say breastfeeding through 6 months is ideal, but I just discovered this official scholarly article by the American Academy of Pediatrics that states in its abstract: The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.

This month you’ve kicked up your laughter a notch (and we love it):

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You’ve been sitting up unassisted like an old pro for a couple weeks now and have really improved your standing ability, being up to stay upright for a few moments while holding on to something. (Not pulling yourself up yet and you’ve decided to not deal with rolling over…you just don’t care…)

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Kirsten & her friend Violet at church on June 26

You’ve been to a family wedding & sported a cute pinafore dress that I wore as a baby…

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…gone strawberry picking at Whittaker’s Strawberry Patch…

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…hung out with Landon Loomis for mom & dad’s date night (we’re swapping date nights/babysitting with our Loomis friends!)…

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…improved your falsetto…
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…spent an afternoon making a new friend – Selah May – and hanging out with friends of ours we hadn’t seen since their wedding in 2008…

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You have made tremendous strides in the church nursery, no longer crying the entire hour that you’re separated from momma. I love knowing you’re happy and just fine, and that you’re surrounded by a whole slew of people who love you to pieces (even if you do cry the entire time).

You’re developing more diverse facial expressions and experimenting with your vocal chords.

You really love mirrors and give me the biggest grin when you see my reflection next to yours.

You love being outside, you mostly love taking naps. You still love baths and being outdoors.

You went to your first Detroit Tigers baseball game in honor of our new Mother’s & Father’s Day tradition…

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and that same evening went to your weekly worship practice just like you’ve done since you were 5 days old…

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We’ve become more and more crazy about you with each passing day, Kirsten. You are gorgeous. You are smart. You are strong. You’re our girl. And we love you.

Happy Half Birthday! 

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Stuff that works

In my six months of mothering, these are the items and the systems that work for me. It’s so hard (read “impossible”) to know what you actually need for your baby when you’re a new parent. There’s so many products; it’s overwhelming. This post is my effort to help whittle down that list.

My favorite things

Baby K’tan is a wonderful soft sided baby carrier which has all the benefits of a “wrap” style (like the boba or Moby) without the steep learning curve of learning to wrap. It’s super portable and super fast and easy to use. Kirsten and I both love it. She’s taken many, many many  naps in it. She’s been to almost every worship practice in it (since she was 5 days old). She likes to go shopping in it and to work in it. She plays video games with Daddy in it. These are sized – small, medium, large, etc – so Kevin has a medium and I have a small. They are easily washable.

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Sleepsuits (0-9 months) are our favorite for a cozy bedtime. She’s worn one just like this one from Carter’s since she was a few weeks old and she’s still wearing it at 6 months. It’s easy and warm and soft. We also like the sleeper gowns that have an elastic opening at the bottom. This made multiple middle-of-the-night diaper changes in those early weeks super easy. And they’re adorable.

Burp rags – finding the right burp clothes is super important, especially if you have a baby who spits up like it’s her full-time job. The old fashioned tri fold diapers or green sprout muslin absorb and absorb well. Other clothes are cute, but not as absorbent and practical.

Socks – We adore these “Noodle Brand” Mary Janes that Kirsten wears almost every day. They’re long enough that they don’t ever fall off and they’re just plain adorable.

Bumbo – This little seat is genius. Kirsten sat it for the first time when she was just about 6 weeks old. She was still months away from sitting independently, but this seat does a great job of supporting an unstable infant and gives them an opportunity to learn head support. We sit it on the counter while we’re cooking dinner and she gets to watch and participate in the family process. Ours has a detachable food tray which is great for keeping her pacifier or toys from falling. It’s super easy clean up – no nooks or crannies. And it’s a perfect booster seat as kids get older.

Swaddle Blankets (muslin) – These have so many wonderful uses. They are a lightweight, soft cotton fabric in a large 40×40 inch square. We used them constantly the first two months to tightly swaddle our little girl when she was fussy or needing a nap or basically all of the time. Nowadays, they’re useful to block the sun on stroller rides or lay on the ground in the church to play. Kirsten likes to use them to snuggle with at naptime and covers her face with them to sleep. Aden + Anais sells a four pack for around $35. Four to eight of these blankets would be sufficient.

Baby Bath Towels  – We received multiple lightweight hooded towels which were great for the first couple months of her tininess. But I’m super thankful for the few people who created homemade hooded towels for our girl – out of a full-sized adult towel and some sort of attached washcloth as a hood. What I’m saying is, the bigger the better. I think the hood will be nice once she’s a toddler and walking around after her bath, but for now, a large towel is my preference for her bathtime.

Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – This bed option is wonderful. The Rock ‘n Play is lightweight and easy to transport and inexpensive. It’s what Kirsten slept in at my bedside for her first 2 months. It’s been back and forth to the church for naps and in hotels for overnights. Between this and a pack ‘n play, you’re pretty set.

Swing – This is the exact swing we received from our registry. I researched swings for hours one day, trying to figure out what was important and what wasn’t and what a good price was. This was literally the first thing Kirsten napped in when she came home from the hospital. Most days for the first 5 months she spent at least one nap in her swing. I love that this has a wall adaptor and doesn’t need batteries. I like the way the seat is more bed-like and reclined and cradling, rather than upright. I love how it swings left to right or front to back. Kirsten loves the music and the nature sounds and the way the lights bounce off the soft draping.


Cloth diaper system

I have 18 diapers (Bum Genius Freetime All in One Diapers) and it seems like the perfect amount. I do a load of diaper laundry about every day-and-a-half. I use cloth wipes as well. Thanks to the brilliance of a friend, this is so easy: use dampened baby washcloths as your wipes. She recommended a diaper warmer just so you can store the washcloths and keep them wet (and warm is a bonus).

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We use a Diaper Sprayer attached to the toilet and then store the soiled diapers and cloth wipes in a large Planet Wise bag (which then gets washed with each load). I use homemade laundry detergent and do a cycle of cold then a shortened cycle on hot, then hang to dry on a drying rack.

[homemade detergent = 1 bar ivory soap, grated + 1 cup borax + 1 cup washing soda. I normally make up a giant batch with an entire box of borax and washing soda and seven bars of soap. 2 Tbsp per load.]

The Diaper Dekor is a fantastic diaper pail for disposables (which we use very rarely) or just as a trash can. It does have special bags (one long tube that you cut to size each time) but I think the cool thing is it can be used with regular trash bags and as a “regular” garbage can when you’re done with diapers. I don’t know how the smell is contained if you use regular bags, but it works wonderful. I haven’t changed it in a month and I don’t smell a thing. It can be used for cloth diapers too, but we opted for the Planet Wise Bags.


Breastfeeding System

I have had countless conversations with women who have or are breastfeeding and every one of us has a unique story with specific problems and frustrations and different favorite solutions. These are what work for me. I was blessed with an overwhelmingly strong supply of milk from the get-go. I have a freezer full of pumped milk simply because I struggled with painful engorgement until about 4-1/2 months in and I had a forceful let down that would choke my little one if I didn’t relieve some of the pressure first.
Nursing bras – A couple weeks before my due date I went to Motherhood Maternity/Destination Maternity and got sized for nursing bras. Prior to pregnancy I was a 34B and I was sized for a 38C. I believe I was mis-sized and should have gotten a 38B. I purchased two soft sided bras (that were sized as “large” – wish I had gotten the “medium”) and two more shaped bras, with no underwire, but a bit of a side wire. I liked them at first, but honestly it’s so much easier to wear a sports bra or a non-underwire bra and just lift it up to nurse. It’s simpler because I don’t have to put my hand down my shirt to re-snap it. I was a tangled mess when I was trying to be discreet. I also fought plugged ducts in my armpits and the side wires did not help the problem.
So my recommendation is to go get a regular soft-sided bra in your new size. (I got two for $18 at TJ Maxx). Using Lanisoh disposable breast pads are super simple with this system because they stay in place as you lift and then replace your bra. (They have two sticky spots which work better than Medela one’s with just one sticky spot).
The first month or so I used washable breast pads exclusively. I really liked them because I had so much leakage. I went through at least 5 or 6 sets a day, constantly washing them in the sink and hanging them to dry (hoping they’d dry fast enough.) I love using washable products, but they don’t absorb as much as the disposables. I would constantly wake up during the night with my bra and everything soaked through. Bottom line: I liked having both options of breast pads.
If you have painful engorgement, I highly recommend splurging on the Lanisoh Breast Therapy. I could talk a long time about the pain I had early on, plugged ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Use them from day one for relief.

I would love to talk with you more about any products you have questions on or need some suggestions. The market changes quickly, but this is a good starting point.

The Dance of Grace & Trust

As my daughter creeps closer and closer to six months old, I get more excited and more freaked out. You see, I had a goal of having her solely breastfed for her first six months. In those early weeks I thought, “there is no way in heck I can survive this for SIX MONTHS.” But a wise friend told me (even before I had my baby girl), “It’s hard, just take it a day at a time. Don’t set up big goals, set tiny ones. I’m going to nurse her this week.” Nursing got easier and easier as I developed the procedures that worked for us and as I figured out what accessories I needed or didn’t need. And here we are….the end of full-time breastfeeding is in sight.

I can NOT wait until her daddy can feed her and I’m not her only source of sustenance and we can watch her experience new foods and sit at the table with us. I have a freezer full of pumped breastmilk and we taught her to use a bottle around 8 weeks. I kept offering to Kevin that I could share the feeding with him and a bottle. But he knew how well things were going and how much I had desired this gift. So he waited.

And I’m so stoked that we made it. But I am sad to see this special season of breastfeeding intimacy transition to something new. It’s been so sweet; most of the time I take it for granted. Lord Jesus, I am so thankful for this gift that was not a given. Thank you for bringing in my milk and allowing her the skill the nurse well and plumping her right up. I am so thankful.

Another paradox of motherhood, right? 

But here’s the real confession: I’m freaked out by what may or may not happen once I ease back on nursing.

I know my fertility will (maybe, probably, perhaps, who knows…) return once I’m not breastfeeding ’round the clock. I know I could conceivably get pregnant (…conceivably….ha. that’s punny…) in the coming months. And part of me thinks, “FOR THE LOVE, I just want to be normal again! I don’t want to be pregnant or nursing or a storehouse of uncontrollable hormones!” (I suppose that last one happens regardless…) I can’t fathom going through that whole ordeal again, so soon. Pregnancy was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Pregnancy is no joke.

But the other part of me thinks, “What if I can’t get pregnant? I’m not getting any younger and I have endometriosis and a whole bunch of other fertility issues and time is of the essence. And what if?” How long do we wait this next time before calling it quits?

So yeah, I want to get pregnant like right now…in the next few months. I would love to have babies close in age. And we always said that once we started a family, we wouldn’t prevent pregnancies until we’re “done.” I don’t want to live once again in the fear of monthly cycles and wondering and waiting and trying to not get all wrapped up in the hope and expectation for the future.

It’s hard to believe that I could move from one worry to another so quickly, despite the glorious answer to prayer dozing in her crib down the hall. 

And so I pray:

Holy Father, giver and sustainer of life, grant that I may know your perfect peace and trust in your infinite wisdom. Keep my mind fixed on the work of your kingdom and content with the gift of “today.”

Amen.

Kirsten Grace – Month 5

Motherhood is the most natural and the most foreign role I have ever experienced. So many aspects of mothering are paradoxical, really. Pregnancy is both wonderfully exhilarating and terribly debilitating. Labor and delivery is the most freakish experience because you’re at the mercy of your body’s process. But it’s also the most empowering experience as you conquer a marathon you never could have trained for. Breastfeeding is a divine invention in which your body responds to your baby’s needs without your consent, yet you have no clue what you’re doing and you wonder why something so natural is so forceful and painful and messy. Then there’s the days and nights caring for the needs of this child. You do it without a second thought while also wanting to justkeepsleeping for the love. All of it manages to drive you absolutely insane while filling you to brim with a love you’ve never known.

Paradox, I tell you.

So here we are, little girl, five months in to our face-to-face relationship as mother and daughter. I think it’s taken this long for either of us to feel like we have a clue what we’re doing. You seem to have finally settled into this new home. “Well, I guess I’m here to stay,” I imagine you thinking. “I might as well get comfortable.” It’s no longer an either-or: Either you’re asleep or you’re crying. (And we thought you were an “easy” baby. Ha. We just didn’t know any better.) Now, you’re awake for a lot more of the day and mostly not crying. You fuss when you’re tired or hungry (or sometimes just for effect), but for the majority of the day you’re a wonderfully happy girl. You like just being with us, sitting in your bumbo or your exersaucer, laying on a quilt on the floor. Basically if you can see mom or dad (or better…both of us!), you’re content. You’ve started giggling when we do silly things or tickle you. (You have the same ticklish spots on your back shoulder blades just like your daddy.) But more than a giggle, you’ve launched into some full fledged laughter! Oh my gosh, there is nothing better than hearing you crack up!

I love watching the joy you bring to other people. When you flash that gummy grin, people just light up. You’re pretty comfortable with different friends or even strangers holding you…just so long as mom or dad is in eyesight. (When that’s not the case…well…your dramatic side makes an appearance.) Your last two weeks in the church nursery were wonderfully successful – you didn’t scream the whole time; in fact, you didn’t even fuss too much. Yay! (Baby Girl, I know Sundays are so hard. The schedule is different, the place isn’t home, mom and dad have to be far away from you for a while. It’ll get easier, I promise. Pretty soon you’ll be rolling under the pews, scampering through classrooms, collecting used communion cups, coloring on bulletins, and being parented by whoever is in your vicinity…because, Lord knows, we’ll need help.)

And as for me, I have been going through the motions of mothering from your very first breath. In those early moments, we gazed at each other through swollen eyes and sweaty brow, covered in all sorts of life-sustaining fluids, and it was love, yes. But five months in, I can’t express how my love has deepened, transformed into a genuine adoration of who you are, Kirsten Grace. We’re finally getting to know one another, getting to like one another, genuinely loving our time together rather than simply surviving in a symbiotic-sort-of-relationship.

The learning curve was so steep in those first few days (and weeks. and months.) My body was recovering from laboring for two days and pushing for 6 hours and 37 minutes straight (I’m not kidding, I really did that) and from carrying a baby for 40 weeks. My mind needed to cope and process what I’d been through. I was learning how to hold a newborn and change her diapers and what her poop is supposed to look like and what her cries are trying to tell me. She and I were figuring out the dance of breastfeeding, which went beautifully from moment one and has continued to nourish her all these months. God answered that prayer of mine with such abundance that I have a freezer full of excess milk.*

*(I could write a whole post on nursing. Oh, the cracked nipples that caused my whole body to go tense when she would latch. Oh, the lightning let down that hurt so badly I cried. Oh, the powerful flow that choked her and sprays all over the place. Oh, the leaking through breast pads and tank tops and shirts. Oh, the engorgement. Like I said, a whole post…(parenthetical statement inside of another parenthetical statement: If any of you pregnant or new moms need advice or want to vent or would like a good laugh, I’m more than willing to share my breastfeeding stories and anecdotes with you.))

Doing all of that ^ on less sleep than ever, while trying to shed my pregnancy pounds and maintaining my house and piles of laundry and getting back to teaching yoga, and keeping up with my church responsibilities and pastoral ministry. Yeah, it was overwhelming at times and I was pretty sure I was going to drop a few of the plates I was spinning, but God is good. I have a husband who shoulders many of my responsibilities with me, friends and family who are more than willing to step in or lend a listening ear, and a church family that has been gracious and excited for our new family and responsive to our leadership and my call to the pastorate.

Being a mom is hard. It’s not always fun and frankly I didn’t have sappy, gussy, lovey-dovey feelings for my new baby right away. I was just trying to cope. I wasn’t depressed at all, but it wasn’t the sunshine and roses I’d thought it might be and I couldn’t conjure up those fluffy feelings of “oh, I just can’t stop looking at her.” So baby-mommas, I am here to tell you it’s ok to be honest with where you’re at. When someone asks how you’re doing it’s ok to say, “I’m wonderful and terrible all at the same time.” Because motherhood is the most natural thing in the world. And motherhood is the most foreign thing in the world. You adore your offspring yet you wish you could just go back to the days of showering for as long as you want and going out to ice cream at 9pm because it’s not your bedtime and you want ice cream, for the love. Your heart aches when you’re away from you baby for more than 45 minutes but you also miss the days of going for a long run and not feeling like your insides were going to fall out. You never could have imagined scheduling things around her nap times, but for the love if someone wakes up your sleeping baby…

Kirsten Grace, you are beautiful and wonderful and silly and lovable. You are the biggest challenge and the best source of sanctification I have ever experienced. You are a living representation of God’s great love for humanity and his tender care of me and my desire to be your mom. You are everything I dreamed you would be and woah so much more. I adore you. I can’t imagine life without you. You are my girl.

I love you.

Mama

Kirsten Grace Month 5

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