Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cooper Man

My last post was written during a particularly turbulent day in our house. HA. So dramatic. It's funny how a little sleep + perspective can make you feel like you are living a totally different life. Life has been very busy and very fulfilling with my three kiddos. I've had MANY more happy moments than infuriating moments. I'm really soaking up this phase because Jane will be leaving us for kindergarten soon. (unless I decide to homeschool her for kindergarten- this will be a decision that requires a lot of thought and prayer!)

Cooper man is 5 weeks old today! He is becoming a lot more high maintenance. Right on track with my girls. I swear all of my babies have been identical in their behavior for the first 6-8 months. Although I think Lyla had a few patches that were EXTRA rough. But what is really crazy is that I don't remember it all that well. So when Cooper is crying, I'm able to usually keep that perspective-- just get through this crying fit and it will all be alright. In two years I will have to go back to read in his baby book or this blog to remember whether or not he was a fussy baby. HA! Luckily, he still sleeps pretty well at night without too much crying. I might go off dairy again like I did with Lyla to see if it helps his fussiness lessen. It seemed to help with Lyla.

Cooper is so content in the baby wrap. I have a moby wrap, but I tried my friend's solly wrap the other day and ever since, the Moby wrap totally annoys me! It is still a total lifesaver but when we move back to the states I will definitely be getting a solly. As is customary with babies, and basically all humans in general, this little guy loves being outside. Perfect, because, we all do!

The girls still aren't sick of him. They will love on him all day if I let them. Lyla is FINALLY calling HIM a "him" a good 50% of the time. Every time she says "him" she gets proud of herself and sayd "Mommy! I said HIM!" They are so good at sticking his pacifier in, and their daily question is "can I hold him, on my chest?!" They love it when he will cuddle up on their chest, but he doesn't share their enthusiasm about it :)  He prefers mine.

One funny thing about him is that he HATES to be tickled! Every time we tickle his little tummy (very lightly) he makes this very distinct grunting noise. Without fail. It is hilarious. Jeff and I seem to finally be getting back into a groove, with this family of 5. It feels soooo nice to not be out of sorts.

We are both SO so in love with our boy.





Friday, April 6, 2018

one month with three kids

The first 2 weeks with 3 kids was a dream. Of COURSE it was, my mom was here and she kept my house sparkling, our bellies fed, and my girls happy. And she didn't even hog my baby even though I KNOW she wanted to ;) Thats real love.

I remember the first morning I got all 3 kids ready by myself by 9 am. I am pretty sure I told myself I was a rockstar, out loud. Because I felt like it! I remember having the same feeling when I first did that with 2 kids. Cooper literally didn't cry for the first 3 weeks. Now he has learned that he loves to be held, about as much as I love to hold him. And so, inevitably, the crying has emerged. I've got all the gratitude in the world for my baby wrap. I didn't have one with either of my girls, but it is a lifesaver, a game changer, a peace giver. I can cook meals, do school lessons, play on the ground with my girls, go on walks, do laundry, clean, etc and ALSO hold my baby!

So at the beginning if you'd ask me how the girls are adjusting, I would've beamed and exclaimed "they are doing great!" DUH, because they had a whole other adult around to love on them. And Jeff was around a whole lot too. Jeff and I were having special time with each girl or taking them on a date almost daily. Well now my mom is gone, and paternity leave is over, and daily dates are NOT possible. I still carve out time each day for each girl to have one on one time with me, but according to their behavior, the time I am giving them is NOT enough.

In all my spare seconds I've been listening to mom podcasts (power of moms, 3 in 30, about progress, and extraordinary moms are a few of my faves.) that help me to keep a good perspective and remain calm (on the outside). Despite my best efforts, my girls have spent a lot of time yelling at each other, having tantrums, regressing in potty training, and Jane has taken it upon herself to be the "mommy button pusher"....via questions like "Mom, why don't you love me?" (*serious eye roll) And can someone just explain to me WHY my 2 year old spends an entire 3 hours begging for apple sauce and I say no because she never EVER eats it. Then I give it to her finally and she doesn't eat it, but she DOES smear it all over herself and the table, and the freshly mopped floor. (this just happened as I was typing. I should've done this during nap time. I know better.) DEEP BREATHS.

Having a sweet baby to snuggle is a great solace for when those buttons are so forcefully pushed.

I know the biggest problem is I haven't been filling my cup, at all, whatsoever. I will forever and ever be the greatest advocate of mommas filling their cups because i've experienced motherhood with a full cup, and I've experienced it with a completely drained out and dried up cup. The difference is cleaning up a mess through gritted teeth vs. cleaning up a mess with my child with a smile and a teaching moment. So this blog post is my first official attempt at filling my cup back up.

SO here is to more running by myself, exercising, dates with jeff (+baby), quiet scripture study ALONE, and all the other things that fill my cup. I want to be my best self.

OK so its obvious it hasn't been smooth sailing, but there has been a whole lot of joy around these parts. You can't help being happy with a fresh from heaven little boy. The girls resent the time I give to him, but they certainly don't resent him. They both beg to hold him multiple times a day and have been wonderful helpers. Eager to pop in his pacifier when they can tell he is getting fussy, eager to run a burp rag to me when Im burping him and once again forgot to get one before I sat down. Eager to come and stare intently as I change Cooper's diaper, when Lyla has asks things like "Mom, you cleanin' his balloon?!" We've read a lot of books and had a lot of dance parties. We've even been able to venture outside more the past week since spring time is happily emerging! And going on walks is Lyla's love language.  Bless the sunshine. And bless my husband. Another difficulty has been trying to be the wife he needs and make time to connect with each other. He has been a champion at helping with the kids and with chores, and has really stepped up to the plate.

My prayers will remain fervent that I can know how to best help the girls through this transition. I've felt physical and emotional strength come to me when I've prayed, and I've felt so grateful. I love my 3 kids, and this is the phase of life that I know I will miss so much one day. Also the phase of life I dreamed about all growing up. These are the days, and I am so determined to LOVE them. I really do love it most of the time, but my goodness, I can't expect to have zero struggles as a parent, especially as I transition from 2 kids to 3. More often than feeling frustration, I feel absolutely humbled flat that I have the privilege and responsibility to teach these sweet children how to live happily and productively in this world, and just complete joy. Because more than anything, thats what they give me. JOY. Joy doesn't come without sorrow, struggle, and a whole lotta learning ;)
 ^^ picked out their own outfits



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Cooper's Birth Story

Cooper’s birth story is so special to me. My second natural birth, and my favorite birth experience thus far. It really was one of the most amazing, powerful, and sacred experiences of my life. It brought me closer to heaven and helped me to appreciate my body and recognize how, when combined with a determined mind, it can do amazing things. 

I spent the days and weeks leading up to his birth visualizing how it would go. It would be day time, and I would remain calm and focus on gratitude. I thought about experiencing an intense pain, and welcoming it. Working with, and being grateful for the pain, instead of tensing up and wishing it away. I wanted that pain because it was bringing me that much closer to my son. I visualized my body opening up and having plenty of room for my baby to make his entrance into this world, regardless of his size. I read books and positive birth stories about women who trusted their bodies, trusted Heavenly Father’s perfect design; and went into birth with confidence and excitement. That’s what I was building for myself. Confidence in my body, confidence in God that he would be with me if I just asked, and that He would give me the strength and clarity of mind to push through the pain.

— March 2nd —I started having a few hours a day where I would have contractions- and sometimes they were coming every 5 minutes. Every day, the contractions would be for longer periods and more frequent. I was absolutely driving myself crazy wondering if it was “for real” this time or if my body was just playing a cruel joke on me. I know by now what a braxton hicks contraction feels like, these were not them. They were painful and fairly strong. Every time I got a contraction I would get a glimmer of hope, which would quickly turn into a feeling of anger because it was probably just another fake one. It was incredibly mentally draining. I’m always anxious at the end of pregnancies but the anxiety with this one was by far the worse because I couldn’t keep my mind off of it since I had constant physical reminders of what MAY or MAY NOT be happening in the near future for me. I was just aching to hold my baby in my arms. 

After days of this, on monday I had them all day AND all through the night. All the other days they would stop at night. Jeff and I stayed up until past midnight deliberating on whether we should go to the hospital. But they weren’t getting stronger and we decided to try to get some sleep; which I’m grateful for now! 

— March 6, 2018 — That next morning I woke up, trying my best to hide my frustration, and failing. My angel friend Ashley offered to watch my kids while we went to the hospital, so we dropped them off and drove. Even though I knew I wasn't in active labor, I needed to see if I had made any progression. That drive to the hospital was the longest drive OF MY LIFE. (the hospital is 30 minutes away) Poor jeff was starving and I wouldn’t even let him stop at McDonalds to get food because I was just SO anxious. We got to the hospital and I told the nurses I needed checked. They weren’t taking me seriously since I wasn't doubled over in pain. Once I told the doctor this was my third baby, their attitude changed and they got me hooked up to the monitor immediately.. After 30 minutes of that, the doctor checked me! I was at a 6!

RUSH of joy. The grumpiness and frustration that had built up the past few weeks was instantly flushed out and replaced with utter giddiness and joy and ENERGY. Three things that had been hard for me to come by for the past 3ish weeks… They brought us to a hospital room and told me to let them know if the contractions got stronger. Funny how I thought that being in a hospital would magically make these contractions get stronger after a week of having them. We waited around in the room, then went down to the cafe to get some food, got massages in the massage chairs, and just relaxed and hung out together. A deep breath as a couple before a life change that would leave a little less opportunity for such deep breaths ;)

After 3 hours, I hadn’t progressed much. (surprise, surprise) The doctor said he needed to break my water or give me pitocin. Breaking my water scared me because, knowing my body, I knew it would get intense SUPER fast. I almost opted for pitocin but the doctor told me that breaking my water would be the better option. I knew he was right. I swallowed my fear, and told him to do it. 

^^ Last bump pic. Literally taken about an hour before he was born. How crazy is that?! He went from being all the way inside my body to laying on those blue towels behind me in such a short amount of time. It will just never NOT be mind boggling.
 ^^ check out the time on that clock 15:2-- , he was born about 10-15 minutes after this. (15:38.) During a contraction break at the most intense part of labor.
 Sure enough, the contractions went from about a 3 on the pain scale to a 7 almost immediately. I was so much more calm during this labor because of how incredibly excited I was to meet my baby. I breathed through the contractions, after requesting (as kindly as I could muster) for jeff to “please not talk to me while I’m having contractions.” I had a handful of contractions like that before they stepped up a notch (or 3). I soared up to the 10 on the pain scale and knew my baby was so close to being here. I started sweating and shaking, and it was so painful. But the breaks in between my contractions were blissful and I had time to gear up for another one and remind myself that he was soooo close! About 25 minutes after they broke my water (honestly it might’ve been even shorter), I started pushing. I pushed for maybe 5 minutes and he was out. At 3:38 pm, Cooper Hans Andersen took his first breath at the same time that I was taking the deepest breath of relief and joy. The greatest feeling of joy and empowerment came over me and I cried and cried as they handed my sweet boy to me. Pure ecstasy. A little bit of heaven was now in my arms, and there to stay. I had envisioned this moment SO much with this pregnancy, and it was sweeter than I could’ve ever anticipated. One of the doctors made a comment “big baby!” and I was like “whaaaaat?! I have tiny babies!” I thought he was a little crazy but that scale proved me wrong. 8 lbs 10 oz of perfection. (Jane was 5 lbs 13 oz, Lyla was 6 lbs 2 oz)

I was so happy with my boy, so proud of my body, and so grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to experience something so powerful and sacred. For giving me this body that really was MADE to do this. 
 I held my baby, and felt that familiar, mutual recognition that I’ve experienced with each child as they look up at you with their calm, wide eyes. We’ve known each other before, and our spirits are forever connected and intertwined. I spent an hour basking in that joyful knowledge and admiring every little feature. His daddy’s lips, his mommy’s ears. His ten perfect, tiny fingers and toes. His squishy (!!) kissable cheeks. Hours later I got to watch as my two ecstatic little girls admired the very same things on their new baby brother. The baby they have sang songs to for months, and the one they’ve been praying for just as long. They played ‘this little piggy’ with his toes and Lyla exclaimed “AH! He loves me!” We all felt a palpable love for, and from, each other. Our family is that much more complete and it has never felt so right.

There’s nothing quite like the responsibility of another precious spirit that inspires me to work even harder to reach my divine potential, with a fervent hope that by doing so I can help him reach his, too. I’ve got some work to do.

Friday, March 2, 2018

END OF PREGNANCY.

38.5 weeks

Wow, those women who are like "yeah my third pregnancy just flew by because I was so busy and distracted with my other two kids".... yeah CANNOT RELATE. My girls keep me plenty busy, wiping bums, teaching letters, cleaning up messes, singing songs, reading books, cooking meals and more meals and more meals. Nesting/deep cleaning like a maniac. I keep busy, I promise. But that in no way affects how SLOWLY this last month of pregnancy has gone. I am in a mental state that I've never quite reached before. I've told myself that I just "forgot" how anxious and consumed you get towards the end, but Jeff and I both agree that this time is somehow MUCH worse than the other two pregnancies. It has been SO hard. I think it's because I finally can truly grasp the concept that a real live baby is about to come out of me. (I feel like it was still too surreal for me the first two times.) I am soooo anxious to meet that baby.

The hardest part is I have been having SO MANY CONTRACTIONS. Oh my gosh, I promise you I know what a Braxton Hicks contraction is, and these are not them. For the past few weeks I have them daily, sometimes sporadically. But the past few days they have gotten much more intense and regular.  If you look up on google "when should I go to the hospital?", I should've gone about 4 times by now. Wow, can I just tell you, this is not only physically challenging- but incredibly mentally challenging as well. Every time those darn contractions start I wonder "could this be it?" and its just not. It's just a whole lot of pain for nothing. I was hardly dilated today when I went in for my appointment. (I think, there is a little bit of a language barrier-- they don't use terms like effacement and dilation, so I'm just super confused.) All I know is that I'm having contractions that feel like labor, yet they are doing nothing. This is not fun. Doesn't help when Jeff says "you are just thinking about it too much, they are probably just Braxton Hicks..." So I'm feeling mid-range labor contractions and then look like a crazy person when I have nothing to show for it.

I'm also MUCH bigger than I've been with the other two pregnancies too, and more hormonal, emotional....it's just not fun. Not sleeping well, which is probably a main contributor to the emotional-ness. We are all SO ready for this pregnancy to be over. Jane has started crying a few times this past week because she is "sick of waiting for baby brother"....or maybe she just wants her happy, energetic mom back ;) Haha. I've taught Jane all about contractions and cervixes and all that good stuff, because homegirl leaves no question un-asked.

I really feel mentally prepared to give birth. I'm not even a little bit scared this time around, I've done a lot of mental prep. Reading books, tips on natural birth, and listening to positive natural birth experiences. I have nothing but excitement towards my impending labor. I'm trying really hard to be spiritually prepared as well, and to strengthen my connection with heaven. For some reason pregnancy hormones (especially the ones in the beginning and at the end of pregnancy) always make this aspect of my life more of a challenge. I mean I don't want to just blame everything on hormones, maybe it's some sort of mental block I have. Whatever the reason, I could definitely stand to improve. I just hope this baby can come home to a loving, safe atmosphere, one that won't contrast heaven, his most recent atmosphere, so much.
me and my hospital bag, NOT heading to the hospital. 
we spend HOURS a day reading lately. So grateful my girls never get sick of being read to. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Days in the Life

I've been bound and determined to avoid the winter blues this year, and so I've tried to be really intentional about keeping the girls and myself productive and happy. I'll be real, 34 weeks pregnant is not always conducive to physical productivity. But if I'm not feeling super energetic, reading books to the girls on the couch is always a good option ;) I kinda just wanted to record what our days have been looking like lately. Literally for posterity, and for me later on. I just finished reading my grandma's journal from when she was raising my mom and her siblings, and it made me want to write more about our day-to-day happenings. I'm SO grateful I have so many pictures and videos of my girls thus far, but they won't remember what went on behind the scenes...and I might not either! So I'm writing it down.

I started a preschool co-op with jane and got her out of german school. I've been wanting to do this since I moved here but was never able to find more than one mom nearby who wanted to do it with me. Then the stars magically aligned when 2 of my good friends decided to get their kids out of their current pre-school and voila-- joy school. Holy cow it has been SO much better for jane. Her behavior has improved drastically, she has way more energy (when she was going to german school, she HAD to have a nap daily), and she doesn't come home complaining about other kids hitting and pinching her every day. It's only 2 days a week, which is perfect for me.






She is still loving ballet/tap dancing class. She also wants to do gymnastics and soccer. She has spent many afternoons lately practicing "hand stands" ;)

On the days she doesn't have joy school, we try to have very structured mornings. We start with breakfast, the big 5, (brushing teeth, getting dressed, saying prayers, cleaning room, and getting hair done!), then we practice a poem or scripture that the girls are trying to memorize. After we are all ready, I play some fun music while we do a chore, and then it's school time. I only spend about 30 minutes with each girl. With Jane we've been working a lot on reading, and Lyla has shapes/colors/letters etc sticker books that we work on. I try to teach them about all sorts of things and have been using the Usborne Children's Encyclopedia as a good guide.

After school time, it's snack time then creative time. Some variation of painting, coloring, crafting, etc. I have gotten quite a few fun creative activities for the girls recently. For any other moms of toddlers reading, the biggest hits have been this, this (with activity books to go with them), this, and this. Perfect activities to pull out to bust some boredom and get their minds stimulated. My girls are happiest when they are creating! After all that, lunch and naps for lyla. Jane and I love to play games while Lyla naps. Lyla is just starting to be able to grasp a few games, or at least have enough self control to "be on my team" ;) Candyland is about the only one she can play for real.






Anyways, lest any of you think this goes smoothly and flawlessly every morning, think again. But it has helped my sanity, and the girls' to have a schedule. In the afternoons we either have activities or play dates, or just a lot of the girls running around playing hide and seek, reading books, playing baby dolls, or playing with toys, and lately- a lot of playing outside in the snow! I have absolutely LOVED all the snow we've been getting in Germany. 10 times more than we've gotten the past 2 winters combined! I love how beautiful it is, and that the girls get so excited to play in it. SO much better than just being cold and brown everywhere :) And we will throw in an episode of Planet Earth once in awhile too. Jane loves to get a piece of paper out and draw pictures of the animals she is leaning about.

Jeff and I have been trying to take the girls out on saturdays to do something really fun since those sorts of things might be more limited for awhile after I have another baby. Swimming, and Megafun, and shopping. Etc. One saturday our "fun" plans fell through and we convinced the girls that we could go to a candy store. (just a big grocery store in the big town near us) We let them pick out their own candy and ride the mechanical horse, and they thought it was about the best thing to ever happen to them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December Happiness!

I love decking the halls. I don't think there is ever a time I wish I was rich more than when I am decorating my house for christmas. I just wish I could buy ALL the christmas decorations that my heart desires. My house would be the most lovely winter wonderland, I will tell you that. But I still get so happy to put up the decorations we do have ;)
Our christmas season was kicked off at the tail end of my family's end, we went to our beloved Guteneck Christmas market which never ceases to amaze us. That's the only christmas market we have been to this year, because jeff hasn't been in the best physical condition to be hauling kids around christmas markets ;) He got surgery the first day of december. After he got out of surgery I brought him a big mac from mcdonalds, and it made him cry of happiness. He hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours and the anesthesia was still wearing off. More tears than I've ever seen my husband shed! He was crying about how his nurses didn't speak english, how happy he was to eat big macs, and how grateful he was for his glasses- to name just a few. It was hilarious. So because of his surgery, he got 2 weeks off of work. Well, it ended up being just a week and a half but it was so strange, and so wonderful to have him just HOME with us. 

 A lot of laying down on the carpet, because that was the most comfortable position. Jane curled up next to him every afternoon on the floor and usually ended up falling asleep next to him. Even though Jeff couldn't lift the kids or move like he usually does, it was still so nice to have him as back up. He was there to calm tantrums and give extra cuddles when needed and it made being a mom a breeze. The kids were just so much happier having him home, too.
Our little kid friendly nativity, I love how Jane arranged it :) 
 So we had a BIG surprise in our family! I went to a doctor's appointment where it was revealed that we were actually having a baby BOY!! I was shocked, although I don't know if I should've been so surprised because EVERY single ultrasound that we had, the baby's legs were completely closed, and the doctor just thought one time that it looked like a girl, but that was with closed legs. Well the moment of cooperation finally arrived, and with it, a VERY different view where it seemed (even to me) to be an obvious boy. Part of me is hesitant to believe the doctor either way now, but I DID see it with my own eyes. And it explains why this baby has been SO much more active than  my girlies :) Jeff has been so SO excited about a boy!!
 We went to visit Santa, and just like last year, Jane had the idea to make cookies to bring to Santa since he gives so many presents, she decided he deserved one too! Heart of gold. I could tell as we were waiting in line that she was feeling nervous about talking to him and sitting on his lap, but she was brave! Lyla, was waving enthusiastically the whole time in line, and had a FREAK OUT when it came time to sit on his lap. He wouldn't even let jeff hand her over. But she did summon the courage to ask him to bring her "candy for christmas". Jane asked for a baby doll. Easy enough. ha!
 Checking him out together...

We made a giant batch of sugar cookies to deliver to friends. And spent an incredible amount of time cooking them, frosting them, and then decorating them. I LOVE doing these things with my girls. I just know one day my heart will ache when I don't have little eager, happy helpers in the kitchen with me. 
We have been christmas crafting a ton. While jamming out to christmas playlists. Seriously heaven to me. And to the girls. 
The other day during dinner time prayer, the girls were so sweetly folding their arms so I had to whip out my phone to capture it. Right as I snapped it, Lyla sneakily looked up and reached out for a little mid-prayer snack ;) I laughed so hard when I saw this picture, classic Lyla. She can often be found stuffing her face during the prayer. 
We also made a giant batch of gingerbread play doh to deliver and to play with ourselves. It was a total hit. We got some cute sequins and christmas buttons to decorate the gingerbread men with. Jane chose this over our friday night movie, which is really saying something! 
Lots of baking going around here and I couldn't love my helper anymore. I love my girls soooo much. I'm also really happy with myself this year because I havent stressed myself out too much like I tend to do around december. I've focused a lot more on just having meaningful moments with my girls, and teaching them about Baby Jesus and Lighting the World. Every morning Jane asks me what the Light the World challenge is for the day. Some ideas are more feasible than others, but we've been doing our best to light the world. And it has also led to some beautiful conversations with Jane where I am once again BLOWN AWAY by her maturity and her incredible empathy. I learn a lot from her, 

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