Monday, April 30, 2012

Dan Foster, Dwayne's oldest friend, came to visit with his wife Breeze and their kids yesterday. He and Dwayne posed with their newest babies in the picture above. This picture will mean alot to both our families. There is a celebrated photo of the two of these men laying next to each other as infants in a crib, so this picture (and all the others) are always compared to that one and that always makes everyone smile.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We found some cool poop in our backyard. (Yes. I did just say that.)  And we were able to identify what animal it came from with the help of this book.  (It was a deer.)

 Now that we have seen the deer poop (scat), we're going to look for signs and tracks of deer as well.  We'll keep you posted if we find any. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Norah went one more place on her list of 101 places.
 See her blog post about it here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grandma Karen and Adele

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aunt Kathy, Aunt Martha, Karen, David and their kids came to visit while Dwayne's mom and dad are here. (The Foster family was Dwayne's second family growing up).  They brought a delicious cookie-cake for Adele, new toy blocks and Phillies t-shirts for the whole family... including one that will fit the baby! The big girls went ahead and put their new shirts on and posed for a picture.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dwayne and I celebrated 11 years of marriage with the purchase of a new knife for our collection. The hollow grounds on this one keep onions, potatoes, etc. from sticking to the side of the knife as you chop and for some reason, the shape of this one makes it easy to slice a tomato evenly and thinly over and over. We're lovin' this knife. It's amazing how having the right tool can change your attitude toward the work you have to do in the kitchen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adele's first bath. This picture shows how small she really is. It's hard to accurately capture her tininess in photographs.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hard to believe, but these are not pictures of the same baby. All three of our girls are shown in the photos above. So which is Norah? Avril? and which is Adele?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dwayne and I know that we can pray to God for knowledge and insight and ideas will come to our mind or we will be given the right advice from someone, etc. It's happened many times before.

So lately, I've been seeking God to help us inspire Norah to become more selfless. Many of her impulses right now are purely selfish. Her dad and I model selfless behavior and discipline her for really abhorrent displays of selfishness, but it just didn't ever seem to be enough to make a difference in Norah's heart. She would still be seen snatching the larger piece of cake away from her little sister or taking a really long turn at the Xbox then only giving her friend a short turn, etc. And as normal as this behavior is for a seven year old, Norah was beginning to find it pretty uncomfortable to live with us and act that way since her dad and I aren't selfish and we don't just overlook behavior like that. I started praying to God for help since I felt real compassion for Norah when I saw how her selfishness was making her life difficult and miserable and how even though she got the bigger piece of cake or the longer turn at the Xbox, she wasn't ever truly satisfied.

Not long after I started praying, Dwayne proposed the idea of reading books about Christian heroes (generally unselfish people) with Norah.  He got the idea from his boss who did a similar thing with one of his children. With that, I recommended Dwayne use a book from the series "Christian Heroes: Then and Now." I've had my eye on this series for years. A friend of mine had the whole collection and she would let me borrow the books one at a time years ago. The ones I read, including this book about Gladys Aylward, were just amazing. It's hard to believe they aren't fiction and are about real people in the real world since they are full of outright miracles or miraculous coincidences.

So Dwayne liked the look of the series, too, and he ordered the first two books. Once they came in the mail, he and Norah read the first book, Gladys Aylward, together and they discussed all the events in her life. We're not sure just how much Norah took away from this book yet, but I feel confident that she was inspired and will continue to be inspired by the events in Gladys's life. I am praying they will stick with her, come to mind at certain times, do their work on her conscience and influence her future actions.

On a side note, Norah also learned tons about history and culture with these stories and all at a time when I am too busy caring and recovering from the birth of her baby sister to home school her as usual.  Norah learned geography, how people traveled two generations ago, about Chinese government and customs and religion, etc. all very interesting and valuable from a home school perspective.

I was also impressed when Norah had a jaw-dropping insight into the ways of God when Dwayne asked her, "Why did God allow all this difficult stuff to happen to Gladys on her way to China? Why didn't He just make her trip to China easy?" and Norah answered, "Because Gladys was rejected from missionary school, but God knew she still needed to learn to how to be a missionary." And Dwayne says that's exactly right. He says that it's easy enough to trace how one victory in Gladys's life lead almost perfectly to another larger victory and on and on.

Next, Dwayne and Norah plan to read about George Mueller, the second book in the series. We give God be the glory for this idea and we depend on Him to use these stories to produce the change in Norah's character that will lead to her good. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As her dad and I were walking Norah through her list of chores for the 100th time this morning, we noticed something. She will do things like wipe off parts of the bathroom counter but leave other parts of the counter really dirty. Or she'll pick up all the various toys and books off her floor and just pile them on the top of her dresser or shelf, not taking them back to where they each go.

And as he and I were getting more and more frustrated because she was just going through the motions and as she was getting more and more exasperated because she didn't understand why we were frustrated since she was doing the tasks we asked her to do, something occurred to Dwayne. He pointed out that Norah was focusing on doing the tasks on her lists and not really even understanding the desired result of them. So then I had the idea of changing the wording of Norah's daily routine and replacing her list of tasks with the list of results or goals we want her to accomplish.

So Norah and I just sat down and discussed how we could change the tasks on her list into the goals behind them. You can see the new list of goals above. She came up with most of the wording on her own. So instead of "Take your vitamin. Give Avril her vitamin, too." it says "Yours and Avril's body gets vitamin supplements."  and instead of "Spray the crabs with fresh water."  it says "Crabs shells stay moist."  The whole thing already seems to make more sense to Norah and she seems less exasperated all of a sudden. Here's hoping this helps Norah accomplish the results we expect of her, those good, healthy purposes for which we gave her chores in the first place.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My good friend and neighbor Kim Sokoloski brought us dinner on Friday and gave us a new rattle (new rattles make me so happy) and a Miracle Blanket for Adele. She says she knew I wanted one and the store she went to really wasn't supposed to have them in stock but she took a chance and went anyway. As she was going by the clearance section, she said she saw one left and it was pink, perfect for a little girl! It sounds like it had to be a God-thing. I am so thankful. This little blanket is amazing. Look at this video that shows just how solid of a swaddle this blanket provides. Houdini could not get out of this swaddle! The first time we used it Avril slept for 4 1/2 hours and woke up bright eyed and ready to nurse well. This blanket's a game changer! Thanks, Kim.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Avril says Adele's name, it comes out "My Del." 
There's been so much joy in this house since Adele came home. I find myself surprised by how much Dwayne and I are laughing. He's doing his antics. (He took a wide stance and drank out of two soda cans at once the other night. I almost peed my pajama pants. Literally. You ladies know how it is only a few days after a baby is born. At this point, the ol' bladder is not what it once was or what it will be again.) It's not just Dwayne. I am throwing out zingers right and left, remembering how funny I can be. (Or, at least Dwayne thinks I'm funny because I keep making him laugh so hard his head goes back, his eyes close and his belly shakes.) And the big kids are just being themselves and that only adds to our fun. (Most of the time.) I keep asking myself, "Isn't this time in our lives supposed to be crazy-hard and stressful? Aren't we supposed to yelling at each other more than we laugh?" But as soon as I think that way, I hear a still, small voice say, "My yoke is easy..." and I remember that, oh yes, we love God and we live for Him and He promised over and over that if we gave Him our lives, He'd make them full. Joy isn't exceptional. With Jesus in our home, even in the midst of challenges, joy is a given.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just a quick note to say the last 11 years have been amazing. I love you so much. Happy anniversary!

Dwayne surprised the big girls with PEZ dispensers the other day. He went out to get something for the baby, but I guess he must have noticed these as he was checking out or something. The girls' eyes lit up when he pulled these out of the bag after he got home from the store. We're discovering how fun it is to give good gifts to our kids for no reason.

Norah's is Obi-Wan. She was thrilled because she loves Star Wars. She has no idea it's "for boys" which makes me feel really good about the way we are raising her. Avril's is Lightning McQueen from one of her favorite movies that she calls "Beeps." Dwayne made the perfect choices for the girls individually.

But it's a totally new thing for me to just let my kids walk around the house with candy like it's a toy. But PEZ is a toy, too, because Norah spent ten minutes arranging her PEZ in alternating flavors this morning before she ate them all in two minutes.

A friend told me about the PEZ factory here in Connecticut several months back. But the girls really didn't know what PEZ was at the time. But it may be time to go now that the girls have a better understanding of the magic that is PEZ. There's also a convention for collector's coming up. Maybe Dwayne will take one or both of the big kids. It sounds like fun.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pump parts drying on the kitchen counter

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1

As I have sat alone nursing or pumping in the baby's room the past two days, this verse has come to mind and it comforts me. I draw upon my previous experience of building up a milk supply for my older two children and I am not so discouraged when I look over at the clock to see how much longer I have to pump and the minutes are ticking by too slowly. The Holy Spirit brings this verse to mind and I am strengthened for the work required of me right now. I remember that I won't be pumping forever. It will only go on long enough to build up my milk supply so Adele has an abundance. Eventually, I will get to just nurse her. Then I recall that this whole stage of Adele's life will pass by too quickly as it is. It did with my other two children. So then I am encouraged to savor this season, all of it, even the more difficult parts.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One of the nurses at the hospital swaddled Avril like this with part of the blanket actually going over her head and with her knees up which she seems to really like. I thought it was adorable. I can make my swaddles pretty near unbreakable now that I've practiced on two kids and they tend to remain unbreakable for at least the first several weeks of our babies' lives. Note: If a kid breaks a swaddle, they wake up... so it was in my best interest to learn to make my swaddles strong. I think I'll see if there's an online tutorial on how to do this kind of swaddle and try it for myself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I woke up in active labor at 11:42pm on Easter and Adele was born less than an hour and a half later at 1:09am on April 9, 2012. We were praying out loud in between contractions that God would slow things down enough for us to just get in to the hospital room and that He'd help me control the desire to push and not give in to fear and panic since I was obviously already very close or all the way to 10cm. He answered our prayers in perfect time. As soon as they checked me, I was given permission to push. They say it took three long pushes and she was out. That part is fuzzy to me. They laid her on my chest and after several minutes, I gave her up so they could weigh, clean her up, etc. She was 8 lbs. 6 ounces and 19.75 inches.

Our good friend and neighbor Kim Sokoloski came as soon as we called her (the cell phone says it was 12:01pm) and she stayed the night in a spare bed at our house with the older girls who were already in bed so we could get to the hospital more quickly. We were planning to take the girls and let them be there, but it was clear to me during my contractions that I had no time to even wait for the girls to get up and get shoes and coats on, etc. But Dwayne went to get the girls after dawn and we spent Adele's first day in our recovery room as a family, falling in love.

Dwayne spent the nights at home with the kids while I stayed and nursed Adele on demand and slept as much as I could in between feedings. He brought the girls back to the hospital after dawn. We had several visitors that second day; my doula Angel (who got there in time to help me through the last few contractions before the doctor came in to check me and helped coach me through the pushing), Denise Loeber, Ernie Hodgson and Jessica Greene. They all came bearing food and/or beautiful gifts. It was fun to hear their birth and baby experience and tell ours. We laughed a lot and Dwayne and I felt very pampered and loved.

The girls enjoyed unlimited graham crackers and apple juices from the kitchen at the end of the hall. They also had my fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, vanilla ice creams and slices of pie, etc. They are both already helping so much. Norah felt very important every time I sent her down the hall to refill my pitcher of ice and water.

We stopped for a family photo before leaving this morning. I am holding the flowers our old friends The Mahaffeys had delivered to our room. Note: Norah rearranged these flowers over and over while they were in the room, trying her hand at the art of flower arrangement. Norah peeked in the nursery windows (behind us in the photo) and made everyone laugh when she said, "Hey, look! There's an even cuter one (baby) in here!"

The baby nursed well when we got home today and she is sleeping currently in the beautiful bassinet I am keeping next to my bed that Jessica Greene is letting us borrow. Avril and I napped next to her in my bed. Avril and I woke up first, so we left her to rest and I had a moment to post these pictures before the baby wakes up and wants to nurse again. I think I may even have time to eat a plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs and have some of the cake that our neighbors, Howard and Cheryl, brought over.

We are very thankful to God for his help and keeping. We're doing well. Please pray that my milk comes in full and fast and the baby gains weight. She has her first doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon. And please pray for my body to recover. This pregnancy and birth did a number on me, of course, but it was so worth it!