Saturday, December 13, 2008

Family Night in the Fall

This Fall was a lovely calm-before-the-storm. Joseph's class load was relatively light, his volunteer leadership activities concluded in September, and we actually got into a rather normal, Daddy-comes-home-in-time-for-dinner bit of a routine. It was lovely!!! I love it when Joseph comes home and puts the kids to bed -- he reads to them and brushes thier teeth oh-so-meticulously and tells them stories and sniggles them into bed. Truth be told, when I put them to bed, they (kind of) brush their own teeth, the bed time stories are few, and if they don't jump into bed right away, they often suffer the wrath of the mommy monster. No wonder the children sing, "I'm so glad when Daddy comes home...."

Anyway, the first Monday of November we had a picture perfect family night -- the weather was surprisingly mild, so after a QUICK lesson (we find the quick kind work the best!), we headed out to the park, kids on bike, baby in sling. It was so nice to linger outside one last time in short sleeves. :) Then we headed home, Joseph got the kids cleaned up and ready for bed while I made the treat - Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. Joseph has decreed these Better-Than-Almost-Anything Cookies (if you know what I mean.) They were fantastic, but be forewarned: they are not helpful in the quest to loose baby fat (and all the other fat that I'd like to blame on the baby)!

It's nice to look at these pictures now since we've been enduring survival-prep-for-boards mode for the past 4 weeks. Nothin' like a National Board Exam to motivate diligent studying, right? Joseph takes the test(s) next week on Wednesday and Thursday. Keep him in your prayers! I know he'll do well, but it's always good to have a little divine assistance if you can get it. :)
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Halloween 2008

Monday before Halloween the kids and I carved pumpkins while Joseph studied. We ended up staying up WAY too late, but we had a good time! They drew their own designs, then I cut them out. Then while I helped one kid, the other stole the little pumpkin saws and made minor alterations. :) K's ended up with big puckered lips, earrings and a necklace (looks like she slit her throat, but it'a a necklace), J-boy wanted to keep the saws stuck in his like horns (befitting the three eyed monster he designed). I used the cordless drill to poke holes in a cute little pumpkin for Baby A. Lovin' those power tools! K took most of the pictures to document the occassion. I thought she did really well!

After a grand shuffle of costumes (ballerina turned princess turned fairy and Woody turned Knight turned Ninja), we ended up with a ninja and a tinkerbell. I was a witch (not too much of a stretch some days), and Baby A was my black cat. Joseph was a dentist -- people started sweating when he walked in the room. :) We went to our local Community Center for a bit of indoor fun, then came home and visited the neighbors.
The kids and the Cricut made the little paper bag luminaries. I've always wanted to make those! I think they turned out really cute.

And, last but not least, I've got to do a quick little shout out to picasa3!!! What a fantastic FREE program! I usually use photoshop Elements to make my little collages, but Picasa3 has much better collage options than past versions of picasa -- these took a whoppin' 3 minutes a piece, and adding text is super easy, too. Yay! Download it today if you haven't yet!! :)
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beautiful Baby!

In our church, we give babies a special Baby Blessing - kind of like a christening. Baby A's baby blessing was in October. She wore the same dress that my mom bought for K when she was blessed 6 years ago. Joseph gave her a beautiful blessing -- one of my favorite parts was that she would be 'fast friends with her siblings.' :) I want my kids to be buddies!! She cried through most of the blessing, and I was all over the chapel during Sacrament meeting (at the front playing the organ, in the hall trying to calm the baby, sitting in the pew with the kids, back to the organ, back to the hall, out to the mothers' lounge for a quick snack for A, etc etc), but in spite of all the commotion I felt the Spirit -- I feel so blessed to have this choice daughter of God in my care! God is good. :)
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proverbs 22:6

{Train up a child in the way she should go: and when she is old, she will not depart from it.}

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank Heavens for Grace...

I've seen this a couple times over the last few months, and I just love it. I love the music - I've been thinking alot about how to learn about Christ, to focus more on Christ, and become more like Him. I know we're usually our own worst critics, but I've been feeling particularly inadequate and unsuccessful lately. I keep remembering wise words from one of the wonderful women in my congregation at church -- to paraphrase, "If you feel like you aren't enough, like you can't do enough or be enough, it's okay, because it's true. That is why we have the Savior. It is only with Him that we are enough, that we can do enough, that we can be enough." I love the words, "Oh, to Grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be. Let Thy Goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander - Lord, I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love.... Here's my heart -- oh take and seal it for thy courts above."

I love that the images in this slideshow are photographs -- so real. It reminds me that He really lived, and still lives today. It reminds me that His miracles are real, and were not just for the past, but are also for my present.

Now if I can just remember that the next time I break up a fight between my kids or the next time I have to tell them 5 (or 10 or 20) times before they obey or the next time I clean up the spilled juice/milk/vegetables/main dish off the floor after another unsuccessful attempt to get my three year old to EAT HIS DINNER. :)

Thank Heavens for GRACE!

Monday, October 27, 2008

So Sweet!

My wonderful Dad came all the way out from Utah for Baby A's blessing October 12. It was so sweet to have him here -- we had a great time visiting and enjoying each others' company. I'm so grateful for our fantastic family!! Thanks for coming, Dad -- you made it extra special. We love you!!
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Family Pictures....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A trip to the Patch

A few weeks ago a bunch of momma-friends got together and we all took a trek out to a nearby pumpkin patch. It was so fun! A few proper Midwest downpours made it extra exciting. :) The kids loved the hay maze, the tractor ride, the little craft shop, the farm animals & the playground. I loved watching them play and visiting with fabulous ladies and taking pictures!

I sewed up a baby sling earlier that morning, and gave it a try (that makes it sound like I know what I'm doing -- don't be fooled -- I don't. They're just really easy to make!). Baby A loved it! And so did I!! How cute is my $7 fabric?! These things cost $50+ retail! Check out the pattern here if you'd like to make one (or buy one from Karma Baby). I take it everywhere -- when she was smaller she could even nurse in it, but she's getting a little too big for that now.
I'm so glad I get to do fun things with my kids and be a mom. I get ornery every now and then, but I'm really pretty darn lucky! Gotta count those blessings and keep things in perspective, right??
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Camp Out

The hot 'n' humid midwest doesn't make for much good camping during the summer months (I'm biased in the direction of mountain-range and on-the-beach camping). But if you time it just right, enjoyable family car camping is possible in the Fall or Spring. The first weekend in October was just such a time! We went with two other families, and had a great time. We lucked out with a site adjacent to the playground, and far enough from the lake to keep it from being a temptation to little would-be-swimmers. All three families had babies (a 10 month old, a 6 month old, and a 2 month old!), but the babies did really well overall, and the weather was great -- it rained just before we got there, so the kids got filthy and wet on the playground - a proper beginning to a campout. Then it was a little chilly and damp in the morning, but it made you appreciate the fire! We had fantastic food -- cobbler, tin foil dinners, s'mores, sausage/eggs/pancakes, & hot chocolate (Kim brought two giant cans of Stephens' - YUM). There was an old-school playground (merry-go-round, swings, tall metal slide) and a newer playground. Joel tied a glow stick to his son to keep track of him once it got dark -- it was funny to see the disembodied glow stick floating up and down about the playground. :) The kids fished for a little bit Saturday morning, but didn't get so much as a nibble. We missed the Saturday morning session of conference, but got 3 or 4 phone calls between us letting us know about the KC area temple announcement. How exciting!!
I think my favorite part was sitting around the camp fire in the morning, chatting with the grown-ups and watching while the kidlets played. And I loved that Joseph let the kids stay up as late as they wanted to, playing late into the night. Good times
Little Ms. A enjoyed the adventure from the comfort of Heidi's sling -- I'm LOVIN' the sling thing. I decided I shouldn't hoard Heidi's, so I made my own two days later. :)
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take me out to the Ball Game!

A few weeks ago we went to our first (and possibly last) Royals game. Joseph and I are trying to GET OUT and DO MORE STUFF that the local community has to offer -- the clock is ticking, and graduation is actually in sight. Of course, procrastinating is so ingrained in my character that it has to apply here, as well: less than a year left = time to squish in some memories!!

So when a friend offered us four tickets and a parking pass to the game, we took it gratefully. I borrowed my friends' baby sling for Baby A, and she slept peacefully for most of the game (the home runs were a little startling). Great seats (right by third base), expensive consessions ($12 for a bitty plate of nachos!), season ticket holders all around us (they make things exciting) and a solid win (including 3 home runs) made the night a blast.  It's so all-American - definitely something everyone should experience, baseball fan or not.
Excited much?
It might look like an embrace, but K was actually restraining J-boy -- that kid was ALL OVER!
Self photography at it's finest.
Baby A thought it was all exhausting.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two months already?!

Weight: 9 lbs, 13 oz
Height: 22 inches tall

I can't believe how fast the time is flying. Baby A is 2 months old, sweet and full of smiles. Her favorite activity in the whole wide world is eating. But she also likes hanging out in her swing (I'm so grateful for baby gear!), 'playing' with her sister (her brother is just kind of dangerous as far as she's concerned), and having her diaper changed. :) We can't quite figure out our daytime schedule (I'm looking forward to the days of consistent napping -- I have faith they will come), but she sleeps for a solid 8 hours every night, wakes up to eat, then sleeps for another 2-3. I really really really like that about her.

It's been so nice to take things a little more slowly. I'm not teaching as much, and Joseph's schedule is a little less rigorous this year - his academic load is not as heavy. I was released from my calling in the Primary Presidency the day Baby A was born, and now I'm the ward organist, and I teach Relief Society once a month. Piece of cake! At first it felt strange to not have 60 children to corral every Sunday, but now I'm enjoying Sundays as a day of rest! Life in general is a little simpler, and I'm really enjoying motherhood. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed my other kids' babyhood. But with K, I was mourning the end of my college days, and we were in an uncomfortable transition from self-employment to graduate school when J was a baby. With A, it's almost like I'm coasting along - we definitely have our moments, but it's not so hard this time around. We're just more settled. And I like it!

I've been having fun taking pictures of my kids. One of these days I'll fork over the money and take a photography class, but in the meantime I'll just keep experimenting. These pictures were too funny -- when Joseph saw the one on the left, he said, "Is that our kid??" And so begins the "For Future Bribery" section of Baby A's scrapbook.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, K-girl!

Ms. K turned SIX this month! It is so wild to see her getting so big. She is such a fun girl. The big day was busy -- I helped K and J make mini cupcakes in the morning to share with her class at school. J-boy, A and I got to share the treats during the last 10 minutes of class -- K made sure everyone got 2 mini cupcakes, even when it meant she only got one. After school we went to Sonic for Happy Hour slushes, then rushed home so I could finish wrapping gifts! We went to dinner at Red Robin (K's choice), and I think we just might make it a monthly Monday night tradition -- Monday is 'Family Night' at our Red Robin -- they have a fantastic balloon artist, and the kids get free milkshakes! After dinner we rushed home for cake and ice cream with Grandma and Grandpa L and Aunt Sonya & Uncle John and their kids. It was a great day!

On the following Saturday we had a friend party. After several years of princess/fairy/PINK parties, we branched out this year to enjoy a cooking party. We made aprons out of cloth napkins (adapting an idea for dishtowel aprons), and chef hats out of tissue paper. The girls played games, made their own little english muffin pizza and decorated cookies. Thank heavens for the internet -- I love borrowing other peoples' great ideas!!!

So here are a few of my favorite things about my lovely little K-lady:

K is such a good BIG SISTER! This morning I was sitting in Baby A's room feeding the baby, and K and J-boy came in. J-boy struck his best ninja pose, made a mean face and said, "I'm gunna go kill the bad guys!" K immediately jumped into a complimentary ninja pose, and said, "Okay, let's go get 'em!" J jumped out of his pose and ran off, K looked at me with a very grown up look of indulgence, leaned toward me and whispered conspiratorially, "He's such a funny brother!"

She's always trying to keep J-boy out of trouble (he seems to be in trouble a lot these days...). He's big into trantrums, and she soothes and cajoles and pleads and gives in to him regularly. One of K's favorite things to do is hold her baby sister -- especially when she's dressed in what K deems 'cute clothes.' The other day K got upset with me that she only got to hold A in the morning while she was wearing her non-cute PJ's. :)

I don't know if it's in her blood or if it's from my influence, but she loves MUSIC! She hums along with the background music in movies -- she just can't seem to help herself! She plays the piano and practices her lesson without being nagged - and she really just loves it! Nature or nurture? You decide.

She tries very hard to make sure everyone is HAPPY. She'll notice when I'm starting to get frazzeled or frustrated, and she'll come over, put a hand on my arm, look into my eyes and say, "Mom, I sure love you!" She loves to go swimming with her dad -- she loves to make him proud.

And lest you think she's too good to be true, she's also got a devious little streak -- more than once, J-boy has come down the stairs asking me where his cousin T is, or asking what his special treat is, or asking what his new movie is. You see, K & J share a room, and occasionally K will be less than honest with her little brother in an attempt to gain some personal play time and space. That's my cue to give K a 3 sentence lecture on telling the truth, and then engage J-boy in something that gives K a little break from her brother. :) Sneaky little bugger, isn't she?
Anyway, we're grateful to have her! So Happy Birthday, big sister! Thanks for being so great!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

A View of a Room

Baby A's room is done! Of course, there's still 2 or 3 little things I have tucked in the back of my mind to take care of at a later date, but for now, it's time to move on. :) I've never really gone all out on a baby's room -- the timing just wasn't right for J or K. And since we won't be having another baby for a long time (if we have another baby...), I'm trying to squeeze this baby phase for all it's worth. So this time that included a nursery. I started collecting fabrics and ideas when I was about 5 months pregnant. The fabrics and baskets I bought new, everything else came to me some other way. The crib is the same one J and K used, the bookshelf was another trash find (the same bookshelf of the infamous painting incident), the changing table is on loan from a friend, the lazy boy is second hand (and covered in white sheets... maybe someday I'll be able to justify plunking down $75 on a slip cover...), the little side table came from a garage sale (thanks, Heidi!). I love to use music - lyrics or printed music - to add some meaning to the final touches, so I used the song My Heavenly Father Loves Me for A's room -- I think it turned out pretty sweet. Anyway, here's a few things I learned from the process:

-always lock the door if you're too lazy to wash out the paint roller :)
-just START. Once I'd finally settled on all the fabric and my 'design' for all the sewing, I was completely intimidated and just stewed over it for 2 weeks.
-dying fabric basket liners is much more efficient than sewing new ones! (thanks mom!)
-always buy more paint than you think you'll need (5 cans of spray paint and 4 trips to WalMart later...)
-it helps to have help! I was pretty burned out when my parents came through town, and mom worked on the baskets for me (painting and dying... it was all very tragic... hee hee). Heidi found the recliner (I HIGHLY recommend having a recliner in a new baby's room - way better than a little rocker!) and the side table, and kept the bookshelf in her garage after 'bulky trash' until I was ready to paint it. Andrea was my 'consultant' and went with me to USA Baby to look for ideas and plan, and my sister Kendra helped with the scrappy bits - the tags on the baskets and the picture hanging over the changing table. Now I think about all these ladies when I'm sitting in that chair in the middle of the night, looking around the room as I nurse A. :) So thanks for your help!!
-power tools are empowering. :) I used my father-in-law's router to make the sign that hangs under the big A. I found some directions online, got more (and better) directions over the phone from my dad, and then talked to my father-in-law to make sure I was putting the bit in right. It was the first time I'd ever used a router, and I'm so addicted. When I was done in my make-shift wood shop, I was covered in sawdust, dripping sweat (it was a warm day), and happy as a clam. I told my FIL how much I love his router when I was about to return it, and he said, "Keep it for a few more weeks -- let me know how the projects go." So if you'd like to rout a hunk of wood and make it beautiful, come on by. :)
-I love my Cricut. I used it to cut the lettering for the sign, the song lyrics above the bookshelf, the tags for the baskets, and the scrappy part of the picture above the changing table. I got it at the After-Thanksgiving sale at WalMart for $120 (way better than the $300 sticker price!!). And if you have really nice friends with fun cartridges, you might be able to borrow them!! Thanks, Calli and Ashley!!! :)

Anyway, I love having this room for A -- and I'm pretty sure she loves it, too. Even when she's fussy and tired, I lay her down on the changing table and she'll just start cooing and smiling and looking around and kicking her wee little legs (she's got really cute wee little legs, in case you're wondering). Anyway, her sweet little room is a good place to be. :) Even for those 5 am feedings.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Poverty in Paradise

On August 2nd, Joseph left home for another world -- San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  For two weeks he worked with other dental students, dentists, hygenists and volunteers to provide oral care for anyone who wanted it.  The children would line up in the mornings, and the adults came in the afternoons.  They'd go through a quick triage to identify which problem was the worst -- many of them needed a whole mouthful of procedures, but they limited the work to one per patient in order to serve as many people as possible.  In just two weeks, they performed over 3,000 procedures -- mostly restorations (fillings), extractions, root canals/crowns, and floride treatments.  The need is so great -- some of Joseph's pictures are so sad.  He visited a few of the children in their homes -- 8 children and 2 parents living in a little one room cinderblock shack with a tin roof, laundry hanging to dry on a barbed wire fence.  But the children were beautiful and charming -- a few of them became self-assigned helpers.  Joseph LOVES the kids.  And he loved using his Spanish.  He even got to chat a bit with one of his old mission companions who lives in Honduras.  
The team worked really hard -- 12 hour days in a city-center-turned-clinic with no air conditioning during the hottest and most humid time of year.  They got to play a little, too -- they visited the Fortress of San Fernando, swam in the Carribean Sea, ziplined through the rainforest, and watched a soccer game @ the Olimpico Stadium. The soccer game was interesting -- the opposing teams' goalie kept faking injuries to run the clock down. The fans were a little rabid by the end -- Joseph brought home a video clip of the police with their riot gear out on the field at the end of the game, keeping the teams from tearing into each other!
Joseph came home tired, but also renewed -- I think these meaningful, service centered vacations are going to become more and more common for us as the years go on and the kids get older.  Maybe next year I'll get to take some of the pictures...  :)

By the way, side note:  My blog is a year old!  I'm really proud of myself that I've kept a 'journal' for the last year -- this is the most consistent I've been with this sort of thing since I got married!  So, happy birthday, blog!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A New Blog to Visit

A good friend of mine has started up a new blog specifically for women - particularly women who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She invited some friends to contribute -- the idea is to share what we love -- the gospel, creating homes (including decorating, crafts, projects, etc.), being moms, wives, sisters and friends. So if you find yourself in need of a little uplift, or want to enjoy a little girl time from the comfort of your computer, stop by The Errand of Angels!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Day of School

My little girl started Kindergarten a week ago! She had an orientation day the Thursday before the first week of school, and was a little put out that she didn't get to go to school on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. :) Monday finally arrived, and she was ready to go! We walked her into the school to her class room door the first few days - on Wednesday she informed me that she no longer needed us to walk her in - she was used to it. :) She is quite independent and determined - I think part of that is a result of being the oldest child, but another part is just her nature.

After a little deliberation, I decided to put her in an afternoon half day kindergarten. She could have gone full day, but I think having her at home in the mornings is better for all of us. We have time to practice piano, read books & have a reading lesson, and the kids can do all their 'jobs' -- just normal getting ready kinds of stuff -- and we get a little extra sleep, which helps all of us!! I'm trying to really savor the moments that we have together - kind of sad that it took the 3rd baby for me to slow down a little and enjoy my kids more!

Yes, J-boy is wearing a Woody costume - many thanks to Heidi for that one. :) He was thrilled to be in K's first day of school pictures -- he adores her. Today when we dropped K off at school, he said, "I love sister, mom. I miss her so much." I'm so glad they are buddies (about 90% of the time - the 10% fights are bearable because of the 90% friendly). :)
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baby Pictures

Baby A will be a month old tomorrow (I guess that's today by now), so I thought I'd better get these 2-and-3 week old pictures up here before they got outdated. These are the 4 out of a gazillion that made the cut for printing and sticking on the wall of the not-quite-done nursery. Someday I'll finish A's darling room and post pictures. But really, what's the rush - A's already here! And I'm always late, but worth the wait. :) I hope. :)

(Thanks, Missy, for great baby picture ideas!)
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Road Trip, Anyone?

Life is slowly finding some semblance of normalcy around here. My wonderful Mom and sister were here for nearly two weeks while Joseph fixed smiles in Honduras. It was so nice to have another mom around! It's like having a vacation in the comfort of your own home. And I'm a home-body, anyway, so this was GREAT for me!!
We stuck close to home for the most part, but over the weekend we decided to take a (very) impromptu trip to Nauvoo to visit my aunt and her family. They had been in Nauvoo for 6 weeks working on the Nauvoo Pageant, and that Friday was the last night. So we loaded up in mom's van (fondly referred to as Van-essa), and took off! Baby A did wonderfully well for her first road trip (at almost 3 weeks old!), and K and J-boy did pretty well, too (midnight as a bedtime does get old after a day or two, but they had fun with their cousins!). We saw the pageant Thursday night and Friday night, and got to visit a few spots in Old Nauvoo Friday during the day. The weather was lovely, which is quite unusual for August in that part of the country!!
I was humbled and moved as I thought about the Mormon Pioneers. I strolled down Parley Street, my newborn in her comfy carseat/stroller, and read about Pioneer women giving birth in their covered wagons. While watching the pageant I caught a glimpse of the sacrifice and consecration required to build the Nauvoo temple, the intense desire the early Saints had to be obedient and serve God. And the next day I attended the temple; the only effort I had to expend was getting dressed and asking my mother to watch my kids for 2 hours.
I have no idea why I've been so blessed - driving in an air conditioned car! Sleeping in a bed! Giving birth in a HOSPITAL! All these things that I constantly take for granted.
I pray that I will remember. There's no way I can earn the blessings I've been given. But I can try my best to do my best, and thankfully, because of our Savior, that is always enough.

My wonderful aunt & cousins with my sister, my kids and I

K & I in front of the temple

Dowsy Baby A - she's such a good sleeper!!

K-lady doing the little Scottish jig dance from the pageant - she wants to be ON STAGE next year. :)
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Keeping the Baby Blues at Bay

A friend posted this on his blog a while back, and I came across it today while I was catching up (aka procrastinating potential productivity.... I'm sure there are a GAZILLION things I could/should be doing, but the baby's asleep at the moment, so I'm blog stalking....).
My days are currently composed of crying for joy because I adore my baby, crying for pain because she's nursing, crying for frustration because my 5 year old won't leave the baby alone and my 3 year old won't leave ME alone, and crying for myself because I can't help it -- suddenly my kids movies are moving, and my movies are heartbreaking, and I'm not even going to talk about church commercials and Hallmark cards! Nothing too serious - pretty much just your standard postpartum hormonal imbalance. But when I watched this video, I just couldn't stop smiling and laughing! It was really pleasant for a change! How great is this world where you can dance badly and everyone dances with you! :) So I decided to share the joy (don't start crying or anything!).

Where the Heck is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coming Home!

We came home from the hospital Tuesday evening. Grandma and Grandpa L kept the kids until Thursday, so Baby A and I had a few days to try to figure each other out. These pictures were taken Tuesday afternoon, just before we headed for home. She's wearing a preemie outfit - isn't she a doll? I love the carseat picture -- a little perspective on just how tiny she is. We're doing well -- being post-partem has it's problems (learning to nurse again is just plain painful), but it's so much better than being pregnant! I can watch the food network again without racing for the bathroom!! :) And I can snuggle this little bundle whenever I want. I feel much more settled with Baby A than I did with K or J-boy when they were brand new. I'm sure I'll have plenty of curve balls with her, too, but it's nice to not be so shell shocked. (forgive my mixed metaphors...) :)

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