Katie is One Years Old!

Our darling Katie is one years old today! At 10:55 in the morning one year ago, this precious rainbow baby entered our lives and changed them forever. She’s eased the pain of my greatest loss in a way that I didn’t think would ever be possible.

Katie is a funny and wonderful little piece of our hearts, and to use an overused cliche, she’s the light of our lives. She weighs 25 lbs and is 30″ long… 90th percentile, pretty much across the board. This makes me incredibly happy, especially because she had such a hard time gaining weight when she was younger, prompting the frenulectomy that released her very tight tongue tie.

 

Katie took her first steps this past Sunday, but she can walk easily and quickly when holding our hands. She crawls like the wind and speeds up when we chase after her. She laughs and it sounds like everything good in the world. She makes jokes and blows bubbles on our arms because it makes us laugh, which makes her laugh. She is happy, incarnate.

 

At one years old, Katie can say all of our names: Mama, Dada, Ay-a (Addah), and Laylay (Lakin). She knows our kitties are “Cat” (Miss Kitty Cat) and “At-at” (Atlas). She points and says “go” and “dat” (that). She loves to play Pat-A-Cake and turn her music box on and off. She mostly sleeps in her crib, side-car to my side of the bed, but always ends up cuddling up with me before the night is over. She eats just about everything we eat, but still thinks “bubu” (her word for nursing) is the best ever.

 

I won’t say it’s not incredibly hard sometimes, wondering what it would be like to have Katie’s big sister Clara running around, almost 3 years old now. I would absolutely love to watch my two youngest daughters playing together… building with blocks, splashing in the bathtub, arguing over who gets to play with which Little People. I envision how it could be (should be); sometimes it makes me smile, and sometimes it makes me very sad. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish it could be so, every single day.

 

If I’ve learned nothing else in the last 3 years, it’s to be grateful for every moment that we are granted with the ones we love and treasure, and I have tried to soak up each tiny second with this wonderful rainbow baby of ours. She is amazing.

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Kate!

 

The Great Bedroom Swap… and Unschooling

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks in our home. It took us about 3 weeks of doggedly following our set Oak Meadow curriculum before we admitted that it’s really not us and started investigating the ideals behind unschooling. Now that’s a concept I can get behind… and we’ve learned a lot more since we’ve let go of the idea that we have to sit down and “do school” every day at the same time, and just let the days take us where it will. I know I’ve learned a lot about myself, and have done a lot of soul-searching about what our goals are, and the best way to meet those goals. I’ve had to let go of control… and I do like to be in control. I am finding that we’re all doing quite well without me calling every shot (shocker, I know), and I’m feeling calmer and more relaxed as I learn to trust the girls’ instincts and decisions.

The big girls each received a Kindle, as a kind of “now that we’re homeschooling” gift, and they’ve been reading even more than before. Our local library has a lot of e-books available to borrow, and we’ve gotten a ton of use from our free trial of Kindle Unlimited. I’m pretty sure we’ll keep that subscription – with something like 800,000 titles to borrow, it seems well worth $9.99/month.

We’ve been attending homeschool park days each week, and we’re all enjoying meeting new people and having somewhere to be outside of our usual errands and appointments.

Homeschool Unschool Park Days

Another big change we’ve made is our environment… the Great Bedroom Swap! There’s a bit of a back story here…

When we lived in our little basement apartment a few years ago, David and I slept in our living room so that the girls could share the single small bedroom. From there we moved in with friends in Texas, where we slept on separate sofas, then a hotel room, where we slept 3 feet from the girls. By the time we moved into our current apartment, we were thrilled to be able to take the larger of the two bedrooms. We set up our bed, admired all of the space we had, and finally felt like real grown-ups.

The thing is, the girls keep getting bigger, and older, as kids tend do… and they’ve outgrown their bedroom. They both have big, beautiful personalities, which don’t fit so well squeezed into a 10 x 12-foot space. Meanwhile, David and I hardly spend any time in our bedroom, preferring to hang out in the living room most of the time. I guess we just never got used to having that much space of our own, so it wasn’t that hard to give it up.

Well, emotionally and mentally, it wasn’t that hard to give up. Physically… man, it took forever. We had boxes in our closet that hadn’t been unpacked since we’d moved into this apartment almost three years ago. The girls had a huge collection of stuff in their closets — things that were probably very important when they were brought into the closet, but have since lost their sparkle and been pushed to a pile on the floor. It was a lot to go through and sort into piles of Trash, Donate, and Keep. 

There was a lot of stuff in the Donate pile. We’ve stocked at least a few entire shelves at our local Goodwill in the past three weeks.

In the end, both rooms look great and suit all of us better than they did before. David has been spending way too many nights on the couch in the past few months, as Katie has gotten bigger and taken up more of our bed. Katie’s crib is now pushed up against my side of the bed, so we’re still co-sleeping, but now I have a little more space to call my own at night, and David has happily rejoined me in our bed.

Addah wanted a loft bed for her side of their room, so she’s sleeping up high now, with her desk and bookshelves below. She’s created a cozy little nook for herself, complete with a divider curtain made from last year’s Halloween costume tutu, which allows her to stay up later than Lakin, who prefers an earlier bedtime.

Lakin chose a regular twin bed, which we built for her — our first hand-built project, and definitely worthy of its own blog post. Her bed will be painted a deep midnight blue and decorated with silver stars. She has a desk for her laptop, as well as a cozy nook of her own in the walk-in closet: a comfy pink chair and her trunk of her most special books and journals. 

Great Bedroom Swap

We’re all pretty happy with the changes we’ve made. Our little bedroom feels like more like “us” somehow, where the big bedroom always felt just a little too big. The girls are bickering less and laughing more, which does my heart so much good and makes me wish we’d done this from Day 1 in this apartment.

So, lots of changes… but good changes, important changes… changes that make us a stronger and happier family.

The First Seven Months

I wish that I had done a better job of blogging about the first seven months of Katie’s life, because I am finding it hard to recall all the little details, in hindsight. A large part of these months has been a blur of sleepless nights and very busy days.

The best I can do is to give you a pictorial timeline of how much this darling little baby has changed over these seven months. Since she was born, she has gone from a quiet happy baby who loves nothing better than to nurse and cuddle with her mama, to a bigger (and less quiet) happy baby who loves nothing better than to nurse and cuddle with her mama, when she’s not trying to master crawling, or pulling up to stand, or giggling like a wild thing at her big sisters.

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Seven months seemed to fly by in the blink of my eyes, and then yesterday, Katie turned eight months old. She is fun, and funny, and gets very excited when we sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and count her piggies as they’re going to the market. Her first word was “Addah”, followed quickly by “Dada” and “Bubu” (when she wants to nurse). She has two bottom teeth and is working on the top two.  She sleeps well, once she’s done fighting sleep each night, and her favorite place to sleep is curled up with Mama or Daddy.

She is a joy, truly and completely.

I won’t say it’s always been easy, these past seven months. In fact, it’s been pretty hard at times. I’m not the energetic early-twenty-something I was when my big girls were born, nor am I the more relaxed version of myself that I was when I was pregnant with Clara. In some ways, I feel like a first-time mother again, worrying over every tiny cry or bump, checking her breathing a hundred times a night to make sure that she is, in fact, still breathing. Her sister Clara’s death has made me a more vigilant parent than I was, even with Lakin and Addah. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, but it is who I am, as a parent, now.

I am also more aware of what a treasure Katie is, and I make a point to appreciate the little things: her tiny fingers curling around mine, and the way her bottom lip quivers when she falls asleep after nursing. Packaged along with the pain of loss, I have discovered the gift of appreciation for every moment with this wonderful baby.

She’s growing up so fast, and so healthy, and that, too, is a gift, one that makes every day feel like Christmas morning.

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I’m Back, Baby! {Returning From A Blog Hiatus}

It’s been 7 months since I took a blog hiatus, and almost a year since I blogged on a regular basis. I had gotten bored with it, to a degree, and I was feeling confused about the direction my blog was headed.

I enjoy writing sponsored posts that tell a story that is relevant to my family, but I do not enjoy feeling like a sell-out, or like I’m just doing it for the money. I like writing about my kids, but I do not like their punk classmates using my stories to tease and bully. I like being honest about the mental health challenges my daughter and I face, but I don’t want to compromise her privacy either. I wanted to share my pregnancy and write about the anxiety and fear I felt, carrying a baby after Clara died, but I had too much anxiety to even write those fears down.

Basically, I just felt paralyzed when it came to blogging, and my short break turned into a long hiatus. After I while, I didn’t even miss it anymore… too busy with the new baby to have time for anything “extra”.

Well, fast forward to this week… I sat down at the computer to do some basic maintenance on the blog. I kept getting weird messages that my blog went down for 2 minutes at a time, and I figured I’d better check it out and see if something needed updating. It turns out that my theme was outdated, and I needed to fix a few things, clean up the dust of abandonment… and somewhere in there, the writing bug bit me, once again.

I’m still not 100% sure of how I’m going to handle all of the things I mentioned above, but I’m working on it.

So…  I’m back, baby, as much as I can be with a 7 month old and the tweens’ schedules to juggle. I can’t promise there won’t be quiet weeks, but I can promise that I won’t disappear for months on end again.

I love this place too much to stay away.

Returning From A Blog Hiatus

A Stolen Few Minutes… And A Gender Announcement!

It has been two months since I last wrote for my blog, and I have missed it sorely. We are currently without internet access at home, and my schedule has become dense with various appointments. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write again as often as I would like to, so for now, a stolen few minutes with McDonald’s free wifi will have to suffice.

I am nearly 21 weeks pregnant with baby #4, and we are both doing very well. We’ve had several opportunities to see our little bug via ultrasound, as I am under the care of our city’s best high-risk OB-GYN doctors. This is the first time that I am submitting to so much medical care in pregnancy, but I will take no chances with this baby’s life. I cannot fathom losing another child — and so I smile and listen to the doctors in whom I have put my faith and hope.

We had a 3D/4D ultrasound three weeks ago, and our tech gave us 90% odds that this baby is a little girl! I’ve seen two other little girls via ultrasound before (Lakin and Clara; we did not find out Addah’s gender until birth) and it certainly looked like little girl parts to me! We couldn’t be happier; truth be told, it doesn’t matter to us what gender our little bug is, as long as we get to bring home a healthy baby this time around.

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We’ve picked out a name, though we won’t reveal her name until she is born… just a weird superstition of ours. She’s bumping and kicking inside of my belly, and it’s just as amazing as it was the first time I felt Lakin move inside me. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have a chance to carry a baby again, and as this little one will be our last, I am soaking up every moment with this little one.

As for the rest of the family, everyone is doing well and recovering nicely from an extremely difficult couple of months. I’m not sure that anything is going to be truly back to “normal” for at least a few more months, financially or otherwise, but all we can do is hang in there and be grateful for what we have — namely, each other.

I wish you all a wonderful December and a happy holiday season filled with love and warmth!

InstaFriday – 9/13/13

life rearranged It’s Friday! I’m excited to share my week in pictures via Jeannett’s InstaFriday link-up at Life Rearranged. I’m thedestinymanifest on instagram, if you’d like to follow me.

I’m excited that I finally feel like blogging again… it’s been too long since my desire to write matched up with my ability to sit and write without feeling sick.

The biggest news of our week — we got our car fixed! The poor girl has been overheating since April and we’ve been babying her along, hoping to have the money to have it fixed each week, and never actually having the money. A few weeks ago, our neighbor fixed the fan, which had come disconnected from its’ wires, and the week after that, we bought a new thermostat and David installed that, but it still wasn’t fixing the problem. I’d get into afternoon car line to pick up Addah, and within 5 minutes of moving slowly forward in line, the engine temperature would be at 116 degrees and you could hear the coolant bubbling and boiling in the engine. Not good… and as a result, I have been relying on my sister way too much to help me with picking up kids. She’s having knee surgery next week, so it was time to get to the bottom of this problem.

I called my old friend Craig (if you remember, the girls and I used to live with he and his wife, years ago) and asked him if he had time to take a look at the car. As luck would have it, he did. He checked it all out and said that everything looked good and he wasn’t 100% sure what the problem could be. He thought the radiator cap looked rusted and suggested buying a new one. $5.00 later… our car is no longer overheating! $5.00! A new radiator cap! I was impressed… and also felt a little silly, that something that small has been tripping us up for so long.

Mechanics Car Repair

The bad news from the mechanical check-up is that our master cylinder is starting to go bad, and we’re going to need to replace that very soon. It’s only $125.00, since Craig can replace the part himself, but still… $125.00 is a fortune when you’re constantly living paycheck to paycheck. I prefer the amazing $5.00 radiator cap = no more overheating kind of mechanical fix, personally.

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I convinced David to help me do a major overhaul of our bedroom and bedroom closet last weekend. We pulled every little thing out of our closet, and most of one side of the bedroom, so I could put my long dresser into the closet and move out the baby things that have been taking up so much room in there. Now I have the baby bassinet on my side of the bed. It was a little surreal the first morning after the big clean-up, waking up to the baby’s bed right next to me, because this is much earlier than we would normally “get ready for baby”, but it’s such a long time coming for us… it just feels right.

Baby Nursery Prep

We still have two very large boxes of baby girl clothes in the top of the closet, and I’m just not sure that I will ever be ready to part with them, whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Some of them will always be “Clara’s clothes” and it’s painful to think of seeing them on another baby. I don’t know… I have to hope that this part sorts itself out as the pregnancy progresses. I have so much excitement and happiness, but also so much fear and anxiety.

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I’m knitting my fingers to the bone! I finished two pairs of socks for my mama… and forgot to take a picture of one pair, unfortunately. She loved them so much that she ordered four more colors of yarn for more socks. It’s a good thing I enjoy this, eh?

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Knitpicks Sock Yarn Collection

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And finally, Addah wrote a “newspaper” this week for a class assignment. For the “My Hero” section, she chose David, and wrote the sweetest little note about him. He got quite teary when she showed him after work… so did I, to be honest.

My Stepdad, My Hero

In case you can’t read her writing, it says “My stepdad David is my role model because he is an artist. He also plays and has fun with me. Sometimes he yells but that’s because he has to. I know he loves me. I love him too. He’s the best stepdad ever.”

Is that not the sweetest thing ever? Or is that just my pregnancy hormones running out of control?

Mustache Club

So silly… and so sweet.

Oh and before I forget! Addah got a pug puppy! No, not a real puppy… I don’t need that stress in my life. A balloon pug!

And what’s a balloon pug, you ask?

Balloon Pug

This adorable helium-filled puppy was begging me to take him home from Party City. I couldn’t refuse, because I knew I’d get the biggest grin out of Addah when she saw it. I was right; the grin was amazing and totally worth the $8.00 I spent on the puppy. He’s still floating too, over two weeks later. It’s like having a cartoon dog living with us – the slightest movement of air from walking past him causes him to “follow” you, just like a real puppy would.

It makes the girls happy, so it makes me happy. It’s the simple things, y’know?

Have a great weekend!