Saturday, December 31, 2011

Leading up to Christmas...

Before I post about our Christmas, I wanted to put some of our holiday pictures leading up to Christmas day. The kids get so excited about everything, which makes it so much fun for us.

Love this one of Joel playing Orchard with the kids. He was so sick, but was a trooper to try and do some calm, fun things with the kids that day:)
Making popcorn chains with Mam to put on the cherry tree for our bird friends to eat! Amelia was sick in this one....notice a trend to our holiday time? :/
Decorating the windows...they love these window clings from Target. I get them 1/2 off after Christmas for the next year!
They both loooove decorating the tree, especially Sam! Our tree was a major dud this year and died quickly, but the decorating was still fun:) Oh, notice the clothespins? Amelia thought this idea of hers, to decorate the tree with clothespins, was brilliant:)
Have I told you Amelia is so very into playing with dolls now that Jubilee has arrived?
I L O V E it and it's fun to see Sammy get involved too. Here they are doing a little show for me and Jubilee.
This is their holiday program at school...super cute.

A few holiday crafts for the nieces and silks and play doh. Oh, and reindeer cookies with friends:)

Even though the inversion has been super bad this year, we have also had some warm days with cleanish air and we try to take advantage of every one!
We miss our families even more this time of year! Getting pictures like this just make me wish I could snap my fingers and be in Texas. This is my cutie patootie niece Echo.
A little decor on our door by Mam...
Ornament made by sis in luv Shanyn...
Watching Rudolph:)
Even though we all took turns being sick this holiday season and it wasn't at all picture perfect and having a wee one makes things a bit blurry and made me feel like I SO didn't have things together like I wanted's ok! There were many sweet moments and, really, when I don't have things together it reminds me of my dependance on the Lord and His grace...which is really what the season is all about anyway!
More soon, Jen

Each new year is a surprise to us.

" Each new year is a surprise to us.
We find that we had virtually forgotten the note of each bird,
and when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream,
reminding us of a previous state of existence...
The voice of nature is always encouraging."
Henry David Thoreau

We went for a hike today and it was glorious. On the way there my mind was feeling so cluttered, so full of check lists and things to improve on and on and on. Once we were on the trail my mind felt free and empty. I felt lighter and thankful. Thankful for God's gift of nature and for healthy bodies to enjoy it with and the relative warmth of the day. The kids were happier than I have seen them in quite a while. After our walk we went for a quick visit to the new natural history museum, which is incredible, and got to see a snake shedding it's skin! I mean it literally came off right before our eyes. What a great picture of what I hope this new year will bring. Appreciating that there is already so much beauty in my life, just shedding some stuff that inhibits joy. A new beginning. I love new beginnings. Lots of love, Jen

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Round two...

It is so much fun to see Jubilee wear and use things that were Sam and Amelia's, for both sentimental and thrifty reasons-hee hee. When she fell asleep on her play mat today for the first time (mama took too long making lunch for the big kids), it made me have an immediate flashback to when Sammy fell asleep in it for the first time. Here ya go:)
Jubilee sleeps:

Sam sleeps:

Jubilee plays:

Sam and Amelia play:

Sam, Jubilee, and Amelia play:

And, as a bonus, here is a favorite video of Amelia fake crying in the play yard- the end still cracks me up!!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A bittersweet milestone...

After almost five years of sharing sleep with our babies, Joel and I now sleep almost the whole night in our bed...alone!

For Sam and Amelia, it was just time. We couldn't figure out how to comfortably fit all of us in our king sized bed anymore. When Jubilee first came home she would cry some at night and wake them up in our bed, so it started to be musical beds and we didn't really want that. We thought about different solutions, but in the end decided it was time to have them stop coming in our room halfway through the night. We also split them into two different rooms first and that helped tremendously! Nap times/bed times started going much easier! Then, honestly, it just kind of happened. We told them how much we have loved sleeping and snuggling with them for all of their life, but that we all weren't getting enough rest now, etc. etc. So, Sam just stopped from that night on! It was pretty crazy (and obvious that it was just the right timing)! Joel had been sleeping in the guest room with Amelia to keep her from coming in our room when she was sick, and I think that helped ease her out of coming in here. The first night he told her he would be sleeping in our room and she needed to stay in her room, it was pretty sad. She sobbed. Then I could hear her on the monitor and she was crying and praying, "God, please PLEASE let some grown up human come in here and snuggle with me. PLEASE!" Broke my heart! But she slept through that night and every night since. I think that has been about two weeks maybe? Anyway, I am SO thankful that it came to an end without a real struggle. What a gift! I can say without a doubt that neither Joel or I would ever change the decision we made to co-sleep with our children, challenging as it could be. What is sweeter to a parent or more comforting to a child than sleeping together (at least for us and for our little ones:)

Now, on to Miss Jubilee. Basically, she needed to sleep right next to me at the beginning, then became a little inch worm and moving all over the bed! I couldn't believe it! So, we set up the crib in the guest room for naps, and then decided to try keeping her in there one night when I was sick and she slept right through the night (as she had been in our bed as well). Since she didn't wake often and since when she did wake up it was hard for Joel to sleep through this time, we decided to try keeping her in the room with Amelia. Now she is waking up about once a night (usually between 3-5am) and then staying in our bed after she eats. Just a totally different experience than with Sam and Amelia, who were still waking many times a night at that age.

So, bittersweet. I'm just trying to cling to the sweet, and there is plenty! But, boy am I thankful for all of those times deep in the night when I would wake up and look over at my sleeping family and feel like, in that moment and in that space, all was right in the world.

All for now, Jen

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Christmas card photo...

Just kidding, we don't have Christmas cards! I am SO not together enough for that. If we did, though, I think I might pick the picture above. So sweet! Yes, little Jubilee gets plenty of lovin.

Three months old and cute as a button! Merry, merry Christmas time to all of you! Jen

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tend and Befriend...

I don't write often about the Mom's group that I am a part of, which is silly because it has been a significant part of my life here in SLC! It started when we were going to New Song Presbyterian and the kids were toddlers (maybe 18months-ish?). I was so thankful for a group of mamas to get together with each week! We tried various formats,etc. but really settled into a great rhythm of alternating between practical and spiritual topics--taking turns speaking on things that are dear or true to our hearts. Right now there has been a baby explosion (round 2) and so while we have two wonderful childcare providers with our older kids, the room is also FULL of babies, which is wonderfully distracting:)

Anyway, last week a friend named Claudia spoke. Claudia is my friend Sara's mom and is also a Nurse midwife. Joel did his OB rotation with her and her practice and loved it! She really spoke some comforting words to me after Jubilee's birth that were a huge encouragement at a very raw and vulnerable time-I'll be forever thankful!
Her talk to us last week was about our emotional health as mamas and how to maintain it. It was a fabulous talk and I have been "chewing" on it ever since. The thing I want to remember is her key words "tend and befriend".

She was talking about how when we are overwhelmed (ahem, I use that word a lot around here:), it is good to get some oxytocin flowing in our body to calm us down, and "tending and befriending" are two great ways to do that!

"Tending" is what she referred to as nurturing our children. Spending at least ten minutes cuddling, reading, rocking...something hands on. It actually gets the oxytocin hormone flowing, which calms us! I can totally see how this is true! I think it's one of the reasons why "attachment parenting" Sam and Amelia was SO healing to us as a family after they came home from the NICU. Wearing them, rocking them, nursing them, responding to their cries, etc. I have also seen it specifically in my relationship with Sam, particularly when he was younger and would have very frequent meltdowns. I would find that when I most wanted to push him away, if I held him close, we both calmed down. Ack! Tears come to my eyes even now as I think of it. I think in our culture of do,do,do- accomplish this accomplish that, it's hard to allow ourselves the time to do this nurturing! But how wonderful that God has designed us this way- that in nurturing our children, we are actually nurturing ourselves too!

Rocking sweet Jubilee. She loves to be rocked to sleep! :)

Nursing twin toddlers on a hike in the mountains:)
Babywearing. Picture by Amelia.
Reading is always a great way to snuggle up with these two!

The other way she talked about getting that Oxytocin flowing is by "befriending", and by that she means spending time with other women! Haven't all of you mamas known this to be true? You are feeling overwhelmed and then get together with a friend, and even if one of yours is having a rough time, you still feel infinitely better after your visit? Living life together! We are not meant to do this alone. Just today, Anne and her girls came over. The kids half heartedly painted together for a while and then went outside and used sticks, markers, tape and other "tools" to make a boat out of a box to surprise us:) So creative, and so messy! And yet still, with a messy house to clean up I can still feel my lifted mood from being with my friend. I have felt this so many, many times. Yet, still, I forget. My introverted self will think of excuses to stay home, etc. and so it did me good to hear that reminder of how good friendship is for the soul and for our emotional health.

Time with my mama (and all of the wonderful women in my family!)is refreshing for sure! Her companionship this past year has been an encouragement beyond words!
A trip to Oregon to see my friend Elizabeth. Ahhh, that was so wonderful!
Anne, my faithful friend from the beginning of my mothering journey! So thankful for that!

So, there ya go. Just wanted to record this before I forget. Tend and befriend. When I feel most overwhelmed, drop everything and hold a baby, scratch a back, snuggle up with a good book and a preschooler, get together with a friend. It's how God designed us. Pretty brilliant I'd say:) Jen