Luke, Patty, Anna Kate, Caroline, and Eleanor

Luke, Patty, Anna Kate, Caroline, and Eleanor

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happy 2nd Birthday, Eleanor!

Newborn Eleanor

First Birthday

Second Birthday!

Happy second birthday, Eleanor! I am not sure how I can even begin to put into words what joy you have brought to our family these past TWO years, but I am going to try! From the moment you wake up in the mornings, to the moment you go to sleep at night, you bring light to each and every day of our lives. In fact, that is what your name means - "The Light of Grace" - Eleanor Grace. Our prayer is that you will always let your light shine before men, so that people will praise our Father in heaven because of you.

~ You love to sing. Your favorite songs, and the ones that have recognizable lyrics when you sing them, are Gloria (Angels We Have Heard on High), Twinkle, ABC, Holy holy holy, and Jesus (Jesus Loves Me). You always want me to either sing Jesus or Twinkle as I rock you to sleep.
~ I think this has something to do with one of your favorite songs being "Gloria," but when asked what your name is, you say "Eleanoria." You also always ask us to read you a "Storia." I am never going to correct you. I've learned with your older sisters that you'll only say your baby words for a little while, so there's no reason to rush it!
~ Your favorite book for most of this year has been "Pock" (There's a "Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Seuss), and you still love it, but lately you have added "Go, Dogs, Go!" You like to say a number of the words as we read through it, and you really love the last page where all the dogs climb up the tree and have a dog party. You just go to down dancing and and saying "Party, party, party!" You also like a little Disney Cinderella book that we have. You call it "Rella Bobbi Boo."
~ One of your favorite phrases to say is "holdmeup" all as one word. It means you want Mommy or Daddy to hold you, and it's often used perfectly timed moments like when Mommy is cooking dinner.
~ You have quite the little zoo in the bed with you at night. You will not sleep unless you have "Bink" (your blankie), maa maa (short "a" sound - it means your lamb), Bear (your bear from Sunday School), Tiggy (kitty from Grandma and Grandpa), and also a cup of water. But really, I can't complain because you have become a fabulous sleeper. We put you to bed before 8 most nights and don't hear from you until 8 in the morning. Sometimes later if we're quiet enough.
~ You LOVE your sisters. You call them "Kate" and "Bears" respectively, and you just love to be with them. You have special things you like to do with them like play hide-and-seek (which you've become pretty good at!), and listen to them read you stories. They've also been including you more in some of their big girl pretend play and you love it.
~ When you play by yourself, some of your favorite things to do are puzzles. You have 5 or 6 that you will do over and over again. One Sunday night when I picked up from the church nursery, they said that you had done all 12 puzzles, one after the other, very methodically! You really are one who likes to have things orderly and neat.
~ You give the best kisses. But you can't give just one. You give a kiss on the check, then the other cheek, then on the nose, then the mouth, then each eye. In that order. Every time.
~ You love that you are big enough to go outside with your sisters more. I can see the backyard from the kitchen, so I often let you all play outside while I do dishes or cook dinner (to keep you from asking me to "holdmeup"). You love riding your tricycle in the backyard, but you still need one of your sisters, or Mommy or Daddy, to push you!
~ You are quite the climber. You have mastered the playground at the park, getting up to the top level with ease, but you also can be found frequently climbing on things in the house that you are not supposed to be on. Like the coffee table. Or your kitchen set. Or the top bunk of your sisters' beds. We're working on it. 
~ You are becoming quite proficient at communicating just about anything that you want. I've stopped counting your words because you have so many, and you are starting to put them together into sentences. "Hey Daddy" (or Bears, or Kate, or Mommy) is a favorite one, but you also frequently report in so that we know everything that's going on. Tonight you came downstairs and said "Kate, hurt, fall." Which means that Anna Kate fell and hurt herself. She was fine, but you were very concerned about her!
~ As for your counting, it could use some work! You think you've got it perfectly, but you consistently count 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9!
~ We also need to start working more on colors. Your first guess for everything is pink. If I say no, you think it's Lellow. When I tell you the correct color, you say, "Ooooh, blue!" or "Ooooh, green!" like you will remember it next time. But then you guess pink again.
~ You really love making us laugh. If you find something that works, you'll do it over and over again. Sometimes it's silly things at the table that crack your sisters up. A few times, you've realized that you get a rise out of everyone when you call Mommy and Daddy "Patty and Luke!" We shouldn't laugh when you do it, but it is funny!
~ You have the cutest little way of running. You stick your chubby little belly out first and kind of waddle as you go. It's a pretty fast waddle, and precious!
~ You have started to do better going potty on the potty if I will remind you. Honestly, though, with two big sisters and homeschooling and activities outside the house, I haven't been very consistent. Maybe now that you're two!
~ You have finally started to get better about this, but for the last six months you have refused to keep your shoes on in the car. The moment we get in, they come off. Even if we're just driving four minutes to church. I've been known to just wait to put them on you until we get to our destination.
~ You smile really well for pictures now. You do a big whole face smile that accentuates your high cheek dimples and you say "Cookie, Candy!"
~ Speaking of cookies, you have been saying for weeks that you wanted to have a cookie party for your birthday. We invited just four of your same-age friends, and we baked 150 cookies and 2 cookie cakes! Unfortunately, you came down with a cold and low-grade fever last night and we'll have to postpone your party until maybe next weekend. Mimi and Papa and Uncle Jonathan were here though and you really had a great day (and LOVED the cookie cake!).
~ As for your friends, it's been so sweet to see you start to really develop little baby friendships. Your best buddies are Emmy, Manning, Henry, and Olivia. You talk about them all the time and love seeing them. 
~ You really got into the birthday thing this year. You had a little boy in your Sunday School class who had a birthday a few weeks ago and you all sang "Happy Birthday." You haven't stopped singing it since, except you always sing "Happy To You!" You've been so excited when we started telling you it was going to be your birthday soon! In fact, as I laid you down to sleep last night and left the room, I could hear you singing "Happy To You, Ellie" in your crib. It was precious. It was just what my mommy heart needed as I said goodnight to my one-year-old one last time.
~ You've been really excited today when we ask you how old you are. You've been saying "One!" out of habit, but then when we say "Noooo," you respond with, "TWO!!!!"
~ We let you blow out candles twice today! First in your cinnamon roll for breakfast, then in your cookie cake after lunch. You weren't too sure about it the first time and Daddy had to help, but you did the second ones all by yourself!

~ You got to open some pretty fun presents this morning from all of your family. Your favorites were rain boots from Mommy and Daddy, a glowstick princess wand from your sisters, a wooden train block set from Grandma and Grandpa, and a suitcase to hold it all in from Mimi and Papa! Oh, and of course, your two one-dollar bills for turning two from Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa!

Eleanor, we all love you so much more than you ever will know and we look forward to watching you grow. You are a blessing!

Mommy, Daddy, Kate and Bears

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bye-bye tonsils!

Caroline, our sweet little middle, went through a bit of a rough time last summer and early fall. She's always had pretty large tonsils, but they seemed to be getting bigger.

In this picture they are not quite touching, but if she ever had even a touch of a cold virus, they would be even larger and be what they call "kissing tonsils."

They began to interfere with her sleeping. She always slept very in, this is how we found her asleep one night:

And she always slept with her mouth open, breathing and snoring heavily. Like this:

In fact, there were a couple of nights where she woke up with panic attacks because she just could not draw full breaths. After consultations with ENT's and sleep specialists, we were referred for surgery as soon as possible, which ended up being mid-September. Luke's mom came into town so both Luke and I could be with her at the hospital. She did great in pre-op. It helped that she had 4 members of our church family (pastor, two deacons, and children's minister) there to pray with her (and bring her a Veggie Tales movie to look forward to)! As soon as they had to leave, though, she kept saying, "Where did all my friends go?!?"

She was quite nervous that Mommy and Daddy couldn't go to the OR with her, but we are so thankful that Jamie (another church friend who Caroline knows well) was the CRNA who would be handling her anesthesia. We handed her off to Jamie and knew she would be well taken care of. Next thing Caroline knew was that she was back with Mommy and Daddy.

She had quite a hard time coming out of the anesthesia and even needed to be re-sedated a bit to help her calm down, but finally we were allowed to take her home. They warned us that an adenotonsillectomy can take up to 10-14 days of recovery and let's just say that Caroline needed every one of them. My favorite quotes of hers during those days were, "Mommy, I don't love surgery," and "I'm just having a wuff (rough) time." She spent her first days in the big bed.

She spent her next few days on an air mattress on the floor in our room.

Then the next few days on the couch.

Then the next few days trying to play, but giving up and falling asleep on the floor.

We kept the house well stocked with broth, jello, pudding, gatorade, ice cream, and popsicles, but she refused to eat even much of that. She said it just hurt so bad to swallow :(

She ended up losing 7 pounds (out of only 41!) and had me quite worried, but the doctor assured me she would gain it back. And she just about has by now, but it took a while!

All that to say, though, the surgery has revolutionized her sleeping! She now stays still in her bed (once she finally falls asleep, being the little night owl that she is) and is breathing through her nose and not snoring at all. We are so thankful for God providing the right medical care at just the right time for her.

Friday, January 8, 2016

SC State Fair

After a 4 year hiatus from the State Fair (the thought just overwhelmed me with tiny babies), we decided to take the girls this year. Actually, we weren't really thinking about doing it, but some of Luke's stu dents convinced him to take the youth group to the Newsboys concert at the fair, and Luke, being the great daddy that he is, just couldn't bring himself to take his youth, but then not take his own girls. So he took us one night and then the youth the next night!

In any case, we really had a wonderful time, and it worked out well that we were able to go on $1 admission day! The girls loved the food, the sights, the sounds, the exhibits, and the rides!

Here they are enjoying the art and the animal exhibits:

We let them each (AK and Caroline, that is) choose three rides, and they made their selections very carefully. They rode the kiddie roller coaster together first. They're in the second to the last car seen in the picture.

Then Caroline chose the train and the motorcycles.

Anna Kate chose the big swings (which I didn't get a picture of), and some "lay-on-your-tummy" flying race cars.

There were a number of Jurassic Park themed exhibits. Caroline and Eleanor weren't too sure about them!

We ended our evening eating funnel cakes and watching the African Acrobats show. The girls were amazed!

So...maybe we had enough fun to do the state fair again another year!

Pumpkin Patch Time

Caroline's actual fourth birthday fell on a Sunday, so we knew that the morning and evening would be spent at church, but we wanted to do something special that afternoon. We decided to let the girls skip naps (quite a big deal to them!) and go to the pumpkin patch. Here are some pictures of our day:

Our rule is that you have to be able to carry your own pumpkin!

Luke thought I was silly for making everyone (including him!) take a picture with their chosen pumpkin, but he indulged me!

The hayride back

Sweet girls!

They got to "skip" naps. But it was a 45 minute drive home. So...