JackJack update!

For the sake of out-of-town family and friends, I am going to try a lot harder now to post updates and pictures of my kiddos.  I know how much I enjoy seeing and hearing about my friends’ and family’s lives, I figured I should at least attempt to do the same.  🙂

Jack is 19months today!  I hardly know where to begin!  He remains the cutest little person I’ve ever known and continues to surprise and impress both me and Zach with what he understands, can say and do.  He is ridiculously verbal, which I think contributes heavily to our surprise at his development.  I’m sure many kids have similar understanding and comprehension at this age – but if they aren’t very verbal, they simply can’t communicate it, perhaps??  Regardless, his crazy talking gives us much insight into his little learning brain and we LOVE it.  At his 18mo check up, the pediatrician asked me how many words he was saying, roughly.  “Oh gosh,” I replied.  “Like… 100?”  Her eyebrows shot up and she said, “Oh wow.  Yeah we look for 5-15 at this age!”  On the drive home I began to wonder if maybe I had exaggerated the number in the moment.  So I started counting up in my head the words he knew.  By the time we arrived home, I had passed 80 (including names and animal sounds, ie – “What does the owl say?” “hoo hoo!”).  Over the following 24 hours I kept encountering or remembering more words that I hadn’t included in my original list and easily cleared 100 words by the next day.  Yeeeeah not that it’s a surprise to ANYONE that the child of Zach & Andrea Boomsma would be very verbal!  He has been putting 2 words together for awhile – mostly “help please”, “more please”, possessive’s like “Dada’s socks… JackJack’s socks…” etc. but he has also recently begun to put together 3 words at a time like “more… hummuh… peez!” (more hummus please) or “Nigh-nigh bebee coco bin” (night night baby coco bean).

Jack seems to pull hard for being like his Daddy.  He takes a bit of time to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night.  It’s not unusual for him to be super whiny and obviously tired as we approach bedtime (7:30pm) only to have him roll around and play happily in his crib for a good hour or more before falling asleep for the night!  Similarly, I’ve found that going in to get him up in the morning immediately after he wakes up is not a good idea.  Unless I want a cranky and whiny and clingy boy on my hands, it’s best to let him hang out in his crib for 30 minutes or so once he’s woken up.  He is still a bit snuggly and clingy in the mornings, just more happy about it.  And I certainly don’t mind the sweet few minutes of snuggles I can manage to get before he is off and playing.  Also like his dad, he enjoys playing with interactive toys and likes to figure out how they work.  Even at 6 months old he was curiously spinning the wheels on the toy cars he had to see what they did.  He seems to have an analytical mind that plays itself out mostly with hands-on activities.  He does very well building things with duplos, medium sized legos, stacking cups and laying/connecting train tracks.  But his latest fascination is buckles, specifically the plastic ones on his carseat and his high chair seat.  He can now fasten the top buckle of his carseat all by himself and is working on the bottom buckle.  He will sit for a good 10-15 minutes in his high chair working on connecting the buckle while I finish preparing his food.
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Speaking of food – his current favorites are: “hum-mah” (roasted red pepper hummus!!!), “yo-gee” (yogurt), “fy-fy” (french fries, but what kid doesn’t love french fries, I mean really?), “aye-saws” (applesauce), “oat-mee dada” (oatmeal, dada – Zach has been making steel cut oatmeal several mornings a week and eating it together with JackJack), and “hot dot” (hot dogs).  His appetite has a rather random ebb and flow.  But now that he is holding steady in the 75th percentile for weight, I’m no longer constantly worried about getting enough food into him.

Speaking of percentiles – he continues to rock the 95th+ percentile for height!  I don’t know how tall he is in inches, but I find myself repeatedly forgetting that he really is tall for his age – until I get around other 18month-2yr old kids and then it’s very obvious haha.  But with a Daddy who is 6’4″, what did we expect??

With such explosions of development and comprehension have also come many more training opportunities and a step “up” in our parenting.  We have definitely moved from “keeping him alive” to intentional and specific training and “real” parenting.  We have seen a lot more attitudes and tantrums emerge when he doesn’t get his way, resulting in some “boot camp” disciplining.  But he responds well, especially when we are careful and intention to discipline him in a loving and patient way.  I will confess, I have discovered a temptation toward anger like never before.  And when I give in to my anger and frustration over his tantrums and whining, Jack gets even more upset.  Seeing how HE responds when I’M not responding rightly, definitely helps to keep my attitude in check!  It also helps when Daddy comes home.  🙂

We’ve started training him to sit and focus for short periods of time.  So far he has mastered 15minutes of “sit and read time” in the big chair in the living room.  He doesn’t necessarily always stay seated and he doesn’t necessarily always read the stack of books I put with him.  But he stays in that chair until the timer on my cell phone goes off (playing “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers) and then his eyes widen and he smiles and says, “ah dun?  git down?”
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Next up will be some “blanket time” – playing with a specific set of toys on a blanket on the floor until the timer goes off.

Matching with Mommy:
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Meeting Baby Chloe for the first time:
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Learning to eat with a spoon:
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Snuggling with Mama:
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Some of his current favorite activities these days are:

Wearing his Batman vest and growling “Batman” with Daddy:
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Finding new and interesting things to do with his toys, like putting the train tracks into a cd canister:
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Going to get donuts with Daddy:
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Putting on Mommy’s (or Daddy’s) shoes:
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Turning anything into a hat, but especially the sieves:
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Mowing Mimi & PopPop’s grass:
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and most of all – playing with balls!
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With every month that passes I swear it is even more fun with him than the last!

Chloe’s Birth

For those who enjoy reading birth stories, as well as for my own memory’s sake, I thought I’d post the story/details of Chloe’s birth.  Since I had c-sectioned with Jack, I was essentially going to experience labor and delivery, etc for the first time!

The 39th week of pregnancy brought much eagerness to have Chloe on the OUTSIDE of me.  I was definitely ready to trade the discomforts, tiredness and inconveniences of end-of-pregnancy for the discomforts and tiredness of having a newborn.  I kept hoping that she would come a few days early, but given that for the latter half of the pregnancy I had this feeling that she is totally going to be “her mother’s daughter,” I suspected that she would arrive exactly on her due date (Oct 30th).  Which I was fine with.  Better than going late, I suppose.  I just definitely did NOT want a Halloween baby!  I passed the time making fun memes from various movie quotes that expressed how I was feeling:

I had pretty bad pregnancy heartburn:
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As her due date approached, I was hopeful that she wouldn’t decide that she was overly comfortable in my tummy:
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Also?  Pregnancy hormones do crazy thing to a woman’s emotions.  Not my favorite…
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The morning of October 29th I was feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions.  I had felt them for nearly a week prior, but these were very regular – nearly every 5 minutes – all morning long.  Just simple “tightening” of my belly – nothing painful.  But the fact that they were consistent and regular had me getting hopeful.  As the afternoon wore on I noticed the contractions still coming every 5 min or so but with a little pinch to each one.  Hmmm… hopefulness was increasing…  After dinner Zach and I went for a walk and he noticed that the contractions were a lot closer together than 5 min.  More like 2-3 min.  Still not really painful, but consistent and noticeable.  I was pretty sure this was the start of my labor.  Chloe was going to come soon.

Went to bed around 11pm and woke up an hour and a half later feeling marked contractions.  Oh yeah, this was definitely it.  I kept my eye on the clock and they were still very regular (5-7min apart) and increasing in discomfort.  I tried to rest / fall back asleep, realizing I had only gotten 1.5hrs of sleep so far that night.  Yikes.  I dozed/slept off and on for another hour and a half or so before the contractions forced me out of bed.  Walking/being upright seemed to relieve some of the discomfort.  I also called the midwife on call from my OB practice to get her thoughts.  She encouraged me to rest as much as I could and let her know if things picked up speed.  Back to bed I went but was only able to doze for an hour or so before the contractions really picked up and I knew there would be no more sleep for me.  Zach woke up and I called the midwife back again.  She suggested I take a shower to see if that slowed/affected the contractions at all.  Not a bit.  15 minutes in a hot shower and the contractions continued at 2min apart, each one causing me to stop and breath through.  It was definitely time to head to the hospital!  Zach’s mom had arrived several days prior to be on hand to help with Jack so we were able to leave as quickly as we could gather our things.

We checked into the hospital around 5am and the contractions were good and strong and consistent.  And painful.  I was gripping Zach’s hand and breathing hard through each one.  And desperately hoping that I was dilated to at least a 4 or so – enough that they would admit me.  I didn’t want to be sent home!  My concern was unfounded – I was at a 4.5 and actively laboring.  There was no turning back now – Chloe was coming!  I immediately asked my midwife when I could “responsibly” get an epidural, haha!  I didn’t want anything to slow my labor, but I was also very eager for relief from the pain of contractions.  She said the anesthesiologist was currently in the OR for a c-section and I was next on the list – realistically about an hour’s wait.  Ok good.  I could definitely handle another hour.

That hour actually passed fairly quickly since we finished up the tests and paperwork in triage and transferred to the L&D room and got settled there.  It ended up being around 7:15am when the anesthesiologist arrived and administered the epidural.  Maybe 2 contractions later and I was golden.  Aaaahhh relief.

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They checked me again and I had already progressed to 7cm!  I was so relieved and excited.  I had prayed that the epidural would not hinder or slow my labor at all and was therefore very thankful to see that it hadn’t.  We spent the following 5ish hours pretty much just hanging out.  I think Zach left for a short bit to get some food.  I updated facebook and instagram… watched a movie… took a nap… they checked me around 12pm and I was at 9.5cm!  We would be pushing soon – just wanted to give a little more time for Chloe to come further down the birth canal.  At this point, my entire labor had felt like such a wonderful answer to prayer.  It came on gradually yet consistently.  I wasn’t left wondering if I was actually in labor or if/when to head to the hospital.  It all progressed so wonderfully – the epidural had come at a great time (I was definitely ready for relief!) and yet wasn’t negatively affecting the labor progression.  I was jubilant and ready to start pushing!

Around 1:30pm I noticed that the epidural seemed to feel like it was starting to wear off.  The midwife came in shortly after that and said that since that’s what I was feeling, now would be a good time to start pushing so that I could at least feel a little bit as we went.  Sounded good to me!  One of the nurses said the epidural still had several hours to go before it would be completely gone.

Um no.

So we started pushing.  Now, since this was my first time, I had no idea what it would or was supposed to feel like and it definitely took some time to get the hang of it.  Plus, it’s not like you push and immediately see or feel progress.  It takes some time (at least it usually does for first time deliveries) to get that baby really moving.  The problem was… within 45min to an hour, the epidural was pretty much gone.  I was feeling every contraction full boar and the effect was BAD.  Something you should know about me – and that I already totally knew about myself – is that pain does NOT motivate me.  Some women can channel the pain, bear down on it, use it and push through.  I can not.  I am a HUGE wimp and pain debilitates, distracts and discourages me.  No matter how much encouragement or prompting people offer, pain makes me shut down.  This is one reason why I have never had an inclination to pursue an unmedicated labor and delivery.  And I was very clear about that with every appointment with the midwives leading up to my delivery.  Pain relieving drugs are my friends and I did NOT want to do anything without them!

So when the epidural wore off, it surprised me and I immediately told the nurses and midwife.  Ok… called the anesthesiologist who came and gave me a booster dose of lidocaine.  Prior to his arrival though, we attempted to keep pushing during several contractions but the pushes were weak and ineffective.  But as soon as that lidocaine hit my system, we were off and running again.  The difference between my ability to push with and without the drugs was marked, obvious and significant.  Nearly everyone in the room commented on it.
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We continued to push for another hour or so.  It was slow going, as I still didn’t quite feel like I knew what I was doing.  But we kept at it!  Buuuut then the lidocaine wore off.  Um, what?  And I was back to feeling all the contractions (as they were now coming 2ish minutes apart).  Placed another call to the anesthesiologist.  When he came back the second time, he restarted my epidural and (I think) gave me another lidocaine boost.   Again, marked difference!  Back to pushing!  At this point Chloe had made it most of the way down the birth canal but was “stuck” rocking back and forth trying to get past my pelvic bone.  We spent a lot of time pushing and trying to get her past that obstacle.  She eventually made it and began to crown.  We could see her head full of dark hair! We made it through about an hour and a half of more pushing and…. you guessed it.  Drugs wore off AGAIN.  What the heck?!  I could not wrap my brain around WHY the drugs were so short term?!  Why aren’t they giving me something to carry me through to the end?!

It gets worse.  So they call the anesthesiologist again.  He’s not answering.  They don’t know where he is.  And apparently that was just the way it was.  The nurses and midwife were extremely apathetic about the whole thing!  Sort of just looking at each other like, “oh well… we can’t find him… guess we’ll just have to keep going without it…”  Um NO.  Where have you been for the last 3 hours??  I am useless when in so much pain!  The nurses and midwife continued to remain passive and sort of just shrugged and hung out.  Occasionally they asked me if I wanted to push, which I absolutely didn’t!  It was everything I could do to concentrate on surviving each contraction!  I tried once or twice but the pushes were so weak and pointless.  It almost felt that Chloe was regressing, moving back UP the birth canal instead of down!  For awhile I thought it was just taking time to track down the anesthesiologist again.  Nope.  No one was really doing anything.  It was a little infuriating!  The anesthesiologist was SOMEWHERE!  There were 2 nurses and a midwife in my room.  Why couldn’t they send someone to go find him and at least get my name on the list?!  And for that matter, why is there only 1 anesthesiologist per shift??

So I basically laid there for 45+ minutes writhing and moaning in pain while no one really did ANYTHING.  I had even vomited multiple times from the pain each time the meds wore off.  It was AWFUL.  Finally, Zach took the nurse and midwife out of the room and had a little chat with them.  They were beginning to get concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to finish delivering this way, but Chloe was too far down the birth canal for a c-section.  He explained that all their encouragement to push through the pain and all their convincing that we needed to just keep going was NOT going to work.  We needed to get more pain meds in me – and not only that, but we needed to get a dose that was going to get me through the end of the delivery, not just a booster dose that was going to wear off in another 45 minutes!  Now, the fact that Zach even needed to have this conversation with the nurses and midwife was a little ridiculous to me.  It was OBVIOUS the effect the pain meds had on my pushing.  I know my body and I know how I respond to pain.  I had been clear about that up front.  It was SO frustrating that this was even happening the way that it was!

As Zach was talking with the nurse and midwife, the anesthesiologist arrived.  He heard the last part of the conversation about needing to give me enough relief to finish the pushing, however long the midwife thought that would be.  It shouldn’t be long – we were so close!  We had been able to see her head for a good hour!  I was FINALLY dosed up again and the relief was nearly immediate.  I was extremely tired and emotional at this point, but I was ready to be done.  We started pushing again and within 20 minutes, she was OUT!  After nearly 6 HOURS of pushing, she was born around 8:15pm on Oct 30th.

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They placed her on my chest and it was literally all I could do to hold her.  I was so exhausted, I just laid there with my eyes closed and concentrated on keeping my hands wrapped around her little body.  I remember thinking to myself, “Andrea, you should probably at least LOOK at your baby!”  I opened my eyes and looked down at her for a couple seconds before laying back again.  After a minute or two they asked me “Do you want to do skin-to-skin?  Do you want to try and nurse her?”  Um, no.  I actually told them to take her because I was afraid I was going to drop her.  She could do skin-to-skin with Daddy.  Zach held her for a bit, cut the umbilical cord and stood by while they did the standard tests, etc. and got her cleaned up.  She weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 21″ long (Jack was 9lbs 1oz and 21″ long).  I simply laid there and dozed off and on for the next hour while the midwife stitched up a small tear that had occurred at the very end.  It felt like every part of my body was sore.  My neck/shoulder had a horrible stitch that I later realized was a pulled muscle.  For nearly 5 days after delivery, I couldn’t take a full breath in while standing upright because it hurt my neck/shoulder so badly!

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By the time they had wheeled me into our post partum room, I was feeling more aware and alert and ready to hold my baby girl.  We attempted to get her to nurse and she fed GREAT!  Despite all the pain and difficult of the previous 6-8hrs, I was thrilled that at least she ate!  After having so many feeding and subsequent weight issues with Jack, one of my biggest prayers for Chloe was that she would nurse well.  And so I was so grateful that God answered that prayer.

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I have to just stop and say that my husband was my hero through the whole thing.  He never left my side.  Except for going out to talk to the nurse and midwife (which was much needed!), he was right next to me, holding me up and helping me push every single time.  He said all the right things at all the right times.  He took action when action was needed.  He supported and helped me and got me through.  I was so relieved he was there for our daughter also when I was too weak to even hold her.  He is my hero!

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My recover afterwards was ROUGH.  Even harder than my c-section with Jack.  Every part of my body hurt for over a week.  And even though Chloe nursed superbly at first, we had a little bit of trouble – mostly pain on my part – with her for the first couple of weeks.  But advice and encouragement from a lactation consultant friend and a couple of visits to the chiropractor later and we were all good.
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It was an extremely difficult delivery and I am so relieved it is OVER.  Chloe Delaine is here and thriving and we are so happy!

2015 Goals

Last year I had one goal: to read my bible every day.  No matter how much or how little I read, I wanted to prioritize it at least to the extent that I made SOME time for it every single day.  And while I knew that there was definitely a chance I wouldn’t make it 365 days, I was determined to get as close to that number as possible.

I’m excited to report that I read my bible 360 out of 365 days!  And in all fairness, 2 of the days that it didn’t happen were the week following Chloe’s birth.  Given how difficult her delivery and my recovery was (story coming soon!), I’m not surprised at all that reading didn’t happen a couple of days.  The other 3 days that I missed were scattered throughout the year and on those days I simply forgot.  Didn’t prioritize it earlier in the day and by the end of the day I had forgotten about it altogether.  But still – missing 5 days out of 365 means I missed less than 2% of the time.  I am pretty happy with that!

One of my goals for 2015 is to keep reading my Bible every day but to not settle for just getting it done.  I want to press harder into a deeper experience.  Now that Jack is older and I’ve emerged from the post partum fog with Chloe, I’m ready to start getting up a little bit before my children for some quiet time alone with God.  I’m planning to deviate from the Bible reading plan I’ve been using for the last 8 years and instead pursue more intentional study of individual books.

I also have a couple other goals for 2015 —

  • Better health and fitness.  2014 was a little crazy between finishing remodeling our home, moving in, continuing to work on home projects, getting pregnant and having a baby, etc.  So now that life has calmed down a bit, we are eager and ready to start working out (again) and eat healthier.
    • I’m looking forward to taking up running again as well as doing some pilates.  Eventually I’ll probably up my intensity with my fav Jillian Michael’s DVD and some harder strength training.  But for now… baby steps.  🙂
    • We are planning to shift our eating habits to have a strong Paleo leaning. I say “leaning” because we are definitely not being very strict about it.  We’ll still have some dairy and beans.  We’re mostly wanting to cut out most, if not all, processed foods and simple carbs like bread and crackers and pasta and place a heavy emphasis on meats and fruits and vegetables.  We’re definitely excited to see how such eating habits affect us!
  • Being more intentional with friendships.
    • Again, in the craziness of 2014 I felt like I wasn’t very good at growing and building friendships with some of the women that I believe God has purposefully placed in my life.  I’m looking forward to being more intentional (and creative when necessary with little ones, haha) with pursuing and deepening some of the friendships I have with specific women.  Zach and I also have a few couples we want to be more intentional with.  Community and friendship are so important and we don’t want to miss out on the wonderful blessings to be had via good friends and the strengthening of relationships!

my first “guest blogger” experience :)

if any of you haven’t already heard of Wee Ones Photography, you MUST check out the website and blog!  alisa is a long-time and dear family friend of mine and while she assists her daughter with wedding photography, she has also launched into the ADORABLE world of newborn photography!  ooohhh my goodness.  newborns are sweet and precious already, but her photoshoots take them to a whole new level!

alisa had also taken a few quick snapshots of Jack last year when he was about 6mos old:
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this is what she shot during a 10minute, spontaneous “shoot” that we hadn’t even planned.  just imagine – and go LOOK AT – what she can do during a full photoshoot!

anyway… a couple months back, alisa asked me about possibly doing a few “guest blogger” posts on something(s) pertaining to my current season of a new mom with little(s).  i was shocked, humbled, excited, flattered and blessed!  if you’re interested in reading it, i wrote a 4-part series on tips and suggestions for creating a baby registry.  having been to quite a few showers, both wedding and baby, and then enjoying several of my own, i’ve developed ample thoughts and opinions on the topic.  ::wink::

creating a baby registry: introduction

creating a baby registry: part 1 – the thought process

creating  a baby registry: part 2 – what do i really need?

creating a baby registry: part 3 – my personal recommendations

alisa, thank you for the HONOR of contributing to your beautiful blog!  the privilege was truly all mine!

Baby Shower for Chloe

last week we had a little baby shower to celebrate Baby Chloe!

it was a simple, low key open house with lots of pink and lots of treats!

(yes, we “borrowed” several of the decorations from “Chloe’s Corner”)

per the invite, nearly all the gifts we received were fabulous and adorable clothes for Chloe!  it was all SO CUTE.

you may recall that i apparently make rather funny faces while opening shower gifts.  i guess the trend continues… HAHA!

this kid loves books

we have been amazed at how much JackJack is into books – and without us really trying super hard to cultivate such interest!  i mean, we read to him a bit as a baby…
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when we moved into the house and filled the bookshelf with books, we intentionally left 1 square for his books, wanting them to always be accessible to him.  and he regularly (multiple times a day) goes to his little reading corner and sits and pulls the books off the shelf.  but he’s not just pulling them down to make a mess – he sits and turns the pages of most of them, looking at the images on each page and babbling to himself like he’s reading.
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I also leave a couple of books in his crib at all times that he always looks at and “reads” when he wakes up in the morning or from his nap. He may snuggle a little with the teddy bears in his crib, but it’s the books he most enjoys and interacts with until we go and get him “up.”

and several weeks ago he started carrying a book over to wherever we were and holding it out saying “bah? bah?”  again, initially we thought he was just handing us the book like toddlers often like to hand you their toys.  nope, he definitely wants us to read it to him.  if we sit down on the floor with the book he immediately turns around and “backs in” to us and plops right down on our lap, hands placed contentedly and happily on his thighs as he waits for you to start reading.  it is adorable!
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he brings me books to read frequently throughout the day.  and since i definitely want to encourage a love for and joy in reading, i try my best to stop and read him the book(s) whenever possible.

he has also surprised us at how long he will sit while we read to him – often for 4-5 books straight!  he loves to turn the pages himself and we have encouraged interaction by asking him to point out various things, or what a certain animal says.  i recently came across a blog post by a friend of mine with points and reasons why repetition in reading the same books over and over is not something to be concerned about but rather, is helpful and good for children’s development!  i found this very helpful and encouraging since 1)  Jack definitely has 2-3 clear favorites that he prefers above the others and wants to read over and over and 2) we only have about 10 books currently on his shelf and now i’m far less concerned about some super strong need to present him with a huge variety of books right now.

current favorites are:

Good Night Moon, in which he can and likes to point out the red balloon and the fire, haha!  he also knows the stars and occasionally can identify the moon (a little hard when it takes different shapes on various pages, plus it sounds just like “ballOON”).

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Brown Bear is especially fun because Jack can make so many of the animal sounds when we ask, “what does a _____ say?”
bear – “raaah!”
dog dog – “oof”
sheep – “bah!”
kitty cat – “meee”
horsey – “naaaay”
birdy – “teee teee”
and my 2 favorites –
fishy – he opens and closes his mouth, with his lips making a slight popping sound as they smack apart HAHAHA
dolphin – he totally clicks his tongue to the roof of his mouth!  there are foam/plastic dolphins hanging from the ceiling where Jack has his little swim lessons, so Zach thought he would try teaching him “what does a dolphin say?” and i was so shocked that he actually imitated the clicking sound right away!

and The Going to Bed Book.

House Update & Pictures!

At long last, I am finally getting a post up with pictures of the progress we have made on the house!

Prior to moving in we did all the “big” things, got the house to a state of “liveable,” and left most of the rest of it to after we had made the move.  And by “we” I mean “pretty much ALL Zach, with some help along the way from friends and family.”  Big things were: removing the popcorn ceilings, painting nearly every wall, pulling up the tile floor and laying laminate, trimming most of the door frames, faux board & batten in the dining area, completely rebuilding the staircase + creating a built-in bookcase and closet under the stairs, gutting the kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and sink.  It was a massive undertaking and we are FAR from being done.  But we are so pleased with the results thus far and love chipping away at finishing the other little things as we go.

Here are a number of before and after pictures… (please note – the “before” pictures are from the listing when the house was shown and taken with a wide angle lense… whereas most of my “after” pictures were taken with my iphone and sometimes done as “panorama” – so the angles and stuff are a little off… but you get the idea.)

I have to start off with the stairs and bookcase – they are a major focal point and pretty much Zach’s greatest masterpiece of the house.
BEFORE (carpeted treads, metal handrailing, weird plant shelf on the landing, awkward space underneath…

AFTER (stained wooden treads and handrails, painted wood ballusters & newel posts, built-in bookshelves and a small storage closet under the stairs…)

the kitchen:
BEFORE (dated cabinets, even more dated countertops, very old microwave and dishwasher, no pantry, old school fluorescent light fixture, mismatched window blinds)

AFTER (new cabinets and countertops, new dishwasher, new sink, skipped the microwave altogether, matching window blinds, recessed can lighting… please excuse the missing cabinet door in the lower corner – it’s coming haha)

another angle:
BEFORE

AFTER (added pantry to the left of the fridge, yay!)

view of the dining area opposite the kitchen (besides painting, we added the board and batten on the wall and changed out the light fixture for a chandelier):

the downstairs bathroom is probably the closest to being completely done (still need to put in a couple baseboards and trim inside the door, which you can’t even see):

the nursery is the next closest to being completely done (still need to trim the closet and get a couple more cloth bins for the box shelves).  the majority of the room is decorated with airplanes for JackJack and we love it.  but since he and Chloe will be sharing a room for the next couple of years that we are in this house (we want to keep the downstairs bedroom reserved as a guest bedroom), and i was not about to redecorate in something neutral for both kids, i simply opted to girly up the corner where Chloe’s bed will be.  🙂

from the doorway:

from the opposite corner:
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Chloe’s corner:

the details (baby dresses that *i* wore as an infant !!!!!! and a beautiful verse print my SIL found on pinterest):
2FCEB6B5-FDDA-43EE-8969-61E6C89C8747_zpsqho9pbbv FA834231-FDCD-454D-AC75-B9F238BD7F48_zps27qfcf7w F4598E92-EA39-424E-A03B-519795FF79A8_zpsn62gptrz

about 5 days after moving into the house, the washing machine flooded due to the use of too much detergent by previous owners which clogged the draining sensor.  the entire laundry room had nearly half an inch of standing water and water had seeped underneath the laminate flooring we had JUST laid.  water is a freakishly fast and damaging entity you guys.  we immediately started pulling up the flooring to see how far the water had spread and to stop it from spreading any further!  sadly, it had gotten all the way into the downstairs bedroom, bathroom, hallway and a few feet of the dining area and in front of the bookcase.  if the whole thing hadn’t been so urgent, we probably would have just sat down and cried.  it was so depressing.

i kept reminding myself of the reasons we had to be grateful in the midst of this: friends only a couple blocks away who were available to watch Jack while we did damage control, the fact that the water had not spread to the kitchen (i couldn’t imagine if we had had to pull out the newly installed cabinets and countertops), that zach had just gotten home when we discovered the flood, owning a shop vac for swift clean up of the water…

and probably most of all, i was grateful for home owner’s insurance.  as depressing and frustrating as the whole episode was, the blow was softened considerably when our insurance company cut us a check a few days later for a couple THOUSAND dollars more than the cost of materials to replace the flooring.  while sopping up water and ripping up floor boards, i kept thinking, “God, i know you have allowed this for a reason and You are still good and faithful in the midst of this… but i am struggling right now.  this is HARD!” never thinking that God would actually have plans to bless us – monetarily! – as a result.  it was totally a blessing in disguise.  as a result, we were able to use the extra money to buy a number of things we thought we wouldn’t be able to buy for months: an R/O system for the kitchen sink, a utility tub for the laundry room, a hood range vent for above the stove… and probably most exciting, a NEW BED SET!

we had been talking for awhile about wanting to get a california king size bed (and putting our queen size in the guest bedroom) so we figured it was a good idea to take advantage of having such a large chunk of extra money and GO FOR IT!  and we absolutely love it!  while our bedroom and bathroom are the least finished rooms in the house, it makes me happy to walk in and see such a lovely bed set.

living room and guest bedroom are getting close… saving them for another blog post.  🙂

Grilling Recipes

We have been incorporating more and more grilling into our meals lately and we’ve discovered that a good marinade is where it’s AT.  I have come across several fantastic marinades that I simply must share.  Every time I’ve made any of these for others, I am asked for the recipe.  Which finally convinced me to post them here for [my tiny circle of blog friends] to enjoy as well!

Chili Lime Marinade
(We use this one for kabobs.  The marinade makes enough for about 2lbs of chicken chunks, and 1-2 red peppers and 1-2 zucchinis, which are our veggies of choice with kabobs.)Juice from 6 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T chili powder
6 cloves garlic
2 T brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Split the marinade between 2 baggies – 1 with the chicken chunks and 1 with the veggie pieces.  I’ve done this up to 2 days in advance, or even just 2 hours in advance and both times it turned out great. Skewer and cook on Med heat for 3-4min on each side (pretend there are 4 sides).

Fajita Marinade
(We made this for the first time last week and it was amazing.  I’m already looking forward to the next time! This made enough to marinate about 2lbs of chicken tenders)
1/4 c olive oil
1/3 c lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
2 T chili powder

Lemon Viniagrette
(Ok so this is technically a salad dressing.  It’s actually a copy cat version of the dressing Pita Jungle uses on their Greek salad.  I spontaneously decided to try marinating chicken in it and was thrilled by the results.  We use this one for grilling chicken that is then diced and served over a green salad with lots of toppings!  Enough for 3-4 decent sized chicken breasts.)
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Thus far we have only had great success with marinating and grilling chicken.  Steak… not so much.  After several disappointing attempts, we decided that we prefer steak with just a little bit of Montreal Steak Seasoning and that’s it.  Zach is still working on perfecting his grilling technique with steak so, since it’s a more costly meat, we’ve been sticking to chicken lately.

A new strategy I learned about on Pinterest was to toss your meat and marinade together in a zip loc and freeze it.  Then you can pull it out days or weeks later and it will marinate as it thaws.  Brilliant.  Especially because the whole idea of grilling being a “quick and easy” “summer” meal option is a little crazy, right moms?  The amount of prep work required for a grill meal isn’t significantly less than something I’m going to throw in the oven, etc.  I still have to make the marinade, think far enough head to thaw meat, chop meat (in the case of kabobs) and/or chop the cooked chicken (after it comes off the grill) and fix side dishes.  I’ve taken to throwing the “quick and easy” mentality out the window and just settle for “simple, delicious and gets the husband involved” haha.  And why is grilling consider a great summer meal?  Clearly that was invented by people who live everywhere OTHER than Arizona.  When it’s 120* outside, standing in front of a hot grill is not my husband’s idea of a great meal.  However, he loves the act of grilling and loves the taste of grilled food enough to endure 20 minutes of the heat on a regular basis during the summer months.  But grilling is definitely be a year round thing for us!

We’re Having a Girl!

Since we had nearly all the family and closest friends all together in one place at Jack’s birthday party, we thought that would be a great time and place for a gender reveal of baby #2! Aaaand it worked out perfectly that Jack’s party fell on my 19 week mark so we could schedule the anatomy ultrasound for that very morning!

The ultrasound tech was wonderful, talking us through each thing she was looking at/for and reporting the various measurements, etc and how everything she saw appeared very healthy and normal. We had told her that we did want to find out the gender, just not at that moment, and she was great about doing a quick check without us even realizing it. We had her write down the gender on an index card and seal it in an envelope, which I then took to Party City and had them fill a black balloon with corresponding confetti after I left. The plan was to pop the balloon with everyone gathered and all discover the gender at once!

It kinda worked. The Party City employee used the iridescent confetti from the 3-part package with only a couple of the larger, bright pink pieces and upon popping the balloon, it took us several seconds to correctly identify what color had actually come out! HA!

We are overjoyed at God’s gift to us of a baby GIRL! Zach totally called it from the beginning. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so confident. Granted, nearly everything about this pregnancy has been completely different than my pregnancy with Jack, but that is not necessarily a gender indicator. Maybe it is/will be for me, but I don’t have enough children to make that call, haha. As people asked me what I was hoping for or wanted, I honestly found myself torn. There were such wonderful reasons to desire both! On the one hand, since Jack and this baby are only going to be 17ish months apart, the idea of it being a boy was very appealing – brothers and buddies so close in age! I loved it! Plus I already have lots of boy clothes and they will be sharing a room for the next couple years at least and the room is already decorated for boys. On the other hand, I do very deeply desire to have a daughter and it would be nice to sort of “lock that in” and get one of each right off the bat. And I mean come on, the girl clothes are off-the-charts adorable. Oh the fun to be had with outfits and hairbows and accessories! By the time the anatomy ultrasound day came, I still felt torn but if I was being honest, I would have to admit that I was hoping for a girl a teensy bit more than I was hoping for a boy. 🙂

And a girl it is!

(And in case you’re wondering, they will still be sharing a room while we live in this house and I’m not planning to redecorate. The corner of the room where she will eventually be sleeping is still a little blank so I’m planning to put some sweet, girly decor up there. A pink airplane, perhaps? 😉 )

Chloë Delaine is the name Zach and I have chosen for her. We have had the name Chloë picked out since before we were married. It was one of those things where we were having fun discussing potential children’s names and Zach said, “I’ve always really liked the name Chloë” and I said, “That’s pretty. I like it too!” And it’s been our #1 pick ever since. Aaaaand we may or may not have later realized the “Jack and Chloë” connection from 24 and thought, “You know, we are totally ok with that!”

Her middle name, Delaine, is actually very meaningful for me as it is the middle name of my best friend, Raigan. Raigan and I have been friends for over a decade and have such a storehouse of memories, conversations, road trips, laughs, tears, sleep overs, jokes, and wonderful times together. She was a HUGE part of my relationship with Zach, there for pretty much every single part of our story and culminating in being the maid of honor at our wedding. Despite living in 2 different states for 2 years, we have stayed close and even grown closer.  I am so happy to get to name my daughter after someone so dear to me.

JackJack turns 1!

our cute little bean sprout turned 1 on the 7th!  we had a small-ish party with family and a couple close friends.

it’s hard to believe that we were just meeting him for the first time only a year ago…

and now look at our big big boy!

at his party we at lots of food,  enjoyed a very impressively decorated airplane cake that my mom made,

and opened presents!  Jack received some pretty fantastic gifts – all of which have immediately been put to use and greatly enjoyed (balls, blocks, trains, walker wagons, bath toys, etc).

my parents kindly hosted the event and zach’s parents were in town – so it was very special to have BOTH sets of grandparents present.

instead of cake, jack got a special birthday chocolate pudding…

…which daddy ensured got all over his face in lieu of frosting, etc. haha

these days, jack has quite the exciting life.  he loves hanging out with his daddy whether it be helping build things,

pointing out his buttons

or working on the computer.

he regularly empties the towel & tupperware cabinet and crawls around with a piece of tupperware in his hand:

he spends lots of time with mommy too…

and in his high chair seat:

speaking of the high chair seat… this kid LOVES eating solids and “real” foods!  and while he likes sweet potato and applesauce as much as the next kid, he has surprised us with his love of full-flavored, savory foods!  his favorite thing is hard boiled egg yolk mashed up with spicy red pepper hummus.  i’m not even kidding.  he gets very impatient and whiny while i’m mashing it all up because he wants it so badly!  and he will scarf down mashed black beans and mashed peas as quickly as anything else.  funny kid…

living in arizona, having kids that enjoy water fun and swimming is simply a necessity.  we have started him out young!  from bathtime…

to a baby pool on the back porch…

to the local public pool…

he has grown to LOVE being in the water!  we have also started him in infant swim lessons so he can learn survival skills and how to be safe around the water.  SO important with little ones and especially living in a state where swimming and pools are so prevalent!

it seems that jack has had an explosion of comprehension and development in the last 3-4 months.  he understands and remembers a lot of words, even if everything he says sounds like “bah!”  we have actually been a little startled to realize how much he understands and remembers.  if we say “jack, where’s your ___?” or “jack, go get your ____”, he knows “ball,” “books,” “walker,” “bear,” “snowy” (stuffed dog), “duckduck,” and “xylophone,” to name a few.  he can point to his hair, ears and self when we ask, and also sticks out his index finger when we say, “jack, how old are you?”

we have recently started to teach him a few sign language signs to help him communicate more.  he picked up “please” within 1 day and within 2 days was using it unprompted for multiple things we hadn’t tried yet!  and he has just started to understand how to use the signs for “more” and “help” (like for when a toy gets stuck under the couch and he can’t reach it, etc).

he has been “cruising” (walking while holding on to the couch/coffee table/etc) as well as walking with a little walker for a couple months now, and we were wondering when he would decide he wanted to actually walk on his own.  well, it just started happening over the last few days!  he has started to stand up on his own from a squat an independently takes quite a few steps to/from us, the coffee table, his walker, etc. – laughing the whole time!  he thinks it’s hilarious!  maybe it’s because of the way we cheer each time….

i don’t think a day goes by that i don’t pause for at least a brief moment in amazement at how much JOY i experience as a result of this child.  i knew i would like having kids.  i also knew it would be a lot of work.  but man, i was simply not prepared for the joy and delight that can be found in having a child.  it is truly beyond anything i had imagined.  caring for him and loving on him and watching him grow, learn, develop, play and live is wondrous.

jackjack, your mommy and daddy love you far more than you will ever know – and being your mommy and daddy is the happiest job we have ever had!  happy birthday, Bean Sprout!