Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Days

For our family, September has been about finding routine. Our actual schedule can change all the time with a little baby, but we are working to develop good habits that not only promote our well-being but also help provide structure. So though we are not in the official "schooling" years, we are definitely learning and growing! I've always had some sort of learning focus going on, but I decided to get more focused on it this year and so I'd like to keep track of what I'm doing on the blog. This first post is longer as I'm talking about some of our new habits. 

The most important habit I wanted us to adapt this year is a daily devotional time. We have always spent time praying and reading the bible together but I wanted our mornings to begin in God's word. I truly believe one of the greatest things I can do for my girls is to instill this routine in their lives. We've started having morning "Shine Time" after breakfast, where we pick a couple of bible songs to sing from one of our children's song books, say our verse, read a bible story together, and pray. It's quite simple right now, but the thought is there: our day starts with seeking God. Our memory verse for this fall is Isaiah 40:8. 
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 

*By mistake I taught her "stands forever" and can't get it out of her mind, but it means the same thing so we are just going with it for now. 

Another habit we are working on is regular outdoor play. Obviously this time of the year makes it easier to embrace this sort of change. Walks to the park have sufficed for now. :) 

I've also been working with Kate on our household chores a bit more. Letting her help with dishes and laundry more often. She has learned how to fold burp cloths and wash cloths and helps me when I sweep the floors. She helps set the table and is also doing a lot better at picking up her toys! We are also working with her on independence skills, such as dressing herself, washing her hands, opening up doors, and of course.... using the potty. 
Still have so far to go on the that last one but we'll get there!  

Our other new habit is what we are calling "Together Time". I wanted this to be a time that is special, as it's just for me with one daughter but also a time focused on discovering and learning. It also a time for me to set my phone down! For Claire I might read her a book or rock her while listening to or singing songs or give her some tummy time. (Seems like a no brainer, but it's actually quite easy for me to not do these things!)

For Kate we are enjoying some of our regular seasonal activities with some new stuff worked in! Our theme for September was apples and farms. In years past we have done apples for August and farms for September so there was a lot that we didn't get to this time, but that's okay! We had a blast! Here is some of what we did:

Crafts! Okay... so I'm not a crafty person... but we managed 3 crafts this month! Apple print paining, a muddy pigs, and a fluffy sheep. Each activity gave us opportunity to discover more about our world.

We had lots of birthdays this month. Making birthday cards turned out to be a very "educational" activity. First, she picked a color of paper and the shape for me to cut out. She had fun using markers (which we only use on special occasion) and using her little finger skills on the stickers. 

We also used birthdays as a time to talk about how God made our bodies and how he gave us emotions. We had a fun emotions matching game that we did. 

We also started an alphabet book that we work on one day a week. I'll be honest, this is my least favorite thing we do and I'm not sure if we'll keep it up, at least as we are doing it now. Right now she colors pictures that start with the letter we are on and glues them in her book. Then she practices tracing the letter. I wasn't going to have her trace, but it sort of happened naturally and she has picked it up pretty quickly! We also watch letter videos on youtube after we work in our book. We'll keep doing this as long as it's fun. She knows her letters pretty well but she is learning new skills through this like gluing and how to hold a marker for writing, she might even get to scissor skills... we'll see! 

We learned that apples float, as opposed to carrots, which sink. 

We went to the store and picked out a bunch of apples that she got to play with for a few days before we started eating them up! Here she is using the apples to measure her toys. She also enjoyed counting them and sorting them. 

Together we made yummy applesauce, applesauce muffins, apple baked oatmeal, and even an apple pie. She enjoyed being a part of the process and is getting better at her "kitchen helper" skills. 

Kate loves sorting right now. So we've done lots of sorting activities. We would usually do them together the first time and then later I could pull it out while nursing or doing chores and she would do the activity on her own. We only do it if it's fun-- not forcing it! 

Apple "bobbing" is another repeat activity- third year to do it with her! This year was fun because she learned how to use the "pinchers" to move the apples! 

She is getting better at counting out objects. This was a fun little game we played, counting apple "seeds" but I'm sure you can imagine it was only fun for about 5 minutes at a time! 
(Just being honest!) 

We did some fun farm activities too such as acting out Mrs. Wishy-washy, learning the special names for baby animals, and of course, just playing with good ol' farm toys! She also got to visit the Clydesdales stables for her birthday, which was lots of fun! 

Our together time was sometimes only 10 minutes, and other times it was 45... and there were one or two days where our time together was spent watching a movie. I don't demand perfection of myself but I really am enjoying this time. It is good for Kate because she is learning to enjoy other people's ideas because she knows that together time is spent doing an activity that mommy picks out, which is a skill she needs to work on right now. In the future, we might be able to adjust that a bit. ;) 

We are encouraging her to use her building toys. Some days she'll use them on her own, but usually me or Blake will use them with her. She is learning more about balance and how things work together through these toys so they are great. 

She is starting to use play dough more so we made some yummy scented play-dough this month. We also made our apple pie sensory bin this month. I used different size and colors of apples this time which has made it fun for Kate as she noticed their different attributes and usually sorted them. I tried patterns with her, but we're not quite there yet. 

Lastly, books!!! We read all the time in our house! There is a shelf of books in both of the girls' rooms but this shelf in our living room gets a switch up every month or so. Here was our September line up... Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie was Kate's favorite.

Well, this is definitely an all-about-kate post, but before too long Claire will be joining in the fun with us. Most of our moments are not so pinterest worthy. In fact most days Kate eats her lunch in the living room while watching PBS so that I can nurse Claire. (This is my secret to getting them to sleep at the same time so I can have a few minutes to myself!) But the truth is we are making it... we are more than making it! 

Love for Jesus.
Love for others.  
Love for learning.
Good habits. 
Those are our goals! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Life with Claire at 1 Month

Has it really been only a month? So much has happened in these last few weeks but what joy our little Claire Lucille has brought us thus far! I enjoyed blogging each month about my journey into motherhood and all of the first year milestones with Kate and so I'm hoping to do that again with Claire!

Our girl has been thriving as she quickly shot past her birth weight and has continued to grow into the most cuddly little baby. Oh, the newborn snuggles. You'll have to forgive me if I'm not sharing much of them, for I remember how quickly they are gone.

Mostly, Claire is a content little one who is happy to nurse, sleep, and repeat 3 hours later. She is starting to stay awake for longer periods, thankfully during the day time. She is starting to look around and notice toys and people in front of her. We do a little bit of tummy time, but I haven't been very consistent. If she does happen to be awake during the night, she is usually content in her rock and play. Hoping to soon have some longer stretches at night!

She nurses for long lengths, which is different from my experience with Kate. Because I really enjoy my personal space it sometimes feels quite draining, but I'm trying to embrace it. A couple of days ago we introduced her to a bottle and she took to it right away. I have quite a stock pile of pumped milk already and so I imagine she'll be having more bottles in a few weeks as we start to go out and about more often.

She is now taking a bath about every other day with her big sister in the tub. Claire seems to be enjoying bath time more and more. Kate enjoys picking out her pajamas and clothes most days. It's so fun to put her in the sweet little outfits we once put Kate in! Claire's skin is starting to look less red and I do believe that her dark hair is starting to lighten just a tad. Right now she has baby acne on her face and chest and some cradle cap on her forehead and around her nose. There isn't much we can do about this but she is still so beautiful! It would appear that she is built like Kate in that she has a long torso and short legs. Right now her hands and feet are long and slender with long and slender fingers and toes, very unlike her father and me! She has surprised us with her little outie belly button as well! She's almost outgrown her newborn diapers, and fits comfortably in clothing that is for 0-3 months.

Something I'm very grateful for is the instant bond I felt with Claire. I know that for many mothers this connection can take time. As I've written before, I struggled with my labor and delivery experience. I know it was fast so it might have sounded easy, but emotionally and physically I had a very hard time processing it. Somehow holding my little girl just took me away from it all. Through all of the stress and emotions of the "trauma" I was feeling, in addition to the changes in our family dynamics, it was in my quiet moments with just my little babe, that I felt centered and at peace. I was reminded that God had his arms wrapped around me very much like mine embraced my daughter. He was carrying me and sustaining me. What a moment for me when I realized that our little Claire Lucille, our "bringer of light", was already being used by God to shine the light of His presence!

This sweet girl is such a gift to our family! We love her so!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kate Turns 3!

Kate has turned three so I suppose that means we survived the "terrible twos". Call this year what you want, parts of it are really hard, and of course other parts bring great delight. As I've looked over pictures and videos I'm amazed at how much she has grown- and how much Blake and I have grown as parents. A lot can happen in a year!

When Kate turned two she was still sleeping in her crib while wearing cozy footie pajamas. Now she sleeps in her big girl bed and wears regular kid jammers!! She moves around faster and more confidently and speaks in full sentences. Her creativity is blooming and you can watch it develop as she plays with her diaper bag and dolls or when she's coming up with a new song. She sits for longer stories and loves books. She prefers to work on more challenging 24 piece puzzles. She enjoys building tall towers and driving toy cars around.

Kate is a great helper! She can help unload the dishwasher and move clothes to the dryer. She's learning how to help fold small towels too. She understands how and when to take a dish to the sink and can wash her hands on her own. While she still really prefers us to do things for her, she is learning how to do more and more for herself.

She can identify all of her letters, upper case and lower case and can tell you something that begins with each letter. She can recognize numbers up to 20 and knows that if you have 3 of something you need 2 more to make 5. She knows her colors and can sort. She remembers so much! She is definitely learning so much as she plays and reads.

Her favorite cartoons right now are Curious George and Daniel Tiger. She also enjoys watching movies so we like to have family movie nights now and then where we pick up a pizza and eat it picnic style in the living room.

She loves going to the Cowboy Museum, the park, and the library. She also loves going to Bible class.

Of course, the most exciting part of this year has been watching her become a big sister. We were reading the story of baby Moses and for the first time I realized what a dedicated big sister Moses had. Mariam watched over Moses as he floated down the Nile and when he was discovered by the princess, Mariam spoke up and suggested her mother nurse him. I'm sure that walking through the reeds down the river was not very fun, yet she did it. I also believe it probably took great courage to speak up to Pharaho's wife. She wanted to make sure her brother stayed safe so she did what she needed to do. Reading this story reminded me of the duty I felt to my own brother and the duty we have to our brothers and sisters in Christ. As I watch Kate at her young age take concern over the needs of her little sister my heart is touched. This natural inclination to care for younger siblings is such a loving design by our creator. My heart just explodes at the sight of them together... in the sweet moments anyways!

There have been challenges like failed potty training attempts, picky eating, and strong wills, but you know what? I really don't think that's the part I'm going to remember 20 years from now. I hope I'll remember her sweet little hand holding mine when we walk down the hallway at church or the way she snuggled up on the couch with me to watch Curious George or her sweet little voice singing a song. Those are the moments I hold dear.

What a year it's been! Oh, what an adventure this next year will be!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Claire's Birth Story

Our family has grown! Oh, the joy that has come with the arrival of our sweet Claire Lucille! 

It was the middle of the night. I was only a couple of days away from our scheduled date to be induced. Still, my body had been showing signs of readiness and we knew I could go into labor at any time. I woke up just a bit before 3 AM on Saturday, August 19th. I felt a little "pop" inside me and thought that perhaps my water had broken. I got up to use the restroom and determined that it hadn't broken, but I was feeling a sharp lower back pain, quite similar to what I felt before Kate was born. A couple of minutes passed and I felt the pain come on again. It was uncomfortable, but manageable, and somehow God gave me the intuition to know it was time. 

I woke up Blake and told him that I thought it was time. I called over my cousin Jenny and then we got dressed and got the car packed up. It was a calm drive as my back contractions come very close together. Just before 4 AM we pulled up to the emergency room at Mercy. I was able to walk and talk, but I was still thankful for the wheelchair. We got signed in and walked into a triage room at which point I began to feel sick, which continued for the rest of my labor. They left me to change clothes and as we were waiting for them to return, my contractions began to feel like one never ending intense pain. I was trying to tell myself I'd still be able to get the epidural, but I knew I'd missed the window. 

They were tending to another mom about to give birth, probably assuming I was fine because I was able to talk and didn't seem too bad when they left me, but by the time they returned I was not fine. I was wallowing in pain like a dramatic movie star. They worked to get me hooked up to the monitors and tried to check my dilation- which was difficult because my contractions were no longer letting up. She tried twice and estimated I was at a 7, I was told my water broke during this time, I was not aware of this though. They knew they needed to get me into a labor and delivery room ASAP so they started moving quickly and before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hall. The breeze felt so so good as I felt very hot. As we were getting on the elevator my body began to compulsively push the most intense pushes I've ever felt. I was scared. They were telling me to breath which made me nervous that I was breathing wrong and was going to have trouble. I had no idea what I was doing! But I definitely felt the baby starting to make her way out as they wheeled me into the new room. 

We got inside and they needed me to roll over into a different bed. Ha! I cried and asked "Do I really have to?" Yes, I had to. Somehow I did. At this point I knew the case for the epidural was long gone and I was scared to have a natural birth- I didn't feel prepared! This baby was coming though- ready or not. They asked me to lie on my back, which I could not do so I asked to stay on my side. They helped support my legs and in two very fast pushes our baby girl had arrived. My OB got there just afterwards to take care of the rest. (A different doctor had helped me deliver.)

I was in so much pain for the next few days, but oh that precious moment when I first saw our girl. I cried and just whispered, "Thank you" over and over again to God. 
God had helped me through it and she was perfect. 

Claire Lucille Jesch 
Born August 19, 2017 at 4:35 AM 
7 lb, 11 oz
20 in

The recovery was much more intense this time around, apparently that's what happens with your second pregnancy. I am so blessed to have Blake by my side, who considers it his role to help me in every way possible. He is up with me at every night feeding, helping me change diapers, or fetching what I need, but mostly offering his support. It can feel so overwhelming and even isolating caring for a newborn, especially in the night, but thankfully we are in this together. 

Sweet Kate loves her baby sister. Her eyes light up, and I love hearing her in the other room saying, "Where's my sister?" She oohs and ahh over her little features and loves to give her hugs and kisses. She enjoys helping us, and is doing such a great job learning to have soft hands and a quiet voice. 

Life is so different as a family of four, but here we are, the four of us. It's amazing how quickly that feels normal and right. We've had time with both sets of grandparents, which has been a huge blessing for all of us. A couple of weeks ago the thought of being on my own with the two girls was scary but now I feel ready to find our groove. It's amazing how God sustains us and helps us step by step. I know He is with us as go forward in this new phase of life. We are so thankful! 
To God be the glory! 

Claire Lucille: A bright, bringer of light 

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Kate's Barnyard Bash

It was so much fun planning Kate's party! We knew that we'd have to do a barn yard theme for Kate's party because she loves all things farm right now. Plus, animal sounds were one of the first ways she started talking, so it just seemed fitting!

We were a little bit nervous about the weather, but we ended up with a gorgeous morning! 

We had a "farm fresh" theme for our morning snacks. Garden Veggies, Fresh Country Eggs, Apples for the Orchard with caramel, Little Piggies (thank you Sister Schubert!), Pumpkin Spice Chex mix, Cowtail candy, and homemade yellow cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting! 

We had several different activities around the backyard. My favorite was Kate's Little Pumpkin Patch! We had stickers to decorate. We had lots leftover and so Kate and I are still having fun with this project! 

I wanted to have a few activities for any older kids who came. This was pumpkin Tic Tac Toe. Kate's been having a ball playing with the pumpkins- counting and sorting them. I think we'll have fun with this stuff for years to come! 

Sheep Shearing! So simple! A diaper box covered with backwards contact paper and cotton balls. 

Of course, a bean bag toss! We also had corn hole and ladder golf for big kids. 

Pony Rides... the easy kind anyways. :) 

Rope the cow! An embroidery hoop that has rope twisted around it is used to "rope" the cow.           

We had fun playing outside with everyone! 

 Uncle Jake brought his guitar and led us in Happy Birthday- the Oklahoma breeze made the candle a bit difficult so we ended up pretending. Kate loved her cupcake! 
Much different from her first birthday!

We went inside for presents. They were all a hit! Kate's enjoying having some new toys to play with! 

The little ones spent some time playing inside and it was so fun to have all the little ones together! 

It was a fun morning! Friends and family truly are a blessing in this life. We are so thankful for the time in fellowship we had. 
We are looking forward to watching Kate grow during this third year of life!