Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Recap: Part 1

Hello out there! Let's just pretend like I haven't been silent for the last year, ok? Here's what we've been up to:

December 2015:
The Husband got a new (awesome) job that he still loves a year later, and I love and we all love because a happy husband makes a happy family!  He gets to do things he loves and is good at and he is valued and appreciated for it.  And it's flexible enough that he can help cover bases for our life of appointments for our Faithy-girl.

Lila turned 6 and we celebrated with a few of her sweet friends at a painting place where they painted ornaments.

 Oh yeah, and Christmas!
Look at those little tiny chubby faces!
Lila lost her first tooth (and then several more!), Faith had a sleep study to confirm her sleep apnea, and she got her first pair of orthotics (to stabilize her ankles). And consequently we met our out of pocket maximum in record time!

This happened to Beatrix when I took a shower.  Poor third child.

Me: Lila, she could choke on those! Lila: But she likes it!
And this has nothing to do with anything, it just cracks me up.

We enjoyed some rare warmer days (Faith and Lila did, at least.  Bea and I enjoyed them from inside the house!)

 Beatrix attached herself to her "Nuh-Nuh" (stuffed bunny) and has slept with it ever since.

Faith and I became famous (sort of) when we were featured with her physical therapist on the front of the brochure for Faith's therapy school.

March was crazy!  My little nephew, Bowen, was born a month early and I'd never been so happy to be awake at 5:30am!

My Nanny (my mom's mom) moved from Minneapolis to live with my parents, and I took on some care-giving duties on the days my mom worked.  My kids got to spend lots of fun time with her which was totally worth the sweat and stress of caring for my kids, schooling Lila and caring for a 90-year-old with dementia and Alzheimers!

Lila and Faith had their tonsils and adenoids removed.  My house looked like this for two weeks:

It was two weeks of misery, but we survived and now Faith doesn't fall asleep sitting up (which was pretty creepy) and Lila doesn't snore like a grown man!

I turned 33 and celebrated by taking selfies with the cutest baby ever.

We spent more days with Nanny (making silly faces).

We saw "Where the Wild Things Are" at the Coterie (the local Children's Theatre) and it was awesome!

To celebrate surviving our first year of home schooling, we got to go the Royal's game!

Faith's birthparents and biological sister came over for dinner.

We stayed with Nanny for a week at my parents' house so that they could go on vacation to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday.
My Nanny had a funny sense of humor so sometimes it was a little hard to tell whether she was being silly or just confused!
Faith and Nanny had a special bond.
In her natural habitat.
Lila basically lived in the little pool that whole week!
We all got new glasses!  After having pink eye 4 times last year, I decided I needed to replace my 12 year old glasses with an updated prescription!  Lila's glasses finally broke and Faith got glasses for the first time!
I didn't think it was possible for her cuteness to reach new levels and then she got glasses!
Lila nearly ran out of teeth at the rate they were falling out this summer!

Lila had a very lucrative lemonade stand thanks to some sweet neighbors who were generous tippers!

More Nanny adventures!

July-December coming up in Part 2!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beatrix Sonnet

When Faith turned one we started trying to get pregnant.  If we had been successful right away, I surely would have been overwhelmed to have kids so close in age - especially considering Faith's needs and abilities.  But, I reasoned, if we were never able to get pregnant again, I didn't want to look back at those months and wonder if we had missed our chance.  So in September of 2013, we started trying to get pregnant.

When we were coming around the bend to the one year mark, I was losing hope.  It took us 6 months to get pregnant with Lila and before Faith came into our lives, we had tried for 9 months again.  So added up together, we had spent nearly two years of our marriage trying to get pregnant.  20+ cycles of hope and disappointment.  And as each month circled around, the disappointment dissolved into despair and heartache.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

In the summer of 2014 we had sold our little house and were living with my parents for a few months while we looked for our next house.  (Related: living with your parents is not an ideal baby-making environment.)  One morning I came across a website for dresses for mommies: Sonnet James.   I remember thinking, "Sonnet.  That's a cute name.  I wonder what it means."

Of course I knew a sonnet was a lyrical poem, but I am a tad obsessed with literal translations of words and names.  So I did a quick internet search and found that sonnet is derived from the Italian word sonetto and literally means "little song."

And just as I read the words "little song," that Still Small Voice reverberated around my heart: I'm going to give you a new Little Song.

You know how sometimes you want something so bad that you start to invent "signs" or reasons to be convinced that it's the right thing for you?  I thought it was that.  I thought I was manufacturing God's voice promising me a baby.

But still, I couldn't help but hope.  I kept the page with the definition of sonnet open on my phone so that I would be reminded of what I thought I heard God say when I would begin to lose hope.  I'm going to give you a new Little Song.

And then, miraculously, a few months later I was staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test.  Our dream fulfilled.  Our Little Song.

Then, in December, the world came tumbling down.  I don't know that it will ever be appropriate to share the details of these last 10 months, but suffice it to say, we endured - are still enduring in many ways - the most difficult and darkest months of our marriage.  I was grief-stricken, heartbroken and distraught, but still, there was this little baby growing inside me.  Her life was a glimmer of joy in our sorrow and pain.  In my fear and in the darkness, I was reminded with each kick that God had spoken a beautiful promise into my heart and here she was, in the process of being fulfilled, as her cells came together in that mysterious and miraculous way of new life.  Even in my sorrow, my growing belly reminded me that God hears my prayers, knows my pain, and desires to fulfill my dreams.  God was near, he had not abandoned us, he was in the process of making things new.

Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

As we searched for names for our Little Song, we knew we wanted an older name to fit with our Lila Josephine and Faith Margaret.  When we would come across a name we liked, we would look up the meaning of the name.  There were a few we truly loved, but the meanings were so-so.  Then, one day, I came across the name Beatrix.  I have always loved the charming books by Beatrix Potter and the name was romantic and beautiful.  So I looked up it's meaning and the name suddenly became so much sweeter.

Beatrix means Bringer of Joy.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

We didn't decide right away on her name - in fact, we still hadn't totally decided when she was born!  But now I know, it has always been her name.  Her name is a sort of statement of faith for us.  Despite the adversities of the last year, we choose to turn our faces to the One who made us.  We are his, the sheep of his pasture. With her name, we lay claim to another promise from the Good Shepherd: that he would redeem our suffering - that he has already begun to do so by giving us our little Joy Bringer.

She lived up to her name in her first minutes of life.  Her existence in our family has brought us such joy.  Right now our story is still unfolding.  There are many things that still wait to be redeemed.  But the story of my life has this golden thread of hope and promise wound sparkling through it and I know that each seed of sorrow I plant will reap a harvest of joyful praise to the One who redeems all things.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

Beatrix Sonnet, our Bringer of Joy, our Little Song, is a Tree of Life for us.  She is living, breathing (pooping, spitting up) proof that God keeps his promises.  She is a piece of the harvest that we are already tasting.

I hope that through her life, people will look at us and say, "The Lord has done great things for them."

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126
A song of ascents.
1When the Lord restored the fortunes ofa Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.b
2Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4Restore our fortunes,c Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

notes on sleep deprivation and parenting a newborn

There are some hard and fast truths about mothering a newborn.  Here are my top 5:

1. The baby will, without warning, suddenly be desperately hungry the second the mother raises a forkful of lunch to her own mouth and will shriek a shrill and ear-piercing shriek until mother abandons her own nourishment and feeds demanding and precious child.  The same phenomenon occurs when mother attempts to go to the bathroom.  Silly mother.

2. The baby will, with precision, time her sleeping patterns to conflict with big sisters' sleeping patterns so that mother will not have a single minute of her day in which someone is not touching her.

3. The baby will want to eat exactly every two hours, except for when she wants to eat every 45 minutes.  Except for when she miraculously goes 6 hours between feedings at night (HALLELUJAH!).  Except for when she actually wants to eat every two hours again.  Mother's body will be completely confused and unable to predict when baby will need to eat and therefore mother will endure her body's delightful attempts to produce the appropriate amount of milk at the appropriate time.

4. The baby will not be satisfied unless the person holding her is uncomfortable.  Mother should not dare sit down.  She must hold baby in an upright, but slightly reclined position and bounce her in a gentle rhythm.  Mother should not attempt to scratch her nose.  Unacceptable.  Duh.

5.  The baby will coo and smile up at mother and mother will forgive baby for all the ways baby has ruined her life because that one smile has miraculous healing powers.


Being that I have very few active brain cells at the moment, I thought it best to write words.  Coherent, non-jibberish words.

Of course, to the sleep-deprived brain, there's really no telling whether the thoughts produced are nonsensical so, sorry about that.

Beatrix is delightful.  People keep asking me if she's a "good baby" and I think what they mean is, "Does she sleep?"  She sleeps, yes.  She sleeps like a baby.  Which is to say, a few hours at a time spread across a 24 hour period.  Which is to say, I don't sleep.  Although last night she went a miraculous 8 hours between feedings and I'm trying so very hard not to count on that sort of behavior more than one night in a row at 5 weeks old.  BUT...then again...she might just be advanced.  A genius, maybe.  She might, you guys.

I...am...not.  A genius, I mean.  In fact, I may have completely lost my mind because I decided to home school Lila this year.  HA.  I decided that having a newborn and a non-verbal almost-three-year-old with Down syndrome wasn't enough stress and chaos.  I decided to dedicate my remaining brain cells to teaching my stubborn and wild and willful and active and beautiful and smart and naughty child how to read and write her letters and do math and learn about the world.  We started this week.  It's going...okay.

The first day she asked me if "we have to do this EVERY DAY?!"

The second day I gave her an assignment to work on while I made lunch.  I walked into the kitchen and then turned around a second later to ask her what kind of fruit she wanted and she was lying across the chair on her tummy with her head and arms dangling under the chair.  Yeah.  This was a good decision, thought I.

The third day wasn't so bad.

The fourth day she left a post-it note on my door:

But today she requested school even though we had finished all I'd planned for the week, so she must be enjoying it at least a little bit.

I do think she would have a greater appreciation for home schooling if she had some experience in an elementary classroom.  Having nothing to compare it to, she seems to think I'm an unmerciful drill sergeant, bent on keeping her from twirling all day.  But it's exactly that - her active and kinesthetic wiring - that confirms to me that we made the right choice.  She'd be getting corrected all day long - being told to sit down back in her seat - if she were in school.  And she'd be bored.  She's bored with me because I have to start at the beginning of her books so that I can learn how the different curriculum works and "I know that stuff, MOM."  Fine.  Go write, "I'm a sassy-pants" 15 times in your notebook.  (Just kidding, I didn't make her do that.  But maybe I should...)

Anyway, I'm feeling encouraged (and exhausted) after getting our first week under our belts.  I think it's the right choice for us this year.  At least that's what I'm telling myself when passive-aggressive post-its show up on my bedroom door!

Faith starts preschool next week at her awesome therapy school.  I ordered Lila a new backpack (she'll attend Kindergarten one day a week at the homeschool program where I teach) and Faith will get Lila's littler one.  They both were so excited when Lila's new one came today and they wore their backpacks around the house and played "going to school."  Faith was SO CUTE and proud to get Lila's old one.  I'm not kidding when I say that I almost cried for how cute she was.  Also, I'm hormonal.  But that's neither here nor there.  Except it might be here.

What else? OH!  Faith figured out how to unsnap her onesie so...you know...poop on the floor again.  But her parents, despite their lack of sleep, are persistent problems solvers (who really don't like cleaning poop off the floor and crib) and came up with a solution that seems to be working.  

We bought light-weight footie pajamas, cut the feet off of them and put them on backwards.  The key is that the zipper zips up so she can't reach it to unzip them.  She was so mad the first day we put them on her that she yelled for 45 minutes before falling asleep.  Then, the next day at nap time, I watched her on the monitor give up on trying to get the jammies off and move on to trying to remove her sheets from the mattress.  Sister, Mommy doesn't care if your bed is naked so long as you are not naked.

Faith seems to have a sixth sense that I am even less able than ever to keep up with her now that I have a small human to look after and she's taking full advantage by scaling furniture...

and, you know...doing her toddlerly job of destroying any semblance of order in our house.

The biggest problem is that I can't bring myself to care that this is what their room looks like.  

Not when sweetness like this is happening a foot away:

Bea is smart to keep an eye on the Chinese one.  She's a grabber.

Beatrix will not be short on affection with this bunch.  

Speaking of the littlest girl, she's stirring and is ready to eat so I'll wrap this sleep-deprived rambling up for now.  And then I really should go to bed.  I really, really, really should.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Our littlest daughter is here!

Introducing Beatrix Sonnet Kautzi:

Fashionably late, she missed her due date by 13 minutes.  She was born July 17, 2015 at 12:13am after a crazy fast labor.  She was 19" long and 8 lbs 13 oz (a full pound heavier than her biggest sister!) and had a full head of curly (!?) hair and crooked pinkies like her mommy.  

We've had a bit of excitement in her first ten days on the outside.  Because her labor was so fast, she didn't have time to clear her lungs well enough and earned herself a trip to the NICU due to fluid on her lungs and a high respiratory rate.  She ended up spending five days in NICU - the first three days on IV fluids and antibiotics and the last two under the Bili lights when her bilirubin levels shot up on day 3.

It definitely wasn't the beginning we hoped for, but we are so grateful that she is healthy and home now.  I have a new empathy for families whose little ones spend even an hour in NICU.  Nothing is more frustrating and heartbreaking than seeing your new baby hooked up to wires and being told you can't hold her.  

The big sisters did so well - even with a few extra unexpected days at my parents' house.  Lila is over the moon and Faith wavers between genuine interest, ambivalence and wary concern about the new (loud) person who has taken over youngest child duties in her place.  

I plan on writing a post about her birth story and one explaining the meaning behind her name, but I didn't want one more day to go by without introducing her to you!

So here she is, our sweet little Beatrix:

She's absolutely dreamy and we are in love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dilemmas and Keeping Busy

Dilemma Number 1: How to help five-year-old have empathy for 9 month pregnant mama whose sense of humor must have been absorbed into her swollen feet and who does not find it funny or cute when five-year-old continues, after many requests to cease and desist, to stick her bottom up in the air at a crowded restaurant and holler, "Look!  My straw is like a tail!" whilst holding said straw precisely between her butt cheeks.

Dilemma Number 2: How to convince two-year-old that no matter how much she pats, pushes, shoves or leans, there is no rearranging the contents of my lap so that she can fit on it.  It should also be noted that growling and whining are also ineffective means of belly shrinking.

Dilemma Number 3: How to convince youngest daughter to COME OUT.

Dilemma Number 4: How to avoid going to the bathroom 7 times each night (that's not a hyperbolic exaggeration - that is an average).

Dilemma Number 5: How to keep one's sanity when the heat index is 110 degrees and the children are restless and the ankles are swollen to the point where they barely function as joints and the in utero child is making her mama gasp in pain with every movement.

I'm very pregnant.  Very. Pregnant.  My due date is in two days and I really can't believe she's still inside me considering I've had contractions since April.  Her big sister made her entrance two days early so I keep telling her today would be a good day to be born.  Every time I sneeze I have the irrational hope that I'll hear an accompanying "POP!" and feel a rush of my water breaking.  I'm getting desperate over here, people.

In an effort to distract myself from the pregnant-ness of my body, I've been keeping us pretty busy.  Here's a little recap of what we've been up to, Bullet-Point Style.

- Pregnancy Selfies
I realized I don't really have any pictures of me pregnant which, at the moment, I am totally okay with, but I think I will regret not having them down the line.  Lila loves looking at pictures of my pregnancy with her so I figured this baby would be sad to not have ANY documentation that I indeed suffered through lovingly carried her.

So one day during nap time, I attempted some pregnancy selfies.  And here's what I learned: I am inept at selfies.  I didn't know where to hold the phone.  I didn't know where to put my other hand.  I didn't know where to look.  I didn't know how to get the right angle or the right lighting.  Most of them the angle was totally weird, the picture was blurry or too dark, or I had the phone in a weird place that either blocked my head or another important part of my body.  And then there were the ones in which I was making a weird face because I was concentrating so hard on all the other factors.  In the end, this one was the only one that turned out:

 And even in that one, I am bothered by the fact that the mirror is clearly covered in tooth paste and hand-washing debris.  But there you go.  That's what I look like pregnant, Internet and future daughter.

- Fourth of July
We completely overdid it for the 4th of July this year.  We went to a parade in the morning, our friends' house in the afternoon and to another friends' house for fireworks that night.  The result was we all were completely toast the next day and grumpy as all get-out.  Faith threw herself on the floor in slow-motion tantrums and whined more minutes of the day than she didn't, and Lila flip-flopped between being completely reckless and wild (her M.O. when she's really tired) and giving Faith a run for her money in the competition for Whiniest Child.  In short, we were really fun to be around on July 5th.

But on the up-side, Lila drew this adorable picture of her and Faith at the parade.  The fat flower petal fingers! the grass and the sky! the flag and true-to-life representation of the clothes they wore! Faith's Chinese eyes!  Ugh. She's so cute.

- Adventures in Multi-Cultural Open Adoption
I got this string of text messages from First Mama the other day and I really didn't know what to make of it.

I think she was maybe trying to use a translation app and it came through in emoticons and other images.  I texted her back to see if she needed anything and sent her a few pictures of Faith and got another indecipherable text back so I'm still not totally sure what's going on.  But that woman is resourceful, so I trust she'll find a way to get in touch with me if she needs to!

November by Jvkbvbbn.

Anyone have any kind of clue what that might mean???
Me neither.

- Treasure Maps
The other day I took some cookies out of the freezer and put them on the counter.  Then a few hours later, I poured myself a glass a milk with the intention of having a few cookies.  Only I couldn't find them.  I distinctly remembered putting them on the counter.  Or did I?  My 9 month pregnant brain has been leading me astray recently, so I looked around for somewhere else I may have put them absent-mindedly.  I check the fridge, the medicine cabinet, the pantry, the kitchen island.  I even checked to see if I had put them in the sink.  Convinced I really was losing my mind, I found something else to eat and gave up.

Then, later that day, I happened to glance at Lila's little dollar section dry erase board:

Me: Lila? Did you take my cookies?
Lila: (with a sly grin on her face) You'll have to follow the treasure map to find out!
Me: Lila, I thought I was going crazy!  I was looking for those cookies!
Lila: (clearly delighted that her little plan had succeeded) I told you, follow the treasure map!
Lila: (pointing to her map) Through the gate, around the corner, into the dining room, by the shelf.

- Best $12 Ever Spent
We bought a kiddie pool at Target and it has been worth the money 100 times over.  The first time we filled it up, we were still having unseasonably cooler weather and Faith was very back-and-forth about how she felt about the cold water.  She would giggle and splash and dump water on her head and then gasp and sign "all-done" emphatically, but when we'd help her out of the pool, she'd turn around and climb right back in.  It's kind of like when you've had too much dessert and you feel sick to your stomach, but it's so delicious and you paid $8 for a slice of cheesecake so you MUST finish it.  Related: as soon as I'm in the clear from gestational diabetes, I am hitch-hiking my way to Cheesecake Factory pronto.

- My Little Reader
Lila's reading so well and it's so fun to see her explore this new independence.  For all the ways she is so unlike me, I get kind of fluttery in my stomach and teary in my eyes for this way she is just like me.  My only fear was that she wouldn't want me to read to her anymore, but thankfully, she still likes me to read to her, too otherwise I might be in mourning a bit.

- Faith's Newest Quirk (I'm not a fan)
A few weeks ago, I got Faith up from her nap and noticed that she had something on her face.  Then I noticed it was also on her clothes.  And in her fingernails.  And on her sheets.  And spread across the slats of her crib.  It was brown.  It was smelly.  It was poop.  After a bath, a good Clorox wipe-down of the crib, a change of sheets and a thorough scrubbing of my hands and hers, we were poop-free.

I hoped it was a one-time thing, but then the next day, Lila yelled from their room, "Mommy!  Faith threw her poop on the floor and I stepped on it!"  And then a few days later at dinner, Faith stuck her hand down her diaper, withdrew a few turds of poop and then purposefully plunked them down onto her dinner tray looking pleased with herself.
No amount of correcting, scolding, or hand spanks seemed to keep that girl from excavating her diaper.  A few days later, I was lamenting our latest diaper-diving incident to a friend and she looked at me with all of the wisdom a mom of four kids can offer and said simply, "Onesies."  

I went to Target that night and bought 24 month onesies and ever since then Faith's poop has remained in her diaper where it belongs.  Hallelujah, Amen and Amen.

- The Much-anticipated Royals Game
When we had finally marked off the last day of our countdown to the Royals game, Lila was beside herself with excitement.  I packed a bag of treats, picked out blue outfits for the girls and we excitedly made our way to the stadium.  When we got there and found our seats, Lila was giddy, but Faith was positively freaked out.  From the minute we emerged out of the tunnel to the section of our seats she began waving "all-done" with a terrified look on her face.  I think it was a combination of the noise, the height and all the people that was too much for her to process.  She ended up burying her head in the Husband's chest and falling asleep.  Poor over-stimulated baby.
I told Lila she could have one treat from the stadium.  She chose an ice cream cone that cost more than a half-gallon of the good stuff at the grocery store and melted all over her face and dress before much of it could get in her mouth.  But, she was one happy camper which was totally worth $6.

- Accomplishments
Lila has been working so hard on being able to do a pony tail.  She understands the concept, but her fingers are frustratingly uncooperative.   But the other day, I heard a squeal from the other room and she came bounding in yelling, "I made a pony tail!  I made a pony tail!"

 I love the look of pride on her face.  And the bows.

There's no real story behind this picture except that my friend Holly watched the girls and she put Faith's hair in the cutest little braids.  So naturally I took about 35 pictures of her that day.

- Baby's Room
We are nearly done with the baby's room.  There are still a few extra decorations I want to put up and I'll probably end up rearranging the dresser top and the shelf above the changing table, but here's the current set-up.

 I think I mentioned before that a sweet family from my school gave us the crib and changing table which was a huge gift to not have to spend money on another crib.  You wouldn't think that having our third girl we would need to buy much, but we've had to buy several big ticket things for this baby either because Faith isn't done using the one we have (crib and mattress) or because we gave away the stuff we had when we thought we may never have a newborn again (car seat, breast pump, etc) or because we needed something to meet a need in our new bigger house (the deliciously soft rug I found at HomeGoods).  But we've also been able to use a lot of what we have (the white dresser was Lila's dress-up dresser in our old house, the rocking chair is the one the Husband built for Lila, and most of the artwork is borrowed from other rooms in the house) and we've had some really generous friends lend us necessities or hunt consignment sales for us.

In the end I'm really happy with how the room has turned out.  I often go in there and just sit in the peacefulness of a room that's not being used yet and therefore isn't in a constant flux of various degrees of messiness.  It's my happy place.

- The Farm
Our dear friends moved to a farm about the same time last year that we moved into our new house.  Lila LOVES it there.  They've done a ton of work to the house and I hadn't seen it in awhile so we took a day to go visit.  Lila was in heaven with the chickens and bunnies and cats and dogs.  But mostly the bunnies.

 Faith loved the bunnies, too, but I was terrified she was going to murder them seeing as she kept trying to grab them by the brains.
 Jude showed her how to pet them gently, but the lesson was lost on her.

 This one finally wised up and made a break for it.

- Faith's Predicament
Faith has gotten very adept at taking her clothes off.  It's the pesky business of getting them back on that gets her into trouble.

- Dancing Queen #2
When I was pregnant with Lila I took a video of her moving around in my belly.  The other day, Baby Sister was doing some impressive acrobatics so I took a video of her.  I'll end this random post with that video and a plea to the little Dancing Queen to show us her dance moves on the outside!  Come on Baby!