Asa Everett Robert: Life’s a 9-10 month blur when you’re a family of four

Well, somehow… I haven’t blogged since January! It was hard to even squeeze in Asa’s photoshoots for months 9 and 10 (both were at least a week late). We all want to be there for the photoshoot, and we have to catch him at the right moment where he doesn’t need to eat, go to sleep or have his face wiped. Oh, and that he has very recently had a bath. (Pretty much anytime he has a bath, within 20 minutes he needs a new one). Ah, raising babies. Ah, raising a boy.

February found Asa loving to growl – in happiness, in consternation, and just in general growliness. He wants you to pick him up? His arms extend high over his head and he growls. He also continued this super cute little dance where I sing this silly little made-up ditty that goes “Just a little bit…just a little bit…” over and over again, and he shakes his head and shoulders back and forth and smiles.

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Over President’s Day weekend and my 30th birthday, Matt hosted a big party for my big 3-0. Asa slept though most of it…but Elle and a whole bunch of other kids ran around the house while my friend Derek of Atlas Catering created a huge feast for everyone and we even played some games (essentially because there were a few babysitters there). It was such a blast and I will remember that party for a long time :). The next day we packed up and headed to Estes Park for a weekend retreat with our Live One Life discipleship group. Elle stayed home to play with her grandparents, and we took the baby on his first solo adventure. We did miss Elle, but it was nice for both of us to connect with just Asa. He did so very well. He took great naps and slept fairly well at night, so I can’t complain.

Asa continues to love music! If he is in the main sanctuary at church (which often happens… he always wants to be carried around…) he will often join in loud syllables and vowels during the closing songs. He also makes a great “ooo ooo ooo” monkey sound. Asa also loves to drum on anything and everything. He is curiously exploring his world with much noise and musical rejoicing. He also continues to increase his acrobatic skills in the Jenny Jump Up by flinging himself across the doorway and into the kitchen area, spinning and laughing and jumping.

But most of all, Asa loves it when we are all there with him. He is most certainly a family man. He and his sister giggle. He leans in to hug her as often as she will allow and Elle will often exclaim “Asa really loves me. I’m Asa’s favorite!” Her little care taking instinct comes out for him all of the time. Just last night she wanted to give Asa his night time bottle. So Matt laid Asa on the floor, and she came over to help Asa drink it while singing him “Twinkle Twinkle little Star.” Elle is ever eager to help with Asa, and even picked out his outfit for his 10-month photo shoot.

Asa is somewhat on the move. He really isn’t too interested in crawling. He will scoot on his bum around in circles and across the room a bit towards something he is interested in. He would far prefer to be carried, or to have us help him walk with our arms with a huge grin on his face. This is a new experience for me; I was ready to have a crawling baby by now! So we will see what develops. He’s still in a good window range of development, and perhaps he will just go straight to walking. We keep trying to encourage him to crawl with tummy time, etc. He has also been known to walk all the way in his walker to the park down the block. Asa also now has four teeth! The upper ones he started cutting (of course) on our spring break vacation to visit family in Battle Ground, WA.

Asa took his first plane ride when we went to Battle Ground, WA! He explored for the first third, cried for the second third, and finally crashed out on my chest for the last third… both there and back again. We had a great time visiting my cousins Kacy and RJ. They were awesome tour guides; we went to Portland for food trucks, to Seaside, OR for a very cold beach day and of course to Multnomah Falls. Elle and Noe, their youngest, hit it off right away. Elle still talks about going back to visit. She wills say “hey, we should take this necklace with us when we go and visit Kacy and RJ” or “I think they would like these cookies” (Elle is my little gift giver).

Ten months finds us keeping up with our big, growing boy. He loves to read books. He loves to eat whatever everyone else is eating (all of the time). We are slowly weaning off of nursing, as he will often refuse me. This has been a little harder than I thought to let go of; we worked so hard to get our nursing relationship! But in a lot of ways I am ready too. I have done some crazy things this semester to keep up my supply; I pump during class discussions and I pump in the car. I even lugged that pump to WA because Asa will only nurse in a quiet room with no disturbances (and even then not every time), and that is nearly impossible to achieve on vacation!

We are ready for summer and sunshine… and we almost have a big boy on our hands. Sigh.

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Sweet little flip-flop tan lines: Two years of passion, creativity and life

All three of us match. After drinking in sun, and sand, and mountains and sunsets, we all sport summer flip flop tan lines. Although Elle Joy’s feet are definitely the cutest out of our bunch, with her 10 tiny little toes that wiggle when we play “this little piggy went to market” for the 1,000th time during a road trip.

Somehow along the way, our little sprout grew into a 2-year old. We celebrated with a baby strawberry party (a.k.a., “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” themed), which is by far her favorite movie of all time. As in, she would watch it twice a day if we would let her. Her birthday party dripped with toddler goodness. Everyone say in the driveway for the first half of the morning blowing bubbles. I will never forget the concentration LeLe’s furrowed brow gave away as she stared the bubble wand down with all her might, while her Papa (my dad) showed her over and over again how to patiently blow on each bubble screen for the desired outcome of a bubble dance party. We chomped on chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, and sang songs, and danced. And, it was amazing.

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Going back in time a bit, we knew we would have a talker on our hands early on. At the end of March, when I got home from a long day at school, Matt, LeLe and I were sitting in the playroom building legos and I said, “I think I am going to take a bath.” And as clear as day, LeLe said her first sentence “I want to take a bath too.” We were so blown a way! From that point on, her speech took off like a rocket ship. And at the same turn, we began to realize how many funny things we say that she has integrated into her own speech patterns. For awhile she would add “yeah” to the end of every sentence. Then, she started emphatically using her hands to gesture as she would talk half Lelish / half English and then at the end say “okay?” And oh the mispronunciations… Macaroni and Cheese is “Mac-An-Oni and Cheese” and for quite some time, magnets were definitely pronounced “maggots”. By far one of our favorite phrases is “mommy hold you” or “daddy hold you,” a saying that had a southern accent for awhile after we spent a week with family in Tennessee. “Mommy or Daddy hold you” also became a night time tactic where she would day “Mommy hold you, Rhema!” or “Mommy hold you, Matt!” in an attempt to get us to come into her room and let her stay up for just a tad bit longer. (Insert here how Matt will never let me live down teaching LeLe our proper names… on Matt’s birthday, she wouldn’t call him daddy. LeLe kept saying “Happy birthday, Matt!”

Speaking of Tennessee… and Kansas City… and multiple Western Slope trips… and a return to the Bay Area… can I just say, we have a travel bug!! Elle Joy really is a travel warrior. When we arrive at airports, she excitedly says, “I want to ride plane!” and as we are walking down the boarding plank, she immediately says “I want my sucker” (because she knows she gets a sucker when we take off to help her ears pop). Trust me. We never had to remind her that this was a travel option.

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In Tennessee, LeLe climbed nearly ever single step of the cavern hike (which was at least a good 1.5 miles), and then slept like a rock from 6 p.m. to the morning. In Kansas city, she intently watched dragon boat races at a dragon boat festival and had a tea party with some Buzz and Woody toys. On the Western slope, she made mud pies and jumped on the trampoline and played her heart out with her cousins and friends for beautiful summer days and evenings. In San Francisco, she gleefully walked up to each shore line and inched a little deeper, holding our hands, saying “More?” and “Shall we go this way?” (as in, get me into that water!).

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LeLe is also captivated by colors. She names them, and has become particular enough to ask for a certain color of sippie cup. And don’t forget the clothes! She has to pick our her entire outfit now… forget the cute little dresses hanging in her closet that she refuses to wear… (if I try to make her wear them, she just dissolves completely into tears)…

Oh how I love Elleanna’s imagination. She sets up her stuffed animals and serves them lunches. She made an espresso machine our of the nobs on our treadmill and she often serves us coffee (never mind that she is always trying to steal sips from our real coffee). She adores popcorn, and family movie nights.

Most of all, the compassion of my daughter floors me and brings me to my knees. When anyone is crying (especially a baby) she runs over and pats that person’s head and says
“It’s okay!”. She is always asking people about their owies, and if they will be okay. And each night as we say bedtime prayers, she will often on her own volition mention people who have owies and ask the Lord to take care of them. We also read nightly from the Jesus Story, a beautifully illustrated kids Bible book telling the story of Jesus though both the Old and New Testament. And of course, we always have to start with Goliath (who says “rawr!!!!”). And oh how she sings. Like a little juke box, all around town I am serenaded with “Itsie Bitsie Spider” and “Old McDonald” and “ABCs” and “I’ve Got the Joy” and many more. One day, my sister-in-law said she heard LeLe sitting at the piano hitting keys and then trying very hard to match her voice to the pitches she was hitting. Yep, we definitely have a musician on our hands.

This summer was really as summers should be, full of sending and receiving, going and hosting. This summer was a big pile of friends, family, BBQs, sunset chasing, swimming, picnics at the park, enjoying the mountains and the ocean, eating cherries and peaches, and picking fresh garden tomatoes. And I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else but Matt and LeLe. I’m savoring my delicious days.

Merr Chrissas: LeLe cruises into 18 months…err…19 months of life…

I have a mommy confession.

I really don’t handle the whole “sleepless nights” thing well. Like, At all. We’ve been traveling a lot for the holidays, and LeLe really has done remarkably well, especially for being only 19 months old. But when she doesn’t sleep… it makes me want to just stay home… for forever… so that we all can sleep. Lately I have realized how much I fight for my mommy time. I am ravenously possessive of her nap time – i.e. my time. I love those hours where I can focus on being someone other than an interrupted distracted mom… where I can actually accomplish something from beginning to end. There is such a tension to balance (for me) between going with the flow of having a toddler, building structure and continuing to find my identity (both as LeLe’s mom and as myself).

So, after last night… when I woke up 6 times (although Matt actually got out of bed to comfort her when she needed it)… and then this morning (grumpy toddler who is not satisfied with anything and cries at the drop of a hat)… writing out my favorite memories from the last few months will provide some therapy. When all is said and done, I really do love being LeLe’s mommy. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. And I know that in the blink of an eye, she will be grown up and taking the world by storm (that’s what all of those toddler demands should mean, right? That she will be a passionate woman?)

As fall settled in this year, LeLe’s language comprehension and expression really took off. She went from calling her cousin “Neo” to his real name, “Niam.” She also correctly pronounces her new cousin’s name, “Gaius.” Other family names mastered: Great Grandma, Great papa, Auntie Nonna, and best of all… Mark Uncle. Not Uncle Mark, but Mark Uncle. And she also loves to ask for her babysitter, Miss Chris. She has begun to construct small sentence phrases, and she is getting much better at expressing what she needs / wants (instead of just screaming). This includes a need to taste everyone’s coffee, expressed as “coffee coffee coffee!” LeLe also has grown in her imitation skills. She can mimic Gaius’ newborn cry. She picks up on phrasings and vocal changes and learning new words like a pro. Stickers are “sticks.” Our favorite phrase by far, though, was LeLe’s rendition of Merry Christmas – “Merr Chrisas.” Our other favorites have got to be when she walks up to people smiling and says “hey you!,” and also when she whispers “sleeping” when she sees people taking a nap.

This fall, she also found much joy in Nana’s apple tree. Each morning, she would wake up, point out the window and say with a happy sigh “apples.” We ate apples, picked them up off of the ground, danced around them, made them into crisps, pies and applesauces. Oh the apples were so lovely. Next, LeLe delighted in finding circles and ovals everywhere. “Circle!” she would state triumphantly, as she traced them on high chairs, toys, in books and everywhere she went. LeLe loves to sing songs with her papa, dancing in circles to “Old MacDonald” and other toddler hits. LeLe has also become very picky about what songs she wants you to sing. I’ll start one and then she will say “no no no” and pick another one, only to let me sing one measure of it and then she picks another one. Her favorite right now is “Twinkle twinkle,” and I often hear her walking around singing to herself, and I catch “Tinkle” here and there.

LeLe also thrilled to have pillow fights with her uncle Chad, and she laughs at bunny kisses on her cheeks and arms. And LeLe’s new hairstyle began with persistence on her Nana’s part. Now she sports a cute side pony tail to get her bangs out of her eyes. Over Christmas break, she even let me braid her hair a few times. This is a great accomplishment, considering that she still screams when we pour water over her head in the bathtub. On the other hand, LeLe really loves swimming. One time when Matt and I were both with her, Matt was taking her through the lazy river, and each time she passed people sitting on the side, she would wave with a princess wave and smile. And who is the bees knees? Elmo. If Elmo even leaves the screen while she is watching sesame street, she says, “Elmo!” and stops watching. LeLe’s agility is also greatly improving. She jumps from ottomans to couches, scales tall chairs and creates obstacle courses out of kitchen tables and chairs.

There’s a few drawers in the kitchen just for grandkids. They mainly contain plastic serving spoons and such. Over the past few months, LeLe would take two spoons or spatulas, and walk across the floor like she was playing hockey. We finally figured it out – she was imitating Nana scooping dog poop from the backyard! Sometimes we will be cooking in the kitchen and she just blissfully breezes through, picking up the imaginary dog poop. LeLe has also begun to imagine going shopping. One day when she was hanging with her auntie JoJo, she picked up Joanna’s purse, and then walked around the room tapping everyone and telling them all goodbye. She would then smile and repeat the process.

The Holidays

November was a really tough month for us, with a lot going on in our families and in our personal lives. But we also found some beautiful moments. We traveled over the river and through the woods to my grandmother’s house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the first trip, LeLe was very shy and not sure what to think. It took her a long time to warm up to her family over there… just in time for us to leave. One day, my papa (LeLe’s great papa) decided to try and win her over. So he personally made her an ice cream cone. She kept ducking behind people’s legs and trying not to look at him as he circled the kitchen trying to give it to her. In the end, I had to give it to her. But, I think the action planted a seed, because for the next several days she walked around saying “Great papa… Great grandma.”

Last year for Christmas, we all got the stomach flu. But this year, we all got to live it up! Matt played his saxophone for a Worship and the Word Movement Christmas Concert (he played so beautifully!). We went to a baby reunion with our doula and chased all of the little babies around that she has helped deliver over the past few years (seriously Sarah… you are totally a part of our family story!). We also went to a white elephant Christmas party hosted by Laura and Andy Abbott… By the end of the night, LeLe was running around in circles, pushing boxes and jumping on couches, and having a grand old time. We had a fondu family Christmas, played for our Christmas Eve service at church, and we had BBQ and great family time at the Zlaten family Christmas Eve party. We drove Christmas day (seriously the best day to travel ever! There was no traffic!) to Paonia. That early evening we exchanged presents, ate our traditional Muncy shrimp dip (Matt won’t touch the stuff) and played a few rounds of belly-splitting “telestrations” with all of the Reschke girls. For our second Paonia trip, LeLe was definitely more at home. She quickly warmed up, and was very delighted to play penguins on the stairs with the girls. She also would run into the other room and yell “I chase you!” as an invitation for someone to come in and chase her. Then she would squeal with delight. Our last Christmas stop landed us a few days with the Tuckers in Grand Junction. We played lots of games, cooked yummy food and the babies all played together. We are home now, and she keeps asking for Nathan and Benjamin.

Life is full. And hard. And so many moments I find my heart bursting with love for this little creature, and the joy she brings to me and so many others. Other moments I have such a hard time helping her process this crazy world.

Whew. Thanks for the blog therapy.

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Three Months Deep

Shift.

Everything changed at once. The rug pulled out from under us, trying-hard-to-keep-a-grip-on-life kind of change. This is a heavy season, with unceasing pace and slow painful growth. And my heart keeps searching for the emotional reassurance of feeling peace and hope. And I know, rationally, that I can’t depend on emotions to steer my life in any which way. But I wonder sometimes if I attempt to live life too rationally. And maybe I need to recognize the powerful currents change creates in me. The highs of victories lead me to wrestle with the after affects of what a shift really means.

I’m up-heaved, looking for my footing, navigating new territory. I’m trying to be an encourager when my well is so very empty. I’m also inspired, coming alive, challenged and pushed to grow. Life feels like I’m thriving and dying all at the same time.

I dance this intricate shifting line, all while trying to be myself in every scenario. I minutely schedule my studies, grappling with philosophy, fine-tuned practices and the big picture. I come home to being a mom, trying to unplug my scheduled self and go with the flow. I come home to gather burdens, try to fix hearts, try to breathe, and try to sleep. I contend with my body. I grieve over family.

I wrestle with who I am in this season, because no conventional moulds can offer me solace. I’ve got one foot in and one foot out of many circus rings. My arms are weary from holding up, you know, the entire world.

I wish I could end these heart wanderings with answers. My eyes have been opened to the fact that I don’t know what it means to lay my burdens down, and that I really do have a hard time of sharing them with others, especially when everyone else seems in deeper waters than me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:29-31.

Every time I read these words Jesus spoke, I itch. The phrasings seem so simple and like the exchange would be natural. In all honesty, I have no idea what He meant. In my humanity, I read these words, and I feel guilt. I’m not mad that hard times are here, I just feel guilty that I don’t know how to have peace in the midst of this crazy dance. I’ll find pockets of rest, but I have no idea how to carry this peace and clarity to face the fastballs headed my way.

This week God sent encouragement our way. Many friends have prayed over us and spoken encouragement. I hear the words knocking on my heart, trying to get me to stop and take some time to feel.

I am not failing.

My family is protected.

Jesus is really in the boat with us, and He does know what we face.

May supernatural hope come our way.

May we see God breakthrough the walls in front of us.

May we fill up again and be on the mend.

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