Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Trip to Beaumont.

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I realized that I hadn't even processed the photos from our trip to Texas at the beginning of the July. Probably because I'm struggling to process all the ways life has changed for the Scotts since we were there. Rachel's posts each night share the big and little gains that Braden is making, but they are also enough to break my heart each and every day. Here are a few photos from our trip to Texas...they are a little bit sporadic but tell most of the story of our time while we were there.
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Rebecca's third airplane trip was non-eventful and pretty easy with a direct flight from KC to Houston. We arrived early enough on Saturday to make our way to Torchy's Tacos in Houston before heading to Beaumont. Torchy's did not disappoint, and our daughters were obviously delightful in the restaurant. Merritt was born last September, so a short five months older than Rebecca. It was hot, but that's to be expected from Texas in July.
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We spent lots of time hanging out at the Scotts' home, which suited us fine for a vacation. Finley and Kip played many hands of a modified version of Go Fish (the rules were definitely a little fishy!), and the babies were definitely entertained by all the action.

Braden, who really is the sweetest, tried to make Rebecca happy while we were there because he has learned a lot about babies being a big brother to Merritt. Would I have normally blogged these photos? Maybe not because they are kind of wonky and not totally in focus. But looking at them now, they are too much. Look at Brady showing Becca his beloved giraffe, Tucker! And trying to make her so happy in the jumperaoo, showing her how all the toys work! We're rooting for you, Braden Luke, and praying for you often, but especially each afternoon at 4:12.
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Here's the baby BFFs looking at me with admiration. Actually, it's because I am shaking a toy above my head.
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We're getting SO close to solid food in our house, so it was fun to see Merritt working trying everything from pulled pork to mango. It looks like she's trying to hold Rebecca's hand in this picture!
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All the kids wore patriotic clothes on both July 3rd and July 4th thanks to careful planning by their mamas. Here's lucky Becca with Braden and Finley on the 3rd. It really was very relaxing, even with five kiddos, two dogs, and four grown-ups. We swam twice at the house of Rachel and Sol's friends, Sol smoked wonderful ribs and pork shoulder, and we ate great Texas peaches.
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Besides Torchy's Tacos, we also got to experience another one of their favorites, Crown Pizza. It was really amazing, and the cheeseburger pizza came with fries on it! We love a good cheeseburger pizza - that's our favorite kind to order in Kansas City at Minsky's. Finley has gotten SO big - it's crazy to think about moving to Virginia 7 years ago to live with the Scotts and go to grad school when he was just a little baby. He's a pretty smart kiddo, impressing us with his vocabulary and mad math skills. He preferred Kip to me, so apparently he's forgotten how much he loved me when I lived there. Same story, different day as the kids always love Kip. Sol and Kip get along great, and they remain tremendously good sports about Rachel and Victoria's never ending list of fantastic ideas.
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Like these shirts we wore on the Fourth of July! Rachel and I have a thing for Hamilton, so we had to get these matching Stately Type shirts. The first design didn't have Alexander on it, but the public spoke up and Hamilton was added! We ordered matching rompers for the babies, and I think that Rach, Mer, Becca and I are about the cutest matching BFFs there ever were on the Fourth of July. I also love this family photo, especially with Rebecca kind of squinting and looking tough. Really it was just bright outside!

I got to talk with Rachel on the phone last night for almost a half hour, and it was really good. I asked her some questions, we talked "what ifs" and "what nexts," and her trademark planning has taken a new direction but made it seem like a regular old conversation we would have had. If you aren't already, check out the facebook page for regular updates. You don't have to have a facebook account to read their updates each day. Thanks to everyone who has reached out with support, love, and prayers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rebecca Claire || Five Months

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Rebecca was five months old on the 17th when we were in Jewell County. She is a delight, and it feels like we have found our groove as summer wraps up. Becca is by no means napping more, but she definitely prefers nursing and sleeping in her room. I tried to nap with her on my birthday in our room, and she said, no thanks Mama. Her relative success overnight with being able to go back to sleep on her own keeps her from a permanent position in the "bad sleeper" category. She's got some work to do when we go back to school as she prefers to go to bed late and sleep in, but we'll get there.
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Rebecca probably weighs about 16 pounds and loves to be a part of the action. She has done a lot of rolling from her back to her front, but then she'll just quit rolling altogether and prefer being on her back a lot. Becca loves sitting in her bumbo, can now bounce in the jumperaoo, still enjoys a little bit of play in the rock and play with her new train toy, and rolling around on a blanket. We got the ring sling to work for us, and Kip, Becca and I are all Ergo pros these days.
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A weekly highlight for Rebecca was taking Kindermusik classes. She loved watching the teacher and by the end of the 8 week session was putting the instruments in her mouth like the bigger kids. See how she looks in the photo above on the left, with her mouth just a little bit open, intently watching me? That's how she looked at Kindermusik. That face or else a big grin as the mamas all sang to their babies. We sing to her all the time. I don't know that I would have without being inspired by Kindermusik, but now it's standard operation in our house. Favorites include: The Wheels on the Bus, the ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle, If You're Happy and You Know It, Patty Cake, a little song about horses, 10 Little Ducklings...she loves it all.
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And sorry everybody else in the world, this is is how Rebecca looks at me. I'm her mama and her favorite, though she will pretty much still let anyone hold her. We went to visit her daycare teachers last week, and they were so excited to see her. Praying for a smooth transition back to daycare on August 1st. We love this little Becca Bear (it rhymes with Becca Claire!), and think she's just the cutest stinkpot we ever saw. (And stinkpot is because of the naps not her diapers!)

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Five Books of June.

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Sliding downhill fast in the last week of summer before I start back to work. It may seem early to you, but it's actually the latest start I've had in a few years. And I'm still going back seven days before the teachers! Here are some books I June...

Rebecca had been on my list since we chose baby Becca's name. I read it originally in middle school with a red cover and gold letters that made it look like a romance novel. I snagged this one when it was a Kindle Deal, and it holds up really well. By no means is our Rebecca named after this Rebecca, but it's important to be familiar with famous characters that share her name. So thankful I read it again! My friend Kate re-read it during October once, and it's just spooky enough that I totally see why.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was the book we chose for mom/daughter book club. It fit the bill perfectly - plenty to talk about, accessible to everyone, a little bit of love and not controversial. It was our fourth mom/daughter book club, and my favorite one to date. We met on a weeknight and had a lovely party room all to ourselves. Broken Wheel is a small Iowa town, and the story centers around a little bookstore and a few quirky townspeople. There could be a whole genre of books about bookstores now (usually recommended to me by people at our favorite independent bookstore, Rainy Day Books). The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is still the best one in this newish genre, also a mom/daughter book club selection.

It's worth noting that the next generation is clamoring for their own book club now too. When is mom/kid book club they ask? (The ones who can talk, that is.) All nine members of the book club have babies so maybe it will come together soon.
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Knocked out a few young adult books as I prepare for the next generation Battle of the Books in KCK and making recommendations to readers at my school.

Taking Sides is an easy to read Gary Soto story about fitting in, neighborhoods, and basketball. Even though it was written long before Snapchat and iPads, I think our students can still relate to this story. It's one of the books for the fall competition.

P.S. I Still Love You follows up on the characters from To All the Boys I've Loved Before. While the premise in both books is pretty cute - what happens if all of your crushes found out years later that you had a crush on them - the second book is a bit too risque to make me feel good about handing it out to a lot of middle schoolers. It is by no means explicit, it just seems to be the main topic in a really disappointing way, and besides that the general story isn't very good. The main character spends every Friday night volunteering at a nursing home. This is a weird premise. Jenny Han's first series is much better than this pair of books. Pretty much my ENTIRE book club read those books as as a guilty pleasure (The Summer Without You.

For the Good of Mankind was weird and terrible. Originally supposed to be one of the books for the book competition in KCK, we've since removed it from the list. It's a nonfiction book about medical experimentation, and it's awful. I absolutely think that middle school kids could read it - the readability level is appropriate. However, I'm nervous about not using it as an instructional text. It's a lot to process. So I read it, hated every page, but at least have learned a few more details about just how bad medical experiments have been in our history. We have some better fiction and nonfiction items we are considering adding to the list for the fall!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Return Trip to Hamilton and MSQC.

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Mom and I made a return trip to Hamilton, Missouri to visit Missouri Star Quilt Company on June 27. It feels like it was so very long ago, even though it was only two weeks. Since our trip to Hamilton, we went to Beaumont to see Rachel and company for the Fourth, and we have been worrying and praying for our friends in Texas since we got home. Rachel's second son, Braden, was getting sick while we were there. He has gotten much worse, and they are looking at a long journey to get him well. Praying this morning that he might be on the right track with a possible diagnosis. Rachel is keeping people up to date through her instagram feed. We're obviously all #teamBradenLuke
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But back on the 27th, Mom and I drove to Hamilton and took Rebecca with us. She was a quilt shop trooper, snoozing on the 90 minute drive, and even a little bit while we shopped (her head was supported in the ring sling, the angle just looks funky in this photo). Mom and I are wearing patriotic gear made by our favorite t-shirt shop, Stately Type, because we were going to Hamilton, Missouri, and I'm a bit obsessed with all things Hamilton these days. You can't see my shirt with Alexander's name on it right now, but don't worry, you'll see it in photos from the Fourth. We also knew that the people who make Stately Type tees are big quilters, so they loved Mom's instagram with our tees on at Missouri Star Quilt Co. We obviously put Rebecca in a patriotic romper as well.
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It really is an incredible place to visit with eleven quilt stores all on Mainstreet and a fancy little restaurant that we enjoyed at lunch time. They are all owned by the same company, and they are organized into themes. The main shop just reopened, so we looked in there before heading to the two main reasons for our trip - Sew Seasonal and the Kids & Baby. Mom has decided to take on the big project of all new stockings for the family so she can make matching ones for Kip and Rebecca. And I found a little project in Kids & Baby for Rebecca when she gets a little older. It's worked best for us to know what we might like to make when we go. There are so many beautiful options, it would be easy to get a little carried away!

Friday, July 8, 2016


 photo Blog_1342.jpgThe first day of summer was a Friday for me and Becca, and my first day back will be a Friday at the end of the month. Each week, Friday comes again, and I am usually discouraged. Another week, come and gone, and I am tired of being at home with my non-napper and as of late, non-night time sleeper. Some weeks Friday means we are going somewhere fun, and other weeks Friday means we have one more day while Kip works a Saturday shift to try to figure out sleep. He works again tomorrow, so we'll give it another go. I remember naively telling friends that my goal the first week of summer was to stay home so we could figure out naps. Seven weeks later, we have nothing to show for it. Rebecca loves a cat nap when she wants to nap, and Mama is tired. It is super discouraging to work hard for a nap that is only long enough to reheat a cup of coffee. 
 photo Blog_1344.jpg I have googled all the things and come to so many different conclusions about sleep. My friends have helped generate theory after theory about why she refuses to nap as well as brainstormed solutions. We have tried less time awake, pacifiers, the magic Merlin suit, crying, rocking, cuddling, swaddling, white noise, the ergo, car naps, stroller rides, but there isn't a magic combo for Rebecca. The pediatrician told us at our four month appointment that it could easily take two more months to get naps figured out.

Yet I keep trying, saying a little prayer each time I walk out of her room that THIS will be the time she stays asleep. Today she napped for ten minutes and five minutes after two different attempts. Yesterday morning she napped for an hour. She's not fussy in between her short naps, and I took all these photos of a happy baby who had slept only a total of 15 min of sleep over six hours of awake time. She's seriously committed to her nap protesting.  photo Blog_1343.jpg
But it wears on me. Kip gets home, and the witching hours begin. We have tried more feedings, a consistent bedtime routine, much earlier bedtimes, one last catnap, baths every night, and more rocking, cuddling, praying. Each night she consistently sleeps 30-50 minutes and wakes up again. The sleep books make me think this is because she can't transition into the deeper sleep though I also have wondered if it's a fourth nap she hasn't dropped yet.

She won't let Kip comfort her, as much as he would be happy to, and there has only been two nights all summer where she didn't have the second wake up. For a while I tolerated it because she would then give me five to seven hours of sleep. And in the middle of the night she can get herself back to sleep with minimal fussing. But the past two weeks she has refused to go back down easily to start the night's sleep, including a couple nights where the protest lasted until midnight. Thankfully I am obsessed with watching (and rewatching) The Great British Baking Show on Netflix and now PBS. But by Fridays, I'm rather defeated, knowing that the cycle starts again in the morning.
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She is adorable. People regularly comment about how cute she is when she is out and about, and I have found myself responding with, "Yep, but she sure doesn't sleep." She has given me a run for my money. Pretty much everything about being a mama is harder than I imagined. Ironically I worried a lot about pregnancy and delivery, and those turned out to be the easiest parts so far.

My friends with terrible sleepers tell me it will get better or that it won't, but we will survive. And my friends with good or average sleepers hear my stories, count their blessings and offer support. Rachel encouraged me to write it all down because we've come a long ways from the days where I couldn't imagine nursing my baby without pain and worried about how much she weighed all the time. I write on a day when I'm all too aware there are far greater problems in the world, but this is what's happening in our corner. It's made me tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, guilty and impatient with this perfect gift we were given in February. I love her so much it hurts my mama's heart to hear her so upset when she should be asleep, and I know sleep would do her (and me) so much good. Kip's ridiculously patient and encouraging, and we'll keep trying to figure it out. She's totally worth it.

Thanks for reading a much longer and heavier post than normal. I'll get back to posts about trips and fun things we've been up to if she ever sleeps again. But hey, at least you got some cute photos for a Friday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Father's Day in Manhattan.

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With ten weeks off this summer, we have definitely been taking advantage of the weekends to squeeze in trips to see friends and family. It has been great because we can enjoy our loved ones without wondering how to still manage all the craziness of laundry, meal prep and errands that need to happen during the school year. And we get to share Becca Claire with everyone!
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Kip's aunt and uncle in Oklahoma couldn't wait to meet Rebecca (who can blame them?), so we planned to spend Father's Day in Manhattan with everyone. Becca stole everyone's hearts but also showed off her growing sense of displeasure with naps. The young lady has opinions and an extroverts fear of missing out. I have no idea where she gets that from.
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We took it easy and shared delicious food while were there and all went to church on Sunday. Afterwards we took all these great family photos in front of Kip's parents' home, forever preserving Kip's first Father's Day and Keith's first Father's Day as Grandpa!
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If you look closely, you may be able to see that we both have anchors on our outfits. I had already decided to take the dress for Rebecca and this shirt is a summer staple for me, so it really was a coincidence that I embraced. This was also Rebecca's last time wearing her size zero moccasins. They got too snug on her little ankles! Karen pulled out Kip's baby shoes, and I grabbed a couple photos of them together. So tiny and sweet, but I'm certainly glad slip-ons are the predominant stage these days.
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It was a great, very relaxing Father's Day with everyone healthy and relaxed (unlike Mother's Day spent glued to our couches!). Kip got a new lawnmower earlier this spring, so even though I teased him that was his present, I still found a new belt he needed and this sweet book about the National Parks to read with Rebecca.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Favorite Photos of Fred

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Last Tuesday, Tracy's father Fred passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was surrounded by his family his sweet wife of over 50 years, Bonnie. They are busy remembering Fred this holiday weekend in Indianapolis, and we are sad we couldn't be there too! Fred welcomed Lauren and me into the family and counted us as his own. Rebecca was the first great-grandchild, sweetly included in his obituary. He bought me books, danced at our wedding, and once drove from Indy to bring me a sewing machine (well, it was actually for Lauren's graduation!). I love the photos above because I can hear Fred's voice and laugh, and I have had the distinct feeling all week that Pop-Pop is looking out for his kids and grandkids from heaven. We were all lucky to be loved by Fred.