Friday, August 14, 2015

May – July 2015

The first five months with our sweet little Ella have sped by.  In the last couple weeks I’ve found that I’m starting to feel more fully recovered and more myself.  When I find myself thinking about new recipes to try and following through, including cleaning up my kitchen mess, I know I’m feeling better.  Or when I decide to cut Ben’s shaggy hair and it’s no big deal, I know I’m feeling better.  These sorts of things had been put on hold since I started feeling ill from the pregnancy.  It’s been a long time of living with doing just the highest priority things.  I’m happy to start having brain space and energy for doing more.

2 Months

At 2 months old, Ella is doing well overall.  I'm pretty sure she's on the verge of smiling.  I can't wait!   We're loving our little girl.  She had her first cold and is wheezing and coughing, poor little thing.  It’s delayed getting her immunizations, but I’m good with that.  She's in the 88th percentile for weight and the 97th percentile for height.  We sure make big babies!  She does great in the car, which is a relief because both boys screamed in the car when they were babes.  She is eating on a consistent 4 hour schedule and has been going 8 hours at night since she was 6 weeks old.  Her sleep is worse than it was before.  She really seems to need to suck and she can't keep her binky in for long.  She's just found her thumb if she's on her tummy, but we're trying really hard to keep her on her back.  Both boys were tummy sleepers and thumb suckers.  I was so much younger then and hadn’t known anyone who’d had a baby die of SIDS or suffocation.  Now that I have, I’m a lot more cautious.  Our nights mostly end up with one of us holding her and popping the binky in her mouth repeatedly.  I have to remember that we've made good progress overall with her eating and awake time.  I remind myself that she is a different person than the boys and doing things the exact way I did with them maybe isn’t what Ella needs.  She really seems to need that extra comfort of being held at night and needs assistance to suck her binky.  I have never slept with a baby in my bed before.  It’s taken some thinking for me to decide I am okay with this unexpected development.  She is still going down easy for her morning nap.  I just need to figure out her sleeping and self soothing for the rest of the day.

Kat, Anna, Laurie, & Becky - My Girls ❤️

Ella and I got to sneak off for a quick California trip to go wedding dress shopping with my closest college friends.  I’m so happy for Laurie and her new marriage to be!  It was wonderful seeing all my friends and introducing Ella to her surrogate aunties!  Traveling with a 9 week old while recovering from a c-section was definitely a huge undertaking for me and I would not put myself through that for just anyone.  These friendships hold such a close place in my heart and it was a really meaningful trip for me.  I’m so happy I could be apart of Laurie’s special event.  I love the moments captured in my memory of all of us sitting in the beautiful showrooms waiting for Laurie to come out in each dress and contemplate her thoughts about each one, adding accessories to complete each look.  I loved when she found “the one” and the dress shop brought out a bottle of champagne.  How fun!

Sentimentally, I looked over at Ella sleeping in her stroller next to designer wedding gowns with a window view of downtown San Diego, and dreamily hoped that I might get to wedding dress shop with my daughter one day.  I really enjoyed watching each moment with my friends as they snuggled and played with Ella.  It really touched my heart.  Ella did so much better than I anticipated.  She didn’t cry on the flight at all on the way out.  She had just learned to sleep through the night in her own bed before my trip and splendidly, she continued to do so.  She and I shared a hotel bed and she looked so cute on her half.  On the way home, I had a funny moment.  I had Ella strapped onto me in the baby carrier.  I was pushing the stroller, which I had loaded up with the carseat and the diaper bag.  I unlocked the carseat from the stroller to streamline the process of folding it all up before boarding the plane.  My plan failed and the carseat toppled off the stroller, knocking the stroller and its contents over in the process.  As I’m struggling to get it all picked up (remember I’m still recovering from surgery, the floor seems miles away, and I’m carrying a floppy newborn) a young man walks right by me onto the plane.  I couldn’t believe he didn’t offer to help me at all!  Well, I’m awesome, and I got it all under control on my own.  I got everything folded and ready to be picked up by the crew, and I got my baby and diaper bag onto the plane.  I looked over and saw that I was sitting across from the unhelpful young man.  He totally gave me the “Oh great, I’m next to a baby,” look.  Then Ella started crying and I was super worried she would cry the whole way, but the devious side of me was like, “Serves you right!  You’re stuck next to a crying baby and I don’t even feel bad for you, muahahaha!”  I did feel bad for everyone else on the plane and thankfully her crying didn’t last long.  She was done before we even took off.  All in all, a super successful trip!

Great Grandma Jean & Granny

We’ve had so many wonderful visitors in the last few months.  Granny and Grandma Jean started the summer lineup of visitors.  It was so enjoyable introducing Ella to these special ladies.  It was so fun showing Grandma Jean all the improvements we’ve made to her house.  It was her first time back since she moved to Hawaii 4 years ago.  Both kids will probably remember all of the puzzling that occurred with Grandma Jean.  She loves her puzzles.  There was always one going while she was here.  Granny kept the kids busy, helping her in the kitchen, making all sorts of yummy things.  Caleb will forever remember grating millions of lemons and limes for the wedding cake Granny was making for Aaron and Kara’s wedding.  Grandma Jean did her special great grandma magic, captivating the attention of our sweet little baby.  I love watching how Grandma can still any child with her deep gaze and speaking sweet compliments and affirmations to them.  It’s so powerful and tender and I’m thankful to have witnessed it with each of my kids over the years.

Hawaii Family

They stayed with us for a week and then we all went to San Marcos to wed our lovely cousin Aaron to his beautiful bride Kara Rhodes.  We got a cute little house rental that had a stocked pond for fishing, a relaxing hammock, and peacocks roaming the grounds.  It was a great mini vacation and it was so wonderful seeing all the Hawaii family that flew in for the wedding!  We were all very involved in helping set up the wedding and rehearsal, so we spent lots of time working on that.  I felt really proud of myself for overseeing the reception set up with a 2 month old baby.  Caleb got asked to be a kitchen helper during the wedding for the caterer.  He did a great job and the head chef was so impressed with Caleb.  He gave us such uplifting and encouraging praise about Caleb, praising Caleb’s humble work ethic and wishing Caleb was older so he could employ Caleb.  That feedback is so good to hear for Caleb and for his development into adulthood.  It warms our hearts as parents.

We wrapped up the end of the school year and somehow we stayed on schedule with our homeschooling despite having a new baby.  I’m so happy and thankful for One Day Academy, where the boys each take a class one day a week.  Ben had a blast going to school this year.  He loved his science teacher and he loved all the fun projects and experiments they did in class.  He especially enjoyed the new friends he made this year.  One of the moms would take the boys out front to play each week and bring different fun toys to play.  He really looked forward to that time with his friends.  I worked at the front desk as head supervisor until the week before I had Ella.  I just dropped the boys off the tail end of the school year.  It was nice to have an afternoon off of my normal homeschooling duties and having the house mostly to myself once a week for a few weeks.  I still had Ella with me, but it felt like a reprieve nonetheless.  Caleb did outstanding in his English class.  English is not his favorite subject, but he applies himself and I’m proud of him, especially because I know how he feels about the subject.  His teacher is excellent and he’s learning and retaining really well.  His composition writings and poems this year show a greater skill than I would expect at his age and I’m impressed.  At home this year, Ben has made great progress with his reading and math.  I’m very proud of him.  He has come so far with his reading.  I often find him reading Calvin & Hobbes comics or Captain Underpants books to himself.  He also has a fondness for the Amelia Bedelia books.  It’s a big deal to me when my kids start developing their own love of reading.  I love reading so much and I’m happy Ben is discovering that love too!  Caleb’s main interest this school year has been computer programming.  He spends most of his free time learning Java or creating video games in Scratch (a program developed by MIT to teach kids block programming).  There is a lot of complicated math involved in both kinds of programming and Caleb often goes to bed with an unresolved math problem and wakes up with it solved.  He thinks about math so often and I love it!  It cracks me up and is so far from what I thought about as a child.  He is a smart cookie and I feel the pressure to make sure I give him the best education I can; to give him his best chance of success in life.

Summer brought a lot of friend time for Ben!  Ben is spending countless hours playing with the neighborhood kids.  It’s so cute to see Ben and his band of little boys ride up on their bikes, being tailed by all the dogs that live on our street, done with their adventures outside.  I often have a herd of kids playing in the living room or working on their fort in the yard.  The kids work so hard building their fort, weaving branches, and clearing an open space in a copse of trees.  The girls add their own special touch repurposing odds and ends they found to make it homey.  I love all their imaginative play!  One of the neighbors has an above ground pool and often invites Ben over to swim.  He has so much fun.  I love that Ben is building magical summer memories and that special feeling will become part of his long term memory that he can fondly recall.

Caleb has spent a majority of his summer time programming.  He loves it so much!  He also participated in a BETA summer robotics program with the local homeschooling team.  He participated in weekly two hour webinars, taught by an expert, to begin to learn the MathWorks programs MATLAB and Simulink.  Many other teams participated in the webinar sessions as well.  It was a very interesting learning experience and I appreciated the webinar format.  If anyone had a question after the session, they would get to ask the expert.  It was very productive for Caleb.  After the webinars, each team had a programming challenge to complete.  Our team would work independently at home and then meet together once a week to work out the kinks in their programming to make their robot accomplish the assigned task.  This experience will really help them in the BEST competition next fall.

3 Months

At 3 months old, Ella’s found her smiles.  She’s been giving them out for the last couple weeks and it always melts my heart when she smiles a huge joyful smile after she sees me!  She's been sleeping through the night in her own bed for a few weeks pretty consistently, which is such a relief!  Just after she turned 2 months, Jon and I nervously made the decision to put her to sleep on her tummy.  It’s helped her sleep much better.  She's also been getting her hand clumsily to her mouth to suck her fingers in bed, which is helping her start learning to soothe herself to sleep.  Perfect timing because laying her down for naps had been getting harder and harder.  We've turned a corner now and naps have been getting a little easier again.  She just started to bat her arms at her hanging toys on purpose.  It's so cute seeing her start to learn to control her little limbs.  I also noticed that her hair is beginning to rub thin where her head lies down on her bed.  I was hoping we had escaped the bald baby syndrome with her, but no such luck.  She’s also enjoying the adorable handmade blanket Great Grandma Jean made for her!  What a special gift!  She sleeps with it every night.

One day we had a very severe summer storm.  Our creek rose about 15 feet, flooding our road over the bridge.  The next road washed out completely, rendering it impassable.  We were trapped at home until the waters receded over the bridge and the city came out to rebuild the other damaged road.  Even once those roads were passable, our two main routes to town were still flooded and impassable for days.  I was shocked at the speeding flow of deep water that consumed the roads.  There was still one very out of the way route to town.  I think it took me about an hour to get to town instead of the usual 15 minutes.  I’m thankful there wasn’t any damage to our home.

Ella meets Uncle David

Our next visitor was my brother!  It had been 3 years since we'd seen him and we loved our time with him!  We took him to Schlitterbahn Waterpark first.  It was a great day!  It was adorable to take Ella “swimming” for her first time.  She looks so cute in her little swimsuit.  She didn’t react at all to being put in water, not a single indication that anything different was happening.  It was a heated pool, so maybe that’s why?  Jon and I took turns staying with Ella in the shade at our picnic table so the other parent could enjoy the rides.  It was a fun and relaxing day overall.

The guys spent one morning working to repair the damage in our yard from the big storm.  Jon borrowed a tractor and fixed our driveway.  David worked to cut up our dead trees with our chainsaw and the kids hauled the heavy pieces to our woodpile.  It was hot sweaty work and they got a lot accomplished.

I love that Uncle David timed his trip to be here for Ben’s 9th birthday.  That was really special for Ben.  He had such a fun evening playing at the pool and the park with his friends and family!  I'm so thankful for all the people who loved on my boy!  I felt really fortunate that Uncle David, Grandma Jean, and Tia Val were all in Texas and able to celebrate with us!  He played so hard and completely exhausted himself!  He was so worn out he could hardly open his presents!  I love my fun, affectionate, and imaginative 9 year old!

As we said farewell to Uncle David, we found ourselves having extra time with Grandma Jean and Tia Val.  They extended their time in Texas after Aaron’s wedding and stayed in a nearby house rental.  We tried to get together as often as possible.  I loved watching Tia Val read books to Ben.  I enjoyed extra puzzle time with Grandma, afternoons at their pool, watching both ladies snuggle Ella, and having family meals together.  There were some really sweet moments and I have fond memories of our quality time together. 

Anna & her kiddos

My dear friend Anna and her kiddos came through next.  It had been a few years since we’d seen her kiddos and I love all being together.  I love our kids playing together!  I love seeing how they’re growing up!  I wish we lived closer to each other.  It was great catching up and just living life together for a week.  We took the kids to the pool one day and I learned a lesson, wear appropriate pool clothing at the pool.  Summer was just starting to rear its ugly hotness and I really regret my decision to wear pants while sitting outside in the afternoon.

4 Months

At 4 months, Ella is cooing and trying to talk to us and it's so cute!  I'm pretty sure the boys didn't talk to us like she is.  This is a whole new fun adventure with a baby girl!  She smiles all the time and sometimes we can get her to laugh.  She is on a good schedule and that really helps me be okay.  She seems to get pretty upset if she messes her diaper while she's sleeping, thus ruining her nap.  Otherwise, she is napping well.  I'm sooooo thankful she has been sleeping through the night steadily since she was about 9 weeks old.  Her daily dose of screaming like a banshee once a day seems to be over with, Hallelujah!  She's following movement a lot more and turning her head towards sounds now.  She loves to stand assisted.  It pretty much guarantees a laugh.  I love dressing her in cute little outfits and then showing her cuteness to Jon.  Each morning, she hangs out in my lap while I drink my coffee and we have special Ella and mommy time.  Time is flying way too fast with this little bundle of sweetness.  I'm trying to soak it up as much as I can.

We celebrated the Fourth of July with our usual traditions at our neighbor’s pond.  Sadly, Kara and her little guy Jude couldn’t make it this year and we really missed them.  The men and kids shot off a never-ending stream of fireworks.  It was a really impressive display and I enjoyed it.  I didn’t think I’d be able to join in the festivities because I figured it would be too loud for Ella.  But she went to bed and wasn’t disturbed by the distant booms at all.  I tried out our monitor for the first time and, wonderfully, it got reception at the pond.  So I relaxed and enjoyed myself!  Yay!

Becky is here visiting meeeee!

My friend Becky was our next visitor!  I was so happy!  We took her out for some legit Texas BBQ and some pool time.  Mostly we just stayed home and talked and talked and talked!  I'm so thankful for our special time with Becky and I love that even though Ben didn't remember her from his CA life, he still took to her right away and easily called her Auntie.  It warms my heart.  Auntie Becky, you're the best!

5 Months

At 5 months, Ella is starting to bring anything she can to her mouth.  Her favorite things to suck on are her to two middle fingers, a handful of her shirt or a nearby burp rag, and just recently, her toys hanging on her playmat.  She started preferring some upright time each day, so she gets to bounce for awhile each day in her Johnny Jump Up.  While she's in it she loves twisting and bouncing and having a good view of all the happenings in the house.  She loves watching Ben and his friends playing.  She is free with her smiles, which is stinkin' adorable!  Right after she turned 4 months she started sleeping 11.5 hours straight at night, which was amazing for Jon and me!  It threw her daytime naps off for a few weeks and she's finally just getting back into regular daytime sleeping patterns.  Ben is getting more and more interested in her as she continues to become more interactive.  It's so sweet hearing him talk to her.  I love it!  I think Ben is really going to bond with her this month while Caleb will be gone on a solo trip to Kauai.  That’s right, Caleb is getting to go on a solo trip to Kauai to have amazing adventures with Granny and the rest of the family there!  He’s so excited!  He leaves the end of July and returns the end of August, just before school starts.


Blessings on you and yours!

The Hartshorns