Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring has sprung, and the package is huge.

You know those adorable quotations you find for the nursery when you're having your first child?  Things like, first we had each other.  Then we had you.  Now we have everything.

Well, when you're cooking human #4, which actually ends up #5 because of adoption, those adorable little sayings aren't quite as endearing.  Or little: 

First we had each other.  Then we had Leah.  Then we had Logan.  Then we had Livvy.  Then we had Jake.  Then we had you.  Now we have everything.  And we're really, really tired.  

Despite the fact that it is March - hardly after St. Patrick's Day, no less - the view from my window is lovely.  The grass is turning green in our yard, and delicate little blossoms are emerging on all the branches.  As I type this, it's nearly 80 degrees.  The winter world is bursting into new life. 

At 36 weeks, bursting is one of my favorite words. 

It's just so descriptive.  And appropriate!

My husband came home earlier this week.  Can I just tell you?  The level of relief was pretty incredible.  Literally palpable.  I could feel the tension drain away - whatever happens now, it's okay.

We celebrated his homecoming with a day of baby-oriented fun.  First a trip to buy a handful of pairs of new cloth diapers, then a tour of our new hospital, lunch, and last but not least, my 35 week doctors appointment.  The best part?  My mom had the kids, so we got to do all of those things just the two of us.  It was glorious.  

The purpose of the appointment was to determine if I was in better shape physically, and if I could officially resume some-what normal activities.  And, because I was measuring so far ahead at my last appointment, they also wanted to do an ultrasound to check his size. 

It was a great appointment.  I am looking much better physically, and was cleared from bed rest.  I'm dilated, which at 35.5 weeks is not as concerning as it was at 33.  And the best part? 

We got to see an amazing, clear picture of our sweet little man.  Isn't he incredible?!  Look at that precious little face!

But.  (Isn't that just the way?  Always that unfortunate but...)  

But, at 35 weeks, he is measuring big.  

His head?  It's literally off the charts, measuring larger than 99th percentile at 41 weeks instead of 35.  If that wasn't enough, they got clear measurements and estimate that he is 7.8lbs.  That's as big is a Logan on birthday!  As I'm writing this today, baby boy is probably flirting with the 8lb mark.  

And if I manage to make it to my due date, they estimate he'll be somewhere between 9 and a half and ten pounds.  

Whew.  So, that was interesting news to digest!  

Based on his gestational size (not gestational age - the doctor won't change my official due date), the sonographer estimates my due date at 3-26. 

I have to admit that, despite the potential challenges, I'm actually incredibly relieved.  I have been saying for literally months that nothing I'm feeling seems normal; I feel like I'm way ahead of where I should be.  The entire medical profession has reassured me that this is normal for a fourth pregnancy (which is just harder - they insist!).  

Casey was supposed to have a trip the last week of March, a trip I adamantly suggested he find a replacement on, because I've been convinced for several weeks that the baby is coming either the last week of March or very early April.  That lines up perfectly with where he is measuring.  Score one for mother's intuition!  

So even though we have been worried for the last three weeks that he might make an early appearance, the new concern is that he may actually be too big to make it out that way at all.  The doctor already talked to me about scheduling a c-section, something she would most likely like to do at 39 weeks.  Particularly since I'm only "battle tested" to the size he was earlier this week.

The reality is that we'll get where we get.  I have peace that I'll know the next steps when they are upon us.  I know for a fact that I can't control what comes next; I'm still doing all my daily exercises to try and give him his best shot... but I've been through this exact emotion four times now.  All I can do is trust.  One way or another, in less than a month I'll get to snuggle that potentially giant baby boy, and plant kisses on his adorable chubby cheeks.  None of this uncertainty will matter once that happens.  And I cannot wait.   

That's the blessing here.  The one I'm holding out for, in whatever form it comes. Because on that day?  We will truly have everything.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Things I've learned about labor: fourth edition

There is an old saying that goes like this: The fourth time is the charm.

I'm pretty sure that's how it goes. It's a very ancient saying.... you've probably only heard of its more contemporary cousin.

Okay, so the fourth time may not be the charm, but sometimes in life there are mysteries that just don't come together until you have all the pieces.  And, for some of us extra-special people, all the pieces can take a lot of tries to gather.

So, as I near the finish line on this last time around, there are a few things I've learned about myself in labor that I hope may help me this time around.

1. My babies don't engage in the pelvis.  It literally took me three tries to figure this one out.  I couldn't find any information on it.  No doctor ever told me... aside from the fact that I have the hat trick on doctors and nurses who exclaimed, "WOW!! These babies are high up!!" immediately before or even after hours and hours (and hours) of labor. (Sidenote: what does that even mean?!  I'm just a mom laying here spread eagle, trying to have a baby!  HOW IS THIS HELPFUL INFORMATION?!  More importantly: what can I do about it?)

Much more helpful is the information I've stumbled across during this pregnancy (whole article here):
"Lack of engagement is a common issue for the woman who labors but the baby remains high in the pelvis. For about half the cases, the uterus gets overworked trying to get a baby into the pelvis for days of labor. Contractions may be very, very strong and very grinding on the pubic bone and dilation isn’t the predictive factor."

Ah-HA!  Now, that sounds familiar!  Even more familiar:

"Early labor can go on for a day, or two or three. Sometimes the woman thinks her starter is broken. This is because the labor can start and stop as the baby tries to get into the pelvic brim. Women may not dilate beyond 3 cm when the baby remains high. 
Labor can feel so strong as the uterus works hard to rotate baby’s head to drop into the pelvis. These strong contractions can go on for days. Once baby engages labor becomes effective and the baby is born in 8 hours or less."
This is it!  The missing piece.  The explanation I've been waiting for that finally makes my experiences make sense!
I've never been dilated past a four on my own, even after something like 35 combined hours of labor in two pregnancies. It explains why things move so quickly after the epidural: getting an epidural isn't about pain management for me, it's about bringing the head into the pelvis so labor can progress.  (PS - don't ask me why an epidural helps with that.  I simply don't know, although I suspect it has something to do with forcing the pelvic muscles to relax and spread out.)  I go from a measly 3 or 4 cm dilated after hours and hours - or even days and days - to ready to push in something like 2 hours once baby engages... but so far, I haven't been able to get there without the help of the epidural.

I have been learning so much I wish I'd known before about positioning baby for his exit.  It has given me renewed hope that I might be able to do this without an epidural.  Not to mention, a few actual, practical strategies to try if I get into labor and baby's head is still high and unengaged.

The Spinning Babies website has been so very helpful to me in identifying and educating myself about my own experiences in labor.

And luckily for me, they have a "daily three" exercises to help best position our little guy for his exit:
Step 1: Rebozo Sifting

This activity helps "jiggle" the mother, taking away the weight of the baby and relaxing her ligaments.

Step 2: Forward-Leaning Inversion

Which is pretty much exactly as much fun as it looks like for a great big pregnant lady.  The idea is to invert and take the pressure off of your lower uterus.  When you return to an upright position, baby uses that space and the pull of gravity to create more space for the head to fit in preparation for labor.

Step 3: Sidelying-Release 

Full disclosure, I'm not 100% sure I'm doing this one right, so I'm going to let you read all about it and draw your own conclusions.  But the basic idea is that, when done correctly, this movement uses a static stretch to slightly enlarge and soften the pelvis.  When done in labor, it may help encourage a stalled baby to rotate and descend.

They also have several recommendations about positions specifically for babies who do not drop once labor has begun.

2. All those contractions I had with Livvy were actually Prodromal Labor.  What is Prodromal labor, you ask?  Since I didn't know, even when I was experiencing it, let me tell you!  Prodromal labor is a type of labor that happens before the onset of active labor.  It is not Braxton-Hicks.  It is sometimes described as "false-labor," but the truth is that Prodromal labor is real labor contractions in terms of intensity and frequency, but labor that comes and goes without ultimately producing a baby.  Prodromal labor can go on for days or even weeks before active labor begins.

Two years ago, I could not figure out why I was contracting night after night without fail.  They would begin about ten minutes apart, get stronger and closer together over the course of 5-7 hours.  Just as I was convinced it would soon be time to go to the hospital, my contractions would simply... disappear.  This went on for more than two weeks, usually at night, but sometimes during the day as well.  One sleepless night I did the math and realized I would have more than 100 hours of contractions before active labor even began.

But why?  Well, that question is trickier to answer, as there does not seem to be a consensus I can find from the medical community.  One theory seems to be poor positioning of the baby, which again rings true in my case.  The uterus attempts to reposition the baby with contractions and eventually stops if it does not work.

Of course, there are no guarantees in labor, and the most important thing is to have a healthy baby and mommy at the end, however we get there.  On the plus side, we've changed hospitals so we're only a 9 minute drive.  That frees me up not to have any concerns about timing the trip; I can be ready to push and we'll still make it to the hospital in time.

I feel pretty confident though.  I think we have our best chance of having this baby truly the natural way.  Certainly, I understand my body and labor process better than I ever have before.  That is in itself a victory, however things go.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A letter to my daughter

My sweetheart,

There is love that is spoken of in books.  Love that is portrayed in movies and acted out on the stage.  Love that inspires songs and poetry.  There is a love you feel when you stand in a white dress, hand in hand with the gallant knight you've naively chosen to pledge your life and your heart to.

And then there is a love that is altogether... different.

It's not bigger, necessarily, but it defies categorization.  It leaves you without adequate words to convey its breadth and depth.  It is a love you'll never truly understand until you carry a human inside you; until you feel the warmth of tiny, new fingers wrapped around your own; experience the joy of arms flung with wild abandon around your neck and the most magic words whispered in your ear: I love you, Mommy.  

It is a love that changes the very core of who you thought you were.

Every year as we come to this milestone of your birthday, I wish I could better capture the essence of who you are.  I wish I could commit to memory every single thing about you, because I know that even as I type this, you are changing, evolving, edging ever closer to the woman God designed you to become.  I cannot stop this - I wouldn't, even if I could (though my mommy's heart would like to) - so all I can do is breathe in deeply and soak up this moment and enjoy who you are right now.

Because who you are?  It is magic.

I am so very, very proud of my big girl, with your strong ideas, kind heart, and joyful spirit.  Keep learning, my baby.  Keep dreaming.  Keep trusting and following where He leads.  Keep caring and hoping.  Keep growing.

Most of all, keep on being you, and know that you will always have a cheerleader.

Thank you for the gift of being your mom.

I love you always,

xoxo Mommy

(And, I stand by all that I wrote last year.  I may never say it better or more completely - it's still true!)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Warning: do not leave the pregnant lady home alone

So, here's the relevant background information:

Casey has been gone literally all of my third trimester.


In his wonderful, heroic, provider-man way, he rationalized it like this: Well, I typically work all of January and February, come home for most of March and go back to work in April.  This year, I need to be home in April, so I'll just swap months and work January through March.  No problem!

As I was putting together our calendar in the new year, I suddenly had a panic attack when I realized: he has literally three days at home in March.  I have a daughter turning 7, and I don't have a weekend when her daddy is home to have a birthday party.  I will be 34+ weeks pregnant.  My husband will be gone for 10 weeks straight with just a few days at home. I have four fricking children to tend to and I homeschool. And my husband won't make a lasting appearance until I'm 38 weeks pregnant.  

Naturally, I did what every crazy pregnant lady would do: I had a crazy pregnancy dream in which I had the baby in a chair at a restaurant while Casey was on one of his trips.  Then I woke up at five a.m. in a hot sweat and called my husband in a slightly rage-induced panic.  NO, dear, this schedule will NOT work for me.

It turns out, when you have four children and a very pregnant wife, you have to come home once in a while.

When you don't... things get bad.  Quickly.

Which is why I spent last Friday night in the hospital.  Baby boy had moved down and was creating so much pressure that I actually had pain.  Contracting every 8-12 minutes.  Something that actually felt like burning in my low abdomen.  It was nothing too concerning; these symptoms are all a normal part of my pregnancies - but I have previously only experienced them sometime after thirty seven weeks.  I was only 33, which is why I felt compelled to get checked out.

It turns out, every person has a limit to what they can do.  It's nice to have finally found out exactly where mine is.

I don't quite know how to describe the way the next few days went.  All I can tell you is that I have not felt so absolutely awful since after Logan's birth - and my body was completely, utterly wrecked after that experience. Worse by far than anything that happened during my pregnancy with Olivia; worse, even, than anything I felt during her labor.

Lots of stress, many physical demands and late pregnancy do not make good bed fellows.  It has been a very rough week.  Every part of me hurt to the point that I couldn't sleep because each movement caused me pain so acute that it actually made me cry.  I literally could hardly walk for two days.  We're talking crazy stuff.

Luckily, my mom came up to run my household for five days while I was on almost total bed rest.  Thank goodness... we'd never have made it without her.

And, although Casey still has to work until the 14th, I think we've convinced him that it's time to come home and stay home.  So that's the good news.  Ten more days (and, for the record, my mom is going to continue to stay with me until my husband gets home. Juuuuusst to be safe).  

The most amazing part, though, is how my body simply cannot keep up with the demands that are on me.  I don't know why I never truly understood we would reach this point.  I suppose because it has never legitimately happened before.  I mean, sure, it has always been the case that if it falls on the floor during the third trimester, it no longer exists.  Shoes are my nemesis.  Getting up off the floor after putting on a small child's whatever is a comical, beached-whale-esque sight.  But the end-of-pregnancy struggles have always had something of a comedic, satirical tone in my world.  It's exhausting - no doubt.  It's uncomfortable.  Maybe bordering sometimes on unpleasant.

But nothing like this.

This experience has taught me that I actually have a limit, and that limit must be respected, or my body will take revenge and force my respect.  It's not a question of trying harder or being tougher or scheduling more effectively; I just have to do less.  Waaaaaaay less.

The doctor has told me several times that fourth pregnancies are just harder.  Your body has been stretched enough times that the ligaments are struggling to hold everything together.  In fact, she mentioned that, though your risk factors are roughly the same for pregnancies 1-4, fifth pregnancies have a 15-20% higher risk of significant medical event.  She says that - though clearly there are exceptions - most women are truly not meant to have more than about 4 or 5 pregnancies; our bodies begin to actually break down.  I can totally see it... not that we were planning on any more, but I'm convinced my body is genuinely not capable of carrying another baby.  Four pregnancies and an adoption is enough!  

So, my body doesn't feel like my body.  Doesn't respond in the ways that I am accustomed to.  I was measuring two weeks ahead at my last appointment, and I feel like I could have this baby any second. We did "bed school" all week instead of homeschool. But the good news is that I only have another week and a half before serious reinforcements are in.

And then?

Well, all bets are off.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kid Update: Jake

So, full confession time: this post is more of an amalgamation of updates.  Some belong to him, many belong to me.  I'm still adjusting to what is cool to share in teenager land.

The first has to start with me.

Because, let's face it, I never, ever, never in a million years expected to be parenting a teenager in this phase of life.  My people are little.  We're still on learning to read and watching Caillou, picky-eaters, potty training, sleeping through the night and diapers, for crying out loud.

Teenagers?  That's a bridge for another, far, far away time.

So when I say there are many ways in which I wasn't prepared, Casey wasn't prepared, and our family was so very not prepared to be doing what we're doing today, you can all hang with me on that one, right?

Understanding that this is the context in which I'm telling you this story, there are a few miraculous things we have to talk about first.

1. I was an 8th grade teacher who specialized in neurological development.  I like 8th graders {I'm weird, I know}.  So even without being in the teenager phase of life, I've spent a great deal of time learning how to best deal with all their quirks, oddities and am generally accustomed to how an 8th grader thinks, what he needs to grow and thrive, and how to fill gaps that might have been created under the influence of a stressful life circumstance.  In short, how to love these weird, odd little humans who are neither adults nor children.

2. I have a background in trauma.  Because, simply put, two kids walked into my school when I was 14 years old and shot it up on a rather infamous scale.  I spent my young life as a traumatized teenager.  All my friends were traumatized teenagers.  So when this 14 year old kid needed a place to go where his mental health issues wouldn't be a surprise and someone would be reasonably well-versed in how to help him... yeah, we had the tools to tackle that big task.  {Correction: we're in the process of slowly working through those issues, though, as is true with all trauma, they will never completely go away.}

3.  I began praying for a fifth child six months before we got the call about Jacob.  This is the one that gets me every time I think about it.  The one that, if I didn't already believe in a God of miracles, would convert me.  Casey and I had already planned out our family.  We'd agreed on four. We both had incredible peace about what a family of six would look like.  How we would handle things financially, in terms of time - everything.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere in October of 2015, I had this strange, nagging feeling that we should have five.  It was a stirring I didn't understand, didn't have the slightest clue what had started it or where it had come from.  Casey was adamant: there would be no fifth child.  We'd agreed on four children, and four was enough.  And, let's be honest, he's right!  But I couldn't let go of this calling I felt.  So in a moment of rare clarity, I turned it over to God.  I prayed a prayer that went like this: I have no idea where this came from, but if it is nothing more than my own selfish desire, please take it from me.  But if it's you, Lord, and your plan, then I trust you to work it out.  I don't know how you will accomplish it, but you'll have to get Casey on board and make it happen. 

I can vividly recall standing in the shower, hot water beating down upon me as tears poured down my face, sometime after we got home from our trip to Disneyland.  Having that exact conversation out loud in an empty bathroom for reasons I couldn't even comprehend myself.

The conviction didn't go away over the next few months, and by Christmas I had come to think that I must be praying for twins.  I mean, how else could we end up with five?

When the call came in at the end of April, I got on a plane to Washington without even a moment's hesitation.  Over the course of the next week, it became apparent very quickly that there would be no one else to step in.  I didn't have to clamor or fight; Casey and I were the first and last of the line to step in and raise this boy.  And it became obvious why I had been praying for a fifth child: God had been preparing us for this all along, even though we didn't know it yet.

We had the desire.  We had the tools. Our family was equipped to take on this big task. By some miracle, even our financial circumstance was prepared ahead of time, though it would cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars we hadn't anticipated spending in order to make it happen.

The fingerprints of divinity were all over this circumstance each and every step of the way.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells a wonderful story {which I am about to completely mis-quote, because I can't find the exact wording.  I wish I'd written it down when I read it!} in which he envisions Jesus, sitting on the throne, inspiring David with the very words to the Psalm that He would later repeat as He hung on the cross.  The point being, Jesus knew that He himself would one day need those words, and so He gave them to David to record a thousand years before He would utter them.

It's a beautiful image.

The King of all things knows what we need, and begins equipping us to play our part in His story long before we have the picture of what that story will include.  He is here with us in the shadowy places of our lives, in the midst of our challenges and burdens; present, watchful; guiding us in ways that we neither see nor comprehend in the moment.

But His guidance is unmistakable just the same.  And we can live a life of hope in the midst of our struggle, knowing He who we follow is in the business of redemption.

Jake's story, I believe, is one of redemption.

He started 9th grade this year. 

At a brand new school, where he knew no one.  In a state far away from all his childhood friends.

He joined the orchestra and plays the viola.

He got all dressed up and went to his first homecoming dance.

Stag.  Which is okay, if I'm really being honest, because not one of us in this house knows anything yet about teenagers and dating.  One step at a time!

He has taken a number of trips with us and had tons of new experiences, from Mesa Verde to the Denver zoo, museum, race car driving, mini-golfing, Vail, Breckenridge; we even drove out to Utah for Thanksgiving.  

It has been especially fun to watch him get to do some of those fun, family and tradition-oriented activities that he didn't often get to do the first time through.

He is learning about what it means to be a big brother, and how to function in a family environment.

Which is probably the most fun part of all.  It has been amazing to watch how easily this family has come together - both on his end and on ours.  He likes being part of a family, and the kids have so readily accepted him as one of their own.  {And that is NOT to say that he isn't also heartbroken that his own family isn't still in tact.  Clearly that would be his first choice.  While we're at it, that doesn't mean it has always been an easy process on anybody's part.  We've all had our struggles, but we've also come an incredibly long way, and it's soooooo cool to see.}

He turned 15 in November.  We  had a small family celebration without Casey, who sadly had booked a show way before Jake came to us.

Then to really celebrate, we went to Casa Bonita when Case was back in town.  It was so much fun!

He has taken an interest in magic, and enjoys doing card tricks.  He has also taken a small interest (a completely spontaneous, natural and not forced interest by the way) in reading!  He likes horror stories the best, and we've found him a good series of completely terrifying books that he's enjoying.  Right now, he's reading one of my all-time favorites: The Stand by Stephen King.

We had a great time celebrating our first Christmas, and the holidays were one of those potential obstacles I had worried about which turned out to be more easily conquered than I'd anticipated.

Jake did an amazing job during his first semester, and earned a 3.5 gpa - all A's and B's - despite the many hills he had to conquer.  He is working on making friends, gets great reports from all his teachers, and is being wise about the choices he makes in both actions and people.  It's truly amazing.

He is resilient, optimistic, helpful, kind and loving beyond anything anyone has the right to expect.  He tackles new challenges without flinching and recognizes that his future isn't determined by what has happened to him in the past.  There have been plenty of struggles - because anything less would be unhealthy after what he has been through - and he has been willing to courageously confront things that are painful, emotional and just plain hard.

We are so proud - so, so proud - of who he is and how far he has come, overcoming huge obstacles, in such a short space of time.

Choosing to be an instrument of love requires us to obey His word and His will, and to continually move forward, taking the next brave step out in faith - often even before we can see where the path leads.

But in my experience, it is those journeys that are the most rewarding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kid Update: Leah

Sweet Miss Leah.

Leah is one month away from becoming a seven year old.  At (nearly) seven, she is so very many things: hard working, an excellent big sister, kind, compassionate, opinionated, playful, serious, stubborn, mature, empathetic, a care-taker, a Jesus lover... I could go on. 

She is my little mother.  She loves her siblings, loves to help me and to hold leadership roles both in a classroom setting and particularly within our family.

She is wise well beyond her years.  She is capable of an enormous amount of empathy and compassion, of maturity, sense of justice and right and wrong, of  incredible talents, intense intelligences and high aspirations.  

The development of each of these traits is incredible to witness.  

One thing I have not discussed openly is our struggle with her giftedness.  It sounds like such a contradiction in terms - which is why I haven't talked about it before: she is highly, highly gifted.  And it's really hard.

To even give the sense that we are complaining about this giftedness seems, to many, as if we were complaining about having won the lottery.  She is immensely talented, and will be intellectually able to literally do anything she wants, her whole life long.  Boo-hoo, right?

That being said, giftedness generally - but this level of giftedness particularly - leads to a number of emotional intensities and special needs that require an immense amount of time, patience, wisdom and grace; often that push me to the very ends of my own limitations.

She is a perfectionist to a paralyzing degree.  I'll never forget listening to her on the baby monitor in the middle of the night.  At not even one year old, she would wake up at all hours and practice enunciating words that had given her particular trouble during the day.  She wanted those suckers to be perrrr-fect.  And nothing less would suffice.

She has never lost that sense of determination, nor has she lessened the standards to which she holds herself.  It leads to an enormously debilitating internal struggle: if she even senses the chance to make a mistake, she can become so overwhelmed and frustrated she will not even make an attempt.  Or, frequently, that sense of being overwhelmed creates explosive feelings that she literally can't deal with, followed by outbursts that are destructive and ugly.  It doesn't matter if she could do it - the mere suggestion that something might interfere with her perfect outcome can shut her down before she starts.

It is an exhausting process for her.  There is always the potential for one of her perfectionist-landmines to explode in all our faces, without warning, at any given moment.

Added to that is the fact that she is developing intellectually faster than her six year old body can keep up with.  In other words, there are simply some skills that she can't do yet; some things she isn't ready for because she's only six, though the capabilities of her mind and her will extend much further.  She literally can't live up to her own self-imposed mental standards because... she's still six!

Our biggest challenge by far, though, is the battle she faces with her own emotional intensity.

I don't quite know how to describe it, except to say that her radar for emotions is bigger.  Where you or I are able to take in information and emotion and process it in what might be considered a "normal" way, what she has taken in is just bigger, in both quantity and intensity.

You and I pick up cable TV with our radar.  Her emotional radar is the kind NASA might use to explore the universe.  For a six year old to deal with all of that emotional input and the intellectual complexities it poses on a day to day, minute-by-minute basis is no small task.

Put another way, we're Watson.  But she's Sherlock.  And if you're at all familiar with that analogy, you know that it's no picnic to be Sherlock - or the people who love him.

That's not to imply that things are all bad, because they certainly aren't.  Leah is sweet, funny, kind, capable, helpful and loving. She is polite and respectful, gets along well with everyone she meets, and if you met her you'd never know how deeply she struggles behind the scenes.

Of this I am sure: The Creator of everything has created her exactly as she was meant to be, for a purpose that is mightier than we can imagine or understand.  Not in spite of the things that set her apart and force her to overcome, but because of them.

We are so, so lucky to get to shepherd, coach and guide her, and to share her days (even when those days are completely, exhaustingly difficult.  Right now, they are).

God has used her almost as much as anything else in my life to show me His goodness, His ways and His blessings. So often, she has been the tool that God uses to s-t-r-e-t-c-h me in my own capacity as a mother, largely by helping me to understand my own inadequacies and need for patience, forgiveness, gentleness and grace.  

Those are precious lessons that I could not pass on - that I might never even have learned - without her.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kid Update: Logan

Our wonderful Logan boy is almost four and a half.  In some ways, I can't believe that time has gone so fast.  In others, I have always felt that he is much older than his years, and in many ways his little body is just catching up with where he has been all along.  

I have learned so much about men after having a little boy. Boys are boys, right from the beginning, and Logan is no exception.  He is wiggly and wild, likes to climb and is constantly in motion. 

He is strong and brave, loves his sisters and is so tender and sweet with them, but also has that boy energy that needs to come out; that big man's desire for respect tied up in a little body.  He loves cars and tractors and anything with wheels, Star Wars, superheroes and things that fight.  The girls' baby dolls hold no interest from him (though they did once) and doesn't want to play kitchen with his sisters (though he can be persuaded like a good brother).  

Yep, we're raising a future man.

When he was 18 months old, he zigged when he should have zagged in the bathtub, and ended up breaking part of his front tooth against the faucet.  In July, we finally had to have the tooth extracted.  Logan was a champ - seriously, like the bravest kid ever.  No tears, no fear, nothing - about the whole process, and now his cute little smile includes a gap that will be with him for the next several years until his adult tooth takes its place.

He started preschool this year.  Really, his second round of preschool.  We did a very light schedule when he was three because he so badly wanted to "do school" like a big kid.  He excels in school, and is doing amazing things.  

At four, he does all the CC memory work with us (math, geography, English grammar, Latin, history, science, and timeline).  His memory is amazing.  When I started Leah, she was four and a half, and I skipped two subjects her first year because I didn't want to overwhelm her.  Logan has done all seven subjects with flying colors, and knows solidly half of them at 100%.  It's impressive.  

I also started him on some serious kindergarten math, and slowly, a few sight words.  Because, holy moly, he's ready for it.  I will never take for granted the privilege of being here to witness the educational journeys of my children in the special ways I am privy to!

I adore his personality.  Like his big sister, he loves adults and will often prefer to "buddy up" to them instead of kids his own age.  I routinely get awesome reports from his teachers at church that he is helpful and kind, wanting to make sure that every kid has something to play with or enough snack.  He likes to help pass out materials if they are doing a project.  He loves to help at home, and virtually without complaint will help with anything from making my coffee in the morning, to washing windows, preparing dinner or helping with laundry.  He makes his own bed every morning and is responsible about taking care of clothes and toys.

He loves taking care of his sister, and they are so sweet to watch together.  Although often she takes advantage of him and tries to take his stuff.  And every now and again, he likes to pull rank and boss her around, none of which goes over very well.  Kids.  

The reality is, we don't have much bickering in our house.  We have kids.  We have a family, made up of different personalities, wants and needs, and we are all constantly together.  But the amazing thing is that they so genuinely enjoy one another's company that the overwhelming majority of the time, they all figure it out pretty seamlessly.  It is both humbling and impressive to watch.  

Well...Much of the time, anyway.  Considering we're all just a bunch of stubbornly sinful humans in need of lots of grace!

He is so, so, so beyond excited about having a brother.  He does awesome with the girls, and truly is one of the most gentle and considerate brothers I've seen.  But... that boy-ness.  It begs for a companion! He loves having Jake around, but it will be awesome for him to have a brother close in age to rough house and climb and spend his childhood with.  I was pretty neutral on the gender front, but for little Logan's sake there was just a tiny piece of me that was hoping for a boy to even out our household.  

It has been a pretty fun journey with this sweet little guy. 

It's a noisy, fast-paced journey that is continually in motion. 
 And we're loving being a part of it. 

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