seven months

Seven months. Her first year is more than half over and it's pure craziness to think that in a few months time she'll be walking and I'll be making her a smash cake. Craziness, I tell you.

Have I ever told you how much I love this stage? The precious few months between fussy newborn and emerging toddler? It is glorious. 

See how the light is catching her little tuft of blonde hair?
 It's a halo. She's practically an angel.

(Some sources define the name Evangeline as meaning "like an angel." While not the meaning we chose it for, it's certainly proved accurate.

From rolling, to scooting backwards, to worming/planking/wiggling her way around the living room floor, Hero spent the better half of last week investing serious concentrated effort in the art of forward movement. Not a lot of sleep happened. Her endless supply of spontaneous smiles began to dwindle.

Because, guys. Crawling is serious business.

Between her crawling endeavors and recent advent of speech, this kid really wore herself out.

Sleep, child. Rest your little brain. Relax your little body. Sleeeeeep...

You know what, though? I can't blame her. 

I love tackling things that I can dive into like that.

I love her determination to conquer new skills. To be so driven that you can't sleep till you get it just right. Does it get any better?

It has got to be one of the best things life has to offer.

Hearing her sweet little voice call out "Mama" simply makes me melt. Seeing her look up at Husband and clearly say, "Da-da" is equally heartwarming. 
I'm telling you. This stage is the best.

Everything in the mouth. Babyled weaning. Innocent exploration. Wide-eyed wonder and discovery. Giggles. Bursting with affection. The most contagious of smiles. Speed nursing. 

The ability to stay in one room and play independently for a solid 30 minutes. 

Oh, it is lovely.

Except when it looks like this:
 But even then, she's still cute. 

(Why do I love photos of my kids crying and having fits? I want to remember it ALL. Plus... it's kinda funny.)

Sometime in the past couple of months, my dear Evangeline Hero started to consistently spit out her reflux meds and flashbacks from her first few months began swimming through my mind.

Please don't go back to sleeping just 5 minutes at a time. Pleeeeeease don't.

Because, WOW. That kinda sucked.

After a short while, she adjusted. We stayed off the meds and naps became a thing again. From there, I felt ready to address the nighttime sleep issue. The baby-wants-to-move-around-everywhere-in-her-sleep issue, which is really only an issue if baby is trying to sleep like this in her Momma's arms. Which, she was.

We've entered the era of crib training, my friends. 

I hate it. I really hate hearing my babies cry. But how long can you function as a normal human when you're woken up multiple times per night?

About 7 months, it looks like. But then if we're including pregnancy...

Nah. Let's not go there. Suffice it to say. we're working on the sleep thing. And it's already improved quite a bit, so I have high hopes for the future of sleep in our house.
I can't put my finger on what's really made the difference this time around. There are a number of possible factors involved, but whatever the reason, I am so grateful for how much I've been able to enjoy this stage with this baby.

I've never had a harder time keeping up with dishes and laundry-- housework in general. I've never gotten so little sleep for such an extended period of time. I'm still fairly new to being a mother of three, and somehow, none of that is really stressing me out much. 

I've never felt as close to any of my babies as I do to sweet little Hero. I've never felt as much joy in the little things, and in each of my children at each stage they're in, as I do right.

I've never loved being a mom as much as I do now.

People say three kids is the hardest, and after that, there's not a whole lot of difference. Evangeline's birth was my hardest. That first month postpartum-- the hardest. I had resigned myself to being content with three children. Even decided I just couldn't go through another pregnancy. 

And here she comes and changes me-- changes my life.

I love her. 

Can this stage of pure bliss with her please last forever? 


aaaaand... she's three!

She was born breaking the rules, this one. Remember her story?

Forever I will have to explain.

"Wait, what? You had a water birth at the hospital?!"

Yes, I did. And no, that wasn't the plan-- at least not my plan. But apparently, it was Libby's.
You know those people who will do anything to bug you, simply because they enjoy getting a reaction out of people? I never cared much for those people. I never understood what made them tick. Why do they enjoy irritating people? What's so entertaining about being a pain in the neck?

I wonder this almost daily now that I have one such person of my very own. 

And you know what the thing is...?

She's also the sweetest, cuddliest, quirkiest, and funniest little human I know.

And I love her.
 She is 100% fun. Total type 1, yellow, otter personality... whichever categorization you best relate to. Fun is this girl's top priority. 100% extrovert. 

Once when approaching the checkout at Costco, Libby's eyes opened wide and lit up and she said,

"Mommy! Look at all the people! I love the people!!"

She nearly jumped out of the cart and hugged them all. Complete strangers.

After reading a small portion of The Child Whisperer (which I've been meaning to read further, because I think it's excellent), I made some changes in my parenting strategy with this one, and some changes in our routine, and it made a real difference in getting her to stop flipping out of control as severely. 

It's so interesting and challenging for me to understand how this girl works, since she is so different from me. Her sister Verity...? Total mini me. I understand her completely, even when (especially when?) she's a pain. But Liberty is soooo my opposite.
 I often wonder what God was thinking in sending me this child. 

How could I possibly be a good mother to this kid who is so alien to me?!

And then I stumble into some profound life lesson and realize how much wisdom and understanding I wouldn't ever gain if it weren't for her.

I'm thankful for this wild girl.
 At three, Libby's speech is kind of amazing. I mean, she did start early, and I'm around her all the time so I'm used to her. It's not till I'm around other kids of a similar age that I realize how advanced she is. Or till we visit the doctor and he drops his jaw. 

My girls' pediatrician has often suggested that perhaps one contributor to their strong willed natures is their intelligence. 

Does anyone argue when they're told their children are exceptional? 

(This always makes me laugh.)

At about 18 months she started showing interest in potty training, but I guess it wasn't fun enough or something, because even though she could and sometimes did use the toilet, it was a long time before she committed to the idea of potty training. I seriously couldn't get the kid to sit still long enough to go. Even if she was sitting on the potty, she would wiggle and dance, feet would inevitably end up around the back of her head, nothing made it in....etc. She refused to wear diapers for a long time, too. Refused to wear diapers, and refused to use the toilet. 

Ask me how much fun that stage was.


The morning I went into labor with her baby sister, Liberty decided she wasn't the baby anymore-- she potty trained and didn't look back. 

It was nice, actually. Because Husband was home for a week and a half and did all the work for me while I cared for our newborn. 

 She never stops moving, unless she's asleep. And even that's not entirely accurate.

She's also still a lousy sleeper. 

She boycotted naps a while ago, so I've instated quiet time for an hour every afternoon to keep myself sane and my kids from fighting nonstop. It's a wonderful time of the day.
 But really. When I say she never stops moving, I mean never. Ever. 

I think she has such a hard time falling asleep simply because she can't control her little body. 

Always wiggling.

I've wondered about ADHD.
 She started gymnastics a couple months ago and really enjoys it. Lots of jumping, climbing, rolling and flipping around... it's a great outlet for her. 
 When she gives hugs, she wraps her arms around your neck and shoves her face in yours. Sometimes this hurts. Usually I try to ignore that and appreciate being smothered with her affection. 

She is so loving. So cuddly. So sweet.

She loves her Daddy so, so much. Wants to be with him round the clock. The smothering is intense with him-- he is her human jungle gym, full of cuddles, tickles, and lots of airplane rides and rough housing in general. They're a joy to watch together.
She recently tried to graduate herself early from nursery at church.

For a good month she refused to go, and insisted on attending primary instead. I felt bad for her teachers. After a couple of weeks they sent her back to nursery. 

I don't blame them.

I think the term "all over the place" was part of their description of her behavior.

But the new year is coming, and sadly... they're in for it.
 I sometimes feel like Calvin's mother when we leave her with a sitter-- if they demanded more money and advances like Rosalyn, I'd see it as perfectly justified. 
 Before we butchered our turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, she would get all riled up just seeing Libby approach her. I could walk up to her, care for her, even pet her or pick her up just fine. But send Libby near her.... and it was loud warning chirps and ruffled feathers every time. I think Liberty may have been chased once or twice.

I guess that's what you get for teasing animals.
What else do I want to remember about her at three years old....?

She loves to try new things. It's so exciting for her, and she is completely fearless. Any kind of physical activity, game, toy, new friend, new foods... she is amazing across the board.

I really love having a child who isn't insistent on "kid foods." 

The other day she took 2 bites of her PB&J, and refused the rest. Then she stole half my grilled turkey, apple, and brie sandwich and cried when it was gone.

It is an absolute delight to see her beg for caesar salad, taste our sushi, sip my herbal tea, and dip everything in each new kind of sauce she discovers, even when we go out for Indian food.

There is so much love, sweetness, energy, intelligence and adventure wrapped up in this tiny human. She is such a joy and such a headache. She wears me out and fills my heart.

Happy Birthday, Libby Lou! We love you.


Ross's Sandwich

It's been 18 years since that episode aired, and over those years I've kept revisiting the idea of Ross's Sandwich-- wondering what it tasted like, what it was made of, etc. This year I created my own version of it. And while I'm no professional chef, I like to think I could give (the fictional) Monica Gellar a run for her money with this plateful of deliciousness.

If you haven't seen this particular episode of Friends, please go watch it. I promise you you"ll wanna eat one too.

Being the adoring a wife that I am (with a small culinary obsession), I made this to suit my husband's taste: only a hint of cranberry flavor, and real fried onions (like what you top green bean casserole with).
-3 slices sourdough bread
-cranberry sauce
-fried onions (I battered and fried my own, but the premade kind for green bean casserole will work too)

-Begin by trimming the crust from one of your slices of sourdough bread and submerging it in hot gravy to absorb it well (this will create your moist maker).
-Butter one side of each of the remaining slices of sourdough and grill the butter side only in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.
-Make the cranberry mayo using a simple mixture of mayo and cranberry sauce (the ratio here is flexible-- make it as strong or weak as you like).
-Spread the soft sides of your grilled bread with the cranberry mayo.
-Heat the stuffing and turkey.
-Assemble sandwich as pictured below.
-Enjoy. If you bring it to work with you, remember that a knock-knock joke or limerick of some kind may not be enough to keep your co-workers' thieving hands off this deliciousness.

We hosted Thanksgiving yesterday for the first time, and it was really really fun (more about that in another post). Things I learned about my husband: cranberry sauce is gross, and the crunchy fried onions are the best part of green casserole. Also, I need to learn to make yams the way he likes.

I personally don't like the onions. I pull them off. But since they're his fave, I battered and friend them up just to make it extra yummy. 

Occasionally I break my "I don't cook food I don't like" rule. Because I love him. 

And since I didn't make cranberry sauce yesterday, but thought this needed a hint of cranberry flavor, I made do with some of the sugarplum jam I made this summer from the trees in my backyard. It turned out lovely.

Whenever I create something new in the kitchen, Husband encourages me to write it down immediately, so that (1) I don't forget, and (2) it doesn't exist only in my mind. Husband likes to be able to make stuff without asking me for what will inevitably be a confusing description, full of approximations and guesses, of how to execute a given task.

So this is my newest entry in my little black book of recipes. Kinda looking forward to enjoying these sandwiches every year after this!

Anyone else attempted to make Ross's Sandwich? And since we have tons of extra food... how else do you use your Thanksgiving leftovers? Favorite ways to eat them?

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with family, friends, and delicious food!