My husband and I have been married for going on four years, and we’ve been a one car family from the beginning. There are some drawbacks to sharing a vehicle, but just in the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits. While this style of living doesn’t work for a lot of families due to work hours, activities, etc., we’ve found it to be a blessing, and here’s why…
- It’s cheaper!
This is probably the most obvious reason for families to downsize; skipping a second car payment, insurance costs, and maintenance fees makes sense for anyone trying to pay off a home, buy groceries for a bunch of hungry boys, or just put more aside into the savings account. (On a side note, we’ve never had car payments as we’ve always saved up and paid cash for used vehicles… it’s not always feasible for everyone, but a huge blessings when you can avoid car debt.)
- There’s no place like home
I’m a stay at home mom, which means I’m not employed, but it also means that most of the time… I stay home! And that’s not a bad thing! The more I do this mom job, especially now that I have a 2.5 year old and a 5 month old, the more I treasure our home as our safe place, our haven, our natural habitat. At home, I can control the routine and train little ones how to obey and act rightly (before expecting them to do it in an unfamiliar environment, overstimulated and low on sleep). At home, I can keep a closer eye on my children and be more present to love, protect, and teach them. At home is where little people need to be more often than not, and as a mommy who can also become drained and impatient, it’s where I need to be too. Seasons do change, but especially for the season I’m in right now, there’s no place like home.
- We grow in hospitality
Staying home more during the day doesn’t mean we isolate ourselves and live like hermits. It just means we have to become more creative and do things out of our home. This challenges me to grow in hospitality. I feel like it’s helped us bring more of the focus back around to ministry, opening up our home, and giving to others. We enjoy having families over for dinner fellowship, a neighbor for lunch, a fellow mom with littles over for coffee and play time. And as an added bonus, the boys are in their own element and it’s easier to stick to our routine and house rules.
- Closer community
There’s always that moment when I should have planned better (I forgot that one ingredient for dinner tonight!), or an emergency happens… or maybe, I just really want to get out and there’s no way for me to have the car. That’s when I have to swallow my pride and ask for help. Asking a neighbor to take us somewhere in an emergency, or a friend to grab some groceries, or a girlfriend to pick me up on the way to a social gathering… it requires communication and planning and a more vulnerable, less self-reliant attitude, but isn’t that what Christian community is all about anyway?
- Better time management
Since going out during the day is a bigger deal with one car (especially with two littles in tow), and require more coordination and planning, you better believe the outing is going to be worth it! And even if I drop my husband off at work, or try to run out while he’s working from home for a few hours, it means I have less time to meander. I’m required to be more efficient (i.e. plan my route better, get in and get out faster), use my time more wisely, and make sure my outings are really worth the extra effort.
If you have more than one car and that’s what works for your family, great! And we all need to get out of the house from time to time. The Christian life is not the hermit life. However, if you have one car now or choose to downsize, you may find a few extra blessings as a result.
Sometimes you have to live life on the edge. For some people, that means climbing a mountain, taking a spur of the moment trip, or putting their life savings into starting a business.
For me, it means buying white curtains. You read that right… this mama likes things to be beautiful, classy, and yet often practicality wins out in my purchase decisions. Even when I walk down the store aisles with a picture in my head of my preferred style (something I would love!), often as I look at price tags and consider years ahead of sticky little hands, spills, and inevitable accidents, I weaken and give in to durability over beauty, or I just can’t quell the struggle within and simply walk out with no purchase in hand. I’ll make that decision later, like in 20 years.
Becoming a mom has taught me many things, but one thing especially; to live in the moment. The older I get, the less important those little details seem in the grand scheme of things, and instead I feel challenged to seize the moment for what it is, in it’s beauty, imperfection, messiness, and providence.
I have a sad tendency to get stuck in the past; to feel weighty guilt for mistakes I made, regret over opportunities lost. In the same way, my mommy brain likes to jump ahead to the future and freeze in terror long before the anticipated woes of teaching algebra, guiding emotional teens, and going shopping with a passel of active toddlers is even a reality. And yet, in the moment, in the present, is where my heart needs to reside; in thankfulness for the beauty God has given, not allowing my silly fears to distract from his perfect gifts.
God made us to be smart, to plan ahead, to be wise with our money and resources and time. But He also made us to be beautiful, and enjoy beauty. As my days get fuller, it’s become more important for me to learn to balance the practical housework with the refreshing creative time. As our family and boundary grows (oh yeah, we just bought a house!), it’s become interesting learning to find the line between durable and elegant in our purchases.
But this day, I found myself walking back and forth, fingering silky, course, thick and sheer fabric of curtains, observing the different colors, shades, designs (and looking at price tags, and looking again), feeling a nudge to go for my dream living room design… that all extravagant, bold, beautiful, clean, airy white. It was a bit of a tipping point for this frugal Scottish mama, who can sometimes feel the weight of the Proverbs 31 call to run a beautiful (preferably mostly clean!) home while being financially wise, and resourceful.
I know this side of heaven I can’t have it all (well, at least if I want my sanity too), but I can have white curtains, and there will be fingerprints, and I say bring it on.
I missed getting this post up last month, and our little guy is ten months old now, but I’m going to post his 9 month photos to keep with tradition anyway.
At nine months, Ethan weighed 20.5 lbs! Such a big boy! His fine blond hair is getting so long and he is still as deliciously chubby as ever.
Ethan also experienced his first snow, first Thanksgiving, and first Christmas! So much excitement.
Around this age he also started getting upset if he was overly tired and overwhelmed by something (walking into a room full of people who surround him, being held by someone other than mommy in a loud crowd, seeing a man he’s unsure of). It’s not often that he really gets upset by others (our little extrovert!) but he is becoming more aware.
We celebrated baby’s first Christmas Eve/Day morning at home, and he opened up his first gift, which was a djembe from mommy and daddy. While he lit up and started hitting it after seeing it, he now prefers to eat it when we give it to him. We’ll get there…
At this point Ethan wasn’t officially crawling, but scooting on his tummy, which made the busy (and decorated) holidays easy on this momma, who now spends 99.9% of the time chasing after a mobile little explorer…
That dimple though…
At this point the little man was pulling himself up onto the couch, chairs, and his favorite- our laps. He was SO excited by this achievement! He also decided- as he was cutting three teeth- that the crib was the best teether around. Needless to say, a few chunks are missing and mommy hurried to make a DIY crib teething guard.
Unfortunately, this newfound ability to stand in the crib vastly outweighed the desire to sleep, and we had a few days where the little man was extremely wired, hyper and acting out. Thankfully, I think it was just a stage and part of all the changes he was going through, we all made it out alive, and he was our happy and (normally) agreeable baby again.
He also started making this cheesy grin where he squints his eyes and wrinkles up his nose, which I personally find quite adorable.
We are so thankful for our blessing!
Greetings and Happy New Year!
We are excited by all the Lord has done in our lives this past year, and amazed at how quickly time can fly! This was a big year for our little family, as we welcomed our our firstborn son into the world. Ethan Edward decided to surprise us and arrived 8 days early, on Friday, March 27th, weighing 7lbs 12oz. Due to some complications, recovery for Jennifer was a little rocky, but our family and Church body were amazing in the weeks following as we adjusted to being a family of three (wait, we’re parents?!). We were and continue to be humbled by the blessing and responsibility of raising our son. The postpartum time was a difficult time of growth and stretching for us as a couple, but we praise God that He is in control, and that He is patient to teach his children.
Though Ashton and I had some growing pains initially, our little guy has been the sweetest and happiest little fellow. Ethan is 9 months old already, and continues to bless us with his laughs, toothy grins, jabbering and curiosity. He is our little extrovert, a great traveler, and charms everyone along the way with his generous smiles. He has yet to have a real “shy” moment with a stranger. (He also recently welcomed his first cousins into the world- both boys! Adventure is ahead!) He is crawling around, he absolutely loves reading books, and he is a great sleeper. He looks so much like his daddy, and loves to play with him too. We are so thankful for our little boy who lights up our days.
Our E is also learning to travel. We go to Omaha to visit my family every few months, and this year we also traveled to Florida before E was born, as well as to a bed and breakfast nearby for our babymoon. As a family we vacationed in Lake of the Ozarks with my family, and traveled to Idaho for a wedding.
Ashton and I continue to try to find our “niche” in central Illinois as we put down roots and desire to raise our family to be active in ministry and the community. Ashton is still on the board for our local Right to Life group, as well as a Legislative task force in Illinois, and we try to volunteer for pro-life efforts as we’re able. For fun, I taught ballet up until a few weeks before E was born (I looked bigger than I felt), we took the Bradley (natural birth) class together, and we became CPR certified. And, we enjoy opening up our home in hospitality as much as we can. Ashton still works at Samaritan Ministries, a 3 minute walk from our cozy apartment. We’re considering moving this year, so we’re soaking up the close proximity and lunches together in the meantime. Jennifer keeps busy reading to Ethan, taking care of our home and doing hospitality. Somehow, there’s never a dull moment!
We celebrated our second anniversary on September 21st this year. We are grateful for all the Lord has done in our lives these past two years; as a couple and now as a family.
Ashton, Jennifer and Ethan
A week and a half ago our baby turned eight months old. At the time we were visiting his Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts (and cousin!) for Thanksgiving and a bridal shower, so it was a busy time… but I have a feeling the rest of this winter will be just as busy. Time flies when you’re having fun… and when there’s a fast growing baby in the house.
My little hunk weighs 20 pounds! My goodness, he is so well built. My arms can attest to that fact. Also, mom workouts can be intense. All you have to do is opt for a basket instead of a cart while grabbing a few items at HyVee, with said mini man in the other arm wiggling and grabbing. We’re talking about some pretty impressive biceps in this mommy’s future at the rate E is growing.
There haven’t been a lot of big visible changes for E this past month, though I know a lot more is going on in that cute round little head of his than we realize. He’s not crawling yet and still isn’t really interested in solids, though he does enjoy an occasional chew on a celery stick or apple slice. We’re not stressing. He’s obviously happy, healthy and quite interactive, so I’m really okay with taking things slow. I have a feeling he’s learning so much mentally that he’s taking some of the physical things slower.
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen, though, is Ethan’s awareness of finer details and smaller objects. His love of books continues to grow as he’s learning how to open and close them and flip the pages. He still chews on them, but in his baby mind, that’s the most obvious way to explore things, so why wouldn’t you? He also pays more attention to little objects, picking at different colors in the carpet, mashing beans with his chubby hand at the dinner table, grabbing drawstrings on jackets.
He also laughs more at various things, and watches you more carefully when he knows you’re playing with him. We played hide and seek with daddy for the first time, and he picked up on the mystery of hiding in the dark bathroom, eyes big, while daddy loudly called out for us, and then laughing and smiling when daddy flipped the light on and found us. He likes watching daddy play guitar, observing mommy cooking in the kitchen, reading, playing peek a boo, jumping, and climbing on things- which is fairly new. He climbs all over our laps and over objects and tries to pull himself up (very close to pulling up to a standing position without help). We have so much fun with our happy little man! I’m looking forward to when he starts talking, and I can get a glimpse of what goes on in that adorable round head of his.
Training? Mommy does get lax in that area. Potty training isn’t happening (the potty is SO far away from the changing table…). I think I’ll be more motivated when he can walk and help initiate, though that’s really more of an excuse. Sundays are hit and miss… we don’t expect a lot from him when we’re traveling and he’s overtired and overstimulated. Some Sundays we do end up walking him in the hallway for a while to get him to sleep, others he’s happy enough to flip through his books and stay fairly quiet. We still have our quiet time together in the mornings and we are working on having him sit still during family devotions in the evenings. It’s a work in progress… Since he’s not crawling we don’t have as much training to do regarding stuff, and what not to touch, though there are a few things we’re teaching him “no” on… grabbing the table cloth, grabbing at mirrors on the wall, “biting”, eating (paper) books. I have this sneaky feeling that we have a stubborn little boy on our hands. Sanctification for mommy, here we come!
Now that we’re eight months out from the biggest physical event of my life, I think I can safely say that I feel pretty much back to my new normal. I do tend to get colds quite often which I’m trying to address through diet and extra supplementation, but I’m so thankful for the energy I normally have (and all the wonderful sleep I get!) that lots of times can be elusive with a little one. Sometimes E will randomly wake early in the morning, or when we’re traveling or sick, but a pacifier almost always puts him back to sleep. He also takes two 1.5-2 hour naps a day which is an immense help. Here’s to hoping all of our kids are great sleepers!
I’m thoroughly enjoying my role as mommy. I know there are difficulties ahead, especially as we’re in the pre-talking and pre-crawling stage (we’re having our cake and eating it too!). And, when I sit down to consider all the responsibilities in our future as we raise our little boy to become a godly man, I feel quite, quite small and a smidgeon overwhelmed. I guess that’s why the Lord said
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34
He knew we moms would look ahead to the driving lessons, the algebra questions, the character building, the disciplining, the protecting… the example-setting as fallen women, trying to be the best and failing. So many days I still feel like a 16 year old, dreaming of the future, excited about becoming a wife and mom, but feeling like the reality of it all was so far away.
But here I am! My little boy watching me with his big blue, curious intelligent eyes. It’s a blessing and I’m trying to foster the attitude of what I share with Ethan as we struggle with the diaper bag, purse, grocery bags and the poofy bundled baby wiggling under one arm, emerging into the world to get some groceries… “are you ready to go on an adventure with mommy, Ethan?”. Mommyhood is an adventure. It can either be one of doom and gloom as we choose to lower our eyes to the valleys, and point out the dark caves and the ruts and the rain and the mud (been there, done that). Or it can be one of excitement, of hope, of joy that we’re in it together, watching the sunrise in the distance, keeping up each other’s spirits despite our tired feet (because we’re together!), sharing awe over a the fresh dew on a spider web, or getting excited over a detour through new and uncharted territory. Sometimes, adventure is in a pile of laundry, or in front of the Christmas tree right before bed with the lights off, or a walk around the apartment complex watching the leaves blow. Mommyhood is vastly under appreciated for it’s culture, excitement, newness and growth. I hope I can be a mom who displays it to be the messy joy and youthful wonder that it really is.
And how about Daddy? Well he’s pretty awesome. He provides for us, works hard, helps with laundry and dishes and cleanup and diapers and baths, and he leads us spiritually. The older baby gets the more fun it is to see them play and discover together. And to think that the next time we’re able to really play at the park, E will be toddling around. Exciting times ahead!
We continue to learn as a couple and be challenged as we make decisions in raising our little one. They may seem small decisions now, but we know we are laying the ground work and foundation for what we pray will be a lifetime of service for the Lord. So in the end, no decision is small! We are trying to be intentional in how we speak to Ethan, speak about him, in what noises we allow him to make and when, what things we allow him to touch, when and how often to take him out. I am so very grateful to be laying the foundation of Ethan’s upbringing on a loving marriage.
We recently had an older couple over from Church, as we are trying to get to know other families better and build deeper relationships, and they encouraged us to remember that when Ethan tests us, he is really testing our marriage to see if we are truly committed to what we say we are… and how important it is that we take time for each other, that a healthy family life will fall into place around it. It’s early on, and we can still talk over Ethan, and have several hours just the two of us each evening. But as life gets fuller we don’t want to be blindsided in our marriage. How thankful I am for my husband… and how very little I deserve his patience and support in my life.
And already 8 months have flown by. We love you, baby E! We can’t wait to watch you enjoy your first Christmas on the outside.
This week my little boy turned seven months old. Each milestone is a joy, just like his squishy kissable cheeks and his infectious gummy grin!
Some highlights of this past month… E is sitting up like a pro which is a great help for mommy, who can set him down easier right next to her instead of having to drag along his chair. He still doesn’t show interest in crawling, which is fine with mommy and daddy… more time to enjoy this pre-proofing stage.
We tried solids; mashed broccoli, green beans, avocado, squash. So far the guacamole has been his favorite, but even then he barely takes anything and gags. I think it’s a sign he’s not ready for solids, and I’m not stressing about it. He’s doing just fine without solids, weighing in at 18.2 lbs. I’m so thankful for a chunky, squishy, healthy baby!
Big moments? Welcoming his first cousin into the world! Aunt A and Uncle J had baby Jethro, and Ethan can’t wait to meet his first partner-in-crime. We’re pretty sure it’s going to be epic. Ethan also officially moved to his nursery for nighttime. Mommy was the one getting a little emotional about it, but he was getting claustrophobic in the cradle next to our bed, and he is sleeping better in his crib now. This momma never thought it would take seven months to make the switch, but lo and behold, mommy emotions are much stronger than originally expected!
Another big first was baby’s first plane trip. We flew to Idaho for “Aunt” Gabby’s wedding, and the little man proceeded to charm his way from St. Louis to Las Vegas to Boise and back again. He did very well until the lack of sleep over the weekend affected his jolly nature on the return flights, and we had a few moments where mommy sat blushing and embarrassed to be “that mom” with the child having a fit. But, we lived, and for the most part E is a happy traveler… which is a good thing because we love traveling! On the trip, E also got to meet some of mommy’s dearest friends for the first time, which was also a highlight.
And while our little man isn’t crawling yet, he makes up for it with his wide variety of expressions, and now his mimicking noises. He likes to copy daddy blowing, snorting, sniffing, and making noises with his lips. I think we have a ham on our hands…
And mommy life. It’s great. It’s hard, and the changing of life’s seasons isn’t always easy, especially as expectations and shifting priorities come into play. As much as I want E to grow up learning to be flexible, to go with the flow, to be a part of mommy and daddy’s schedule and not just his own, at the same time we have to be willing to pull back for the sake of our family. And that is hard.
I am by nature a people pleaser, and one area I struggle in as a mom is the courage to tell other people “no” and risk offending. I.e., you can’t touch my baby, I can’t leave my baby at home during this event, we need to leave early and miss out, etc. Even as we want to bless others and be involved in their lives, we do have moments of needing to miss out in order to care for our first responsibilities; our marriage and our family. And goodness, this growing up thing sure isn’t easy, but what better way to grow and depend on the Lord than realizing it’s no longer my parents making the decision, it’s me and my husband.
And the more my heart fills with love for and fierce protection of my child, the more it breaks over the horrific throwing away of motherhood by countless women in our nation… all those little ones killed and ripped away from the one person who should be protecting their lives at all costs. Ethan fills each of my days with joy and I am loving this season of watching his life blossom, grow, and bring delight not just to us as his parents but to those around us.
Life is precious, and we are thankful for the one we have the privilege of loving and raising.
Happy seven months, pumpkin!
I’m sitting down to write this post after just reading a young wife’s painful account of her miscarriages, and her honest sharing of the heartache and grief they are going through as they miss those precious little ones. I haven’t experienced a miscarriage, though I remember the fear and anxiety that started to creep in any time I had a little spotting during my pregnancy. So I hug my little boy closer and try to treasure these days for what they are; moments that are great gifts, and gifts I don’t deserve.
Our precious Ethan Edward is 6 months old, as of a week ago. He weighs 17.8 pounds, is sitting up on his own now, loves to eat books, scoots backwards and is still trying to figure out crawling, laughs most when he’s tired and hyper, loves his jumper (giggles often ensue), and recently tried his first teeny tiny taste of food- which was avocado, and not nearly appreciated enough by a tired baby.
We are loving this age! I admittedly did have a “moment” when E basically started sitting up overnight, and I realized how big he is getting. But for the most part, I’m really enjoying the process of moving through the different stages of his (fast!) development. I continue to be amazed at how much more energetic I feel as time goes on and I grow in confidence as a momma. I thought after three months that I was mostly back to normal, but as it turns out, I continue to grow, learn and change along with our little boy. It’s an adventure, and it’s fun.
And we really can’t complain. E has been sleeping through the night for 2 months now and takes pretty good naps. If we don’t get much sleep, it’s usually our fault for staying up too late…
How have we been doing in teaching E new things? I’m still giving myself another month before diving back in to infant potty training. He’s been doing much better during Church lately except for when he’s overtired (mostly due to long weekends traveling). I think being able to sit up on his own and have more ability to entertain himself with interactive toys and books has really helped in that area. Our latest thing has been helping him to learn to “be still” in my arms when he’s tired and needs to rest. We’re flying to Idaho (his first plane ride!) for a wedding, so in preparation for having nowhere to lay him down to sleep for most of the weekend, I’m trying to help him learn to fall asleep in my arms. If he’s overtired he still whines and complains even as his eyes are closing, and sometimes he still squirms, but I can tell he’s adjusting. I then lay him down to nap in his crib just as he’s falling asleep. I think this is something I would like to practice earlier with our next baby, Lord willing… teaching them to “be still” in my arms when it’s sleepy time, something E never wanted to do once he could hold his head up off my shoulder. No cuddling for this active little guy!
Another thing we’re trying to figure out is whining. He definitely whines when he’s tired or wanting a change of scenery during playtime. But he’s also taken to whining sometimes when he’s getting his diaper changed, getting put in his carseat, etc. I understand he can’t use words yet, but once we’ve responded to his need we want to teach him to calm down, so I’m trying to be careful not to encourage whining in the way I respond to it.
Ethan’s daddy and I are also learning and growing in our marriage as we discover parenthood together. It’s wonderful, but definitely not easy. One particular evening I found myself on our living room floor, crying on Ashton’s shoulder and grieving over how sin affects us, affects me… I desire to be a respectful wife and a loving momma, but there are growing pains in learning how to be both sometimes, and I know that won’t be the first time I’ll be asking for an extra measure of grace in this season of life.
We are having fun taking our smiley, extroverted little guy with us on outings. We’ve taken multiple trips to Omaha to see his grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, we try to take him to as many ministry and community events as possible (showers, parties, conferences, pro life rallies, etc.), and until he starts talking, he gets to tag along on some of our date nights, too. We can’t go everywhere we used to, but we can go most places, so we take him walking, for a scenic drive, out to coffee, or on a short shopping spree or lunch date. He also goes to bed at 8pm, so we easily have two hours together each evening to share over a glass of wine. I’m so thankful for my husband, who also happens to be a wonderful daddy.
And we are thankful for our precious little boy, who is such a blessing and joy in our lives. We can’t wait to see what the next six months hold for him, and for us as a family of three.
Our little man turned five months old today! It’s crazy and amazing and fun to see how much little ones change and develop in such a short amount of time. At five months, E brings a lot of joy, poop, and sanctification to my day. I don’t know what I’d do without him! Even in that moment when I’m struggling to carry 17 pounds of baby, a picnic lunch and a large bag of laundry down to the car from our second story apartment, and the little man chooses that moment to let out some major spit up all over my shoulder… I am still majorly blessed. My mother-in-law recently asked me how I though I had changed since being married, and my response -especially now that we have a child to raise- was that I believe I’ve mellowed and relaxed so much more. Those things that I made much ado about as a single pale in comparison to the ways I have to let go of expectations and personal standards as a mom, and we’re just getting started!
That’s not to say that we’ve thrown cleanliness and quiet time and personal grooming out the window, but my ability to flex and adjust if those areas aren’t perfectly met (and preferably with zero complaining) is much improved. The bigger my little guy gets and more able to process mommy’s reactions to life’s happenings, the more I am humbled by my need to check my attitude over seemingly small annoyances.
But with those confessions aside… Ethan Edward is a joy at five months and continues to bless us with his smiles, his interaction, his little goofy faces and noises. He weighs 16.8 pounds of pure irresistible chub, is in 6-9 (sometimes 12) month clothing and wears size three diapers. Crawling doesn’t seem too important yet, but he is very strong and mommy already has a hard time holding him still when he has the wiggles. He loves his “indestructible book”, his ball, anything that crinkles, and he discovered his toes, which are always good for a chew here and there. He is basically sleeping through the night now (no tears over that milestone!), naps three times a day, and except for certain bouts of teething woes, is a fairly content and cheerful baby. He has two teeth in already, which we discovered one epic Sunday when he was fussy, vomited all over us and the pew several times, and peed on mommy right before communion. Life with the three B’s is never dull!
And how about all that training I talked about in my last update? Potty training isn’t really “going” (apart from a few good days several weeks ago), if you know what I mean… partly due to my laziness and partly due to traveling. But, I didn’t really have any expectations at this stage, though I do hope to become more dedicated around 7 months.
Our biggest thing right now is the “learn-how-to-keep-mommy-sane-during-Church” project. That whole humility thing really hits hard right about halfway through the service, when my child is the one letting everyone know that he’s going on a nap strike, because, you know… my children weren’t going to be that way. But then reality hits and I realize that my son is human (like me- surprise!) and that this whole training thing won’t happen overnight. My respect and awe for my own parents having raised me and 6 other children continues to grow the longer I parent our Ethan.
We’re doing pretty well at not copying him while fussing or whining, especially now as it’s getting much easier to distinguish between baby babbles and frustrated crying. At five months I feel like he’s grown so much in his ability to communicate different things, just in tone alone. Babies are smart, which is also why I’ve started signing around him. You never know what he’s picking up mentally, and will be able to start signing as soon as he can control his hands enough to do it physically.
I do continue to have bible time with him each morning, and we do it together as a family each night. I also added in having a quiet play time each afternoon, to practice sitting during Church. I listen to a podcast or audiobook while E sits on my lap with books and toys. We’re up to sitting for half an hour right now, and we’re still working on helping Ethan to not screech or arch his back in frustration, but I know consistency is the key.
Our daily schedule is going very well. There were so many times during the first three months when I wondered if it was worth it, especially with what seemed like constant disruptions. But I look back and am so glad I stuck with it. We’re both so much happier to work in a daily routine, and though E is showing some signs of strong willed firstborn behavior, he doesn’t fight the schedule, and let me just say that peaceful, regular naps are pretty heavenly!
We are learning a lot as we care for our little boy. We are blessed and humbled to be his parents!
So, baby is four months old. Don’t ask me how that happened! The time has gone both slow and fast. People always say it goes so quickly, to soak up the moments, not to miss this fleeting time. Did I capture all those newborn photos before the moment passed and he got too big, or cuddle enough instead of trying to get up and get things done, or just savor the moment? If I’m not careful I can be rather obsessive over “moments”, over trying to perfectly balance my role as a homemaker and mommy. So instead I lay on the floor and play with little E, reading, talking, tickling, while I try to keep our home in some semblance of order and food on the table, and then look ahead to the future with anticipation, not holding on to regrets or what-ifs about the past.
He has changed so much since he was a little, squishy, quiet, tiny, blinking newborn. His personality continues to break through as he observes new things and grows in expressions and abilities. He is our little extrovert, smiley, talkative, and cheerful. He takes three naps each day and sleeps 12 hours at night and is a good eater- packing on the chub. He weighs about 14.5 pounds now, and goodness; I never knew thighs could be so adorable, or chubby cheeks so kissable. He loves to read, is using a jumper now, his favorite toy to grasp is a play silk, he recently discovered the ceiling fan, he laughs when tickled, and apparently watching mommy and daddy do HIIT workouts is quiet entertaining. He is getting better at independent playtime, but he definitely prefers to be close enough to mommy to have conversations and share smiles. He’ll spend up to 30 minutes happily in his bouncy chair in the kitchen, watching me cook, as long as he can hear me talk and sing, and smile at him.
Daddy and I are learning a lot… though I’m probably learning the most, what with my fear of man (pride) to help refine me as we make decisions for our unique little boy, and for our family. (Wait, we’re adults? We can do that? Talk about responsibility!) As a first time mom I feel pressure from the general populace to conform to what research suggests, or what method works best for most people. It could be that some of this is self-imposed, or it could be that like me, other young moms are silently crying out for a little grace, a little breathing room to try out new things as they love on their little ones. But with expectations aside, I’m truly grateful for advice and input from “the older women who teach the younger”.
So life has settled into a new normal, a happy, drooly, spit-up-all-over new normal, but we continue to learn and grow as parents to our precious baby. Just like I want to catch those fleeting baby moments before it’s too late, I want to catch on to bad or unnecessary habits before baby is too big… big enough to copy them! Or, to start creating habits that we want him to always remember having in our home. I don’t think we give babies enough credit for how smart they are, so I am of the firm opinion that we can indeed start teaching him things now; through instruction, and through example.
Some things we’ve been working on are:
- Always talking around him as if he can understand everything we are saying… especially if we are talking about him. He may start to pick up on things audibly before we realize it, and we want him to hear things that are positive, not gossip, respectful towards him as an individual, and loving towards each other as his parents. This includes our tone of voice when we get frustrated; making sure we stay in control (good habits regardless that become all the more important with little ears in the home).
- Never copying him when he whines or fusses. It’s such a natural thing to copy babies when they babble and coo, but I found myself doing it when he started to make those “complaining” noises when he was tired or frustrated, and realized that I was either encouraging or mocking him. So we are much quicker to recognize what types of noises we are making, and try our hardest to make sure they are cheerful and appropriate.
- Saying his name when talking to him. I want to get into the habit of getting his attention before asking him a question, or telling him to do something, and that needs to start now.
- We’re trying to be more cautious in music that we play or movies that we watch with him in the room, and we also try not to let him look at or watch an electronic device.
- We’ve also chosen not to have electronic toys in our home, at least not yet. A little baby doesn’t need much to be happy, and when mom isn’t playing with him, his teddy bear, colorful play quilt, books, play silk, and teething toys (oh, and the ceiling fan) are a wonderful source of entertainment.
- Having bible time together each morning. It only takes a few minutes with him being so little, but we read a chapter together, pray for our day and sing a song. As much as I’m able, I want him to remember always having bible time in the morning with mom.
- We don’t use baby talk. And that’s just because… I hate baby talk.
- We’re just starting infant potty training. I have no expectations, but it never hurts to try! If we can save on a few diapers, avoid some blowouts, and help him learn to use the potty at the appropriate time, then I’d say it’s worth it.
- We schedule. There, I said it. And, after the first three months of seemingly constant changes due to travel and growth spurts, we have settled into a nice routine that works very well for E and our family.
I feel like I have so many thoughts, lessons, and emotions going through my mind as I consider how life has changed since our little man arrived, eight days early and ready to meet the world. But really, what it all comes down to is, we are blessed, we are thankful, and we are having so much fun as a family of three.
Ethan was baptized at four weeks old on Sunday, April 26th, and received this handmade, soft blue blanket from his Grandma Duff for the special occasion. Mommy just now got around to doing a photoshoot with it; at 10 1/2 weeks!
“Thank you Grandma!”