Tuesday, January 20, 2015

37 Weeks and the World's Sweetest Big Brother


We're full term, baby!  I am technically 37 weeks tomorrow, but, you all don't care if I fudge this milestone by one day do you?  Baby J is in position and ready for exit whenever she decides to grace us with her presence.

Bennett has been to the last couple of appointments with me and I have been able to schedule them while Lakin is in school so I only have to take one child.  Ben is a dream without his sister around and loves walking the halls of the hospital to get to the OB department.  He charms the older patients and sings songs as he walks the subway.  He squeals with delight every single time the elevator doors open and close.  It's a precious performance.  Typically he has the nurse or midwife wrapped around his little finger before we're done with the appointment.

Today was no different.  We got to see an ultrasound of the baby and Bennett was excited when the machine was wheeled in and he guessed we were going to watch a "movie."  He enjoyed hearing baby's heartbeat and bobbed his head to the rhythm of the beat, exclaiming, "Dat's cool."  She gave him his very own ultrasound photo and he was so proud.  He carried it all the way to the parking garage and shared it with several strangers in the elevator and hallway along the way.



Maybe he will instantly love his little sister?  Here's hoping they are fast friends.

I'm trying to get my bag together and make sure I have most of my details lined up for Lakin and Bennett when we go into labor.  Lakin asks every day if today will be the baby's birthday.  It's tough explaining to a four-year-old the uncertainties of a due date.  She's excited to get this show on the road.

As for me, this morning at 4 AM, when I could not sleep, I was mulling over just what is about to happen to my body for the third time.  I'll be honest, while I'm eager to meet our little girl, I'm dreading the birthing experience.  No matter how many children you've had, I think labor and delivery is a scary thing.  But like many other circumstances in life, the pain is part of the process.  I just need to think about holding her for the first time and that big ole Chipotle burrito I'm gonna eat once she's here.  Keeping my eyes on the prize.  And just so you know, when you birth a baby, you can justify adding guac.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

They Kind of Like Each Other

The squabbles have begun.  There are secret pinches under tables and sucker punches when I'm not looking over LEGO pieces and the last of the popcorn.  But in the end, they love each other.  They really do.



I hope these two have the sweetest friendship for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

When Grace is so Good it Hurts

Man, oh man, parenting is no easy task.

My hormones are making me an extra weepy mess these days and just in time for Bennett to really kick his terrible twos into high gear.  His most used phrase is "no" and he's recently become a real pill to take places.  I remember going through this with Lakin.  I know it's developmentally appropriate.  I understand that I will not be able to reason him out of a tantrum but it does not stop me from feeling consumed with anger when he chooses to melt down into a hot mess on the floor at the gym, or church, or Target... or any other place we like to frequent and let loose all his "overwhelming feelings" for others to hear and witness.  Kid can wail.

 As evidenced here...
and here...

You see, I don't make nice, calm, roll with the punches babies.  I make fiercely independent, fiery little souls who know what they want (at least they think they do) and who will go down fighting to prove that they have a will and a means to exercise it.  Some day I know this will serve my kids well.  Once they know what to do with all that determination.  But for the moment, I am feeling a bit lost and frustrated at their unwillingness to cooperate.  I mean, I'm the momma, so what I say goes.  Right?

Here's the thing about walking with your kids through their sin, it almost always makes you wade through your own.  I realize that while dealing with yet another melt down over a commercial break on the radio when my two-year-old wants another song or carrying my screaming toddler out of church while my nine-month pregnant body struggles to keep up and my four-year-old runs after me, are par for the parenting course but they show me just how insecure, angry and fearful I really am.  I feel insecure that my inability to walk with a happy toddler compliantly holding my hand shows that I am an incapable mother.  I fear that those I care about will grow weary (like I often do) of my child and his very typical, but completely intolerable, behavior and will miss the lively, sweet boy who brings so much joy into our lives.  And to be totally transparent, it makes me angry when my child dissolves into a disheveled mess over something as trivial as bedtime, being told no to another bowl of cereal or being asked to change his diaper.  I know, I'm an unreasonable tyrant.

Helping little people learn to be decent humans is so much work.  Sometimes I feel up to the task and other times I feel defeated by what feels like my lack of progress.  Nothing has left me in more need of God's grace than becoming a parent.  I have come face to face with my own inadequacy and seen just how deep the darkness of my sin runs.  It's deep, people.  But God still loves me.  He still speaks to me.  He blesses me immensely and allows me the privilege to try again another day.  And that is what has brought me to my knees lately.  His mercy is new each morning.  And I don't know about you, but every morning I need a whole lot of mercy (and a little cup of coffee).  Because this race is long and it's fierce and there is a very real enemy out there waiting to take me out if I let him.

This morning at church I dropped my kittens off and walked into worship feeling pretty in need of grace and a wee bit emotional (we'll blame it on the baby - but my husband was working and my children had proven trying this morning and I was spent).  When I feel this vulnerable I simply desire to retreat to my own space.  So I sat myself in a new section and prayed to remain alone and ambiguous.   I could sense that God planned to love on my heart with worship and that love would make me cry.  Maybe a lot. We sang together the song, Victor's Crown and the chorus spoke deeply to my heart.

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold must be broken
You wear the Victor's crown
You overcome
You overcome

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus, You have overcome the world

God loves me so much that He allows me to feel defeat, frustration, sadness and my extreme need for Him.  He's in the business of humbling and making me holy.  Which often involves a serious dose of reality and a good long look in the mirror of my soul to see just how messed up I really am.  He breaks the strongholds and exposes the places where pride has allowed me to depend on my own ability and even think I might be pretty dang awesome.  And then, when I understand my need He loves me like nothing and no one in this world.  He gives me grace when my heart is at its darkest and chooses mercy when I really need a swift kick in the rear.  His grace is so good, it almost hurts to receive.  

I mean isn't that awesome?  I want to love my children like God loves us.  I want to choose mercy and grace and not resort to lectures, screaming and resentment.  I can feel God changing my heart.  But I also recognize that this work in progress will take time.  

I am also convinced that sleeping children are salve for a worn out soul and an extra difficult day of parenting.  Because who can look at their sleeping child and not be so consumed by love?  I have taken to the habit of peeking on Lakin and Ben before I go to bed each night to be reminded of their sweet innocence and my extreme gratitude for their role in our family.  And like that, the tantrums and time outs and whining are forgotten for another day.  





Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Prepare yourself for an overload of images.  Complete with commentary.  Because, you know, that's what I do.  Warning.  This post is excessive.


 Bennett and Lakin woke at their typical 6:30 AM start time for Christmas.  Actually, I think Lakin was up before that but waited patiently for us in the living room since opening presents would have been "too loud."  So thankful she opted to wait to open presents before tearing in.

 We made breakfast first and got it cooking in the oven before we started in on the gifts.  Lakin was looking up our recipe for biscuit and gravy casserole.

 Chef boyarcee whipping up a little gravy for our heart health and enjoyment.

 Since it was Jesus' birthday we did a little French press to celebrate.  I bet he was a French press over drip kind of guy.

The kids played with these shape boards my Grandma gave them while we got breakfast going.  This has kept them busy and content multiple times in the last couple of weeks.  

 Chris and I made an A-frame tent to give to Lakin and Bennett as their Christmas present.  Lakin promptly brought her pillow and comforter upstairs to make it nice and cozy.

 My grandma also purchased this fold up doll house for Lakin's Barbies.  I love that it folds flat and both kids have been pretty smitten with it.  Lakin uses it for her Barbies and Bennett uses it with his dinosaurs.

We started with stockings.





 High fives for Dad over flashlights and band-aids.  Stocking are so much fun.




 After the stockings were done, we moved on to the presents sent from our extended family.

 Lakin got a Fancy Nancy game from my Aunt.  We played it Christmas day, all four of us.  I have two very sore losers in my family.  I'll let you guess who.  Basic premise of the game is getting matching shoes and outfit to create three ensembles.  The feminists in my life would cringe over the game, but I happen to think that it's important for everyone to ask themselves, "Do these shoes go with this outfit?"

 Bennett got some Pete the Cat books and a Pete doll.  Pete has already had many adventures with Bennett.  He's swam in the toilet and hung from the banister to name a few.

 The kids also got a marble maze.  Chris spent the afternoon setting it up with Lakin.  The marbles went missing by dinner time.  They were later discovered in a small treasure chest that was in the play kitchen microwave.  Makes sense, of course.  Bennett loves the "mardles" and hoards them.  We now have a designated place for marbles to sleep while not in use.  Because they pose as a bit of a choking hazard and there's no telling where Bennett will stash them next.

 Only a two-year-old can find something to cry about on Christmas morning.

 Loving on Pete the Cat and dreaming of ways to stress his mother out.


Lakin wore her Fancy Nancy dress for most of the day.  Girl loves to be fancy, what can I say?

Our family Christmas was simple and quiet and totally relaxing.  Chris and I lounged around all day and spent nap time watching The Blacklist (recommend if you're in need of a good TV series).  Chris worked the day after Christmas but got home early and we were able to hit the road for Kansas City.  After a McDonald's stop in Albert Lea for fuel and calories, we were on our way.  Made it into town around 10:30 PM and put two cranky kids to bed upon arrival.

The next morning we did our Jaeger family Christmas.  This year, Dave and Jess were home from Seattle and it made the week so sweet.  I miss them like crazy but appreciate all the hanging out that happens when we do get to be under one roof.


 Lakin wore her swimsuit because she would live in swimsuits if her mother would let her.



 Bennett's gift from Papa and Gigi was an Olaf doll that talks.

 He kindly helped every adult open their gifts.




 I gave Geri this book.  It is a beautiful and thought provoking read.  Geri has often shared some of Glennon's essays on Facebook and I figured she might enjoy her book as well.

 We gave Dennis some red wine glasses.

 And a bottle of Trader Joe's finest Malbec.  We fancy, like that.

 Chris' parents gave him a Cardinal's shirt since this will soon be his home team.  But don't worry friends, his passion for the Royals still burns.

 David got a bottle of elderflower liqueur.  He and Jess are amazing cooks and looking to spice up their lives with some tasty and creative cocktails.

 Papa and Gigi got Lakin an Elsa doll.  She sings, she lights up, she even sweeps the floor.  Wait, scratch that last part.


Bennett was able to sneak a moment with Elsa.  He loves her more than Rapunzel.  Which is a lot.

My Christmas gift was a Le Creuset dutch oven.  It is everything I ever dreamed it might be.  I have used it for every meal since we've been home and it can caramelize and onion into pure sugar.  Geri found it for a steal of a deal at T.J. Maxx.  I believe my cheesy grin says it all.

No trip to Kansas City would be complete without some time with my parents who live just down the road from Chris' family.  I did a terrible job documenting our Christmas celebration but my parents were present.  I was there as well.  We had a wonderful time.



 Lakin helped Grandma deliver presents to each person.


 Among many wonderful and personally selected goodies, Lakin delighted over her tiny Rapunzel doll.

 Bennett wanted to put his "Queen jammies" on immediately.  He's worn them as much as possible ever since.

 The kids got Frozen water bottles and we've already gotten a ton of use out of the sports bottles.  We take them everywhere and they never fight over who gets what color since they each have a designated cup.

 My mom sewed personal pillow cases for the kids.  Unicorns for Lakin, cars for Bennett.

 A happy boy in his jammies and using his pillow case as a sleeping bag.

 Every item that would come out of the stocking Bennett would squeal and exclaim, "Oh My!"  Didn't matter if it was a toothbrush or a pack of fruit snacks.  Everything was seriously amazing to him.

 Lakin sporting a new leotard and tights.  Spandex is Lakin's love language.

Two, happy, spoiled kids sitting in their pillowcases.

We're coming to the homestretch of this post... I promise.

 We were able to snag tickets to the Chief's vs. Chargers game.  It was actually quite warm since our seats were in the sun and we met up with friends beforehand for a breakfast burrito tailgate.  A victory for the Chief's and the Jaeger extended family for sure.

 Lakin and Gigi enjoyed a little happy hour at Hereford House.

 Aunt Jackie and Uncle Joe came in for a couple of days to spend some quality time.

 Lakin and Ben spent hours (you read that right) swimming in Gigi's tub.

 We went on a chilly walk that ended with tears from Bennett.  Surprise to... no one.


 The guys attended a Mizzou basketball game.

 Lakin and Bennett enjoyed the full service and endless snacks at Gigi's counter.

 Jackie convinced Lakin to take a photo to commemorate their visit.

 The kids watched a lot of Chuggington on Netflix and had several blanket-filled cuddle fests.

 Mary Kate had her gender reveal and we found out baby Osborne is going to be a boy!  He'll be here this May!

Finally, Lakin put us through two total body tantrums.  Not to be outdone, Bennett threw himself down in disgust more times that I was able to record.  Each tantrum led to an epic nap and victory for mothers everywhere.

Not pictured: The Z Man I scarfed from Oklahoma Joe's while catching up with my old Young Life leaders.  The homemade pizza night where Dave and Jess schooled us in pizza dough, dutch oven cooking, and flavor combinations.  The New Year's celebration with my oldest and dearest friends who we always ring in the New Year with  - we made it to midnight and that's saying something.  The Grandma and Lakin date to Kaleidoscope, Crown Center, and McDonalds for a coveted Happy Meal.   So many wonderful memories and moments with people I love the most in this world.  My heart is full after this Kansas City trip.

If you made it to the end of this, pat yourself on the back.