Magnificently Seven Months

Dear Alice,

I think every month I tell you how much I love the age you are, and your seventh month is no different. Look how happy you are!

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Let’s look at your stats:

You are sitting up like a boss!  Just before Trisha took your picture this past month, you decided to figure out sitting. You are about a month behind your brothers, but that is Ok. My favorite thing is how little you care when you tip over. Your brothers cried or whined when they went booty over apple cart; you just smile even bigger. Like it was fun to tip sideways, backwards, or forward. You wiggle until you are on your tummy and just play that way.

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You are eating food!  Well, baby food. Ok, you like pears. You make faces with apples and bananas, as well as with puffs and those mum mum things. However, you find puffs–and how they stick to your hands–amusing. I think you are ready to try some veggies, but I am sure you will make faces at those too.

We have quit keeping track of when your bottle feedings are, and packed up the perpetual “feeding schedule” that we kept on the island listing when your last bottle was and how much you ate. Now we just know: you have three 6-oz bottles at Renae’s house during the day and two at home before bed.

I took a glimpse back through the notepad before tucking it away in your memory box. That pad of paper had all your feedings since the day you came home from the hospital. The first few pages also had a little column along the side where daddy kept track of which pain meds I took and what time.

That time seems so long ago now. Much longer than mere months–seems like a totally different life. And it sort of was.

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Ever since those first days, you have been a great sleeper. That trend has continued for sure. Renae says that you sometimes doze a bit in the morning, but usually take a nice big 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. You’re usually passed out by 10:30 at night for us and sleep until we wake you at 6:30am.  It doesn’t matter where we put you in your crib, you always wiggle your way to the one corner–daddy even found you asleep with your head propped up against the slats in that corner one weekend morning! You will fall asleep however, but you always roll to your tummy–just like your brothers always did.

Occasionally you will wake in the night in need of your pacifier and a butt pat, or sometimes a little teething gel. You have three bottom teeth now and they are ADORABLE when you grin.

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While you’re not crawling yet, you are definitely a little mover! When you are on your tummy, you can push yourself waaaay up so you can look around. You can also scoot yourself in a circle and back and forth by launching off your knees, which you can now scrunch up under you. Daddy is concerned that soon we will have to put the baby gate back up by the steps. We waited too long with Charlie and he rolled right down them. Oops!

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Alice, you are the happiest little baby. You love people so much. I still have you sit with us in church rather than put you in the nursery because you are just so good. You sit by either daddy or me and play with a toy or your feet. Sometimes you look at the people behind us and smile, then hide in my shoulder. You make everyone around you smile because you are such a little sunshine.

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When you are displeased with something, you don’t just cry, you make a little huffy whining noise. Sometimes we can change it into a giggle if we pay you attention right away, but if we ignore it, it turns into shouts of anger. It’s sort of a diva move, but since you only do it when you’re tired, hungry, or poopy, I’ll let it go. I mean, I get crabby when I am tired and hungry, and I am sure if I had to sit in my own poop I wouldn’t love it too much.

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Your current favorite things are a mini sofie giraffe teether, making LOUD noises like ZAH ZAH ZAH and DA DA DA, giggling at your brothers, shaking your head “no”, and eating your feet.

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Daddy has been working so hard to get you to crawl. I don’t know why. For one, non-mobile babies are SO MUCH EASIER. And two, once you start, it’s not like we can go back. That will be it. No more stationary baby. We will be done with that phase.

That’s the weird part of parenting. I can see why daddy is excited; you can get on all fours, you just can’t lift your head from that position. So you are on the verge of learning something new. That has always been such an exhilarating part of parenting–having the privilege of being front row for your child’s learning.

On the other hand, I just want to keep you little. I don’t want to rush you to the next thing because once you’re there, that is it. We are done. No more babies will follow with first rolling and first head lifts and  first crawling. You are the caboose of the Sluiter Nation Train.

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In many ways, Alice, you are my easiest baby. You are content 98% of the time whether chilling with your brothers, sitting alone on your play mat, or hanging out on someone’s lap. You weren’t colicky like Eddie, and you don’t have “stranger danger” like Charlie did.

But there is something more difficult about you too. It’s more subtle and hard to name; I think it has to do with fear. My own fear that the smiles and cuddles that are just for me will fade. That you won’t possibly love me this much ever again. That you, too, will join the chorus of “YOU’RE MEAN” and “I DON’T LIKE YOU” that your brothers have begun when they don’t get their way.

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Right now, you like me always, and I just want to keep it that way for as long as I can. It’s like a calm, happy in the middle of a storm of crazy some days.

You are my joy, my dear Alice.

I love you,

Momma

ps. All outdoor, professional photos were taking by Trisha of TMV Photography. We love her to the moon, Alice. She has a heart of gold and is one of the best friends I could ask for. Find friends like her, and you will always have joy in your life.

Can I Tell Her She is Pretty?

Hey Pretty Girl! I see you! Good morning, Beautiful!

Each morning since school started, I try to be the one that wakes Alice up. She sleeps in her footie jammies in a sleep sack, and since being able to roll, she prefers her tummy. I usually find her with her head in the same corner of the crib, not quite up against the slats, but close. She is a cuddle bug and I know she likes to feel cozy, but she is too little yet for me to let her have her bunny or a blankie in bed.

When I flick the light switch on, she rubs her eyes and buries her face in her hands and the flat sheet. Then she brings her head up, turns toward my voice, and with her eyes still squinted shut, smiles a big three-bottom-tooth grin.

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Hey Alice! Hey there Pretty Girl!

Cortney picks Alice and Charlie up from daycare each day. They get home after Eddie and me around 5pm. When he sets Alice’s carrier on the counter, I am almost always the one to greet her and get her out. The moment she catches sight of me, I get a big, nose-scrunchy smile.

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She is beautiful. Gorgeous, even.

When I look at her I see the prettiest baby in the world. When she coos and “talks” I tell her she has so much to say. I tell her what she says is important and that I love to hear it. I tell her she is so smart. I tell her she’s such a Big Girl when she accomplishes something like grasping a toy she has been working for or trying a new flavor of baby food.

I also tell her she is pretty. Constantly.

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When I had only boys, I never thought twice about telling them how smart and handsome and wonderful they were. Yes, I read some things here and there that said you aren’t supposed to say “good job!” to your kids (of course I can’t find the dang thing now. I see it all over Pinterest forever and when I go to find it? Nope. Sorry.), but as someone who works with kids, I know what encouragement–or actually the lack of it–does to kids. So I vowed to always affirm my children’s positive behavior, accomplishments, and words.

For six years I have been raising men. I have focused in on how to be a mom of boys who will be good men someday. I have been conscious of not just encouraging them, but of being a role model of a strong, confident woman. I try to model constructive communication over yelling (key word: try). Cortney models how women should be treated.

I’m not going to say it’s easier to be the mom of boys, but I will say that I feel like encouraging them and guiding them to have a positive self-image is less of an anxiety trigger for me.

I don’t know a mom out there who doesn’t think her own children are the most beautiful in the world, but when it comes to girls, I also know that somewhere society becomes louder than our moms’ voices.

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I don’t know when I started thinking I was awkward or less pretty than the other girls at school, but it was early. It was for sure by fourth grade. Maybe earlier.

I felt lanky and awkward. My hair was too frizzy. My bangs were weird. Then middle school rolled around and I had acne. I was flat-chested. I had zero curves. I weighed barely 100 pounds in high school and I felt like my thighs were too big.

In college I didn’t have the right “black booty pants” (fellow 90’s girls, I know you know what I mean). I was more Metallica than Back Street Boys, more Wu Tang than Will Smith. I wore a size 6 and was afraid of how many calories were in the beer I drank–although I would never say anything in front of all my guy friends.

As an adult I long for those size 6 pants and the short plaid skirts with Docs. Now I struggle with grey hair in my 30’s and pine for my long brown wonderful hair of my 20’s.

I can’t remember ever feeling pretty. Well, that’s not true. I can remember feeling pretty here and there, but not as a general rule. Not as an every day thing.

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Before having a daughter, I agreed with people who said not to focus on looks. Talk about her brain. About how smart she is and how important her words are. Let her know she can be whatever she wants. Let her know it’s not about looks anyway.

But you know what?

For a lot of us, even though maybe it shouldn’t matter, it does. We want to feel pretty.

We want to feel good about ourselves and all of our nooks and crannies…just the way we are.

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I still agree that we need to tell our girls how important their words and thoughts are; society still makes everything harder for women.  But I also think it’s ok–imperative even–that we tell our daughters they are beautiful.

Every day I have middle school girls who walk into my classroom feeling less than beautiful. I see the affects our culture already has on them at just thirteen years old. Some are already beaten down because they do not fit what our society defines as beauty…and no one has told them any different.

I equally don’t want Alice to feel like she has to fit some sort of mold as far as her looks, as well as I don’t want her to feel like she is anything less than gorgeous.

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So maybe I’m not “supposed” to tell her she is pretty because heaven for bid, she may believe it. She may walk into a room not worrying what people think of her hair or skin or size. She may be able to focus on her thoughts and words because she is not worrying about whether or not she is pretty enough.

I am willing to take that risk.

*************

Photos by TMV Photogrphy

Half Birthday

Dear Alice,

Somehow, you are six months old already. I know. It’s surprising!

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I just read over Eddie and Charlie’s 6 month posts, and I can’t believe how different this time around is. Both boys were sitting by 6 months. You are not. You haven’t figure out yet that you need to put a little lead in your butt or you’ll tip over. If I sit with my legs out, you will sit in between them, but if I let go, you will fall forward. Plus you move your legs too much to stay sitting. It’s like you’d rather be on a bicycle.

Both boys were also already eating cereal, applesauce, bananas, carrots and peas by this point. You’ve had four bites of applesauce, turned your nose up, scrunched up your face, gagged, and then barfed. Tonight I gave you some cereal which induced less gagging, but you still didn’t seem too pleased with me.

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You definitely use rolling and scooting to get you were you want to be and to get you the things you want to reach. Just like your brothers, you have learned you can now roll to your tummy at night and you prefer to sleep that way. Daddy and I joke that you “always go left,” because even when you are falling asleep on us, you try to roll left…even if there is no where to go that way!

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While you will still lay in the swing, we don’t need it anymore to help you fall asleep, so next week we will be passing it on to Uncle Mike and Aunt Ashley for baby Maddox (who is supposed to be here around Thanksgiving). It will be weird giving up a piece of baby equipment that we have had since before Eddie was born. We started giving all the boy clothes that Charlie no longer fits into to Harry and all the girl clothes you grow out of to Aunt MacKenzie for their baby girl due in November. And now we will start to shed the infant stuff too.

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A month ago I could tell that one tooth was on its way; now you have two! Both bottom teeth are cut through and darn it if it’s not adorable when you smile! Those teeth are an endless source of interest to you. I watch you run your tongue over them and make silly “goy goy goy” noises. You also love to suck on your fingers and thumb, which has made meal time more difficult. Yup, you like to try to suck on your thumb while eating a bottle. It’s frustrating to both of us.

You can also sort of hold your own bottle, but it’s more of a tug-of-war than a cooperative thing usually resulting in your getting angry because you have knocked the bottle out of my hands, and thus your mouth.

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Your favorite toy is your feet. When they come out of your jammies in the morning you grab them and put them straight in your mouth. And give us the BIGGEST smile. You also love your bunny and your blankies. You have a few small “lovie” sized blankies that you like to put right up to your face/nose in order to fall asleep. We never sent a blankie or lovie to daycare for the boys, but we sent a little blankie for you.  Maybe Renae is right; maybe you are a little spoiled.

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Daddy reminded me that you are now closer to turning one than you are to birth. I punched him, of course. But I know I can’t keep you little (even if I totally sort of want to. maybe). And I am mostly ok with that. I mean, it’s so exciting watching you grow and learn and change!  Your little personality is starting to emerge and it is so so sweet.

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Tomorrow I go back to work, and I am going to miss seeing your face all day long. I’m going to miss our impromptu naps on the couch or in the chair after one of your bottles. I’m going to miss lying on the floor by you and tickling you which you suck on your big toe.

But our evening cuddles will be so much sweeter. At least that is my hope.

I love you, Miss Alice Beans.

Forever and always,
Your Momma

sibs6mo

Her First is My Last

Just this week Alice got a tooth.

Ok, it’s not all the way through yet, but the little ridged top is. When she laughs, I can see it. Her first tooth.

She rolls like a mad-woman these days too. If I lay her down on her back, she rolls onto her tummy and kicks. Last night, she planted her feet and pushed. Cortney called it “snow plowing.” She was clearly trying to move from one end of her play mat to the other to reach a toy. She pushed her face to the floor and shoved herself with her feet and knees! I was shocked!

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Lately we find her not at all in the same place we laid her in her crib. At night we place her on her back in the middle. In the morning, she wakes up on her tummy all the way to one end. This morning she was reaching her arms through the slats.

As with the boys, all these firsts are bittersweet. It’s so exciting to watch kids grow and change and learn, and yet our momma hearts mourn the loss of the baby things too.

I knew Alice’s firsts would be harder on me because, even though I am 100% cool with our decision to be done, each of her firsts marks the end of something.

I know, that sounds morbid. And I promise I am not walking around depressed all the time because she can roll over. I really love watching her figure things out and become her own person.

And yet…

Once that little tooth pushed through, our days of gummy baby grins was swept into the past.

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It seems like every day there is a new change, she’s just a little bigger, she can do one more thing.

I notice that when I set her in her car seat or bounce seat, she tries to lean forward…to bend at the waist…as if she wants to sit up. While she still technically fits in her rock n play, swing, and bounce seat, I can tell the days are numbered. She humors me though, and actually plays with the toys on her swing (the boys couldn’t have cared less about the swing, let along those toys), bounces herself in her bounce seat, and snoozes in her rock n play during the day.

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Why can’t they be babies just a little longer?

Why does it have to go so fast?

Sometimes when I think about her getting bigger, I have to literally catch my breath.

With each child, I have loved the baby phase more. I am not sure if it’s because she’s third, a girl, or just Alice that this time around has been the sweetest.

Last night I made her giggle so hard she did that silent laugh thing and ended up with the hiccups. I laid down next to her and she turned her face to mine. I put my nose against hers so I could smell her baby-ness and I whispered, “let’s always love each other like this, ok?”

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We have two weeks left to snuggle on each other as much as possible. For me to try not to miss any minutes of her growing and changing and smiling.

Because these are also my last two weeks of a summer with a baby in tow.

My Girl

Dear Alice,

It’s all going too fast. Thursday you were five months old and I missed it. I knew it was this week, but it sneaked up anyway. I noticed yesterday morning as I fed you. I turned on the Today show, settled into our spot on the couch, began feeding you your morning bottle, and there it was on the TV: Friday, August 7.

The day after your five month day.

Admittedly, Thursday was difficult. We had the funeral for Mary in the morning. They boys went to hang out with Grandpa, but you came with me and Daddy. It seemed right since she was so excited about you. You slept in my arms as Karsten delivered the message. He talked of her love of children–specifically the Children in Worship program. She knew every child by name. And she knew you too. She talked about you in her last days. Knowing she won’t be around to watch you learn about Jesus’ love for you hurts my heart.

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You are growing and changing so much, Alice. I looked back on both Eddie’s and Charlie’s five month posts and I realize I felt the same with them. Five months is a game changer, apparently.

Gone is the new babyness. No more infant. Nope, you are a baby with a rapidly developing personality, tons of smiles, and a penchant for rolling over in your sleep and playing with your feet.

You are no longer happy just lying somewhere with toys. You roll immediately to your tummy to be able to see what everyone is doing. Then you yell. Being left out irritates you. You work those abs and try to sit up in your bounce seat and swing, yet unlike your brothers, you still like them. You actually play with the toys that are attached to them–something Eddie and Charlie had no interest in.

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You are still on bottles only–no solids. Both of your brothers were into cereal at this point because formula alone wasn’t satiating them anymore, but you are good. Although the way you watch us eat is hilarious. So intent on watching us put things in our mouth.

You are no stranger to putting stuff in your mouth though! Everything that is within your reach goes in there!  You have been teething and just this week I could feel the ridge of a tooth on your bottom gums. The days of gummy smiles in our house are almost gone. It’s bittersweet.

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Eddie was a pretty smiley baby, and Charlie was pretty serious. You are extremely social. You clearly recognize certain people and reward them with giant grins. Your Church Grandma Nancy is one of those people. She loves you so much and you are starting to show her that you love her too!

You have a tickle spot on your ribs. When we kiss you or nom on your ribs you giggle so hard your eyes tear up. You love to shout-talk at us too, which is also hilarious. I am starting to think that just like me and Eddie, you might not have an indoor voice. You cannot stand to be ignored, so you will growl/shout/cry until someone looks at you. Then you will smile. You’re kind of a stinker.

The only time you get truly angry and cry is when you are hungry. And as soon as you’ve eaten, you’re back to being your happy pants self.  Most of the time. Like I said, you are teething. You’ve been a bit clingy because of that, but by and large you are our easiest teether yet. Eddie was pretty good–he would get a little butt rash and be a little warm. Charlie was awful. Poor guy got a million teeth at once and his life was hell during that time. You felt a little warm to me a few times, but nothing I thought twice about. When you were being particularly clingy, I stuck my finger in your mouth and low and behold, a tooth was coming through. No big deal.

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This month you had your first beach day and went to your first funeral. You began to enjoy bathes and cry when Charlie cries. You are happy to sit in your bounce and watch me do something, but not happy to sit there and watch me write or read. Apparently that is boring.

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You love going places, but not being confined to your carseat/carrier. You would rather be held or put in the Moby/Ergo. You love to be outdoors because there is so much to see and take in.

I don’t remember much about Eddie’s first year. I don’t remember taking his picture for his 5 month post. I remember a lot about Charlie. We spent his first 6 months almost inseparable. That is how it is with you, Alice. We are almost never apart. I would say I was better at leaving Charlie with a sitter than I am with you. I just don’t mind you being along for whatever I am doing–most of the time.

When I need to be alone, it’s not because you’re driving me crazy, it’s that I have to get some things done–like writing or school planning. It’s never because I need to be away from you. I know that will change as you grow and change more. I know your toddler years will be more demanding. I know this because I am going through it with Charlie right now.

But I want you to know you make me very happy.

I have had some pretty dark days lately, and I never didn’t want to have you around. Feeding you or holding you or just talking to you somehow lifting the ugly thing on my soul, even if just for a little bit. You are starting to “hug” and “kiss” my shoulder and face. I love it. I find myself wondering if we will always be this close. If you will always be My Girl who loves me best and likes to “talk” to me when you are sleepy. Will we always prefer each other’s company?

I hope so, Alice. You are my smart, funny, pretty girl. And I love you so so much.

Love,

Mommy

I realize this could be the same baby, but I assure you, it's three different children.

I realize this could be the same baby, but I assure you, it’s three different children.

Four Months Young

Dear Miss Alice,

You are four months old!

Four Month Letter

Today (Monday) you had your four-month well child. You weighed in at 15.08 pounds and measured 25 inches long exactly–75th percentile for height and weight. Your head? Massive. Just like your brothers before you. 99th percentile for that.

You also rolled to your tummy right there on the exam table. Well, you sort of did. You can’t figure out how to get that arm out of the way, so you just laid there on it getting angry.  Then you did it again at home on your activity mat. Twice. And both times you seemed angry at me because you got yourself stuck where you didn’t want to be.

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You are just trucking along being awesome, my dear. You average around 30 ounces a day, give or take a bottle. You are sleeping like a bear through the night, sometimes going more than ten hours at a stretch. You reach and reach for lots of things, but mostly like to hold my hand.

Today Eddie fed you a whole bottle for his first time. He was very proud that you only got mad at his newb status once. He didn’t dare burp you though. I think he is a little afraid of your tendency for spitting up.

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You’re growing to be such a beautiful little lady right before our eyes. You have a cheerful, social demeanor, bu far the most social of all three of our babies. You really do not love your car seat because you can’t see what is going on. You much prefer to be sitting on our lap or being held so you can see out. Although you do love both the Moby wrap and the Ergo carrier.

We still swaddle you at night in your miracle wrap. You are always completely out of it by morning, but you seem to take comfort in being tightly wrapped at night, so we go with it. In fact, you startle yourself awake if we try to lay you down without wrapping you up. Yet in the morning you have both arms out and over your head. This morning you even somehow had a leg out.  You’re crafty.

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Your brothers are still swoony over you. Eddie is a little daddy to you and Charlie tries to make you laugh. They fight over who you’re looking at and who gets to sit next to you when you’re on the floor or on the couch. You give your brothers the big eyes too. You somehow already know they would do just about anything for you.

You are also the most chatty baby we have had. It’s like you stored up all the stories and as soon as you found that you had a voice, you started cooing and squawking and gurgling to anyone who will listen. And the smile you give is the absolute best. The drool is starting to get serious, so I checked for “full gums”, but nope. Looks like you will retain your gummy grin for a while longer. That is totally Ok with me.

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Something is different with you, Alice. Or maybe it’s with me. I’m not really sure. I just know that this third time around? Is different.

I’m not as lost or broken as I was with Eddie.

I’m not as “on alert” as I was with Charlie.

But other than that, I can’t put my finger on it.

People like to chalk it up to “well, all babies are different” and “she’s a girl! Of course it’s different!” And while those may be true, there is something else. Something I don’t have words for.

Maybe it’s because I feel complete now.

Maybe it’s because you’re the last.

Maybe this is what thankful, blessed, nostalgic, sad, and joyful all mixed together feel like. Maybe I am not having any postpartum depression or anxiety this time. Maybe that’s it.

I really don’t know.

I just know that I love being with you. I love being your mom. And I am never sad that you’re around.

It’s crazy here some days with three kids, but you somehow ground me in all that nuts-o-crazy.

I love you more than I can find words for,

Momma

SluiterSibs4mo

Sluiter siblings at four months

Ways My Baby is Like Having a Cat

When Alice was just shy of being a month old, we stopped by my friend, The Pastor’s Wife’s, house to drop of a couple things. I went around lunch time, and when I popped in, The Pastor (our pastor, actually) was sitting at the counter eating his lunch–a bowl of sugary cereal.

“Where’s Alice?” he quickly asked. The Pastor is known for his love of babies.

I laughed. “She is in her car seat. No one was supposed to be home; I was just popping in for a sec.”

He put his bowl in the sink and followed me out to the car to sneak a peak of Alice before walking back to church for the afternoon. He asked if she was sleeping, and he made this gesture that was supposed to represent a sleeping baby, but it looked like he was a cat with its paws up by its face.

I laughed again. “She’s a baby, not a cat!”

I’ve been thinking about that interaction, and you know what? After thinking about my now-deceased cat, Louis, I realized she may as well be a cat! Her behavior and mannerisms are not that unlike a feline.

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She likes to be warm.
Alice could live in a sunbeam. She much prefers warm spots and extra layers to even the hint of being chilly. When she was still tiny, I could place her Rock n Play near the window where she could feel the warm sun. She loved it! Louis always did the same thing. Our house faces south with a very large picture window in the living room. Louis used to actually move with the sunbeam in the afternoon.

She prefers to be held.
I know most babies love to be held, but she would rather sleep on one of us than anywhere else. Anyone who has ever met a cat knows that they prefer to be on a lap…especially the laps of people who do not love cats.

She has the most energy after she poops.
We always knew when Louis had used the litter box for poops because he would come tearing up the stairs and jump all over the furniture so fast we thought he had snorted something. Alice is maybe not quite as manic, but she is definitely most energetic after a BM–all happy and wiggly and kicky.

She bats at things you hold in front of her face.
This is the newest trick up her sleeve, but if you hold something in front of her, she will reach for it. If it’s something with a rattle, she will keep batting at it. Then she will ignore it for a minute, and then go right back to batting it. Seriously, I think if she could, she would bat it and chase it around the floor.

She cries for food.
I mean, duh, right? But in case you don’t know cats…or at least my cat…Louis was a Siamese. He cried about everything–especially food. He also cried if you were behind a closed door–also something Alice does. He cried if he was bored–also something Alice has been known to do. So I guess it’s better to say she is about as needy as a Siamese. Or maybe Siamese are as needy as babies. Because babies are supposed to be needy…they are babies. Seventeen year-old cats are just ornery and stuck in their ways.

I am not one to call pets “my babies,” but Louis was the first creature that was my responsibility. He has been gone for about three-and-a-half years now, and I miss having a little creature curl up on me. Maybe that is part of why I love the baby stage so much; they are completely dependent on you. Alice finds her comfort and joy in my arms.

I will miss that as she grows up and gains independence from needing to be held all the time.

And Cortney says no more cats.

But since we can’t have anymore babies, maybe he will give in to the cat thing…eventually.

Quarter

Dear Alice,

A quarter of a year has gone by since you arrived. In the grand scheme of our lives that is a blip. But it feels huge. It feels like forever and hardly any time at all.

3months

 

You’ve gone through a big old growth spurt. By my rough measures (aka weighing myself without you and then with you, and busting out the tape measure while you’re sleeping), you weigh around 16 pounds and are about 22.5 inches long. Seriously. You have put on more than four pounds in the last month, but you’re not tons longer, although I can tell in some of your jammies that you’re getting ready to bump up to 6 month size. Just like your brothers before you, your jammies were the first we had to go up a size in. I guess we make ’em tall!

Your legs and arms and face are all chubbing up in the cutest way possible. You eat an average of 25-30 ounces a day and take two biggish naps (one right away in the morning after your first bottle that lasts about an hour or so, and another that is longer in the afternoon) and you sleep anywhere from 7-9 hours at night. You did not read that wrong. Once you went NINE hours in between bottles. Daddy and I got nervous.

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You figured out your hands! Well, sort of. You know they are there, part of your body. You know that you are the one who moves them, but you are still working on getting them to go where you want, although you’ve got the move to get them straight in your mouth down pat!

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You seem to favor toys with a face. There is a caterpillar (daddy says it’s a bug) that jingles when I shake it. You LOVE that thing. You get your concentration face on–which incidentally is the exact same as both of your brothers and your daddy–and you smile at it and try to reach for it.

Speaking of toys you love, none of our kids have ever developed a lovie love as early as you have with your bunny. I don’t blame you; bunny is so very soft and cuddly. It was a gift from a wonderful blogger friend, and I put it in your Rock n Play with you from the minute it arrived on our doorstep.  Now, when you know it’s near you, you wrap your arms around it and pull it close to your face. Most times you fall asleep immediately. If you’re not tired, you suck on bunny’s ear. That’s gross, Alice.

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Your personality is coming through more and more each day.

As I type this you are on your daddy’s chest, tucked under his chin. You will not sleep on me like this. You need to be on your back or side when you’re with me, but on your daddy, you will snooze on your tummy all day long. But you are pretty indiscriminate about who holds you, as long as you are being held or talked to. Ignoring you is not an option. In this way, you remind me a lot of Eddie at this age.

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Eddie was a smiley baby, but you have him beat by a million, but like Charlie, you will not crack a smile for the camera (Charlie actually didn’t smile for anyone other than a little smirk now and then). Your smile is HUGE and so very sweet. Even your eyes twinkle.

When you get upset you go from fine to full-blown anger ball in about 1/10th of a second. And giant tears stream down your face. If your brothers ever produced tears at this age, it was just from their eyes watering. You have legit crocodile tears.

The conversations we have are amazing. You respond with your whole face and body AND your voice. You blow raspberries and gurgle and screech with joy! You also get shouty and perturbed. All of us have been praised for our plethora of facial expressions and it looks like you’re going to follow suit.

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Oh Alice. You are the best.

Somehow, sweet girl, you make me happy and smile when I don’t think it’s possible. I simply cannot be in a bad mood when I am with you. Sometimes I love you so much I just want to hug you and squeeze you, but I also don’t want to burst you, so I hold back.

I kiss your little cheeks a million times a day and could nap for hours with my nose on the top of your sweet-smelling head.

you are my buddy and a blur of movement!

you are my buddy and a blur of movement!

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I didn’t understand how in the world I could love another like I loved Eddie. Now that all three of you are here, I wonder if my heart will burst with all the love I have for you three.

People like to joke that Daddy and I are consistent in our cute kid factory over here; you all definitely look like siblings. But the real fun is seeing each of you grow into your personalities and talents. Alice, you have similarities to both of your brothers and to me and to Daddy, but at the same time you are developing your very own quirks and traits.

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I once thought that by the third child, the fun of a baby would have worn off a bit. I knew what developments were coming, and I was sure some of the amazement at watching them would be gone. I was so very wrong. Watching you reach for a toy for the first time was just as exhilarating and miraculous as it was with Charlie and with Eddie.

And being your mom is no less extraordinary and beautiful.

Here’s to a quarter of a year and to many, many full years to come.

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I love you, my Allie Beans.

Mommy

Little Sister

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I can’t set Alice down without this happening. Her brothers swarm.

I expected it from Eddie. From the minute we told him I was pregnant, he has been wishing and praying for a sister. His reasoning? “I already have a brother and I do NOT want another one.” Ok then.

Eddie has been every bit of the best big brother I expected him to be. When Charlie was born, Eddie was two and a half. He doted on Charlie even at that young age. He loves babies. He is gentle and kind and soothing.

He offers to hold Alice and sing to her and feed her.

He tells her she is pretty and asks her what is wrong if she fusses.

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Eddie will always be her rock.

She will come to him with her heartbreaks and her victories. He will be her shoulder, her support system. He will teach her that she is worth more than all the gold in the world. He will stand behind her in all her choices. He will argue for her when she gets in trouble. He will probably do her chores so she can do something else.

She might take advantage of his heart, but I hope not.

I expected Eddie to be attentive and love on her.

I did not know what to expect from Charlie, but since he showed little interest in any other baby in the entire world, I thought maybe he would ignore her at best, show jealous rages at worst.

But you know what happens when you think you know your kid?

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He surprises you in the most wonderful way.

Charlie is completely taken by “Baby Alice” or “Allie Beans” or “Baby Alice Beans”. He loves her fiercely.

He is protective, caring, and borderline violent about her happiness. The first day she was home, I was feeding her and he put his hand to his ear and said, “what’s that noise?  That ::makes a kissing noise:: sound?” And I said, “That’s Baby Alice. She’s sucking on her bottle.”

From that moment his ears have been set to her. One peep and he is by her side. If he can’t get to her side, he will very loudly announce that SOMEONE needs to get there. “BABY ALICE BEANS IS CRYING! MOM MOM! DAD DAD!”

 

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If Eddie is her rock, Charlie will be her guardian.

Woe to the boy that does wrong by Alice. Charlie acts first, thinks later–which means anyone who hurts his sister? Well his ass will be grass.

As Sonny was for Connie, Charlie will be for Alice. Let’s just hope it ends better for Charlie. Luckily there are no toll roads in Michigan. (please tell me you get this reference. PLEASE or we cannot be friends.)

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(I have no idea what is going on in this picture, but I do know it was probably ridiculous. I’m guessing the smell of poop was involved).

Eddie makes her coo.

Charlie makes her laugh.

Eddie calms her.

Charlie delights her.

I could be totally wrong about how their relationships turn out. Maybe Alice’s personality will clash with one or both of her brothers.

I hope not.

I hope this love is something she is already internalizing.

If her smiles and coos and finger-holding are any indication, these three are going to be quite the unstoppable sibling team. I can’t wait to watch them grow up together.

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Two Months, Two Girls

Dear Alice,

You are two months old.

This week you had your well-child visit and weighed in at 11lbs, 9 ounces and 23 inches long!  That is a gain of both three pounds AND three inches in the last six weeks! That even impressed the doctor. Needless to say, you are well out of newborn clothes–they are all packed away.

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I can’t believe how much you have changed this month! You went from a completely floppy newborn to a baby who can hold her head pretty still, work her arms and legs, and coo and smile–especially at Charlie.

This month has been full of firsts again: first visit to my school, first grocery shopping excursion in the moby, and first fever.

The fever was this past weekend. You slept ’round the clock and just weren’t your usual perky self. But as of Tuesday, you seem to have kicked it. You’re back to being awake for a couple hours at a time and being content to hang out in the rock n play or bounce seat and just watch me or your brothers as we carry on our daily business.

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Hilariously, you’ve also found your tongue. You stick it out and make all kinds of funny faces. You also like to blow bubbles and I’m not entirely convinced that Charlie didn’t teach you that.

You are a fantastic eater and sleeper! Daddy and I are super pleased about this. Your eating schedule is almost regular enough to set your watch to: four ounces every three hours, except at night where you will go four, five, sometimes six  hours at a stretch (usually on daddy’s nights, ya stinker)!

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Everyone who meets you gasps and says, “Well it’s Eddie with a bow!” or “Eddie junior!” And you do look so, SO much like your biggest brother.  I need to write a separate post about your brothers and how they interact with you, because there is just so much to say, but I will say Eddie is is my helper with you. He can feed you and hold you and give you your pacifier. And he is so gentle with you.

Charlie, on the other hand, is rough and loud and you love it. Your first laugh was at Charlie sticking his face in yours and saying something ridiculous like “booty butts are stinky.”

In fact, while I was taking there pictures, he was off to the side doing this:

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Stick with those brothers of yours…they will be your everything.

Speaking of sticking close…you like “close”. Just like your brothers before you, swaddling is your best friend for sleep, and being “worn” in the moby is a surefire way to get you to chill out.

But different than the boys, you won’t tolerate being uncomfortable. While your brothers could sit in a wet diaper for days (I never let them, thank you), you don’t like to be less than dry. Charlie still poops in his diaper and then avoids me. I have no idea why…who wants to sit in poop?  You seem to agree with me.

If you’re cold, you’ll grumble.

I call you a diva, Daddy calls you his “dainty girl”.

Toe-may-to, Toe-mah-to.

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I am having so much fun with you, Alice. I have been thinking it over for days in preparation for this post, and I just can’t put into words how you are different than your brothers.  How you being a girl is different already at two months old.

I’m not sure if it’s the clothes or the bows or the shoes. I don’t think that is it. Or at least not all of it. There is something else. Something deeper and more ingrained than I could imagine.

Your dad and I aren’t gender stereotype pushers by any means (in fact, Eddie pointed out the other day that there are no dresses in the men’s section at Meijer which seemed dumb, because would a guy have to shop in the ladies department for dresses then if he wanted one? I love that kid, by the way). And I never believe people who said, “there’s just something different with boys and girls.” I mean, there is the physical difference, but there is something else too.

There is a connection that is different. I wonder if Daddy feels that way about you too. You and I are “The Girls” in conversation about our family.

I am not alone anymore. It’s not me and then my three dudes. It’s you and me–together–and then our three dudes. I have a teammate now.

And apparently I have a shopping buddy because Daddy is thinking of enforcing a ban on the two of us going to Target together ever again because we can’t seem to go together without coming home with something for you. Heh.

When I found out you were a girl and not another boy, I had admit I had a moment of silence for loss of the Lone Lady status in the house. I was a little afraid to share “my” boys with another girl.

But you’re alright, kid.

I think you and I will be a great team.  We already are.

Love,

Momma

Ps. This is how you compare to your brothers at the same age (2 months)…

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