Did I Hear a “Niner”?

Dear Alice,

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Some in church this morning said, “Good morning, Alice! Wow! You are growing so fast!” That is totally the theme of every baby’s first year of life. Every baby in the world grew up quickly in their first year, but it always surprises us. This month you have hit a bunch of milestones.

First, you are crawling! Last month you were just starting to army crawl around. Most of the time you would roll and pull yourself until you got what you wanted, now you are taking trips around the house in a full-on crawl. It’s a good thing daddy put the gate up by the steps a few weeks ago! You already crawl over and peek down when a brother disappears down the steps.

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You are pulling up to your knees on things too! Mostly on me or daddy, but you love the pull up by the couch or ottoman too. It’s funny because once your brothers learned to crawl and pull up we were constantly saying “no, no!” and chasing them around because they would get into all the things. I am sure that is coming with you, but for now you crawl to what you want and then sit and play

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It’s really getting hard to get a non-blurry picture of you! Plus you love to “talk” and make yelling noises–or singing noises.  And you laugh at EVERYTHING. If Charlie is crying, you laugh. If Eddie looks at you, you laugh. If we make a pretend chuckle at you, you start cracking up. Everything is funny and worth a grin and a guffaw. You are just so so sweet.

You get mad only when you are tired, poopy, or hungry. The rest of the time it’s smiles for days. Grandma and Grandpa say you look just like me. I think you look like your brothers, but they swear by it. And I guess they would know…they knew me when I was your size.

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You now have four teeth on the bottom and four on top. You love to eat, but are not very quick about it. Not like your brothers. You like to self-feed, but you’ll eat baby food if we give it to you.  You gagged on avocado and bananas, so I guess we will hold off on giving you “real” food for a bit longer and stick with melt-away crackers and such.

We don’t carry you around in the infant carrier anymore. You still use it for a carseat because you comfortably fit in it and it’s rear-facing, but we usually leave it in the car and you ride around on our hip.

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Most of the time my view of you is this. Reaching for things and crawling over obstacles.  You are just the sweetest, snuggliest, funny little honey pants ever. Daddy often looks at us together and grins and says, “my two girls.” We are quite the pair, my little girl.

Oh, I would be remiss to not mention here that in the past month you have started a new habit: Floor Sleeping. Almost every night between your 7pm bottle and your last bottle of the night (which maybe we are about done with?), you play yourself to sleep on the floor. I have started taking your picture almost every time and it’s been keeping my friends on Instagram and Facebook so happy. Because you are adorable.

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I can honestly say I miss the days of tiny baby, but not enough to have another one. I can also honestly say that I love you more and more each day. I look forward to seeing you first thing in the morning, after work, and snuggling you at night.

The way your face lights up when you see any of us, really, is just beautiful. You love your daddy and brothers and momma. You are our shining little light always.

I’m proud of you that you hold your own bottle, but I love that you let me hold you while you do it.  I love that you can fall asleep on your own, but let me snuggle you while you do it. I hope this is always true, my Alice: that you can do things on your own, but allow me to be a part of your life.

I know I say it each month, but I truly had no idea how much I wanted…and needed…a daughter. I didn’t think having a girl was a big deal…or at least that much different than a boy, but I was as wrong as wrong can be. I am so glad you are here. I am so glad you are part of our family.

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You are so loved, my little one.

Love,

Momma

Eight is Great!

Dear Alice Beans,

Or Beansy, or Beanzer, or Beezy….you have lots of little nicknames–mostly because of your daddy. He likes to call you Beezy best lately.

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At bedtime one night this past week, I read a book to your brothers called “How a Daddy Says I Love You” and one of the ways was by making up silly names for you. The boys started listing all the silly names your daddy calls all three of you. There were so many! They decided that daddy  must love you all a LOT to make up so many, and they are right! He loves you all to the MOON.

Speaking of daddy, I will tell you a secret, sweet Alice, you have your daddy wrapped around your finger. One smile from you and he can’t help but hug and kiss you and promise you the world. I’ve even heard him say, “what’s that? you want a pony? Ok!”

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This past month you’ve made some pretty big growing up jumps, little lady! Not only are you a sitter, you are starting to MOVE. You haven’t figured out crawling yet, but you recently found that rolling can get you places. As can scooting backward. In fact, Thursday night I set you next to the couch, and when I turned around you had traveled all the way to the kitchen table!

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You have also gotten two more teeth! One on the bottom (for a total of 4 down there), and one is just starting to poke through the top too! While you still prefer the bottle to get your nourishment, we have been feeding you baby food too. Although last month, you would eat it pretty well, this month you have gotten ridiculously picky. You purse your little lips and look at us like “nope”. Well, except for squash. You devour that.

I’ve been cutting up your fruits to let you feed yourself. You like that with the bananas, but you get mad at the peaches and pears since they are slippery. Crackers are your best friends, which is not surprising since your mother is also a carb-lover.

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You’ve also been sleeping a LOT lately, which makes us believe you are getting ready to learn to do new things like crawling.  Eek! The best part of this, though, is that you have made it a nightly ritual to fall asleep while playing on the floor. It’s usually while one of us is putting your brothers to bed. Then you wake up and want a bottle around 10pm. Then you zonk out in our arms, which means we can put you in your crib and not hear from you again until morning.

I’ve started posting these every night on Instagram. It’s so dang cute!

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You also nap like a dream. Just today I was cuddling you and noticed that you were putting things by your nose. That is one of your sleepy cues, so I just laid you in your crib. You smiled and kicked, but I was able to walk away. That was over an hour ago and you have not made a peep!

Alice you are SO MUCH FUN at this age!

Your giggles boarder on ridiculous–they are very deep and man-like. You also get stars in your eyes when your brothers play with you. As far as you are concerned, they hung the moon and set the world to spinning.

Your tiny life is just so happy right now, and that makes me happy. Your little face makes my day wonderful, even when it’s really been sort of terrible. You are my sunshine, my dear daughter.

I love you so much,

Momma

8months

BOO!

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Oh. Hi. It’s November.

That means it’s National Blog Post Month (you know, for those of us who don’t have the stones to do National Novel Writing Month). This is where I attempt to post every single day in November.

What could go wrong with that plan, right? I mean, this week is only the end of the first marking period at school. Next week is only  parent/teacher conferences for both my school AND Eddie’s. We only have Thanksgiving coming up plus my starting a new marking period with my students. We only have three birthday parties and two babies due in November in our family. NO BIG DEAL. It’s the PERFECT time to try to write something post-able every. single. day.

[I’m crazy]

Anyway, this first post is an easy one. It’s about last night. Halloween.

I sort of hate Halloween. It stresses me out and makes me cranky.

I know, I know…I’m such a scrooge. Such a Debbie Downer.

That doesn’t mean we don’t do the Halloween “stuff”. Everyone was in a costume (everyone = all three kids) and we had pumpkins that we actually carved. We didn’t do the pumpkin patch because it was on the list of things ain’t nobody got time for, but Cortney grabbed three great ones on his lunch break Thursday, and we carved them up Friday night.

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Saturday the kids dressed up in the costumes. Alice was not all that excited to have whiskers drawn on, but she got over it. Charlie was almost too excited to have a mustache drawn on.

We went to first to Cortney’s mom and step-dad’s house. That is always fun because Granny knows how to rock Halloween. Not only does she have goodie bags for the kids, she also always has cookies and other snacks out…as well as a beer/wine for the parents.

Plus the cousins are there too, so cute goes into overload.

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I know. Alice appears to be questioning all her life choices up to this point. She was so unsure of all that was going on. But she and her cousin, Alia, were adorable as Raggedy Ann and Minnie Mouse.

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SERIOUSLY. SO CUTE.

If we could have just stopped here, I would have been totally cool with Halloween. Seriously.. Maybe next year we should just go here and have the kids trick or treat their neighborhood because there were snacks and wine for adults.

But we went over to my parents house next because Halloween is totally a grandparents dream…seeing their cutie grandkids in costume, spoiling them rotten with too much candy, and then sending them on their way.

By the time we got home, it was rainy and wet and way past dinner time. But the boys wanted to go door-to-door. So Cortney took Alice in to feed her and get our dinner ready, and I took the boys to a few houses.

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Since it was raining and I was cranky, I dropped the boys at the first house, rolled the windows down in my car, and yelled “run to the next house!” while I slowly drove along. We did this for about 8 houses. Then I pulled their damp little bodies into the car, drove around the block to our street, and dropped them to go to the house next door to us. Then they sprinted home to ring our doorbell.

As much as I was over it, I couldn’t help smile at the fact that Charlie looked just like Mario running and jumping through yards.

Until we got home and I pulled shoes off and found dog poop on Eddie’s skeleton foot. Ew.

But then we ate chili and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate and all went to bed.

Oh, and rolled the clocks back. That was good times too.

Happy November. Happy NaBloPoMo. Let’s see if I can keep up.

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

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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.