Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Love Letter to 2017

Tomorrow begins a new year so I thought it would be nice to write one blog post in 2017 that was not a monthly update on Holland.

Typically I'm excited to start a new year.  There is nothing I love more than a clean slate, which is why taking down Christmas decorations makes me giddy... perhaps a smidge giddier than putting them up (don't tell).

But this year.  THIS YEAR, you guys.  It was not always perfect, of course, but it was good.  It was so good.  It brought us the biggest surprise of our lives, our sweet Holland Claire.  She was the gift I didn't even know I needed.

I wish I could say my faith is rock solid.  It's not.  I'm not sure it's ever been.  I'm a Christian, but when my mind starts turning and I think about heaven... it's all so bizarre and strange.  Simply put, it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  I read something once, "Doubt your doubts."  I find myself having to do that often.


Holland Claire.  Holland is who I turn to now when I start to have doubts.  She is my tangible miracle.  We've always been able to get pregnant but were not able to sustain a pregnancy without help.  Except Holland.  We were done having kids.  We'd sold everything and moved forward.  Then 2016 happened and we were dealt some unfortunate cards.  I prayed for God to show his face.  One of those prayers was simply, "I need to see YOU.  I need to see your hand in this."

He gave me Holland.

I didn't pray for a baby.  I didn't even know I wanted a baby.  But the second I took that pregnancy test, I knew.  She was His answer to my prayer.

There were 100 other possibilities but instead he gave me her.... a literal and metaphorical second chance.

The reason I share this is simply because... I'm not quite ready for 2018.  I look at this past year and see redemption and restoration.  I can't help but think, "It can't get better," which unfortunately means... it must get worse.  Ha.  (It took me 35 years to realize I'm not a realist, I'm a pessimist. Whomp whomp.)  Starting a new year is hard for me because I want to hold on tightly to the incredible year I've been given.  I want to cling to our health, our happiness, and our kiddos at this very moment when their biggest fears are make-believe monsters and hurricanes hitting McKinney.

I remember a similar feeling when we were flying home from our honeymoon and I was curled up in a ball - I wasn't ready to be back in the real world.  Meanwhile, Michael was so excited about our future.  10 years later I'm looking back at 2017 with hands grasping anything I can hold onto while he's looking toward 2018 with wide eyes and big dreams.  Thankfully, he's kind of scooting me along with him and encouraging me to do the same.

2018 will bring some exciting times:  Holland's first birthday, Jude & Sloane starting kindergarten,  and me possibly going back to work full time (jury is still out).  And since I haven't yet learned how to stop time - I feel like I'm getting close - I suppose I will embrace all of the exciting times ahead.

This post is all over the place.  I guess I just felt like a formal THANK YOU was in order for 2017.  It has been the sweetest year of my life and given me so much joy.

I hope your year was just as sweet.  And if it more resembled my 2016, just know it will get better...  especially in 2020 when we get a new president (oh come on, you know I had to...)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Holland | Eight Months

Aaaand here we are, two weeks late again.  Holland, please don't take my delay in writing your posts as anything other than me having poor time management skills.  Also, you are quite the needy babe and don't give me a lot of free time to do much of anything.  In conclusion, this is all your fault (ha).

It's been a fun month for our girl!  Not a ton of changes but steady growth!

This month has been a bit of a bummer in that I've now realized I'm not the queen of homemade food as I once believed.  Holland has tried quite a few new solids.  I pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, pees, apples, blueberries, etc.  She didn't want anything to do with any of them.  It wasn't like she ate something and spit it out, she just closed her mouth and refused to take a bite.  I was determined to save us money by making her food but when your child doesn't eat anything you make, you aren't saving much.  I bought some vegetable/fruit pouches for her to try and she likes some but, to be completely honest, she just wants to nurse and eat finger foods.  She loves mum mums and tolerates yogurt melts, cheerios, etc.  In sheer desperation/frustration I gave her a slice of my pizza one day and she gnawed on that for a bit before looking at me with disdain.  So... I'm not quite sure what to make of it and plan to ask the doc at her nine month appointment.

Holland now has two teeth, which appeared mid-month and on the same day.  I took her to the pediatrician for what I thought was an ear infection (she was snotty and kept touching her ear) but the doc told me teething signs are very similar and, sure enough, two teeth popped up the next day.  She continues to put everything in her mouth so I imagine more teeth are on the horizon (spoiler alert: I'm writing this two weeks late and actually know this to be true).

Breastfeeding is still going well so she's as chunky as ever, but I do realize that will stop one day and the little lady needs to add more to her food repertoire.  She nurses about five times a day with her first feeding around 6a and her last at 7:30p.

That's right folks, if you read the last sentence above you see she is now SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!  It took eight months.  EIGHT.  MONTHS.  The day she turned eight months is the day we finally tried the cry it out method.  It was as awful as one can imagine and I told Michael the next morning, "There's no sadder baby than Holland."  I realize that statement is ridiculous as every baby who goes through CIO is the saddest baby ever.  However, our girl is a quick learner and has slept through the night consistently since. Whoop! I'd put it off as long as I could but instead of her waking up once or twice each night it was three or four (or five) times.  Both of us were total grouches in the morning (and throughout the day).   Now that we're both getting longer stretches of sleep, life is better than ever.

This typically goes after E A T but I was so dang excited about her sleeping through the night that I couldn't wait any longer to spill the beans.  Playing has been a lot of fun this month.  Her favorite toys are still all the things she doesn't need to touch (wires, small objects, dirty shoes, hot coffee mugs, etc.) but as long as you put an appropriate replacement object in her hands as you take the bad object away, she doesn't get too upset.  Sloane has learned she can pick Holland up and is constantly running after her to drag her away from something she shouldn't touch.  Holland LOVES being held by Sloane so she always gives me a big grin as she's being whisked away.

Holland adores Jude & Sloane and wants so badly to join in on what they're doing.  She's still army crawling but she does the first six or so steps as a regular crawl before she drops to her stomach so she can speed up the process.

We've noticed some pretty severe eczema this month and I wonder if it's extra irritated due to her crawling (the worst of it is on her stomach).  We've tried several lotions and they all hurt her terribly so we've resorted to coconut oil and aquaphor with a little bit of hydrocortisone cream, which has worked wonders.  She's a slippery mess after we put it all on her but it's offering relief so we've made it a part of her bedtime and morning routines.

Holland talks constantly.  No meaningful words yet, but she's saying Dada, Baba, Hey (drawn out and sounds like "Heeeeeey"), and lots of baby babble.  Along with recognizing her own name, she seems to recognize all of our names and will typically look at the person I name.  ("Where's dada?)  She's ticklish and her laugh is amazing.

As long as you are holding her, she loves you...  Family, strangers, doesn't matter.  Just hold her close and she'll love you forever.

Dear Holland,
Sweet girl, it's been another great month with you by our side!  Speaking of side, you are the best little sidekick and are pretty much attached to my hip throughout the day.  You want to be a part of the action and sitting alone on the floor simply will not do.

You have a few teeth now and more are clearly on their way.  Your hair is slowly filling in and your blue eyes are getting a bit lighter!  You've had to deal with some pretty severe eczema this month, which breaks my heart but you are such a trooper.

We've had some cold days so I put socks on you whenever we leave the house and you are NOT a fan.  By the time we get where we're going you've already removed at least one if not both.  Bows don't seem to bother you but you don't love the cute hats I put on your sweet head.  I guess this means you are a true Texas girl and want nothing to do with cold weather accessories.

Your smile is the best part of my day.  I'll be honest, I've been so tired the last few months and there are some days I'm exhausted and DONE by 10:30a, but your smile... It's impossible not to smile back and fall in love with you all over again.

I love getting to spend my days with you.  I know how quickly the early years go by and it's been so much fun watching you learn and grow and play.  You're a sponge and as you soak in everything around you, I just stare in amazement.  What a gift it has been to get to do this all over again!  You are precocious and can be quite stoic at times.  And then our eyes meet and you give me the biggest grin.  I'm going to have to be careful with you because you're eight months old and already know how to get exactly what you want.

Watching Jude and Sloane with you is so much fun.  Sloane is your second mama and she takes her job very seriously.  Jude, meanwhile, is the fun big brother who just wants to make you laugh.  He hates to see you upset and will do a silly dance to distract you.  I think the growing bond between you and your siblings is what I'm excited about most.

Every time I put you to bed I hold you close and whisper, "I love you, Holland" because I want those words to be so ingrained in your sweet head that there is never any doubt.  You are so unbelievably loved.  Before we know it you'll be turning one and I'll be a sad sap crying in the corner (you'll get used to it, I'm a wreck when it comes to birthdays).  Until then, I will do my best to make every day count and remember how lucky I am that what you want most right now is to simply be by my side.

I love you, Holland.

Love - Mama


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