Four Months of Sunshine

Our sweet girl is 4 months old today! We have had her for 1/3 of a year…unbelievable! I honestly don’t remember what life was like before this angel came into our lives. She has brought us so much joy in these past 4 months, and I can’t wait to continue our adventure with her. She is such a beautiful, happy little girl with a smile that lights up the room. She loves interacting with people and seeing everything that she possibly can. Especially now that I am back at work, I cherish every second I have with her. Once you have a child, you appreciate the smaller things in life, like sitting at home on a Friday night with your husband, your baby and your two dogs watching Duck Dynasty and drinking root beer floats. That is our life now, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today is also a special day because it is the one year anniversary of when I found out I was pregnant with our sweet baby. This will always be one of the most exciting and joyous moments of my life. I loved every second of being pregnant with her, but I love it even more now that she is here with us, bringing us a kind of happiness that just can’t be described!

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One year ago today

Here is what our girl is up to these days at 4 months old…

  • She is sleeping 9-10 hours at night
  • She smiles with her tongue out
  • She loves the song “Eidelweiss,” from the Sound of Music
  • She likes to kick and splash in the bathtub
  • She notices and smiles at the dogs
  • She will giggle and squeal when tickled
  • She still has blue eyes
  • She can roll both left and right from her tummy to her back
  • She is VERY talkative
  • She has extremely strong legs
  • She is showing all the signs of teething but hasn’t popped any from her gums yet
  • She is really into grabbing her feet
  • She smiles with her eyes

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For a Special Two Year Old…

Today is my nephew Briggs’ second birthday. Words cannot explain how much joy this little boy has brought into my life. Since the day we found out about him, (which happened to be the day Ryan and I got engaged…talk about an unforgettable day!) he has been a part of my heart. He is such a smart, talkative, lovable and crazy kid who never fails to put a smile on my face. I have been able to witness every major milestone in his life so far and have loved every second of it. I can’t wait to continue watching him, along with his sister and his cousin, grow up together.

I am so grateful for the special relationship we have with this boy. When he first started talking, he couldn’t say his K sounds very well, so he ended up calling me “Gaga.” He also obviously couldn’t say his R sounds yet, so he calls Ryan “Bub,” which is what Ryan’s brother Nate has always called him. And of course, he LOVES his “Baby Kinsie!” He will dance around her, sing songs to her, and tell her that he loves her. Nothing makes my heart melt more!

Even though Ryan and I don’t know where life will take us once he is finished with med school, I hope that Kinsie can grow up with her cousins nearby. It is obvious that they already love each other so much. Briggs is such a special boy and I thank God every day for placing him in our lives!

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We love you to the moon and back, our sweet Briggs!

Love… Bub, Gaga, and Baby Kinsie

Back to Work

This last week was one of the hardest, most exhausting weeks of my life. After 3 months of maternity leave and 5 extra snow days, I had to go back to work. I knew it was going to be hard, but it is impossible to describe just how hard it actually was. If you are a mom and have gone through this, you know what I mean!

I was so lucky to have 3 wonderful months off of work for maternity leave. Even though it wasn’t the best decision for us financially, I knew I would not regret that extra time with my new baby and that it would be completely worth it. I am also so lucky to have both of Kinsie’s grandmas, and her Aunt Megan, available and willing to watch Kinsie during the week while I’m at work. The fact that she was with the people who love her as much as Ryan and I do was very comforting, and I knew my girl was in good hands.

To say that I was a little emotional is a huge understatement. I was a mess! On Monday morning, after getting myself ready for work, feeding Kinsie and gathering all of her things to spend the day with Grandma Bev, I still had about 15 minutes left before we needed to go. During that time, I snuggled with my baby…and cried. A lot. Ever since she was born, I have spend almost every hour of the day with her, and now I was about to spend 9 hours away from her every day. I just couldn’t swallow that idea. Once we got to Bev’s, I snuggled with Kinsie a little more. And cried a little more. I knew she would have fun with her grandma, I just didn’t want to leave her. I finally got in my car and drove to school…and cried a little more. Call me over-emotional all you want, you probably wouldn’t understand unless you’re a mom! I was proud of myself for only crying 3 times that day!

Once I got to school, I freshened up my make up and was welcomed back with open arms by my staff. I work with all women, so most of them had been through it all before and knew how I was feeling. They comforted me with hugs, gave me advice on the best places in the school to pump, and encouraged me by telling me that it WILL get easier. And I knew they were right. Once the kids got there, we had a great day. They were really excited to have me back and we spent most of the day just talking and getting reacquainted. I stayed busy enough that I got through the day pretty well, with the help of Bev sending me pictures and updates of my girl. She was happy and having fun, so that helped me carry on.

Once 4:00pm struck, I couldn’t have left the building faster. I needed to see my baby. I needed to touch her and hold her. The 9 hour work day felt like a week and I couldn’t get back soon enough to be reunited with Kinsie. We spent the rest of the evening playing and snuggling, and before I knew it, it was time to go to bed and do the whole thing again.

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The next day, I took Kinsie to my mom’s, where I cried when I dropped her off. Again. I’m pretty sure I cried each morning until Friday. I had another great school day and my mom sent me pictures throughout the day. I could tell Kinsie was having a blast, so again, that helped me get through the day. Each day did get a little better, and I stayed so busy that the days seemed to go pretty fast, but even so, I felt like I was away from Kinsie for SO long. I cannot even explain how much I missed her and craved to be holding her.

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Some of the pictures that were sent to me while I was at work. I am OBSESSED with the selfie of Kinsie and her “Yaya!”

After a very long, emotional week, I can officially say that I made it through my first week back. It was harder than I could have ever imagined, but I did it. There were times when I felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed and needed some encouragement from the people I love. Before going back, I felt like I finally hit my stride with taking care of Kinsie while I was at home every day. But working full-time while trying to take care of myself, the baby, the dogs, and the house all by myself is a completely different story. Ryan wished he could have been home to help me, but he just started one of the tougher classes he’ll have this year and needed to study. He spent a lot of time on the phone with me reminding me that we will get through this and it is making us stronger, and even though it was hard to see at the moment, I knew he was right. Kinsie and I both had somewhat of a rough transition into this new routine, and she was a little fussier and started waking up at 4 and 5 in the morning and would not calm down until I fed her (she had previously been sleeping through the night until 6:30a.m. for over a month until this week). Throughout the week I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. But I did. I had to. I understand now why women don’t return to back at all after having kids, but that just isn’t an option for us at this point. I still love teaching, and I know that spending time away from Kinsie helps me appreciate every moment with her, and it will make me a better mother.

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This is how we spent most of the day together on Saturday.

Ryan and I are so unbelievably blessed to have such an amazing support system to help us with our current circumstances. I know that things won’t always be easy and we will have tougher weeks like this every once in a while, but we couldn’t get through any of it without the love, encouragement and prayers of our family and friends. And of course, I know God is carrying us through all of this. He has always helped me get through tough times before, so I know this time will be no different. One of my favorite quotes that I heard a few years ago says, “The deeper we are rooted in the unfailing love of God, the less we sway when the winds of life blow harshly.” This is spot on and it is a good reminder to trust in the Lord always. With His help, I know we can get through anything!

Snow Days

As most of you already know, I’ve been very nervous to go back to work and leave my baby every day. I’ve been on maternity leave since Kinsie was born and I was supposed to return to work on Monday, January 6 when Christmas break ended. However, God must have known that I wasn’t quite ready to leave Kinsie, so He gave us some snow. A LOT of snow! This was definitely the biggest snow storm I have ever witnessed. Not only did we receive approximately 12 inches of snow, but we reached record low temperatures of -15 degrees. The roads got so bad, almost the entire state was on a “red” travel restriction, meaning it was illegal to be driving on the roads except for emergencies. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am NOT a winter person! I would not be sad if I never saw snow again, and I fully plan on moving south once Ryan is finished with medical school. With that said, this storm was not exactly my cup of tea, but I was BEYOND grateful for this snow storm, because it allowed me, not 1, not 2, but 5 extra days with my baby!

Leading up to the storm, everyone acted like it was the Apocalypse and stocked up on milk and bread as if they’d be snowed in for weeks. We all knew it was coming though, and with it, hope that I might get a snow day or two. Ryan was supposed to start classes on Monday also, but there is always less of a chance of a college campus canceling classes than an elementary school, so we knew he probably needed to go back to Muncie before the storm got too bad just in case he would still have class. After 3 wonderful weeks of him being home with us, he had to leave on Sunday morning, right after church was cancelled due to the weather. It took him almost twice as long to get back, and of course, once he was back, he found out his classes were cancelled. So we were snow in away from each other. Luckily I still had Kinsie and the dogs to keep me company, but I was so jealous of all the people who were snowed in with their entire family, and angry at the people who were already complaining about their family driving them crazy after only a day of being stuck in the house together. I am the type of person who needs alone time, but not too much. I was getting very lonely without Ryan, and I know he really missed us being in Muncie alone without any cable or even any studying to do since his classes hadn’t started yet. I am SO thankful for my in-laws who ventured out in the trecherous weather to bring me dinner and to shovel a pathway for my dogs to go outside. Speaking of the dogs…it was so cold one morning, when I let them out to go potty, Addie ran right back in and pooped in the house! She was so embarrassed, and I honestly couldn’t blame her for not wanting to squat in a foot of snow and negative temperatures! Poor girl!

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 Because of the storm, our satellite went out for about 3 days, so I couldn’t watch TV. This wasn’t a huge deal for me because I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I still had to find things to do when Kinsie was napping. I ended up reading an entire book in just 3 days. (The book was called Bloom by Kelle Hampton…amazing book, I HIGHLY recommend it!) Anyway, Kinsie and I had to find things to do so we wouldn’t get bored (yes, even she was getting bored), so I used our time as an opportunity to play around with my camera and take pictures of my sweet girl.

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Making funny faces

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Watching the fish

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Lazy pups

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Baby snuggles and a good book…doesn’t get any better!

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Luckily on Tuesday, my dad decided to be a rebel and go against the travel restrictions to come pick me and Kinsie up to go to their house so we wouldn’t have to be alone anymore. I mean, being lonely and stir crazy is considered an emergency…right? Don’t answer that! Because school just kept getting cancelled, we got to spend the next few days with my family, which made being snowed in much more tolerable. We still really missed Ryan though!

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I couldn’t believe that we ended up getting 5 snow days in a row. God gave me 5 extra days with my baby and I couldn’t have been more grateful for that extra time with her. Unfortunately, reality starts on Monday!

Babywise

I recently read a book that I wanted to share with any new moms or soon-to-be moms. It helped me in many ways, mainly with how to set a routine for Kinsie’s day and how to get her to sleep better. The book is called On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo M.A. and Robert Bucknam M.D. This book is extremely thorough and gives medical and logical reasons why babies do what they do.

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Let me start with WHY I read the book. A little over a month ago, Kinsie got to the point where she wouldn’t just fall asleep anytime, anywhere like she did when she was a newborn. When she got to this point, she became a horrible napper. She would fight naps every single time and then wake up 20 minutes into the nap and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Then, because she didn’t sleep enough during the day, she was completely overtired at night when it was time to go to bed and it took literally hours of trying to calm her down enough to fall asleep. It was exhausting and very frustrating, not as much because I was bothered by her screaming, but because I knew she was in distress and I didn’t know what to do to help her. I did some research on Google (thank goodness for Google these days) and saw that a lot of people recommended this book, so I figured I’d try it out. I am very grateful I decided to, because it has helped us so much!

I also want to point out that reading this book has in no way made me an expert on parenting. I am very far from it! I have only been a parent for 3.5 months and I am still learning every single day. There are days where I have no idea what Kinsie needs. However, establishing the routine that the book recommends has made it much easier to meet her needs. She has become a happier baby and I am a less stressed mother. Here is what I found most helpful:

Babies should be a on feed-wake-sleep cycle. This is the most important thing that I read in the book! It keeps our day somewhat on a routine, so I usually know why Kinsie gets fussy at certain times and how to fix it. Based on your baby’s age will depend on how many “cycles” they have a day and how long those cycles are. Kinsie currently has about 6 cycles in a 24-hour time period, with 3 hour cycles. I worked VERY hard and stayed home for almost 2 solid weeks in order to establish this routine for her, but it was completely worth it. Now it happens naturally and I feel like I can go places and do things and still maintain her schedule. Obviously her routine is not completely fixed on times, but it is very similar every day. A typical cycle for her including feeding (which takes her about 30 minutes), then she is ready to play. After 1 to 1.5 hours of good playtime, she is ready for a nap. She then usually naps for around an hour, then when she wakes, she is ready to eat, and the cycle starts over.

  • Feed time: Every baby is different, but Kinsie eats about every 3 hours from when she STARTED to eat. The only difference is that between her last 2 feedings of the day, I feed her after only 2 hours. This helps her stay full longer throughout the night and gets her to bed at a decent time. Obviously if she gets hungry before 3 hours, I feed her. It is also very important to start your baby’s day around the same time each day (even on the weekends). This helps them stay on a similar schedule each day and helps them establish good nap routines.
  • Wake time: It is very important to have productive wake times with your baby. They need to be stimulated, but not over-stimulated. This is the most important learning time for them! For Kinsie, we always try to do several activities during this time and we have to mix it up because she gets bored after a while. Some of the activities the book suggests includes simply talking or singing to your baby, reading books, give them a bath, or take walks (even if its just around the house). It is also important for a baby to have their own “alone” time to explore the world on their own. This can include tummy time, sitting in the bumbo seat, swinging, playing on a playmat, or sitting in a bouncer. Kinsie LOVES to look at our aquarium, so we placed her swing next to it and she’ll watch it all the time! Find out what your baby enjoys and let them be content on their own for a little while.

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  • Sleep time: If your baby has a good, productive wake time, then they are more likely to have a good nap afterwards. First, do NOT keep your baby awake during the day hoping they will sleep more at night. It doesn’t work that way! Naps are essential for good nighttime sleep. When it comes to naps, watch for sleepy signals after playtime. I usually snuggle with Kinsie for a few minutes until she is calm and sleepy, but not completely asleep. Then I put her down in her crib and she usually goes to sleep within a few minutes. We used to rock her completely to sleep, then gently and slowly put her down and try to tiptoe away, but she would ALWAYS wake up and wouldn’t go back to sleep! We also had to cut out anything that might possibly overstimulate her such as TV, bright lights and loud sounds. We bought black out curtains to put in her room and they have helped tremendously! Now Kinsie takes about 4 naps a day, ranging from 40 minutes – 1.5 hours. She also usually goes right to sleep at night and stays asleep for 8-9 hours! She still wakes up here and there because she lost her pacifier, but she goes right back to sleep when we give it back to her. Now that her routine happens more naturally, we don’t have to be as strict about her nap times. She’ll even fall asleep in a loud restaurant now. The book also has an entire section on reasons a baby might not nap well and how to fix those problems. Very helpful!!

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Disclaimers: A few important things to note: don’t take anything in this book TOO seriously. I did that at first and got very frustrated because it said that babies are supposed to nap for 1.5-2 hours for each nap. That does NOT happen with Kinsie! I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong for a while, then realized that every baby is different, and my baby just doesn’t always nap that long, but as long as she wakes up happy and well-rested, then I’m happy! And like I said, babies are not clocks. They will need different things at different times and their schedule will be thrown off when they are sick, or if you are traveling, etc. and that is ok. It is not the end of the world if their routine gets thrown off every once in a while, it happens to Kinsie all the time. The important thing to remember is to be patient, and read your BABY and his/her signals rather than obsessing about the time and the schedule.

I would definitely recommend this book to a new parent or someone who will be a parent soon. Hopefully it helps some of you as much as it helped me!