Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Growing too Quickly *sniff*

A day of milestones for this sweet little 5 1/2-month old. First tooth, and first crawl! Guess he's trying to catch up with his big brothers....

Slow down, little guy. Mommy needs to enjoy your babyhood for just a little while longer....




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Monday, November 7, 2011

From Mommy to Her 3-Year-Old on His Birthday

Today is always a special day for me, full of special memories surrounding Little Tait's birth. While it's sometimes difficult looking back at his rough start...


...really, what I mainly remember are all of the precious moments of early motherhood.

Little Tait's 1st Birthday
If I look tired, it's because I also had a 5-week-old. :D



Dear Little Tait,

You have grown into such a big boy overnight! It seems like just yesterday you couldn't even put your own shoes on, and now not only are you slipping into your boots yourself, but you're even helping your little brother with his!

Yes, you are certainly my little helper. And what a wonderful helper you are! You're always ready to run an errand or do a job for Mommy ... throwing away the baby's dirty diapers, fetching the wipes, searching for a lost pacifier, comforting Matthew when he cries, cleaning up the toys, wiping up a spill on the floor, putting away the clean silverware in the drawer, setting the table, emptying the waste baskets ... and the list grows longer every day.

It melts my heart to see you interact with your baby brother. You are so gentle, sweet, and loving; and when you talk to Matthew in that high-pitched voice that you reserve only for babies, it always makes me smile.

Your fascination with snow, airplanes, tools, hymnbooks, computers, and all "workin' trucks" is so much fun, and we enjoy seeing everyday events transformed into exciting new experiences as we watch them through your young 3-year-old eyes.

I feel like Daddy and I have gotten to know you on a whole new level recently. It's so exciting to actually be able to carry on conversations with you, and your constant chatter brightens every second (yes, every second) of every day. You are like a little sponge, absorbing every detail of what goes on around you, even when we think you aren't paying attention. This was never more evident than the other day, when we were talking about God's creation.

Me: "Taiter, God made Mommy and Daddy, and you and Miles and Matthew. What are some other things God made?"
You, looking out the window: "God made the trees..... My not eat apples from there."

It had been months since Daddy read Genesis to us during evening devotions, and we had no idea you even grasped what Daddy was saying. What a good lesson for Daddy and me, reminding us how much you pick up on!

We look forward to seeing what God has in store for you in your fourth year of life! Daddy plans to take you to work with him more, as you're getting to be such a big boy now, and Mommy looks forward to helping you learn more colors, letters, and numbers! I think potty training would be a good thing to wrap up sometime soon too. :D

We love you, and constantly pray that God would give us the wisdom, patience, and perseverance to train you up to serve Him!

~Mommy



With his brothers and great-grandfather,
who was a bomber pilot in WWII,
flying more missions
than nearly any other pilot



Head over to the Little Tait Foundation for Preemie Aid for another blog post in honor of Little Tait's birthday, and some thoughts from my hubby!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Boy and His Fans

Love this happy little guy!


Matthew with the toys his adoring fans piled before him



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Friday, October 14, 2011

Potty Training Conversations

Overheard in the bathroom....

Little Tait (an old 2): "My goin' potty!"
Miles (a young 2): "Good job!"


Later that day...


Little Tait (sitting on the potty): "My makin' gas!"
Miles (watching): "Makin' gas?"
Little Tait: "Yours makin' gas? And Mommy makin' gas, and Daddy makin' gas...."


Sunday, October 9, 2011

MIA: Eaten by the Laundry Monster



If I ever go missing, just check the laundry. You'll probably find me buried beneath towering mountains of clean, unfolded clothes.

Hey, at least they're clean clothes! Dirty clothes wouldn't smell as nice, and I'd probably be joined 'neath my mountain by spiders and mice, which wouldn't be fun. But I digress....

Getting the clothes washed is easy. As the dirty laundry is created by our super efficient dirty clothes factory (boys), I sort the clothes - baby clothes, socks/undershirts/underwear, and gentle wash - into my super handy laundry cart. That cart is the best laundry purchase ever made, by the way. It's easy to get the clothes washed now ... just wait until one of the sections is filled up, and throw the whole load into the machine.

Miles transferring laundry for me
last winter, at 15 months old
My little helpers work to transfer the laundry to the dryer once it's clean, and then the dry laundry is carried into the living room ... where it lives for the next two weeks, joined by the subsequent ten loads of laundry that follow over that same time period, searched through repeatedly each day whenever a clean article of clothing is needed. Finally, when the mountain reaches its maximum height (usually when it is overflowing the armchair, ottoman and laundry basket, or when I am finally sick of going on an extensive scavenger hunt for a pair of matching socks every time we head out the door) ... it gets folded at 3am by a bleary-eyed me.

Last night's work
Keep in mind that each of those piles
is about 18+ inches high
At least, that's what happened last night. The final straw was attending a family friend's birthday party yesterday with the two older boys looking like little ragamuffins, wearing the first articles of clothing that happened to be extracted from the laundry mountain, and sporting some rather interesting mismatched socks. At least the other moms could sympathize; I'm apparently not the only one to postpone those late-night folding marathons.

There have been times when I've felt like I was escaping the laundry monster ... times when only a few loads pile up before getting folded. Here are a few tips that I've found (or heard of) to make my disappearance under that Everest pile of laundry less probable....

1. Sort dirty clothes as they are added to the laundry. Getting around to washing the clothes is easy! We live in a very small house with one bedroom, which makes this simpler, since every room in the house is in close proximity to the laundry room. Once we add on and our family grows some more, I'm not quite sure how this is going to work. Any ideas?

2. Fold the clothes that need to be ironed as they come out of the dryer. My hubby needs fresh, ironed clothes for work several days a week, so the ironing pile grows quickly. Not only does folding them right away cut down on what needs to be folded later, you just might find that some can skip the ironing step and be hung right up, ready to wear! Which cuts down on those late-night ironing projects. But that's another post....

3. Fold the big items as soon as possible. It makes the pile look less intimidating and builds morale. :D

4. Of course, there's the obvious solution of folding the clothes as they come out of the dryer, or very shortly thereafter, but what mom of littles has time for that? Yes, I do it when I can, but that doesn't turn out to be very often.

5. I know of families who buy all the kids the same color socks (or a different color for each child/size), and this is probably something I should implement. I'd just get all of the 12-24 Months in navy blue, all of the 2/3 Toddler in brown, all of the 4/5 in black, etc. Sure would cut down on the sock matching and digging through piles!

6. Teach the kids to help! Mine are all 2 and under at the moment, but I'm thinking the oldest is getting old enough to learn how to fold a few items - burp cloths, washcloths, and such. It's good for families to work together, and for children to understand that they are important, functioning members of the household!

7. Don't fold the baby clothes. Don't remember who, but someone did tell me once that she didn't fold any of the kids/baby clothes. Might work for some, but I'm just a little too OCD for that. ;D

Oh, and the best and worst laundry discoveries I've made?

Best: The playpen contains laundry very effectually. It keeps everything out of the way and more or less out of sight.

Worst: The playpen contains a lot of laundry very effectually. And that makes those late-nighters even later....

How do you do laundry? 
What tips and tricks have you found helpful? 
What is your tactic for reducing the risk of going MIA, 
buried in that insurmountable pile of laundry?

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Tribute to Miles on His 2nd Birthday

Happy 2nd birthday to Miles...

...our emotional one...


...our dramatic one...

video

...our accident prone one...

In the hospital waiting to be sedated
Read this story here,
and another one of his ER escapades here.


...our funny one...


...our clueless one...

 
...our musical one... 


...our messy one...


...and, of course, our rock thrower. If there is a rock anywhere in the vicinity, Miles will find it and do what every little boy naturally does with rocks.


When I found out we were expecting Miles, I cried. Not because I wasn't excited about another baby, but because I was already so overwhelmed with a newborn. When we discovered that Miles was on the way, Little Tait had been home from the hospital for just 6 weeks (after spending his first 3 months before his due date in the hospital).

I was still in the newborn stage ... up for feedings around the clock, adjusting to life with a baby (a very fussy baby) at home, etc. I was still adjusting to married life and life in Alaska. After all, we'd only been married a little over 10 months!

I wondered how in the world it was possible to handle another baby so quickly after the first one. But, God is faithful, and He gave us the grace and the strength - through 10 weeks of semi-bedrest while taking care of an 8-month-old, and a week-long NICU stay - to welcome a new little blessing into our lives. (Tait's parents were truly a godsend!)

I never could have fathomed the joy that Miles would bring into our home. He is such a little character, and his silly, clownish antics draw countless laughs from us throughout the day. He's always been a smiley guy, which very early on earned him the nickname "S'Miles." He also answers to "Moo-Moo," "Mr. Miles," "Miledy Moo," "Mi," "Mr. Smiles," and "Moody."

He is, of course, best buddies and worst enemies with his 10-and-a-half-months older big brother. They do everything together. Everything. Except ... well, actually there aren't any exceptions.


His high-pitched scream is a signature characteristic, and is released anytime his brother steals a toy or an earth-shattering tragedy happens. Usually, it's because of the former and not the latter.
 

He is a much earlier talker than Little Tait was, and can pretty much get across whatever he wants to get across. It might take him a full minute to get ten words out though, between all of his stuttering and searching for the right word....

This was one of those
""I can't believe I don't have my camera,
but I'm sure glad I have my iPhone"
moments. :D
Miles provides us with lots of those.

Miles is truly a joy in our home, and we look forward to the great things God has in store for him! May He give us the wisdom to disciple him, the patience to discipline him, the perseverance to train him, and the grace to listen to that high-pitched scream yet again.


--------------------------------------------------------------------

His birthday was Sunday, and I've had this post, minus the pictures, prepared since then. Better late than never! : )

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Like Mother ... Like Son

I stuck a raisin up my nose when I was five. Just because. Just to see what would happen. After Mom and Dad couldn't get it out, we took a trip to the ER. Simple tweezers did the trick, and all was good as new. I guess my curiosity was satisfied, since I never tried that experiment again.

Fast forward 20 years....

[Context: We were down in South Carolina visiting my family a couple weeks ago. It was Saturday, and the plan was for my sisters and me to have a nice breakfast out with my mom, browse through the farmers' market, and meet up with the guys for an afternoon at the beach.]

I was sitting in bed feeding Matthew, when my brother brought Miles into the room with an "I hate to tell you this, Lauren, but...." I had already guessed what happened: Miles' tears, and his fat little finger far up his nose told the story.

"They were eating raisins," my brother told me.

After peering into his nose with the help of a flashlight, and not finding anything, I called Little Tait (now just a few months away from 3 years old).

"Taiter, did Miles stick a raisin up his nose?
"Yep," was the humorous, matter-of-fact reply.

Then, another thought struck me.
"Taiter, did you stick a raisin up your nose?"
Again, the matter-of-fact reply. "Yep."

We groaned.

Thankfully, Little Tait's raisin was within reach, and came out easily with tweezers. One down, one to go.

We had no idea how complicated that "one to go" was going to be....

Since Miles' raisin was way back there, out of sight, we set off for the Doctor's Care facility up the road. After the doctor poked and prodded for awhile, Miles "lost it" and we had to give the papoose board a try. That even didn't keep him still enough, and the doctor was afraid he would end up puncturing something way back in there if he kept trying.

Since the Doctor's Care place wasn't equipped to sedate him, and no alternative solutions presented themselves, we set out for the ER.

It was a slow Saturday morning at the ER, and we got right into a little private room. The doctors couldn't see anything up Miles' nose either. The thought that there wasn't actually anything up there, and that we and poor Miles were going through all of this for nothing, crossed my mind more than once. But I pushed it aside. All the evidence pointed to the fact that there was something up his nose. Except that we couldn't actually see anything. But Little Tait said that Miles stuck something up there, and Miles had been crying with his finger up his nose.

And Little Tait had a raisin up his nose, which is just about proof positive that Miles had one up there too.

Miles suffered through quite a bit of poking and prodding yet again. It wasn't until they brought out a little blower and tried to blow in the left nostril to bring the raisin out of the right side, that Miles lost it again. Still no success.

They'd have to call in the ENT, they said. But the ENT was in surgery and wouldn't be out for a few hours. So Tait and I ran to the cafeteria with Matthew to grab breakfast, leaving my sister with Miles, who thought the little train set the hospital lent him was just about the greatest thing.



Two hours later, the ENT came by. Again, Miles suffered good-naturedly through more poking and prodding. He even laughingly commented that the camera scope "tickled" as it was stuck way, way up his nose.

Then, they brought out the suction/air blower thingy again. I guess he had bad memories from that before, poor little guy. Again, he lost it, and again they couldn't get him to stay completely still (any surprise?).

Through the camera scope, the ENT was able to see ... something. He wasn't sure what it was, but whatever it was was way back in there, and he was unable to get it out. He seemed pretty sure that there was nothing else in there, and we were all almost convinced that the raisin had worked its way back and Miles had swallowed it. But, because he couldn't fully see that one area, the ENT thought it would be wise to sedate him and get a clearer look.

So, we waited another hour or two for Miles' breakfast to settle before they sedated him.

I had to hold him still in my lap while they inserted the IV. They ended up needing to dig around and do it twice, since the first poke didn't work right. Miles was not happy.

Waiting on Daddy's lap for the sedation to take effect

Seeing Miles sedated was the most difficult mothering experience since Little Tait spent his first 3 months in the NICU almost 3 years ago. Something about seeing my child lying there, mostly unresponsive, with his eyes open and eerily glassed over ... it just sent chills up my spine, and I had to suppress the feelings of panic that threatened to overwhelm me.

He was very resistant to the sedation, and kept squirming slightly. He cried quietly almost non-stop the entire time. They kept having to give him more and more sedation to keep him still. They gave him all they dared, but even then he wasn't as still as they would have liked.

The first thing to come out of his nose was the unidentified object that the ENT had seen through the scope. After examining the tiny, paper-thin object, I identified it pretty confidently as an almond skin. The next two small, hard particles that came out also looked like almond pieces. Hmmm ... maybe he didn't have a raisin up his nose after all! Finally, from way back in his nose, out came ... a large piece of almond. Praise the Lord! It was out!

Poor Miles had a rough time coming out of the sedation initially. But he soon felt better, and it was hilarious to hear him talk good-naturedly in slow motion. He had been watching "Thomas the Tank Engine" at different points to distract him, and as he was "waking up," he pointed to the ceiling, waved his hand around, and slurred "Thomas up there!" :D

Snuggling with Daddy, just after waking up
They put a diaper on his arm over the IV 
to keep him from seeing and playing with it.

Thanks in part to these little guys, our "vacation" could not exactly qualify as "relaxing"; but you know? It's all worth it! And if I have to spend my intended beach day in the ER instead ... I will, as my husband constantly reminds me, "rejoice always," and see the humor in these crazy events that I'm sure we'll be laughing at in the years to come!

And experiences like these just help me identify with my parents, nearly 20 years ago, when their 5-year-old stuck a raisin up her nose. :D

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Friday, September 16, 2011

An Alaskan Girl

While enjoying a picnic in a beautiful garden under a huge live oak tree on an ancient plantation by a breezy river, I began to wonder if I was homesick for Charleston ... if I would rather live in this beautiful historic town where I was born and raised, than in my current home state of Alaska. The warmth, the beauty of ancient history, the wafting breeze, the intricate wrought iron fence, the winding river, the majestic trees....

As I sat there, my mind wandered back to our picnics in Alaska - the empty tundra, the breathtaking mountains, the quiet creek, the familiar chill in the air, the wild outdoorsy feel that saturates every Alaskan adventure ... and a sudden, indescribable feeling of homesickness came over me. Homesickness for Alaska, for my tiny unfinished house, for that one little wild acre we have surrounded by nothing but moose and trees....

I realized that, as much as I love my birthplace of Charleston, as much as I miss the architecture, the history, the tidiness of everything down South ... Alaska is my home. It's where my heart is. And as much as I love visiting the friendly South, I'll always be happy to go home to Alaska, to resume my life among the mountains and hunting and snow and rivers. Because, no matter how far I travel, no matter how many beautiful places I see ... there truly is no place like home. My own home. In Alaska.


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Monday, September 12, 2011

Driving Through the Historic Southern Countryside




Old Sheldon Church ruins
Built in 1750, burned by the British in 1779, rebuilt in 1826, and burned again by Northern troops in 1865




Pon Pon Chapel ruins
Constructed in 1754 on a spot where John Wesley preached in 1735, well-known landmark during the Revolution, survived the nearby fighting at Parker's Ferry, but was destroyed by fire in 1801

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Announcing the Tour!

This is why we've been so busy recently. (Well, one of many reasons!) This is why our blog has been somewhat neglected lately. This is the exciting new project we've been hinting at!

"Visit the infamous site of Ft. Moultrie, take a walking tour of remarkably beautiful historic Charleston, peer into the impenetrable cypress swamps of the low country, examine significant battlefields with renowned historians, trespass into the lair of the ghost-like “Swamp Fox,” visit centuries-old plantations, and discover how the Revolutionary War history of the South presents timely lessons for Christians in our day and age."

Join renown historians Bill Potter and Marshall Foster for five days next April in Charleston, SC, for an exciting tour and study of Revolutionary War history in the South!

Visit www.HistoryTour2012.com to learn more!

"Like" our facebook page, The Valley Forge,
and share with your friends

Sign up on our e-mail list for exciting updates,
prizes, and historical trivia

RSVP on our facebook event page,
and invite your friends

Sign up for the tour!


See you in April!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When You Run Out of Diapers in Alaska...

...You use duct tape, of course!



With Tait at work, no car, and town 20 miles away, I was left with two diapers for Matthew for the day. I stretched those two diapers as far as I could. But, we didn't quite make it. After that second one leaked, I figured it was time to get creative. :D

Thankfully, I did have diapers for the big boys. They wear size 6, and Matthew's in size 2. After folding those size 6's down about 3-4 times and slapping on a bit of duct tape to hold them up, Matthew was good to go!

With three in diapers right now, I have just two things on my mind:

Cloth Diapers and Potty Training

We've been going so much recently that potty training has been difficult, and we haven't gotten very far. (Any tips on potty training, by the way? What's worked for you?)

Cloth diapers really have been growing on me recently. (Not literally; just figuratively ... though I do feel like I have disposables coming out of my ears....) I just need to take the plunge, get some, and use them! My sister-in-law is using them very successfully with her little guy, and as soon as we get back from our East Coast excursion, I plan to join her.

On a different note, the weather's been beautiful today, for the first time in weeks, so outside the boys went! I can feel Fall in the air already, so we're trying to enjoy these last few weeks of warm weather to the fullest! I'll leave you with a few pictures of them enjoying their lunch of peanut butter & cream cheese sandwiches with apple slices in our front yard....





To all you moms out there....
What potty-training tips do you have?
What cloth diapering tips could you share?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Marveling....

Marveling today, among all of the incredible busyness, at:

The love of God and our adoption through Christ
The blessing of children
The blessing of a husband who loves the Lord even more than he does his wife and children
The greatness of our calling to advance God's kingdom
The privilege to read God's Word and discover the guidance He has provided for us

What a wonderful life the Lord has given us to serve Him
and bring Him glory!


Taken on a recent road trip
We live in a beautiful state!


Oh, and the recent dearth of posts is due to
the aforementioned busyness. :D

Stay tuned for the launch of an exciting new project!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2 Months Old!

We've entered the beginning of the "fun stage"
... the interactive stage!

Sure, those first two months are definitely some of my favorites, with all of the sleepy snuggles and quiet bonding. (In fact, it's right about this time that I start missing the newborn stage and feeling ready for another baby!) But it's always so exciting when those sleepy little baby dolls become interactive, interesting little characters ... when they make eye contact when you speak to them ... when they smile when you play with them ... when their big eyes follow you across the room as you walk away ... and when they start those first sweet coos of baby babble.

Matthew is normally a serious baby, with a furrowed brow and concerned expression, so those smiles are extra special little gems. I wasn't able to get any smiles from Mr. Serious during our 2-month photo shoot yesterday, but I did capture a few on my iPhone! Enjoy!

The beautiful, preppy blue blanket was handmade just for him by his great-aunt Chris!









And my two favorites....






Friday, July 15, 2011

Tait Jr.: Builder, Big Brother, and All Boy

He asked me to "build tower" with him. He said he wanted a "big tower." And he wanted the Lego man on it too. And he wanted to use all the "Wego's."

So, even though I'm desperately trying to clean the house and fold the laundry in between toddler meals and snacks, diapers changes and potty training, baby feedings, husband helpmeeting, work on one of our new ministry projects, and a million and one other things...

... we did.

And he was proud. So we took a picture to show Daddy, with the tower we built together and the tower he built all by himself.


Little Tait has grown up before my eyes! He's learned to talk (and utilizes his new-found skill quite often), learned to dress himself, learned to somersault.... And yet, it seems like almost yesterday he was in the hospital, struggling just to breathe. On the other hand, somehow it seems like he's always been here with us, that there was never life without him. I guess that's almost true, since we'd only had 6 months of married life before he surprised us 3 months earlier than expected. It's hard to believe that, come November, he'll be 3 years old already!

Just in the last 7 weeks, he's learned to be a big brother, too.

It was note quite 8 months after his due date that his first little brother arrived, and Little Tait and Miles have grown up more like twins than big and little brothers. So, in a way, this is his first experience big-brothering a baby.

Little Tait loves Matthew. Devotedly. He brings him toys, tries to comfort him when he cries ("Happy! Happy, baby!" or a gentle "shhhhh"), and asks to "holdum" at every opportunity. He's learned how to be gentle (well, most of the time)....

He thought the flash in his eyes was "punny" [funny].

He suggests reasons why his little brother might be crying - "Miss Papa? Miss Papa, baby?" (when Papa was out of town recently), "Tummy hurt, Mom?" "Eat, Mom? Wants milk?"

He's fascinated when I lay Matthew on a blanket on the floor and set up books for him to look at; he even recreates the setup for himself later to lie on the blanket and look at books. And he reads books to Matthew, showing him his favorite objects in the Richard Scarry books. "Pickle car, baby?"


He's becoming a wonderful little helper, running lots of little errands for me throughout the day and helping with the care of his younger brothers.

I look forward to what God has in store for this young man as he continues to grow and learn! And I thank Lord that He has entrusted us with the daunting and humbling task of raising and training little arrows for His kingdom!

Why, hello there!

Note the dirt and grime on that grubby, boyish face. : )

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

6 Weeks Old Today!!!

I can hardly believe it's been 6 weeks since we were introduced to the newest member of our little family! Matthew is turning out to be a little chunk, just like his big brothers! (Chubby babies are, I think, about the sweetest sight in the world!) His weight gain of about 1 1/2 ounces a day since he got back up to his birthweight 5 weeks ago has brought him to nearly 10 pounds!

Since I am now 6 weeks postpartum, I can pick up more than 10 pounds, for the first time in over 5 months! Somehow, these two toddlers of mine seem heavier than they used to be. :D









No smiles yet, but we're enjoying his sleepy smile previews! Looks like he'll be a pretty adorable smiler! : )

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