Eli.

I don’t think it’s ever taken me nearly two weeks to post about a new baby. Well, I know it hasn’t. The other two were well-documented from birth.

Just to make it official:

Elijah Harris Tousey was born on January 20, 2014 at 12:33am.
He weighed in at 8 lbs, 1 oz, and measured 20″ long.

This guy… well, I have just been doing with Eli what I didn’t appreciate to do with Sam, and what I couldn’t do with Charlotte: resting. Lots of resting and feeding and cuddling and just letting my body recover while I enjoy my new baby.

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It has been wonderful.

So while I do apologize to those of you who love baby pics, I am not sorry for soaking up every bit of this sweet time that I can.

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I’ve also been trying to cuddle with my big kids, too. It is great how self-sufficient they are, but they still need some mama time.

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One thing I was really looking forward to was getting that photo that I didn’t get with Sam and Charlotte… the picture of mom in the hospital bed with new baby and big siblings. And I finally got it! (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.)

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I would not have planned to have another baby just to be able to do all the things we couldn’t do with Charlotte, but it has been sweet to have this chance. I think of all the things, all the little moments, that I took for granted (or even grumbled over!) with baby Sam… the late-night feedings, learning to nurse, picking him up whenever I wanted. I am so grateful to God that he gave us this sweet baby boy, and another opportunity to watch a little tiny baby grow up and be part of our family.

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I have to give thanks to my mama, too, for coming up to stay with us for a bit. She was a great help with the big kids, with meals and with laundry. And even though we have done this three times now, I was a crying mess when she left! I also have to thank my sweet husband. He worked really hard to take care of things at his job beforehand so that he could take advantage of his company’s paternity leave. It’s not easy for him to not be at work for extended periods of time, so I am most thankful for his willingness to arrange things so that he can be home with us. I could not (and wouldn’t want to) do this life without him.

It’s time to feed the babe again, but I will leave you with this preciousness that is all three of my babies as babies.

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Countdowns

I’m trying not to think about all the things we have going on. I want to just take it one day at a time, but there are things that need advance planning. And while I am not prone to freaking out, I can shut down and lay on the couch if it all gets to be too much. And let’s face it, laying on the couch may feel good, but it doesn’t help me make much progress.

So what’s in our near future? Here is what I’m counting down to…

9 Days: Sam goes back to school. 2nd grade!

11 Days: Camping trip (not really stressful, but it does take a lot of planning and prep if we are going to eat and not freeze.)

15 Days: Charlotte’s first day of kindergarten.

15 Days: My first day of homeschooling a kindergartener! (Yes, 15 days. I am pretty much a one-woman school board, so I can start school after Labor Day.)

26 Days: Tim inches ever closer to 40.

39 Days: We will be making two major transactions this day; officially selling one house and buying another.

40 Days: Moving all of our stuff in two days. Yikes!

65 Days: Sam turns eight. EIGHT. He’s been making birthday lists and plans since his last birthday.

166 Days: New. Baby. Hopefully all the boxes will be unpacked before then.

So that’s it in a nutshell. So much to do before the move and before the baby. So, so much.

I need to go lay on the couch now…

 

Five Minute Friday: View

At this point, my family is more than used to me viewing them through a lens or a screen. I take pictures. A lot of pictures.

A few nights ago I snapped a photo of Tim as we were sitting on the deck. I posted it on Instagram and Facebook and said how I love that he is getting a little squidgy around the eyes, and how I love that I have known him long enough to see it happen.

It can be easy to miss a lot about our lives, especially the subtle changes that happen in the people we look at all the time. Like how Charlotte is getting so tall, and how Sam’s face is turning into that of a handsome young man. It can feel like these things happen over night, and then I get all panicky about the time flying by and my babies growing up too fast.

So I love those moments of quiet, sitting on the deck, enjoying the view of my growing children who are giggling together and of my dear husband who is growing old{er} with me, day by day.

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Five Minute Friday

In an effort to become a better and more frequent writer, I am taking part in Lisa-Jo Baker’s weekly Five Minute Friday link-up. FMF is a weekly exercise in which bloggers sit and write on a topic for five minutes. No worries about perfect editing or anything, just writing.

Little Light

I have long thought that children are the best balm when you’re sad and grieving. The news from Friday knocked the stuffing out of us a little, so we soaked up the time with Sam and Charlotte this weekend.

When Charlotte first started preschool she didn’t know her letters very well and we were honestly a little worried that she might have some slight learning delays due to her time spent under anesthesia. We didn’t help matters by saddling her with such a long name! She has been brining work home with her name on it, but I know that her teacher helps her. But yesterday she proved to us that she is perfectly capable of doing her own work!

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I have been trying to find some new recipes for the kids that they will eat but that are healthier than our usual fare. We have begun eating more like dinosaurs and less like cookie monsters. So far, I have been doing pretty well by Sam. Last week we tried some new waffles made with almond butter, apples and bananas. They were a hit.

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Yesterday we went to a birthday party with a super hero theme. Sam dusted off his old Bumblebee costume, and C went as a warrior princess, able to knock out cyanotic heart defects with a single (or three!) blow!

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We’ve been getting ready for Christmas around here.

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The tree is decorated and we have wrapped a few gifts. Mostly we have been enjoying our evenings together by the light of the tree. I love coming down first thing in the morning and plugging in the tree before the kids get up. There’s something about coming downstairs to a room warmed by the light of a Christmas tree. There’s been so much darkness trying to creep in lately, I’ll take a little light wherever I can get it.

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The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
-Isaiah 9:2

Mommy Linkage

It’s Sunday, and I don’t have a whole lot of time to blog today so I am going to share a few links to some of my favorite sites that are all about motherhood.

And here’s a photo of all the Tousey grandkids for your enjoyment. You’re welcome!

 

If you have a daughter or daughters, you will be blessed by The MOD Squad.

If you have a son or sons, you have to scoot over to The MOB Society.

And I know I have shared this before, but I couldn’t get up in the morning as early as I do without Inspired to Action & Hello Mornings.

                                                     

Thanks for sticking around this week! If you’re looking for them, here are the links to the first week of my 31 Days of blogging:

Day 1: In the wee hours…

Day 2: Becoming Mom, Pt. 1

Day 3: Becoming Mom, Pt.2

Day 4: Bits & Pieces

Day 5: Five Minute Friday: Welcome 

Day 6: Blogging from the Ballpark

Blogging from the Ballpark

I realize that if I am going to blog for 31 days, I am going to have to be creative about it. So here I sit at Sam’s ballgame, taking advantage of technology. It’s only Saturday and it has already been a doozy of a weekend.

We had 11 people staying at our house this weekend to celebrate birthdays and to send Aunt Steph, Uncle Ken and Jane on a new adventure. And then yesterday we got a phone call letting us know that Tim’s uncle (his dad’s brother) had died in a motorcycle accident. Things went from bittersweet to sad in a matter of minutes.

As Sam and Jane blew out candles on their respective cakes I was reminded of how babies are the best kind of balm. Our children remind us that life goes on, and they can pull us back to reality with their simple need for lunch, for bath, for kisses.

We walked around this same park yesterday, a lighter, happier bunch. Today our numbers are fewer and our hearts are heavier. And we keep moving across a backdrop of things that remain consistent: October winds, leaves dying in spectacular fashion and boys playing baseball at the park. And we rest in the One who remains unchanged, and believe He has a plan, even on the hard days.

And we thank Him for our children and realize that there are days we need them just as much as they need us.

More sweet than bitter…

Tim and Sam headed out the door at 7:30 this morning. They were headed to school for Sam’s first day of first grade.

 

I have a kid in first grade. I used to look at moms with kids in elementary school and think that their kids were so old…

He wasn’t super excited about getting up, but once he came downstairs he was good to go!

I had his backpack all packed up with his summer homework in his Angry Birds folder, and his lunch zipped up in his Transformer’s lunch bag. {They’re not allowed to have “character” backpacks, so he makes up for it in other ways.}

Things that were different this year from last year: Sam read the paper with Tim at breakfast and he tied his own shoes this morning.

As a veteran of how this whole thing works, Sam shoved his lunch bag into his backpack before heading out the door.

 

So why any trace of bitterness? Well, you may notice that a certain little lady is absent from the pictures. Charlotte has been battling a nasty virus since Sunday and she was still in bed when these pictures were taken. And that means that I am home writing this blog post instead of having my picture made with Sam walking into school, or chatting with my mom friends before chapel begins. I am missing a big morning, but that’s really okay. There are far too many sweet things for which to be thankful for me to wallow in any self-pity over missing one first day of school.

(And just as I was finishing up that last bit, Charlotte came downstairs. She looks like she was hit by a truck, and apparently feels that way, too, but the good news is that after three days of fevers in the 103-104 range, her temperature is back to normal. Thank you Lord!)

Tim texted me from school to let me know that Sam settled right back in with his buds from last year and they were about to head in to chapel.

I know it’s gonna be a good day!

 

Sorrows Like Sea Billows

“The kid in the book has a brain like mine,” he says.

“Oh yeah? How so?”

“Her brain takes pictures, just like mine does.”

That really explains so much. Sam doesn’t forget anything; he still remembers things about our first house that I have forgotten. We moved out of that house when he was two and a half.

I would never claim a photographic memory, but my mind has latched onto some memories in startling detail.

Like that April morning my kindergarten year, when I walked into Mama and Daddy’s bedroom to find my grandparents sitting on the made bed. They sent me into PJ’s room, where I found Mama tucked under the sheets with the band of rainbow stripes. “I don’t know how to tell you this,” she said.

How does a mama give terrible news to her six-year old? There’s no easy way to say it, no buffer that will take away the sting of the words.

I know it may sound crazy, but I was thankful for that memory this week. I knew that Sam would remember where we were sitting, the couch and the striped quilt, knew he would remember how we told him that his beloved Mrs. Joannides had died. I wanted it to be a peaceful, even if sad, memory.

This death really knocked the wind out of us; no Jan Joannides wasn’t family and we had only known her a year. But she was Sam’s kindergarten teacher, that special kind of teacher who sets the bar and lays the foundation for all future teachers. Who doesn’t remember their kindergarten teacher? Sam spent nearly seven hours a day with Mrs. Joannides, and she gave every bit of herself to the children in her class. As we heard yesterday at her memorial service, she never taught a class the same way twice. She tailored each class to the needs of the individual students that she taught, and that level of care showed in the things they learned and in the way she communicated with parents. Jan knew our kids, and she loved them. Goodness, she even loved Charlotte. She always welcomed Sam’s little sister into class for special events and brought her a chair into the gym so she could sit with the class during hot lunch.

 

I was thinking this week about the parallels between me losing my daddy in kindergarten and Sam going through this. I had the initial thought that this was a full-circle moment, but then I thought again… “full-circle” implies a closing, and there was no closing here. Rather, I think these life experiences are more like a gentle spiral, winding around and taking us back by old places, but in a new way. And always winding up and up, taking us closer to God with each pass.

Yes, there was a funeral my kindergarten year, but there was also a wedding. My teacher got married that year and invited all of her students to attend. I still have a photograph of several of my classmates and me sitting with her in her wedding gown; it was a special day and remains a special memory.

There was a wedding of sorts in Jan’s passing, too. We are confident that in her death she came face-to-face with her Bridegroom. And if her reputation here is any indication, then her presence there will certainly add color to the wedding that is to come.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
-1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Thank you Father, for the hope we have in you.

Sweet Baby Jane

Our niece is one week old today!

Steph gave me permission to go nuts with pictures and things, and I will be happy to do so.
For those of you who don’t know, our niece was born to Tim’s sister Stephanie and our brother-in-law, Ken, last Monday. Her name is Jane Caroline, and we are all so in love with her.

A quirky little note about Charlotte’s and Jane’s birth dates: Charlotte was born on 07/07/2008, and Jane’s birthday is 10/10/2011.

We all went down to visit this weekend and I took some photos. So enjoy!

Steph is doing well; she is definitely a natural. And Jane is just the best little baby! She is so sweet and snuggly and she really only cries when she is hungry.

Steph & Ken have been so great with Sam and Charlotte over the years, and it is such a sweet thing to see them with their daughter.

And it wouldn’t be a family gathering if there weren’t a little silliness!

We love you, Jane!

New Names!

Tim & I officially have new names as of this afternoon.

You can now call us Uncle Tim & Aunt Jenn! Tim’s sister Stephanie had her baby girl a short time ago. Mama and baby are doing great. The kids and I were supposed to be down there with them, but Charlotte spiked a fever last night and we decided it best to stay home today.

We are all a little sad that we aren’t there, but we are tickled pink about having a new baby to love on.

Baby Girl weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces (the biggest Tousey grand-baby so far). I will share her name and pictures once I have the okay from Mama and Daddy.

Happy Monday, y’all!