Friday, February 24, 2017

Andrew: 5 months old

Um, I'm not sure how you manage it but somehow you got even cuter this month. Did you know that Dad is totally wrapped around your little finger? He adores you. He tells me how he forgets how cute you are and falls in love all over again each time he comes home from work. Daddy changes all of your diapers when he's home and he's even been known to feed you nasty green beans so I don't have to!

Our biggest focus this month was your weight. The doctor recommended a 5 month weight check to ensure you don't continue to drop on the growth charts. I spent a lot of time pumping, taking fenurgreek, and adding solids to your diet. Three weeks into our increased efforts you had only gained 6 oz! I had a mini freakout. After consulting with your Aunt Stephanie and scouring the internet I decided the best thing for you was to add a nightly bottle of formula. In one week you gained another 5 oz which put you at 13 lbs 6 oz.

Thankfully, you are healthy and happy. I love your enormous smiles and the way you kick your legs with excitement. You still don't love tummy time but you're improving. Sometimes your arm gets stuck and you can't roll which makes you incredibly grumpy. You're SO close to hitting my favorite stage-- legs straight up in the air! I've noticed you beginning to lift your legs as high as they go and then they drop back down. Pretty soon those bad boys will stick right up the moment I lay you down. I can hardly wait! 

You despise sitting in the bumbo unless someone is feeding you. If we take even the shortest of breaks you begin to fuss and try to buck out of the chair. Alternately, you quite enjoy sitting up when we balance you between our legs. You try to reach and grab for toys which makes you topple over. You only last a few seconds trying to sit unsupported.

Feeding you solids has gone well. You eat baby oatmeal mixed with milk every afternoon. Each evening we give you a fruit or veggie to try. Since we wait a few days between new foods you've only tried a few: peas, avocado, sweet potatoes, banana, carrot, apples, and your least favorite of all... green beans! Adding solids has helped you nap better. You began to wake up happy and you finally dropped that 4th nap for good this month (Your current schedule is listed beneath the pictures)! And I'm proud to say that you're our best in-arms sleeper. You don't make it easy on us because you like it quiet when we hold you, but you actually take decent naps at church. We probably seem antisocial because when we hold you we try our best to avoid eye contact and conversations. The things we do for you, Andrew!

We've started to lay you on a blanket because you've mastered grabbing toys on your play mat. Having no toys overhead has encouraged you to look around and reach across mid-line to grab toys. It's cute to watch you crane your neck up and over as far as you can. It doesn't seem like you'll roll soon, but you're making baby steps (haha) toward getting there. 

By the end of the month you became a distracted nurser. You can tell where sounds are coming from now! You're constantly turning your head to find Vince & Kate because you can hear them when you should be eating. I can't even watch a nightly show when I nurse you because you try to watch the TV too. Good thing flirting with you is way more fun than watching When Calls the Heart or This Is Us.

Your typical schedule is as follows:

8 :00: Wake up, nurse, kick around on the play mat
9:30: Nap
11:30: Wake around 11 but play happily in bed til I get you to nurse at 11:30. Play on blanket, read books.
1:00: Nap-- This is your worst nap. I frequently have to give you a paci x3 around 2:00.
3:00: Nurse, baby oatmeal mixed w/milk, play outside, go for walk, chill in swing.
4:30/5:00: Nap -- we want you to sleep at 4:30 but your wake time seems to be increasing so you take a while to fall asleep
6:00: Nurse, veggie/fruit mixed w/cereal. Family time, reading, bath, snuggles.
7:30: Nurse again, supplement with 2-4 oz bottle of formula (started at 4 mo 3 wks)
7:45/8:00: Bedtime!
11:00: Dream feed

When you sleep you love to have your kangaroo to nuzzle. You're addicted to pacifiers for sleep and we definitely baby you compared to your older siblings when it comes to Baby Wise/CIO. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

4 Months Old

Andrew William, you are just the cutest little thing. Whenever I catch your eye you give me the biggest, gummy grins. Your hands are constantly finding their way to your mouth so those smiles only last a short while before you start sucking on your fingers.

I cannot brag enough about how well you sleep at night. You go to bed around 8, dream feed at 11 and then sleep til 8 am. If you happen to wake in the middle of the night you put yourself back to sleep. I couldn't be prouder! But let's have a chat about your naps... what's going on!? You used to sleep 1.5 to 2 hours during nap time. Now days you're king of the 45 minute nap club. Instead of 3 naps you frequently need 4 to make up for the short naps.  Not cool, Little Guy. If I had to guess why you've become a short napper I'd point to a growth spurt or the fact that we stopped swaddling you. At least you fall asleep without any help. For now we need to keep working on extending those naps.

You really are my little guy. At 4 months old you weigh a whopping 12 lbs 11 oz and are just shy of 2 feet tall (1' 11.5" to be precise). That has you in the 4th percentile for weight and 2nd percentile for height! That almost has me hoping that your crap naps are because you're cluster feeding and preparing to grow.

You spend most of your time grabbing toys dangling from the play mat or chilling in my left arm. Your neck is strong enough that we even let Vince pick you up for a few brief moments. Whenever you cry, which is rare, your siblings come running to make you happy with a song or a pacifier.

I feel so happy when I see you. When I scoop you up I have to remind myself not to squeeze too hard. It stresses me out when you don't nap but I secretly love cuddling you to sleep. Your squawking cracks me up and your cooing melts my heart. You bring so much joy to our family.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Angels Among Us

When I straighten my hair I often recall a special, touching moment from my Sophomore year of college. It was the end of a long day of studying for my nursing classes and working at the library. I showered and was preparing to straighten my hair when I became so overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, and exhaustion that I began to cry. At the time, I was waiting for a missionary serving in the SLC mission. That particular weekend was General Conference and there was a chance that I would see him. I wanted to see him so desperately and the weight of life's demands plus the emotions that came with the potential of seeing him was too much.

While crying in a heap in front of the mirror, my dear friend Ashley came over. She didn't ask what she should do. Instead, she picked up my straightener and silently began doing my hair for me. Slowly, I was able to calm down and feel of her peace and goodness.

The next day came and I didn't see my missionary. I was sad and that's all I focused on at the time. As I look back on the experience the sadness has faded and the sacred nature of Ashley's actions are what remains. She was my angel that day. An action as simple as straightening my hair was exactly what I needed in that moment of emotional chaos. She didn't hesitate or shrug off her thought to help me. She came and filled up my cup.  

To her it might seem like nothing, but to me it was everything. Never think your act of service is too small, too silly, or insignificant. As you act on promptings to help those in need you are making a greater impact than you realize.

 Read the rest of the talk here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

There are a few foods that I claim not to like... even though I've never had them. Brussels sprouts has been at the top of that list for many years. I've heard Paul talk highly about them (and even recall him eating them for a snack when we visited his parents for Christmas). One thing I adore about my husband is how he eats whatever I make-- even if he doesn't like some of the ingredients i.e. tomatoes and green beans.  Since he's always eating what I want, I decided to go out on a limb and try fixing up some of these weird tiny cabbages on his behalf. To ensure the whole meal wasn't a bust, I picked a recipe with a staple that I'm mildly addicted to: sweet potatoes. The recipe was meant to be served as a side but I didn't want leftovers so we ate it as the main dish.

The verdict: Simple to make and actually tasty! I was prepared to gag throughout dinner but I truly liked it. I will say, it's best hot. The more it cooled the more I began to think"... maybe this is a little weird." Even Vince said, "Hey, I like this, Mom!" 

We won't eat this all the time, but when I'm feeling wild I'll throw it into the meal rotation for sure.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Yield: Serves 6-8
Recipe by The Food Charlatan
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 large sweet potato (1 pound)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed (I used 2 cloves minced garlic)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • fresh thyme, to garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Trim your Brussels by cutting off the little brown end. If there are any yellow leaves, pull them off. Cut any large ones in half. Add to a large bowl.
  3. Peel your sweet potato and chop into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to the large bowl.
  4. Smash 2 cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup olive oil over the vegetables.
  6. Add cumin, garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to coat.
  7. (Line a large sheet pan with foil if you want super easy cleanup)
  8. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the sheet pan and rub it all over the pan (or foil) with your hand. Or you could spray it really well with nonstick spray.
  9. Pour the veggies onto the pan.
  10. Roast at 400 for about 40-45 minutes. The veggies are done when they are brown and a fork slides into them easily.
  11. Place the veggies in a serving bowl and toss with 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme if you want. Eat hot!
The garlic is there to add flavor, not necessarily to be eaten, although I do think it's quite tasty.
If you want to reheat these, take them out of the oven and let cool. (Skip adding the red wine vinegar.) Store in a tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you are ready to eat, spread the veggies on a greased pan and roast at 400 for about 5-10 minutes until you can hear them sizzling and they are hot. Remove from the oven, add a little red wine vinegar, and serve!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Break 2016

Following our grand Thanksgiving vacation I had a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit. I forbade myself to make cookies until just before Christmas Day, often forgot to turn on the holiday tunes, was stressed about Andrew's sleeping schedule, etc. It wasn't until Christmas Break started that I really got into my holiday groove. No more waking up to hurry Vince off to school, holiday leave so Paul could be home, visits from friends & family, cookies, fudge, egg nog, and Christmas movies every night. Now THAT is what I was waiting for!

 Christmas Puzzling with Heather. Andrew did most of it ;)

 Vince got a new toy at his school Christmas party. Kate promptly tried to grab it from him and it wound up in her hair. Almost had to resort to giving her bangs. 

Took a leaf from Rachael's book and celebrated the Winter Solstice with a candlelit dinner.
Selfie Stick to the rescue!

 On December 23 we went to the ballpark and drove around looking at all of the light displays. Followed by a visit to Santa Clause! They wouldn't let us snag a picture without paying so we'll just use our memory to recall how cute Kate was sitting on his big lap. At first she wouldn't make eye contact, then it was shifty eyes, followed by sweet smiles and excitement. She asked for a doll. Vince asked for video game. He was nervous to sit on Santa's lap but Kate already being there gave him the courage to overcome stranger danger. They each were gifted candy canes as they hopped off his lap and then we enjoyed hot cocoa together (Vince insisted that it was Cocoa, not Hot Chocolate).


Holiday baking really gives me the Christmas feels. I can't let this season go by without making my mom's 7 layer cookies and my Grandma Griffioen's Fudge. A new family favorite is Rachael's M&M cookie recipe. We made all of these goodies in record time and proceeded to give them all away (insert hangry sobbing here). The most memorable part of goodie making was seeing Vince and Kate eat the fudge batter from the bowl. Whenever my dad made fudge we would beg to lick the beaters and the bowl. I loved seeing my kiddos make memories similar to mine.

Christmas Eve is where it gets really awesome. Am I right? Snow on the ground, no responsibilities, family gathered together, good food, our Fiesta (thanks to Christie's delicious tamales!), new jammies, cuddles by the tree, watching A Christmas Carol (only the George C Scott version will do), and most importantly-- reflecting on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The magic is so real here. But the sleep is even more real! Haha! We had to wake up these sleepy heads at 8 am so we could make it to church on time. Since we didn't have enough time for presents, we let the kids open their stockings. After our lovely church service we returned home to find Nana and Grandpa had already arrived! We got settled and then opened presents. The best reaction of the day was Vincent when he opened his Optimus Prime Toy, "THIS IS WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED!"   Boo yeah! Kate showed an obvious preference to the marbles we got her. Christmas was definitely a success!

After gifts my mom whipped up the most satisfying Christmas Dinner. I didn't have to lift a finger (which may have been the best gift of all). The rest of the day was perfectly lazy. We watched It's a Wonderful Life, did a puzzle, skyped with Grandma and Grandpa Brallier, played games, ate the rest of the tamales, watched Andrew "open" his gifts, and played with new toys. What fun it has been having them here for Christmas Day 2 years in a row. 

It was a Merry Christmas indeed!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

I've never been good at coordinating costumes. I pretty much let them choose whatever they want and Kate has gone to the extreme with changing up costumes (adding batman ears to Minnie Mouse and adding a ninja turtle mask to her lion costume). I think it's fun to let them pick and I love how enthusiastic they are about dressing up.

This year we had quite a few Halloween festivities: Trunk or treat at the church, a school party with a parade, a playgroup Halloween party, and the real deal on Oct 31. Paul headed up pumpkin carving too. The kids picked the faces and then bailed while he did all the work. Haha! But they couldn't get enough of painting their mini pumpkins. I love that there are so many kid friendly crafts for this time of year.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week one with my Newest Angel.

Little Andrew, you've been here a whole week now. You scared me at first. Since you were born with meconium in your amniotic fluid they suctioned your mouth and nose forcefully. Afterward you were in a bit of shock and didn't want anything in your mouth. Nursing started off a bit rough but by the end of day seven you're proving to me that even at a young age you can overcome obstacles. On day four you weighed 6 lb 15 oz and today you weigh 7 lb 2 oz. We're still working on getting your weight back up but I know you'll rally so I'm not too concerned.

You are the most darling little boy. I cannot get enough of your sweet cuddles. You're still new enough that you naturally curl up into a little ball when you rest on my chest. Oh and your little baby skin rolls kill me! When you arch your back there are these tiny little rolls all over. And you're still covered in a little bit of baby hair on your arms and shoulders. I love it! It's always exciting when you open your eyes but it generally doesn't last very long. You are one tired little dude. No worries, I know you're working hard on growing so you can be like your big brother. 

When you cry you're not shy about it. You skipped the newborn cry phase and went straight to full out baby crying. On day three I was so discouraged by all of your crying. You hardly slept a wink that night. This wouldn't have been such an issue except for the fact that you cried the entire time. There was no content wakefulness, just a fussy, sad boy. I thought for sure that my luck had run out and that I was finally given a colicky baby. But the last three nights you have been a champion sleeper and have hardly cried at all. I am so thankful that we just had one rough night this week!

You love your Nana. You fall right to sleep when she holds you. She discovered that you love sleeping on your side and she doesn't even need a paci to get you to pass out. You two hang out until midnight watching documentaries while dad and I try to catch a few zzzzz's before we take our "shifts". 

Today you had the biggest open mouth smiles while dreaming. I wonder who and what you're dreaming about. Milk fountains and clean diapers, perhaps? Nah, I'm sure you're reminiscing about all of your angel friends.

I love the way Daddy adores you. When he changes your diaper (which is almost every dirty diaper) he says "Hi, Andrew" in the sweetest, most smitten voice. It's so obvious that he fell in love with you right from the start. How could he not, though? You're so perfect. 

Vincent and Kate can't get enough of you either. Kate constantly says, "Hi baby!" to you and frequently requests to hold you. Both of your siblings shower you with kisses and get very excited when you're awake. You look a lot like Vince did as a baby but you have Kate's coloring as a baby. With time we'll see if you look totally different or become more like one of your siblings. For now though you're doing a great job at staying happy (and asleep) while they hold, rock, grab, and love on you. Way to rock your job as a third child!

I love you so much, Andrew. In one short week you've made my heart grow three sizes. I cannot imagine life without you. How did I ever think life was normal before you came? You're already one of us and it makes me so happy to know that you're mine forever. I feel like I'm never going to sleep again but you are so totally worth it. Keep being the sweetest thing on Earth, okay?