Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What the?? How'd we get to that number already? Holy smokes, my baby's nearly one. Time flies a whole lot faster with the third child. In some ways its good. In some ways its heartbreaking. Most of life is like that--bittersweet.
He's been improving his army crawl this month. Which unfortunately means he doesn't really stay in one spot anymore and is joining in the mess making. Although, he'll sit in one spot much longer than his brothers ever did. I would still occasionally keep him in the church service when the nursery was crowded up until a month ago. Definitely could not have done that with Wild Thing #1 and Wild Thing #2!! So I'm still so thankful for his super mellow personality. This was just a few days ago...the first time he had even pulled up to his knees!! Seriously...he is laaaaid baaaaack. (Edit: I just went to get him from his crib where he was playing with toys and crying for me to find him standing!! So he went from knees to feet within just a few days. Big boy! It's so cute when they learn something new)
He's also a sensitive little thing. He always has been, literally from the womb. I remember Bennett & Dawson     startling in the womb from a really loud noise once or twice during my pregnancy. Channing startled in the womb constantly! He's still the jumpiest little thing. He also gets pretty nervous around men who don't "baby talk" at him. He'll just stare them down with a serious expression. Our friend made him cry just the other day just by looking at him too close and talking in a serious voice. I told him he had to baby talk and then Channing loosened up a little :) But he'll give a huge grin to any strange lady who smiles his way! I love shopping alone with him. I always get stopped by sweet old ladies who think he's the cutest thing ever. It never gets old. 
He's sporting quite the mullet these days. His hair is growing fast! Bennett's first haircut wasn't until 2 1/2 and Dawson's wasn't until 16 months. I can never believe how much hair Channing has compared to his brothers. They're all so different. 

Dawson seriously needs a haircut too. Its just a pain to get them in for one! 
I had to stand him up at the window for pictures again since that was the only spot he'd hold still. This photo sesh was a quick one. He's sort of in between sizes right now. I dug in the 12-18 month bin and put that shirt on him, which fit perfectly. Those pants are actually 9mos. He's a solid thing, like his brothers, just short limbed. 

We've conquered The Great Nighttime Battle. So that's over and done with. Since I wrote that post, he cried it out for about an hour and a half the following night. Still brutal, just not as hard as the first time. Its been several nights since then and he hasn't woken up! Big relief. His naps are still a bit of a struggle. Some days he does great with two if I wake him from his first one early but other days that backfires and he won't fall asleep for the second and ends up cranky all afternoon/evening. Its hit or miss. It will be kind of nice when he's down to just one. He's just still really tired an hour after he wakes up every morning. 
Like his brothers, he loves the bathtub. I can't resist a good mohawk. The only time I really get to have fun playing with their hair :) 

This video is from a couple weeks ago:
And yesterday we gave him his first pickle hoping to get some funny faces out of him. Instead he wanted to eat the whole thing:

Only one more of these monthly posts. Really hard to believe. But Jon and I remember so well that phase when Bennett was between about 12 and 20 months. It was our absolute favorite. We didn't experience that with Dawson because he spent at least half his days crying during those months and it was a very rough time for us. So we're looking forward to it with Channing, when he'll start saying words and doing funny tricks. I've been practicing the signs for "more" and "all done" for about two months now. He definitely understands them and smiles big and gets excited when I sign "more". He'll let me guide his hands too. He just started giving kisses when I ask although he won't perform for Daddy when I tell him to :) Love this sweet little man.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

this is life

(Warning- this post is wordy. Skip it if you don't like to read)
3 nights ago, completely on a whim, I decided it was time to let Channing "cry it out". His sleeping schedule the past few months had gotten increasingly worse. It started way back with our trip to Florida, when he had to nap wherever and whenever. He never quite recovered from that. His naps weren't ever predictable and he started waking up occasionally at night, either a few hours after he went to bed (around 10:30 or 11pm) or earlier than normal in the morning (6 or 6:30am). I got into the habit of giving him a bottle at those times since it was still sort of a "normal" feeding time. Well then November and December came and he was sick more than he was healthy during those months. So there was more waking in the night for medicine and snot-sucking, etc. And since I took pity on my poor little sick baby, I'd just give him a bottle so he'd fall right back to sleep. Well, fast-forward to this week...the occasional and sporadic night bottle had quickly turned into an every night bottle. At 2am three nights ago, I decided I'd had enough. So...I didn't go in to get him. The longest I'd ever had to let Bennett or Dawson cry it out was 30 or 45 min. when they'd occasionally get off schedule due to sickness or teething. No big deal. The ironic thing is, I've given advice to countless friends over the years in regards to their babies sleep schedules. And in my opinion, you just have to eventually suck it up and let them cry it out-an hour, two hours, whatever it takes. The first night's the worst and for most babies, it gets way easier after that. Easier said than done. 
Well, Channing didn't stop crying after 45 min like I expected. He didn't stop crying after an hour. I so desperately wanted to go in to get him but I knew I was past the point of no return. I'd just have to start all over the next night if I did. So I laid there, listening to him cry (actually I was just watching the monitor lights flicker at that point because Jon told me to turn it off) in pure agony. Honestly, it was so painful and completely heart-wrenching. I just kept telling myself he wouldn't even remember it in the morning. Another whole hour went by and I was started to fade in and out of sleep. It was dreadful. The next thing I knew, I woke up and looked at the clock and it was 4:40am and he was sound asleep.
At last. 
If I weren't so exhausted, I would have popped open some champagne to celebrate. (Just kidding. I hate champagne.) He ended up sleeping til about 8:45 that morning (way longer than usual). Poor thing was pooped. But the first night was over. We survived. I gave him lots and lots of extra cuddles the next day out of guilt. 
Well, its been 2 full nights since then and the boy hasn't made a peep. He's slept from 7:30pm til 8 or 8:30am the last two nights and has actually napped better for me the last two days too. I don't know what it was but he snapped out of it. Hallelujah! That night was completely worth it. 

(I'm so in love with these pictures my MIL took while we were on vacation. How did she get smiles from all three?? Miracle worker, that woman.)

So the morning after the "night of agony", I was of course, completely exhausted. I felt nauseous in the middle of the night and all the next morning. (I'm blaming it on the pizza and cookies I ate the night before in combination with the lack of sleep. I've learned I'm sensitive to gluten and have been *mostly* GF for the past few months and that was by far the most gluten I'd eaten in one sitting in a long time). 
So in my state of exhaustion, I completely blew it in the mommy department that day. The first half of the day was mostly fine since Dawson plays fine by himself but once Bennett gets home from school, they usually fight and Dawson gets whiny and crabby (his way of getting attention). Jon was out of town that night so I was on my own. And I let it all get the best of me. I screamed at Dawson about who-knows-what two or three times that evening. Those are the days where I just feel like I'm utterly drowning. The house is a wreck (duh), the boys are bouncing off the walls and destroying things because that's what they do best and I just feel down anyway because its freakin freezing, dead of winter, no end in sight, disgusting January. And Dawson's freaking out because he doesn't want his diaper changed and WHY IS MY NEARLY THREE AND A HALF YEAR OLD STILL IN DIAPERS?? And can't a woman just get a nap, for crying out loud??! You get the gist. A day in Mommy hell. There were tears on all of our parts. Mine out of guilt that night when I prayed with the boys to ask the Lord for forgiveness. 

I started the next day out right and picked up my Jesus Calling devotional that hadn't been cracked open for too many days to mention. Thank goodness for His grace. Thank goodness for the grace of my children. Thank goodness that I don't have those days every day. Yes, I'm still completely and utterly spent at the end of every. single. day. (seriously. Parenting three boys this young is the hardest thing ev-errr. I'm still not sure why God thinks I'm strong enough for this job.) but at least most days I feel like I did my best to love my children and give them my attention when they need it and laugh along the way. Its all a work in progress but that's all He asks of us, isn't it? That we work at it? In marriage, in parenting, in our walk with Him? If we're conscious of our areas that need improvement and are working at those areas, that's the best any of us can do. 
My favorite Instagrams lately:
1) Mornin', Sunshine 2) Those two giggling about inappropriate words in the dictionary. Endless entertainment. 3) Laundry can wait 4) My favorite mug makes my day a little happier 5) In love with that baby in the mirror (him and me) 6) Sometimes there are *perfect* moments 7) That face 8) Bunny teeth 9) Pretending it wasn't winter for a couple hours at an indoor pool

One area I admittedly suck at in parenting is teaching my kids scripture. Its not a part of our lives even though I know its pretty much the most important thing. So one thing I'm going to work on this year is helping them memorize verses. I printed this off yesterday to teach my boys the character qualities we all want to strive for. (I heard Michelle Duggar speak last November and it pretty much revolutionized my mothering.) A great place to start and enough verses for one a week for a year (or it might take two...or three years. You in progress :) Do you teach your kids scripture? Any tools you've found to make it easier?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

so many books, so little time. unless you're on vacation.

Have you discovered I know, it's been around a long time but I resisted joining it. I didn't want another type of social media taking up more time that I didn't even have to waste in the first place. But frankly, it's really hard to find really great books. I've read a lot of duds lately. A lot of pretty-goods and I-liked-its but not a lot of greats or I-couldn't-put-it-downs. Hard to believe that the last time I added a book to my blog list on the right (anything that's 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion) was a full year ago!!
Enter where I can see the average rating of any book out there. So instead of just going by one person's opinion (either from someone I know or a review from a magazine), I can verify it with hundreds of people's opinions and make sure it averages over 4 stars. It's awesome.
I read two "I-couldn't-put-it-downs" on my trip and got half-way through a third (two new ones added to the side-bar). Which frankly, having so much time to read is half the fun of traveling for me. I don't get a whole lot of time to read at home and if I am, it means I'm ignoring some mess that I should be attending to (or possibly a child or two).
I think I chuckled out loud at this line from Half-Broke Horses:
"I wished I could read every book in the library. Sometimes after I finished a particularly good book, I had the urge to get the library card, find out who else had read the book, and track them down to talk about it." 
Oh, how I relate! I wish I had time for a book club! Which books have been your favorites lately? #bookwormsunite

Costa Rica, Part 2

A big priority for us on vacation is scuba diving and we were extremely disappointed to put it mildly when Jon started calling around to find out that it was going to be way too expensive or other companies just weren't going out on the days we had available. (We couldn't book ahead of time since we had to do the timeshare presentation and didn't know when we'd have to do it). We were overjoyed the next day when one of the dive shops called us to say they had enough people to go out. We went out to a place called the Catalina Islands (we didn't have our nice camera with us). I snapped these next two pictures out of a book from the airport to show you what we saw. There were tons of these flying devil rays leaping out of the water! It was unbelievable. They were so many of them and they'd get 5 - 10 feet in the air. I imagine it was a fraction of the excitement you'd feel whale watching. 

It was a fantastic dive. The coral wasn't much to look at since there wasn't a reef there, just the volcanic rock. But there were tons of moray eels and spotted eels. We saw our first wild lobster. The fish were beautiful. There were so many puffer fish around, some were about 1 1/2 feet long! We even saw our first legit shark! (we've gotten up close to a nurse shark before but they don't even have sharp teeth)We saw one white tipped reef shark down in a crevice that swam away. Then we came upon a mom and baby a while later. They swam away before we could get too close. But as we were looking for them, the baby came and swam back and sat right in front of us! It was awesome. I was about two arm lengths away from it. This little guy was probably about 4 feet long. I know the mom was nearly twice it's size when we saw it in the distance!! It was a very very cool experience. 
This area is known for the manta rays--a sting ray that grows up to 18 feet wide. On our first dive, Jon ran out of air first so we went back up with one of the dive masters. The other two people who stayed down a little longer got to see two swimming all around, right over their heads. On the second dive, I got to see one swim over our heads that was somewhere around 10-15 feet wide. It was spectacular. But Jon was further back in the group and didn't get to see it since the visibility wasn't great down there.
It was a fantastic diving experience. They cut open a fresh pineapple and watermelon when we got back on the boat that was so perfectly sweet and juicy. When we got back to the resort, I said, "I just love diving days". If I could choose anything in the world to spend a day doing, I would choose to be in a boat on the water. I love seeing new things. There's something so amazing and indescribable about sharing that otherworldly experience together. Frankly, there's not a whole lot that Jon and I get to do together when we're at home. I hate sports and he hates books :) So its just so fun to share something like this, something we both love.
These Carara birds were the little thieves around the resort. There were always a few around the pool and the open dining room. On the last morning, Jon and I fed one out of our hands! They were big- nearly the size of a parrot:
 View from our resort:
On our last day, we drove about an hour to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, where one of the large volcanoes is. This was the road into the park. (You actually cross through someone's land and pay him a toll on the way there!) 
We read about one waterfall that wasn't in the actual park (again, we paid who-knows-who to go see it). We went on a beautiful walk through a sunny field and then entered the woods (jungle?) and hiked down into a gorge. When the trees opened up to this river it took our breath away. These pictures don't do this spot justice in the least. Again...the trees....just spectacular:

The river itself was spectacular enough to hike around but then we get to this breathtaking waterfall. The best part was we were the only ones around. It looked like a little slice of paradise.
I can't even describe the beauty--bright lime green moss, those shiny smooth rocks and the turquoise crystal clear water with the sun pouring through the trees intermittently, lighting the whole canyon up. It just didn't even look real:

 And of course we had to jump in. (Don't worry Mom, Jon looked under the water with his mask first to make sure it was deep enough). I actually wasn't planning on going in the water since it was freezing, but Jon convinced me to. Didn't take much.

 Next we headed into the actual National Park. Did I mention the trees were amazing?? These trees were as spectacular to look at as the giant Sequoias in California.
We saw two of these little rodents- they looked like a giant squirrel without a tail. About the size of a large rabbit:
 Look how the tree in front is being swallowed up by the other tree. Just amazing:

We also came across two little white-faced Capuchin monkeys way up in the trees but it was too hard to get a picture. We heard the howler monkeys going crazy at one point, so loud. But we never did see them. This area of the park is called "Little Yellowstone" because of all the bubbling mud volcanoes. Not much to look at in a picture but pretty cool to see in person.
Next we went to the natural hot springs. Not something we would have paid for on it's own but the first guy at the waterfall threw it in with our admission. So...why not? Jon realized the whole mud bath thing is overrated. (I realized that with my best friend at a spa in California about 8 years ago :) Fun to do once:
This was actually really nice to sit and relax after all the hiking we'd done that morning. It was wonderful in the hot water with rain lightly sprinkling down on us, having conversations with one family from Italy and the lady in the white bikini who was local and couldn't speak much English but was quite good at communicating with us despite the language barrier. Looking down on it from a suspended bridge:
So that was it! We both agreed it was our favorite trip we'd ever done. There was just so much cool stuff to do! We would totally go back and stay in a completely different part of the country. We didn't get to hike up the volcano because we didn't have time and we didn't even see the biggest waterfall in the country because it was several hours away from where we stayed. I think the thing I miss most is the huge buffet three times a day. We've never been to an all-inclusive besides our honeymoon cruise and always eat as cheaply as possible on vacation, choosing to spend our money on activities and excursions instead. I'm always hungry and I love to eat. Since we've been home, it seems I'm always starving and wish I could just walk down to the dining room and load my plate :) The food was actually not at all catered to Americans. It was almost all typical Costa Rican food (which is similar to Mexican so I loved it). Thank goodness we're not picky eaters, because it would have been difficult, otherwise! It was fun to try new things risk free that I'd never order off of a menu. The only disappointing thing all week were the desserts. The best part of the meal and they were all totally weird cakes and gelatin or mousses in strange flavors. I think there were literally only two all week that I said, "Yum, this is good". Jon was dying all week for some homemade cookies and I just wanted some dang chocolate.
I'm so grateful we had that week together. I'm so passionate about traveling and love to see more of this world and experience new cultures. Not to mention with three kids, Jon and I don't get to have much fun together these days. Its so refreshing to remember how much we laugh together when it's just the two of us. I think it's the most important thing you can do for your marriage. It immediately brings the spark back and helps you remember what life was like before the stress of raising children. We both look forward to the day it's just us again. Does that sound harsh? Probably. I love raising my boys and it's definitely my life's calling. But quoting what our pediatrician told my mom when we were really little, in reference to how important early bedtimes are, "you got married to be with each other. Not to have kids." True dat.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

our kind of vacay

That ended up being our slogan for the week. We said it jokingly to each other all week, whenever we did something fun or cool or weird or crazy. And there was a lot of all of the above. We've been to so many timeshare presentations that Jon's on all sorts of call lists. We got a call with an offer to come stay at an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica for pretty cheap, as long as we listened to the presentation while we were there. (please don't ask me how we got it. We've been going to at least 6 timeshare presentations a year for about 9 years). We gratefully traded the snow for the sun on Saturday, January 12th. The boys stayed with Jon's parents the whole week and did just fine. We flew into the airport in Liberia and stayed within about a 45 min radius of that. Our resort was on the Pacific coast directly to the West (about 30 min from the airport).
We got there in the afternoon on Saturday and checked into a hotel the first night. We were going to our resort the next day. So after we settled in, got something to eat, got our rental car and figured out what our first excursion would be, it was nearly 4:00pm or so. We heard about a waterfall nearby so we set out down that main highway you see on the map in red, towards the SE. That main highway across the whole country is only two lanes!! We weren't seeing any signs so we stopped to ask someone who didn't speak a lick of English (turns out not many people did there!). So after some hand motions and pointing at the map, he figured out what the heck we were talking about and told us we were close. We got a little further down the road and saw a rough wooden hand-painted sign. We turned off the main road onto a very rough rocky dirt road.  After a couple miles of getting jerked around on that road, we see a big rock painted with "waterfall" and an arrow. We didn't realize it, but got there right as they were going to lock up a wooden gate for the night. So after some more hand signals and one word sentences, the guy let us run down to see the falls and snap a quick picture. I literally said as we were scrambling down the rocky path, "do you think this thing is going to be more than a trickle down a rock?" That's what we expected because of the lack of signs and paved roads. Then a minute later we start to hear the roar of water and about died when the view opened up to this: 
It took our breath away. It looked like a scene right out of LOST or Jurassic Park. We snapped these pictures and then ran back up the steep path to the car and decided we'd come back the next morning since we couldn't check into our resort til later in the afternoon anyway. 
A cheap breakfast the next day since we'd be eating good the rest of the week at the resort. I wish our McDonalds had this option! So delicious (except the fried plantains in the middle. Those were gross.)
We always had a view of these volcanoes driving across the country:
 I couldn't get enough of all the beautiful trees around:
Well, the next day was Sunday and the place ended up being packed out with locals and a few other tourists. It was really cool to see it deserted the night before.
Jon climbed in and behind the falls. I didn't go all the way in since the water was freezing and I'm not keen on water pounding down on my head.
We wanted to hike down the river away from the falls for a little exploring and adventure. It was beautiful with green jungle on either side of us:

As we were hiking back up the river to the falls, we all of a sudden started hearing some whoops and hollers and big splashes. No discussion needed. We were determined to figure out who and where people were jumping. We followed the sound and saw a group of locals jumping in this beautiful little water hole. We had to climb over/under two sets of barbed wire to get to them. Nobody spoke English and eyed us a bit while we walked up but we just acted like we knew what we were doing and smiled a lot and cheered for the other people jumping in and pretty soon they were cheering for us too. 
 The water pouring in over the rocks was warm. It was awesome.

I kind of look like a wuss since it doesn't look that high but it definitely feels higher when you're looking over the edge!
We had to take a shuttle from our resort down to the beach since it was on a pretty steep mountain side. It was beautiful and rugged with all the lava rock along the shore. That was the first black sand beach we'd ever been on. The sand was smooth and soft and the water was comfortable.

 Looking back towards the main beach:

 We did a zipline canopy tour which was really fun:

There was a tree full of howler monkeys. I kept having to remind myself in my head that these were wild and that we weren't at the zoo!

 I think I'll leave it at that for now and post the rest tomorrow since my house is about five steps beyond "disaster", we're all still in our pajamas and I've been working on this almost all day. More to come...