Brennan’s birthday

My raspberry girl turned SIX on Friday!


helena the owl

So. I made an owl for Annie for Christmas.



I, um, cheated.

I looked at a felt puppet tutorial and decided there was no freaking way I could make such tidy and adorable puppets. But I couldn’t get it off my mind!

So I started looking at types of felt. After six (seven?) months of “I’m just not going to…” I bought two rolls of thick felt and grabbed a few pieces of craft felt and some embroidery floss that didn’t match ANY of the felt (contrast!).

I looked at a few more owl toy pictures, then I freehandedly chopped up the felt. And I do mean chopped.


And then I started stitching. I can’t actually blanket stitch so I cheated there, too. HA!









She took about 5 hours of actual work, spread across three days. Then I had to wait a whole day to see if Annie even liked her. BUT SHE WAS SO PLEASED. She squeezed her and used her as a pillow and scooted around with her… whew. Winning!


girl trip

Annie, Brennan, and I went with my mother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin to the beach for a few days. The point was to spend time together, and to see some of Granny’s family. The weather was not awesome for a super wonderful beach trip, BUT we did get to spend time in the sun, and the gulf was lovely, and overall I rate it a great time. The photos I’m posting are in reverse order… and I’m going to leave them that way.

iphone20140329_163 iphone20140329_161iphone20140328_153(somebody didn’t want to sit in a chair, so somebody was in the floor, ALL THE WAY IN THE FLOOR, watching a fish tank and chatting with people who came up the stairs. and I just let her be that way. because. the beach.)iphone20140327_138 (not asleep. not at all asleep. not hardly. but cuddling and playing and precious.)iphone20140327_130 iphone20140327_128 iphone20140327_118 (the balcony was HUGE, and brennan loved watching the big water. just from the safety of the 9th story, though. the actual big water was a no-go.)iphone20140327_116 iphone20140327_113(we didn’t want to wake the goose enough to actually dress her when we first got in the car – it was crazy o’clock – so she ended up in a tee, sweatshirt, and leggings. and at some point she spilled something all down her leggings, so by the time we got to the beach, she was without pants. fine. at least she was duck-facing for the camera, right?!?)


almost alone on Valentine’s Day

As I write, it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s almost normal bedtime. I’ve been cleaning up the pile of stuff to clean up later… I decided it might as well be later. Annie is asleep on the couch (she’s got a pillow tucked next to her to keep her from rolling off!) and Jonathan is at my mother’s house with the kids.

MomMom needed a break.

It seems pretty weird now that I’m writing about it, but it’s been really nice. We’re about 6 hours in. I’ve played with Annie, fed her, snuggled with her while she slept, read some in my Bible, made notes about some projects I keep stalling on (uuuggghhh), and started working my way through the piles (multiple) of that stuff that needs a home but doesn’t really have one and just keeps being in the way no matter where it is, then isn’t easy to get to when you need it. I’ve got Pride and Prejudice (Hi Colin Firth!!) playing in the living room and a fresh iTunes playlist in the bedroom.

Dirty dishes are piled up on the counters. I hope I don’t trip over that bag of I-don’t-know-what when I need to go feed Annie in the middle of the night. I keep thinking about friends who are in the hospital (or who got to go home today, yay babyZeph!), and friends who are going through some heavy, heavy stuff, and how loving people – deliberately loving people the way they need to be loved – is so difficult but so amazingly rewarding.

I’m all over the place. It doesn’t seem quite like my house with Jonathan AND the big kids gone. I think as much time as I spend with Annie, we still haven’t really gotten to know each other yet. Well. Part of that’s because she’s expanding as fast as she’s growing. All of the kids are. Every day brings with it the possibility of so much growth, so much change. The bigs are pretty good at communicating what they want, and I’ve got a fairly solid handle on what they need that they don’t know how to ask for. Annie doesn’t know what she needs or wants, yet. Except food, a fresh diaper, a scenery adjustment… She’s so sweet.

Quinn is finally really reading. Um. No. He’s finally catching on to that thing where I’m not a total lunatic about letter sounds matching letters in books and in environmental print. It was a HUGE wall to break through, but we’ve done it. He’s done it. All I did was keep ambushing him with every tip I’ve ever heard. None of them worked. Or maybe, eventually, all of them worked.

He still says he can’t read.

But that’s because he’d rather play with his Legos.

Yesterday I let Aiden use a real knife to prep strawberries. He got tired of standing in front of the fridge with the door open biting into the strawberries… so he grabbed a table knife and eventually mashed one in half. I had no clue what he was doing – I was 10 feet away feeding Annie. Facing him. But apparently not with the program. He piped up “I DID IT!” and when I realized what he did, I decided to have a serious knife safety lesson. We especially practiced the part about not using knives without MomMom. AAANNNDDD the part about keeping your left-hand fingers out of the way. He wanted to cut something today and I told him he couldn’t, and he grabbed my chin and looked at me very seriously and said, slowly, “Yes, I can. I can be slow and steady and take it easy and don’t hurt me.” The answer was still a no. But I was glad he remembered some of the directions.

Earlier today, Brennan marched up to me, leaned against my legs, and ordered, “Wook UPT.” which I did, startled. She had to reach way up to wipe my face with a wet baby wipe (turns out she found them in the clean-it-up-later pile in my bedroom), then smirk-beamed at me, hopped down, and wandered away. I don’t know what happened to the wipe. But I wondered how many times a day I say, “Look up!” and then wipe her face. Doesn’t seem like often, from the pictures I take. ha!

I’ve been working on projects this week that I’m so excited to share, but I can’t yet. Teaser, for accountability. Since every time I mention wanting to write about something, I follow through. (Never. Almost never.)

Colin Firth just got shot down (his proposal was lousy, so it was well-deserved) and Annie said something. I don’t see her stretching, but if she made noise then it’s almost snack time. I guess I’ll go change discs and get ready to feed the pitiful creature.

I’ve set this to post Sunday because I know Jonathan will be home by then. Seems like solid internet safety.

those crazy kids

I took some “real camera” pictures of Brennan on her birthday. I didn’t like them. They didn’t say “Brennan” when I looked back through them. Today, however, the goose was stomping on the play table in a crazy outfit… the light was pretty good… we tried again.

And these I like much, much better.

I also got picures of the rest of the kids. Sorry for the photo overload, but when you have four kids, it’s hard to NOT have rather a lot.

She’s eating a Wint-o-Green Lifesaver.

And she picked out her outfit today. By telling me “Nope. Nope. [thoughtful pause] NO-EEE. Nope. *gasp* YES!” while we went through what seemed like every article of clothing she has. Which is silly. Because 2/3 of it is in the laundry. Dirty.

And, this is Annie’s sweater.

DespicableMe 2 game.

Lost tooth.

in the woods

We’ve been snotty and coughing and just generally gross for two weeks now. I say “we” – it’s hit all of us in different ways and at different times. But UGH. I’ve been really good about planning things to do that involve leaving our house, and they’ve all had to be postponed or flat-out cancelled because of this crud.

Saturday, when I realized it was 50 degrees, I made Quinn get dressed to go on a hike in the woods with me. We both felt pretty rotten, but I figured it was just warm enough that it would do us more good than harm to get some fresh air.

We got across the yard and Quinn saw Appy, and Quinn made him go with us.

Because I don’t count as a grown-up when there are woods involved.

Safety first, and all that.

But, yeah. Since Appy was with us, we went WAY back into the woods and saw Quinn’s hole and an almost-clear area that is awesome. I don’t know how long we were back there, but it was a while. Long enough that Jonathan got worried until he realized Appy was with us.




This is the fence that separates the woods from the neighbors’ land – where the cotton field is. It’s clear most of the way down the fence, so there’s a safe place to head if you lose your bearings. We’ve gone in the afternoon, so pretty much we just head toward the sun, et voilà.

iphone20140118_341-001It’s been nice to get out of the house, to feel well enough physically to push myself (there’s some ducking and twisting and climbing involved once you get past a certain point) without hurting myself.

I’ll have to post more about our woodland adventures… later… Right now the kids are too wild for me to stay on the computer any longer!

a few things

1. We have been harness-free for a week. I’ve been meaning to create a blog post all week, but we’ve had data issues with our phones and I’ve had issues handling the computer. It’s been a wild week. But we’ve been able to change bebe diapers about 4 times faster than before, and AnnieMer is looking about twice as long as she did. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!


2 and 3. These boys. They had footy-pajamas-and-wild-hats day. And Aiden was Luigi, but he was shrinkeded, and it’ll be okay because he’ll get taller someday. This picture is of a hat trade. It was a little bit violent. They lurved every minute of it.


4. This girl. I let her “floss her teeth” (tried to keep her from swallowing floss) while I braided her hair. She left the braids in for HOURS. It was definitely a record for us. She grew up the past couple of weeks. And she is magical.


5. You can see a note I posted on Instagram at this link – I’ve got a chance to order better notebooks for the writenow prayer journaling kits at TendingBabylon, without having to up the kit price by $10. But it’s just good for couple of days, so I need an $8 deposit by Monday, December 2, 2012 at 10pm. Aaaannnddd I need to get orders for 10 of them. (It was 20 by Saturday, until I read the email better. I’ve got an abscessed tooth and I’m a crazy person.)

at home

:: our first two weeks at home with anniemer ::

^ getting set to go out on a yard adventure with DadDad; Aiden’s wearing “andihebbert’s hat” ^

^ after a few minutes, they brought these flowers inside… and these acorns…
and we’ve since added to the acorn collection ^

^ I think this was the night that Quinn told me that Ann doesn’t need me anymore, because she likes to sit with him. (Thanks, son.) That’s also the night I decided our new Studio Ghibli movie was going to require a sit-down, subtitles-on (with the English version, yes), where’s-a-plot-synopsis viewing before I could follow the story. (Now it’s gained a coveted One of My Favorites spot.) I’d tell you the name if I could think of it. Something about Poppy Hill.^

^ Some of the first real cuddles I got from Brennan after we got home. She was too busy with Her Baby to let me love on her very much. And I was too sore to really love on her very much. ^

^ Little and Big. I’ve got three phone videos of Bren loving on Her Baby. OOOOHHHHH, how she loves Her Baby. ^

^ Aiden didn’t need his picture taken. Thanks. I got one anyway, darling boy. ^

^ Not sure who built this, but we spent a lot of time playing with blocks, so I included it as representative of the shenanigans. ^

^ One morning was particularly rough with the fit-pitching and the jealousy and the exhaustion and having additional audience members… so I fought with Someone rather a lot, and tried to use a world-map puzzle as a distraction. It finally worked. And it worked so well, I counted it as a special geography project for history. (We really did review continents and oceans and map terms.) ^

^ Pretending to sleep. He had been alternately avoiding me and fighting me rather a lot (he was frustrated and uncertain about life… didn’t make it hurt any less, but I did understand), and this particular evening, something finally gave way, and we could be okay again.  WHEW. ^

^ He is a wonderful Biggest Kid. ^

^ She is a rottenest goose. ^

^ Rottenest Goose helping annbebe talk to DadDad on the … calculator. ^

^ I had all three big kids in the bathtub and I thought “Hey, I could change Ann’s onesie and we could get some pictures in my bedroom.” I turned on all the lamps and got everything ready and got everyone dressed and… it was a disaster. But we laughed some. But after 7 pm in October? Not enough light for this mess. >

But we laughed a lot.

And threw in some crying for good measure.

Grace Bright as the Sea

I’m working on typing up and organizing what went on with annbebe’s birth and our time in the hospital, but I wanted to go ahead (almost 2 weeks later, haha) and share some of my favorite pictures from those first few days.

Our second daughter was pulled into the world feet first (for seriously) at about 7:11 in the morning on Friday, October 4th. She was 8 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches long, and absolutely roared – to the overwhelming approval of everybody except me (I told her from the operating table that she’d better get that mess out of her system before we got home) and Dr McKee, who was very quick to point out that with a fourth baby, crying big is not as cutesy as it is with a first baby. We ALL agreed that the wailing was good for her lungs.


We had spent rather a lot of time expressing frustration over not being SURE what time to tell family to get to the hospital. We had settled on 9am for my family, and about 10:30 or so for Jona’s parents and the kids. Because of the way the nurses and the anesthesiology assistant needed to watch both of us, that timing turned out to be perfect. Ann was a couple of ounces over anticipated weight for due date (they had it listed wrong, but she would have hit right on it and been watched anyway if they had it right), so she had a heel prick every 15 minutes for a while. She breathed a bit fast so I couldn’t feed her immediately, but between check-ups they tucked her under my gown so we had skin-to-skin time. When she did get to eat, she latched on perfectly and nursed VERY WELL. By 9am, the check-ups were spreading out and she was ready to play musical cuddly-ways, haha.

By the time the big kids arrived, we were good for Quinn to come in, check her out, and help with her. He said the crazy heater bed was TOO hot, so he spent as much time checking on ME as he did her. (unclecary took the next few pictures)


Ann didn’t super love being checked on, so she roared rather a lot. I think because it wasn’t a super pitiful cry, Aiden got a big kick out of it. He verified that she was OUR baby, then was more worried about his granma forgetting him than what the baby was doing.


Brennan did NOT love the wailing. She was just not okay with it. She climbed up on the bed and sat so very quietly against me, and let me hold her and pet her hair and kiss her and whisper to her… normally she has to be very sleepy for cuddles like that, but there was so much going on on the other side of the room, she liked the calm. She also liked my little cup of water, and would beg for a sip. We just spilled some of it three different times, that’s all.


I have to admit that the type of pain I feared was not a real issue. I had more trouble dealing with gas (just keeping it real) and muscle soreness and SEVERE weakness than with the actual incision site – although it took well into the afternoon on Saturday before I could distinguish what was going on. At one point, I was in so much pain that when I called about pain medicine and got told I would need to wait a few more minutes, I broke down and sobbed.

Which just made it worse.

We were blessed to have the same nurse for part of the afternoon on Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday. She couldn’t give me the medicine I wanted, but she sure did get me an ice pack and a dose of simethicone and gave me my acetaminophen a few minutes early and went ahead and gave me a flu shot and generally worked really hard for half an hour to distract me.

It worked, and I took this picture to remember that sometimes, you just have to do crazy things to feel okay. I had the bed set at crazy angles to relieve pressure, was using the Boppy pillow, two normal pillows, and a folded sheet/blanket set to prop just right. The ice pack really did help. And Ann was a sport the whole time, even when I was crying on her.


Speaking of good sports, my husband is awesome. Okay, there were a few times I wanted to throttle him. But he changed most of the diapers (I helped with one. It was the 13th before I could move right to deal with diapers; I couldn’t breathe or pick her up by the time I was finished) and tried to really swaddle Ann and had crappy Splenda tea from Newk’s… He told me that with the other babies he felt like even in the hospital I could handle caring for them without him most of the time, but this time he felt like he was really DOING something to help. (Which is crazy talk; he’s always helped BIG, from the very start with Quinn.)

I snapped this picture after he waxed Puddleglum-ly about how Ann didn’t like him. I had to launch into a rant to keep from laughing – it really hurt to laugh!! Does that look like a baby who dislikes her cuddler?!?!?



We knew on Friday that we’d have to stay until after Ann could have an ultrasound on her hips. They could tell one was clicking, and since she was breech there was a solid chance of her having some level of hip dysplasia. Everyone who mentioned it shrugged it off, until an hour after she came back from the ultrasound. THEN we got told the radiologist didn’t like what was going on, and we were referred to an orthopedic specialist. And we needed to wait for her to come by. Which meant we needed to not leave.

Which concerned me rather a lot.

We didn’t know if we’d be waiting for 30 minutes or for HOURS. Thankfully, God gives us what we need to do what He wants done, and the doctor had a cancellation and came over fairly quickly. She talked to us (Mom and me – J had taken the big kids home to our house and Mom stayed with me and Ann) about hip dysplasia, explained that Ann’s was NOT a big deal but that she would benefit from treatment, strapped her into a harness to keep her legs froggy (to keep pressure at the right place in the joint to basically let the ball wallow out the cartilage some more)… She actually SAT AND TALKED. It was comforting. I felt better! Until she left, and we needed to change a diaper, and I was trying to strap AnnieMer back in and she was screaming because she was ready to eat and we were shoving her around… then I almost lost it.

Then a precious elderly female chaplain came in and wanted to let us know that they had been praying for us, and wanted to know if she could bless the baby. She prayed and I cried and cried and cried…

God knows what we need.


We go back for another ultrasound on November 1st. I’m hoping we’ll be finished with the harness, but I want her hip right more than I want cuddles that are more cuddly, so…. I doubt we’ll be finished. But we’ll see. (She’ll have check-ups periodically no matter what.)

Well, finally we were able to leave, and we totally got annbebe dressed and LEFT. Maybe it won’t take two more weeks for me to post more pictures, and tell about some of our adventures at home.