2017 – In Pictures

I take a lot of pictures.  This spring, as I was trying to figure out how to find time to get everything done that I needed to do, it occurred to me that I don’t do anything with the pictures I take.  They sit on the computer and never get looked at or enjoyed.  I don’t have time to regularly upload to Facebook, so nobody ever really sees them.  I resolved to put my pictures to a little better use.  One idea that I tried this week, was picking out favorite pictures from the whole year and putting together an end-of-the-year video we could watch as a family on New Year’s Eve to remember the highlights from the year behind us.  We had a special time last night watching this video and then thanking God for the many blessings He gave us over the past year.

So, here’s our year: 2017, in pictures.

Slow Down

Life is racing on in the Taylor household. We are busy with a lot of spring projects, and, of course, all three Munchkins. Lately I have been relearning the endless lessons of having patience and keeping the right priorities. It seems like I’m hit at least weekly with some sort of good reminder to slow down (let the laundry wait a day sometimes) and soak up some serious kiddo time. This was my reminder last night. Encouraging all you busy mamas to slow down, skip a blog post today ;-), and enjoy some kiddo time.

Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

My Thankful for 2015

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Last week our family had a restful and happy Thanksgiving Day. It was so good, I didn’t even think to take pictures, as crazy as that may sound. And, though Thanksgiving has passed for this year, I wanted to share my “thankful” for the year. This is what I shared at our church’s Thanksgiving service, so if you heard me there you can go ahead and return to your Facebook feed. 🙂

A little over two years ago, our second daughter was born. At that time, my doctor told me I would probably never carry a baby past 32 weeks.

The months preceding Abby’s birth and the year following her birth were full of trials. It seemed like one trial after another. We did our best to press on, obey God, and trust Jesus that He was sovereign and using everything for our good and His glory. But it was a struggle. Toward the end of last summer, we found out we were expecting Baby Paul. Because we hadn’t moved into our new house yet (or even put in an offer), and because we were anticipating another 12 weeks in the hospital with a preemie, the news was a little overwhelming. I was praying one day about Baby Paul and felt God saying to my heart, “This is a reward”.

I had stayed up late one night researching possible medical interventions that could help Paul make it further along. That was overwhelming too. Operations, procedures, limitations, bed rest, risks, medicine, hormones…it was all overwhelming and I didn’t know what course we should take. I prayed again and God reminded me of Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

So, over the next several months, we did our best to Trust in the Lord, seek His direction in all our decisions with Baby, and acknowledge Him. Right away, many came along side us and began to pray for Baby. There were at least two women from my Bible study who really carried our burden every single day.

From early in the pregnancy Dan and I started praying that Baby would not be born until after our church’s annual Fur Rondy talent show.

He did.

We also started praying that Baby would not be breach. He had been breach through most of the pregnancy. At our 20-week ultrasound he was still breach and it was around that time that I became convinced that he would not flip. Though I asked our Bible study prayer group and my husband to pray that Baby would flip, I eventually resigned myself to the likely possibility of another breach baby, which would mean another c-section baby. I prayed about it one last time and fully surrendered it to God. A couple of nights later, Baby flipped and stayed head down for the rest of the pregnancy.

Baby was not a c-section baby. He was not even early enough for me to be stuck on magnesium or antibiotics. In fact, in answer to many, many prayers, Paul was born completely naturally. All the hospital did was provide ice chips, a birthing ball, and someone to catch Baby. (They even offered to let me do that, but I was a little distracted at the time).

My last big prayer request was that I would be able to hold Baby right when he was born. I didn’t think that was ever going to happen, but I prayed anyway, and asked everyone else to pray too. I didn’t get to hold Lydia until she was one day old. I didn’t get to hold Abby until she was three days old. Words cannot describe how badly I wanted this. The closest I can come is “desire of my heart” (see Psalm 37:4). Words also cannot describe how happy I was the moment the picture below was taken. Or any time I see this picture. I know I’ve shared it before. I will probably share it again. This was one of the happiest moments EVER.

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God is so kind.

Paul was born at 35 weeks.

He came home with us from the hospital without spending a single day in the NICU. Our transition to having a baby at home was the easiest we’ve had yet and Paul has continued to be such a content, sweet, cuddly, cute, precious baby boy. He really feels like a reward. 🙂

I am so thankful that God is so kind. That he leads us when we seek Him and He blesses us when we obey.

Two Foods, Two Teeth, Two Months

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In the midst of our vacation and other end-of-summer activities (and trying to keep up with my three busy little Munchkins) I missed Paul’s 6-month update.

But that is most certainly not because we were failing to enjoy Paul’s sixth month! Little Man is getting close to sitting up (already?!?) and can push himself up higher and higher with those arms. The most fun part of this month, though, was that Paul started learning to express his opinion.

One evening, I was sitting on the floor holding Paul in my lap and playing with a couple of baby toys. He’s learning to grab and he would reach out and try to get his fingers around the toys as I moved them around. Suddenly he started crying a little and I realized that I had set down one of the toys which he obviously preferred. It’s so fun to see him pick his favorites now and let his voice be heard. He especially likes things that crinkle and grabbing people’s feet.

I had gotten into the habit of letting Paul play in his exersaucer (we just call it the Standing Toy around here) during lunch. One day, without really thinking about it, I put him in his Bouncy Seat (it’s actually a rocking infant seat but we still call it the bouncy seat…even though it doesn’t bounce) and, to my surprise, he started crying. I was puzzled at first, but then wondered, “he couldn’t possibly want to be in his Standing Toy, could he?” Yes, he could. As soon as I moved him he smiled away and started playing. I guess you just don’t mess with the Big Guy’s routine.

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Paul is a little night-owl and, sadly, has started waking up during the nights again. It’s usually just once or twice, and we’re all surviving for now. He also doesn’t like to go to bed at night. Most evenings I’ll tuck him in and he’ll go to sleep only to wake up half an hour later. Dan will run upstairs to get him and come down with Paul, wide awake and smiling. He just loves to party with Mom and Dad after the girls go to bed. Some nights we find ourselves, tired and ready for bed, sitting up with a perky baby waiting and waiting for him to get sleepy enough to finally call it a night.

Oh, and for the record, Paul came in at 16 pounds and 3 ounces at six months old. Big Guy.

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By month seven, Paul was up to 17 pounds and 12 ounces (gotta keep these weights on here for the Baby book!). He’s huge. Also, he made this the most monumental month by far with two major achievements: first solid food and first two teeth!

Paul loves to eat. What he really wants is bacon, or at least a burger, but we haven’t introduced those just yet. 😉 Avocado and peas don’t quite do it for him, but he still slurps them down as well as a new eater can. He never looks particularly interested in the food at hand until we stop feeding it to him, then he whimpers like a puppy and pulls the bowl, our arm, the spoon, or anything else he can reach, toward his face. He will be a much more content little boy when he can figure out how to properly chew and swallow, or maybe more importantly, use his own fingers to put the food in his mouth.

Also, Paul got his first two teeth. He drools like a faucet and has for several weeks. We even invested in some better waterproof bibs that snap on so he can keep them on to catch all that drool anywhere we go. He loves to chew and suck, and so far teething hasn’t been a problem in any way (other than the endless drool).

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He’s sticking to his easy-baby reputation in the second half of his first year. Our only complaint is that it’s going by too fast. Many evenings I think or even tell Paul that I just want to hold him while he sleeps a few more times before he really gets squirmy. So far he’s been agreeable, often falling asleep in my arms at church or Bible study. So I snuggle him while I can and enjoy the not-quite-toothless grin whenever he is awake, even if it is late at night when we should really all be sleeping.

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My Thankful for 2014

When Lydia was not yet one year old,  I started a tradition that I hope to continue with each of our children.  Instead of creating a Baby book by hand (I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker) I designed a photo book online.  A month or so ago, I continued this tradition with Abby.  This is really irrelevant to the rest of my post except to explain the pictures.  The pictures used in this post are taken from Abby’s little book.  Moving on.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, our family has taken time to reminisce on the past year and share some of the things for which we are the most grateful. Lydia’s favorites have been Sandy rides at Meijer, and the color pink. Some of Dan’s top blessings have been God’s provision for us with a new home and job, and Abby’s long awaited homecoming last December. Abby’s only “Thankful” has been food. Although, she is, in general, pretty happy about everything.

Today I thought I’d share one of my “Thankfuls”.

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About a year and a half ago, we were still living on campus at Dan’s college, and I was pregnant with Abigail. Since we didn’t know why Lydia had been born early, we didn’t know whether or not Abby would follow in her footsteps. It was a struggle not to be anxious. Would Abby be born early? Would she be born earlier than Lydia? Would she be born too early to survive?

Frequently I would lay in bed at night praying over these questions and God would bring to mind Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It felt like a Word from God assuring me good things for Baby, but not answering my questions about when she would be born.

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As it turned out, Abby was born early. She was born earlier than Lydia, and she stayed in the hospital far longer. She had more issues to deal with and was a puzzle to the doctors. There were even nights I wondered if she would ever come home.

Finally, last Thanksgiving Day, Abby had two surgeries that allowed her to come home. Her surgeries were Thursday and we brought her home Sunday morning.

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Shortly after Abby came home, I was holding her one morning as I sat in my glider. She was asleep and I was praying for her and asking God what specific things I should be praying for her future. Among other things, I felt led to pray that Abby would bring joy to others. Abby wasn’t even smiling yet, and the prayer didn’t spring from anything I had observed in her character, only what I thought the Lord had in mind for her future.

Soon Abby learned to smile, and since then she has rarely stopped. Others have observed, and I agree, that she is simply the happiest baby we’ve ever met. A week or so ago, as we were tucking Abby in one night, Dan commented that, “Our family wouldn’t be the same without Abby. We have more joy because she’s here.”

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This year, among a host of other things, I am thankful that God gave us Abby: that He created her and protected her, brought her home, and had a plan for her future. Even while I was laying pregnant in bed anxiously praying for an unknown future, God could already see far beyond the pregnancy, the hospital stay, and even past today. How reassuring it is to know that a good God holds our futures in His hands, and the futures of our most loved ones as well.

Almost Three

Tomorrow morning, at 7:52, Lydia will turn three. We’ll probably spend most of the morning playing outside. I will probably make her take a nap even though it’s her birthday. Then we’ll pull together a birthday dinner that will definitely include tortilla chips. We’ll tell her birth story and celebrate that God has given us three whole years with our little Munchkin. Our Little Bunny. Our Big Girl. Our Gooselet. Our Lydia.

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One Year of Thankful

Last Wednesday was my twenty-sixth birthday. Reflective person that I am, birthdays always cause me to think back over the past year and notice any blessings, hardships, lessons, or changes in my life. So this year, as I took some time to reflect, I came to a conclusion.

My twenty-sixth year was the hardest one yet.

From moves to job changes to NICU trauma, the year was full of hard things, harder things than I’ve ever gone through before. I started to wonder…was it a particularly hard year? Or is life just hard and I’m noticing it for the first time? It was a depressing thought, but I really was wondering if being a grown up is just plain old hard and I need to get used to it.

Whether it was a hard year or this is a hard life, I decided that I need to work a little more at thoroughly soaking up and enjoying my blessings, and thanking God for them. So I made a resolution. For my twenty-seventh year I want to be more purposefully thankful, deeply thankful.

This is nothing new, I know. But for this year I’m going to try to record one thing for which I am thankful every day. And, since I’m a visual person, I’m going to take a picture for each day, so I can easily look back and literally see some of my favorite blessings. I’m not sure how often I’ll share these on this blog, but I thought I could at least share a few to start.

God is good, all the time, whether life is hard or not. But God has also been so good as to fill my life with blessings. So call them gifts, or Edelweiss, or blessings, or silver linings, or woodchips or flowers…but here we go.

Day 1 – A fresh new year ahead to walk with the Lord

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Day 2 – A husband who will stop at nothing to make my birthday special and show me I am loved

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Day 3 – The opportunity and creativity to redo Lydia’s room, and enjoy the process

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Day 4 – Even when our plans don’t work out well, Dan and I can laugh about it together and still create happy memories

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Day 5 – My first real workout run to train for a 5K

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Day 6 – Dan doesn’t have unreasonable expectations. He sympathizes with the challenges of my job and helps me prioritize. Then he is pleased with the things I do and doesn’t care about the things I don’t get done.

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Day 7 – Watching my girls play together

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Day 8 – A gradual start to an early morning

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Eight days down…357 to go!

Abby Update: 6 Months Old

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Weight: 11 pounds, 14 ounces

Yesterday Abby had her 6 month check up and she’s doing great. Her iron, which has been very low ever since she was born, and especially since the UofM incident, is finally up above the normal threshold. Her weight is increasing at a happy rate and she’s closing in on first percentile (which, for us, is a big deal). Her left foot, which has been turned in since before she was born, most likely due to her breech position is improving, but still turned in enough for us to be doing some work on it at home. She may or may not need to see orthopedics in a few months.

This month Abby started out waking up during some nights, but now is consistently sleeping about 7-9 hours a night. Even during our trip up north, she kept sleeping through. On the other hand, we haven’t been able to get her on any sort of predictable eating/sleeping routine or schedule. Until a couple of days ago, that is, when she suddenly started eating and napping about every three hours with one extra snack in the morning. We’ll see how long this lasts.

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Abby rolled over this month, from her tummy to her back. She smiles a lot, and loves to be talked to (probably due to a lack of attention which is definitely due to a needy older sister who shall remain nameless). She started laughing recently which is so much fun.

One of Abby’s favorite things is what we call the baby blimp. Even when she’ll in an all-out crying fit, we can usually get a smile out of her using this little technique. Lydia calls it the baby balloon.

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This month Abby starred in our Church’s talent show: Fur Rondezvous, in “The Story of Abigail“.

Abby still loves to bounce. She loves her bouncy seat and is in the process of learning to fall asleep without Mom or Dad bouncing her into sleep. She’s getting close to being able to hold onto things, which will be especially fun as Lydia always wants to give her toys to hold. She’s looking more like her older sister. Every day we love her more and couldn’t imagine life without our Abigail.

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