Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

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Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

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Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

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Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

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Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

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Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

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Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

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Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

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As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

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Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

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The Little Man Song

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Ever since we realized how much reflux was bothering Paul, we’ve been holding him almost all the time. His favorite position is to be snuggled upright on his belly, as you can see from the pictures, and he is held like this nearly 24/7. As much as we love snuggling our Big Guy, it makes it pretty hard to do much of anything else (like sleep!) and that can get hard on the attitude at times. A few days ago, as I was holding Paul, this song popped into my head and we’ve been singing it to him, and ourselves, ever since as a reminder of how short this season is and how we’ll miss it when it’s over. One time as I was singing to Paul and making up lots of new verses, Dan listened in for while. He mentioned afterward that he might take a video of my singing and play it at Paul’s wedding one day. I nearly cried just thinking about it. He’s already growing up so fast! So we vetoed that idea but decided to share it on the blog for memory’s sake. Here is a sampling of the many verses we like to sing…

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
You are my favorite Little Man,
Little Man.

Little Man, you are so sweet,
from your fingers to your feet.
Someday you’ll be just like your dad
And that will make me very glad.
(Not holding you then will make me sad)
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you now and give you love
And when you’re big, you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

I’ll hold you like this for a while
I really want to see your smile.
I know you love to be held this way
So chores can wait another day.
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can
You are my favorite Little Man,
My Little Man.

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When Dan read this he was extremely disappointed that I re-ordered some of the words from our most commonly sung versions of the song. So for the sake of our own reminiscing twenty years from now, here are our most common verses in their truest form:

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your sweet hair to your feet,
Little Man you are so sweet.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
I’ll snuggle you and give you love
And when you’re big you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

It’s a Boy!

I am pleased to introduce the newest member of the Taylor family:

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Paul Kerry Taylor
Born Monday, March 16, 2015 at 8:39 PM
5 pounds and 14 ounces
19 inches long

Paul is the most handsome little baby boy with already-brownish eyes, his Daddy’s facial features, and more hair than his 18-month-old sister. We were so blessed to be able to bring him home on Wednesday evening at just two days old and he has been busy making all of us so happy.

I am eager to share more about the details surrounding Paul’s birth and first days, but I’ll have to ask you all to be patient while we rest, recover, and adjust to a very new experience for us: life at home with a newborn.

Making Time for Messes and Munchkins

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Before Abby was home, I wondered, “Is it harder to have a baby in the NICU or to have a ‘newborn’ at home?”. The answer to that questions is definitely having a baby in the NICU.

However, it’s still hard to have a newborn at home. The primary difference is that, while living in NICU survival mode, we didn’t do anything but eat, sleep, and visit Abby. Now that we’re all together at home, we’re back to our usually activities: cleaning, laundry, exercising, keeping in touch with family and friends… And, to be completely honest, I just can’t keep up.

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Our Christmas tree is still up. I’ll excuse that by saying that my parents are coming this weekend to do our own little Christmas. But really, we just haven’t had a chance to take it down.

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We never finished moving in. A lot of generous people helped us move, unpack, and even organize. And in our four months in this apartment, I haven’t changed a thing. Our bedroom is a mess, and we can’t find the things we need when we need them. For a routine-thriving-place-for-everything mom like me, this gets really annoying. And I can’t keep up with the messes. I struggle to clean up Lydia’s messes. I struggle to clean up Abby’s messes. And I struggle to clean up Dan and My own messes. We have messes everywhere!!!

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But most of all, I can’t keep up with these little ones. With all my time going to the cleaning of messes and searching for missing items, I don’t get to spend much time with my girls.

For all of these reasons, and probably more, I will be cutting back on the blogging starting next week. Not a lot, but a little. For anyone who caught on to my pattern and checks this blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, please have patience. I’ll settle into a new pattern, probably twice a week. And with the extra time I’ll be tackling some of those messes and spending more time with our little munchkins.

When Life Gives Us Lemons

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Last week Lydia was eating sunflower seeds out of a cup. I noticed her sneeze as she reclined in Abby’s Boppy and then saw something come out of her nose. Surprised, I called her over to discover that it was a sunflower seed she had stuck up her nose. I quickly informed her that she should never again put anything up her nose, especially a sunflower seed and then told her to throw it in the trash can.

She shoved it up her nose again.

I quickly grabbed her and looked up her nose, but there was no seed in sight. I told her to blow her nose, but she sucked air in instead. Thinking to myself, “I have to get her to sneeze”, I put some pepper in my hand and told her to smell it. No sneeze. I called Dan while Lydia kept pouring out pepper and sniffing it, something she now thinks is hilarious.

Dan searched online and found some instructions on performing a “Mother’s Kiss”. I plugged Lydia’s other nostril (the one without the seed in it), covered her mouth with mine, and gently blew. The seed didn’t come out, but Lydia thought this was hilarious too. I finally gave up, but a few moments later Lydia walked over to me with the seed in her hand. It worked.

The next day we had a container of cherry tomatoes sitting on the table, leftover from a meal provided by a family from our church the night before. As I was taking care of Abigail, Lydia wandered over to the table, crawled up a chair, and started eating the tomatoes. “Well, tomatoes are good for her”, I thought to myself and didn’t pay much attention. A few minutes later Lydia started screaming, “Salsa! Salsa! Pants!”. I didn’t know what she was talking about and told her everything was just fine.

When she didn’t calm down I came to her to find out what the problem was. She had overeaten on tomatoes and thrown up all over her pants. I cleaned her up and chuckled about the situation and then got on the computer to do some work. Lydia asked to sit in my lap and a few moments later threw up again, all over my pants this time.

As you can see, things are sometimes crazy around this home now that we have two little ones. While we are happy to have Abby home, I would be lying if I pretended everything was going perfectly. But, at least the exciting happenings are something we can laugh about…later. Along with Lydia’s shenanigans, Abby is contributing to the madness and Dan and I haven’t been getting much sleep.

Now, Dan manages ok without sleep, but I tend to get a little, well…moody. One minute I’m snuggling my girls, the next I’m angry, the next I’m crying, than we’re all hugging again. Sometimes the only good thing to do is laugh.

Last week Abby decided she only wanted to sleep while being held on the couch…all night long. Around the same time I followed some internet instructions on washing a pillow that Lydia had thrown up on. The pillow came out of the wash not only torn open, but completely deformed. And so, between my nights on the couch and in bed on a lumply pillow, I have developed a terribly stiff neck.

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Now Abby likes to sleep on her Boppy during the day, so one day I was inspired to follow her example and I took a nap on the floor lying with my head on the Boppy. It turns out the Boppy is pretty comfortable! Well Dan blessed me with an early Christmas present this weekend: a new pillow. But we still took the time last night to marvel and the comfort of a Boppy and thought how strange it would look if we just replaced our pillows on the bed with Boppys for one and all.

Last night I was having some of my sleep-deprived mood swings. I had been happily snuggling with Dan on the floor next to the couch as we played with Abby. Then we got dinner ready (well, a family from church had given us dinner and we heated it all up). Somewhere in there I got mad and by the time we were eating I was crying. Once that was over there was a moment of silence. Dan looked at some cut up lemons that had been given to us by the family from church. He said, “Want to see who can eat a quarter of a lemon faster?”

Of course, that was the best thing to do at the time, so to break all of the tension we had a brief lemon-eating competition. Even though he hates anything sour, Dan finished his in about one tenth the time that I did, but cheered me on for finishing anyway.

All that to say, things are pretty crazy around here, but we’re trying to stay good humored. And while we may not be laughing at it all just yet, we have at least learned how to cope. When life gives you lemons, have a lemon-eating competition.