A little update

Well once again it's been quite a while since I wrote a blog post. It's not because I don't want to write, it's because I'm just so busy and tired all of the time. It's hard to fit this in, no matter how badly I try. I thought with both girls in bed and Mark doing homework now would be the perfect time to hop on and give a little life update.

Amelia loves second grade. I still can't believe how fast she's growing up. She's always been phenomenal at math, but over the summer she also became obsessed with reading and now goes through a chapter book a day. We really need to visit the library more. I can't buy books as fast as she reads them. It's crazy. I love it though. There's something so wonderful about seeing your child become lost in another world through reading. 

She's also doing great at Irish dancing. She's been dancing 1&1/2 years now and I think she's done really well. She has had a few competitions over the past couple of months and did an excellent job at each of them. What I really love about that girl is that she is such a great sport. I see girls crying when they don't win, or even crying when they win but someone gets a higher place than them. That's not Amelia. She's always so happy for her friends when they do well and she's very humble when she walks away with trophies. I like that she's competitive without showing it. I am so proud of her. 

Cecilia turned 8 months old on the 7th of this month. Man this little one is already keeping me on my toes (and I LOVE IT). She started crawling at 7 months, pulls herself up on things, waves, gives kisses, is a total mommy's girl and is just happy all of the time. Really, I'm not just saying that because I'm her mommy. It is rare that she is crying... well, she does cry when someone unfamiliar tries to hold her. Amelia was that way too. She clung to the people who were around frequently and the people who put time and effort into forming a relationship with her. Cecilia is already becoming that way. I'm fine with that though. I never had to worry about Amelia running off away from me. 

She loves her big sister. I mean, really loves her. She bounces and kicks when she sees her walk out of her classroom at the end of the day. She smiles and waves at Amelia non-stop, and she's always watching every move she makes. All of those fears about adding another child to our family, the ones where I thought Amelia would feel left out or I wouldn't have time for both, yeah... those fears were not necessary. Life with those two is perfect. Amelia fills the role of big sister in amazing fashion. She's always picking up her sister and snuggling her like crazy. She reads stories to her and gets in her play yard and spends hours being silly and making Cecilia smile. 

I know a month back I said I was going to write about Cecilia's time in the hospital this summer, but then I got bronchitis and pink eye and before I knew it time had slipped away. I do look forward to sharing that with you. Failure to Thrive is a very stressful diagnosis, but after last week's appointment I am happy to say that our tiny 12lb 8oz eight month old is doing great! Her dietician gave her the go ahead to take 3 months off from appointments. What a relief. This whole experience has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me and at this point I feel really great about what we've done and how we've handled the situation to make sure our little one is healthy. 

Mark started school last month. It'll be two years of chaos for us. He is already so busy with work and school and together we're trying to fit in family time. I feel bad that things are so crazy, but also blessed that I am able to stay home with the girls to keep it from becoming so stressful for them. I honestly don't know of anyone who works as hard as he does. He takes such great care of his family. The girls and I are definitely blessed with him. 

Well, that's about all I can get in tonight. I'm off to pump... because that's my life. Feed baby, pump, take care of the girls, pump... and repeat. This motherhood gig is pretty awesome!!! 
Ashley Elizabeth

Seven Months

Miss Cecilia Kateri is 7 months old today! She's such an amazing little lovey. She's changed so much in the short time since she was born and I love every second of watching her grow. The past two months have been so crazy with her. She's tiny, like 1% on the charts tiny. Thankfully the only reason doctors believe she is so small is because she is so active and has such a high metabolism. The girl needs more calories. She's a busy girl and doesn't really like to sit for a long period of time, therefore she wasn't nursing to feel full, but instead just eating until that hunger feeling started to disappear. At least that's what the doctors think was happening. My post tomorrow is all about our trip to the children's hospital when Cecilia was admitted for "failure to thrive". That's why I missed my 6 month update post. Life has been kind of crazy the past two months. I'm happy to say though that our girl is doing awesome!

Currently, Cecilia is doing a lot! She moves constantly. I don't think people really understand what I mean when I say that. She doesn't just roll around a little.. if she is awake, she is moving. When she nurses her feet kick constantly and her hands are moving non-stop. When we put her down on the floor she rolls everywhere and she's really fast. When she sits on our laps she wiggles a ton. The girl does love to snuggle though and that makes this mommy so happy. 

Cecilia's first word was mama (on August 10th). Melt my heart little one!! The way she says it is absolutely darling.

Cecilia is sitting up and trying really hard to get up and crawl. She manages to get anywhere she wants though, even without the actual crawling. I put her down on the rug in the living room and look away for a second and she's moved to the other side. I think she's going to keep us on our toes.

Cecilia tried solids at six months and has loved it all so far. We make our own baby food so her first bite was avocado. She's had avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes, pears and bananas. All winners in her book.

At her six month check up, Cecilia weighed 11 pounds 13 ounces and was 25.5 inches long.

She's obsessed with Amelia. When she sees her big sister she lights up and often squeals with excitement. It's going to be so awesome to watch their bond and love for one another grow.

She is the happiest baby I have ever seen. Really, the girl hardly ever cries. She's smiley and happy all day long and she makes everyone around her smile too. I just love her to pieces.

Ashley Elizabeth

and just like that... second grade

8 days... I can't believe there are only 8 days left of summer break. 8 days until Amelia starts second grade... SECOND GRADE!!!!! For the past three summers (each summer before Amelia starts school) I have had it in my mind to make those months the most adventurous, magical and funtastical (if that isn't a word, it is now) time ever. I compile a list of things I want us to do together. I plan out activities, craft projects, day trips, camping trips etc. etc. etc... and then, life happens. Something comes up, something big, and it keeps us from having that most awesome summer that I have planned in my head. This summer was no different. With me having surgery, our family making a few trips to the ER, Cecilia being admitted to the hospital (I'll share the details in a future post), appointments almost every week and all of us coming down with a nasty cough it's amazing we were able to do anything at all this summer. Even with the bad hand we were dealt this break, we made the best of the situation. We got away a few times this summer as a family, Amelia and I crossed a lot off our her summer bucket list and I got to fully enjoy life as a mother of two. Really, that last one... icing on the cake! Those two girls of ours really bonded this summer. Amelia is so doting and such an incredible big sister, and Cecilia already adores her big sister. She always lights up when she sees her face. So if I did nothing more than watch those two interact this summer I would have been a happy mommy.

Now lets get back to the part where my baby, my first baby, is going into second grade. I was looking through photos I took during our latest camping trip and one in particular caught my attention and I couldn't stop staring at it. Amelia has changed so much. That sliver of baby face that was there last year has almost completely faded away now. She's so beautiful on the inside and out, and I'm constantly in awe of her. When she started kindergarten I was worried for her. She was so shy and I was afraid it would be hard for her to make friends and that her shyness would hinder her learning. Now I don't worry about her at all. She's so much more outgoing than she was three years ago. She loves school so much and she really does phenomenal in every subject. Even though I miss her like crazy during the day while she's gone, I'm so proud of the girl she is growing up to be. A kind-hearted, well mannered, loving and thoughtful little being who always tries her best and works incredibly hard at everything she does.

Ashley Elizabeth

5 months

Every month I say the same thing, but I really can't believe how fast time has been going by. 5 months already? Before I know it I'll be planning her first birthday (and yes... I may have already picked out a theme).

Cecilia has such a fun little personality already. She smiles all the time. When she is fussy all it takes is Amelia to cheer her up. She loves her big sister. She watches her every move and gets so excited when Amelia gets down and plays with her. 

Cecilia is just like Amelia. If you put effort into spending time with her and letting her get used to you, she will like you. If you don't... forget it. She is good with people until 8 o'clock at night and then a switch flips and she only wants mommy. No one else will do. It happens every single night, without fail. 

She is quite a stubborn little one already. With Mark and I as parents it's bound to happen. She will not take a bottle!!! I mean, will not! During some post surgery testing I had done I wasn't allowed to feed her for 12 hours. Now we've tried this bottle thing for a few months now without success but people always said "well if she's hungry she will take a bottle"... nope, not our girl. That one day I wasn't able to feed her she went 15 hours without taking a bottle. I do have to give her props though... she is an awesome sleeper. She still wakes up once a night, but she's also still really tiny. I mean, tiny. So I have no issues with her getting up to eat. 

She moves all over the place when she's on the floor. She thinks she's a big girl and is always trying to sit up. She eyes everyone's food. She grabs everything in sight and immediately puts it in her mouth.

Cecilia is as sweet as can be. She loves to sit and snuggle... and yep, she still rocks some crazy hair!!! I'm so in love with her. 
Ashley Elizabeth

4 months already

It's hard to believe that our little peanut is 4 months old today. Life has sure been wonderful since she arrived. I think we're finally getting into a good rhythm, which is nice. She usually only wakes once a night now so I'm feeling a little more rested. Cecilia is a happy little thing. She's always smiling and making the most adorable little noises... and she's completely obsessed with Amelia. She could be screaming and crying and if big sister walks into the room all is instantly good. Amelia is pretty obsessed with her too and is eager to help dress her, change her diapers and play with her every chance she gets. I really love the sibling bond that is already so strong between the two of them. 

In other news... Amelia is almost done with school and on summer break. She decided to audition for the school talent show so she'll be Irish dancing next week. I'm looking forward to watching her. It's crazy to think back to how shy she was when she started kindergarten. There's no way she would have wanted to do something like that back then. Now she's a fairly outgoing social butterfly. I'm really looking forward to our summer together. Speaking of summer, it has been so ridiculously hot here lately. I hate 100+ degree days and we've had a few of them lately. Seriously, Oregon is letting me down. I like 70s-80s. At least it's giving the kids a chance to play in the pool. My nephew Liam lives just two blocks away so he gets to come and play too. I can't wait for days spent in the pool and nights around our fire pit. 

Ashley Elizabeth

the perfect peonies

Motherhood is a beautiful thing. Yes there are times when you might question whether or not you are truly succeeding in thing called motherhood, but then something happens and all of those doubts you have about yourself and your ability to be the best parent you can be disappear. That happened to me this weekend. I'm exhausted, which is to be expected with a new baby, and sometimes I doubt that I'm doing a great job. I doubt my ability to give enough of myself to both girls in a way that makes them feel equally special... equally loved. I mostly worry in terms of my attention toward Amelia. Having another baby has been the most amazing thing in the world, but newborns need their mamas a lot and I notice that I can't always be there for Amelia like I was before. It tugs at my heart when I can't just stop feeding Cecilia to crawl around and play Legos, but seeing the love Amelia has for her baby sister and the bond they already share reminds me that the two of them having one another is far more important. Amelia told me the other day that she loves her sister so much that she can't wait to have even more siblings. How reassuring it is to know that she doesn't feel put on the back burner. That she understands life with a new baby and she loves it. So back to the story I wanted to share... the one where my heart melted and I felt like I might be winning at this mothering thing...

Saturday the girls and I spent the day in downtown Portland. We visited the art museum and strolled up to the farmer's market after. We wanted to get some flowers for my Grandma Grace for Mother's Day. While we were wandering from booth to booth Amelia said "mommy, I'd really love to buy you some beautiful flowers. I really want you to have some". So I handed her some cash and she found a booth that sold beautiful peonies. I love peonies. She read the sign, looked at how much money she had, and decided she wanted to pick out 10 stems for me. Noticing that some of the flowers were open and some were still closed she walked up and asked the owner of the booth how long they would last based on that. She decided that she wanted to get peonies that were closed so that they would bloom at our house and last longer. For the next 15-20 minutes Amelia looked over every stem... trying to find the perfect flowers for her mommy. I couldn't help but notice that the two woman working the booth kept eyeing her and smiling. Finally she had found what she thought were the perfect peonies. With her cash in one had and ten stems in another she walked up to the counter to pay. She told them that they were for her mommy. The care she took in choosing something for me... my heart was beaming. The woman had heard Amelia say that she wanted to get the closed flowers so that I could enjoy them longer, so she asked Amelia if she'd like to have some already opened to take home too. That way we could have flowers now and all throughout this upcoming week. She was so happy and I thought it was so kind of the woman to give her extras. On the walk back to our car Amelia said "mommy, this has been one of my most favorite days. I love you so so much". In that moment I felt so much love. I felt like I was doing things right. and I felt truly blessed that this is the person I get to raise. Amelia has a huge heart and spreads kindness like wildfire. She makes people feel special without even trying. The world is a better place with her in it.

Ashley Elizabeth

Wonderful Weekend Recap

This weekend was wonderful. Saturday was a busy one, but full of pure awesomeness. We got up and got Amelia ready for Irish dance class. After class I had plans with her and Cecilia to go to the Portland Art Museum. A fun girls day while Mark worked on our house remodel. They had a Native American Photographers exhibit with work by Zig Jackson, Wendy Red Star and Will Wilson. Being Native American myself and a photographer I was so excited to check this out. Amelia knew that there was a Monet at the museum so she insisted on going with me. She's a Monet and Van Gogh fanatic.

She picked out a pretty dress to change into after dance and we headed into downtown Portland. The weather was perfect. When we got there she carried the museum map around and led us to different galleries she wanted to check out. She kept saying "this place is so great"... yeah, she's my kid. I really feel blessed to have Amelia at the school she attends. They have an amazing art teacher there who has really inspired my little artist. She's always creating beautiful paintings, oil pastel drawings and sketches. Our house is always filled with so much color thanks to her. 

The photography exhibit was awesome! It reminded me a lot of my time back on the Indian reservation that my family comes from. My grandpa and grandma took me back when I was about 12 and I loved it there. The museum had a cute place set up where anyone could color native dresses and they would hang them up in the museum. Amelia of course jumped on that. 

After that exhibit we made our way to see the paintings she was so eager to lay eyes on. She was so excited. Two Monets and a Van Gogh. She got up as close as she was able to and really examined the brush strokes. It was so cute to watch her. 

After the museum Amelia changed back into her dance clothes so we could wander around downtown. We headed up about five blocks to check out the farmer's market. I have the cutest Amelia story I plan to share tomorrow from our day in Portland(it's too long to add to this post).

We ended the fun day with some Irish dancing at Kells in Portland. I love watching Amelia dance. It's always so much fun. 

Sunday was another great day. Mark barbecued for my grandma, mom, sisters and I. We just spent the day hanging out. It was a lot of fun, as it always is with my family. It was my first mother's day as a mommy of two... and what a special one it was! 

And that was our fun weekend. I hope all of you moms out there enjoyed your special day.
Ashley Elizabeth

our time with two

We are nearing 12 weeks since Cecilia was born. Time goes by fast with one, but add a second and it's even worse. I'm not gonna lie. I've never been more exhausted in my entire life, but these weeks with Cecilia have been absolutely amazing. Watching Amelia's love for her baby sister, and watching Cecilia's face light up when she sees her big sister is what dreams are made of. The other day I asked Mark if he felt done having kids. I've heard that some people just know when a child is born that they will be their last. He had always said he'd like two and then see how he feels after that, and I always wanted four which is why we agreed that three was our magic number and then we'd decide on any more after that point. It made me laugh when he said he doesn't feel like we are done having kids yet, but he really doesn't like feeling this tired. This time goes by so fast though and both of us are just trying to soak it all up before she's crawling... walking... going to school... and driving... because before we know it that's where we'll be.

I really struggled during my pregnancy with the worry that I wouldn't be able to give enough love and attention to both of our girls. Amelia had been it for seven years and I wasn't sure how adding another baby to our family was going to affect her. I'm so happy to say that our transition to a family of four has been pretty smooth. I do feel bad when Amelia wants or needs my attention and I'm feeding Cecilia or trying to put her to sleep, but Amelia is really good about understanding the situation. She's also super helpful and does little jobs for Cecilia and I, and I think that makes her feel important. She is so in love with her baby sister. Considering my sisters are also my best friends I'm glad that these two girls will have one another. Sisterhood is a special kind of bond.

In other news... we're closing in on the end of the school year already. How did that even happen? I'm starting to make plans for summer break. There are so many things I'd like us to do during that time. Amelia has continued to keep us busy with dancing and religious education classes, and she plans to start up horseback riding again next week. Cecilia is being baptized this weekend on my 31st birthday. I'm looking forward to spending a day celebrating her with our family.
This girl has changed so much in the past year. She amazes me.

Life lately just seems to be filled with so many blessings. Even with the chaos I still feel so happy that this is our life.
Ashley Elizabeth

Cecilia's birth story

Cecilia Kateri turned one month old on Monday. You can tell by my delayed post that I've been soaking up every minute of snuggle time there is. She's just so incredibly precious.

Our littlest lady surprised us by actually making it to her due date. Even my midwife thought she'd arrive early. With moving to a different house in my third trimester and remodeling the house, along with all of the other activity in our life, I had pretty strong, and somewhat regular, contractions early on. My midwife advised me to take it easy or I'd end up on bed rest. I believe her words were "you need to start taking it easy, and by that I mean delegate everything and stop doing so much". Her advise worked. Cecilia arrived on her actual due date.

When I was pregnant with Amelia I was induced four days past her due date. My labor was hard with her and lasted 38 hours with 4&1/2 hours of pushing. I knew this time I really wanted to avoid induction if at all possible. At my appointment four days before Cecilia was born my midwife did a membrane sweep and told me that if it was going to work, she'd be here either on or before her due date. I spent the next couple of days having very strong, but very irregular contractions. I also really wanted to labor as long as I could at home.

Fast forward to 3:02am on Sunday February 7th. A super strong contraction woke me up and within 5 minutes another one hit. I grabbed my phone and decided to start timing them. 5 minutes, 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes... they weren't letting up. By 5:00am I had a pretty good idea that I was in labor. I stayed in bed hoping to catch some more sleep in between contractions, but there was no way I was going to be resting between them. At about 6am I decided to get up and shower. The second I stood up the gush happened. The one you see in the movies. Since my water had been broken for me with Amelia, I had never experienced this before. All over the floor. In the midst of the pain, it made me laugh. At this point contractions started coming on much stronger and definitely regular. Every 4-5 minutes. I decided we should get ready to go in so I woke up Mark. Since we both procrastinate we had to finish packing our bags. I called into labor and delivery and had such a hard time talking through the contractions to tell them who I was. They said to come in right away. I woke up Amelia and got her ready to go to Grace's house. She had kindly offered to keep her for us until we were close to delivery and then she planned to bring her to the hospital. My mom headed our direction and Erica was on standby to come too. I love how my family (mom and sisters) rally around one another.

Mark, mom and I got to the hospital at 8:00am. Because of having symphysis pubis dysfunction I knew I was going to have an epidural. I could barely walk and the pain from spd was a million times worse than the pain from contractions. They checked me and I was only dilated to a 3. Within 30 minutes the epidural was being placed and contractions were 4 minutes apart. The epidural didn't do much for the pelvic pain caused by spd. It was horrible. The anesthesiologist came in two additional times and gave me extra shots directly into the site. At 11 o'clock they checked me again and I was dilated to a 6, and by noon I was at an 8. As 1 o'clock came around I started feeling ready to push. At that point Erica was there and Grace had come up with Amelia, Chris and Liam. They checked me and I was fully dilated... and I kept telling them I needed to push. Erica ran out and grabbed Grace from the waiting room. Oh I should also mention that I had to set my camera at this point. I insisted on taking the very first picture of Cecilia. Blame it on the photographer in me. My midwife hadn't even gloved up yet and was still getting her gown on when she said I could try pushing. First push and Cecilia's head was crowning. That sent everyone into overdrive to get ready. Three pushes later and she was out. I grabbed my camera and snapped her picture. Our beautiful baby girl was here.

The first photo of Cecilia, taken by her mommy who just delivered her. 
Amelia had asked to be in the delivery room when she was born, but I was afraid she would be worried seeing me in pain. She has watched her own birth video so that part didn't concern me as much as her worry for me. The hospital I delivered at does delayed cord clamping so I had my sister run out and grab Amelia as soon as Cecilia was out. She came in, looking somewhat concerned, but I'm so glad she was there. Mark got to cut the cord with my mom, sisters and Amelia there. It was perfect.

A huge thank you to Grace for snapping these photos for me. My epidural didn't wear off for quite a while and I couldn't move my legs to get up and take these photos myself. Having photographed these moments for other couples it was hard to hand over the camera, but she did a fantastic job!!!
Amelia didn't leave her side

I LOVE that you can see Amelia in the mirror, watching every single thing they were doing. 

We spent just over 24 hours in the hospital before going home. It took a few days getting used to life with two littles (one who I have to get to and from school every day on time), and I'm in a permanent state of exhaustion, but my life is more amazing than ever. These girls and their daddy are my everything and I can't imagine life without them. I'm definitely a blessed mommy.

Ashley Elizabeth