7.24.2017

update | p + j

finally, right? 
I'm writing this to give a much warranted update (even though there isn't much an update to offer on Jolie), but also because we have been going through some emotional things with both Parker and Jolie that I hope to never have to deal with again, but if I do, I'll be able to walk through this experience with knowledge and someplace to look back on if I write all this out on paper.. err, the internet.  I started this blog as a documentation of our life, but also as a place for ME to look back on of memories as well as for times when I'm thinking to myself (in regards to the other two babies in the house) "what the heck did I do (in this situation) with the twins?"  I read the monthly updates of all the kids more often than you might think, ha!
many of you have been praying, emailing, messaging about Jolie and I am SO thankful.  we have been covered in prayer and those prayers have been felt!  I don't want you to think that I'm just dangling you along and carrying on our merry way when our daughter has been going through some very scary things for a 4 and a half year old.  because thats not the case. 
not.at.all. 

Jolie Grace
there is little update to give, and honestly I wish I had more to type here about her. 
a couple things.. NO FEVERS.  its been three weeks of a completely fever free Jolie. YES.  AND she has been acting more of herself as far as my normal joyful JoJo versus the BEAR of a child we witnessed during the last several months. we finally made an appointment with a rheumatologist for OCTOBER.. and I'm sure the poor lady setting our appointment could tell my frustration with that time frame and quickly asked if I would like to be on the cancellation list.
"um, yes.  thank you."
after running through some details and events over the last several weeks with our pediatrician she thinks that autoimmune could be a stretch.  OK, so more unknown and misinformation and a complete reach for a diagnosis.  don't get me wrong- I am positive they are seeking the greatest possible care for our girl and finding a diagnosis is at the top of their list, but they just don't know what to do because her symptoms are very inconsistent.  the west nile virus has now been thrown on the table.  its a very violent disease and apparently there are two types- one is viral and presents like what Jolie has suffered with and the other attacks your nervous system and is completely debilitating- much like meningitis. I've watched a friend deal with the latter and it is the scariest thing I've ever witnessed in my life. so, in this situation, I am thankful Jolie doesn't have that.  while, health wise, things are looking up for our girl, emotionally she's wrecked.  I was walking through all this with Jordan (we talk about it daily it seems..) and have placed blame on ourselves for not explaining to sweet Jolie about what she was going through.  dozens of doctors and procedures and blood draws.. putting her little body in tube after tube for tests and never once did we really sit her down to walk through what she was about to do or why we were doing these tests on her.  WHY?  WHY didn't I/we explain it???  I think part of it was that I was trying to figure out myself how to process what was happening with her and I completely forgot to include JOLIE in this.
 parenting 101 and I got a BIG FAT 'F'. 
she's been traumatized through her experiences and has now developed severe anxiety thats keeping her connected to my hip 24/7 and up all night long in fear of who knows what.
I can't even sit them down for dinner and walk back to the bedroom to pee without her following me back there in tears because I "was taking too long". if I am putting a baby to bed she will sit outside the room against the wall waiting for me to come out.  bedtime takes about an hour once we get them in bed- the up and down and more reassurance and kisses and hugs.. she's starting in her room but wakes almost nightly with night terrors and screaming, so we basically have a permanent palette on the floor next to the bed.

Parker Jane
she's always been the more emotional one of the two girls.  she's also the sweetest most gentle soul I've ever met.  this girl has SO MUCH love to give.  she also has developed this emotional anger that I have no idea how to control.  this started after the first weekend we separated them to take Jolie to the hospital over several days for tests and exams.  they had never been apart for more than 24 hours and Parker was with her BB and Papa for 3.5 days.  we FaceTimed and sent pictures, of course. the person Jolie cried for after coming out of her first CT scan wasn't mom or dad or BB, it was Parker.
"I need my Parker."
we FaceTimed Parker and they were both in tears before the call was over.  
the twin bond is very real.
after Baker was born Parks had some anxiety just to the extent that she needed a little extra love before bedtime, but this time its overwhelming the amount of stress this girl has. my going back to work has put her over the edge, coupled with Jolie getting extra attention, PLUS a new baby.. its a lot for her little heart to handle right now. I've gone on multiple dates, just Parker and me. Jordan has done the same and her BB has picked her up a time or two just to spend some quality one on one time.  all those things have helped!
goodbyes and bedtime are the most stressful time of the day. leading up to me leaving for work or saying good bye to the nanny (she's with them three days a week) can last up to 20 minutes and still end in a tantrum because I didn't wave from my car goodbye or say I love you eleven hundred times.. even though I DID.
the tantrums.  so bad that I've googled "psychiatric disorders in children related to tantrums".
truth. 
one time she was throwing a fit so out of control that it took me and her Papa holding her down in the carseat to buckle her in and then she puked all over my car in exhaustion from screaming so much.   she freaked out on me at 2am one night (of course when Jordan was at the fire station) when I told her to go back to her bed and that tantrum consisted of nearly kicking a hole in the wall, woke everyone in the house and lasted over 60 minutes.  she's lashed out at her sisters. kicked the nanny.  told me she hated me numerous times..
thrown food all over the floor and destroyed a handful of toys.
life has been TOUGH. as tough as its been for me and the rest of the house, I know that she's having an even harder time trying to process her feelings.  we recently met with a social worker in hopes she could offer some help and insight as to how we should be dealing with her- because nothing is working!  thankfully, after she assessed her history and chatted with her a bit she didn't think this was a permanent emotional disorder.  girlfriend is just really anxious. 
in turn, we have changed the way we do bedtime (reading stories, no television, sleeping in our own bed) and have started practicing saying goodbye and good night so they don't last forever and end in distress.  I've also begun reading a recommended book 'anxious kids, anxious parents' and have come up with tools to help Parker work through her emotions while also keeping my cool.. it is SO EASY to lose my mind on this girl when she is misbehaving.
theres a FINE line between discipline and managing Parker's fits.
good news is that the tantrums have subsided from everyday multiple times a day to less often.  I think/hope that we've been able to make her feel comfortable enough to work through whatever emotions she's dealing with at the moment as well as diverting her attention to something else, which is actually working really well. 
obviously, you all basically see the 2x2 happy highlights of our life- and why shouldn't you??
assumptions can easily be made by what it looks like from those posts, and yes while most of the time we are living a happy life, you will not see the time when Parker has torn her room to shreds and taken a bite out of my leather couch in pure uncontrollable anger and frustration..
I'll also spare you the terrifying moments when Jolie is running through the house screaming "MOMMY!!!" in fear searching for me at 1:37am in the morning because she's had yet another night terror.
tears are rolling down my cheeks as I type and relive some of these events of the last month or so- partly because I have never been this stressed out and exhausted in my life and also because I feel vulnerable to share all this after I get many complements for how well I handle 4 children.. well here it is:: I feel completely hopeless as a parent.  not in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be dealing with this kind of thing EVER, but here we are.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can.  I've got some happy and healthy kids- life is chugging right along and I'm loving being a mom to Parker, Jolie, Baker, and Brady.  BUT- do not assume that I have my crap together because I most definitely DO NOT. tomorrow I'll follow up this post with something light and cheery, lets talk about makeup or food.. or what we did over the weekend! but not because I'm sweeping over the hard stuff in my life, but because its helpful to remain positive during the hard times Jordan and I have been dealing with. we have a very strong faith and leaning on each other as well as pressing hard into the Lord allows us to keep a smile on our face. it is EASY to fall into the doom and gloom "poor pitiful Amber".. but we won't.  life moves on with or without us and dwelling on something like this is easy, trust me.  
the good, which is about 90% of the time is SO GOOD.  we are so blessed and life is SO good.. just going through some tough stuff right now.
we will get through this stage of life and move forward.. looking back to forget the really hard stuff and focus on how we grew as parents, in our marriage, and as a family from this experience.

7.21.2017

Brady Jordan | 4 months

just like that, another month has FLOWN BY.  I don't know where the time went!  this boy is the light of our lives right now!  after buzzing the wispy baby hairs on his head, I don't even remember what he looked like before!  love his bald baby head.. and his bright smiles!  I swear he's the most expressive baby of the bunch.
 we went for our four month well check yesterday afternoon.  our healthy baby boy gained four pounds in two months.  tipping the scales at almost 15 pounds I'd say he's getting plenty to eat:) everything looks great on his growth charts and nothing new to report!  he is still taking Zantac and we've moved it to three times a day over twice (morning and night) to maybe help with a bit of fussiness when we are trying to get him down for the night. he seems to be fighting sleep right now and his morning dose of medicine is probably wearing off by the time he's ready for bed, so reflux could be the case.. (more on that below)

Brady at FOUR months
Weight: 14 pounds 12 ounces (48th percentile)
Birth: 7 lbs 4 oz
Height: 25 in (55th percentile)
Birth: 20 in
Head: 40.6 cm (15th percentile)
Birth: 34.5 cm

I was taking pictures of Brady while we waited for Dr. Butler to come in and remembered I had taken some of Baker around this age.. turns out that they are basically twins.  I cannot believe how similar they look! 
they are both four months old in this picture.  I texted this to my mom and dad and neither realized that they were two different babies.  crazy! 

E A T
BOY 
LOVES 
TO
 EAT.
I dont remember the girls being this way about nursing. I've even gone back to old blog posts a time or two to see the difference developmentally and while they are pretty much on track, his eating habits are much different.  a lot of it could be out of comfort related to his reflux, but I feel like all he wants to do is nurse in the afternoons.  we've hit a growth spurt and he's been waking through the night again to eat.  I also have noticed him getting hungry about 2 hours after nursing or taking a bottle.. so Jordan decided to bump his bottle by an ounce and he gobbled the entire thing!  Brady eats about 8 times a day, every three hours or so.  I nurse him in the morning and twice after I'm home in the evenings during the work week and while I am gone he's taking three 6 ounce bottles. 
the pedi gave us the go-ahead to start solids if we wanted. I waited until 6 months with Baker, but did start cereals at four months with the twins, so I haven't decided what I am going to do yet with Brady.  I feel motivated to make his baby food this time around and sort of a mix in solids and puree's for the first couple months and then move into more solid foods after that.  I did a mixture with Baker this way and she did really well with it. not true BLW, but it worked for us.

P L A Y / D E V E L O P M E N T
social butterfly, this guy!  Jordan will correct me when he reads that I just called our son a "butterfly", but its true. he is known for his coo's and shouts from the play mat, as if to get someones attention to come play with meeeee. its rare there isn't a sister girl in his face and I think he prefers it that way. this social characteristic also means that Brady STILL hates the car seat.  he'll give me about 20 minutes in the car before he's done done done with it and starts his scream/cry/sob.  there have been times when I have just reached my hand back there to hold him arm or rub his cheek and he calms down pretty quickly. such a sweet boy!  but totally wears me out with that carseat.

I was reading the wonder weeks app the other morning while feeding Brady and it mentioned that he's in his fourth developmental leap.  this leap includes grasping and being able to see longer distances. this week he just started to grab toys and bring them to his mouth along with recognizing me and making eye contact from across the room. he is nearly rolling over to his tummy.  Brady hangs out on his side most of the time, and I have to be very careful where I leave him.  I used to be able to lay him on the bed and run to the restroom or grab a drink from the kitchen but not anymore!  he scoots himself all over the place and a time or two I've found him about two feet away from the play mat where I left him, ha!  get a move on, brother!
hat // seat 
hes also been able to sit up in his play seat.  one week he was took floppy to hold himself up and the next week he was sitting straight as a board! 

S L E E P
ugh.
sleep has been a rough go this month. four month sleep regression is REAL.. coupled with a growth spurt and mama is tired.  he went from sleeping through the night.. about 9pm until 6am and back to sleep until about 8am. 
NOPE.  
his bedtime is still around 9pm, which he's been fighting me with everything he's got. last night he wasn't in bed until 10:30pm.. so basically we are all over the place and on zero schedule whatsoever. he's waking through the night sometimes twice or three times.. last night I was SO thankful for a seven hour stretch.  but I know he was probably just gearing me up for tonight's all night milk binge. 

we have been practicing crib naps during the day! most of the time he's napping about an hour in the morning after the 9am feeding and then in the afternoon he will nap a good 2 hours or more.  we have just started laying him down awake and trying to teach him how to go to sleep without nursing or rocking.  its going okay- often times he will chatter for about a half hour and then start to fuss- to which I'll go in and rock or nurse him to sleep.  we are slowing making that transition (no CIO, just for the record..).  the pediatrician mentioned yesterday that this self-soothe to sleep ability sometimes isn't mastered before 6 months of age. so we've got some time.

B R A D Y 
hello bud!!  oh you just keep getting better and better. each month I think is my favorite, but four months has got to be the best yet!  you are developing such a sweet little personality and your smiley reactions to pretty much everything is just the best!  your sisters cannot get enough of your interacting with them- and even Baker comes running to tell me that you are smilin' in the thickest southern drawl.  you've become a bit more patient and entertain yourself well- cooing at the mirror on your play mat or chatting up Mickey Mouse- so darling to watch!

you are going through that "4 month sleep regression" and have taken a step backward in the sleep department- your daddy says that you miss me so much during the day that you want to snuggle all night.. so we will go with that.  you love to roll to your side while you play- both hands in your mouth + muffled squeals explode from where you sit.  if walls could talk in this house they would say that you are the MOST loved babe ever. between your sisters and your mama + daddy- we gush over just about everything you do.
you have started to giggle this month- you are VERY ticklish! little giggle bursts will come about when we tickle your neck or the sides of your tummy. we have been very busy this summer with birthday parties and travel and lots of water activities- you LOVE the pool.  we took you for many dips in the pool this month and you just relax in the floaty like you have done it a million times before.  I'm glad you seem to love the water because its an easy way to beat the heat in a Texas summer.
you also had your first haircut- courtesy of your daddy!  we had been joking about giving you a buzz to get rid of the "old man" hair and and a couple weeks ago we were enjoying the evening outside and your daddy walked out with the clippers in hand- no turning back now!
you looked SO CUTE after your first cut.. buh bye old man hair!
we celebrated your first holiday- the fourth of July!  you slept through most of it, but you did so well as we carted you around to the festivities. 
I am so thankful you, for the most part, are a chill babe.  maybe that comes with the territory of being the fourth kiddo?
your mama and daddy are short on time + sleep + energy these days.. the house is a total disaster, and most of the time we are sitting in and amongst 851 tiny toys courtesy of your big sisters- but we are loving life with the addition of you in it.  you have us totally smitten, even when you don't sleep for hourssss at night.  I always offer a pep talk before bed about sleeping well, and then you don't.. but I love you anyway, little stinker.
you smile a ton, blow spit bubbles and purse your lips to make everyone around you laugh.. you've mastered bringing toys (well EVERYthing) to your mouth and you're the most curious little dude there ever was.  you are quickly distracted during most feedings and if the television is on, you are indeed attempting to watch it. you'll lounge in your daddy's lap in the mornings while he watches the news and just contently gaze at the bright images on the screen.  you are growing and looking more and more like Baker's little twin.. the same eyes, brows, lips..and your expressions are nearly identical. 
you're wearing size 3-6 months clothes and still in size 2 diapers for now.. growing like a weed!  but we are enjoying every new day and the changes that come along with it. 
love you to the moon, bud.

MONTH PHOTO DUMP


















7.20.2017

lets flamingle! | Baker's 2nd Birthday Party

hands down my FAVORITE party to date. there are so many things you can do with a summer birthday and Baker's flamingle was no exception.  it usually takes me a handful of months to put together one of my parties, and having just given birth to a baby I wasn't totally motivated to get this thing pulled together. randomly, I was shopping by myself and picked up a bathing suit at old navy that was just adorable- pink with a couple of flamingos on the front.. 
THATS IT!  we shall have a "flamingle".
and so the planning began.
you might recognize this stand from Baker's first birthday (HERE).  after browsing pinterest for ideas I came across a painted stand similar to ours and texted Jordan a picture.. 
"can you paint ours pink??"
I was halfway kidding, but secretly hoping he would be on board and much to my delight he quickly said "sure".. and so we painted it pink!



these cupcakes were absolutely amazing!  I ordered three dozen for less than $30 and added my own sprinkles I found online.  those baking cups and glitter flamingo picks make the entire thing come to life!  I love it.





don't mind the "A".. it popped as I was blowing it up just one hour before the party (my worst nightmare..) so my mom ended up fixing it just enough to keep it inflated a bit.
owell- no one noticed:)








this giant slide was legit.  when they arrived to set it up I wasn't totally sure what to expect and I was busy finishing up the decoration details on the patio.. but when they were finished I turned around and I miiiight have cussed at the site of how big it was.  Jolie was DYING to take a plunge, so the big girls got into the suits and took off while we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.



 birthday girl wasn't a huge fan and we could only get her to go down a couple times.
















the menu
burgers + hotdogs
hamburger fixings
mixed fruit
variety of chips
water + juice boxes



 after lunch the biggest surprise pulled around the front of the house.. KONA ICE!  there is nothing better on a steamy day than sno cones!  we're big fans and it was a hit among the party guests! the kiddos kept eating the "cones" off the top of their cups and then requesting more to be shaved to make the cone again.. and the sweet gal in the truck was very gracious to accommodate our requests! 







before the party was over we HAD to sing to this special girl of ours!  the party was going and going and going..and I finally looked around and thought.. we should probably get into that cake!  top off that sugar cone with a sugar cup!

 ..in true texas fashion the cake was totally melting.


Baker wasn't too sure what to think about all the singing, and of course the candles!



after the singing crowd cleared she requested a cupcake and for me to "hold you".. sweet girl had no problem sharing her sweets.  love her so much.. and loved this day celebrating her!

CREDITS
invitations: CK Fireboots
tissue paper flowers: happy wish company
gift boxes + swim headbands c/o shelby chic boutique
custom frosted cookies: mrs. V's cookie company
flavia flamingo: anthropologie
flamingo cupcake topper picks c/o pearl + jane
cupcakes: market street
sprinkle mix: bash party goods
floral baking cups: paper eskimo 
"two" cake banner c/o pearl + jane
pennant banner c/o pearl + jane
circle backdrop banners c/o pearl + jane 
foil fringe: amazon
flamingo cut-out banner c/o pearl + jane
"FLAMINGLE" balloons: cheersnco
flamingo print: refinery number one
gold glitter flatware: bash party goods
dinner plates: bash party goods
 napkins: bash party goods
cake plates: bash party goods
paper straws: happy wish company
paper cups: paper eskimo
smile squeeze bottles: amazon
yard flamingos: amazon
slip + slide: wow super slide
yellow + pink child size sunnies: oriental trading company
"2" birthday hat c/o little blue olive
highchair banner c/o pearl + jane
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