Words by S #2

“(about lightening) “Where’s the flashlight in the sky, Papa?”

“Bug!” “That’s an ant,” “Aunt Susannah!”

“I love you, Papa!” “I love you, S!” “Just kidding!”

“Do you want peanut butter?” “Just butter.”

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy face.”

“What’s that come from, Mommy?” <- favorite question.

“last night” = the past
“on Sunday” = the future

“Mommy, my name is S and I have a question for you.”

“Where’s my daddy?”
“Some kids call their papas daddy, you call him papa.”
“Can I call him Ezra?”
“Only if you get lost.”
“Can I get lost?”

“long my heart has panted… like a dog wants water.”

“Did you hurt your leg?” “I hurt my jeans.”

“cashew doll” = kokeshi doll

“I’m feeding my baby. I don’t have milk, just cuddles.”
“We’re going away from the darking bog.”
“Where’s the darking gob?”
“He’s back a few blocks.”
“He’s with the blocks.”

“O precious little baby, yet to be born.” (Blessings upon you, my baby unborn)

“precious little papa, do you have an idea?”

“Can I pet Ellie?”

“No mommy have fun with papa.” (almost every time I put her to bed…)

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Words By S

My sister did this a while ago with her oldest and I thought would share some of the funny things S says that really brighten our days. Her chatter can drive me crazy sometimes when she repeats the same things again and again but mostly I really enjoy getting the front row seat on her language development!

“Mommy crying. Mommy papa hold you.” (responding to a woman crying on TV)

“S, what’s your favorite food?” “Uncle David.”
“S, what was your favorite part of today?” “Uncle David.”
“S, who’s your favorite Aunt?” “Uncle Susannah.”

S, with her mouth full. “Nobody.”
Kyleigh starts laughing, trying to hide it, excuses herself to laugh.
S: “Mommy crying. Mommy throw fit.”

“Tummy hurt. Need sammich.”

“cupkick” = chapstick

“wrapping paper” = tortillas, napkins

“Where was the last place you wore your hat?”
S: “ona head.”

“I three months old.”

“tubby bear” = teddy bear

Planting garlic with Ezra: “baby garlics go night night. Baby garlics wake a nap. Baby garlics pretty.”

“Say ‘lasagna.’” “Susannah.”

“Toes dirty. New toes, new toes, I need new toes!!!”

“allergetty” = alligator

She’s 2!

S is 2!

Weight: 26.2 pounds
Height: 33 inches
Teeth: all but 2 year molars
Eating patterns: 3 meals and 2 snacks, nurses in the morning and at nap time.
Favorite foods: oatmeal, eggs, sweet potatoes, squash, bread, dessert, soup, roasted carrots, lima beans.
Sleeping patterns: 7/7:30 AM wake up, 12:30-2:30 nap, 7:30 bedtime. Sleeps with Eden Bunny and her silky.
Favorite songs: ABC’s (nomahny for “now I know my”), Twinkle Twinkle (“how wa wee” for how I wonder), theme song from Totoro, Johnny Cash “I talk to Jesus every day,” and “God Made Me” by Judy Rogers.
Favorite Toys: dolls, cars, balls
Favorite things to do: color, climb, swing, read, play with Ellie, play with stickers.
Favorite Books: Ten Tiny Toes, Are You a Cow?, Goodnight Moon (Hush), Corduroy, photo books, Curious George, Teach Your Child to Swim, and any books with singing in them.
Important events: became a big sister, traveled to Dubai and Palau
Comfort items: sucking thumb and feeling belly button

We celebrated her birthday with a birthday party, since we couldn’t last year and I wanted to do something to try to get all or at least some of her friends all together before we moved, since she loves them so much (and made 3 more in the weeks since her party that she talks about a lot!).
 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 1_zpsr4vsjvze.jpg
Chocolate peanut butter flourless muffins (that are so rich I decided they could be cupcakes) with chocolate frosting, recipes below.

 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 2_zpsu20rhhre.jpg
We had crackers, cheese, veggies, popcorn, and jello.
When I was planning I had two things in mind: ease and what S liked. She loves balloons, coloring, and playing in boxes, so that’s what we had to do, and I made a playlist of some of her favorite music to play in the background and the kids had fun doing all that, eating, dancing, and chasing each other around.

 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 6_zps9vpgy3cz.jpg
She was thrilled with cupcakes, unlimited crackers, balloons, boxes to color on and play in, and her friends at her ‘happy be party.’
I had gone to set up while she was napping, and when Ezra brought her in the room, the look on her face was priceless. We had been telling her about her birthday party but didn’t think she understood much, but I think she knew, and was even more excited once friends started coming. I think that was the best part to her, her friends.

 photo 17 November - E 2 months S 2 years 10_zpsltkuo7cl.jpg
She was not very cooperative when I was taking her 2-year photos.

Birthday party links:
Chocolate Peanut butter cupcakes (muffins, but they’re so rich! This recipe makes 6 regular-size muffins)
honey-sweetened frosting (+6-7 Tbsp cocoa)
Finger jello

Miss Munchkin is ONE!

Our silly munchkin turned one a few days ago. The year has flown by so fast, and I can’t imagine life without our little girl. Her personality is so much fun and I love being a mother to our sweet goofball. She loves people (usually even strangers, though Ezra and I are definitely her favorites), loves to ham it up for us or the camera, wants to be involved in everything I do, loves exploring, is determined but also sensitive – when she wants something, she doesn’t give up easily when she can’t have it, but even a gentle “no” (sometimes) causes her to burst into tears. I love watching her grow and learn new things, and all of the smiles she brings to people we pass and meet.

Looking back on the year, it’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown and also how important our families and friends have been, especially our mothers, my friends who came to stay (Anna, Angela, Hannah, Hannah, and Sarah), and the women that sent me encouraging messages and/or were there for me in the roughest moments – Mom Guest, Aunt Becky, and Jennifer A.
And there are so so so many sweet memories, especially surrounding those first weeks when all we did was cuddle (this post has some nudity but is amazing for ideas on how to spend those first few weeks).

Not that it was as easy as my memories make it seem. I got sick of hearing “it gets easier after 6 weeks… 3 months… 6 months…” and started reminding myself what my sister said – that it doesn’t necessarily get easier just different. Though that different for us has often meant fewer hard moments but harder when they’re there. There are ALWAYS hard things: if not reflux, then teething, or general crankiness, or moving too much too fast and getting hurt or frustrated. I so often fell into the trap of “once this is over it’ll be easier/I won’t get so upset or discouraged.” But I still do, even though it’s only one day a week or once week at a time instead of months without end. Which has shown me again and again that circumstances may be horrendous but my heart is even more horrendous and I need His help more than anything, and THAT, not doing fun things with my kids, is what’s going to make me a good mom – being one that says to myself and my kids “I’m discouraged, I messed up, I need Jesus just like you.” – and He’s here helping me, and He’s the one who gave us THIS baby with THESE issues at THIS time (so many times I prayed “seriously, God? You know we have stacks and stacks of paperwork and long lists of things to do to move across the ocean and his work isn’t any help and we’re dealing with a baby who won’t sleep on top of it all?”). But He knows. And there were definitely things I needed to learn (some I STILL need to learn – you’d think after all that I’d be more patient and not get angry when she doesn’t sleep…) through all of it. Not that that made it any easier going through it.
I want to remember all of it: the difficult but precious days of struggling to find time to do the dishes, feeling like I could never make dessert or more elaborate dinners, get back into writing and music or do special things with her, holding for all her short naps, etc., as well as all of the more numerous happy memories.

We celebrated S’s birthday a few weeks early so my family could be a part of the festivities. I didn’t really want to make a cake for just us and since they were here so close to her birthday we decided to celebrate then, and finish presents on her birthday since they weren’t all here or done.
I had thought about doing a bigger party, but didn’t, mostly because we were so new here – if we’d been in San Diego with all of her friends we would have done something with all of them. But because of those thoughts I had some ideas for food and decorating, so we had a bit of a “Japan” theme with chicken curry (S’s favorite food), a cake decorated like Totoro from “My Neighbor Totoro,” a bunting made out of some Japanese fabric, and one of her presents was a doll I made of Mei from Totoro. I also made her an owl hat, since the sweater I was making her ended up too small. She loves the owl, but hates wearing the hat.


Candace with the bunting she made (It’s now in S’s room)


Totoro! I used this tutorial, but without fondant. The white of his eyes is just frosting I rolled into a ball and flattened, and the black part is raisins.


The cake itself was this recipe, but I combined a few frosting recipes to make my own (1 c coconut cream, dash vanilla, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 3 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 Tbsp coconut flour, 2 Tbsp arrowroot) I had to melt it and then let it cool, then whip it, and let it cool some more before I could use it. It was ok. I was limited in what I could do since it had to be pipable and nut, dairy, and sugar free. Next time I’ll invest in some coconut butter. I would also whip the cake more to make it lighter and only do one layer as it was pretty heavy and dense.


She approved, and was absolutely wild about the curry – her favorite foods are peas, carrots, chicken, and curry, and it had all of that.

When she was 6 months old I wrote some on our baby sleep journey so far, and wanted to update a bit with some more links and things we’ve learned. She’s not sleeping through the night yet but that’s just lack of desire and motivation on our part and is coming soon (I’ve already taken the first steps of not nursing to sleep at bed time and not comfort sucking in the middle of the night).
As time goes on, the more I am convinced that crying it out is rarely the answer to baby sleep problems (the only time it would ever be is for an older baby with prop issues. This has lots of good info on that. I can’t wait for her book!). Whenever S has had a harder time than usual sleeping, there’s something wrong and another way to fix it. Often it takes more time and work, yes, but it fixes the root issue much more gently.
For example – her wakings from 12-1 AM are almost always discomfort, and her early wakings are almost always because her wake times are too short, so taking off her sleeper, giving her chamomile for teething, etc. or giving her longer A times fixes it without tears.

At 6 months she got a lot more flexible with sleep and wasn’t so easily overtired, which was nice, but made it harder to gauge when something was wrong. Then at 8 months her naps got a bit shorter (1 – 1.3 hours, so just under “enough”), signaling longer wake time in a different way than before.
Finding a balance between attachment parenting and a more rigid schedule isn’t easy but I’m glad we’ve done it. I think it was especially important with all we’ve been through. I think we needed to guide/influence her more than attachment parenting often allows, but also needed to do a lot more babywearing/night nursing/nursing on demand than other “parenting methods” allow – and some of it may just be S, not the move and all that – she has nursed every 2 hours during the day since she was 6 months old, and nothing has stopped that. I don’t know if it’s comfort or legitimate hunger, but it is what it is, and we’d both be miserable trying to change it.

Some helpful links:
Baby & Toddler Sleep Regressions
How the Wonder Weeks Affect Sleep (I’m on the fence about Wonder weeks. most of the time S was not in line with them but other times she was and this helped a lot then).
Managing Nap Transitions (4-3 and 3-2 were very smooth for us, mostly thanks to basing her sleep times off of wake time lengths and being flexible with bed time when we needed to be).

Finally, REFLUX. Praise the Lord, that finally ended! An elimination diet revealed that dairy and gluten were at least partially the culprits, but I still had to avoid them until she was 8 months old.
The silent reflux was far rougher than any sleep issues (though it contributed to sleep issues). It’s a beast and especially with your first makes you feel like you’re doing everything wrong, and there are so few who really understand what it’s like. I got asked so much “is she on a schedule? Do you let her cry it out?” when people hear she didn’t sleep well. Yes, we have a routine and no, we don’t cry it out as it aggravates reflux (among other things), and we hold her upright after feeds and do smaller more frequent meals and no it’s not just normal baby sleeplessness. My postpartum depression was mostly gone by the time the reflux really flared up, but the reflux definitely made it more of a struggle after that and made it hard to tell sometimes if it was really gone or if I was just realistically discouraged from having a reflux-y, hyper baby that needed it pitch black to sleep and had a teeny-tiny sleep window between tired and hyper in addition to E’s unpredictable work schedule and all the moving paperwork and preparation.
I hated watching the other babies at church just fall asleep in the light or lying down, until one day I realized that it wasn’t ME it was S that made things different – she was a different baby. To mama’s with a reflux-y baby: you aren’t doing anything wrong. And it helps to talk to those moms with the “perfect babies” and find out that their babies also have sleep issues.

I’m thankful our doctor didn’t push meds and was open to us trying other things – probiotics ended the diaper change crying from lying flat on her back, though didn’t help with sleeping. She told us signs of dairy sensitivity which helped when S had some mucousy poop because then we knew what to do. We tried a homeopathic remedy but it didn’t seem to help much long term.

Really I don’t know what helped. We did a lot of things: clipped her small tongue tie (mostly because I was still in some pain nursing when she was 6 weeks), gave her probiotics, dealt with my fast let-down and oversupply, eliminated foods… she got older and started sucking her thumb (more saliva + more swallowing = less acid coming up) and sleeping on her tummy, and when she started solids we spent a while just doing gelled bone broth in an attempt to re-seal her gut (and only then was I able to reintroduce dairy and gluten, but that may have just been coincidence).

Helpful link: The Great Baby Reflux Epidemic (Or Not)

Here’s to year two and all of the laughter and tears it will bring! All glory to God for bringing us through this first wonderful year of parenthood.

September

My photos from September are spread around the road trip post and an upcoming Japan post, but here is my usual monthly update, minus the recipes since we were on the road for most of September, so I barely cooked, and when I did it was old recipes.

best of online// How to Fight Anxiety (Piper) // Did Christ die for us or for God? (Piper) // Brushing Shoulders // Courageous VS The Incredibles // Writing Begins With Forgiveness // Teaching Our Children the Raw Parts of Scripture // To a Woman Considering Abortion // Your Child is Your Neighbor (ouch) // Confessions of a Social Media Addict (ouch, especially in a new place when E is not home) // Relational Justice (Olasky) // Your To-Do List (Belz)

reading of late// The Gospel’s Power and Message – Paul Washer

thinking about// “When a civilization falls in the fog of war, and no one pays attention, does it make a sound?” – Mindy Belz // the movie Boychoir: how polyphony was used to change a pre-teen’s life. Yeah, Tallis!

what brings joy// watching S grow // surprise visits to E // Redwood trees // rain // not flying an American airline // finally being in Japan // iTunes on shuffle: Tallis followed by the Hobbit followed by Song of the Selkies followed by Britten’s War Requiem followed by Louis Armstrong followed by King’s Singers with Albrecht Mayer topped off with Arabic hymns

Miss Munchkin//  is a super-duper traveler: 35+ hours in the car, 12 hour flights, 16 hour time changes. She’s also covering more ground on her own. Her record is 15 steps, but she almost always starts out walking now if she’s standing and will often walk between things. She has 6 teeth, likes to hold hands, stick her tongue out, and melt the hearts of teenage Japanese girls with waves and monkey noises. A transoceanic move mostly on my own with a 10 month old would never have been my first choice. But with the worst of it over, I can say I’m so glad to have had this crazy kid with me the whole time, monkey noises, cautious walking, and laughter especially. My two favorite things about being her mom are watching her learn and all the smiles she brings everyone around her.
She also love Ethiopian and Indian food, and occasionally says dog (da), hi, and kitty (seesee).

writing// Javi’s Cafe, 21.

Jesus, Priceless Treasure


Before Munchkin was born, we had talked about choosing a hymn for each child that would be “their” song. It took us a while to choose one for S. I was expecting to have one that was special during pregnancy or birth, but there were’t any. But then I realized Jesus, Priceless Treasure summed up a lot of what I was going through.
Once we’d picked it, I printed it, tea stained it, stained a wood plaque, and decoupaged it together. On the back I put her birth announcement and an explanation of why we chose her hymn.
And then I realized we never shared about her name here. That was somewhat intentional since we don’t want her name floating around the internet, but it still does mean a lot to us. So without specifics, here’s some information on it. 🙂

Her first name is Persian. We love that it’s an international name because of the time both of us have spent abroad, especially in that region of the world.
It is somewhat related to Sarah, which is important because of how Sarah Abraham’s wife is talked about in 1 Peter 3, along with the other “holy women” who “hoped in God” so were able to “fear not anything that is frightening.” In a world filled with so many scary things, we hope that she will be brave through Christ in spite of, not for lack of, anything frightening that may come at her, even as we grew and learned in that area as we prepared for her birth and our new roles as parents.
And with so many of my closest friends being named Sarah, we also thought it was fitting to name her after all of them!

Her middle name is Ezra’s mother’s middle name, and my grandmother’s middle name, and very similar to most of my closest friends that aren’t Sarah. We’re so thankful for all the godly examples and encouragement we’ve received from all these people and hope she will benefit from it as well.
Its meaning is a reminder to us to rely on His grace and not our own strength, as well as a prayer that she will come to know Him.

Jesus, Priceless Treasure
We picked this hymn for you because of how it relates to Sarah and fearing not what is frightening. It is one of Mama’s favorites, especially when she was struggling to adjust to a new normal after you were born. It is our prayer that the words would be true in your own life, even as we rely on God to make them true in our own. You are a treasure, but Jesus is an even greater one – may He be your greatest!

6 Months

Miss Munchkin is 6 months old!

What a ride it’s been!
From an easy first week to fighting sleep and reflux, to our happy, spirited baby sleeping peacefully on her own. It’s been a roller coaster learning who she is and what motherhood is and finding a new normal that’s always morphing as she grows. Not always easy, always needing God’s help, but SO. MUCH. FUN. I can’t believe it’s been half a year.
We’re thankful that although we may have had a reflux baby, we have a happy baby, and although she didn’t sleep well for a long time, she sleeps well now and even when she didn’t, she slept through the noise of the trash truck and neighbors remodeling – and will usually stay asleep when I play oboe with her in the carrier, which I’ve done a number of times at church. It’s so nice to be playing regularly again, and also walking almost every day.

She’s met all of her aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, and has been on her first airplane ride. She doesn’t sit yet but does a funny crawl that reminds us of butterfly.
Speaking of butterflies, she’s a social butterfly and makes friends with everyone everywhere we go and is always full of smiles, even for strangers. She’s pretty content to play on her own, too, and spends most of the day scooting around the house playing with her toys. She loves her Sophie giraffes, but also a giant wooden spoon, an empty bottle, and any shoes, boxes, and wheels she can find. She gives kisses to us and the baby in the mirror (who she loves ;)).

We celebrated Mothers’ Day with Ezra’s family up north, and I was thinking a lot about how my understanding of mothers’ day and all it entails is different and how much more I wanted to do something for the mothers around me and give them a break (the whole trip was my break!).

PS – it’s never too late to be added to email updates with photos – just email me. 🙂