Monday, December 15, 2008

The Herd Overheard

Ruby, like her mother, absolutely must get glammed up before even putting one fingernail into the dishwater.

Claire: “I smell bwoky.” (broccoli)
Ruby: “No, it’s a toot.”10/30/08

Daddy: “Where are your manners?”
Ruby: “They went to Narnia.”11/3/08

Mommy: “Don’t hit your sister with a shovel.”
Claire: “Like on Ruby’s forehead?”
Mommy: “Don’t hit her anywhere.”
Claire: “Like on her eye?”. . . and so on. . . 11/8/08

Daddy: “Don’t put your finger in your nose.”
Claire: “I was checking if there was any boogers in there, but there wasn’t.”11/22/08

“Hoo-eee, Haley!” –Claire, waiving a chubby hand in front of her face, which she has placed six inches from Haley’s stinky diaper.11/23/08

We like to do anything Mommy does!
Ruby (talking about the baby in Auntie Tiff’s belly): “Maybe it’s a boy or a girl. I might be right!” 12/1/08

Ruby (getting dressed): “Mom, I’m wearing cut-a-freeze.” (capris) 12/3/08

Ruby (patting Mommy’s tummy): Mom, do you still have a baby in or’s tummy? ‘Cause it feels like you do.”12/4/08

Mommy: “Don’t suck on Haley.”
Claire: “I did not bite her. I just chewed her hand.”12/6/08

And on one final note, this is one of the many reasons why I must be vigilant about watching my wee ones:

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Haley's Six Month Scoop

More interested in the spoon than the contents thereof.


Haley had her six month check-up last week. She weighed 15 pounds, 7 ounces and was 28 inches long.

What can Haley do? I had a hard time answering that question at the doctor’s office. She seems to have plateaued a bit, or maybe the changes are subtle. Anyway, she can now tripod sit (something I hadn’t tried with her until we got pictures taken last month) but continues to enjoy her skydiving position above any other. She rolls and scoots around,very motivated by seeing something to get into (not crawling yet--I have no idea sometimes how she got from one place to the other). She babbles and experiments with many sounds. I really couldn’t say if any of those sounds are new, though Casey and I noticed her trying to whistle the other night. She almost had it.

A couple weekends ago, Haley had her first taste of “real” food. You can tell we’re New Mexicans, because it was refried beans. Since then, she has also tried mashed potatoes and avocado, but avocado is the only food she’s actually “eaten” so far. I could just as well skip this introduction-to-people-food phase. It takes so long for babies to finish off even a teaspoon of watery mush in the beginning. It’s interesting to think that Ruby was already feeding herself Cheerios by this age, yet Haley doesn’t seem to be ready even for basics.

This brings up something I think is a little ironic, at least in our family. Many people say that when you have children close together, they are forced to grow up faster. This has not been our experience so far. If anything, I am less into pushing a child to do something for which she is not ready, because it makes it that much more work for me. Food, walking, potty training—these are all things that we can try to force on our children, yet I find myself perfectly fine with a child who is close to 4 and usually doesn’t recognize letters or numbers, one that’s nearly 2 ½ and not yet potty trained and a six month old who may or may not be eating much in the way of solids by Christmas. What does it matter? They’ll do it when they’re ready. (And in my limited experience, these things are much easier when they’re ready anyway.)

I want to take this opportunity to share a little about what kind of an infant Haley is, most especially since she seems to be changing. So I want to record now, while I can remember, the little ways that God has been so gracious to us with this third baby.

Haley is—by far—the most contented baby we’ve had. She makes Claire’s babyhood seem like a screaming fest (which, actually it sometimes was, until we discovered she was lactose intollerant--poor girl!). If she is fed, changed and rested, she is a happy baby. And speaking of rest, she’s a great sleeper. (Though she’s only going about six hours at night right now) She may fuss (not really worth being called “crying,” it’s so minimal) a moment or two, flip on her tummy, find her thumb and we don’t hear from her again for an hour or two—sometimes three. When she wakes, she often plays awhile before she cries. I’m sure we have no idea how long she goes sometimes. This evening, I had her lying next to me and she contented herself for over an hour babbling and playing with her toes. She’s happy to just be where the action is. She doesn’t complain when I don’t feed her right away, either. Just a whimper now and then as she gets to her threshold for hunger. Most days, if she gets to crying, it breaks my heart; it's so sweet and seldom.

A toothy grin is readily on her lips, and even when she’s upset, we can get her to smile. She is easily comforted most of the time, and will occupy herself or be occupied with the simplest of things. Though she started out as somewhat of a “song-and-dance” girl (and still is when she’s tired and we can’t put her in her bed yet--“song-and-dance” like Ruby was; wanting to not only be held all the time, but walked around, bounced, talked to, stimulated in some way) she has become less and less difficult and more of a blessing as each day passes. So far, she’s the only child we’ve had who willingly sits still on my lap for more than a few minutes.

Of course, there are exceptions: she can be crabby and has needy days now and then. But overall, she is the best baby we could have hoped to get for our third. We are well aware that God did not have to do things this way, and her contentedness may not be very long-lived at that, which is why I thought I should record these things now. We thank God for His tremendous mercy in giving us such a delightful, cheerful baby!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Cowarts

A friend of ours sent this to us the other night. I laughed so hard, I cried the first time I watched it. Casey has since made a couple for/with co-workers, which I enjoyed watching, since I have only met one of them. (Nice to see the faces that go with the names I hear so often.)

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Fam

Cousins Claire, Savannah, Lydia and Ruby watch a movie on the balcony. Can you tell Ruby is not feeling great?
Close enough?
Caiden (8 months) and Haley (six months) get to know each other.
Gram and Haley
We just said goodbye to my family on Sunday, after a wonderful extended weekend of time together. Our new home was able to house 12 people somewhat comfortably (I hope--am I wrong sisters?) and each family unit had its own space--however cramped. We had the girls in our bedroom with us, Haley in the playpen in our closet (yes, our closet. We're not terrible parents, are we?) one sister's family in the girls' room, and another sister's family in the guest room. That left the entire downstairs free for late-night chats or gaming to go on without disturbing sleepers.

That being said, there wasn't a lot of sleeping going on, which is how it is when my family gets together. By the end of our time, we usually walk around like zombies. Ruby had picked up a cold at Haley's well-check last week (despite sanitizing our hands several times while we were in there) and has been passing it to the rest of us since then.

Right now, I am resting in bed while the girls nap. I am determined to get better before Casey leaves to visit his brother in a few days. We're always a little sad when he leaves, and I don't want to make it any more of a bummer by being under the weather. We try to do fun things while he's gone so the girls and I can have something to look forward to, but there's a limit to what we'll be doing if we're still as sick as we are right now. It's also imperative that Casey NOT get this cold. Would we ever be forgiven for bringing sickness into a family with three under three?

How thankful I am for my excellent guests who left the house in such great order. On Sunday afternoon, when I began to lose steam and realized I was actually getting this cold, the house was in better shape than it usually is by Monday night (after I've attempted to catch up from the weekend). This has contributed to my ability this week to take it easy, yet keep up on clutter, laundry and dishes. It really helps to not start out behind!

This Thanksgiving went really well, and I look forward to Christmas when we won't be missing any siblings. Perhaps we can plan a few activities so that our time together includes more personal relationship-building opportunities. With a group so large (15 adults, 8 children so far), it's pretty easy to get to the end of our time and discover that we haven't had a good one-on-one conversation with anyone. Even this past weekend, my sister and I had to make a date to talk that last night--starting after midnight! Does anyone else run into this kind of problem during the holidays, or is it a big family thing? I'd love to hear ideas on how others deal with this sort of situation. Our family is only growing larger by the year, and our lost-in-the-mob-ness will surely only get worse if we don't implement a good plan!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My First Post from This Beauty. . .


Casey surprised me with an early Christmas present. Isn't she lovely?

It's a perfect gift, since he is a computer guy and knows me so well. He custom made it for me and included all the things that I would find important, but wouldn't know to order myself. And the red he just knew I'd love. Have I said he knows me well?

When it came, Casey set it up and got everything in order the way I would want it (I know so little about computers, I couldn't even tell you what all he did--but I do appreciate it.)

Case half-jokes that this is my Christmas gift as well as my Mother's Day, Birthday, Valentine's, Anniversary. . . (you get the idea) gifts for next year. If it is, I'd be okay with that. Give me a card with an affectionate note for those days and I'll be happy (even minus the laptop!).

Ruby broke out her laptop almost immediately.

This is what Casey has been doing with his--ahem--"spare" time the last few weeks. Er . . . not huffing. The part that's supposed to stand out is the model plane. Perhaps I should post this picture instead?

In other events, our friends got married last weekend. Ruby had the privilege of being the flower girl. Unfortunately, the day was such a whirlwind that we didn't take even one pic of Ruby. But Casey did manage to snap this one of the lovely bride.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yes, Extremely Wet Diapers DO Explode When Dropped from the Balcony

No, I didn't take a picture. And I'm thankful it wasn't a dirty diaper. BTW: it was me, not my children who threw the diaper (though they do it now and then). I do that alot in the mornings around here: toss pajamas, sheets, diapers, pretty much anything that's soft that needs to be down there. It saves me a few trips up/downstairs and nothing is usually worse for it.

Until today. The diaper burst. Gobs of tiny gel-ish things spewed toward the front door and almost made it into our shoes. I gasped. Claire cried. It was an interesting twist in our otherwise ho-hum morning. A few hours later I managed to fall down half of our stairs while holding Haley. Ever have one of those days where it would be nice to just go back to bed and start over again? But anyway, neither one of us was hurt. I've rehearsed in my mind what to do if I fall down stairs while holding a child. Lean back and to the side. So my upper thigh is pretty sore, but Haley was well protected and didn't have a clue of her near brush with pain. Of course, I gasped again. And as it would be today--for many things--Claire cried again.

Finally showing off her teeth

Makin' cookies with 'Lita

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Most of my life, I've wondered how on earth I could be a perfectionist, when my life and surroundings are so far from perfect.

And what of the mess in at least one room of my house at all times? Years ago, I wouldn't have believed it was due to perfectionist tendencies.

Alas, I am an all-or-nothing person. Since I was a child, I would start cleaning my out-of-control room by pulling everything out of my drawers or closet and begin organizing from the inside out. But I always ran out of steam long before I even put my drawer/closet contents back, and the ensuing mess was all-the-more discouraging, so I would not try to clean my room again for quite some time.

I am not proud to admit that my life today is not much different. Tuesday afternoon, as I was cleaning house, I caught myself organizing two drawers in an effort to fit a blanket that I wanted to put away (all-the-while, my house is aflame with a dozen visible "hotspots"--a term for horizontal surfaces that call me to pile more and more stuff there). I don't even realize how far I'm going out of the way of my first intentions until I find that one thing that started the cascade of insanity hours later, while wondering how I can be so tired and yet cannot point to one thing I have accomplished today. "And why isn't that blanket put away, either? I should have at least done that!"

My friend once told me I reminded her of the farmer who went to plow the lower forty (but he noticed the barn door was coming off its hinges, so he went to fix it, but then found that one of his tools wasn't working right, so he started to fix that. . . on and on until the sun had set and he realized he did not do anything all day). My friend was so right! I have to keep on top of myself, or I will inadvertently start doing this; it's in my nature.

Which is why I have decided to take up FLYing once again. (Of course this comment from my husband helped: "You were at the top of your game a couple years ago when you were doing FlyLady.")

As much as I don't agree with the whole "F.L.Y." thing (the theory that the reason we sidetracked people have problems is because we haven't yet learned the art of "Finally Loving Yourself." LOL! As my friend, LC says, "I was pretty fond, actually.") it is what has made a difference in my "if I can't do everything, I won't do anything" thinking, which is (for me) where most of the battle lies.

No, I really don't think it has to do with needing to love myself. That is an inborn human trait that is nothing to be proud of and is certainly not necessary to work toward. (Can I get an amen?) Rather, my problem is about having skewed priorities and overthinking, instead of just doing. You people who know me are smiling at how true this is, aren't you?

I am starting with even babier steps than she gives to help my thinking be more and more "can do" instead of "I don't have time to clean the world, so I'm not going to bother sweeping around the table." Just setting the timer and doing her fifteen minute challenges is so helpful and keeps me focused. "I am emptying the dishwasher, not making tea for dinner or hanging up Ruby's jacket. I am emptying the dishwasher," I remind myself in my head.

Any born organized person is probably perplexed at the need for a system to get me to start something. It might sound strange, but people like me go about ten steps ahead (in our minds) of what we're about to do and get discouraged before we even start.

This is how my mind works in regard to cleaning the house: "I need to vacuum (the entire house), but I want to dust (the entire house) before I do that, and there are toys and things all over the carpet (in the entire house) that I need to pick up. If I vacuum, it only makes sense to not allow dirt to be tracked from one kind of flooring to another, therefore I need to clean the hard floors, too (of course all the hard floors in the entire house: if I'm getting out the mop and water, I need to make it worth my time). So I'd better make sure that I sweep the front and back porches so we don't track in dirt from the outside, but I simply do not have hours to do this, so I'll have to wait till later."

This is actually a simplified list of what goes on in my head. All cleaning ends up being connected, and I hope it is understood that I was not joking about my all-or-nothing thinking. I literally think that way.

So Flylady helps get my rear in gear and when I start to see that one thing actually does make a difference, I am encouraged to do more here and there, which, when added up sure looks like a clean house!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If You Weren't Aware That Home Decor Is Not My Forte

I give you

Duplo Guy
He has been standing in the niche at our stairwell since my brother built him and put him there 3 weeks ago.

We have been in this house for 8 months now.


The niche used to look like this before we moved in. (BTW: we also have absolutely nothing on the overlook where these lovely plants once sat.)

And yet, I am unmoved to fill this lonely niche with something actually decorative. (Although blogging about it keeps it on my mind enough that I just might!)

I can appreciate beautifully decorated houses, but I have no idea how to go about doing something beautiful to mine.

And I'm strangely dead-set against looking in a magazine and copying something. Too unoriginal. I guess I'd rather have no decor than something I copied (save, of course, the guest room paint job in our last house. Thanks for the tips, Mom!). I am not opposed to others doing such things. In fact, I mean it as a compliment when I say someone's house looks like it came out of a magazine. I just feel like my fraudulence is waving a huge banner: "Look at me! I'm pretending I know something about home beautification!"
As I alluded to earlier, my family visited a few weeks ago. It feels strange saying that, since it was only three people, but I guess I can still say "my family" visited. My parents watched the girls for us one evening so I could take Casey to dinner for his birthday (paid for out of his gift fund--perhaps I'll post about that someday).
Right before we left, Case took this picture of everyone being way into the children's movie. Good times for all!



Is it me, or do my children look scared of bubbles?

Haley (five months now!) just figured out the reaching and grabbing thing this week. Until now, this is how she's been teething on things. Poor girl. Babies this young shouldn't have teeth. They simply do not have the resources. (Or knowledge of what is okay to teethe on and what isn't, if you get my drift.)

Ruby is enjoying her dance classes. They are doing a Christmas show and we aren't signing up Ruby. She is the only girl in her class who is not doing the show. She, fortunately, is not aware of a Christmas show and does not have pressure to be in it. (Ms. Diedre is so good about just teaching them things and not telling them what it's for--at least for now.) I, however, am asked by other moms every week if Ruby is doing the show. I can't believe how much peer pressure there is to deal with as an adult!


As fun as pictures are, there's nothing quite so entertaining as a bunch of two-and three-year-olds tap dancing! (Ruby's in the black/leopard leotard.)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Getaway


We celebrated Casey's birthday a few weeks ago by doing an overnight at a local resort. For some reason, Casey likes to get away for his b-day. I think it has to do with how he is when he is home: he just can't sit still and relax. He's always working (of course, this is a good thing, too. How I love that a lazy man he is not!) and doing projects, etc. I'm guessing all these little things around the house and yard that need to be done (in his eyes) make it not so relaxing to stay home.

At dance class one week, a couple of the moms told me about the resort trying to drum up business by having almost all of their rooms at a discount until October. I called Casey that afternoon and told him about it. He didn't sound too positive, so I thought nothing would come of it. Imagine my surprise when he called on his way home to say that he'd booked a room for us! He was trying to surprise me, that's why he had sounded so not impressed. I was more than surprised.

So we took off one Thursday and got to the resort, got settled, went for dinner and then a swim. The girls and I headed to bed while Casey checked out some amenities in the resort. In the morning, we let the girls swim again, then went to breakfast and came home.

We really loved it. A great place for children--especially the pool. It was beach-like, and indoor/outdoor with a waterfallish thing that separated the indoors from the outdoors. And the water was warm enough that even I enjoyed our evening-in-September swim! There were hardly any people, especially at the pool. I'd like to repeat the event, only sans children, but alas, the prices went up considerably, so that may be the one and only visit we have there.

Don't you love how shallow it is?


Re: the above picture: no, Claire is not drowning as we pose for our pic. She loves to do this. Does it every time she takes a bath. She's just a gung-ho water lover.

What a far cry from last year's birthday getaway to Durango. Of course, it was a bit of a drive (5-6 hours), which the girls did fairly well (they've never really been terrible travelers). But we stayed at this old motel (crazy enough, we spent quite a bit more per night for that motel than we did for the room at the resort). I swear it had bed bugs and the carpet was filthy (you notice these things when your children spend most of their time rolling around on the floor). When it came to night life, the girls needed to go to bed, and I was (newly prego) tired as well. Casey would have liked to do something, but it didn't seem fun to go out by himself, so we just watched TV in the room, the volume barely audible, the girls' bed piled high with pillows so the blue light wouldn't keep them awake. Not exactly the most fun getaway. Ironically, Casey would have had more freedom if we had stayed home. At least he could have gone to a different part of the house!

We came away determined not to do that again. Perhaps a suite with two rooms, but just one? Forget about it.

This year worked out well, though. Even with another child (and an infant at that), it was far more relaxing and wonderful (though I didn't sleep most of the night, but that's not what stands out to me about the stay). Our whole family had a great time. I'm not really sure what it was. Maybe it being really close and a resort, not just a stand-alone motel helped. And the room was big and clean.

It's usually so hard to both get away and relax with children this age. We almost always come home more exhausted than when we left. And we don't even try to do much. Just going through the rigamarol of all it takes to get through a day while away takes it out of us. It's just the way this season of life is. At any rate, it was good to find this time that we aren't totally banned from getting away while we have tiny ones. We'll just have to tweak the plan and be a little more creative.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cindy Lou Who?


In the past two years, Casey and I have both been told the same thing by different people about our oldest child. “She looks just like Cindy Lou Who!” I remember seeing a picture of CLW, but not since Ruby had been born, so Casey did a search on her to see what exactly people saw that made them think they looked alike.






So I’m guessing it's the blonde hair and the eyes. But mostly the eyes.

Last week, while in line at Dion’s (a local pizza restaurant), a customer next to me commented: “That girl’s eyes are bigger than her face.” When she found out Ruby was mine, she was apologetic, but I just thought it was funny (especially the fact that she was so embarrassed). I told her about the CLW comment we usually get, and she agreed.

The Herd Overheard

Every so often, I plan to do a post of strange or amusing things I've heard my children say (or things I hear myself or Casey say to them).

Here's hoping you enjoy them as much as I have!



Ruby to Mommy: "People say 'cheers' when they want to." Sept. 19



Claire to Daddy: "You're bossing me right and left!" Sept. 21



Ruby to Mommy: "We love ours chother" (each other) Oct 2



Ruby praying in another room: "God, please don't let me die and make me into a woman." Oct. 9



Claire to Daddy (as he changes her diaper): "It's too tight. I need it rooster." Oct. 13








Believe it or not, Haley was actually sleeping in this position until shortly before I took this picture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

RETREAT!


Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a ladies' retreat (put on by the church I used to attend) with about 25 women (from 10 different churches!). This is the 6th annual retreat, and I've attended all six. Some years I've had a baby with me, some years I haven't. Last year, newly prego with my third, I was able to go (gleefully) with a dear friend and (just as gleefully) without a child. (FYI: last year was the first time since I've had children that I had an overnight without children. It was very much appreciated--thank you Mom!)

This year, Casey took care of the two older girls (this was also a first: the first time he's taken care of them both for 2 days and 2 nights!) while Haley and I went to the retreat. It was De. Lightful.

So, I have to confess something here: I was totally going for the RETREAT part of things. Especially since, in years past, they have always crammed all the teaching sessions into a one-night retreat, and this year, being two days, it was far more relaxed, with a break from Friday's morning session (ending around lunchtime) until 7 p.m!

This year, I was just looking forward to having only one child (and that one being the easiest!) and soaking in some much-needed fellowship time with other ladies and an all-around stress-free weekend. But I was pleasantly surprised to very much enjoy the speaker and the topic as well! (I must admit--I had never heard of her and the topic was a little too nebulous to know what it was she was going to speak on.) The first session spoke right to me: Trust God.

Application? Trust that He knows how overwhelmed I feel, and yet He is the one in control of my circumstances, (His word promises that He won't put His children into positions where we HAVE to sin--1 Cor 10:13). Trust Him to give me the strength and grace to not only live through this, but do so thankfully (Phil. 2:14)! Trust that He knows better and more than I do. Just TRUST Him, period.

Another thing I gained from the retreat was perspective. I had some much-needed time away from home and (most of) my children. As you might have gathered, I don't do that very often.

The day I left, I was running around the house like a crazy woman, getting things put away, dishes and laundry done, etc. Of course, this was totally stressful to me, and even more so, my babies. By the afternoon, I think all of us were ready for some time away! I half-joked to Casey as I left that I hope I didn't die in a car accident on the way to the retreat, since the last memories R & C would have of me would NOT be the way I would want them to remember me.

I wanted Casey to not feel overwhelmed like I often do, or to resent me while I was gone for leaving him with two children and a pig sty of a house. I also wanted my homecoming to not be dampened by gigantic loads of dishes, laundry or clutter (I apologize to those ladies who come home to this discouragement despite their fiercest efforts--my hubby is AMAZING in this department. He doesn't do all I would do if I were the one home with them, but he sure does pick up and return things to how I left them! Please don't hate me for having such a wonderful husband! That's just something he does well! I'm sure there are things other husbands do well that mine doesn't, right? . . . I guess? :)

Okay, so perspective: when I got back, I went from room to room, ecstatic at the state of affairs in my home. Not that it sparkled by any means, but it really struck me how orderly and clean(-ish) it was. I asked Casey what he did, and he told me that he hadn't really done anything, just some dishes and picking up. And when I had left, I had been discouraged that the house was "such a mess," yet after a few days away to gain perspective, those things in my house that screamed and ate at me really didn't stand out at all. Returning as an outsider, my eyes were much less critical than they had been as the housekeeper that couldn't take one step forward without taking at least two back! (I think there's something to be said here about being home TOO much.)

I also gained perspective while at the retreat; discovering that, in my attempt to catch up on some Bible study one afternoon, I was only able to do a fraction of what I needed to get done. Haley was extra-needy that day, and wouldn't go down for a nap without crying (normally I just put her in her crib, she might cry for 5-10 minutes, and then she's out, but she woke up after only 20 minutes that day, and I wasn't about to let her cry more than a minute in what was essentially a motel room. What if someone next door was also trying to take a nap? So glad we don't live in an apartment--I would not be okay with bothering neighbors like that!) Anyway, even though it was discouraging and tiring, I got the point: of course it's hard to get ANYTHING done with three little ones. It's hard even doing things with ONE little one. So I sat in the room and nursed and cuddled and looked at my baby, and enjoyed the special time that she and I had alone together. I decided to delight in this 14-pound distraction from Bible study, and to take the distraction as a blessing.

This is okay, right?

Having been to retreats with babies aged 8 months, 2 months and 4 months, I have to say that if I had to go with a baby, my favorite "retreat" age has got to be in the 2 month range. Claire just nursed or lay on my lap (under the table while I took notes) or slept on a blanket next to me. Where as Ruby was crawling, eating more than just from me, didn't "do" naps half the time, etc. and Haley wanted more than to just sit or lay around, and--I didn't notice how much so until this retreat--she wants to nap in her bed. NOT being held. Poor girl. She hardly slept at all last weekend. The night we got home, she went 11 hours between feedings, and the next night, too! I even got a 9-hour-straight stretch of sleep in there, which was good, because I hadn't slept much either!

The ladies around me were really kind to take Haley now and then, when she got fussy. A few of them actually got her to sleep, too. I never considered being able to take notes a privilege until I had children. I felt spoiled!

Anyway, it was a much-needed and much-loved retreat, and I was glad to come back to my life, but it is still hard, and I still feel like I'm in over my head sometimes (like tonight while trying to bathe all three of them--I think I was impatient all but the first five minutes). I'd really love to regain perspective more often, in order to not get so stressed so easily.