Saturday, December 28, 2013

Timothy Sullivan Ninness 12/9/2013

Last Sunday I sat at Mass holding my new son. It was Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Joy. It was Timothy's first Mass and the big kids were at home. I held my boy (in peace!) and praised God for the upcoming arrival of the ultimate source of Joy. We've had a lot going on with both Thomas and Timothy's health but I wanted to remember all the ways God blessed us with this little boy's birth. He is deserving of real and pure JOY, untainted by any worry or fear.

The weeks leading up to Timothy's birthday were hard. A friend told me that being pregnant with 2 siblings to care for was harder than having 3 little children. She was so right. I was carrying a fully baked baby with a 27 lb, non-walking 15 month old on top of him. My body had almost no recovery from Thomas' birth and here we were doing this again so quickly. Pregnancy was hard. Avoiding bed rest and worrying that we would be on bed rest was hard. Parenting well and intentionally whilst exhausted and in pain and with perpetual heartburn was hard. And then the doctor informed me I was walking around more than 6 cm dilated and I could go into labor at any minute. This was scary because we moved farther from the hospital and had a 40 minute drive with no traffic. Doctor Combs repeatedly told me that if my water broke to call her from the car. She validated my fear that this child could be born in my living room and worse, without pain meds. (mama is a big baby.) So, I spent the final weeks up all night with anxiety, in pain, and in fear.

We had our 38 week doctor appointment December 9 and knew that if I'd further progressed, she would recommend she break my water and we have a baby. As any mother in the last weeks knows, when a doctor hands you an out, it takes a lot to say "no thanks, this is fun, we'll keep going." Knowing I am  comfortable with medical intervention (or just scared out of my mind of a natural birth), we went to the doctor and confirmed that our best chances of a calm, un-chaotic birth were that day. Memaw had come into town for the weekend to ease our concerns about going into labor over the weekend and was ready to care for the big kids. We were a go.

And God took away every fear, answered every prayer.

We checked in, got just enough of an epidural to not yell a lot, broke my water and within two hours we were pushing. My doctor, who I adore, was on call. We had a capable nurse and one of the 4 biggest Piedmont rooms. Mary Kate and mom were in the waiting room, as well as Sha Sha and Pops all waiting to see who this new family member was. Ross and I prayed together and feeling just the right amount of every contraction,  pushed this baby out after 3 sets of pushing.  And my favorite part of every birth, dad's announcement. I saw him literally levitate with a right arm uppercut and yell/laugh "It's a boy!"  (In fairness, I saw his face before anything else and said, "he looks like Tom, it has to be a boy!) We spent some quality time with Timothy and then Ross went out to get Mary Kate. She was the first person to meet Timothy and then walked out to the waiting room and yelled in the sweetest voice, "It's a boooooy!" Priceless moment.

We laughed and cried and I took the first deep breath I've taken in months. God gave us another son, a healthy boy. We didn't have to go on bedrest. We had a controlled, safe, un crazy delivery with the doctor I love. Our kids were well cared for (little Tom had a wonderful babysitter) and there were no middle of the night emergency calls for childcare. My instagram hashtag immediately became "fearisawasteoftime." It was a waste of time. I should have trusted Him more but made up for it in complete and utter gratitude for my second son.

Dear sweet Timothy,

You are a gift from God, our most unexpected Christmas present. We are so, so thankful that God's plans are bigger than ours and we can't wait to see what His plans are for you, our treasured son. You are light and joy and wonder and perfection. We adore you.

puffy faced mama meets perfect baby boy

Mary Kate meets baby boy

being silly with pops

watching the nurse (who was also one of our nurses with Thomas!) take care of Timothy

A thankful and excited family, and a big sister who wouldn't take her eyes off her new baby

Monday, November 25, 2013

to my three babies....

As we anxiously await the arrival of the 3rd Ninness in 3.5 years, my thoughts are on the big kids. We are seeing some behaviors in both kids that may very well have to do with their little intuitions that life is about to get cah-razy! Miss Mary Kate has had some potty training regression, having been fully trained since February. She is more emotional and mercurial.  Thomas is even more so attached to mama (didn't think it was possible). While we don't give it too much power, still disciplining disobedience as necessary, it's noticeable. Call it emotional nesting, but I wanted to get a little note down to all the kids, a little piece of mama's heart for them to read later in life. This one is for my babies...

to my mary kate,

You are 3 years and 4 months old. You became a big sister for the first time just 14 months ago. Your transition to having a new baby in the house was truly seamless. You didn't miss a beat, loving your brother immediately. You were just old enough to enjoy other family members and activities but just young enough to not really realize what was going on. I contend that 26 months apart is the perfect spacing but maybe you were just fabulous, and maybe it was easier that y'all were two different genders. Either way, you handled it like a pro. Here we are, just a year later, and you are back in big sister mode. You understand my pregnancy and any time I wince or grab my tummy, you ask me if the baby is kicking. You have gone back and forth between saying you think it is a boy or a girl but lately you tell everyone you want a sister. You tell us her name is AnnaBeth, which is partly mama's fault because this was a name on our short list for a long time. (Due to mom and dad's disagreeing on what her name would actually be, versus what she would be called, this name got nixed :) I'm sure you'll do fine but know it will shock you to see either a boy baby or a name that is not AnnaBeth!

I told dad tonight that you are where I think we will need to really focus when this baby comes. Thomas won't understand a thing and we will just need to keep him from clawing or smothering the baby, but you, you are different. Thomas demands mama. He puts his head on my chest 20x a day, most recently even to eat. He is cuddly and affectionate and wants mama all the time. To describe you as a baby (and now, to some degree), you fell off the bed when we were at a conference with you in Nashville. You were 6 months old and afterward, you laid your head on my shoulder for a long time. Dad and I literally contemplated taking you to the hospital should you have laid there much longer. This is how out of character it was for our girl to be cuddly. Just a few minutes later you were squirming out of my arms, ready for your next adventure and we knew you were fine. To this day, if you are super cuddly, you probably have a fever. The point of all that is to say that sometimes it can seem like you don't need as much affection and tlc. You crave attention and activity. You want to be engaged. You are so like your daddy in this way and he is wonderful about filling this part of your heart the minute he walks in the door. But I know you need snuggles too. I need to remember that you like to be pulled into my lap and smothered with kisses, even if you squirm and pretend you don't. You enjoy some baby play now and like to be held after a bath or when you are hurt. In your little ways, you are reminding us that just because you don't want to physically attach yourself to me like Thomas does, you still need your mama.

So my hope and prayer these next months is that you know how special you are, how unique a creation God made you. My hope is that you see in my tired eyes my intense love for you. My hope is that on days when you really want your mama but two babies need her too, that you give me precious 3 year old grace and that you find the comfort you need in Jesus. I hope you know that my arms will always long to hold you, even if they can't physically do so. I know you will love this new little baby because you are an unbelievably wonderful sister to Thomas. You are generous, patient, loving, nurturing and kind. I promise to do my best to not think you are older than you are. I promise to remember that you are a little girl who still needs her mama and daddy, even if you look and act so much older. I promise to try not to expect too much, but to give you opportunities to excel and shine, like you so often do.

Please forgive me, my angel girl, for the times in the coming months when you will want time and attention and affection and be asked to wait. Please know how precious you are. And one day when you are a mama, maybe you will read this and cut yourself some slack. You'll read this and know that all mamas wonder how they will love and care for another baby while caring for and loving their older babies. Then your family will grow and you will just know. The love, it multiplies, and the things that make each of you unique and special will always be.

I love you, my firstborn angel baby.

To my Tom,

Oh Tom.  Never in my life have I felt as loved by anyone as I do you. There are all these sayings about mamas and sons and every cliché rings true. This boy does love his mama. You didn't sleep through the night regularly until around 7 months, after I was pregnant. I'm sure if I hadn't been sick with this new baby, I would still be getting up to nurse you. I know how to make babies sleep at night. But I couldn't bare to hear your cry. I rock you most nights and you happily lay your head on my chest. Lately, you do it during the day, too. You are mischievous and want to be off finding trouble, but if you catch sight of me, you want to be in my arms. This has made for a very uncomfortable 3rd trimester, especially since you are showing no signs of walking at almost 15 months. But as uncomfortable as I may be toting around two big babies, one little tilt of your head under my neck is all it takes. You need and desire my presence in a way no one else ever has and I'm a sucker. Dad asks often, "what are you going to do in December?"  Your dad is an eternal, unfailing optimist. But even he wonders how I will manage the constant needs of a newborn with a one year old who has staked his claim. The answer is, I don't know and it keeps me up at night. While lately I see your sister showing me that she may have a harder adjustment with this baby than she did with you, I have not a clue what I will do with you. As most people say, you will just survive. You will either rise to the occasion and share mama, or you'll learn to like other people :) I have shed many a tear about you being asked to share your mommy when you are still very much a baby. I can easily become sad at the thought that your new brother or sister may need to be fed at a moment you just want to be held.

But then I remember what I have heard from mamas of children close in age. I remember what we believe about growing families. We know it will not be easy, on any of us. We know we will all cry and have sad moments. But you, my love, you get a best buddy just one year younger than you. This new baby will walk side by side with you through much of your life. You will not have any memories without this new person. And with lots of intentionality and effort by mom and dad, as well as God's sweet grace, you and your siblings will grow up to truly love and enjoy one another. We hope that you all will be playing badminton in the back yard as adults, sharing a beer and a laugh and will be thankful that your parents were willing to endure those hard early years with lots of young children.

So, sweet boy, I live for your snuggles. I live for the immediate smile you shoot me when I walk in the room. I live for the moments when you are fussy or upset and a few seconds with mom soothes you. The next few months will be an adjustment for both of us. I will want to put you to bed when Mary Kate or new baby really need mom. I will want to snuggle you when everyone needs to eat. And I will simply have to trust that the part of you that needs to be held and soothed, can be held and soothed by Jesus in that moment. I will trust that our heavenly father can meet any need that I can't (and more) and believe that you will not suffer irreparable harm because you had to wait to be held. You may be a daddy one day, and if you are, remember that you and your precious wife are not doing this alone. You can never meet everyone's needs. You can, however, always point your babies to the ONE who can.

I love you, my most precious Tom.


New baby,

I'd call you by the names we think we have chosen but those changed as recently as three nights ago so we'll just have to see. You, little one, are the biggest surprise of our lives. I am looking down at the biggest belly I've ever had, wincing at the "kicks" that can bring me to tears they are so strong and powerful. I am admittedly ready for you to come in some ways, as this pregnancy has been so physically demanding. It's like the exact opposite of your brother, having been on bedrest with him. With you, every movement feels like climbing Everest. (You and I can both blame the physical toll of schlepping your brother around.) But wow, parenting a toddler and a baby while carrying what feels to be a very large baby is rough stuff. A friend told me parenting those two kiddos with a newborn is so much easier than being pregnant with that baby. I sure hope that 's the case because newborns aren't mama's forte. Anyway, your brother and sister have sweet stories about our desire to have a baby, right around the exact time we got pregnant with both of them. I don't love the word "planned" but, planned they were. You, dear heart, while planned by God, as a friend so sweetly reminded me, were not exactly planned by mom and dad. And THIS, this makes you so special. We know and trust and believe that God knows what our family needs. We know and trust and believe in HIS plan for us. We know and trust and believe in HIS ability to walk us through the challenges of young babies close in age. We know and trust and believe in HIS promise to make each of you feel loved, desired, cherished.  I'm not sure how much I know and trust and believe that mama will remain sane through it all, but am growing in my faith here ;)

You will make your appearance sometime soon, likely during Advent, this holy season of waiting for Jesus. Like the people of old waited for that most precious baby who would change the world, we wait for you. We wait for our 3rd baby, our most unexpected gift, who we know will change the world too. Because, sweet baby boy or girl, this world wasn't meant to be without you. God took the reins from our hands and made it so that His beautiful world included you. We are a little anxious and a lot excited and even more thankful.

We love you already!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's a small (er) world

4 years ago my world was big.  My world of opportunity to do good, to serve, was big. I was an HIV social worker in an inner city hospital. I was seeing the sisters at the Gift of Grace house regularly, helping them in their ministry to the poor and sick. I was active in my church ministries. I had recently traveled to Africa. I had a big desire to do good things and a big platform on which to do them. Every day brought new opportunity to, as the sisters pray, "let them look up and see only Jesus." (It goes without saying that at any given point in a day, anyone could look up and see a very un-Jesus like person, a very selfish and sinful person in me. But the point is, if I had it in me to do some good, there was opportunity everywhere I looked. I considered this a huge blessing.)

Fast forward a few years and my world has gotten smaller in some ways. Particularly since the move, and with a baby who takes two naps a day, I am at home a lot. My heart has grown exponentially, but my opportunities for service, at least in the way I used to view service, are fewer. Ross and I believe so strongly in "to whom much is given, much is expected." We marvel at our blessings, sitting in awe of His goodness to us. And yet, we sometimes feel that we need to pay it forward more fully. But often that feels difficult because, really, who wants me to come volunteer with Thomas the destroyer in tow? Sure, I can help from 11:30-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm at your service. The requests for my time and talent are not exactly abundant.

Last night, I had a small chance to make a miniscule difference so I jumped on it.  My precious friend Natalie hosted a Noonday party for Paige Knudsen. Noonday sells beautiful jewelry, clothing and accessories crafted by people trying to use entrepreneurship to climb out of their poverty. Like most every woman, I love to shop and this idea of "purchasing with a purpose" is right up my alley. (Ross is now very, very afraid.) It was a wonderful night of adult conversation and knocking out some Christmas list items while not padding the pockets of my beloved, but not so needy, Target.

It was a fun night and I was ready to go home and get cozy. As I walked to my car, something caught my eye. At one point during the party, I complimented a friend's boots. They were from my "when I have absurd amounts of money to play with" store (i.e. I go in once every 3 years), Anthropologie. I teased this friend that we wore the same size shoe and should she grow tired of them...When I walked to my car, the boots were outside my door. This friend took OFF her shoes and after a series of texts, affirmed that yes, she wanted me to have them and she was wanting to simplify. Okay y'all, I will simplify all day- with my stash of target shirts and Goodwill finds. If I buy a pair of boots from Anthro, um, no. I'd probably have them insured.

Awestruck, I came home and talked to Ross about how this affected me. I am around other moms all the time. We are all trying to shed light where we can, when we can, with our gremlins alongside us (or darting away if you are my gremlins). But for me, it's hard. Because I compare the me of today to the me of four years ago. I don't doubt for one minute that the back breaking, heart wrenching, patience testing work I do with these kids is my purpose right now. I know that this world, while smaller, is the one in which I should be putting all my energy. But it does not mean I have any excuse  to walk around with my eyes closed. Last night I was blessed by women like these who, by their quiet and humble example, remind me to stand watch. Where can I help? What small good can I do today? Is there an idea of Courtney's that can help the kids and I bring some joy today?  Does my husband need a word of encouragement? Does the lonely widower in Savannah need a card with pictures of my kids? Does a MOPS mom need a letter telling her she's doing great work?  

I left last night inspired by my friends, in disbelief that these are the people God surrounds me with, whether or not our kids let us ever finish a sentence to each other. I left knowing my world is smaller, but no less full of opportunity to pay it forward. I miss being a social worker. I miss holding the hands of the dying and fighting for the rights of the oppressed. Given the chance, I'll do that any day. But I was on the receiving end of small kindness last night. It wasn't life saving or life changing, but it was a reminder of just how it feels to be a thought in someone else's heart. I doubt I'll ever wear those hand me down boots without a heart full of gratitude for what they represent. I sit here with tears at God's provision of women who remind me to get my behind off my often self-absorbed shoudlers, who encourage me to look beyond these walls I rarely leave, who spur me to see where a very pregnant, very tired mama with very wild children, can bring Christ's love.

Women’s empowerment here in the USA often carries has the connotation of bra burning and male trampling. In India, it means ending child marriage, promoting female literacy, ending female feticide (caused by the dowry system), and enabling women to see their full potential. It means women looking in the mirror God made for them and seeing His image reflecting back.
- See more at:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Faster than a speeding bullet

Life these days. This has been perhaps our busiest season as a family marked by a constant effort to slow down and enjoy the multitude of blessings given to us during

this time. I need only look down at the growing appendage to my abdomen to do a double take. Whoa! We are pregnant, and due in 11 weeks. Oh and we are closing on our old house (glory, hallelujah!). And we are stilllll under construction in our new house. And one baby got old enough to go to school and another baby got old enough to throw food and have his first birthday. We celebrated our 4th anniversary (and did not mark the occasion of a showered, make-upped, in semi cute clothes wife with a photo??!?). We had lots of visits from family to spend time with the kids/rescue the parents and have had a few health scares (me with baby, though all is well and Ross with another back injury). All of a sudden fall is here and it's only the change of the weather that reminds me of the passing of all this time. Anyway- it's been too long to do one big recap so life in photo...

after his dad did a horrid job of trimming, mom finally took a hint and took Thomas for his first big boy haircut. Thanks to a lollipop and his favorite lap, it was a success. Except that now he looks old and this just makes me want to keep him in jon jon's until he's 4 now.

Fall is here, which in this house, means college football. Rarely does it mean Georgia football but as her mom, I have the right to say that her Bulldog cheerleader outfit is much cuter than her gamecock one. Fashion wins.

Mama got a 22 second glimpse of life in this house as of December. Hope the new baby doesn't mind living his or her life in some sort of "tom proof" cage. Survival mode means something new with this little monster around.

Mama spent a whole 30 hours away at the dotmom conference in Chattanooga. To say I learned a ton is a huge understatement. The speakers (John Croyle, owner of Big Oak Ranch for kids, seen here was a national championship defensive end (back?) under Bear Bryant and left his chance for an NFL career to open a home for kids who need a chance.) Oh and Jen Hatmaker was there too. I hear she's great?? :)

We attempted a family day at the fair but it was packed and hot and mama was tired and so we let our girl have this joy and then bolted.

Roo Roo was but one of the visitors who came to rescue us during these oh so hectic months. Some Montessori style learnin' in casa Ninness. If only mama were so cool...

This mommy loves nothing more than a festival (or any place that sells corn dogs) so we've enjoyed some fall outdoor fun where Thomas can eat grass and mama can eat those corn dogs.

Someone has learned to accessorize and needs a part time job to support her habit.

someone else has decided he's big and wants to play like a big boy. Dear precious Tom, you could do more if you stood upright. Not rushing you, but just sayin.

A favorite activity of little miss is a picnic and since her new school is stone's throw from the beautiful Marietta square, we frequently pack lunch and have some after school play time. It's one of our favorite parts of our new town!

And oh bless him, does a man's first birthday not deserve it's own post? Poor buddy. Well, since we had been in our house all of 10 days, we celebrated with lunch with dad at the train and a cake me-maw made the weekend before (knowing this mama couldn't be trusted to get a cake). I did insist on a birthday outfit and find no problems with my ability to prioritize. Every little man would choose a smocked birthday jon jon over chocolate cake. Duh.

Hey may not have gotten a party, but this little eater was more than happy with his sesame chicken, rice and fried chips.
The evening celebration wasn't so fabulous as our birthday boy turned into a cranky pants but I did catch him taste testing while I grabbed the votive candle for him to blow out (you didn't dare expect me to have some cute singing number one candle, did you?) Later in the birthday week he earned himself 5 vaccinations and no climbage of the growth chart. Hanging out in the 1st percent in height and 16% in weight, he remains my favorite short round person on the earth.

During this hectic time, our big one year old finally decided it might be a good time to learn how to scoot (not crawl, mind you) but figure out how to get from a to b. His method works and he loves his new found freedom. Favorite destinations are to his sound machine, any cord, a door to open and close or outside. I cannot decide if him learning to walk by the time the baby gets here would be a good or bad thing but my opinion thankfully doesn't matter. Our children are never in any hurry to master motor skills (Mary Kate walked at 16 months and 3 nervous mommy days).

and I'll end with this because it makes me swoon.

So, we head full swing into fall with the hope that we are enjoying football on our new screened porch this weekend with healthy parents, non teething babies (HOLY COW) and obedient toddlers. Tall orders around here but when I look out, really all I see are the immense and undeserved blessings. I see a beautiful new home, ready to accommodate any future surprises. I see a pregnancy getting closer and closer to a safe zone. I see two kids who I am learning to delight more in. I see a faithful, loyal, and grace giving husband and families who hold us up. I see true, deep friendships. And most days, I'm smart enough to see who this amazing gift giver really is.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Busy and sweet

  • Such random thoughts today but wanted to get some things down that I'm sure I'll forget about this oh so busy, oh so sweet time of life.

  • We are 23 weeks into pregnancy tres and quickly approaching the point at which we were put on bed rest with Thomas. I am trying not to get anxious but anxious I am. The only thing the docs have said might help prevent it is to drink as much water as humanly possible. This is easier said than done, as I prefer hydration of the diet coke variety. However, I have a very long memory and remember just about every minute of that bed rest 11.5 months ago. So, aqua torture it is. Thankfully, I have been inducted into the sorority of carpool line moms as of late so I'm challenging myself to chug a liter during morning and afternoon pickups. So far, so good. I've had more water in the last few months than I have ever had in my life. No lie. And I will be very ornery if all this drinking/peeing/drinking/peeing is in vain and I still end up horizontal for these last 3 months.

  • Speaking of the carpool line sorority, our Mary Kate started her first big girl school last week. Naturally that deserved it's own post but thanks be to the evil Instagram, there seems to be no need for official posts anymore. (If I go on bed rest, you people better start blogging again, p.s.) Anyway, our presh loved every minute of it and hasn't missed a beat. I am sure all kids are the same at this age, but she really does adore learning. I say that and then each day when I pick her up and ask her what she did today, she tells me what snack she had. So maybe I should ease off on the "my kid loves to learn" speech. Nonetheless, she loves school and I am loving watching her thrive and enjoy herself so much. Not a tear shed by this mama.

  • And that brings me to my next random thought o the day. I don't think I cry at appropriate times. And conversely, I think I probably do cry at inappropriate times. First day of school, for example, while a little taken aback at how quickly they rushed my babe into class, I did not join the 5 moms crying over the balcony at First Pres. How awful of a mama does that make me? I love picking her up each day but whew, the break is nice. And we have another milestone approaching as Tom boy will be one year old in 12 days. The thought of it, yep, you guessed it, no tears. There are days when my love for that man child makes me tear up, yes. But thinking about the big 1st birthday? No, no siree. I have determined that it takes Stella here about a year to get her groove back after babies. I don't wish the time away, but new babies aren't my favorite stage. Instagrammers like Melissa are helping me in this sensitivity department, but I look forward to all that comes with more communicative, mobile (well, ideally. My children don't get mobile until forever and ever and ever, certainly not by first birthday) babies who are closer to having a mouth full of teeth.

  • As for celebration plans for the big boy's day, poor kid's getting very little. We are moving this weekend and mom and dad are gifting ourselves with a weekend in Athens to watch Georgia stomp the chickens during the weekend before his day. Plans are in the works for a joint birthday with his daddy in October when we hopefully have furniture in our house. Sorry bud. I'll share a cupcake for breakfast with you happily on your special day. Your birthday obsessed sister will surely sing you an incorrect rendition of happy birthday 13 times and make you wear a hat you will hate. You won't be sad to see your birthday go!

  • So I should go do productive things like work and pack and do some prenatal pilates to stop the barrage of pain I have these days. (Yes, doc, I know my body never had a chance to recover after Tom. I am aware that these pains are normal for "very very very close pregnancies." I so need to find Michelle Duggar's practice or some uber Catholic practice because apparently having kids in back to back years makes me a side show at my current '1.7 kids is enough, you have a boy and a girl why would you ever have more' doctor's office.) End rant.

  • If you have extra prayers, we could use them. Our current house is under contract and I am praying so hard that he doesn't bail out in the last days of due diligence when what I expect will be a laundry list of inspection items he wants fixed aren't agreed to (nothing safety wise, just old house stuff.) Plus Ross is busier than he's ever been at work, I'm busier than I've ever been at work, we are moving with 2.7 kids this weekend, Thomas is cutting 2 teeth and Mary Kate **thinks** she is giving up her afternoon nap. This pace is not good for anyone but in our family it can spell Chernobyl. Trying to remember the basic tenets of our faith to put others first- their needs, their stresses, how tired they are. So, prayers appreciated that we come out of the other side of the tornado that is life right now still in love :) It goes without saying that we feel ridiculously blessed that these are our "stresses" right now. Calling them that seems laughable, though I know everything is worthy of prayer.
Hasta lluego.

First day of 3's, First Presbyterian Marietta

Walking with Sister Abelet, telling her all about her new school
loving on brother

morning breakfast picnic

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3, 10 months, and 19 weeks

 I am not a creature of habit, nor prone to routine, so monthly posts on kids aren't my strongsuit. But there are sweet moments I want to remember and since this littlest baby seems heck bent on taking every last living brain cell, it's time to get some memories on paper.

This little person is 3. Nearly to the day of her 3rd birthday, she became sassy and bossy, testing the boundaries of what she can and cannot say to mom, dad, and other adults. Her exposure to other kids is increasing and with that, new phrases, both good and bad. Her heart is tender and people pleasing, adventure loving and curious. She says "grocery stork" and "water mountain." She calls a pineapple a "pine cone." She knows her blessing and how to sing the Lord's prayer. She does the sign of the cross when an ambulance goes by and says a prayer for Jesus to heal "their big boo boo." Is there any sound sweeter than a prayer off of a child's lips. Girl LOVES a tutu and, thanks to her daddy, loves to dance. She can be a ham when she wants to be and is happy with any audience. Mary Kate adores Thomas and except for the occasional, "that's miiiine", they are a sweet pair. I foresee that changing when he (finally) decides to start moving around and has more access to toys. She knows mommy is having a baby and changes her mind about whether it might be a boy or girl, though boy wins out usually. She will tell you she is having a boy herself. This big girl went to her first summer camp last week and to say she loved it is an understatement. A part of me feels guilty because I know she just loved the activity, the newness and intentionality by the teachers. Life around casa Ninness has been a lot of business with the new house and the first trimester sickies and having a house on the market. I need to remember why I am staying at home and what I want for my kids by doing so and get back to doing that. Anywho... The biggest upside to such a successful camp week was me now feeling 100% confident in our decision to start her in First Pres Marietta preschool. I feel like so much more of a "real" mom when I think about driving her to and from school 3 days a week. We know no one in her class so I am praying hard that she is surrounded by sweet kids and loving teachers. I could go on and on about my precious girl at this age but the book above took my uncreative self 4,000 hours to complete and says it all. We are simply the luckiest parents in the world to have this girl.

Now, this boy. THIS boy.

My Tom is 10 months old. He loves to eat, be held, be outside, be held and be held. He has a lot of desire to crawl and explore but his motor skills aren't keeping up with his little baby desires. Since his big sister didn't walk until 16.5 months old, I don't have high hopes. He is the sweetest little person, throwing a smile to anyone who smiles at him. He will eat just about anything, only having ever turned down strawberries. His favorite toy is a cell phone, with a remote control a close second. He isn't the easiest babe right now which I'm blaming on teeth and his inability to get around like he wants. But good gracious, I wouldn't exactly call having to hold a precious, snuggly boy for many hours a day a cross to bear. A priviledge and an honor- if tiring ones!  To be quite honest, there isn't anyone who makes me feel more loved than this little boy. I know, I know. My husband loves me so well, more so than I deserve. And Mary Kate loves her mama too, she just has found that other people are fun too. For the exception of daddy if  they are outside or on a walk, Thomas wants mama. Everything I've ever heard about boys seems to be true. Ross and I never had any "I want two boys and then a girl" kind of plans. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I am thankful for the chance to experience both little worlds. I absolutely dream of Mary Kate's wedding day and love our girl time together. And I so love watching the adage "boys love their mamas" come true. 

And baby number 3, with a picture to be added tomorrow after our ultra sound...

In one week I have gone from looking like there was still some Thomas baby weight to there being noooo doubt that we'll be a 3 carseat family soon. 9 months will be scary and probably not pretty but I'll use my first winter baby to my advantage and throw on a cardigan. Or more likely a poncho. I am well into my 2nd trimester and bid a big ole, "don't let the door hit you in the rear" to the first trimester. I tried to blame how hard this start was on the 2 big siblings but really do think it was the worst out of the 3. But now we're in that glorious middle zone where the heartburn is fleeting and the belly can be toted around with ease. I am feeling flutters each day and growing more and more excited for this, the biggest surprise of our lives. Father Tim was in town this weekend and offered Mass in our home for the safety and health of baby 3 and showered us with excitement for our growing family. A combination of being so sick and so surprised had me struggling in the beginning with trusting God's plan/sense of humor. Now, I feel this big belly and just smile, so thankful for the 3rd little Ninness.

Friday, July 5, 2013

God winks

Lately, I have been bogged down in fears and anxieties about small and big areas of life. Of course, just a few minutes of time with the Lord fixes this but we all know how that goes sometimes. When I need it most, well, the Kardashians are on. (gross. I know.)

Thankfully, even reality tv hasn't been able to block out the ways God has winked at me recently. I needed to write them down so to look back and be reminded of His multitude of graces the next time I am in a funk.

my fear: for the second summer/fall in a row, I will be on bed rest. I will be in a new home, unable to move a box or put a photo on a wall. I will again be relegated to the sofa, except this time with a son who is very much so attached to his mama (and she likes it that way.)

God wink: two friends gifted me with some nutritional supplements with some research showing their effectiveness at preventing pre-term labor. (Juice plus). They are not cheap and these friends gave them to me. Whether or not it works, I am able to do something healthy and proactive for my baby. Plus, I feel fantastic 99% of the time. I also now have the reassurance that we have a home big enough for live-in help should we need it again. "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong." Isaiah 58:11

my fear: Despite giving us the space we need, I'm moving farther out than I'd have liked. We will be isolated and lonely, in a time when we may need support the most (if we had bedrest, having a new baby).

God wink: one of my precious friends is under contract less than 5 minutes from our new house. Another friend is considering the area as a possible move. I hear your prayer and concern. It is valid, legitimate. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Matthew 18:20

my fear: has God heard our years long prayer for job change for Ross? Why is He staying silent?

God wink: Ross earned a wonderful promotion at work and is excelling. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6

my fear: I will be totally on my own as I have these babies so close together in age.

God wink: a friend is pregnant with babies as close together as mine. There will be someone to receive the "what the heck did we do?!" texts. "For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help." Ecclesiastes 4:10

my fear: that we need to do more to catechize Mary Kate. She is a sponge right now and can be learning so much more than we are imparting.

God wink: I got an email from a friend of Father Tim's mom, blessing us with her knowledge of great ideas and programs to help us draw our girl into her faith. This lady does not know us, but reached out in kindness. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food." Hebrews 5:12

I know that God didn't put that family near us just for me. And it may fall through. God didn't make my friend pregnant just to make me not feel like an anomaly. He didn't give Ross that promotion to prove anything to us. But thankfully, He has nudged me to see the ways that these events will bless our family, to see that He hears us. I also know that God "winks" at me probably 25 times a day and I rarely see it, so caught up in the busy-ness of life or in focusing my eyes on the things not of him.

As He gives me the grace to open my stubborn eyes, it is like new light. So thankful for a week of seeing with new eyes, recommited to shutting up and trusting He who only wants good things for our family.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

7 quick takes (or 7 reasons I need a therapist)

A day early but go see Jen tomorrow for enlightenment.  Until then, 7 mundane takes from a mama who needs to get a grip or a drink...

1. We bought a house. And for any future real estate agents wanting the $3.40 commisions from our sales, you are going to need to add a shrink to your team of stagers, photographers and lawyers. Holy stressful! I am aware that normal people don't need psychiatric help simply to purchase a home but a) I'm not normal people b) there is NO ZERO NO inventory in Atlanta and c) some sellers are bat.$&*# crazy. We close one month from today and I need to go bury St. Joseph (is that right?) in my yard so we don't have 2 mortgages and then I need inpatient psychiatric care.

2. Ross is bathing Thomas while I supposedly fill out school forms for Mary Kate. I just overheard MK ask "what's thaaaat?" To which Ross replied, it's his penis. His private part. I should rename this post, 7 reasons I need a therapist.

3. I saw the ob today to check on this baby I am supposedly carrying. Not supposedly because I don't look pregnant but supposedly because poor third kid, I just forget. Until the fire comes up my throat or I throw up in the Kroger check-out line like I did today. 2nd trimester, shrimester. I did score a new to me pair of maternity skinny jeans from super cute Callie and while they are only going to fit for about 2 more days, I can't resist an e-thrift deal from a stylish mama. Or any thrift deal. Back to the baby. He or she is healthy and happy and is SO EXCITED to join this family o crazy.

4. My precious Tom is almost 10 months old and has gotten about 2.3 posts on here. He is in the sweetest of phases where he adores his mama, wants to feed himself 2,402 blueberries and crackers a day, sleeps all night (took him 8 months to do so but we forgive) and isn't crawling (meaning I don't have to start mopping my floors regularly).  It's a pretty awesome stage.

5. Have you discovered Jesus calling? Please purchase. Or follow them on instagram because short of the Good Book, I have never picked up anything that speaks to me so strongly and so perfectly exactly when I need it. Today for instance... WOW!
"REST WITH ME A WHILE. You have journeyed up a steep step, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey.
I designed time to be a protection for you. You couldn’t bear to see all your life at once. Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I meet you.Refresh yourself in My company, breathing deep draughts of My Presence. The highest level of trust is to enjoy Me moment by moment. I am with you, watching over you wherever you go"
6. Change is a comin'. As I mentioned above, it looks like we are moving. This is a good thing. This is a good thing. This is a good thing. By the way I feel inside (and babble on and on and on and on), you'd expect a "we've AFRICA" card. We don't even need to get on the interstate to get to our new abode but in the world of small kids and nap schedules and I ABHOR change/ zero sense of adventure, 9.2 miles is a long way away. We will change churches and Mary Kate will start school with no one she knows (or mama knows). My stomach is in a constant state of knot. We prayed and prayed through this long process and I am 99.2% positive that these knots are because I am not trusting "that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey." (see numero 5). And I wonder where Mary Kate gets her drama queen tendency... Again, shrink please.
7. Okay I must go make my dinner of chocolate covered pomegranates and sliced cheese. Feel free to show this post to your husbands so they raise their hands to the heavens in thanksgiving for not marrying me.
blurry but priceless.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

blah blah blah

So I'm trying to keep the blog chugging along, mostly because it's the only record keeping I do for my kids and because I gain so much from going back and reading old posts. Plus, as much as I feel the need to go on hiatus, won't 3rd baby Ninness feel totally neglected? The reality is that baby could probably care less but I do know that Mary Kate loves her little shutterfly books I make the kids every year so maybe she'll love this too one day. Anywho, there are multiple things to blame on the lack o blogging. In no particular order:

  • instagram. Many of my favorite bloggers have stopped typing and now make me stalk their lives via photo. I want to beg them to come back but am also enticed by how quick and easy instagram is.
  • If I posted about the reality of life, it would be one long, drawn out post about how miserable I feel whilst pregnant. And that's just tacky for a multitude of reasons. I pretty much suck at suffering, prefering whining to gratitude and misery to perspective. But let me just say to all of you who love being pregnant, you are simply proof that God plays favorites.
  • Thomas is a week shy of 9 months old and still wants mama's right hip all the time.
  • Mary Kate has, for the first time in her entire little life, decided she too likes mama and wants to be cuddled and held frequently by me and mostly only me. It is sweet because it's new but not sweet because I'm tired and sick and I'm sure it's in reaction to the neediness of mama's little boy.
  • We are in house hunting hell. I know inventory is low but how low can it go?!? (nerd.) The schizo voices in my head go something like this.
    • If you want a house with the right square footage and not a total renovation with good schools, you must move to east egypt.
    • But I don't want to move to east egypt. I value, mostly for the right reasons, access to the city, the friendships we've made. So we will just wait for something to come up. But the schools aren't as great (according to online "ratings", not personal experiences there). Does that make me selfish?
    • But we can't wait too long because what if I go on bedrest again (50/50 shot). We definitely need the extra space then. And can we sell a house with a pool in the fall/early winter?
    • But hasn't every generation prior to our "mcmansion" generation had multiple kids in small ranch houses? Is God asking us to live smaller? Or is He asking me to move to east egypt and trust that He'll meet our needs? Or is my desire for community and fellowship straight from Him?
  • Holy cow, does your head hurt? Mine does. Over thinkers anonymous!
  • I will write a whole post one day on the many ways this pregnancy rocked my world (ours, but a lot of it rocked me in personal ways). Clearly God thought there was some work to be done on ole Keri.
  • Another reason to keep blogging is that in the midst of all my "life is so hellacious and miserable I can't lift my head up" thinking, I recently re-read some posts from last summer's bedrest. I was reminded of how much more hellacious it is to not be able to parent your babies. So, while not much will take me out of my "noone is more miserable than me" funk, those posts have made me think differently about the needlings. Knowing there's a chance I'll be bedbound again, I am jumping up a little faster to get the non-napping baby. I really am thankful to be ABLE to parent them, despite how hellacious it can be while in the throes of pregnancy.
Those are just some of the things/thoughts keeping me from sitting down to type- that and Thomas's one hour nap maximum (He and Mister Gates Raybon need to stop conspiring!) 

*too lazy to import instagram photos. Follow me there if you can't live without photos :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Moving toward 10

In highschool, we got jersey's as seniors and got to choose a nickname and a number. With the help of friends, I chose Spaz (it was fitting) and the number 10. 10 was for the number of children I wanted. My grandmother always said she had wanted a baker's dozen and I thought that was a bit much. 10 sounded more doable.

So we've just got 7 more to go. Unless you are counting our furry child (which I don't), that means we've got 3 kids. And we do!!

There was no question that we would try to have more children after Thomas and there was a plan as to when that might happen. And all God's angels laughed. So, we will move to zone defense (truth: not a clue what that means) a little sooner than expected. Mary Kate turns 3 in July, Thomas turns one in September, and this baby should come December. We found out about as early as you can possibly test positive so it feels like I've been pregnant forever. Heaven knows this baby isn't about to go unnoticed and is already vying for attention. Dear little one, I know you are in there. You need not make mama want to shrivel up and cry every second of the day. And that's the last complaint you will get out of me.  Because I don't have to convince myself that this baby is a gift. I don't have to remind myself that I always feared (as did my doctors) that I wouldn't be able to conceive children. I need only look at my other two needlings to get on my knees and thank God.

Mary Kate and Thomas were planned, to the month. This baby, as my friend reminded me, was planned by God, if not by us. That sounds cliche but it is true. One day I'll venture into the land of Natural Family planning conversation but a part of the reason we chose to use this method of family planning was to ensure that God got to be a part of the decision. (P.s. I know plenty of people who have been on birth control who have gotten pregnant. I know God is a part of every decision if He chooses to be). Sparing you the when's and what's, I would have never, ever, ever, thought conception was possible when it occured. I am relatively well versed in how to do this since we were able to space Thomas and MK as we chose. I know that come December, I will look at this baby and THANK GOD that we didn't prevent this life. I know I will look into the eyes of this little gift and see a blessing I didn't know I absolutely, positively needed.

That said, I'd be a bold faced liar if I didn't say there have been hard days. Having just weaned Thomas, I am a ball of hormonal crazy on top of baseline crazy. My kids need a lot, both physically and mentally. The idea that I will have enough to go around in a few months is almost unbelievable to me. Almost. Because I remember that I don't have to do it all. I don't have to be enough, do enough, give enough. I can do all things through Christ who is within me. I am not doing this alone and when I remember that, I can remove myself from the fetal position and breathe again.

So on this mother's day, I celebrated being a mama to three, God given, precious gifts. I thanked God for the HONOR of parenting them. He could have chosen someone much more qualified and patient and resourceful and energetic. But He gifted me.

And while I doubt highly we will get to 10, I won't doubt His plan for our family for one minute and hope that despite my own fears and inadequacies, I will trust in that plan all the days of our lives.

Welcome to the world little baby Ninness! You have a whole housefull waiting to meet you!!

Some quick photos of who awaits this precious babe!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

brain dump, emotion version

The last few days have been rough. I can't put my finger on what, but I know the common theme is "things Keri is not doing well." I think it was prompted by my trip to Savannah. It was a good trip (presh pics to follow) but for me, lots of family time usually leaves me feeling like I kind of suck. I start (over?) analyzing everything. I want to be fun versus a stick in the mud. I want to be supportive versus critical. I want to be encouraging and loving. Known sometimes as "the religious one" in my family, I want this faith I profess to shine through. But I leave feeling like I just may push people further and further away from this person, this Jesus, that I talk about.

I can give myself grace and remember that I am not powerful enough to thwart God's plan for anyone. I cannot change His plan for their lives, even if I acted like a total horse's behind for 2 days. Ross told me to have a drink and just have fun. Why does that seem like a mountain to climb some days?

I'm back home and on day two of just feeling like there a million things I am not. I am not discliplined. I am not patient. I am not loving. I am not healthy, I am not prayerful. I am not determined or committed or intentional. The counselor in me is trying to separate who I am from what I'm doing. The objective truth is that I am not doing a great job of living a well disciplined, patient, loving, prayerful, determined, intentional life. I am lagging behind.  And I never do well in last place.

In any area of my life, the better I am, the better I am. Success drives me to do better, be better. Failure, perceived or not, stunts me. I get so weighed down with all the things I am not doing well and cannot climb out of the hole of self-degradation, and yes, sometimes self pity,  too. The trick is always to find that happy middle of acknowledging areas that need improvement while giving grace and remembering that my worth comes from doing not a damned thing. It comes from being His.

Having children helps. I try to imagine Mary Kate coming to me at 31 years old with two needy gremlins at her ankles and saying "mom, I totally suck at life right now." I would do what my mom does so, so well. I would tell her that life is not a party right now. That despite the most loving family in the world, she is doing it without grandma right down the street ready for insta-babysitting or insta-grocery shopping. I would tell her that her children are perfect and beautiful and that raising them is the most important thing she can do. I would tell her that noone gives a crap if she finishes her half marathon or throws up on mile 6, as her current training might predict. I would tell her that Jesus knows her love for Him and that she just needs to keep sitting at His feet.

I go back to that wonderful text from my friend Elizabeth:

So, I'm gonna stop the emotional projectiling and take a deep breath. I'm gonna go spend some time with Jesus and trust that to Him, I'm doing okay. Goodness knows I've got major room for improvement but, as my college counselor used to say, "spend some time on the pity pot but don't forget to flush." Flushing commenced...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Half birthday for Mr. T

My dreamboat baby is 6 months old and every cliche in the world fits. How is he halfway to one year old?  After those first 12 weeks of 4th trimester torture, it has flown by. I cannot believe it. I'll add stats tomorrow after his appointment for the inevitable comparisons of children but for now, a few facts about my favorite little man.

  • is mostly an easy baby. He definitely likes to be held (what baby doesn't) but if he's dry and fed, is generally happy to play in the exercaucer or bumbo.
  • immediately stops squaking if we go outside.
  • is starting to interact with Mary Kate and, as all moms of more than one kid say, this is the best part about growing your family.
  • has the best, biggest smile ever.
  • has the best, biggest belly ever.
  • loves nothing more than being in the bath.
  • is an action man. Bounce him on your lap, throw him in the air, dance with him, he's happy.
  • looks for his dad. If Ross is anywhere to be found, T is stretching his neck to find him. Watch the two of them for 5 seconds and you'll see.
  • still loves his mama. feeling is beyond mutual
  • takes 2-3 naps a day and the more consistent I am with watching the clock and not getting him overtired, the better the naps are (duh).
  • likes a paci and can (finally) hold it in his mouth!!
  • wakes up once a night when he can't find that paci. monster created. Don't care though because waking up once to  give him that thing is totally worth the insta-cork it provides during the day
  • hates the car for any rides longer than 12 minutes. Gonna be a long trip to his first St. Patrick's day parade this weekend!
  • started solid food this month. so far oatmeal and carrots are a hit. trying to not to do too much so we don't sacrifice milk supply but our little chunk was definitely ready for food that doesn't taste like diet coke.
  • loves the bjorn despite mama's preference for the back preserving ergo.
  • will easily take a nap in the ergo though which is so nice for flexibility in our day.
  • is a round, round little butterball and we adore him.
sweet snuggle time

sweet smother snuggle time

big sister abuse

more big sister abuse (note bow)

2 favorites, his mama and his reflection

learning how to eat/gnaw on a spoon

tis the season for food hidden in the no-neck.