Thursday, January 21, 2016

hopes fulfilled

My sweet little Ellis is a man on the move. At eight months, he is crawling, pulling up, cruising, and getting into all sorts of trouble. This may be our fourth baby, but he keeps us on our toes.

Ellis is so different from our other three at this age. I'm not sure if it's the nursing, him trying to stake a claim in this crazy house, or just his personality, but he is most definitely my velcro baby. He wants me all day every day. Not just to be held by someone--to be held by mom. And the nursing. Little buddy can nurse for hours on end and be perfectly happy. The child could win an olympic medal in nursing.

I am hopeful that we'll be turning a corner soon, though. He adores his siblings, and more and more he wants to be where they are. He's eating more solids (he can eat an entire sweet potato and is a huge fan of sweet potato fries) and is slowly mastering the art of shoveling cheerios into his tiny mouth.

Like his siblings before him, he is light in the hair department but oh so adorable. He has a sweet little laugh, isn't a fan of diaper changes, and loves to chew on things that he shouldn't. And he claps...the sweetest, tiniest, cutest hand-clapping you've ever seen.

My heart is so full. Ten years ago this winter at a cold pre-marital counseling retreat, I said I hoped to have four children. That bright-eyed (and wrinkle free) 22-year-old couldn't possibly have imagined the adventure she would eventually take. That her heart would break over and over before she finally met her first two babies. That she would decide to stay home with her little ones, realizing that the dreams she had were totally transformed by the very existence of her children. That she would birth four babies in less than four years. That her home would look like the lair of a toy hoarder...and that she would learn to look past the junk and mess and dust. That life with kids wouldn't be perfect--that there would be many days when it felt hard and lonely--but that it would be the best life she could have possibly created. And that the boy standing next to her at that retreat would turn out to be not only an amazing husband, but a dad beyond her wildest dreams.

Ellis Andrew, you are so loved. We dreamed of you ten years ago, and we couldn't be more thrilled that you are ours.

Friday, January 1, 2016

cheers to 2016

As most years are, 2015 has been a mixed bag for us. We joyfully added another son to our family, we found a great little home here in Nashville, and we watched our three "big kids" grow even spunkier. On the other hand, we had some difficult days both before and after Ellis's birth, we've seen friends and family experience deep heartache, and our hearts have been broken by Anne's diagnosis.

I saw a recommendation online to choose one word for the new year rather than make resolutions--to pick a personal mantra. Almost instantly I thought of the phrase "choose joy." But, being the rule follower that I am, I have narrowed that down to just "choose." You see, so many things in life are out of our control...but so many things are also within our control. Every day is full of choices. Each day I can choose my reactions to circumstances and events. I can choose what emotions I dwell on and what I let pass. I can choose to prioritize family and friends and health. I can choose how I spend my time, energy and money. And as a parent, my choices not only affect me, but greatly influence the lives of my four littles. So my 2016 word is "choose," and I pray that I choose well this year.

May 2016 bring you and your family peace, comfort, and love.