Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fun at the Zoo

Levi is three weeks old. I can't remember what it was ever like without him! He is the greatest gift and we are all quite smitten.

I'm feeling pretty good, although I'm still completely swollen from the extra IV fluids they gave me for the antibiotic drip (it was burning so badly, so they diluted it more, which ended up filling my body with twice as much fluid.) My abdomen and my feet/ankles are the most swollen- obviously, ha!- and I'm anticipating another few weeks before I see much progress, so I'm trying to give myself grace and focus on what matters more: loving this sweet, soft little baby.

 21 days old

Since our school system has vacation weeks in late February and again in late April, we decided we'd take Levi to the zoo on a bright, sunny day during April vacation. We brought Mimi along for reinforcement. :) 

I have to say, I was a complete basket case at even the thought of driving anywhere with Levi for the first couple weeks after his birth- I was totally intimidated! I don't even know why, it's not like this is my first rodeo. So funny how things affect us sometimes. I finally worked up the nerve to go to Toys 'R'Us to look for a baby wrap/carrier with him, but I dragged Isabelle with me for moral support. She was a big help! After that first voyage out, I've never looked back. So funny!

So here we are at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA. It's very small and quaint, but I've always thought the people who work there take such good care of the animals, and that makes a world of difference to me.

We had explored about half the zoo when little Levi started to come unglued. I had him in the jogger, where he slept peacefully for about an hour, and then I knew I'd have to find a spot to feed him. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to nurse in public, howeverrrrr, I still feel that it's a private thing between me and my child, and I don't feel the need to share that with the world staring at me. We found this little bench near the monkey exhibit and I thought it looked quiet enough to relax a bit and feed him. It was chilly so I covered us both up pretty well, and it's a good thing I wore a long scarf because I leaked all over one side of my top and had to cover that up after. Ugh. Hormones.

 22 days old

Maybe someone is not such a big fan of the zoo?

Uh-oh, that's cue for Mommy to take over ;)

Later in the day...
look at that perfect little pout!
Ack, just want to eat him up!!!
I had to maneuver a diaper change on the passenger seat of the van, and Levi was not happy about it. And feed him again before we left. The boys are pretty good about it, as it can be a tad awkward. Then we set out for ice cream cones!
 I had a few licks and they were so yummy! And huge!

All tuckered out - sometimes he sleeps with his mouth wide open and it cracks us up to no end :)

I had just buckled Levi back into his seat and placed him in the van, and he stayed asleep! Jonah wanted to take a selfie with me. :) 
Such a nice day!

I realized that I didn't take even one picture of an actual animal at the zoo, ha ha ha! I think our favorite thing was watching the monkeys- there was a brand new baby, and it was so mischievous and funny. I watched for a long while while I nursed Levi. They are quite entertaining! I was hoping that the river otters would come out and play, because they're one of my favorites, but they were lazy bums and just slept the whole time, ha.

We've visited the Stone Zoo several times throughout the years, and I have actual animal pics from our other trips, like this one.

After today, I think I'm getting the hang of this five kids out-and-about thing... although Ethan stayed home to work on a big project, so then again, who knows?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flying Solo

This is the week that I've been a little nervous just thinking about.
Bill goes back to work.
He leaves by 4:15 every morning, so when I say that I'm flying solo for the whole morning routine, I'm not kidding. It is me, myself and I. I know the bigger kids will help me out, and I'm going to try to be extra gracious with myself as well as everyone else.

This week was also the first time we brought our little guy out to church. He did such a good job! We held him for the entire service and he mostly slept, which was a good thing because I quickly realized after leaving home that the dress I'm wearing was not nursing friendly at all. Tired much?
Clearly not feeling the love right now ;)
Ah, those elbow patches get me every single time!

 With big brother Caleb
I thought I'd try for one more and...nope. Not a happy camper!

The day before, our city put on its annual fish and something outdoors event. We brought the kids when they were small because it's free and there are fun games and animals to touch, but truthfully, we've never been huge fans. This year, the animal exhibits were kind of pathetic, and this fishing activity was the only thing that looked remotely fun for Isabelle. It took her a while to get the hang of casting, but once she did, she caught quite a few of these fish!

The main reason we went was to catch up with this handsome cadet, who was volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol.
It was so crowded, so many people were smoking everywhere- #gross - and Bill and I like crowds like we enjoy walking across hot coals. As in, not remotely. The only good thing besides seeing Caleb was that I ran into a dear friend of mine from the boys' elementary school that I hadn't seen in a couple years. It was so nice to catch up!

One proud Mom right here

Little monkey has started to give us some smiles but it's nearly impossible to capture them. We were tickling his side here and you can see just a little bit of a giggly smile. I cannot wait to see his big gummy grins...soon!

Our winter was so mild this year, and then when Levi was born, winter weather kicked in for a bit, and now we're back to lovely spring days. Oh New England, I love you and I loathe you. ha ha
Taking my first solo venture out with Ryder and Levi. I like having a dog with me when I'm on the trails by myself, well, and with a baby.
 Several of my friends commented on IG and texted when I posted a picture of us out on a walk, reminding me to take it easy. I did, I promise. Just a quick little stroll. On pavement. I walked pretty slowly, but it felt so good to get out and move, and enjoy the fresh air.

Riding along in the sunshine is such hard work!

Just a random snippet of an afternoon
Sweet baby boy

I think I may get this picture framed - I just love it! His face, those fingers, those it all

I survived my first week flying solo. 
Really, I'm not alone alone all that much - Ethan is still only part time at the school - and I'm glad. I love having him around.

 Then it was April vacation. No early mornings, no lunches to make ahead of time. Yes, please! And the weather stayed nice and sunny, a little cooler than I'd hoped, but still pretty good.
Oh, I guess we did have one bright and early Monday morning. Ugh.
It was Jonah's turn to get his braces off! Poor Jonah had two rounds of braces, so his mouth has been metal for quite a while.
Gosh I look tired, ha!

He looks so good!
Ethan chose a caramel apple for his post-braces treat, but there weren't any around at the candy shop this time of year (something I wish I'd called and asked about BEFORE dragging Levi across town and finagling the baby carrier through the narrow aisles of the shop) We went to a grocery store with a good bakery and I don't think Jonah looks too upset about his gourmet chocolate bombs. They smelled as amazing as they looked - he's lucky they arrived to him without any bites missing!

Enjoying more sunshine and warmer temps with skateboarding and biking. I don't know where the boys are here, but man did they fly down that hill. #nervousmama
Isabelle was cruising along at a pretty good clip, too. I love the ruffle and streamers that are blowing out behind her. 
I'm trying to get out and walk as much as possible during the day, both for the exercise and the fresh air. I'm really pleased with how the baby weight is coming off already, something I didn't expect.

Another smile that I just couldn't capture in time. Look at how expressive his eyes are! He's so bright, and inquisitive, and he looks so intently at me when I'm talking or singing to him.
The red rings around his eyes, from all that pressure of being "stuck" at birth, have faded so much this week. His eyes are still a very deep blue. Ethan's eyes were a lot like this, and they're now a gorgeous grey-blue/green color. They change depending on what he's wearing. I wonder if Levi's eyes will be like that. I know they may change to brown, my eye color, but I'm so in love with his bright baby blues already, I think I might cry if they do change.

We're heading to the zoo with my Mom, Mimi, tomorrow, and then probably to one of our favorite trails with Ryder later this week. I looove having everyone home, for the most part, ha ha, but I think I'll be ready to have some peace and quiet again next week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

One Week of Levi

Levi Matthew is one week old! 
He is the greatest gift and I can't imagine our family without him. We are so in love!

This is one of the very first pictures of me with my brand new baby boy.  I just remember thinking how in love with him I already was, and I could not believe that he was really here! So many years spent trying to add to our family, and then this - this perfect, miracle baby. He healed my heart in so many ways. I may never understand God's timing or the reasons He kept our hearts full but our arms empty, but I do trust Him, and I don't doubt His perfect plan. And now we have Levi.

Here he is brand new!

His little wail was precious. I just couldn't believe he was here, and he was ours. So much relief and joy here! The world could have been imploding around me in this moment and I wouldn't have even known it. Or cared.

Day One, Wednesday
I realize that I don't have one single photo of the seven of us in the hospital, which does make me sad. But I've got these, and they are so special to me. Biggest brother, turning 17 in just under four months.

With Mimi, my Mom, who is in heaven, by the way!

If she isn't gazing...
 ...she's smiling SO big! So excited!

Uh-oh. Making Jonah, who turned 15 exactly one month ago, a little nervous, ha! 

Phew. That's better!

Day Two, Thursday
Heading home. Boy, that whole check-out process seems to take forevvvver, and all you want is to just go home. I'm deliriously exhausted here- and still so bloated from the extra IV fluids!!- but so excited/happy that I don't care. Bill stayed at our house with the kids each night, and it was a little intimidating just having had a baby and being the only one there to care for him. But the nurses were so wonderful, and they insisted that I call them for anything I needed. So I did. We all need to ask for help sometimes.

I don't have any take home pictures either. We just wanted to get out of the hospital and some lady kept lecturing us about car seat safety. Um, we're good, thanks. But she would not let us leave! Thanks a lot, lady, you got me so flustered that I never took a picture of my precious newborn as we left the hospital. Ugh.

 And then we were home! You will never lack for willing hands, baby boy!

Isabelle was waiting for a long time to wear this special shirt to school...and I think she may have worn it a couple times that week. ha ha

 Day Three, Friday
Even after four other babies, that first night together is always a little unnerving and nerve-wracking for me. We're still getting to know one another, and that just takes time. Levi slept on his little cushion bed I made him, in the middle of our bed, and he seems to like it. We were up a lot, but not for very long each time. We also know that he is not a fan of middle of the night diaper changes, but who really would be? He had a nice little stretch from about five until 8am.
And after a few minutes of rocking seemed to think maybe he wasn't quite ready to get up after all.
 This would be our first weekend together, so we savored the quiet this day while everyone was at school. Ethan came home early because he goes part-time this year and does other classes online. I like that he and Levi will have extra time together before summer.

Day Four, Saturday
 Our first weekend together! We had a pretty good night's sleep. Still having a nice little stretch from five to eight.

 Some thoughtful friends brought over a breakfast feast for us, our first big breakfast together as a family of seven. They also gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and some magazines. I was really touched!  
I remember feeling both nervous and excited about this new normal for us. Seven is a lot!
 I don't remember the particulars now, but someone was having herself a moment here. Don't we all have ourselves a moment from time to time? :)

Mommy and baby selfie! I think we've upped our selfie game considerably in the past few weeks. ha ha
Since the weather had been so gorgeous back in March, and cold and snowy the first week of April when Levi was born, we were so happy to get outside and enjoy the sunshine for a little walk that afternoon.

I don't even have words. Oh.My.Goodness!

Visitors! Grandpa & Grandma :)

Day Five, Sunday
Our beautiful boy

A quiet moment with Mommy. I'm thankful that we've had a relatively easy time with nursing from the very beginning- since Caleb is now thirteen, it had been a long time for me! 
And also a chance to document those elbow patches! Eek! This was one of the very first things I bought for him back in November after we found out who we were expecting. :)
Day Six, Monday
It's quiet again since everyone is at school, but I'm dressed!
I'm so glad I made the conscious decision to savor this time with him. It goes by so fast and you don't ever get it back. These captured moments make my heart so full.

I must touch that face and smell him and brush my cheeks against his head a thousand times.

Which obviously wears a poor fellow out!

Day Seven, Tuesday
One whole week of getting to know each other face to face, and he is the sweetest baby boy. I can't believe it's only been a week because it feels like he was always supposed to be here.

It has been such a long time since I've heard newborn cries. He doesn't seem to like being swaddled, but a cuddle from me usually does the trick. All I want to do is hold him anyway! :)

I know it say over and over, but I just can't believe that he's here.
Happy One Week, Levi!

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