George Gabs

I could listen to George talk all day. His sweet little voice just melts my heart, and he says some of the funniest things. So I want to start documenting those things before I forget.

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Here are some of the phrases and words that he has had.

For the longest time he called his cousin Ava, Eva.

He likes to drop parts of words like “liveries” is deliveries, and “arm” is alarm.

Broccoli is “backoli.”

A piggy bank is a “moneyer.”

Uses is “oozes.”

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Caterpillar is “lalapiller.”

Pretzels is “printzels.”

He says “full it up” for fill it up. And “hot it up” to warm things.

For a long time he called a police car a race car.

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We live next to the capital of Missouri, and every time we drive by, George says “There’s the catapult.”

A yoyo is a “sticker roller.”

A peacock is a “peahock.”

Before we got chickens, he used to call them “brockers.”

A pepperoni pizza is a “macaroni pizza.” He does know the difference of pasta macaroni.

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A chimney is a “smoker arm.”

An ostrich is a “raustid.”

Fire sparks are “jumpers.”

A microwave is a “counterwave.”

He is so smart, but there are moments where he uses these phrases that remind me how small he really is.

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My Georgie

Today you turn FOUR.

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The day you were born I knew that everything I expected about parenting was thrown out the window.

Experiencing the NICU with you, I was terrified. I felt like it was a mistake to be trusted to take care of you since I couldn’t keep you out of harms way as soon as you came out. You didn’t come with an instruction book. No matter how many books or articles that I read, I knew watching your sweet face fight to breathe on your own that I would fight to catch my own breath for years to come when I look at your face.

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You are nothing like I imagined, but you are everything I need. It was no mistake that we were put together.

I still have no idea what I am doing most days, but we are on this ride together.

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You make me laugh every single day with your stories. I love listening to your sweet voice. I wish I could just record all of our conversations. You see the world for its beauty and simplicity, and you remind me all the time to pause and to breath it all in. How you piece things together is astonishing to me.

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You are so smart, and I am so proud of everything that you learned this year. You know your ABCs, and you can write most of your letters. You know how to spell your name, and you can count to 20. You love doing crafts and infusing your own imagination into it all. You sing the sweetest songs, and I hope I never forget how you sound right now. You know things like what a counter weight is and why it is necessary. You use words like humongous and adorable and a whole host of adverbs that I feel are above a 4 year olds vocabulary.

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You had new experiences this year like Vacation Bible School and Gymnastics which both made it clear you have no concept of how to stand in lines.

You are so passionate, and you love so hard. Georgie, I hope you never lose that sense of wonder towards those around you. I wish I had your confidence and commitment.

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Energy just pours out of you, and while it can be frustrating trying to reign that in at times, it is also one of the things I love most about you. When you put your mind to something, you go all in. I also love how much you release your emotions through your facial expressions. Your face tells me everything I need to know about how you are feeling inside. I hope that you never lose that sense of sharing your feelings with me or the world.

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And I forever want to remember this time where you hardly go anywhere without your purple shoes (crocs), and that you put your pants on backwards because the drawstrings give you a tail.

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Ever since you were born, God has been teaching me to let go of you and trust in the plans He has for you. You have been my greatest teacher. As I said last year, I continue to pray that I can gracefully let you go and let you grow, even though it may leave me breathless.

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Georgie, you bring so much life to our days. My favorite moment of every day is waking you up and seeing the smile on your face as you embrace the day.

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You are my bestest boy. I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and see how you knock the wind out of me this year.

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Hot Air Balloon Party

Since George’s birthday is this week, I figured I should finally post about Daphne’s first birthday party that happened in May.

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I am not an event planner by any means, but I love planning their parties.

I knew I wanted to do this hot air balloon theme almost as soon as she was born. It is so sweet for a sweet little girl.

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I got this invitation from this shop on Etsy.

We also used these invitations for the centerpieces. My sister-in-law blew it up, and just cut out the balloon. Then she put it with some other balloons in these gold jars she had. We used battery pack lights in the clouds.

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Emily also made a huge hot air balloon photo booth prop.

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I did her monthly photos in balloons hung up like they were flying. I found some scrapbook paper that fit the color scheme, and then just used construction paper for the basket parts. I didn’t get a great picture of them at the party, so here was from the night I made them.

We got her onsie from this Etsy shop, and the skirt was from Carters.

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And every girl needs a wardrobe change at her parties. Her grandma got this bubble suit from Target.

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Tom made the board for the gift table, and then my mom painted the picture. Whenever we change her to a big girl bed, we’ll try to incorporate this into the theme. It is so beautiful.

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For the favors, I got these tags from this Etsy shop. I glued them to little favor boxes I got from Party City. Then I filled them with cotton candy I had gotten from the dollar store.

Hot Air Balloon Birthday Party Favor Bag Tags; Digital or Printed

Y’all Hy-Vee impressed me once again! They provided me with two cakes. This is the one that I initially ordered. I just took in a picture and they were able to do just what I wanted. When they found out that it was for a smash cake, they made me a smaller version for free! My love continues to grow for Hy-Vee.

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I think there were two many people around that Daphne was a little conservative going into the cake.

She ate it at her pace, and she was insistent she was not going to become a spectacle. The videos were pretty anti-climatic.

It was the perfect first birthday for the most perfect little girl.

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She has already grown so much since this party, and I can’t wait to see where she goes before the next party.

GratiTuesday

August is insane in Higher Ed, so I am back for another GratiTuesday to keep me in check.

This last week was jam-packed, but there were some definite good moments.

My sister-in-law and I went to our yearly baseball game with our favorite Missouri teams. I love this tradition we have. It’s hard not to have a good time when the atmosphere is baseball, and hot dogs are available. I am so thankful for this time with my seester in matching shirts.

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At work, we have a new system that we have been working on configuring all summer. I am part of the core team, and I am the campus administrator moving forward. There was a lot of pressure with the timeline and all the decisions we had to make about implementation. It has pretty much consumed my life, but there have been so many positive out of the configuration process. I have gotten to connect with people around the institution that I had either little contact or none before this. I always enjoy creating relationships and understanding how other offices work. I am really proud of all that we have accomplished over the past few months, and we went live with the product this week. The response to the system has been overwhelmingly positive. I am really looking forward to all the possibilities it is going to bring and how it will help us be more intentional with students.

Today, my office did a planning retreat. It was a great space to share our vision and talk about pain points and new ideas. I love the women I work with, and they really inspire me with their passion and dedication to our students. We talked through a lot of things today, and I am really excited about the year and how we plan to support our students. I am thankful for that time with the people I work with.

Milking In Progress

Since it is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured it was about time to reflect on my breastfeeding journey the second time around.

This time things were drastically different than my nursing experience with George, which you can read about here and here.

It’s crazy that I helped her grow from day 1 with my own body, and we made it a year!

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3 month, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months

Let’s set the scenery differences:

With George, he was rushed into intensive care almost immediately after birth. I didn’t see him until 24 hours after he was born. There was no option of feeding him when he came out of the womb. I was pumping from the start. Not to mention he was in the NICU for 10 days, and he honestly didn’t actually feed from me until he was released. Because he started with bottles, we had a very rocky start.

With Daphne, she naturally started within the hour of her birth. She took to it like it a champ. The only reason I started pumping was to get my supply going since she was so little.

With George, shortly after he was born, I picked up and moved over two states, started a new full time job, and started house hunting while Tom was trying to get out of the Army. This is stressful when you don’t have a newborn.

With Daphne, I already had a job, and we weren’t moving. The Army was very much in the past. Enough said on the level of stress I was experiencing.

With George, I had no idea what I was doing, which with my personality causes a lot of anxiety.

With Daphne, I had some idea of what to expect, which made me go in with no expectations.

And that my dear friends, is the biggest reason why I was able to breastfeed Daphne for a whole year.

I went in expecting nothing.

Since I set the bar so low, I didn’t have any anxiety about anything as far as nursing her went. With George, I cried almost every day for his first four months, until I decided to supplement. With Daphne I think I cried just once due to breastfeeding.

Because I was more go with the flow, I was able to actually enjoy the time I had with Daphne.

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I wouldn’t go as far to say I loved breastfeeding…

It was still a pain to be confined to my office three times a day and manipulate my schedule around it. People expect you to move your schedule around, but I held fast this time around that I would get it 3 times a day. Sometimes this makes you feel guilty that you are being selfish and that it is coming off that work is not a priority. It is hard to find the balance some days.

It was still a pain to have to lose sleep to nurse her before bed and nurse her when I woke up. It would have saved so much time to just give her a bottle.

It was still a pain to have to plan our outings around her feeding schedule and making sure that anywhere that we went was nursing friendly.

However, I felt a new sense of confidence and power this time around. I was able to recognize what an awesome feat it was to help nourish her with each feeding.

This time we were able to exclusive nurse for 6 months, and we continued to nurse (with one formula bottle a day) until she was 13 months.

This time I did things like nurse in front of people other than Tom. I nursed in the middle of the zoo and baseball stadiums. It was like I was able to let go of the anxiety of it, and was able to just do what nature intended.

I also call it a triumph that I actually nursed her after she got several teeth. I never imagined I would continue once she got teeth, but for the most part I didn’t have issues. She only bit me once, and that is a pain I never want to relive again.

Here are some other practical things that were helpful going into this experience:

  • Having a sanitize option on our dishwasher-This cut down so much time in cleaning bottles and pump parts every night. I would just rinse things out, and pop them in the dishwasher instead of laboring for an hour each night hand washing everything.
  • Reusing pump parts throughout the day by keeping them in the fridge-Also cutting down the time cleaning bottles and parts each night.
  • Have extra pump parts. I think I had enough to get through 4 days before using the same ones over.
  • Getting a hands-free pump bra-Totally worth the investment.
  • Blue Gatorade-I still had supply issues in the second half of this journey, but I do think the Gatorade helped.
  • I never kept track of how long we were feeding. With George I had an app and tracked it all. This time having the freedom of just following her lead made it much less of a chore.
  • This time I didn’t worry as much about what I was wearing. I wore dresses and work clothes that typically weren’t nursing friendly all the time. I just accepted that I would be half naked in my office while I was pumping. I love my wardrobe, so just bringing a cardigan and having a blanket that I could put on while I was pumping was enough to make it not so cumbersome to undress each time I needed to pump. This meant I didn’t feel so frumpy and drab with a small selection of clothes because I didn’t care. I spent too much time fussing about those little things the first time around.
  • A nursing cover like this was a blessing. So much easier to use than any of the covers I tried with George.

I wouldn’t say I came to love breastfeeding. Pumping I think dampers any kind of affection you could have towards this responsibility. It really is an investment of time to commit.

However despite that, I will say that I cried the last few nights I was breastfeeding Daphne. I never realized the bond I had with her during that time until it was almost gone. I am very proud of how far we came as a duo, and that I was able to have that time with her.

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This was after the last time I nursed her.

I also did struggle with some guilt when we stopped because she refused to drink anything for a week or two after I ended nursing. I felt like she was on a strike for severing that relationship with her. But it was time for me to move on. My supply was really low. I was barely making a bottle with four 30-minute pumping sessions each day, so it wasn’t worth my time and effort at that time. I didn’t want to get to the point that I got with George where I was angry and resentful with the process. With George I spent 2 extra months more than I should have trying to make it work, and making everyone in the house miserable because I was struggling so much. I knew this time that was not a road I wanted to go down again. So we ended on a high note after making it a full year!

Breastfeeding is hard. It demands a lot out of you-time, energy, your body, etc. My first experience was difficult, and I could have just said no this time around. However, I am so glad that I tried again. Was every moment easy? No. It still sucked at times (literally). But I was able to get more out of it, and thus Daphne got more out of me (also literally).

I will never forget the overwhelming sense of pride to be a mom when I nursed Daphne in front of a room full of other nursing moms at the Royals’ stadium. I seriously was so overcome with joy at what we were all accomplishing that I almost cried right there. It was a really powerful moment for me. It was beautifully humbling to be in that room. There were new moms and seasoned moms, some were pumping and some were with our babies straight at the source, all of us with our boobs out doing the best we could to take care of our kids all the while watching a Royals game. A priceless moment that motivated me on many occasions throughout this past year.

So again my advice is to go in with no expectations and just do what you can do. Your baby is not going to hold a grudge (in the long run) that you kept them fed whether that is with formula or breastfeeding. I stopped at a time with both kids that made sense and worked for us.

I am proud of myself with the 4 exclusive months/7 total months of breastfeeding with George. And I am proud of myself for the 6 exclusive months and 13 total months of breastfeeding with Daphne. Neither one makes me a better or worse mom. I am grateful that I had the support to try this breastfeeding adventure. I am proud at the success we had with it, and was able to acknowledge when it was no longer the best option.

It’s all a triumph.

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I will leave you with the lyrics to a classic 90’s sitcom theme song….Step by Step…It says it all as far as how I approached breastfeeding the second time around.

Step by step
Day by day
(Day by day)
A fresh start over
A different hand to play
Only time will tell
But you know what they say
We’ll make it better
The second time around