Thursday, December 29, 2016

Raspberry fingers

Never gets old and I think I'll be measuring raspberries for Charlotte in increments of five until she leaves this house : ) 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sous chef (a series)

We had to make muffins on our last special Tuesday stay-home day; chocolate chip of course because they're Charlotte's favorite!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Feeding with love

Being out of control is not my strong suit, in fact it’s a place of discomfort for me and I don’t like it one bit. As a cancer patient, I find myself there often.

During my pregnancy with Madeline, a kidney issue was detected and I was eventually referred to a nephrologist who followed me through the end of my pregnancy. We discussed many theories around the cause of the kidney issue, including the fact that it was related to pregnancy in a roundabout way. When the issue didn’t resolve post-partum, we started testing, and lots of it. Everything suspected came back negative and eventually a kidney biopsy was needed to understand the root cause. The results of the biopsy revealed an autoimmune disease where antibodies were being created to attack my kidneys. Riddle solved? Not so fast; now she needed to understand what underlying disease was at fault. More testing was scheduled, but in the meantime I needed to start medication to protect my kidneys. Medication that was not compatible with breastfeeding.

I breastfed Anna and Charlotte until they weaned around one year of age. It was something I wanted to do, something I enjoyed, and something I vowed to do with each of my children as long as it was worked for all parties. For almost a year with both of the big girls my life revolved around a feeding schedule, bras that unlatched, clothing that was easily accessible, and a mental note on the number of ounces of milk were in my freezer at any given moment. It was a sacrifice of love, but one I was more than happy to make because it was my choice and what worked for our family.

Weaning Madeline early hit me hard. Because it wasn’t my choice and because I had no control. I didn’t know how to tell her I couldn’t provide food for her. How to tell her she had to take a bottle instead of the comfort she’d known her entire life. I felt like a failure in all sense of Motherhood. 

*Dramatic much, I know … *

I saw my doctor on November 30 and received my prescriptions that same day. I cried when she left the room and made a half-assed attempt to pull it together when her (really bad) MA came back to review the details. My doctor understood I’d need some time to wean the baby, but had also already given me some leeway until she knew exactly which drugs were needed, and was frank that not starting the medication could put me at a higher risk for eventual dialysis. The choice was clear, but emotions made it hazy, as did the tears. I needed to be a good mother to my baby and other girls, and I couldn’t do that if I was sicker than need be.

My goal was one bottle the first day, December 1. And one additional bottle each day after. I’d pump in between for comfort, and used the small frozen milk supply I’d accumulated, slowly mixing formula and increasing the ratio each day. Breastfeeding experts recommend that first bottles be given by someone other than the Mother to ease the confusion, but in this case, I needed to be the one to make this transition. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was heartbroken. Madeline cried for 30 minutes straight before eventually drinking her first bottle. I’ll never forget the confused look in her eyes. I’ll never forget the sound of her cry. We both cried. A lot. I was truly in mourning, and to this day I still feel pangs of sadness and tears well up when I think of that week.

The second day was a tiny bit better, but still grueling. Each day she cried a little less … 25 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes. We found bottles we both liked after some trial and error and I asked around for tips to make the process easier (formula pitchers, bottle warmers … all the gear). I bought into the old wives tales and took Sudafed and stuffed by bra with cabbage leaves to help ease the pain, and pumped only for relief. After about a week, we’d made it through and I’d started my medication; there was no turning back. Formula and bottles were our new normal.

Parenting is full of important decisions, and each one comes with judgment or opinions from someone. The way you feed your baby should work for your entire family and should be your decision. At the end of the day as long as your baby is thriving and happy and healthy and being FED WITH LOVE, you’re doing your job as a Mother. And that’s what I’m doing … feeding with love. And health. And knowing that I’m doing what’s best for everyone. The road travelled doesn’t look the same, but that’s what life’s all about, right? Where there’s love, there’s life; and we sure do have a lot of both in our home.

Post script:
As sad as I was to close my breastfeeding chapter, there are silver linings. Regular bras! No more leaking! DRESSES! Nudging your husband to take on a middle of the night feeding. All that mental free space where frozen milk ounce counts used to be. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A little pie with your whipped cream

It counts as a veggie because it's pumpkin, right? : ) 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Funny

For that someone special at the holidays : ) 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


 Just your regular Wednesday evening when Daddy is out of town ... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sister sillies (a series)

A little sister sillies before school today : ) 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Kids these days

Not even half a year old and already learning how to use an iPad : ) 

Miss Smiles

Loved seeing this smile the week we had to transition to formula ... everything's gonna be alright : ) 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Girly and glam (a series)

A Tuesday stay-home day treat ... manicures with pink polish!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Go Fish!

This little card shark beat me 2 games to 1!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Splish Splash

This little girl has done a 180 and went from hating bath time to hating when bath time is over. 

She quickly grew out of her baby bathtub sling insert ... OK, truthfully, she had a poop in the bath I didn't realize it until I saw the brown stains when getting ready for her next bath (I know, Mom of the Year right here) and that's when we realized she LOVED being in the bath without it, but I digress ... 

Here's our little swimmer girl ... aka the activity that provides the entire family with a good 5-10 minutes of entertainment each bath night : )  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The day after

I can hear Maya speaking these words that have never been more true. Now is the time to rededicate ourselves to building a more just, peaceful, and loving world. #ForOurChildren #ForOurFuture 

(Illustration by Nate Williams Creative -- to view more of his work, visit his website at

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

First homework assignment

We're no longer homework virgins ... Anna came home with her first assignment last week, a school-wide Kindergarten assignment to disguise Turkey Tom for Thanksgiving. Anna choose a sheep and of course her little sister got in on the action too! 

Glueing and cutting, two of their favorite activities!

Bah Bah! 

Charlotte decided to write Anna's name on her sheep since it was her homework : ) 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

No cavities!

Both girls had dentist appointments over the last month and this proud Mama is happy to report that there were no cavities, they received rave reviews from the hygienists and dentist, AND Miss Anna has a couple of loose teeth and her six year molars (tiny tear from Mama on this news). Miss Madeline was the perfect watchful assistant : ) 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

K is for Kion ...

... the super hero, PJ Masks loving lion who went with Charlotte for show and share yesterday : ) 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday funny: time change edition

Edited to add ... the result of a busy weekend with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, no naps, and at time change ... 7:30pm on Sunday : )

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Reading rainbow

Middle sister reading to little sister =  melt my heart! 

(We love this Me Reader set that was a gift!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Word(less) Wednesday

"Did I do that??!!" (insert Steve Urkel voice) ...
aka the look of a baby who just had a HUGE toot : ) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ladies who lunch

Just your regular 80 degree day the first week November! Since the big girls are both home on Tuesdays and the weather was begging for it, we enjoyed an al fresco lunch before lots of playtime in the backyard. 

(But, no, no one should believe there's global warming...)

A ghost, a princess, and a straw-baby ...

I always start asking about Halloween costumes a few months ahead of time to see what ideas / themes stick. This year both girls were pretty consistent and went with a scary ghost and princess Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) early on. I kept pressing Anna about the ghost costume and she held steady, even scoffing at some of my friendly ghost suggestions. "Puh-lease, Mommy, that costume will NOT scare ANYONE!" ... Ok, noted ...  She's her Paw Paw's granddaughter and is apparently now "brave, because I decided to be!" and into all things scary (and a little gore'y). It's hard to find scary ghost costume without a hood in her size (shocker, ha), so we went with a zombie / ghost / corpse bride costume and scary make-up. On the flip side Princess Belle was a no-brainer and Miss Charlotte played the role perfectly. They were both an excellent compliment to the straw-baby who was just along for the ride.
Our trial make-up run before Trunk or Treat at school.
It's hard trick-or-treating and then sitting still for a picture ; )
aka the story of Charlotte's life, ha

The trick-or-treat crew; Mike didn't have a choice this year, I forced him into the Halloween spirit.
Oooohhh, scary!!
"You mean you made me wear this hat and I don't even get any candy?"
The cat and straw-baby held down the fort at home while the big girls went door to door.

#unimpressed ... as we walked to the neighborhood pizza party before trick-or-treating started.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Letter to Madeline: month two

Dear Madeline, 

Two months! Time is flying and there are no shortage of changes in your little personality and big body! 

When I wrote your first letter I wasn’t sure that we’d ever have an evening where it took less than a couple of painful hours to get you settled down, but this month found you a little more settled and I *think* I’ve got a few of your nuances and cues figured out. A few days into the month we decided to try gripe water and/or gas drops during your evening fussy time and although it wasn’t a cure-all, it seemed to help you calm a bit and potentially take care of whatever may be been keeping you from winding down. Being a baby is hard, and being a baby’s parent is even harder; there’s only one frustrating way to communicate - crying - often times on both sides. We have a better routine at bedtime and I’m starting to see a daytime nap pattern, and we’re getting there. 

You’re growing by leaps and bounds and are almost twelve pounds! You have the cutest little neck rolls, the roundest belly, and amazing leg rolls. I’ve had to remind myself to ensure your rolls are clean and powdered every few days because I’m not used to this much adorable chub on a baby and I may have learned the hard way (remind me to tell you about the day we nicknamed you stinky neck … but we love you!). Your newborn clothing was packed up and shipped to your future cousin over a week ago and you’re busting out of most of your 0-3 month outfits and I’ve got the 3-6 month ready to be washed up. 

You’re a master nurser, obviously getting plenty to eat. With that come BIG burps, toots, and poops; man do you go through diapers. Many times I’ll hear you squirt or toot and look over to see you just as surprised as me, it’s pretty hilarious. If you do seem to know what’s going on (you’ve been working something out) you tend to go all “did I do that?” afterward and its still adorable. Wells, as adorable as knowing you are getting ready to change a poopy diaper can be : ) 

Speaking of diapers, you’re turning into a little money-maker for us as a Pampers diaper study participant, kicking off tomorrow. I happened to register you during a middle of the night feeding and because you’re such a good grower and close to being in size 2 diapers, you qualified. The process seems pretty straightforward and won’t take too much of our time for the month of free Pampers diapers and $130. Of course I’ll be taking my manager Mom cut before putting the rest in your college savings account : ) 

You’re more alert and observant with your old age and will follow a voice around the room (specifically mine), love to see what is going on around you, and will kick with glee on your activity mat with your jungle buddies. Your big sister continue to adore you and watch over you like a hawk and ensure you have plenty of interaction when I may need to step away. You usually go with me to pick them up from school and everyone at Goddard loves to peek in your carrier, tickle your toes, or pat you on the head, and your sisters are more than willing to show you off. 

I won’t lie and say that having a baby is easy, you’ve thrown us for a few loops, but I wouldn’t trade the last two months for anything. You continue to be the little light in our lives and it’s hard be believe we ever wondered if our family could handle a third child; because the answer is that not only could we handle you, we needed your blessing in our lives! Thank you for slowing me down, for making me realize that we can get along just fine without some of the items crossed off on the to-do list, and for bringing our family even closer together. You are truly the sunshine for all of us and always will be, our little Madeline Claire.  



Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's that scary time of year ...

... when enormously scary spiders build a web on your bushes ... 
... and pumpkin guts abound ...

Happy Halloween month!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Letter to Madeline: Month one

Dear Madeline, 

Wow, you’re a month old! They say time flies when you’re having fun and I’d echo that, but also add a little blurb about being a Mom to three girls, one of which is a newborn. As I sit here to write your letter, I can hardly believe life without you. It seems you’ve always been a part of our family, and made a fairly miserable pregnancy a very distant memory. 

You came into this world on you due date, but not by choice, you were a scheduled induction. Because of some high risk pregnancy issues they didn’t want you to cook much longer and you were showing few signs of coming on your own. To your credit, you did let me enjoy my two weeks of pre-maternity leave and were respectful of my wishes to see your biggest sister, Anna, off to her first day of Kindergarten. And after labors lasting 19 and 30 hours with your sisters, I almost felt like your 5 hours went by so quickly that I blinked and missed it. 

You looked just like Anna when you were born, same dark hair, same facial expressions, but had the lungs and sass of your sister Charlotte. We’ve since realized that you are going to be your own little person in both looks and personality. You’re a true mix of both your sisters and parents right now with Anna’s dark hair and nose and Charlotte’s fair skin, eyes and mouth. You may be the tiniest Kelly girl, but right now you can definitely be the loudest, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment. You have a list of things you don’t like, including baths, dirty diapers, your bassinet, changing clothes, and Mommy eating alone. And you’re not afraid to cry at the top of your lungs to let us know. 

With your big personality comes big snuggles and cuddles and coos and sighs. Oh, how I forgot the love that newborn, fresh babies can give! You cuddle up just perfectly and love to be rocked and held; and there’s no shortage of folks available for the job. I love that you still curl up when held and love to be bundled up just like when you were in the womb. You love sitting in your bouncy chair on vibrate, I’d like to think because we were on the go often before you were born. You love looking around and taking it all in, nosy like your Mama, but quietly observant like your Dad. 

You’re eating like a champ and took to nursing right away … well, except your first night home from the hospital when you refused and I had to pump a bottle … but you decided to get back on the bandwagon the next day and haven’t looked back. You weighed the most of any of my children and have packed on the pounds unlike your sisters, rocking the 70% for weight and height at your one month appointment. You lost 9% of your weight in the hospital, but they were OK sending you home with an “experienced mother” and also accounted for the mass number of dirty diapers you produced in less than 48 hours. At 2 1/2 weeks you had packed on 2lbs and at a month you were up 3lbs from the day you left the hospital. You blew through your newborn outfits and diapers and are rocking 0-3 months and size 1 diapers and I wouldn’t be surprised if you bump again by next month. 

Although I swear you gave me looks of “is this really my family?” for the first few days home, you acclimated quickly and are 110% adored by your big sisters. They want to know what you’re doing and if you’re OK at all times, delight in holding you (especially Anna), are big helpers when it comes to grabbing an outfit or diaper for me, and love to shower you with kisses. They even understand your cries better than us sometimes; Anna suggested a diaper change your Gigi a few days ago when you were crying, and guess what, that’s exactly what you needed. I’m happy to say that I haven’t seen any jealousy or regressions, they’ve stayed their normal, yet crazy, selves and we’ve morphed into a family of five unit. 

My pregnancy is one I wouldn’t want to repeat and was filled with many aches and pains, a lot of sweat, and utter exhaustion. But I can hardly remember any of that because the end result is so perfect in every way. Many people have told me how challenging life with three children, much less three girls, will be and I know they’re right. Being a parent in general is no walk in the park most days, but I couldn’t ask for three better girls to raise, and you’re the cherry on top and were definitely meant to be a part of our family. You completed our family in the most perfect way imaginable and I am so blessed to be your Mommy. I can’t wait to see the special little lady you become and I’ll be here for it all … every smile, every laugh, every tear, but most importantly, I’ll be your shoulder to cry on with listening ears and open arms.  You’ll always be my littlest little girl.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wish flower

We were ready a little early today, so we took the long way (around the cul de sac) to the bus stop and Anna's eyes lit up when she saw (what she calls) a "wish flower" in a neighbors yard. She told me her wish was "that Madeline will always be my little sister because I love her so much." Annnnd my heart melted! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gym girls

Soccer is almost over for the summer and we decided we didn't need swim lessons in the winter, so we enrolled the girls in tumbling classes since Anna won't be able to take dance / tumble at her school (they come in the morning when she'll be at Kindergarten). They are loving it!  We're avid Olympic viewers and the girls were literally jumping off the couches and bouncing off walls anytime gymnastics was on, so this is a natural fit : ) 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oh the places you'll go (and it all starts with Kindergarten)

"You're off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting, 
So ... get on your way!"

She was SO excited for her first day of Kindergarten and got on the bus with no hesitation whatsoever! I still can't believe we have a Kindergartener! 

Her sign reads: 
Anna's first day of Kindergarten
I am 5 years old
My teacher is Miss Eldred
When I grow up I want to be: an animal doctor and police officer

Charlotte had to be in the middle of everything and was CONVINCED she was also starting kindergarten and would be riding the bus with Anna. She did somewhat OK, but told us many times "I don't want to ride in a car, I want a bus ride! ... I want a back pack too, a big one like Anna ... I'm a big girl going to kindergarten!" 

She had a great day! I met her at the daycare / preschool she'll go to most days for an afternoon Kindergarten enrichment program and she was all smiles as she got off the bus. She said she found her room with a little assistance, was assigned a cubby, went to the bathroom with her class (I made her practice going in the stall and locking and unlocking the door on her preview day), did some activities, enjoyed recess, and made a new friend, Phoebe. She rode the bus back to her other school with three other kids, including a new student, Lily, who she hugged before leaving. We had a great afternoon that included lunch, picking up cupcakes, and a movie at home.

While we were waiting for our table at lunch I was telling Anna how proud I am of her and how she's so brave and smart and getting so big and that sometimes I get sad because I wish she was still little. She leaned in and gave me a big hug and said "but you can be happy too because of all of that." And I am little big girl, I am! Oh the places you'll go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Five going on (what feels like) fifteen

Anna starts kindergarten this week and I'm partially in denial and partially just praying I'm not in labor so that I can see her off on her first day. I picked her up early last Friday and we had a special Mommy / Anna afternoon that consisted of lunch at her fave (Frisch's), a manicure, and a new movie at home. I know she's ready for school, but the thought of her riding a bus by herself, being somewhere for half a day where I don't get a daily report, and navigating the big world that's out there has me a little freaked out. And I don't think I can blame it all on pregnancy hormones. Luckily, Anna has yet to disappoint me in her enthusiastic reaction to all new life changes, and I know she's ready for this new challenge! Oh the places you'll go little lady! 

Ready for the meet and greet with her teacher ; I may have called my Mom bawling half hour before this picture was taken (and before Anna was home) ... 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baby Bump: Week 39 1/2

Here I stand, as pregnant as I've ever been, waiting on another stubborn little lady to make her way into the world! I swore I'd go well before my due date with all of the monitoring I'd been under, but turns out we were both stable enough to keep this little lady cooking. Since February when I saw that Anna's first days of kindergarten were going to be the same week as my due date, I had a little heartburn. I knew if I was in labor or still in the hospital, we'd survive, but I definitely anted to be there if possible. Either this little one heeded my requests or is stubborn like her sisters : ) 

My urine protein is still off the charts, my blood pressure ebbs and flows from high to low, my immune system is shot and I've had about 20 sinus infections, my platelets are low, and I have pretty decent bouts of swelling; luckily none of this all at the same time and enough for the doctors to prefer our little bun stay in the oven for as long as possible ... but not longer than 40 weeks. So, I have an induction scheduled for Friday, my due date, unless she comes earlier. I've been about 2cm dilated for a few weeks, but no other progress or signs of labor. My doctor has painted a pretty rosy picture ... "we'll start some pitocin, I'll break your water, and we'll have a baby in the afternoon!" Ever the optimist, I'm hopeful it's as easy as that, but the realist in me knows that my babies get comfy, so hopefully this one doesn't hang on as long as her sisters (19 and 30 hours). 

No matter what happens, how she arrives, and on whatever timetable, I know this much: she is loved beyond belief already! We are so happy that God decided we should expand our family and we CANNOT WAIT to meet our little bundle that will complete us. We have a name 99% picked out, but aren't sharing as we always like to wait to meet the baby and ensure it's a good fit. Spoiler alert: it's not Riley Elsa or Elsa Riley, so hopefully the girls will be OK with what we choose : ) 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Big sib

Although she's already an amazing big sister, we decided Anna may like to attend the sibling class offered by our hospital that also included a tour of the Labor & Delivery and Post-partum rooms. Charlotte was technically old enough to attend, but yeah, she's a little crazy, and we thought this would be a fun Anna, Mommy and Daddy date. We haven't been to the hospital where I'll deliver since Charlotte was born and given that they were going through construction back then, we were curious to see where I'll be dropped off and Mike will park for Baby Kelly's arrival. 

Mike and I talked the class up for a few days prior, thinking Anna would be excited for her special time; rather all she seemed to pick up on was the fact that she "doesn't want to change any stinky, poopy diapers!" Me either kid, me either : ) Even with that exclamation, she had a great time, was a pro at practicing with her baby doll, and will be a natural biggest sister in less than a week!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday funny

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leg rest

Summer means swollen legs and ankles for this pregnant lady and one of the best purchases I've ever made was a $20 elevated leg pillow from Groupon Goods a couple of months ago. I promised the girls that they can have it to play with after the baby arrives when I'm hopefully less swollen. They took that to mean they can kick me out of my spot and elevate their very skinny and non-swollen legs right away. Stinkers!

Please also note the bedside fan ... I'm basically a menopausal woman ...
"Go upstairs and rest" they all said ... What they meant was "We'll find you within 5 minutes and kick you out of your comfy spot so that we can steal your pillows and act crazy ..."