Saturday, March 29, 2014


When a boy with a face as sweet as this one pulls you by the shirt, you follow ;)

And yes, that IS a screwdriver in his hand. He's handy.
"A portrait of my Avery, once a week, every week, in 2014"

As Avery has stepped so gracefully into his role as big brother, he has also grown into his own as the almost-two-year-old that he is. He has become so much more vocal and is very adamant about getting what he wants. 

Sometimes all he wants is to simply be understood, other times he just wants to watch Elmo. Right now. The most heartbreaking for me though, is when he wants something from me that I just can't give him at the moment. Maybe he wants me to carry him down the stairs when I'm already toting his little bro and a basket of laundry. Or he pushes a marker in my face and demands I color with him right when I'm in the middle of changing Cullen's diaper. Avery seems to know the moments when my hands are already full and those are the moments he 'needs' me the most.

I do my best to give into him as much as I can, but he's definitely learning a hard lesson in patience as I learn a hard lesson in surviving temper tantrums. (Most days I think he's this dealing with this better than I am!)  A new friend gave me some great advice to help understand the behavior of baby #1 when baby #2 comes home; she said to remember that 'Avery didn't ask for a little brother'. It's such a simple statement but is so helpful to repeat in my mind every day when Avery demands my attention at the most inopportune times. He's used to being my one and only and has never had to deal with competing for my attention. He's doing his best to adjust to a situation that is completely out of his control. Becoming a toddler is tough enough, but being a toddler and having to learn to be a big brother at the same time is double tricky. (Being a toddler, big brother and cutting a few teeth and battling a cold all at once? It's been quite the week. Thank goodness Justin has been around to romp around with Avery during the day!)

At the end of the day, the sweet moments always trump the stressful ones and we are all settling into our new life quite nicely, despite the learning curve. I'm so proud of how well my big boy is handling his brother's arrival and I'm happy to say that it's true what they say: A mother's love truly does multiply with each new child - who knew I could ever love this much?!

Linking up here

Sunday, March 23, 2014


This big brother is adjusting better than I could've ever hoped for.
"A portrait of my Avery, once a week, every week, in 2014"
Avery's week was full of cuddles, kisses and giggles for his baby brother. He wakes up in the morning asking for 'brother' and he runs up the stairs to peek in when he hears Cullen's wake-up cries. I'm so happy with the way Avery is handling this transition, especially since he's been battling not only the untimely appearance of a couple of molars, but his canine teeth as well. (ouch!)
Along with the excitement of a new baby brother, the week was full of lots of love from Grandma Connie, Grandpa Delbert, Aunt Janessa, Uncle Josh, and Aunt Jenna - our house got pretty quiet today when everyone headed back to Wisconsin!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cullen James Olive: A Birth Story

What an amazing week!
Cullen is 5 days old today and is already changing and growing too fast. So much of his journey into the world was very much like my experience with Avery, it just all happened in half the time! 

Last week, Monday and Tuesday here in Indiana were gorgeous; warm and sunny both days and we spent lots of time outside as a family soaking up the vitamin D in t-shirts and taking lots of walks around the neighborhood. Tuesday night's forecast called for a big, cold mess - rain, thunder, sleet and more snow. Naturally, this is the night Cullen decided was his time to shine and so we will always remember his birth day being on the morning of the 'March snowstorm'

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
10:00 pm
As we were getting ready for bed, I started to feel the start of some 'real' contractions.  Not super uncomfortable, but enough for me to know to start timing them because I had the feeling things would go much quicker this time around (at my appointment a week earlier, I was already 3 cm dilated)

11:00 pm
I tried to get some sleep, knowing the journey ahead, but every time I dozed off the next contraction woke me up so I basically just lay there and kept track of contractions on my phone for a few hours.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
2:30 am
At this point contractions were getting more intense, about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting a little less than a minute each. Justin woke up and we decided that it was time to call our midwife and our amazing friend, Ashley, to come stay with Avery while we made our way to the hospital. The heavy rain and thunder had begun and knowing that it took Ashley about 30 minutes to get to our house and it would then take us 10 minutes to get to the hospital, I didn't want to wait until the snow and ice began which could cause travel problems for both Ashley and ourselves.

We had numerous people on 'baby alert' for us - willing and waiting on standby to care for Avery while we went to the hospital. It was a little stressful for me to not know exactly where he would be going or what day/time it would happen, but I had full trust in all of our options and in the end it worked out perfectly. A HUGE thanks to Ashley for being so willing to drive in the pouring rain to our house in the middle of the night, keeping our active toddler so happy, and for sending us photos throughout the day. I can't explain how much peace it brought me knowing that Avery was in such good hands while we were away. (I've never been away from Avery overnight before- this was a big deal!)
Another HUGE thanks to my mom and step-dad for also being on stand-by in Wisconsin and being willing to be woken up in the middle of the night to jump in the car and drive 10 hours straight
-in a snowstorm- to relieve Ashley and stay with Avery until we were able to come home (and for smothering Avery with love and making him feel special in his new big brother role) How blessed we are to have such amazing people in our life!

3:30 am
After Ashley arrived, we didn't waste much time as contractions were getting even more intense and I knew we still had a bumpy ride to the hospital ahead of us. The 10 minute ride felt like 30 and every bump felt like baby was going to fall right out. :) 

4:00 am
We checked in at the hospital (it's so quiet and peaceful there at such an early hour!) and were taken up to delivery room 6 (the same room Avery was born in!) to meet our midwife, Letitia, who had the birth tub all set up and ready to be filled. (What a welcome sight that tub was!) I was hooked up to monitors for about 20 (long) minutes to make sure baby was handling delivery ok and when Letitia checked my cervix, I was already at 7.5 cm dilated! Just like when I was in labor with Avery, I had terrible nausea and vomiting... bless Justin for being so ready with a vomit bag and cold washcloth (to soothe my head and for me to bite. Ha!)

5:00 am 
As we were waiting for the tub to fill, my water broke and there was some meconium staining in the amniotic fluid (This same thing happened with Avery and basically means that Cullen had already passed a bowel movement while inside which would cause his delivery to be a little more high-risk because of the possibility that he could inhale some of the fluid during delivery) Because of this, a NICU team would have to be present during the birth and I could no longer deliver in the water, which was pretty disappointing to me, even the second time, but not nearly as scary.

Even though I couldn't deliver in the tub, I still wanted to finish out laboring in it as long as I could. The warm water was such a relief but after being in the tub for only a short time (probably only about 15 minutes) I was already feeling like I had to push. So, short lived was the relief of the water, but exciting that it felt like the end was so near!

5:30 am 
When I got out of the tub, I was almost 10 cm dilated and started pushing with each contraction. NICU came in and the next 20 minutes were a blur of all the incredible feelings and emotions birth brings. At 5:50, as the snow came down in a fury outside,
Cullen James made his way into the world! He cried immediately and after the cord was quickly cut, he was whisked away to the other side of the room for a quick evaluation from the NICU team. Again, it was terrible to watch him be born and not be able to cuddle him right away but he was only gone for about 2 minutes before they brought him back, having passed his evaluation with flying colors and scoring a 9 on his first (and second) APGAR. We got lots of skin-to-skin time and he was able to latch on and nurse before they took him to be cleaned up and weighed over an hour later.

I can't sing enough praises of my fantastic husband. It's days like this that make me fall
even deeper in love with him- his steady and calming demeanor brought me so much strength. I'm not even exaggerating when I say I couldn't do labor/delivery/parenting without him. How did I ever get so lucky?!

Cullen weighed in at 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He has a head full of RED hair, super long fingers and toes and the sweetest little chubby cheeks ever.

After delivery, I was given a dose of Pitocin (Again, just like Avery's birth) to help stop the bleeding but besides that I was able to deliver Cullen naturally and without any tearing/stitches needed! (At about half the time for labor/delivery, the second time around seemed SO MUCH easier- perhaps it was because Cullen's head is smaller than Avery's was? :) Thanks to an amazing team - Justin, Letitia and the hospital staff, Cullen's birth was such a positive experience!

I'm sort of amazed how much easier everything has been the second time around (perspective!). Time spent laboring/pushing, healing, nursing, etc. has all gone so well- maybe it's because I know what to expect this time and am not nearly as anxious as I was as a first-time mom. We were able to leave the hospital at about noon on Thursday to get home to big brother and our own bed (even if we don't spend much time actually IN bed during the night, it's such a good feeling to be home :) and have been relaxing, adjusting, and spending time together as a family ever since. It's SO nice to have my mom and sister here all week!

Cullen is honestly the sweetest, most chill baby ever. He isn't bothered by much (except getting his diaper changed) and is just so content. He gets up lots at night to nurse but goes right back to sleep between feedings, giving me some time to rest too :)  He cuddles and rests comfortably all day and at 5 days old, he's beginning to be more alert for short stretches throughout the day.

Big brother Avery is so very sweet and gentle with Cullen. He gives him SO many hugs and kisses, shares his toys with him and laughs at the funny baby noises he makes. He has been taking this transition so well, I'm amazed by him and overwhelmed with love.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Introducing Avery: Cullen's BIG brother
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014"

As of 5:50 am on Wednesday, March 12, Avery was officially granted big brother status. He has been ever-so-gentle, giving 'brother' lots of kisses and gently pointing out and naming all of his baby parts. He gets very concerned when brother cries and demands to hold him periodically throughout the day. Although we all have plenty of learning and adjusting to do to as we figure out this new life with a new little person in it, Avery's well on his way to becoming the world's best big brother and it melts this mama's heart to see him in this new role. I'm overwhelmed with a whole new ocean of love for my first baby boy... my cup runneth over.

Linking up here

For all my patient and loyal followers, I will be posting about baby Cullen's arrival later this weekend!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Avery Alphabet Soup
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014"

Avery has really started to take off in the language department. He's mastered most of his flash cards, knows all his colors and some select letters too. These foam letters are pretty much all he feels like playing with in the bath lately, calling out the colors and naming letters. He's constantly jabbering out the names for things as we stroll up and down the isles at the store and surprises me every day with a new word that I didn't even realize he knew! It's so fun to hear his little voice saying words and see his joy in learning new ones. It also makes communication easier, which is a bonus with little brother making his appearance any day.
Here's to hoping that next week's photo is one that stars Avery in his new big brother role! 

Linking up here

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The only thing that stays the same... that everything changes.

At my appointment this morning, my midwife says I'm 3 cm dilated!
Just in time, I wanted to share some quick belly pictures I took this week for baby boy's Project Life book:
Now that we could be just days away from baby's due date, I've been soaking up the quiet
moments. I've even taken a break from my nesting activities to take a nap when Avery naps a few times. It feels so much like the days before Avery was born, yet completely different at the same time. One of the things I realized is that so much of our daily routine will soon change and will never be the same again. I will never again have just one child to pack up and take out, I will never again have just one little person's schedule to work around and I will never again be able to give 100% of myself to any one of my children like I do now.

That being said, I wanted to share what our typical day looks like for preservation's sake so in a few months I can look back and say, "Wow, what did I ever do with all that freedom?! :)

7:00-8:00: I wake up to Avery yelling "Mama! Mama!" 
I put my contacts in, get his milk out of the fridge and walk in to a happy boy usually bouncing like a maniac on his bed, his blankets and animals strewn all over the floor. We sit and read stories while he gets his morning milk fix, I dress him and we head downstairs to start our day.

8:30-9:00: Breakfast time! While I make breakfast (either oatmeal, eggs & toast or dad treats us to pancakes), Avery usually wanders around re-acquainting himself with his surroundings (and Bella). We eat, Avery commenting on every car and school bus that goes by, and decide what our day will bring.

9:00-9:30: After cleaning up after breakfast, we head back upstairs to brush our teeth and I get dressed. I often put laundry in at this point or we get ready to leave the house.

9:30-11:30: To help break up these long winter days, we try to get out-and-about at least once a day (while it's 'easy'!) and in the morning is our best time. We often go to a store, run errands, go to story time at the library (on Mondays), go swimming, or have a play date with friends.
If we end up staying home, we will often pick a cleaning task like washing windows, sweeping or vacuuming (this is STILL one of Avery's most favorite things to do and he asks to pull the vacuum out of the closet at least once a day), play hide-and-go-seek, read lots of books, color lots of pictures, or have a heated game of basketball ;)

11:30-12:30: Lunch time, then some fun playtime before nap. We often look at flash cards, play with Megablocks, bounce on the trampoline, or set up a Little People village.

12:30-1:00: We grab a cup of milk and head upstairs to read some stories before Avery takes his nap. He's usually pretty good at going right down to sleep, although he has days every now and then when he 'boycotts' his nap and chooses to bounce and play and read books for an hour or so before finally tiring himself out.

I use this time to clean (the jobs that aren't so easy to do with a 'little helper'), catch up reading blogs etc. on my computer, work on Avery's Project Life book (it's beginning to seem like a never-ending project...), edit pictures, update this blog or prepare something to be made for dinner later.

2:30-3:00: Avery wakes up, usually so happy, and is ready to take on the afternoon. We head back downstairs and have a snack while he tells me stories that I may or may not decipher completely (he's always SO talkative after his nap!).

3:00-5:00: This is the time we will usually take on a bigger project in the house like playing play-doh, baking something, painting,
or head outside if it's nice enough!

5:00-6:00: I'm cleaning up from our messy fun and starting dinner while Avery bounces on the trampoline or plays with his Little People. Justin usually comes home sometime within the hour and watching Avery's reaction when he hears the garage door open will NEVER get old. I am grateful for the days when Justin is home before dinner time because usually he and Avery play together while I finish cooking, which makes this a MUCH less stressful time for mama ;)  (What is it with that before-dinner witching hour?!)

6:00: Dinner time! We almost always get to eat as a family (even on the days when Justin works later, I try to stay consistent with a 6:00 dinner time for Avery's sake and he just re-heats his food when he gets home)

6:30-7:30: Play time with dad - Avery's craziest play of the day :) Unfortunately, I've gotten bigger and less energetic as baby has grown, so this romper-time with Justin has been such a needed part of Avery's day. We've also taken to watching Wheel of Fortune at 7:00, which Avery LOVES. If spring ever comes, we will be spending this time OUTSIDE taking walks and enjoying warm evenings.

7:30: Bathtime!  Avery still loves bathtime and we love watching him play, paint, blow bubbles and 'swim'.

8:00/8:15: Milk, stories, and bedtime (dad takes the bedtime shift) 

That's a sampling of our day, and like clockwork I hear the familiar thump of Avery's toys being tossed out of his crib, so my happy blog time is over :)  I'm going to spend my afternoon with big brother as we await his little buddy's arrival!

As I look at these photos, I'm amazed at what the human body is capable of.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Avery at Rest
  "A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014"

Every night before I go to bed, I sneak in and take a peek at my sleeping babe. I've been doing this since he moved from our room to his own when he was a few months old. If it won't disturb him, I tuck him back in but mostly I take a few seconds to stare at him in awe and smile to myself at the funny positions he sleeps in.

Many nights he looks so sweet and so peaceful that I just want to snap his photo to remember the moment, but the only way to accomplish that would be to use a flash and likely wake him, so obviously these moments exist in my memory alone.

The other day, Avery took an extra-long nap and for fear of him sleeping until dinnertime, I went in to gently wake him. When I opened his curtains he didn't even flinch, so I grabbed my camera and took a few minutes to snap some shots of this sweet, peaceful face before he rolled over and growled at me.
He looks so much like his long-gone tiny baby self when he sleeps.

Linking up here