Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Potato Soup

This is certainly not a cooking blog. But I made a dairy-free potato soup that is probably worth sharing, and at the very least, worth keeping track of. I had a bunch of potatoes, and I couldn't find a recipe online that I was thrilled about, so I combined a few and made my own. I thought it was above average, definitely better than other potato soups I've tried. My kids, who cry about a lot of different foods, thought it was great. They even SAID it was great without being asked. Grayson had two servings. Anyway, here it is:

Dairy-free potato soup
8 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons dried parsley
3.5 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 Caldo de pollo cube (yup, I don't know what they are, but I sure like them. They seem to be just a little different from regular bouillon cubes)
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Seasoning salt to taste (maybe that's redundant after regular salt?)

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour
3 cups almond milk (not vanilla flavored! I used the kind with 60 calories per serving)

12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled.

Put potatoes, celery, onion, parsley, water, bouillon cubes, caldo de pollo, salt, pepper and seasoning salt in a large pot and boil until potatoes are tender

Meanwhile combine almond milk and flour. I warmed the milk up in the microwave for 90 seconds. Not sure if that's necessary.

When vegetables are tender, add milk/flour mix and stir over heat until thickened to your liking. At this point I added more seasoning salt. Also, add the bacon while waiting for soup to thicken.

I added cheese to the bowls of those in my family who can have cheese, and it was delicious. Probably it would have been good with sour cream too.

This made enough for all of us to have a little less than 2 cups of soup with leftovers for tomorrow.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sleep {yaaaawwwn}

Everyone knows we've had problems with Grayson's sleep. "Problems" doesn't really describe the lack of sleep we've had for the last 14 months of our lives. Lots of people have asked how it has gone and what we have tried. I thought I'd document it here. Mostly because I know if I wrote down all of our secrets for future use, I would probably lose the paper.

The good news is he's sleeping again. During the last ten days he has slept past 7 am all but one night. We don't know what the secret is, but we've tried a few things. First, I quit nursing. I was upset about it. I quit nursing Claire at about 15 months because she was biting (but she quit the last few days and that made me regret quitting). I felt a lot of pressure to quit nursing Kyle when he was 12 months old because he was a boy and could walk. I didn't want to quit and neither did he, but I did. And he got an ear infection the next week. I regreted that. I was determined to nurse Gray until we were both comfortable moving on. But we did notice that he had a trend of waking at 5, nursing, then snuggling up to me in bed and going back to sleep. And it was obvious that he loved nursing. So we slowed down and he quit on the 23rd. He took it well. And I, despite sudafed and benadryl and peppermint oil, cannot quit producing milk. But that's TMI and irrelevant. Anyway, we quit nursing and he started sleeping two days later.

But that wasn't all. Concurrently we started giving him a peanut butter sandwich before bed every night. We put him in fleece pajamas and covered him with two blankets and left the ceiling fan on all night.

We also quit giving him dairy in any form. The sleep problems began two weeks before we gave him milk in a bottle, but as soon as we gave him a bottle of milk his nose was gross and solid and he had 2 blowout diapers every day. Within a week of quitting milk everything kind of got better, and then when we took the yogurt and cheese and butter out of his diet he was almost instantly better. This is also why I quit nursing. It stressed me out to watch MY diet and his for milk. I need chocolate and cheese. Since he's technically old enough to go without nursing, I just couldn't limit myself (I already go without Diet Coke. This was just too much.)

Anyway, we saw a sleep specialist in West Jordan (here:  She was super helpful, and even though he, ironically, was sleeping well 3-4 nights before the appointment, we thought it was worth our time and money. She said for our problem (which was 2 whole months of daily repeat awakening throughout the night where he would usually stay up for three or more hours after waking; or he would just wake up at 4 or 5 and be up for the day), that the Ferber progressive waiting technique would be best. She said each time we check on him that we should repeat the same loving message each time, and take less than 60 seconds to do it. She said it would be bad the first night, awful the second night, then progressively better. She expected it to be better after 4 nights. So far he's slept, so we'll see what happens if (heaven forbid) he gets in a bad funk again. She also felt that weaning probably did the most good for him. Apparently just by spending a little bit of time with him, she felt like Gray was an emotionally intelligent baby and had learned to emotionally manipulate me to nurse him. (Not MY sweet boy! Gasp!) She also gave some general good advice:

  • Nightlights, if absolutely necessary, should be behind the head and below eye level.
  • Babies should never sleep after 4pm
  • Keep his room completely dark (like with light-blocking curtain panels) during naps and night. If using the Ferber method, then make sure that light doesn't enter from the hallway when you check on the baby. 
  • Upon awakening, the room should be almost instantly flooded with light. This light/dark cycle will set circadian rhythms. 
  • She stressed the importance of naps being scheduled. I realized that I just had him nap 4-5 hours after waking up. If he got up at 6, he napped at 10. If he got up at 8, he napped at noon. She said that he needs to learn to have a nap at a set time of day. This teaches him that there is a time to be awake and a time to be asleep, and you don't get to choose. He also has a strict bedtime.
So that's it. I can't say how glad I am that he's sleeping again. Strangely, I feel more tired than ever. It's like my body is saying, "I love this sleep thing. Let's do more of it." I expect to adjust soon, but I find myself just waking at night for no reason. I'm one of those people now! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


This morning I watched the video that Teresa Scanlan posted to YouTube about her depression and suicidal thoughts that started with being crowned Miss America.

I think many of us would have the initial thought, "You won Miss America! You don't get to be sad about that or about anything else for the rest of your life!" In fact, I am sure that there are hundreds (thousands?) of girls every year who are depressed because they did NOT win Miss America or another pageant title. I know many of them. I was sad. Maybe even very sad. And while we're being honest I'll admit this:  Sometimes (usually just while watching the pageant) I'm still a little sad and wonder what it would have been like to walk that famous runway with a crown on my head. I may have cried most of the way home from Atlantic City. Just keepin' it real. Isn't it funny that the second someone else wins we're supposed to give up on a dream that we've devoted every waking hour to for years (and sometimes for a lifetime) and be happy that someone else gets to live that dream? And we're supposed to do that on live TV? Am I alone here?
This is me leaving the Miss America stage after I didn't make the top five.
I remember feeling like a wrecking ball was sweeping me away.
BTW, I really just wanted a full-sequin dress. I didn't wear it during competition. Thank goodness.
Anyway, I'm not writing this about that. It's about the video, which is heartbreaking. Teresa is my favorite Miss America in the last decade. I have always loved that she is Christian and is unapologetic of how often she speaks of Christ. She is gorgeous and gracious. I keep a signed picture of her in Claire's room. I'm a fan. How unfortunate that, in our electronic society, people can hide behind the anonymity of a screen name and call good people awful things because they are jealous and vicious and sad. I get that when you enter a pageant you are asking to be judged---but you are only asking to be judged BY THE JUDGES during the pageant.

Even twelve years ago when I won Miss Utah the very first comment on a news website was, "Looks like the new Miss Utah needs to go on a diet." I remember that, word for word, and not a single other comment. Although I do remember that Danielle White stood up for me. Thank you, Danielle! In that picture I weighed about 112 pounds and hardly had any fat in my body (thanks to something I ate in Mexico!). My dress was tight on my newly acquired abs and shined strangely in the picture while I was kind of squatting to be crowned. Someone sure felt it was their right to say that about me on the biggest night of my life. Classy. I knew it wasn't true, but I've never forgotten.

This is the picture that inspired people to criticize my weight.
I hope this video can be a wake-up call to the Miss America Organization at a national and state level. I'm sure it's something that they are very aware of and probably are even addressing, but it seems like more can be done. I doubt that Teresa is alone in how she felt, and I'm sure she's joined by national and state titleholders who, like her, simply were overwhelmed by life in the spotlight and the rigorous schedule of a titleholder. We *think* we know what we're getting into, they certainly tell you what you're getting into, but you can't actually know until you've lived it day-in and day-out.

Maybe this is just because I'm married to a therapist, but I think MAO and state organizations should insist on and provide for regular preventative therapy for their titleholders. My year as Miss Utah was very stressful for many, many reasons. I want to be clear: I WANTED to be Miss Utah. I worked very hard and devoted two years of my life to become Miss Utah. I LOVED being Miss Utah. I wouldn't trade it for the world. But by the time the year was over and I had traveled to every corner of the state with nearly 800 appearances, I was done; my family was done. It is HARD to stay thin when everywhere you go everyone is taking you to the best restaurant for the best food. It is hard to keep a talent stage-ready when there just isn't time to devote to practice or when pianos simply aren't available. It is hard to ignore the nearly constant criticism, however well-intentioned, that you get from directors and travelling companions and random people on the street. You did great, BUT... You talk too fast. You wore the wrong shoes. Your lipstick is wrong. Your hair is wrong. Next time say this. Here's how to improve next time. Next time be someone else entirely. And social media, while thankfully not around when I was wearing a crown, must be brutal. I just can't even imagine.

Maybe with therapy---which offers a pair of listening, confidential ears and hopefully good advice---we'd have even better titleholders. My family and local directors were amazing at always being there and always listening, but I still felt pressure to please them. It would have been nice to talk to a disinterested party. Society isn't going to change. It's too bad. Those comments will always be made. But we need to be pro-active and help our girls before they reach the point that Teresa did. I have heard many state titleholders from Utah and around the country say that they were happy and felt loved every second. But I've also had heart-to-heart talks with other girls who felt the same or heard from others involved that things weren't well. I'm not blaming MAO or MUO. Pageants, by their very nature are a judged competition. When you compete you are saying "judge me." But when so much criticism comes from every single media outlet, and every single pageant person around you is telling you you were great but has a suggestion for next time, it is hard.

Again, I need to say that I loved being Miss Utah. It was life-changing and a privilege for which I will always be grateful. I am grateful for everyone who sacrificed for me and who devoted time to my year as Miss Utah. I will always be grateful to MAO for the experience and for the scholarships (I paid $25 for my entire education!). There are so many good things about pageants. Miss America contestants at every level offer so much good to the world through community service. I think there is absolutely a place for Miss America in today's world, and I hope that it never ends. But society is changing. Instead of embracing good, society discourages and downplays and questions everything lovely.

I admire Teresa for her courage in releasing this video during Miss America Week, and I hope that all of us in "Pageantland" can be supportive of her and not continue to be critical of her. I think she is very brave, and she is not alone. Most importantly, I hope that preventative measures can be taken so no one has to feel that way again.

**Now part of me wants to delete this and never post it. I keep thinking that maybe I'm too critical and I'll never be asked to judge or emcee a pageant ever again. And probably like two people will read this anyway, so there's nothing to worry about. I also keep thinking that I should email it to my mom, my husband, my mother-in-law, and my sister to see what they think. How odd that when I'm writing that we should just let the titleholder be herself and not try to judge her so much, that I'm still looking for approval and critiques. So I'll post it. And I know I'll be criticized.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My "essay" on motherhood

I spoke in church last Mother's Day. Before I speak I write things down word-for-word and then paraphrase when I actually get up there. I thought it would be a good day to post what I said last year:

Claire was visibly upset one day last year. I sat down and asked her what was wrong. She asked, “Do you think I'll be a good mom one day?” I told her that she'd be great at being a mom. “But how?” she cried, “All you ever do is clean all day, and I HATE cleaning!” I assured her that there is more to being a mom than cleaning—although sometimes it doesn't seem like that.

You probably already know this, but I am really, really good at a lot of things. If I want to accomplish something, and I set my mind to it, I can do it. Throughout my life I excelled in all of my schooling, I put in the hours to be really good at playing the piano. I made the top ten at Miss America. I even convinced my husband to marry me. I've been really good at almost everything I've tried throughout my life, so when I became a mother I thought I'd be really great at it.

But it is hard. Sometimes it seems like there are days and even months where my head is barely above water. The day-to-day responsibilities of being a mother, the obligation that I have to teach them to be good people, to help them get an education, even just to get them to be reverent during Sacrament Meeting—it can all just be very overwhelming. Even though it feels like I clean all day, I must not because I'm horrible at keeping our home clutter-free. I've been known to get frustrated with my kids—sometimes even to raise my voice. I'm not always patient with them, I probably expect too much of them, and we may have even had cereal for dinner last Sunday. Somehow I just thought it would be easier.

A quote I've loved lately is from a recent interview with Sister Julie Beck. It was featured in LDS Living Magazine. It says, “I’ve learned that the world teaches us that we can have the dream now. They express the dream as what Adam and Eve had in the garden—you don’t have to work for anything and everything is peaceful and happy. That’s really where the adversary still is. But we chose to have a mortal experience to prepare for the real dream, and that dream is eternal life. Eve was willing to go through a long, hard mortal experience in order to work toward the promise of the dream—I don’t think most women realize that. They’re trying to make it be the dream now. We don’t get that here. What we get here is the experience.”

This “experience” stuff is hard! I know a lot of people struggle with Mother's Day because they focus on all of their failings as a mother, seeing only the successes of other mothers. As I was preparing for this talk I saw all of the things that an “ideal mother” would be or do. I am not the ideal mother, for sure. I don't think any of us are perfect in every way—but we can strive to improve in small ways. And we need to realize that there are small ways in which we are ideal. As we go throughout the day hearing about mothers, maybe pick a few ways to improve, but also pat yourself on the back for the great job you really are doing.

In another talk, Sister Beck says, 
“The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. Children are being born into a world where they wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, however, mothers need not fear. When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.

Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and 'where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also.'” 

By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood.

My mom is really great. Looking back, I realize that she gave me and my siblings two very important gifts. First, she taught me of my Heavenly Father's love for me, of the truthfulness of the gospel, and she was a great example of living the gospel. We saw first-hand that my parents were committed to being active members of the church. As a family we attended church together every single week no matter what—and we saw our parents diligently fulfill whatever calling they had in the church—whether it be big or small.

Second, my mother taught me to be a mother. This didn't start when Claire was born—it was a lifetime of lessons given both by example and by pointing out other mothers who also provided positive examples.

Because of this, it is my highest priority in raising my children to teach them first to love the gospel, and then second to grow to be caring parents and spouses. Kyle can already load and unload a dishwasher better than probably half of the men in the audience. He is compassionate and caring and empathetic and loving—and we consciously try to help him recognize and improve these qualities which will help him to be a great husband and father. Although he will tell you that he loves me so much that he wants to live with me and take care of me until I die, I'm sure one day he'll leave, and he'll be really great because we've prepared him to be great.

Claire wants to be a mom more than anything else in life. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, the answer has always been “A mom.” Sometimes I wonder if that's because I make it look so great—or because she just thinks she could do a much better job! She is a wonderful sister and cousin, and it's so fun to see motherly qualities blossom in her as she cares for her dolls and her brother and other children. She and I have always referred to Kyle as “our” baby, and she takes that to heart. I don't know that a sister has ever loved having a little brother as much as Claire loves Kyle. She keeps a little scrapbook. In it she has a picture of Kyle when he was one year old. She writes, “I think that Kyle is cute here, but I like him just as much now that he is 4.” Her desire to nurture is so strong, that I can't help but think of the proclamation on the family where it says, “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” It later states, “THE FAMILY is ordained of God...By divine design...Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

 While we stress the importance of education to Claire, and we do all that we can to help her learn all that she can—she knows what she is preparing to become. Even though she is just six years old, she already has a mother heart. She is growing to understand Harold B Lee's counsel that “The most important of the Lord's work you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”

Sister Beck also said, “I was recently at a park where I met a group of women with mother hearts. They were young, covenant-keeping women. They were bright and had obtained advanced degrees from respected universities. Now they were devoting their considerable gifts to planning dinner that evening and sharing housekeeping ideas. They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears. I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them.” She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions.”

Again, this paints a pretty picture of family prayer, family scripture study, book reading, song singing and family meals. These things collectively and individually are NOT easy! In our home we have certainly ended a Family Home Evening or two with unhappy children and unhappy parents. We often wrestle children in the middle of family prayer. Sometimes only the person who reads the scriptures out loud at night hears what is said. But as the quote says, raising children requires “righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering.”

Sometimes that seems exhausting though. All of the family meals, all of the scripture study, all of the persistent daily mothering. I like to think of the saying, “Life is hard by the yard, but by the inch, life's a cinch.” Some days are really hard. Some weeks are hard. Some months are hard. But moments are usually pretty doable.

In my very best moments I like to take time to congratulate myself. When my kids are happy and we're playing together and I get the feeling that I'm doing the very best thing I could be doing at that moment, I'm so happy, and I take it all in—especially if dinner is made and the house is semi-clean. But those small moments are the grand rewards of motherhood. I'm starting to understand what Mary felt in Luke 2:19 which reads, “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” We're always told that kids grow up fast, but you don't believe it until you realize that it's your baby losing teeth and skipping to kindergarten.

I think I've started to catalog moments to keep in my heart. The moments they were born. Claire's smile and early attempts at humor. Kyle's uninhibited nature and fierce devotion to me. The spontaneous moments when I find myself with them at the piano and they sing along to a primary song. And now the kicks and squirms of our new baby, growing inside me. In these tiny moments, time slows down, life is perfect, and I know that I am doing what my Heavenly Father wants me to do.

***So that was what I said. That last sentence is a thought I've had a lot lately. I don't know if at any other time in my life I've been as sure that I'm doing what God would have me be doing—at least in the big picture—I am a mother to children. (In the small, detailed, daily picture of the things God would have me be doing, there is always work!) But I find so much comfort in knowing that I am where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do.

And to make this even longer, here are a few more quotes about mothering that I really love.

Julie Beck: Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this—women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times. We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the Church to “stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord.” He has asked us to 'begin in [our] own homes' to teach children the ways of truth. Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families. I have every confidence that our women will do this.

"Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants. I have visited sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on the earth where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn-out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection; their sons wear white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts. These mothers know they are going to sacrament meeting, where covenants are renewed. These mothers have made and honor temple covenants. They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals. These mothers have influence and power.

"Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.  To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes...Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate.

"Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.

"Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home."

Monday, February 25, 2013

fix it

Claire came home from school in tears today. Unknown to me, Claire's carpool companion who does the afternoon drive didn't go to school today, but had planned on coming to school later in the day. She didn't, but her parents called the school and asked them to tell Claire that they would still be picking her up anyway. The office relayed to Claire that HER dad would be picking her up after dance club. This delighted Claire as her Daddy is always at work after school, and she anticipated some sort of a fun adventure. When school was over and her normal carpool showed up, she assured them that her dad was picking her up. The carpool called me to confirm this after school---it was the first time I had heard anything of it. I was pretty sure Taylor would have mentioned to me that he was picking Claire up, so I told them to take Claire home. She held it together all the way home, but teared up the second she made eye contact with me.

I couldn't get her to tell me what was wrong. Through her tears she told me about the misunderstanding, but insisted that that wasn't the problem. I held her for a long time, but she would not tell me what the problem was. The longer we sat, the more tears fell. I prayed that she would tell me. I prayed to know how to ask her to get her to tell me. Finally I asked her if she could write down the problem. She agreed. I provided a pen and notebook, and she provided the answer:

"Somebody stole my cookie." She was clearly upset as she wrote that sentence because she usually does so much better at spelling. Apparently she unpacked her lunchbox at lunch, had a bite of cookie, started on her sandwich, chatted with a friend, and when time came to finish up her scrumptious, homemade peanut-butter-chocolate-chip/chocolate-chip cookie it was gone. She's certain it was stolen. I'm leaving room for eating without knowing or dropping it all together. It was devastating.

This experience, however, represents two victories to me.

First. I'm glad that she can write about what is bothering her. This, to me, is an invaluable skill. I can't tell you how many blog posts I have written and never posted because when I finished writing, I realized that I just needed to write it for ME, not for the world. Same with facebook posts and comments. I seriously erase half of what I write on facebook before I press enter. That's a skill I wish a lot more people could harness! I'm glad that Claire is brave enough to write when she cannot speak.

Second. This was easy to fix. In ten minutes she had cookie dough. Fifteen more minutes and she was dunking a warm cookie in cold milk. Problem solved. Mom's the greatest. And now with the new batch of cookies, there will be another cookie tomorrow! [Some for me too!]

I realize that all of her problems are not that easy to fix. She's already experienced quite a bit of friend drama in her 2-year stint in public school. In kindergarten she had a best friend, but there was a poor girl who always wanted to be the third wheel. Girl #3 wasn't nice in her antics (she had older sisters who no-doubt taught her some interesting tactics on friendship). This year, in a new school, while Claire has friends, she's yet to find anything as solid as she had last year when she knew that no matter what she would have Hannah there. I know this is common. It still hurts my heart a bit.

I know that there are bound to be many more days that she walks through our door in tears. And her problems will get more complex as time goes by. But today I am the hero. And know what? I'm going to bet that writing and warm chocolate chip cookies will probably solve problems in the future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And after that unscheduled break...

You know how they had that long, unplanned half-hour break in the Super Bowl? My blog just had a long, unplanned break. It was mostly caused by pregnancy, and then a baby with colic. And then when the colic was gone he slept less during the day, and my life just kind of fell apart. The baby is obviously more of a priority than the blog. And getting dressed. And cleaning the house. And folding the laundry. And making more than one dish (if that) for dinner. Just keeping it real here, folks.

Anyway, I hope to write more. I blog in my head all the time while I'm nursing the baby, but it hasn't quite ever made it to the computer---for above-mentioned reasons, and also because I'm just getting past that "I'm suddenly stupid" postpartum stage. Does that happen to you too? Words don't come, ideas don't make sense, and the only thing you really know for sure is when the baby needs to eat next.

Gray is 6 months old now (the above picture is today). He's a hard baby. I thought I'd had a hard baby before, but he's reached new heights on our measuring stick. He likes to be entertained. He likes to be held. He does not like to be put down to sleep at all. We do put him down though. Every time. He just doesn't like that. That said, he is my best eater. As long as you smile while you force "garden vegetables" into his mouth, he smiles back and hungrily eats whatever is offered. He's affectionate. I was showered (literally) with kissed for a good 30 minutes upon returning from Relief Society tonight. He is happy, happy, happy. He giggles just looking at Kyle. He'll contently watch cartoons with Claire. He'd happily chew on my hand all day. He's good natured and bright.

I'm still grateful every day, even though he's hard and an awful sleeper. With the exception of maybe 5 days that I've been too busy to really think about it, I think I have had a moment or two every single day in the last six month where I have been in tears or near tears with gratitude for my baby. I think of the daily fear I felt last year at this time when we didn't know if the progesterone would actually stop my cycle of miscarriages. I think of the years before where my arms longed for a baby. I hold that baby and hear his breath and feel his warmth and my heart overflows. Every. Single. Day.

Call me a sentimental fool. Or maybe a hormonal fool. But I do think about it every day. And it's not that I didn't love my other babies. I just appreciate that I get to have Gray a little more. Maybe it's that I'm older and wiser and know how quickly time will pass (and oh, how it has passed too quickly already!).

Now that 6 months have passed, my house is finally coming back together. I've cooked a little bit more. I took the last Christmas wreath down today (and it really is a WINTER wreath), and we're ready for Valentine's day. I see the light at the end of the newborn tunnel. I've loved the tunnel, but I'm excited to get back to normal---or at least to discover our new normal with 3 kids.