Friday, December 30, 2011

What I Didn't Know

Our family went to Wal-Mart tonight to order Will's cake for his first birthday...which is on Monday. My dear, sweet, lovable, kissable, snuggable, "love him so much I could just hold and squeeze him forever" Will turns one on Monday. I don't think the beginning of a new year will ever feel the same since having my almost New Year's baby in 2011.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I didn't know this time last year. One year ago, on December 30, 2010, I was 34 1/2 weeks pregnant - a looooong 5 1/2 weeks from my due date with Will. Or so I thought. We had just celebrated a wonderful Christmas in Orlando. Since I was 33-34 weeks along in my pregnancy, we decided not to travel for the holidays. I was able to sing at the Christmas Eve service at our church. We had a sweet Christmas morning in our own home and got together with Donny's family later on Christmas day. We had received Sea World passes for Christmas, so we took the kids on Dec. 27 so that we could at least get a Sea World day in before the baby came. We put away our Christmas decorations soon after Christmas, and I was beginning to prepare for Donny to take the kids to Chattanooga for a week (without me) while he took a seminary class in Atlanta from January 3-7.

2011 was on it's way. I thought the only thing I didn't know was the gender of my soon-coming baby. How wrong I was. There was so much I didn't know.

I had no idea that January 2 would bring unexpected labor pains after church followed by the birth of Will that evening at 34 weeks and 6 days. I had no idea our son would be born and would spend 17 days in the NICU learning to breathe and fighting a virus. I had no idea where the labor and delivery floor was when we arrived, because I was going to visit the hospital the next week while Donny and the kids were out of town. I had no idea that Winter Park Hospital had a boarding option that is free for parents who had children in the NICU, and I had no idea I would need to use that service.

I had no idea how my church and friends in Orlando would rally around us.

I had no idea Donny wouldn't be able to take his class in Atlanta, thus adding 3 more hours to a very full final semester in seminary.

I didn't know that we would spend our 9th anniversary eating sandwiches from Publix in a hospital room.

I didn't know how much I would love carrying Will in my Moby after he came home. It's like I wanted any time I could get to hold him close since we were so separated in the NICU. I also had no idea that he would sleep in the Moby during choir rehearsal. While I sang. Loudly. I guess he got used to it in the womb.

I didn't know I would spend much of February through April fighting to be able to breastfeed Will as we dealt with some oral-motor issues with him. Lots of pumping, bottles, and oral therapy for him. I had no idea what a struggle that would be. I also had no idea what a joy it would be on the other side of the struggle.

The Bahamas - for five months - I had no clue.

New Jersey - Donny's first call as a pastor. I had no idea this time last year I would be preparing for a move to New Jersey. No clue.

If this year has taught me anything (and it has taught me a lot), I know that I know nothing. I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but my God does.

2011 has been so crazy. So. Crazy. When out on a date a few weeks ago, Donny asked me what the most memorable or significant event of 2011 had been. My eyes immediately welled up with tears. My dear Will and his birth was by far the most significant of many significant events of 2011. How little I knew a year ago.

I am thankful for 2011. My sweet Will. Donny's graduation from seminary. An interim pastorate in the Bahamas. A call to New Jersey. And so much more in between. God knows my days, what will happen, and he is near in it all. Nothing is out of his control. Thank you, Lord, for 2011. While I am excited about a fresh start and the hope of settling down into a new phase of life and ministry in 2012, I will take nothing for granted. What I know now is probably not how it will be. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever...and for that I am so very thankful.

Christmas Eve 2010 - I've still got 6 weeks, right?
December 31, 2010 - 34 weeks, 4 days - Heading to the Nolls for New Year's Eve
No clue I would be having this baby in 2 days

Jan. 1, 2011 at Sea World - Our last night as a family of four
The next night our sweet Will would be born.
November, 27, 2011 at Sea World
Will almost 11 months old.
What a difference a year makes and how little I knew about how it would unfold.

Friday, December 23, 2011

William Oliver - 10 and 11 Months

Nov. 7, 2011 - 10 months, 5 days old

Dec. 2, 2011 - 11 months old

It's December 23, 2011 - just 10 days away from Will's 1st birthday (WHAT???!!!) - The last two months have been such a whirlwind. On November 8 we moved from Freeport, Grand Bahama Island back to Orlando, made a 5 day trip to New Jersey, spent Thanksgiving in Florida, and then headed up to Chattanooga on December 6 for Christmas. Will hasn't quite been the same since we left Freeport. Not too many nights of uninterrupted sleep. Lots of middle-of-the-night feedings. He has become quite the Mama's boy. It's not all the time, but in the late afternoon and evening he really prefers me...which is just fine most of the time. Extra snuggles are nice.

At 11 months Will has the biggest smile you have ever seen. He got teeth numbers 3 & 4 (the top two) in the last two months. His hair is getting longer (and may need a trim soon - sniff, sniff). He naps twice each day for about 2-2.5 hours at a time. Since we have been in Chattanooga, he has been sleeping until 8 or 8:30 a.m. (which is great since my mom takes care of Hunter and Millie when they first wake up), so I have been sleeping a little later to make up for the middle of the night meetings with dear William.

No crawling yet. Lots of rolling and some army crawling. We definitely have to keep him out of the Christmas presents. There is one present of Millie's that Will constantly goes for. The poor tag is just shriveled.

Will has been eating more and more solid foods. Applesauce, peaches, baby mum mums, green beans, lunch meat, and even some tiny bites of dinner casseroles. For the most part, the flood gates are open, and Will is eating like a big boy.

I can't believe his one year birthday is almost here. I remember that day so vividly, like it was yesterday. I will have time to reflect on it in a week or two. For now, enjoy these pics of our sweet 11 month old. Still a baby (for now).

Thanksgiving 2011

Christmas pics at Bass Pro Shops

Merry Christmas from our favorite 11 month old!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Things They Say...

Earlier this month, I was teaching the kids a grammar lesson on middle names.

Me to Millie: "Millie, do you know what Mommy's middle name is?"

Millie: "What did Mimi (my mom) call you when you disobeyed?"

Oh, the things they say.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

William Oliver - 9 Months Old

October 8, 2011 - 9 months, 6 days old

Since Will is just a few days away from turning 10 months old, I thought I better get to his 9 month post.

I remember 9 months being sad for me with Hunter and Millie. Now with Will, I struggle not to start mourning the end of the baby year. 9 months. He's 3/4 the way through his first year of life. The Lord has been gracious to me with Will. I think since he is my third and since we had such a traumatic birth with him, I see what a true gift he is and soak up the moments I have with him. It is always exciting (I think for him and for me) when I go to get him out of bed. Peeking over his crib and just catching his eyes is magical for both of us. We both light up when we see each other. I love the bond I have with him.

At 9 months, Will is finally sitting up on his own. He only began to do that a week or so ago, so it was really at 9 1/2 months that he began sitting up. He can't sit himself up yet, but he will stay upright for a while if I sit him up. No crawling yet. Not even a hint of interest, and that's how the Friederichsen babies do it. I can't remember when Millie crawled. I think it was around 10 or 11 months. Hunter didn't crawl until 13 months. So we're just hanging out right now figuring out how to keep our balance sitting up...and that's just fine by me.

One of Will's favorite things to do is eat Cheerios. He loves to sit in his high chair and just shove them into his mouth. Once I pour them on his tray, he dives into them. It's fun and gross. There are always mushy Cheerios left on his collar. I have to shake him when I take him out of the high chair, and I never get them all the first time.

Will eats like a champ. I dropped his late night "dream feed" this month, so he is down to 5 feedings/day, usually 7:00, 10:30, 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 (give or take 30 minutes). He eats solids after his morning feeding and his late afternoon feeding. I just gave him banana for the first time yesterday (which he loved). That was his first fruit. As of now, he rotates through squash, avocado, sweet potato, peas, and now banana. He also dropped his evening cat nap, so normal days now consist of two naps, one morning and one afternoon. Ideally, the morning nap is about 2 hours and the afternoon is about 2 1/2-3 hours...but we don't live in an ideal world, do we? Still, he is a great sleeper. He goes to bed between 7:30-8 p.m. and sleeps until 7ish in the morning.

Pardon the details, but I have not been as diligent with Will in writing down all these details on a daily basis, so these blog posts will help me remember these milestones/routines.

No top teeth yet, but he did cut number 2 of his bottom teeth right before turning 9 months, so he is sporting his two bottom teeth. Based on his fussiness tonight, I think a top tooth might appear soon, but we'll see.

Last week, Will started making more sounds, and we all think he is sayng "Mama." He's saying "Mama" in the same way a newborn's not voluntary yet, but it's still soooo cute and endearing. It definitely warms this mama's heart.

We leave the Bahamas on Tuesday, November 8. Will, when we leave the Bahamas, you will have spent as much time here as you have in America. That's crazy. What a light you have been to me in this transition. Your smiles are so bright, and your snuggles warm my heart. One of our good friends here, Dugie, doesn't think a Sunday at church is complete without getting a smile from you. I pray as you grow that your sweet and cheerful disposition will be one that winsomely leads other to wonder about your joy and the God who gives you joy. I pray you will continue to find your joy in him. And I pray you keep your right dimple...cause it is soooo cute.

Will, I love you so much. While I get a little sad realizing how big you are getting, I am also excited to see how you will continue to grow. I am so thankful for you and our 9 months together. I pray for many, many more days, months, and years ahead. More smiles, more snuggles, more laughter, more lessons...more of you.

Love, Mommy

Sitting up all on his own (but notice the pillow still behind him just in case)

Chillin' at the beach

Field Trip at the Garden of the Groves. Will has been my "baby gear" baby.
I love carrying Will in the Ergo.

Climbing on Daddy. Just ignore the scissors. Donny was multitasking.
Playing jungle gym for Will and cutting out something for Hunter.

Will still loves his thumb, especially when he gets tired. Sweet him.

Oh, those eyes. Melt, melt, melt.

Since I am posting this just a few minutes before Halloween 2011,
I thought I would post a pic of Will's Halloween costume last year in 2010.

Love him so much.

Night. Night.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, Hunter!

Seven?! Wow. Seven.

We celebrated Hunter's seventh birthday last Wednesday, September 14, here in the Bahamas. It was a great day. We started with birthday donuts. They were a little dense here in the Bahamas. No Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme here (sniff, sniff), but we kept the tradition alive by ordering from a local bakery.

Hunter is crazy about ocean life right now. Nearly all of his presents and his party revolved around the ocean. Two of his presents that thrilled were two ocean pop-up books - one from Mimi and Ddad (my parents) and one that Hunter bought here with some money that Grandma and Grandpa (Donny's parents) sent. Man, there are some good pop-up books out there. Last year, his Star Wars pop-up book was the prize present. Who knew these things would be such a hit? They really are incredible. If they are anything like his Star Wars book last year, he'll still be talking about them and using them a year from now.

We met some friends at a local restaurant for dinner and cake. Hunter specifically requested that we have his party at "Port Lucaya" at the Unexso pool. You'll see the pics, but it is a great poolside restaurant right on the local tourist port here. It's a super fun place to have dinner and swim in the evening. The sunset is beautiful as well.

Hunter requested a cookie cake, so I googled "homemade cookie cake," found a recipe, and off I went. Having never made his birthday cake before, I was a little nervous. The Lord has given me a sweet friend here in Freeport in Alicia. She made an awesome horse cake for her daughter this summer, so I enlisted her help to decorate my cookie cake. I really can't tell you how my heart lept when she brought the cake in for Hunter's party. It was perfect. Birthday cakes are so important to me. I don't know why. I guess it's the biggest reminder to me of what the theme was, what the kids were into at the time, and it's a special way to celebrate them with their name on their very own cake. I have loved every cake I have had for the kids' birthdays, but the most memorable for Hunter have been the ones that my sister made for his first and second birthdays and now the one Alicia decorated for birthday number 7. Amazing.

Hunter, you are so much fun. You love to read, write, and draw. Your reading amazes me. You read far beyond what I have taught you. I do love teaching you and seeing you learn things firsthand. I don't know if I will teach you throughout your school years, but I will enjoy these years with you at home while I can. We all love your shaggy long hair right handsome. Recently, you topped off your island look with a shark tooth necklace. So cool. All the girls here in Freeport are crushing on you. You're the only boy your age at our church, so you get plenty of attention from the ladies (yikes!). You love snorkeling and fishing with your dad and love all things that have to do with the ocean and ocean life. You have your checklist of things you want to see in the water while we are here. I have no idea what they are, but you are checking them off little by little. I think "nurse shark" is up next.

You love your sister and little brother. You are a champ at making Will smile. You are generous, creative, and caring. I love the little man that I am watching you become. I thank God for giving you to our family seven years ago. You are a gift. I treasure you so very dearly.

A habit we have started recently is me singing a song and scratching your back before you go to sleep. You choose the same song every night: "Good Night, My Someone" from the Music Man (you don't know it's from the Music's just your favorite bedtime song). It is one of the first solos I ever auditioned for as a child, and I love that you love that song. Millie rotates her requests, but you ask for that one every night. I love those few moments we share together as you drift off to sleep.

Happy Birthday, Hunter Levi. We love you so much.

Birthday Donuts - A Friederichsen Family Tradition

Ocean Pop-Up Book - So cool!

Incredible Birthday Cake - I still get giddy looking at the picture. So special.

Blowing out the candles

So thankful for very fun friends here in Freeport

Goody Bags - I was feeling very accomplished having used
Pinterest for the first time to find the idea for these bags.

My friend, Alicia - cake decorator extraordinaire!

Thank you, Lord, for our dear family
and for our sweet seven year old.

A wonderful day topped off with a beautiful sunset.
Thank you, LORD!

Will at 8 months - and Wisdom from Dr. Suess

September 2, 2011 - 8 months old

Today I was given the gift of an unexpected phone conversation with a very dear friend. We happened to be on Facebook at the same time, so we took that precious time that is "while the kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied in the middle of the afternoon" and talked for 42 minutes. It was a glorious 42 minutes. We haven't talked in months. That's about how it goes with us. BUT we picked right back up where we left off. That's also how it goes with us. Aren't those types of friends the best? We haven't lived in the same city in over four years, yet we are as close as we were when we lived just down the road.

Anyway, our baby boys are just a few months apart in age, so we were talking about them getting bigger, reaching milestones, and mourning the soon-coming end of the baby phase. She shared this quote with me, telling me that she needs to post it somewhere where she can see it: Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. Oh, what rich and timely words for me today. I have been feeling that conflict since Will was born. His birth was so traumatic that I have soaked up everyday we've had, and I have not taken these days for granted. BUT I feel that inner tension, that sadness that these baby days are coming to an end. Life with him (and all our children and my husband and my friends and family) is such a gift. I am thankful for that reminder today, and I am thankful that today happened...complete with its drool-covered onesies, cheerios all over the seat from missing his face, early waking from a leaky diaper, and all the silly tongue filled grins while his first tooth is coming in. So glad they happened. So glad he happened. I admit, I am still sad that baby days seem to be passing quickly, but I am smiling now, thankful for the reminder that these days are a gift. I am so glad God has seen fit to give them to our family.

Now...on to sweet William. He is 8 1/2 months old. What?! How did he get this big? At eight months, Will has added squash, sweet potatoes, rice cereal and Cheerios to his solid food repertoire. The Cheerios are more of a game at this point, but he gets a few of them in his mouth every once in a while. He is still nursing 6 times/day. I am still waking him at bedtime for a dream feed. His afternoon naps are lengthening, and we are dropping the evening catnap. Sooo...he is napping a good morning nap, a late morning catnap, and a long afternoon nap. Since he is cutting his first tooth (appeared last night), he is waking more at night. I hope this phase passes, because I like uninterrupted sleep. Oh well, give it 18+ years, and I might get some consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Maybe.

Will continues to be so smiley, sweet, and cuddly. He is sitting stronger in his Bumbo and high chair, but he is not sitting on his own yet. Just like his brother and sister, he is not going to break any records with physical milestones. That is just fine with me. Hunter still holds the key to make him laugh and smile the most, but he pretty much smiles for anyone. Such a sweet boy. I haven't had him weighed since 6 months, so I have no idea how much he weighs, but he has grown so much since we have been in the Bahamas. I love going to wake him in the mornings or after naps. I always get a huge grin usually with some leg thumps on the crib mattress. He is not attached to a blankie, but he does snuggle right into me and suck his left thumb when I drape one of his Aden and Anais blankets over my shoulder. I melt. It is such a thrill and honor to be his Mommy.

Still working on sitting up...sweet little guy.

One of my favorite places - with Will on my left hip
snuggling in with his thumb in his mouth.

Donny getting some giggles from Will

And Hunter, our "Grinmaster" - He can always get Will to smile.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Falling Asleep In My Arms

August 2, 2011 - Seven Months Old

About once a week, Will has a hard time falling asleep on his own at night. Tonight was such a night. I am thankful for this special time I have with him on these nights when he needs extra cuddles, extra rocks, extra kisses, and when I get to watch him fall asleep in my arms. I have learned that I have to really wait until he has "given up" and has just melted into sleep in my arms. So peaceful and sweet. I love it.

I am, however, thankful that this hiccup in his normal falling asleep routine only happens about once each week. That way, I give the extra time and affection while knowing that (hopefully) he'll fall asleep on his own the next night.

Brief pause in flowery writing for some statistics/data I want to remember about this stage: Right now, at 7 months, I am waking him most mornings at 7 a.m., and he eats again around 10, 1:30, 4:30, 7, and 10. He takes 1 1/2 hour naps in between 3 feedings and then takes a 45 minute nap from 6-6:45 p.m. while the rest of us eat dinner. He goes down for the night between 8:20-8:30 p.m. Seriously, if I try to put the boy down before 8:20, he knows, and he fights it for sure. He doesn't love it when Donny puts him down at night. Not sure why. Any other time of the day, and he doesn't care who puts him down. The nighttime, however, he wants Mommy for those finals kisses and cuddles (and I'm not complaining). I wake him up around 10 for his dream feed. Then right back to sleep. It's funny - I feel like we are still on a newborn schedule eating every three hours...but it is working for us right now.

He started eating avocado once/day soon after he turned 7 months on the 2nd of August. Next up is homemade rice cereal. I have made a lot of Hunter and Millie's veggies and fruits in the past, but I have never done the cereal myself. We'll see how that goes.

Now...back to the dreamy stuff.

Will really has my heart. I melt with each smile, giggle and sigh as he drifts off to sleep.

7 months old. I'm already mourning the end of his baby year. I will hold on to it for as long as I can and enjoy these moments.

Sleep tight, sweet Will.
Sucking his big toe - a very common thing these days

On a trip to the beach a few weeks ago.
My try at making a pic look cool and artsy.

How can I not melt looking at that smile?
Ah, this boy. Pardon me while I melt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Millie's Spa Day

Warning: Lots of PINK in this post. Lots.

In my last post, I wrote about how I am made for resort life. Well, I am also made for spa days. I joke that "spa" is my love language. Apparently the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Millie was invited to a princess birthday party for a friend from our church here in Freeport. Since we are new in town, I was honored that Millie was one of the six girls invited. Anyway, the party was at a place called "Miss Katey's." I thought that was probably the name of someone in the church who was hosting the party. I was incorrect. Miss Katey's is a little girls' boutique, charm school, and place for birthday parties. BUT not just any birthday parties....SPA birthday parties.

We arrived right on time, and Millie was offered a robe along with Birthday Girl, Krista. They were escorted into a pink and green spa room where they spent TWO HOURS getting manicures, pedicures, mini-facials (complete with cucumbers on their eyes...which Millie kept calling pickles), hand and food massages, and make-up applications. Wow...I was a little jealous.

My Millie...a girl after my own heart...did not miss a beat. She was the first one to jump up when the ladies asked the girls if they were ready to start. At one point Millie exclaimed: "It's a princessey kind of day!"

I thought surely these 4-6 year olds would tire after a while. Well, TWO HOURS later, they finished their spa treatments and moved into the party room for a craft and cupcakes. Of course, there had to be a wardrobe change from the robes into pink tutus and white tanks that said "Miss Katey's" in sequins. It was hilarious...and so very cute.

What a fun day for my little girl to feel like a princess, celebrate Krista's birthday, and get to have fun with our new friends here in Freeport.

Millie and I...We are made for spa days.

Me and my sweet girl

First up...Millie's manicure. The lady who did it said she really enjoyed talking to Millie.
Wonder what they talked about.

Millie and of her new friends.


Facial...she kept telling Hunter that she didn't fall asleep but she "closed her eyes and relaxed."
Rough life.

Complete with a cucumber mask.
Millie kept saying she didn't want pickles on her eyes, but cucumbers were ok.

Wardrobe change...out of robes and into tanks and tutus...working on a craft.