Thursday, August 20, 2015

Four months later... Hey!

Well. Just like that 4 months have passed and I haven't blogged a thing. For a while I was just busy and didn't make time. Then I really didn't have the desire to blog, and I wasn't going to force myself to blog just for the sake of blogging. The last thing I need is another item on my virtual to-do list. Then I kind of started having the desire to blog from time to time, but it was just awkward after so much time had passed. Where do you even begin after such a long hiatus? Well, I still don't really know how to jump back in, but I figured I'd just start and see where it goes.

We are doing well here at the the Howie house! Life is busy. We're just in a new stage of life where our kids are getting older and starting to have interests of their own which means that we're doing more. Plus the fact that we, you know, have FOUR kids. (That still blows my mind from time to time.) The kids just keep us on our toes. We absolutely love it and wouldn't have it any other way, though!

We had a wonderful summer. We spent a lot of time at the pool, went to the beach, hung out with friends, and also had plenty of days at home with no plans. It was a perfect balance of activity and low-key family time. We are sad to see summer come to a close, but we're also looking forward to fall and the routine that comes along with that.

Aubrey is now in first grade and will be turning seven in just a few weeks. I mean, HOW did that happen so fast? We are still doing a homeschool program where she goes to school two days a week and we homeschool the other three days. It's been such a great fit for our family so far! She won't be going back to school until after Labor Day, but our homeschool assignments started this week. Thankfully we're starting slow and easing into our school routine. I'm excited about this new school year!

Jude celebrated his fifth birthday in July! He will be starting 4k after Labor Day at the same school as Aubrey. We will work on some preschool work with him at home, too. He has really gotten into "doing school" which has been fun to see. I don't push anything on him at this point. I want him to love learning and think it's a fun thing and not a chore. I don't think he'll be trying to get out of any school work when he sees me working with Aubrey :)

Alaina (who we still call "Lu" - Haha!) will be going to school for the FIRST time this year too! She'll be at school with her big sister and brother in the little 3k class. She's so excited! I don't think she'll have any problems making friends :) This will be the first time she's been away from me, and I'm going to miss her so much! But I'm really excited for her.

And Francie... oh, sweet little Francie. The one thing I regret the most about not blogging for so long is not keeping up with her monthly posts. She's doing so great! She's 10 months old now (!!!) and just the sweetest, happiest baby. Just ask anybody who knows her and they'll agree with me. It's not just because I'm her mom that I think that :) I need to do a whole post about what she's up to these days because she's changed so much in the past few months. The biggest news is that she's started school! This was a really hard decision for David and me, and we prayed about it and went back and forth for months. I was sad about the prospect of less time with my baby, but we ultimately decided that it would be in her best interest to go ahead and start school. She's going to a school for children with special needs, and they really work with these babies to hopefully prepare them to be in a typical classroom one day. It is our hope that Francie will eventually be able to go to the same school as our other children, so we think going to this school now will be great to prepare her for that. She started school last week, and we miss her tons when she's gone! Aubrey cried the first day Francie was gone because she missed her so much. She goes four days a week, and she's doing GREAT. They say she is just the happiest, easiest baby. See, it's not just me! ;) We're still adjusting to our new schedule, but I really do think this was the right decision. We really enjoy our three day weekends with her!

David and I are doing great too :) The kids pretty much take up all of our time. I've been going to the gym for the past month or so. I have always wanted to go to a group exercise class at a gym but have always been too intimidated to try it in the past. I finally just did it one day (with the encouragement of a friend) and I actually really enjoy it! It's nice to be able to drop my kids off in childcare for an hour and have some "me time" that's actually good for me! I'm hoping that I will be able to keep this up even after we really get into homeschooling. With Francie in school and the other three starting soon, I'll have two days a week with no kids (well, no kids until 1:00). This is the FIRST time I've had even one regular day with no kids since Aubrey was born, so it's going to feel so weird at first! I'm hoping to get a lot done during that time (grocery shopping, house cleaning, errands) so that I can be more present with the kids when we're all together. I think it will be a good change. But still! It's a change.

I think that's probably enough for now. I make no promises about the consistency of my blogging going forward. I do hope that I won't let QUITE as much time go by before my next post ;) I do miss recording little details about my sweet babies who are growing up right before my eyes, so maybe I'll rectify that!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Six Months of Francie!

Dear Francie,

You are halfway to your first birthday, baby girl (as of yesterday)! Six months. I say this every month, but it just feels just we've known you for so much longer. It's hard to even remember life before you.

We've had a fun month with you! You're becoming much more interactive and alert. You smile more and more, and you belly laugh a good bit too. Still the sweetest sound in the world :) You're still an incredibly easy and content baby. You're almost never fussy and you hardly ever cry. I love that you're so happy!

The biggest recent milestone is that we've started solids! At first we just introduced rice cereal to see if you were ready to eat something off of a spoon, You did great and lapped up the whole bowl we had made for you! You've since had avocado and sweet potato. I'm planning on making all of your baby food. Hopefully I can keep up with your appetite! Speaking of your appetite, it had gotten to be a struggle to get you to take 5 bottles a day. You just didn't seem hungry when it was time for the next bottle. So we recently dropped a bottle but increased the amount you get at each feeding. You now drink 28 ounces a day of formula and eat one solid meal (with another ounce of formula mixed in with the solids). We're going to the doctor for your 6 month checkup this week, so we'll see how your weight is looking and decide whether we need to adjust this schedule :)

Another big milestone is that we totally transitioned you to sleeping in your bed in your own room. Moving you to your own room at night was a pretty seamless transition. Naps were a little harder, but not by much. You were used to napping in your swing, so I was worried that you wouldn't like napping in your bed, but you caught on pretty quickly. The transition did change your schedule a bit- instead of taking a morning nap and a LONG afternoon nap, you now take three shorter naps a day- but that's ok with me! You are on a different schedule than your siblings now. You're usually napping when they're awake and up when they're having rest time. You're so happy and content that I don't even mind that I don't get a complete break in the afternoon. You still love to lay on the floor and kick and play, so I'm able to get some things done while they rest... plus, I enjoy the one-on-one time with you :) You even do really well at going to sleep by yourself in your bed. Sometimes you fuss when I put you down, so I end up rocking you to sleep. I don't mind that at all, either :)

We also quit swaddling you to sleep. You now just sleep in a sleep sack. We only started this a few days ago, so it's still very new, but so far so good! You're really pretty go with the flow, and I love this about you. I went in to check on you while you were napping the other day, and I caught you sucking your thumb since your hand was free. Melt. my. heart.

We went to the urologist for a checkup a couple of weeks ago. This was your first time to see a urologist since we left Johns Hopkins in November, so we were anxious for a good report. And, praise the Lord, we got one! You had an ultrasound of your bladder and kidneys and everything looked just as it should. Your daddy and I were so happy and thankful to hear that! You don't have to go back to the urologist for 6 months.

You're getting so big! At the urologist, you weighed 14 pounds, 11 ounces (that was fully clothed) and you wear a size 6 months in clothes and a size 2 diaper. You have the fuzziest little blonde hair. It sticks straight up, and it's about the cutest thing I've ever seen, Your hair is SO light. It's almost white. Maybe you'll be a little cotton top :) Your eyes are still beautiful and blue.

Francie, we just cannot get enough of you! Everyone who meets you loves you.... it's impossible to interact with you for even a minute and not smile. You're so precious, and we are excited to watch you grow.

I love you, sweet girl!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Break Fun

Last week was spring break week, so that meant that the kids didn't have school on Monday or Wednesday, and we also didn't have any homeschooling assignments to do on the other days. Our normal evening activities were cancelled too- no Wednesday night church, and David didn't have to teach karate on Monday and Thursday. So, we were looking at a week with very little on the calendar. I was excited about it... until I saw the weather forecast and realized that it was going to rain every. single. day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that we weren't going to see the sun AT ALL. My visions of spending time at the park and in the backyard and evenings outside and going on walks went out the window, and I realized that we might be in for a LONG week stuck inside.

We ended up having a really good week, though! We managed to find things to fill up our time and get us out of the house. And I enjoyed my time with the kids at home without anything that we had to get done. Because we homeschool three days a week, I get a lot of time with my kids anyway (which I LOVE and is a big reason why we've chosen this schooling format for our family), but usually we have school work to get done on our days at home. I really do enjoy schooling my kids (especially Aubrey... we aren't doing a ton with Jude since he's still in preschool) because it gives our days some structure, which is nice. I'm also pretty goal oriented so it works well for me to have assignments that I know I need to complete each day. But it is something that we have hanging over our heads everyday in a sense, and it was just really nice to not have anything that we HAD to get done all week. It made me really look forward to summer break. 

Here are a few highlights from our spring break week: 

Our adoption case worker came for our second post placement visit on Monday afternoon. Our agency has to complete three post placement visits before we can finalize our adoption. Our case worker just comes over and visits with us and sees how Francie and the rest of us are adjusting. I think it was pretty clear to her that we're head over heels in love with Francie and we're adjusting just fine :) In about three months, she'll come one more time and then hopefully we'll be able to finalize this adoption! Right now our adoption attorney is working on something that will get rid of the "legal risk" associated with our adoption, and after that we'll be able to post pictures of Francie! I'm hoping that will happen in the next couple of weeks. I cannot wait to be able to share pictures of our sweet girl! After our case worker left, we went out to dinner. We ate at Beagle Bagel which is one of my favorite lunch places. It's nice to go at night because it's never crowded for dinner. 

We had a low-key day on Tuesday. We stayed home and I got some cleaning done. The kids watched movies and played all day. I was glad to have Bunco that night. Even though we had a good day at home, it's always nice to get out after being at home all day. We had Bunco at my friend Megan's house, and it was so much fun! I even won a prize for least games won. Haha!

Jude had been desperately needing a haircut, so my mom said that she'd meet me on Wednesday to help with the other kids. My dad and brother ended up coming too. I had to laugh as we walked in with our entourage. I was thinking, "How many adults does it take to get a kid's hair cut?" Apparently quite a few ;) Aubrey went first and got a trim. I'd been trying to convince her to get her hair bobbed again for the summer. I think her hair looks SO cute shorter. She wasn't having it, though. She likes it LOOONG. I did insist on a little trim, and she was ok with that :) Jude was up next. He had been talking about wanting a haircut because his hair was in his eyes and bothering him, so I was hopeful that it would go well since he was on board with the haircut. When he finally sat in the chair to actually get the hair cut, he FREAKED out. He's been nervous about haircuts the last several times we've gotten it cut, and it seems to just get worse every time. I could just tell that he was really scared and anxious about the whole thing. The girl who was going to cut his hair said that if he started "turning red" she couldn't do it because she's had three kids throw up on her. Alrighty then. I didn't think we were going to be able to do it for a while, but between my mom telling Jude that we could go to Target for a treat afterwards and games on my brother's phone, we got him calmed down. He was still tense the whole time, but we managed to get the hair cut. It's shorter than we usually go, but I think he looks so cute and grown up! After the haircuts and a trip to Target, we ate lunch with my family at Corner Bakery. Fun day!
Looking pretty after her trim :)
He wouldn't pause in the coloring for a picture of his haircut. And um, we're still working on that grip :-/
Sweet girl snuggled up to Bop Bop.
So after nap time, I went to get Jude and he had a big wad of gum in his hair. Ughhh! He said he didn't like his haircut, so he just put the gum in his hair. Little stinker! Thankfully, we were able to get it out with some coconut oil. But no more gum for Jude for a long time. 
We didn't have any big plans on Thursday, so David offered to take us to lunch. We don't go to lunch with David often, but we should do it more. It was fun! We ate at Schlotshzy's. 

The kids got a cookie with their meals, and they all shared a bit with me. The huge piece was what Alaina gave me. It was literally half of her cookie. This perfectly demonstrates what I was talking about in her birthday letter when I said that she's a really generous child. Sweet girl :)
That afternoon, I straightened up the house because we were having friends over that night. Our friends the Logans came over for dinner, and we ordered pizza. They have three little girls, so between their kids and our girls, Jude was HUGELY outnumbered. We heard a lot of, "Jude is growling at us!" or "Jude pulled my hair!" Poor guy needs another rough little boy to play with. Haha! We had a great time with our friends, though!

We had another low-key day on Friday, which was nice after a somewhat busy week. That night we went out for Chinese food.
Before we left for dinner, Aubrey lost her FIFTH tooth. They're falling out left and right!  
Alaina wore her hair in "Anna braids" for two days (see previous pics), and when we finally took them down, her hair was super crimpy and wild :)
David and I watched a movie that night after the kids went to bed.

On Saturday morning, we went out for brunch- we've kind of made that our norm on Saturday mornings lately. When we got home, we did some yard work. It was a little overcast and even drizzly at times, but we were determined to get outside for a little while. We pulled weeds, which was much overdue. The kids loved picking up the weeds that we pulled up and putting them a bag. I loved that they enjoyed that so much. Haha! I can't wait to plant some flowers in a few weeks! The rest of our day was uneventful but good :)

I'm thankful to have had such a good week when I was worried going into it that it would be rough. We're ready to jump back into our normal routine now, but I've gotten a taste of what life might look like this summer with my four kiddos at home full time. And I like it :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy Third Birthday, Alaina!

Dear Alaina,

Happy third birthday, precious girl!! The past three years have FLOWN by. I can't believe you're three. March 8th three years ago was such a happy day. I had been on bedrest for three weeks leading up to your birth and was scheduled for an induction the next day. I really didn't want to be induced, so I was thrilled that you came on your own a day before the induction. You also came quickly and I survived natural childbirth! I was definitely on a high after that :) When you were born, you had a knot in your umbilical cord, and they told us that you were our miracle baby. That quickly put everything in perspective- as hard as three weeks of bedrest had been, you were here, you were safe, and you were oh so loved. I felt like I was floating on cloud nine all day after that!
Over the past three years, we've only fallen more and more in love with you every day and every year. You are just so. stinking. cute. You have the most friendly little personality. I love that you aren't shy and will talk and interact with pretty much anyone. And you definitely talk A LOT. You have THE loudest voice. Haha! We love hearing what you have to say! You keep us laughing!
It's interesting that you're so friendly and outgoing in social situations because you're actually a very timid child. You HATE to be tossed in the air or swung around. It really scares you. You won't even jump off of fairly short things... you want to hold our hand and step down gingerly. :)
You are a typical third child in that you do not know how to play independently or entertain yourself. You do NOT enjoy your alone time at all. If you don't nap during rest time, it's always a battle to keep you in your room and quiet. You whine the whole time about being by yourself and wanting Aubrey to come in there with you and asking if it's "morning time" yet over and over. You beg me to let you go into Jude's room with him. You like company, sweet girl!
Your absolute obsession right now is Frozen. You only watch the movie about once a week (on Mondays while Aubrey and Jude are at school- the movie scares Jude so we don't watch it while he's here), but you talk about Anna and Elsa NON stop. Your favorite is Elsa :) We listen to the Frozen soundtrack in the car all the time, and we have several Frozen books that we read daily. Interestingly, Frozen is the only movie that holds your attention the whole time. You will watch the beginning of other movies, but you usually get up and wander off after a little while.
You LOVE dress up clothes. LOVE THEM. If we're at home, you're pretty much guaranteed to be in dress up attire. And when you're dressed up, you BECOME that character. We better watch out if we slip up and call you by your real name... we WILL BE corrected ;) You are a shoe girl... dress up shoes and real shoes. You get this from your mommy :)
You love your siblings so much! You and Aubrey are enjoying sharing a room. I hope you girls will have many happy years in there together and be each other's best friends and confidants. You have a really sweet relationship with Jude, too. Y'all are actually the closest in age out of all of the kids, and you two usually get along really well. Y'all will go in Jude's room and play together for a long time regularly with very little fighting. Playing with you usually brings out a very sweet, gentle side of Jude, and I love hearing the two of you interacting. And of course you LOVE your baby sister, Francie! You've been such a sweet big sister for her! You haven't shown any jealousy towards her, and you love to hold her and give her the pacifier when she's fussing. I'm proud of the way you've adjusted to being a big sister.
If someone asks you a question, you ALWAYS say yes even if no would be the correct response. For example, you have been saying for a YEAR that you wanted a Minnie Mouse birthday party. The other day, Gramzie came over and we were talking about your birthday party. I said, "Alaina, are you having a Donald Duck party??" expecting you to correct me and tell Gramzie that you were having a Minnie Mouse party. You said, "Yes!" Haha!! I'm pretty positive that you don't even know who Donald Duck is! I guess you're just very agreeable ;) 

You're a really generous child. If you have a toy and one of your siblings asks nicely if they can have it, you almost always share. If they try to just snatch it away, though, WATCH OUT. You will defend what is yours. With shrieks and physical force.
I'm afraid you're a bit of a picky eater. Your FAVORITE thing is avocado. I will cut one up for you and you'll eat the whole thing by itself and ask for more. You also love cucumbers and peanut butter. And you have a huge sweet tooth like the rest of us that we have to work to reign in ;)

You have really sweet manners most of the time. At your party, the first present you opened was a box with an outfit in it. As soon as you got the wrapping paper off and saw the box you said, "Oh, I love it!" and then put the box aside ready to move on to the next one. Haha! You didn't even realize that there was something IN the box. I thought it was precious that you were so happy and appreciative of that box :) When you saw the clothes in the box, you exclaimed, "AWWWW!" in the cutest little sing song voice.
I could go on and on because you're such a delight to us and we love you so much. The past three years have been a joy. YOU are a joy. We can't wait to see what God has in store for your life. We pray that you will love Him with your whole heart and follow Him where ever He may lead you.
Happy birthday, LuLu!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Five Months of Francie!

Dear Francie,

Happy five months, baby girl! We've had a good month in most ways, but it did have its challenges. You got your first little cold and had a good bit of congestion, especially at night. This meant that you quit sleeping through the night. We knew you couldn't breathe well, and we hated that for you. You spent a couple of nights in your swing, you got a few night feedings, and you were rocked a good bit in the middle of the night. At the same time, your sisters were learning to share a room and waking up a lot at night too, so some days Mommy and Daddy felt like zombies. You've slept through the night the past three nights (THANK YOU!!), so I'm hoping the worst is behind us. You are still sleeping in a cradle in Mommy and Daddy's bathroom at night. We really and truly are going to move you to your own room soon. You also still sleep swaddled. I hope that when we change those two things it doesn't mess up your sleep routine!

Naps have been hit or miss lately. You ALWAYS take a great afternoon nap.... as long as you're in your swing :-/ We started this terrible habit because we didn't have a monitor set up upstairs where you sleep, so I needed you to be downstairs where I could hear you if you woke up, so it was easiest to just put you in your swing. Now I'm afraid this is going to come back to bite me and it's going to be a terrible habit to break. I've been working on getting you to take your morning nap in your bed, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. My goal for this month is to transition you entirely to your own bed in your own room for all sleeping. We'll see if that actually happens :)

Your eating habits haven't really changed. You get five six ounces bottles a day. In your last bottle of the day, you get rice cereal to help with your reflux. Speaking of your reflux, it's about the same, too. You still spit up a ton, but it doesn't bother you. I can't wait until you outgrow the reflux, but at least you're a "happy spitter." I might try feeding you a bit of rice cereal from a spoon at some point this month. I'm not convinced that you're ready yet, but your doctor gave us the go ahead to try whenever we want to.

Your physical therapy is going really well! The therapist only comes every other week, and I had to cancel last time because you weren't feeling well, so we've actually only had it a couple of times. But the therapist told us what we needed to work on with you, and we've been trying to be consistent with your little exercises. And apparently they're working because you ROLLED OVER a couple of weeks ago!! You rolled from your back to your tummy, and we were SO proud of you! You've rolled several times since, and it's just so amazing to watch you reach developmental milestones. One thing that you've taught us already is to celebrate the little things. We're so thankful that you're well enough and strong enough to do things like hold your head up and roll over. As you reach more and more milestones, we'll be here cheering you on! We couldn't be more proud.

You remain the happiest little baby. You still love being on the floor. You've become really aware of your surroundings this past month, and you totally notice whether or not someone is in the room with you. You're not a fan of solitude. I tell everyone that you're a perfect fourth child because you like a lot of action and a lot of company... two things that are never in short supply around here :)

You've started smiling spontaneously so much more lately. I used to have to work hard to get a smile from you.... you love to be bounced and that was usually a guaranteed smile. But recently, you've started smiling just when I look at you or talk to you. Your little grin makes me so happy! You've even giggled several times. Sweetest sound ever!

You've also noticed your hands in the past couple of days. I've caught you sucking on a finger several times, and you will just stare at your hands sometimes. Yesterday I even saw you reaching for a toy on your play mat! I don't think you've QUITE figured out that you can actually control these amazing hands, but I think you're starting to make that connection :)

I honestly can't believe that we've only known you for five months, Francie. You're such a huge part of our family, and we feel such a sweet sense of completeness with you here. We can't imagine our life and our home without you! We love and you and thank God for the privileged of being your family.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Coughs and Croup and Congestion, Oh My!

Once again, my kids are sick :( It's getting so old to have my kiddos sick. For what feels like the past several MONTHS, we'll have a few days where everyone is well and then someone will catch the next cold and start the whole cycle over again. That's really all it's been- just colds. But when my kids get colds, they get coughs. And they cough and cough and cough.... and no one sleeps. The other night from about 11 to midnight, David and I were literally passing each other in the halls as we went from one whimpering/coughing/crying child's room to the next. It would have been amusing if we weren't so in need of some sleep. Jude ended up with croup that night. David and I realized that if we were going to get ANY sleep, we'd have to divide and conquer. He ended up taking Jude and Francie downstairs to sleep. Francie was congested, so we knew she'd sleep better if she was slightly inclined in her swing. I was in charge of Aubrey and Alaina. Aubrey wasn't sick, so I knew she'd be no problem, but Alaina had been waking up fussing about every 5-10 minutes for the past hour. I figured I'd have a rough night with her. It turns out that I got the good end of the deal because I gave Alaina Tylenol and she never woke up again that night. Well, except once when she apparently bumped her head on her headboard?? It's a good thing I was able to get some sleep that night because last night with Francie was a doozy. I don't think she slept more than a one hour stretch all night. Whew, it was rough!

We've had some "winter weather" this week too. It's been rainy and cold and a bit icy. So, that means lots of time inside with these sickies :( I'm currently dreaming of warm days, summer nights, grilling out, dinner on the deck, evening walks.... it can't get here fast enough for me! I know that every time I update the blog recently, it seems like I'm whining about sleep... or lack thereof. But that's just kind of where we are right now. Maybe one day at least half of our kids will sleep through the night and I can move on to talking about more interesting things. Haha!

We did a lot of work on Francie's room over the weekend, and I'm liking the way it's coming together! I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. I decided to go the practical route and use Aubrey's old crib bedding instead of making new bedding. The bedding we already had is in great condition, so it was silly not to use it. It's not what I would pick if I was buying bedding today, but I do think this nursery is turning into a sweet little room for our sweet little Francie. :) Sadly, when we got ready to hang the curtains that coordinate with the bedding, they were too short for our window. Apparently the windows at our old house were a LOT lower than the windows in our current house. Quality curtains are SO stinkin' expensive! I put two panels in my cart at Pottery Barn several times but just could never pull the trigger. I scoured eBay for days and I finally bought two panels today that are originally from Pottery Barn. At a fraction of the Pottery Barn price, though. I hope they look ok with the bedding! As soon as they come in and we get them hung (we need some major light control!), Francie will FINALLY start sleeping in her own room!

In other news, Alaina turns three in a week and a half!! And I haven't planned a thing! I decided that we're just going to have our families over for dinner, though, so that shouldn't require too much planning. She's been saying for about a year that she wants a Minnie Mouse birthday party. Which is SO RANDOM because I wouldn't even say that she's into Minnie Mouse. But if the birthday girl wants Minnie Mouse, Minnie Mouse she shall have :) So yeah, I think we'll get some balloons and a few Minnie Mouse decorations and have our families over, and she'll be happy as can be! But I can't believe that she's about to turn THREE!

Well, that's pretty much our life in a nutshell lately: no sleep, coughing kids, house projects, and birthday party (not) planning! ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Our plan all along for when we had a fourth baby was to move Alaina into Aubrey's room and to give the baby Alaina's old room. When Francie was born and and ended up being a girl, David and I talked about our room situation and decided that it made more sense to move the big girls into Jude's room and move Jude into Aubrey's old room. I know this is probably hard to follow, but Jude's room was definitely the biggest of all of our bedrooms. It's actually a bonus room that we use as a bedroom, and it's pretty huge. When we first moved into our house, we put Jude in that room because he had two twin beds, and Aubrey had a full size bed and there was really no good wall for a full sized bed in that room even though it was the big room. All along, I kind of expected our fourth baby to be a boy, so I figured it would make sense for for Jude to have the big room since he'd probably be sharing it with a brother one day. Well, when sweet Francie came along, David and I were talking about getting rid of Aubrey's full sized bed and buying two new twin beds and twin mattresses for Aubrey and Alaina, and it just hit me: we have two twin beds and mattresses already- why buy more? So, at that point, we decided to just do a major room switcheroo and move everyone around. Haha! We painted the two twin beds, the full bed, Jude's old room, Aubrey's old room, the crib, and now we're working on painting the nursery. Whew! It has been a LOT of work, but it really makes sense for the biggest room to belong to the two kids who are sharing. And if for some reason we ever need to use the nursery for something else, Francie can easily move in with Aubrey and Alaina. There's plenty of room :)

Ok, now that I've explained all of that, let me get to the point of this post. A couple of weeks ago, we had finally finished the painting and were ready to move the big girls into their new room! It was going to be a BIG transition for Alaina because not only was she going to be in a new room and sharing her room for the first time, but she was also going to be moving out of her crib into a big girl bed. Since we figured that the sleep situation would probably be bad at our house for a little while anyway, David and I decided that this would also be a great time to ditch Alaina's pacifier. (It was actually WAYYY past time to get rid of the night time paci because she was only getting more attached to it the older she got, but we've had so many big changes in our lives the past several months that we just kept putting it off.) Anyway, we decided to just rip the bandaid off and go for it all at once.

Alaina had still been taking a good nap everyday, but she had gotten to where she took FOREVER to fall asleep at night. So I was kind of hoping that she might drop her nap when we moved her out of her crib and just start going to sleep earlier at night. I still wanted her to have some quiet down time in her room every afternoon even if she didn't nap, and we knew that time wouldn't be very restful if Aubrey and Alaina were in the room together, so Aubrey now has her rest time in the playroom and Alaina has hers in their bedroom. We put Alaina in her new room for the first time one Sunday afternoon for rest time. It actually went well. I was STUNNED that she never even mentioned her pacifier! I don't know if you can fully understand what a miracle that is because this is a child who was OBSESSED with her paci. So that actually gave us a lot of hope for how that night might go....

So night time rolled around.... we put the girls to bed and, as expected, there was a lot of giggling and talking and getting out of bed. David and I had decided that we were just going to let them work it out and go to sleep on their own as opposed to going in their room a million times and trying to force them to go to sleep more quickly. We just thought that would be the best approach for us, and we hoped that after a few nights, the newness of sharing a room would wear off and they would go to sleep more quickly. That first night they were up pretty late, and Alaina woke up several times during the night. Every time Alaina would wake up, it would wake Aubrey up too. The first night wasn't as awful as it could have been, but it wasn't a great night of sleep either. They were both up BRIGHT and EARLY the next morning, too. That pattern hasn't changed a ton since then, but it's gotten a little better.

It's now been almost three weeks since we made the transition. Alaina has only napped a handful of times since she moved out of her crib. Unfortunately, she is also still going to sleep pretty late and waking up earlier, though. The other day, I realized that she's probably getting around 5 hours less sleep in a 24 hour period than she was. This means that she's been pretty fragile and cranky during the day :-/ I will say that she's going to sleep quicker than she was those first few nights, so we're hopeful that eventually she'll start falling asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow. Goodness knows she's tired enough to do that. I'm also seriously considering getting some blackout curtains for the windows. Her old room had one window... her new room has four. So it's a LOT brighter in there in the mornings, and that's only going to get worse after the time changes next month. Poor Aubrey is being kept up later at night and awakened earlier than she'd like in the mornings, too. She's taken a few naps during rest time since she and Alaina moved in together, and Aubrey hadn't consistently napped in YEARS. Thankfully, Aubrey has learned to sleep through most night wakings that occur.

All in all, I'd say this transition has been ok. I know I'm making it sound awful, and there HAVE been some really hard nights. But I expected it to be terrible, especially when we decided to ditch the paci too. So I've been pleasantly surprised. Now, if Alaina is still waking up several times a night and not getting enough sleep a month from now, I'll probably say the transition has been horrible. Haha! We are just still holding out hope that these sleep issues will resolve themselves in the not too distant future.

Hilarious sidenote: Aubrey has started calling Alaina her "roommate" since they moved into the same room. Hahahaha!

This is a post for another day, but around the time we moved the girls in together, Francie quit sleeping through the night :( I was SO bummed because she had been such an amazing sleeper. I'm hoping this is just a short little regression, but things seem to be getting worse instead of better. Between Alaina and Francie, David and I are up about three times each on any given night. I'm SOOO thankful that David helps me out with our kids at night. I wouldn't be functioning otherwise. We are planning to move Francie to her own room (from our bathroom) this weekend, so I'm hoping that we can really focus on developing good, consistent sleep habits then.

I really want to share pictures of our kids' rooms soon! There is still a lot that needs to be done in each of them. All of the big stuff is done, but we're still working on finishing touches like art and accessories. I always want to wait to post pictures until I have a true "AFTER" to reveal, but who knows when that'll happen, so I probably ought to just go ahead and share the "IN PROGRESS" shots ;) I'll need to actually TAKE some pictures before I can do that, though. Ha!