Tuesday, June 30, 2015

These past few weeks

serene at 20 months and valor at 5 weeks
valor at 7 weeks
serene at 20 months
valor at 6 weeks
valor at 8 weeks
serene at 20 months
valor at 7 weeks
serene at 20 months and valor at 5 weeks
valor at 7 weeks
serene at 20 months
valor at 8 weeks
valor at 7 weeks
valor at 8 weeks
Time seems to pass even more quickly with two kiddos. Valor is two months old this Saturday; the days of his tininess are already long gone and have been replaced by much squishiness. My heart swells each time he's content in my arms. Serene is twenty-one months this Friday; she's acquiring new words and phrases on the daily. My heart melts every time she speaks, as Alex says, like a little human being. Her favorite phrases lately are "Dah-joo!" ("thank you!") and "Hi boo boo!" when she greets her little brother. I am astounded by how quickly they're growing as I look through these pictures from the past month. While I would have it no other way than to witness the babies grow firsthand, pretty pictures don't usually reveal real life. Because truthfully, though the weeks flit by, the days feel like eternity at times. Particularly when Valor wails if he is not carried all day long, or when Serene throws a tantrum because she didn't get her way, right away. Which shows me my lack of patience and desire for control because I want them to behave a certain way - my way. When they don't, I get frustrated. I raise my voice. Which only exposes the greater grumbling residing in my heart. God reveals to me the ugliness of my sin in those (many) moments. Praise God for teaching me as I fail again and again that I cannot do this motherhood thing, or anything, on my own strength or wisdom. Oh, how I need God's mercies anew to remember His truths throughout the day. Thankfully, my heart has been encouraged through the Word, this book, and loved ones. By God's grace, I have been dwelling on the truth that we are living in light of eternity. How differently I would approach each day if I recall that it counts for forever because of God's redeeming love for us in Christ. Then I might recognize that though motherhood moments may appear monotonous and trivial, they are actually eternally significant. Lord, help me to hope in Christ rather than in my ever-changing circumstances so that I can prioritize an eternal perspective.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We're his biggest fans

alex's birthday 2015
alex's birthday 2015
alex's birthday 2015
alex's birthday 2015
Family pictures were one of Alex's requests for his birthday last week. I eagerly obliged, although achieving a decent family picture with two babies is nearly impossible. As I look through these pictures, I can't help but smile in thankfulness that they're not "perfect." They impress upon me the special season of life we're in with two little loves. I was trying to persuade Serene to smile for the camera although she naturally thought it more fun to play dolls with me. Alex was attempting to keep Valor calm (it was time for him to nurse) while sporting a forced smile because he regretted his new haircut, which he joked unintentionally makes him look like an Asian version of Vanilla Ice.

Nevertheless, the photos sum up the celebration of our favorite guy. Alex had simple requests, among which included a light saber, good food, and the company of family and friends. We had a casual dinner with friends earlier last week, followed by a feast with family at his favorite fancy restaurant the evening of his birthday. It was timely that his birthday fell just a few days before Father's Day. Hence, we doubled the merry-making. Although we intended to spoil Alex, he ended up serving us. On his birthday, he took Serene out to run errands in the morning so I could focus on taking care of Valor and resting. He used his birthday money not to treat himself to new books, but to buy Serene a new doll. Even the light saber he asked for is meant for future combat with Valor.

I am so blessed to be gifted a husband in Alex who loves Jesus above all. He shepherds our family and our church in the truth with love, but not without personal conviction of what he preaches. He graciously serves us because he desires our joy in Christ. He grants us his undivided presence in everyday life, which is a precious gift to me and our kiddos. He models in his life the sacrificial love of Christ, which is a beautiful reflection of our heavenly Father's love for us. He conducts himself with humility and integrity, exercising great patience with me amid squabbles and often initiating reconciliation. He leads our family with his eyes fixed upon Jesus, fully aware that it is by grace alone in the gospel that he is able to accomplish any of the aforementioned good works. God uses Alex to help me taste and see that He is so good. It is a privilege to be his helpmate. So thankful our children have Alex for a father, who models and teaches them the ways of the Lord for their ultimate, everlasting joy. We love him so!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Welcoming summer

serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
valor at 6 weeks and serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
valor at 6 weeks and serene at 20 months
serene at 20 months
Although summer officially kicks off this Sunday, it feels like summer already. The weather has been consistently warm, we're eating more ice cream than we probably should, and we're blasting the air conditioning. I'm not sure to what extent we'll be able to pull off any summer plans since getting out of the house with a newborn and a toddler is a feat. Plus, the Southern California heat gets the better of us sometimes. We stay home more often than not and I'm trying to be creative about entertaining Serene during this scorching season. We put together a makeshift water table for her, which she loves. We recently replaced it with a kiddie pool that we put on our balcony. Now she splashes in it contentedly while I simultaneously watch her and nurse her baby brother, which is more efficient than going down to the pool with both babes.

If we do manage to go out, the trips are typically abbreviated. We made a jaunt to a local library during our family day this week and encountered a fountain on the way there. We paused so Serene could marvel at and greet the fish within. It was a bright, sweltering afternoon so I plopped her sun bonnet on her head in an effort to shield her from the sun's rays somewhat as she ran amok. I'm not consistent about making sure we slather sunscreen on ourselves unless we're heading somewhere like the beach for an extended period of time. I'm attempting to be better about it now that summer weather seems to be here to stay. After perusing this, I found out I'd been obtaining one of the worst and ineffective sunscreens for our family. I am so bummed I didn't know better, but at least it helped me discern quality sun protection like this, which we're now using, thankfully. Since Valor is usually covered in a wrap or in his car seat when we're outdoors, I haven't worried about sun protection for him, although we just got him a sun bonnet too. I'm pretty partial to vintage-inspired sun bonnets for babies; they're lightweight, cover their necks and ears, shield their faces, and are so cute. I foresee Serene and Valor donning their bonnets (and sunscreen!) in all future outdoor activities this summer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summertime berry picking

berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
valor at 4 weeks
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
valor at 4 weeks
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking
berry picking 2015
Berry picking during the summer has become an unintentional tradition. We've gone every year since getting married, and it's gotten more fun over the years, particularly since having kids. Last year, we went cherry-picking with an 8-month-old Serene. This year, we went blackberry and strawberry picking with 20-month-old Serene and 1-month-old Valor. Serene kept squealing "babbies!" (berries); she loves berries of every variety. Naturally, she ate a berry for every three she picked.Valor hung out in my sling; he'll probably be more intrigued by berry picking next summer. Being out in the sun with two babes is no small feat. They both had enough of the Southern California heat after about half an hour before wailing commenced. Thankful the farm was local and less than fifteen minutes away, which made for a short yet lovely adventure.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Letters to Valor: 1 month

valor zeal at 1 month
My dear Valor Zeal,

We blinked and you're a month old! This past month has been a hazy dream. We can't believe you're actually here. At the same time, we can't imagine how we lived without you. The day we brought you home from the hospital, you were so teeny that the top of your head hardly touched the newborn insert in your car seat. Fast forward a month, and you've grown so quickly already. At one month, you're almost 9 and a half lbs and 21 inches long. You wear size newborn diapers and size newborn clothes though we foresee you growing out of those soon. You're a voracious eater, and had no problem gaining back your birth weight and then some. Though you had slight jaundice during the first week of your life and had to be fed on schedule, you gained weight nicely and have been feeding on demand since your second week of life. I feel more confident about breastfeeding this time around, and I'm so thankful we established a good nursing rhythm. You are wildly content while feeding, with your lips curled into a smile and your little legs stretched and flexed straight out. So exceedingly endearing.

You are a sleepy babe during the day; you even slept through your one month photos. I love marveling at your delicate features while you snooze: your velvety soft skin, your itty bitty toes - you are so sweet and little I feel my heart could burst from disbelief that God has given you to us for the time being. That's when I kiss your head, your chubby cheeks, and your little lips. You love laying against us froggy style to rest or sleep in our arms. You're not a big fan of your bassinet at night, but will tolerate it for a couple of naps during the day. You sleep better when you're swaddled and with white noise in the background, but sleep best when you're snuggled up against my side. Even when I move away from you, you find a way to inch towards me again. No matter where you sleep, your hands are always by your face or above your head. Though you nap pretty well during the day, you're not fond of sleeping at night. You let us know by crying softly but persistently, whereas during the day you squeak like a mouse or grunt like a baby dinosaur more often to communicate. You've been cluster feeding from about 10pm-4am nightly since your third week of life, and sleep is fitful for us all if it occurs. There've been tears on both ends and although my eyes sting with exhaustion, I'm learning to cherish these late nights spent with you, nursing, cuddling, and soothing. It is a mama's privilege to experience this depth of bonding with her sweet babe. Because you're happiest when you're closest to me, you love being worn. I usually wear you in a wrap or sling when we're out and about or when I'm consoling you to sleep in the wee morning hours. Otherwise, you also take the pacifier well for comfort.

In terms of pooping (because the newborn days seem to consist of feeding, sleeping, and pooping), you're not crazy about having your diaper changed. Your daddy and I have had many an excretory surprise when we take off your diaper and you pee straight onto your own face, on us, or across the room. Lesson learned: changing a boy's diaper is much different from changing a girl's diaper.

We can't believe we get to have a little boy. Your daddy, big sister, and I are crazy about you. We love to hug your squishy littleness, and although your older sister does not yet realize her own strength, just know that she embraces you out of purely good intentions. I can't wait to see how your sibling relationship plays out; she loves you so much already. Right when you were born, your daddy and I were convinced you looked just like Serene, but a tad more masculine. As this month has gone by, your features have changed slightly. I wonder how they'll continue to change and how your personality will develop as you get older. So excited to see you grow, my sweet baby boy. You make our lives more full, more rich. You are a precious gift from the Lord and the sweetest addition to our little family. We love you so but pray that you would understand early on how even more deeply loved you are by our gracious God in Christ Jesus!

Love you so,
Mama

P.S. Valor Zeal at 0 months and his birth story.