Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmastime at our house

Okay. It's been so long since I have posted here that I almost forget how to do it. But I really do have some posts in the works! One of my New Year's Resolutions just might be that I'd like "to be more consistent with attending to the goals I've set for myself". Yeah, that sounds like a good one. And I do have several very concrete and possibly even realistic goals. Well, two, for sure. And neither of them have to do with this blog. They are mainly concerned with what time I go to bed and what time I get up each morning. But that's not what I came here to post this evening. I'm here to share some pictures of Christmas at our house!

During the week prior to Christmas, we were blessed with snow! Some may not consider it such a blessing but we rarely get much snow in our valley here in the Pacific Northwest. We generally don't venture out of the house much as it is so nothing was stopping the kids and I from enjoying our snow days.

Not sure of the purpose of this activity. It doesn't look particularly safe to me. (And for some reason I can't change the font now... that's odd.)

Mercy ate snow from the moment she shuffled outside in her snowclothes and boots. I like this picture of her. I like the way her hair curls out of her knit hat. I like that I can see the steri strip from her brother/wooden block injury peaking out up there near her forehead.

At first we received only a light dusting of snow. Maaaaybe an inch. But it just kept coming! Bob was home from work for the rest of the year so we developed a fun little snow routine:

Wake up
Have leisurely breakfast at 9am
Put snow clothes on
Play outside until lunchtime
Put snow clothes in dryer
Put snow clothes on
Play outside until it's too dark to see
Put snow clothes in dryer
Have dinner
Put kids to bed!

Daddy built a place for the kids to sled since we live no where near a suitable sledding hill that we could walk to. This is Michael sledding down a board covered in snow on a plastic garbage sack. Later we found our sled and that worked better.

I'm forgetting an integral part of our snow day routine. Hot chocolate in the Santa Mugs.

Ah! And then it was Christmas!

On Christmas Eve, we built graham cracker gingerbread houses together at home.

Look at all that Christmas candy ready to go on Michael's snowy white gingerbread house. I wish I had a picture handy of the end result. He called it "The Junk Pile".

I was thankful to have finished Josiah's stocking in time for his first Christmas. I ended up learning some new handstitching techniques to make up for what my mini sewing machine couldn't help me with. There was some eye strain involved. But I like the end result.

The big boys enjoy some reading time together on Christmas morning. Bob feels that the perfect equation for stuffing a stocking is: something to play with, something to eat and something to read immediately on Christmas morning. We gave these boys each a book about Star Wars. Because we must feed the obsession, I guess. (And yes, the plant on the shelf needs water.)

After opening these books from Gammy Carol, Michael retired to the rocking chair and could barely be disturbed to open another present. For the whole morning. Funny boy. He really likes this book in particular. Also, I think it's his way of dealing with all the chaos. Retreat! Retreat to a corner with a book! Sensory overload!

But we had places to go! We packed up and cleaned up and headed up the hill to Grandma and Grandpa's house to spend the rest of Christmas Day with Bob's family. I don't think I've ever spent the afternoon of Christmas Day sledding and beaning my brothers in law with chunks of frozen slushy snow but that's my plan from now on. If it snows like this again. My sister in law took this fun shot of Bob and the boys and I as we attempted a four pile sled down the driveway. It was a misfire from the beginning because we all fell off. I love how my sometimes too cautious boys are smiling as they smoosh off into the snow. We had fun.

To top it all off, here's an impressively decent picture of Bob's side of the family. Hooray for camera timers and tight spaces!

Christmas was a little different this year in a few ways.

There was so much snow that even our Christmas worship service on the Sunday prior to Christmas was canceled. Josiah was really sick and needed a quick trip to the doctor for help with his breathing on Christmas Eve. For various reasons, including the fact that part of my family thought it necessary to spend Christmas in the sunny climes of Cabo San Lucas, we did not spend any part of Christmas with my side of the family.

Still, it was Christmas. And on Christmas morning, when I was doing Mercy's hair, it all came into focus.

She's been learning about God who protects her when she is afraid and how he is like "a Great Big Daddy". During that quiet little moment, she understood Christmas as much as an almost three year old can when she said, "that baby Jesus, he grew up to be a big man, and then he dived on that cross so naughty people don't have to dive."

(We'll fix the dive/die confusion before she has swimming lessons.)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!


Friday, November 14, 2008


...there is one more place I really do like to go at least once a year.


Winthrop is what I love about Lake Cheland; the dry, scruffy hills and the sunshine and the family connections I have there. But while Lake Cheland is a sunscreen smell and the summer buuiiiiizzzzsplashsplash of skidoos on the lake, Winthrop is a quiet walk on the windy ridge on my parents' property. If I needed a place to simply relax, I would probably choose Lake Cheland. If I wanted to go somewhere to think, I might go to Winthrop instead.

Those of you who have visited the Methow Valley may remember Winthrop as the funny little town between Twisp and Mazama that decided to dress up as a cowboy one year and has yet to take it's costume off. Wooden board walks. Hitchin' posts fer the horses. It's kind of funny to me to think that just like Leavenworth, Washington, Winthrop did not always look like this. If you have been there, you know that Leavenworth wears lederhosen year round rather than cowboy clothes. Probably just the outworking of someone's good marketing idea. It beats the heck out of the City of Auburn's claim to being "More Than You Imagined". Been to Auburn recently? Yeah, I could imagine more than that, too. (I'm going to stop bashing the next town over from mine right... about... now.)

Winthrop has a neat feel to it but my family doesn't brave the 5 hour drive once a year to hang out in town.

We go for Family Weekend of course! And we are blessed the entire time to eat good food with good company at my aunt and uncle's house. They live in Winthrop! And each year, when Family Weekend is over, I'm almost ready to sign up to live there too.

Josiah was about 10 weeks when we made our pilgrimage to Winthrop this year.
To help the drive over the mountains go smoothly, we usually stop to eat lunch and stretch at a park on the way.

Josiah watches Mercy eat her raisins and apples during our lunch break. Check out the double chin on this little boy! He's finally gaining weight!!

The men spent their time enjoying the sunshine at the picnic table while Mercy and Josiah and I were thankful for the shade under a pine tree. Boy, was it hot that weekend! I was totally unprepared for a warm Family Weekend in May. Usually the wind is quite brisk and chilly during this time of year over there. Check out the sparse green patches on the hills beyond the park in the picture above. I love going to Eastern Washington in the spring for the green hillsides. Summer's heat dries those hills to a dusty brown. The spring green grasses look pleasantly out of place.

Our destination, when we do reach it after several hours of books on tape and a hopefully a quiet afternoon car nap, is this:

My aunt and uncle's hilltop; a veritable paradise for little wannabe farmboys and their parents.

Daniel on a neighbor's tractor, age 2

Michael and Daniel ride the horsies that live on the deck

Papa Jim and Grammy Carol's house comes complete with cousins who live just a horse pasture away.
The young man with the lizard coming out of his shirt is my cousin's son. He and Daniel spend the entire weekend adventuring on the property together.

Some of the activities we enjoy while at Grammy Carol's house include: p
ushing each other on the "go cart"...

Daniel gets a push from one of our favorite cousins while Papa Jim and Michael give him some pointers.

Michael and the break lever

taking long walks on the property with the dogs...

Daniel, Grammy, Kenzie and Lady walk in the sunflowers

and enjoying God's creation...

Michael and his flowers, age 2ish

with family!

The pictures in this post were collected from several years' worth of trips to Winthrop... It's fun to reminisce with myself... but back to this year's trip.

Like I said, it was incredibly hot! This is the one summer-y outfit I brought for Mercy. Here she is blissfully blowing bubbles while Tigger withers in the 90 degree heat on the grass behind her.

We tried out some new accomodations this year. As our family grows, we are challenged to find an affordable place to stay. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Hazel's house fit us and Grammy and Grandad just fine!

While our three older kids rambled around on the property with their cousins, Josiah spent the weekend being passed around to and admired by all the uncles and aunties.

In an attempt to end this really long post, I give you this picture of Josiah as a parting shot. I love his cheeks in this picture; he's looking so chubby and healthy!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vacations and Small Children

When I was very small, my parents started taking our family vacations at a time share resort on a large lake in eastern Washington. My children call this place "Lake Cheland".

My parents would watch the boaters and relax while my sister and brother and I fed the ducks (before it wasn't allowed) in front of the "unit". This is the kind of vacation where you spend a week leisurely going back and forth between the sandy beach and the outdoor pool, with a walk or two into "town" for Dixie cups.

My outdoor-loving Mom and Dad also took us hiking, camping and even to ski resorts as we grew old enough to put on our own gloves and goggles. I have always felt especially privileged in the family vacation department of my childhood but by far my favorite place to go has always been that time share resort in eastern Washington.

I try to think of really good reasons why I like it best of all.

Is it because my dad now has a ski boat and willingly spends every sunburning minute of his morning and afternoon teaching a cousin or a child of mine to enjoy boating life to the fullest?

Daniel and Grandad drive the boat

Or maybe because of all the family members that gather there each summer- so many that when we eat together at dinner, our chairs and tables spill out of our unit onto the grassy hillside above the beach?

Sometimes I really think I like going to Lake Cheland best of all for my vacations because of the nostalgia; because I get to dig with my children in the same sand and watch the sun set over the same mountains I saw when I was a toddler, as an insecure teenager and now as a happy wife and mommy.

Those are such nice, happy reasons!

The Montgomerys go grass kayaking.
Yes they do!

But the real reason I like to take vacations at this particular time share resort is because it is EASY.

Every time we go, we stay in the same place. We know where the kids are going to put their sleeping bags. We know that our pack'n'play fits in the bathroom and we know that if we happen to have a baby, the baby will sleep in the bathroom, in the pack'n'play. We know that the kitchen has a blender and a coffee maker but no waffle iron. We've been so many times with our kids that we know exactly what we will need to bring for them. I LOVE this about it.

Sometimes I ask myself if I wouldn't rather go somewhere new and different. Maybe I should be more adventurous. But my version of Life with Small Children doesn't leave much room for adventure. I've had some adventures with them and they usually require more wipes than I have on hand.

And while I am a bit of a stickinthemud with regards to family vacations, there are a few worthy events that have required me to travel in a manner that I wouldn't normally choose for myself.

Josiah and Grammy on the airplane

My sister, Heather, studied in San Francisco for a few years and when it came time for her to graduate, my parents and I flew down together to help her celebrate. Since Josiah was nursing and still in kind of a delicate stage of doing so, he came along.

Now, I know lots of people do fly with their babies. They have the check-the-carseat-suitcases-pack'n'play routine down pat. But when I travel with my little family, I go to the time share resort for a few days or maaaaaaaybe camping. For one night. I don't do other types of vacations because, to put it simply, they stress me out.

Having my parents along with me made me feel much more comfortable about the whole thing and really, Josiah was a happy little traveler. I don't think he made a peep anywhere we went.

Grammy and Grandad with Josiah in our hotel

I think he did question the wisdom of the engineers and architects who designed the Neiman Marcus bathrooms without changing tables. Frankly, so did I.

Changing diapers in Neiman Marcus

We had a great time congratulating Auntie Heather on becoming Doctor Auntie Heather! And later in the summer, we got to spend our yearly Lake Cheland week with her, playing at the beach and making up new vacation-appropriate drinks.

Viva la Wapatini!

Maybe when my kids can pack their own suitcases we'll go to Disneyland!

What's your favorite vacation spot? (Mom, I already know that Lake Cheland is your favorite, too!)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

A few things I want to remember...

Here is our little buddy with his special blankie his Grammy made for him. My mom has made one for each of the kids to welcome them when they were born. She ended up making two for Mercy because we um lost the first one.

As each child comes along, it's so fun to notice the different funny things they do. I think I mentioned already that Josiah liked to have his hands up by his face when he was very little as you can see in this picture.
Josiah also had a funny habit of rocking himself to sleep. After I had swaddled him and put him in his cradle or into the pack'n'play we kept in the main part of the house he would shake his head back and forth until he was asleep. I thought it was a little odd. He did it almost every time. And when he was tired and not yet in his bed, he would start with the head shaking, letting us know that he was ready for a nap.

This baby of ours rarely fussed during this stage. Aside from the
nursing difficulties we had during his first 10 weeks, he has been such an easy baby. When I say that, I should also say that all our babies have been easy, really. We've been blessed to have babies that are healthy and relaxed in temperament.

Here are all four of our kids enjoying a visit with my sister, Auntie Heather. Don't let Mercy's pouty face fool you.

I want to remember these things about Josiah, too:

-He rolled over from tummy to back at four weeks. (I think he was a little top heavy when he held his head up.)
-He slept all night starting at 10 weeks, after the doctor told me I could stop waking him up to feed him at night.
-I didn't give him a bath until he was um 6 weeks old. He just wasn't that dirty! In retrospect, earlier may have been better...

-He liked sleeping in his cradle in our Baby Room... until he started wiggling himself into the corner of it with that head rocking I mentioned.
-He is the first child with whom I've used a Boppy to nurse. A friend of ours was so kind and gave us their extra Boppy. To this day, it is lavender with Disney princesses on it. Not very manly, Josiah! Maybe
I should have made a new cover for it with pictures of beef or car engines on it.

Josiah's First Bath

I'm sure there are many other fun little things I could write down about Josiah's early days but for the sake of finishing this post I'll end here. I'm going to try to write shorter more frequent posts so I don't get so bogged down on one long one. Ultimately, I'd like to catch up to what is going on in Josiah's life as well as in the lives of his brothers and sister.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Josiah at Home

Here is the continuation of my recordings of our fourth child, Josiah!

Before Josiah was born, my husband and I had decided that due to my husband's deep dislike of staying the night in the hospital (uncomfortable bed, lack of privacy, etc.) that he would go home to spell the grandparents and sleep there with our older three rather than stay with the new baby and I. Before Josiah was born, I was all for this. I thought to myself: I've done this newborn thing before- it's just one night and the nurses will be there to help, right? And Bob will really enjoy being at home. While the nurses were as attentive as they should have been and we didn't really have a "rough night", I probably won't request a repeat of this method. I missed having someone to help me celebrate our baby's first night. I think Bob did really enjoy being at home, though, and I'm glad for that.

Here's our sweet guy during his first week at home. Yes, he's a little jaundiced, I think. When he was super new, he loved having his hands up by his face like this. When he was born, his umbillical cord was wrapped twice around his neck and I wondered in the days after he came to live with us if he had been used to holding onto it somehow inside of me.

Josiah came into the world to join three older siblings; Daniel, Michael and Mercy. It's been so fun to watch their different personalities and how they have each gotten to know Josiah in their own ways.

Mercy, our baby girl, became the big sister as all older girl siblings do when a new baby comes home. She has shown us in so many ways that she enjoys her role as a Little Mommy to Josiah. In those first few days she charmed us by commenting in her own little voice about each of Josiah's tiny features.

"Look at his tiny nose! And see his tiny ears!" she would squeak to us.

While she was enthralled with the new baby at her house, the changes that same new baby brought caused her no small difficulties as we all adjusted to being a family of six. Here she is showing us her baby in the cradle Bob's dad made for us when Daniel was born.

At 7 lbs. 6 ozs. Josiah was my smallest baby. While that made for a fairly easy birth and recovery for me, I think it played a part in the nursing difficulties we had during his first two months. During his first month, he didn't gain correctly and I was SO sore. Josiah didn't seem unhappy or extra hungry but my doctor was concerned about him and as my milk supply began to diminish I began to take some more drastic measures to ensure that Josiah would thrive.

In this case, drastic measures meant spending most of my time either pumping to increase my supply or trying to teach Josiah to latch correctly. (AND setting my alarm to wake him up during the night to make sure he was eating enough- at 4 and 5 weeks he would often sleep right through if we let him!) And that's where things went south for Mercy! I was so not available for anyone but Josiah during those first two months. I did have some super little helpers, though.

As much as I wanted to be able to nurse my little man, I loved the early bonding that took place between Michael and Josiah. Oh and don't mistake the look on Daniel's face for boredom. Oh no! He's engrossed in Daddy's reading of one of the Narnia books. Much too engrossed to smile for this picture.

Daniel helped with Josiah too! This is how it would work: I would try to nurse Josiah. I would give Josiah to Daniel who would feed him a bottle that I had prepared during the previous feeding time. Then I would spend 15-20 minutes with a rented hospital grade pump. This process, including several interruptions to live the rest of my life with four children, took an hour or so. And then we would do it again about an hour later. I don't know who was the more thankful when the doctor said I could stop pumping around the clock, me or the kids. Well, probably me, but the kids were really excited when I told them Josiah had gained enough weight for us to stop that whole crazy process.

Thankfully, my other three babies nursed very well. I was totally unprepared for how awful not being successful at nursing made me feel. Now I can relate to women who have to try day after day to get their tiny baby to latch correctly, only to have him fall asleep because he's weak from not getting enough milk to begin with. I wondered if I would have to stop trying to nurse. I know there are worse things, there really are, but I wanted to br**st feed this baby so much!

Other techniques I tried to help Josiah to eat correctly included using the football hold when nursing as well as trying a nipple shield. In retrospect, what helped the most was time. That, and pumping often to maintain a good milk supply.

When Josiah was about 10 weeks old, nursing began to improve tremendously. He was able to latch correctly on both sides and I was able to gradually begin nursing him in the "regular" position. (The football hold is super annoying to me and during the process I wondered if I'd ever nurse him across my lap like I had with my other babies. ) I was able to stop supplementing his feedings with bottles given by my little helpers. I stopped getting up at night to feed this little man who wanted to sleep for 6 or 7 hours. Thanks to some very good advice from my lactation consultant aunt, I've concluded that his mouth was just too small to get a good latch at first. Thanks Aunt Linda! Hooray for your sound and practical encouragement!


Post Script: Josiah continues to be our only baby who will take a bottle willingly if he has the pleasure of remaining with Daddy for the evening while I meet a friend at Starbucks. Hooray for that too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

3+1= 4

So here is my first post about Josiah.

I'll try to give a few little snapshots of what our family is like at this time and how it's been throughout the pregnancy. Like I said in my last post, I'm trying to record Josiah's life so far. This may not be the most interesting, polished reading material you come across today. As I write this I'm trying to remind myself of my goal here: to record and document. Maybe I'll do more creative stuff with it later.

So let's set the stage here.
It's mid March 2008. I look like this... oh boy.

Our kids look like this: (This is a favorite activity. Playing "armies".)

And this is the history of babies in the Montgomery family, so far:

Daniel is born
20 months later, Michael is born
18 months later Mercy is born
16 months later we miscarry Sparrow, a baby we lose early on in the pregnancy
11 months later Baby #4 is due

All that to explain that the age difference between Mercy and Baby #4 is the longest. And as I prepare to give birth to this new family member, I'm excited about how much older Mercy will be in comparison to how old Michael was when she was born. It really isn't that big of a difference when I think about it now but it was definitely something I was thinking about then...

I was also thinking about our homeschool co-op. I was in the midst of my 6 week teaching unit. My due date happened to be before the end of the unit. Part of me was really hoping to finish teaching before I had my baby. I won't go in to detail about what the other part of me was thinking because it might seem ungrateful to the women who gracefully took my place as teacher for the last two weeks of my unit.

The whole pregnancy seemed more difficult to me than previous pregnancies. I'm pretty sure that's a grass-is-greener perspective. Or it may have been that there were three kids to care for rather than two. Thankfully, I wasn't on any bedrest during this pregnancy. I didn't have any freak bleeding situations. (And I won't describe them or things like them at this time. Just in case you were concerned.) There was the time when I had to be rehydrated in the hospital due to too much morning/all the time sickness but after about week 16 or so, I felt much better. If I'm being accurate about this pregnancy, I shouldn't make light of the morning sickness part. The fact is that I have really bad all the time sickness for the first half of each pregnancy. Ick. But I know women who are that sick for the entire pregnancy too. I'm going to move on from that subject now. It's too icky.

Other important flavors of this particular pregnancy include:

-We don't know the gender of our baby
-Up until the 20 week ultrasound I'm really hoping I'm carrying twins (it would be more efficient, wouldn't it?)
-The 20 week ultrasound shows some kind of abnormality in my uterus that is "watched" afterwards
-I'm seeing a different doctor than my pregnancy with Mercy and he is a man- a first for me
-I'm planning on delivering about 10 minutes away from our house and I'm happy about that
-Daniel thinks we will have a girl so that it will be "even" in our family. Three boys and three girls including Mommy and Daddy.
-This baby is extremely active!

When I'm within a few days of my due date, my doctor suggests the possibility of inducing labor. Both Michael and Mercy were born that way and I'm all for it. I feel a little funny about it only because I don't feel as enormous as I remember feeling at 9 months with the other three. I'm not quite as uncomfortable as I remember. I wonder if the baby is big enough. And whether I should just finish my teaching unit first. But we schedule Grammy and Grandad to come help with the kids and put the date on the calendar. It's two days away!

Oh, we don't have a name yet. Bob and I are really bad at picking names. He comes up with lots of good names. I just don't like them.

To make this long story shorter, I'm going to stop writing about the details and bring in the pictures.

Here he is! Josiah Thomas Montgomery is born!

At 7lbs 8ozs, he is my smallest baby. Both Michael and Mercy were a whole pound bigger. Daniel was two pounds bigger at birth.

The umbilical cord had a knot in it and it was wrapped around his neck twice. God protected him from harm all throughout the pregnancy and during labor as well, to bless us with this sweet tiny boy.

Oh, how I love the day my children are born!

More to come...


Friday, October 17, 2008

A Short Season

Chubby hands wave wildly, grasping for the spoon. Josiah's mouth is open, expectantly. It's time for our fourth child to begin joining us at the dinner table in his high chair. He's six months old. Daniel and Michael wiggle around in their own big boy places. Mercy sits sideways in her chair. Her little glass of water is in constant danger of spilling.

After his first bite, everyone takes turns giving Josiah a spoonful of rice cereal, cheering for him and the funny faces he makes. We've done this three times already, the First Solid Foods Ritual. But it's all brand new again with each child. And I love that about it.

The second most common thing I hear from strangers when I'm with my children at the grocery store is this:

"They grow up so fast! I remember when mine were that small!"

(The first most common thing is a comment on the amount of and/or spacing of our kids. Unless I'm carrying Josiah in the wrap my mother-in-law and I made out of a twin sheet. Then I get all kinds of comments or just plain stares. Sometimes I have to look down and make sure that the sheet is indeed a simple, pleasing yellow color, not the Strawberry Shortcake sheets I could have used. Come on, people. Wraps aren't that uncommon. Maybe they are staring at something else...)

As a mommy to four small children, I often have to remind myself of the brevity of this season we are in as a family. If I try hard, I can imagine myself as that woman in the Fred Meyer chatting to a harried mom of two toddlers about how "before you know it they will be asking for your car keys!" But only if I try really hard. Generally, I don't because I'm using the imagining part of my brain to pretend to be a rider in Michael's semi truck and a fellow subject with Mercy of Daniel's kingdom, all while I'm accomplishing some household task. Or imagining that I'm accomplishing said task.

But back to Josiah. A brief 7 months ago, I sat in our hospital room and took pictures of his tiny features.

Now, I watch these toes push and poke as Josiah learns to crawl. I squish them into moccasins meant for smaller babies.

Why am I blogging?

Because time is passing.

Josiah is starting solids. Daniel will be six going on seven in a little over a week. In between are Michael and Mercy; signs of the stages we've passed through and of the ones we'll visit again soon. There are parts of me that look ahead with the desperation of a mommy with her "hands full" to the day when all the kids will buckle their own seatbelts in the car. Other parts of my mommy mind are on autopilot each day. "We just have to make it until naptime," they sigh to each other.

Recording the finer moments of this short season reminds me to put all of those selfish thoughts aside. Focusing on the sweetness of these passing days helps me to remember my calling here: to love my husband and children, to be self-controlled, pure, kind and submissive to my own husband, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5 ESV)

If you are reading this, you probably already know the short people in my life and are hoping for a picture or two. Capturing these passing moments on what used to be film is one of my favorite little hobbies. You won't be disappointed! (Well you might be, if you are hoping for a super good fertografer because I'm not one of those people.)

I'm going to start by focusing on Josiah's first 6 months until I catch up to what he's doing now. I"ll try to throw a little of the older kids in as well because they do funny things. After that, we'll see what happens...