Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ella: 3 months

Samuel at 3 months
Carter around 3 months

Her smile creases the corners of her mouth and her cheeks dimple as her smile reaches her those gray eyes, making them twinkle.  She coos and smiles on demand.  I know I've said it again and again, but this girl has such a happy little soul.  Being around her is such a gift, and I am so grateful God made her just the way He did.

This dear girl is easy going, drifting off to sleep in the midst of noise and busy-ness.  She loves to be toted about in the Mob or Ergo, and will only sleep in those carriers with her nose and mouth pressed straight into me.  It looks disconcertingly like she would suffocate in my shirt, but she obviously breathes well in there and naps happily as we are out and about through most morning naps.

Ella still has Ma's eyes.  It's a gift to see them and remind me so frequently a lady who was so much of who I want to be.  Ma had this little smirk that she passed along to my dad that I see in Ella all the time.  One side of her mouth will lift, and I catch my breath a little at the similarity.  Her hair is still growing, curling around her ears and sticking out at every angle.  It still garners the most comments and tricks people into thinking she is much older than she is.

Ella is my little companion and tag-along, curled against me everywhere I go.  This season is so fleeting, it makes me grateful for my little bundle strapped on all the time.  At night, she curls beside me and tickles me with her tiny toes.  She eats several times each night, but goes right back to sleep when she is finished.  In the morning, she wakes smiling and cooing. 

Ella still loves bath time.  I love how peaceful she is in the water...so different from the fun, splashing bathtimes of her brothers!  I'm sure she will be a splashy, loud bathtime participant very soon, so I am relishing these quiet baths in the bowl in the sink while they last. (Though the very morning after I started this blog and typed this, she cried through most of her bath....funny baby)

 The dear girl hates, hates gas and will protest angrily when it bubbles in her tummy.  This mostly happens in the evenings, and the cry is unmistakable.  Apparently, I was just the same way, and my dad comments frequently about how much Ella likes to be held just as I did: facing out, standing up :)  When she consents to the decrease in elevation, he rocks her, half-sleeping in the same golden rocker he spent long nights rocking me.  It's a good chair and a good man, that Boo.

Occasionally, Ella will cry and I am somehow the only solution.  As soon as she is lowered into my arms, her cries die out and she is content again.  Though I love babies, I am no baby whisperer, and I don't have this calming presence to every baby I touch.  But I do with my three.  It's not because I have a skill or have earned the right, but because of who I am.  I am theirs, and they are mine.  My identity as their mother is all I need to "earn" their love that doesn't have to be earned at all.  It reminds me so much of the Lord, loving me for who I am as His daughter.  As the Jesus Storybook Bible says, "They were lovely because He loved them."  Thank goodness for not having to muster up enough loveliness to be loved.  There is such rest in being loved for the whole of who you are...such a gift to someone who could never measure up on her own.

I know I have the tendency to ramble on with superfluous, flowery adjectives about my children.  I know.  Much of motherhood is the mundane making of beds, sandwiches and amends over stolen trains.  Large chunks of time are devoted to the daily brushing of teeth, hair, and crumbs.  But in all these simple, repetitive stitches, I can see the beautiful quilt of their childhood being sewn, and I am too much of a romantic to not ramble on about it.  

So grateful for these sweet months with Ella...and our little three who make up the fun dynamic of our family.  What blessings children are!

Ella at 2 months
Ella at 1 month

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ella: 2 months


Weight: 12 lbs, 10 oz (76th percentile)
Height: 24 inches ( 95th percentile)

Samuel at 2 months
Carter at 2 months

This is by far my favorite picture of all time...at the current moment.  I love this smile so much.  This girl brings smiles wherever she goes.  She is such a gift.  Ella is in the phase of smiles and coos, and I cannot get enough.

Our joy girl still loves to be swaddled, but likes very much to squirm her hands out to rest near her face.  She finds the pacifier to be somewhat soothing, but isn't an addict like her biggest brother.  Being outside is the most soothing when she is gassy or a bit overtired.  Honestly, she still cries very little, so I don't have a huge list of things that make her stop.  

As she becomes more aware of her surroundings, she has become less tolerant of her brother's crazy noises during naps.  Now, let's be clear.  She can still sleep through a good deal...she just currently wakes up when they run inches from her head, screaming.  As expected.

Her gray-blue eyes are getting streaks of brown and we get lots of comments about how much she looks like Carter.  I see it, I think.  Mostly, her eyes look like Ma's, her namesake.  It makes me smile every time.  I do see a lot of resemblance in my baby pictures and my sweet girl.  That also makes me smile.  

Carter's favorite thing right now is tickling her feet and giving her feather-light kisses on her cheek.  He likes to hold her for all of 30 seconds and loves to put her pacifier back in her mouth.  Samuel likes...kissing her a touch too hard and then running when she cries.  My sweet, soft-hearted Samuel is super rough with everyone these days, and that includes his poor sister.  His gentleness is coming around.  Samuel loves when Ella looks at him, and announces it to everyone when it happens.  She already cuts her eyes over when she hears their voices.  I imagine she's already anxious to get in on the action.

Ella loves to be toted in the Moby, and being carried on her tummy across our arms.  She thinks watching raspberries being blown is great entertainment and will smile in response to almost every smile you send her way.  Her favorite song for being calmed seems to be "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" and she loves to swing on the porch.  

Two months with our joy girl and I already simultaneously believe we JUST came home and can't imagine life without her in it. 

Ella: one month

We celebrated four years of Carter with a game

He came home on the first Saturday of college football four years ago.  I napped through the game, but Carter "watched" it propped up on Boo's chest.

This year we celebrated his birthday on the first Saturday of college football, all still decked out in our Alabama gear, cheering on both the Tide and our favorite four year old.

The house was full of family, ESPN, Carter's favorite foods, balloons and promises of cake and presents after supper.  It was just as it should be on a day of celebration.

"Watching the game" is different...very different...than it was four years ago.  There is SO much more noise, running, and interruptions.  However, the Bama outfits?  Much cuter.  The "Roll Tides!" much more abundant...and much sweeter coming from people who can not properly pronounce their "r" sounds.

After a day full of playing with family, watching Alabama (win!) and eating fun football food, we finally got to the part Carter had been waiting for alllllll day: cake and presents!

This, my friends, is his excited face:

He was so excited to finally be able to blow out his candles...he didn't even wait for us to finish singing.

When we were little, Grandma always gave the "non-birthday sibling" a little present to help us not feel left out on the day that was all about our brother or sister.  This, my friends, is called "spoiling your grandchildren."  She has kept with tradition, so after Carter opened presents, there were new books for Samuel and Henry.  They needed to be opened and read immediately.

Boo and Andi and all their Bama fan grandchildren.  5 under 4, all cheering for the Tide :)

My hope for birthdays is that the children will not be overwhelmed with a party I wanted to throw, but will have days set aside to celebrate them that are filled with their favorite things.  Carter was surrounded on Saturday by people who love him, and he spent the day doing some of his favorite things.  He got to eat pancakes and bacon for breakfast, played hard with cousins all day, and finished the day with the most thoughtful presents and cake.  Carter had a fun day, and that was the best celebration I can imagine.

I am just realizing that my whole plan to only have "big" birthday parties involving more than just a family celebration for their 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th birthdays means that I will have Carter's next "big" party NEXT YEAR.  That is crazy, my friends.  Crazy.  I have one year to get okay with that.  It will take the full 365 days, I am sure.  On the other hand, this little boy who can anticipate special days and remember them...request special details and really enjoy big events?  I like him a lot.  A whole lot.

I'm a baby kind of person....but I am finding I am quite enamored with this little boy my first is becoming.  Quite enamored indeed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Weight: 33 lbs (59th percentile)
Height: 3 feet, 3 inches (22nd percentile)

Four years ago...

Carter Steven Castillo came into this world in a flurry that I would later understand would characterize his personality.

I have a minimal number of pictures of Carter as an infant with his eyes closed...because he NEVER slept.  Hyperbolic, much?

No.  Not at all.

No, he's been full of expressions and laughs since the beginning.  He changed everything when he came and no one can contest that the world is better and more interesting for having him here.

Then, three years ago...
Carter turned one and had his first party.

And then 2 years ago...
Carter turned two:

One year ago...
It was the third birthday

And now he's four.

Four magnificent years that make him look less like a baby and more like a boy.  They make him more prone to self-control and interesting thoughts and less likely to cry all the day long.  The four years have transformed him into a guy who opens all my doors with every pound of force he can muster and a boy who runs to put in his sister's pacifier when she cries.

Oh, I miss him as a baby, even for all his endless crying and spitting up.  I miss his super round infant head and the way he snuggled into my neck.  I miss rocking him and rocking him and rocking him even though I didn't get a single thing done.  I miss his big baby eyes and the way his expressions made EVERYONE laugh.

Oh but I love this boy that baby has become.  I love how he does everything at 100%.  I love his love for reading and being read to.  I love the interesting things he comes up with to say and the way he is never scared to really get in there and get dirty.  I love the way he marches to his own beat and his focus on his goals.  I love the way he does everything with great passion and without giving up.

(He has the ability to look SO sad with those big, brown eyes.  Here, his greatest disappointment was that I would not go back inside so he could pick his scab without fear of motherly interruption.  It's hard to be four, right?)

I love to dream about who he is becoming even while I grieve time passing.  I am grateful for the tension.  To be both joyful and grieved for a boy who is every bit a part of me as I am of him.  I am so grateful to teach him, walk with him, witness him and know him.  

When Carter fixes his mind on something, nothing can stop him.  When Carter decides not to do something, nothing can convince him.  He is strong-willed, this one, and I pray that iron-clad will will be one of his greatest strengths as he grows in a world with a thousand mixed messages and broken situations.  

Four years.  
A boy I admire for his tenacious and precocious personality.  

A transition for babyhood to a boy.  A transition for us both.

My first.  My biggest guy.  My Carter.