And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the tag “children”

Maundy Thursday

I wouldn’t say we go to an experimental church.  But, yesterday our church had an experiemental service.  They offered their first annual Maundy Thursday Family Service.  I would call the experiment a success.  The only thing they should change would be saving the nice towels for the adult service.  More on that later.

During the Gospel, there was a full chorus of children singing various versions of the typical child-song.  During the prayers, there was a line dance happening in the back pews.  During the children’s sermon, I counted at least three children who were expertly expressing their emotions.

Then came the main event.

Our lovely priest washed any child’s feet who wanted their feet washed.  There were pitchers of water, a big bowl for the feet, beautifully pristine white towels for drying.

The first spill happened right away, so it was good to get it out of the way.  The first spill was born out of exuberance and happiness. Feet were washed.

More water was spilled.  And more.  More feet were washed.

Then came communion.  When the kids gather around the altar, to be involved in the Great Thanksgiving, it was exciting, as always. Kids were watching the priest.  Kids were sitting together.  Kids were doing suspicious dancing, ending with mad dashes to the restroom.  Kids were refusing to stand with their friends.  Kids were spitting up.  Exciting.

One thing that our church does is this – before the priest says, “The gifts of God, for the people of God,” he hands the bread and wine to the children to hold up.  As he handed the pitcher of wine to Alma and another child, the priest said, “Here you go, Alma.  And Carolyn.  Help them.”  No more spills, here.

Then the service was over.

There were muddy little footprints in the aisle.

All the pristine towels were soaked.

The children had clean feet.

The priest had damp robes.

I felt overwhelmingly happy that this was our church, and this was what our church does.

And it was good.



We Are Seriously Loving This Early Spring Weather

Like, seriously loving it.

And Then They - Alma AroundAnd Then They - 4 WilliamsAnd Then They - Alma UpAnd Then They - Alma AwayAnd Then They - Alma Basket HeadAnd Then They - BaskingAnd Then They - BasketingWe really have to take advantage of the spring before the spring takes advantage of us with its relentless rain and pollen.  Our kids are such a great age for playing these days.  Alma can almost independently play at a playground.  Harriet is content to roll around on a blanket, or nap in the Ergo.

These photos are from earlier this week.  We are now in the middle of a 10 day rain storm.  Such is life in a Willamette Valley spring.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Well, She’s Two.

Here’s our pre-dinner conversation with Alma, March 18th, 2014:

Alma: *trips over toy boat* AAAAAWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!
Dad: Oh no!  You’re okay!  Do you need a hug?
Dad: Mom’s cooking dinner right now, but I can give you a hug.
Mom: Uh oh!  Did you fall down?  Are you okay? (she is clearly okay)
Mom:  I can pick you up in just a second.  I need to finish this right now.
Mom:  Want to look in the oven?  See what’s cooking?
Mom:  Can you tell me what you want?
Mom:  Do you want me to pick you up?
This continues in roughly the same way for about 10 minutes, with both mom and dad suggesting things to help Alma cheer up.
Mom: Okay, dinner’s ready! (this is usually very motivating for Alma)
Mom:  Okay.  You can either eat with our family, or sit on the stairs until you calm down enough to join us.
Dad: So, how was your day?
Mom:  It was pretty good!  I’m really…
Alma: *tries to climb into mom’s lap* WAAAAAA!
Mom: *ignores climbing puddle of a toddler*… tired.  How was your day?

End scene. Who is this creature we lovingly invited into our home, and our dining room?


Harriet’s Baptism

And Then They - WaterHarriet was Baptized today at our wonderful church.  We are so blessed to have a lovely church to attend.  We couldn’t ask for a better priest than Bingham, and are so glad that he was able to baptize both Alma and Harriet. And Then They - OilHarriet did really well.  You can see in the photo above that Alma was a little concerned about what Father Bingham was putting on her forehead.  It was oil, and part of my favorite part of the baptism ceremony.  The priest puts oil on her forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet and says:

I bless your eyes that you may see God’s image in everyone.
I bless your ears that you may hear the cry of the poor.
I bless your lips that you speak nothing but the gospel of Jesus.
I bless your hands that everything you receive and everything you give may be a sacrament.
I bless your feet that you may run to those who need you.

And Then They - LightOur dear friends Stu and Jacque are Harriet’s Godparents, and we are so lucky to have them.  Their son Edison is just 9 days older than Harriet, so it is extra special to have them be such an important part of her life.

And Then They - CelebratingNot only do we love Father Bingham, but we also were blessed to have a retired priest be the Celebrant at the service.  Father Ted was my priest all growing up, and even married us.  It was really special to have him be a part of the service for Harriet.

And Then They - Harriet's Godparents

Photo by Katrina Henry!

And Then They - Alma's GodparentsI realized that we never got a photo of Father Bingham, Alma, and her Godparents, so we took this as an opportunity to correct this oversight.  Just a couple years after the baptism.  We love Kenton and Katrina and are so blessed to have them in our lives.  They are beautiful Godparents to Alma.

And Then They - PartyAfter the service, we had lots of friends and family over to celebrate.  I love when our house is filled with so many loved ones.  Alma and Harriet are so lucky to have so many great friends who love them so much.

And Then They - Best FriendsThese are Alma’s best friends, above.  Rach was her nanny last year, and is her best friend now.  Rory is her best similarly-aged friend, who also had the pleasure of having Rach as his nanny.  This threesome is pretty great.  They are so bonded in such a fun, lovely way.  Rach’s mom came up and was able to help Rach baby sit Alma, Harriet, and their cousins on Saturday night so we could go to a concert.  They came to the baptism, also.

And Then They - In a FortRach is a pretty talented fort builder.  All the kids loved playing in it, and Alma’s cousins even got to sleep in it on Saturday night.

And Then They - Video GamesOf course, video games are always a big draw.  These guys deserved it since they had just done a wonderful job at church during the baptism.

And Then They - Sweet HarrietCongratulations, Sweet Harriet.  Your enthusiasm and joy is so wonderful.  You are so, so loved.

* All photos (unless otherwise indicated) were taken by my mother-in-law, and edited by me.  Thanks for being our photographer!

My Daughters in Art – Alma in “The Daughters of Edward D. Boit” by Sargent

And Then They Dance Party

I was inspired by this photo of our little dance party today.  I love how Alma is just looking at the camera (on a timer, BTW).

The Daughters of Edward D. Boit, by John Singer Sargent, 1882

The lighting and stance, dress and look of Alma totally reminded me of one of my favorite paintings.  I have loved this portrait since I was a child.  “The Daughters of Edward D. Boit” by John Singer Sargent.  The lighting is fantastic, and the girls all have such a beautiful, mysterious presence. I thought it would be fun to try to put Alma into the painting.

Alma as a Daughter of Edward D. Boit by SargentI hope to put Alma and Harriet into more of my favorites as time goes on.  This was a fun way to start.  It’s obviously not perfect, and really show me how much I have to learn with photo editing, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

Watch for Alma and Harriet to pop up in more paintings in the future!

Birthday Sunshine

My birthday is in February.  I’m sure you’re thinking it’s usually dreary and sad outside.  For some reason, most of my birthdays are sunny and warm!  We usually get some really beautiful weather in the end of February, and I’m lucky enough to get to enjoy it on my birthday most years.  I think it snowed a couple years ago, which is also fun. 

The girls and I took advantage of the beautiful day to play in the backyard.  I even got some yard work done.  Alma helped, obviously.

IMG_9818aIMG_9836aIMG_9826a IMG_9893a IMG_9892a IMG_9877a IMG_9882a IMG_9809a IMG_9819a

More Baby Gear… Stroller Dilemas

You know what they say about hindsight.  Well, when it came to picking a stroller, we didn’t make the right decision for our family.  As with everything else, I did a ton of research, got people’s opinions, test drove strollers, basically did everything right.  We ended up with a Baby Jogger City Mini.  And we loved it.  I mean, really, really loved it.  I would totally recommend it to anyone.  It’s lightweight, folds up beautifully, the steering was lovely.

And Then They - City Mini with Baby AlmaBUT, it’s a single stroller.  We knew we were planning on having more kids someday soon, but we still bought a single stroller.  I think we just decided to figure out the double stroller if, and when, it became necessary.

Here’s the deal.  This totally wouldn’t be a problem if you space your kids out further than we did.  With only 19 months between Alma and Harriet, I knew we would need a double stroller.  I have friends who have added a standing board for their older kids, or just had them walk.  Not an option for Alma.  And we also like to use the stroller to go on long walks.  I can’t expect Alma to walk the whole way, or want to strap a big baby or toddler to my body.  This isn’t just for the grocery store or the mall.  I basically have two babies to push around.  Double stroller necessary.

What I wish I had known the first time around:  There are stroller options that convert from single to double!  What?!  Ha!  After doing lots more research, asking, test driving this time around, we came to the Baby Jogger City Select.

And Then They - City SelectThis stroller is ah-mazing.  It can be configured a gazillion different ways.  I’ll, again, refer you to the website so you can see all the beautiful things this stroller can do.  I love that both kids can see out when they are both front facing.  Since we go on walks, I like to use that time to show them the world.  Especially when we’re down by the river, or downtown.  I also love that they can face each other.  I think they love that, too.  I also really love that it can also be a single.  This is good for quick trips, when I just need to have Alma contained, and can carry Harriet in my Ergo.  The fact that it can be a single will extend the life, too, since we can keep using it when Alma has outgrown strollering.

The down side is that it comes with a pretty hefty price-tag.  We were able to get it when they were offering a deal where you got the second seat for free.  We were also able to sell our City Mini (Baby Jogger strollers hold their value really well!), so that helped a lot.  I *wish* we had just bought the City Select single when we had Alma, then we would have just had to buy the second seat when Harriet came around.  That would have stretched the life of the stroller for us.

Well, that’s my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.  Nobody paid me anything to write this.  I didn’t get any free strollers or anything.  I just love the products, and wanted to share!

If you missed my run-down of other baby gear, be sure to check it out here.

Baby Gear That Will Last For Years – Plan Well and Spend Wisely

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while.  I’ve been trying to come up with some of the things that I would tell newly pregnant friends that they must have.  There are so many things that go into making choices when it come to everything, but it seems especially difficult when it comes to baby gear.  Probably because you get it all at once.  While working on this post, I came to the realization that our main criteria was definitely whether or not the baby would grow out of it quickly.  If we felt like it wouldn’t last for at least the first year, we tried to find another option.

And Then They - Baby Gear That Will Last For Years, Plan well and spend wisely  A list of things to buy for first time parents

I don’t think we were consciously thinking of this, but it was definitely a selling point if we could see the usefulness of an item for quite a while.  Obviously, borrow things from friends where you can, or buy used gear!

So, here are some of our recommendations:

And Then They - CribMini Crib:  While this doesn’t sound like something that will follow your baby into childhood, this is one of the best things we bought.  While it is (as its name implies) smaller than a regular crib, many mini-crib models can be converted into twin beds.  Some full size cribs can be converted into full size beds, but that doesn’t make sense to me.  Knowing the size of my daughters’ rooms, a full size bed wouldn’t be very useful.  They will eventually need twin beds, so might as well buy something when they are babies that can work for that.

I know that one of the draws of full size cribs is that they often convert to toddler beds.  I can understand the convenience of this, but not the necessity of it. As of today, Alma is still in her mini-crib.  She’s over 2 years old, and was just about 3 feet tall at her check-up last month.  She fits comfortably, and I think she will for quite a while.  She hasn’t been able to climb out of the crib, either.  I imagine when we’re ready to move on from the crib, we’ll get a twin mattress, and put it on the floor for a few weeks or months, then bring the head and foot board in to make it a real bed.

And Then They - Two in a Mini CribThe crib we bought for both girls is the Da Vinci Emily Mini.  It comes with a “mattress” that is about an inch thick, and not suitable for sleeping in my opinion.  Da Vinci also sells mini-crib mattresses, so we got those too.  They also sell a converter kit to make it into a twin bed, but as far as I can tell, it is just a long 1×4 with another ledge attached.  I think we will DIY this when the time comes.

And Then They - ErgoErgo:  There are soooo many different kinds of baby carriers out there.  I’m sure there are other great ones, but I really love our Ergo.  It has carried us (ha! that’s a pun!) from teeny tiny newborn, to full on baby, into toddler-hood and we’re still going!  We also have a Moby, but I use the Ergo much more.  The infant insert was great for when the babies are super small.  My favorite carry for when Alma got bigger is the hip carry.  It’s great because Alma can see everything, but she is still cuddled up next to me.  It’s also nice to throw the baby on my back (as seen above) for a longer walk.  I’ve even put Alma on my back like this, and had Harriet in the Moby on my front at the same time.  Pretty great if you ask me.

Convertible Car Seat:  Oh man, car seat shopping was the most overwhelming part of baby gear buying for me.  I went on Consumer Reports, made spreadsheets, read forums online.  Holy cow.  I knew this was an important safety decision, but also quite an expensive purchase, so I wanted to make sure we’d be happy with it.

We went with a Britax convertible seat.  This basically means that the car seat works from the time your baby is a newborn, until they are huge.  They can be both rear, and front facing.  They don’t come in and out of the car like infant only car seats.  This wasn’t an issue for me, since I always had the Ergo.  I do have to say that we got to borrow my nephew’s infant car seat for Harriet, and we really appreciated the convenience of it, but we have already switched to the convertible for her.  It got to be way too heavy once Harriet got bigger.  So, if you can borrow an infant seat, go for it!  I just don’t think it’s worth the money so buy two car seats when you can easily get by just buying one that will last for a few years.

And Then They - DiapersCloth Diapers: This is our biggest money saver.  For sure.  We did the math when Alma was a few months ago, and after buying 18 diapers (our magic number), we had them paid off (in terms of what we would have spent on disposables) in about 3 months.  Can you even believe that?!  We could have kept our child diapered for only 3 months with what we spent on buying cloth diapers!  Even with the extra laundry (one load every 3-4 days for us), they are way cheaper than disposables.

I know there are lots of other great reasons to use cloth diapers (environment, health, cuteness, etc) the money was really what sold us.  But they are pretty damn cute!

[Also, you can expect to see a longer post on cloth diapering and how we do it coming soon!]

And Then They - High ChairTripp Trapp high chair:  To fully understand the genius of this chair, I will refer you to the Stokke website.  This chair grows with your child.  The seat, and the footrest are adjustable, so when they grow, you can just lower it.  This allows your kids to always be able to sit right up to the table, have proper posture, and have a firm place for their feet.  The most important thing to me was having out kids at the table with us.  Dinnertime is important to our family.  Harriet is already sitting in her Tripp Trapp at our table, even though she’s not eating solids yet.  I like that both kids are right there, part of the family, not off to the side.  Clean up is easy, too.  We just wipe down the table or place mat.  I love it.

There you have it!  These are my favorite ways to save some money and spend wisely.  I have lots of other recommendations if have any questions.

What are some ways you saved some money or made some decisions when it came to baby gear?

[Note: None of these companies asked me to write about them.  They don’t have any idea who I am or that I wrote this.  These are all just my opinions that I thought I would share with you.  Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase from the link, you are helping And Then They.]

[Another Note:  Check out what I have to say about stroller shopping here!]

Rainy Hike

It’s the first rainy day here in months.  Of course, we decided to plan a little hike.  That’s the way we roll around here.

aaa Rainy Day

We went on a very short hike through the woods up near my parents’ house.  They were excited to let Alma explore the nature around her.

aaa On the BridgeHarriet and I were there, too.  She was excited to explore my necklace with her mouth.

aaa In FrontI have so many memories of playing around storm drains.  I love that Alma was just as fascinated with them.  She loved all the bubbles floating around in the water.  “Bye-bye, bubbles.”

aaa UmbrellaAnd of course Grams’ plants needed to be watered.  This girl cracks me up.

aaa Watering Plants in the Rain

Sleeping/ Sleep Training/ Sleeping?

New babies love to sleep.  It seems like that’s all they do.  So why are parents of new babies so exhausted?  New babies have some weird, mysterious way of sleeping just enough that the look like they are always asleep, but waking up just enough that their parents get no sleep at all.  It’s just the way it is.  Tricky, sneaky babies.

Luckily I no longer have a new baby.  My baby is an old baby, which means that I get to do the tricking.  I have successfully tricked her into taught her to sleep through the night, and to have pretty regular and kick-ass naps (are you kidding me?  Right when I typed this, I heard Harriet wake up…. damn hubris!) during the day.

My main advice in all things parenting is to not read any books, or if you simply must a book, please, please, please only read one.  Books are notorious for giving conflicting opinions and making you think you are doing things right, while simultaneously making you think you are killing your child.  Yuck.  My second piece of advice is to never listen to advice.  It only messes with your head.

If you want to know how we trained our daughters, I will refer you to this blog post.  I know some people think it is mean to sleep train babies in this way.  I would say to them that it is mean not to, but I’m not going to say that.  It’s just what I would say.  But I’m obviously not saying that.  I’m not trying to start any ‘mommy wars’ here, just trying to share my truth and reality.  If you don’t agree with this, feel free to close the browser, or tab, or phone, or what-have-you.  I’m not trying to change your mind, just trying to share what worked for both my girls.  Besides, if you feel strongly that what I did is wrong, your mind will never be changed, now will it?  Nope.  And anyway, that is totally not the point of this post.

Co SleepingThe point of the post is to deal with my feeling after having sleep trained.  I love that Harriet has learned this amazingly important life skill.  I love that Jesse and I were able to teach her this amazingly important life skill.  I have no regrets as to how or when we sleep trained both girls.  I am confident in all of this.  I am proud of this.  I am proud that Jesse and I are able to teach and guide our kids.  I am proud of my daughters for taking this small, no huge, step towards independence.

With Alma, we had her in bed with us every single night until she was four months old.  I loved sleeping with her, and being able to nurse her whenever either of us wanted to.  I loved the connection and cuddles.  But I was so ready to move on to the next step when she turned 4 months old and we got the go-ahead from our pediatrician.  I don’t remember feeling sad to have her out of the bed in those first few weeks.

With Harriet we had her in the co-sleeper, up against our bed every night until she was about 4 1/2 months old.  I loved this, too.  It was great having her close enough that I could nurse easily.  I loved being able to hold her little hand while we slept.  I loved hearing her little baby noises, and watching her little baby breathing.  Again, I was so ready to move on to the next step.  But, this time I have been a little sad in the weeks that followed.

Maybe it’s because she’s our last baby.

When I go to bed, and turn off the light, it takes me forever to fall asleep.  I don’t know if it’s that I miss the white noise of her breathing, or the nightlight that is now in her room, or something more visceral.

All I know for sure is that it is called sleep training for a reason.  Harriet seems to be trained, but I’m still learning.  I guess that is what it means to be a parent.  And that can’t be found in any book.

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