Waking a sleeping baby…

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…is like a mortal sin. Seriously, when a child is sleeping, they look so precious, so innocent. Above is Evan, my lil man who has me completely wrapped around his finger. I don’t even want to move to get up and read with Arianna after her shower (but I will bc I LOVE that she loves reading). Instead, I want to stay here, staring away at him.

The other night, we stayed at my aunts due to a gas smell in the town’s waste system (way to fail us Pittsburgh potty). I had the pleasure of seeing Ari sleep bc she stayed on a couch. At one point, she had her shirt pulled over her belly just so that she looked like “I Dream of Jeannie”, but with short hair and Disney princesses on her pink jammies. 🙂 Another sleepy moment I will never forget, for sure!

Ok, so I am biased, but I think our kids are the most adorable sleepers ever!

10 Things ‘lil Burghers Need

The other day, I posted a Top 10 List of things I needed as a Pregnant Mama. Tonight, I want to share with you our Top 10 List of things the babies rely on, again, in no particular order.

*Disclaimer*: I am going to name drop on several products; however, I am not getting any benefit from these reviews. My opinions on these products are based off my personal experiences and purchases of these goods. This is a post I have decided to do on my own without prompting from the companies. They are not sponsoring this blog and have not provided me with products.

1. Boppy Pillow Even as I write this post, Evan is snuggled up in the boppy between Greg and I on the couch. This has been a lifesaver as a place to put the kids so that they get some tummy time and independent time PLUS it’s been a huge help when nursing. When Arianna moved to her “big girl bed”, the Boppy had to go with her…and when we found out Evan was on the way, we had to come up with a sneak way to get the Boppy off of her. (Thanks to my Mom for finding her a pillow pet!) We started with a Bare Naked Pillow and added on a “Pink on Pink Soft Boa” cover for Arianna and a “Serengeti” cover for Evan. This was one of the fabulous gifts from one of Arianna’s baby shower.
Ari in her Boppy:

Evan in his Boppy:

2. Night-time Loveys Three things kept the ‘lil Burghers sane while they were babies–a clock (Arianna), rainforest mobile (both), and an amazing invention from Fisher Price, the Ocean Wonders Sooth & Glow Seahorse that has become Evan’s First Best Friend. These items soothed our kids when it was time to go to sleep and allowed for them to have nice stretches of sleep, very important for a mama and daddy.

3. Pacifiers So I am not the biggest fan of a paci/ni ni/binky, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Arianna used one for just a few weeks only because the hospital gave her one while I was in recovery. Thankfully, Magee doesn’t believe in giving nursing babies a paci, so Evan didn’t get addicted to one early on. He does, however, have a paci for a few hours each day and at night because when we first got home from the hospital, he needed an outlet for a hard sucking habit. Ari’s disappeared by week 4. Evan, at about 6 weeks, still has his, but he will suck on it for a few minutes then spit it out. Hopefully we will be able to break him of it before he even realizes we have.

4. Swaddling Call it new mom syndrome or lack of knowledge, but when Arianna was born, I returned a because I couldn’t figure it out. Wrapping her in receiving blankets was easier, even if the hospital thought Mallory and I didn’t know how to do it. She was my little burrito baby! Evan, however, has been rocking them at night. Since he was a bit bigger baby (9# 1 oz versus A’s 7# 6 oz), the blankets didn’t work as well. Thank goodness I decided to pick one up before he was born!

5. Swing My parents got Arianna a “Take Along Swing” which she and Evan both love. It is VERY low to the ground which is not exactly fun for a mama recovering from a c-section, but otherwise, it is easy to put in the car when going somewhere for the night. Honestly, I can only remember changing the batteries when we were preparing for Evan, but maybe I did have them changed when Ari was little. Either way, it lasts a good while and keeps the kids happy!

6. Bumbo Seat Evan isn’t old enough and doesn’t have the neck strength yet to try it out, but this was another one of the great shower gifts I got (from Mrs. ‘Ski!). Arianna was in it early, here she is just over 2 months, bonus points for rockin’ the Steeler gear, again! (Yes, Evan will be sitting in the pink one, oh well, ’cause real men wear pink, right?)

7. Jumperoo Again, another one for when they are older, but a lifesaver! Arianna would bounce for hours on end, and now has redic leg strength to prove it. It also has a revolving seat so they can see all the toys (ours is a slightly different model, but a busy mama has no time to search for the particulars).

8. Tub Our amazing friend, Ash, gave me a tub for Arianna that fits perfectly in a kitchen sink and has been handed down to Evan (you can see it under Evan’s 1st Bath (even though it’s another pink item). 🙂 This tub converts to a toddler tub (probably like most). Basic item, but they love it.

9. Daddy Cop out, but every little one needs special people in their life, and their Daddy is one of them! Here’s their first pics with Daddy! 🙂

10. And finally, Mama Again, a cop out, but our ‘lil boos really are the light of our lives! Here’s some gems of me and the babies during their first days.

‘Lil Man’s 1st Best Friend

There comes a time in every kid’s life when they fall in love with someone or something so much that it becomes their best friend. For me, that something was a teddy bear from my Uncle Ron that I named ‘Kissy’. This bear stuck with me through a lot during my years…and if you are ever a guest in our house and grab a blanket from the cedar chest, you’ll get to see Kissy! When I asked Greg who his first best friend was, he couldn’t remember (so hopefully Mom W can comment or we can edit the blog later with an update as to Greg’s first lovey). Those of you who know Ari personally have met ELLIE, the elephant from her Aunt Missy that started it all. Ari was just about 3 months old when she was given this stuffy and mumbled the word, “Ellie” (not kidding you, I have witnesses). As for Evan? He is barely over 3 weeks old and already has a best friend, a musical Sea Horse that I Santa gave him for Christmas. This seahorse MUST be beside him at night and playing music. Sadly, the toy turns off after about 7 minutes, so it takes about 3 cycles for him to calm himself off to sleep land. Evan loves to just lay there and stare at his seahorse (we will let him give it a name once he can talk) for what feels like hours. Greg caught some adorable shots of him enjoying his first best friend, here is one to share with blog land!

Celebrating Our Family: The Adoption of Arianna

After 2 years, 3 months, and 1 day, Greg can finally say that Arianna is legally his! On October 5, 2008, I gave birth to my amazing and beautiful daughter, Arianna. Most of you know that I chose to raise Arianna as a single mom, since her biological, ah, donor was no longer involved in my life. When I first found out I was pregnant, I felt so alone and confused, but within hours minutes of knowing I was pregnant, I was fully, deeply in love with the baby inside of me, regardless of the situation I was in. What led me to move to South Carolina was a love of teaching, a love of those who were not as fortunate as myself, and a love of taking what God gives you. These three loves were affirmed prior to my move while attending a Bible Study on “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. (I firmly believe that my journey to SC was to teach in a low-income area, to have Arianna, and to meet [and fall in love with] Greg.) Therefore, with that background, I knew that I had to love and raise the child God had placed in my care, even if it meant doing so alone.

Well, on the morning of October 5, my dear friend Greg had happened to spend the night on our (my roommate Mallory and my) couch like he usually did after a night out. Just a few hours after he had fallen asleep, I walked past him and up the stairs to wake Mallory and tell her my water broke, it was time to go to the hospital. Greg was NOT happy I walked the stairs and demanded (ok, we know Greg, it was gentle and loving) that he was going along to the hospital. Knowing full well the guy didn’t like hospitals, I protested and told him I’d just leave him my key, he could go home when he was ready. He insisted, however, and climbed in the backseat of my Sebring while Mallory grabbed the hospital bag and took off for the hospital. Greg stayed with me and Mallory (and Kim, Dustin, and my parents) throughout the 15 hours of labor and was the 2nd man (after my dad) to see/hold Arianna. From that very moment, he became her father. Although it took a few months for Greg and I to realize our love for each other, he was in love with that little angel from the very first cry he heard down the hallway from the Operating Room.

Things happened for us quickly, and soon Arianna was saying her first words–Daddy–and associating them with Greg, who would soon become her father by our marriage in 2009. It was evident that we needed to get Greg legal rights to Ari since he was going to be primarily a stay-at-home dad and I was driving a long distance to work (one never knows what could happen). After pulling our money together and finding a lawyer we trusted, we began the process in May or June of 2010. The process, all things considered, went smoothly; however, there are a lot of periods of “once this happens, wait x days for this to happen” in an adoption process. Finally, in December, we had our first hearing, and then on Thursday 1/6, we bundled up the kids, my parents, and my aunt and headed back to the courtroom. It was Adoption Day! Arianna was pronounced legally Greg’s! There will never be enough words to say how ecstatic we are for this process to be done and Greg and Arianna to truly be family.

Thankfully, Greg and I both come from an extremely supportive family system. When my mom’s family found out we were making things official, they wanted to throw a get-together for celebration. So, last night, we gathered at my Grandma’s and celebrated Ari & Greg with dinner, cake, and fellowship. The emotional sap in me wanted to have a mini adoption ceremony, something that made the “legal and official” more celebratory. My dad, a minister, happened to have in his sermon series an adoption related sermon for last Sunday, so he and I together said words in the presence of our family prior to the dinner. As I read the words (below), my tears could not be held back. Arianna asked, “Mommy sad?”, and we had to tell her Mommy was so happy and loved her so much. Tears came out of most everyone’s eyes as we talked about Greg and Arianna and what they meant to me. Once I was done, Dad read a part of his sermon, calling out specifically the quote about how it takes no brains or emotion to be a biological father, but it takes a real man to be a dad. This is Greg in every sense. Tonight, I share with you the words I read (prepared with help from forums on Adoption Ceremonies from Adoptions.com and a Fingerprint Ceremony by Sherrie Eldridge), followed by a photo of our family with the Judge. As Arianna said, “Thank You Judge!”, and Thank YOU to all of those who have truly stood by us and supported us throughout this process. We love you very much.

Adoption Celebration Ceremony for Arianna and Greg; January 7, 2010

Just a little over 2 years ago, the world was blessed with the arrival of Arianna Marie. Although Greg was not her biological father, he was her dad from the very beginning at the hospital the night she was born. When she was just weeks old and I was struggling with her issues with formula, a visit from Greg always calmed her down. Greg soon fell in love with not only me, but the little girl that had blessed us with her presence. Although we really have been a family from the beginning, yesterday we were able to make that legal, and Arianna became a Willis. Tonight we are all together to celebrate Arianna and Greg, as well as all of you who have shown us love and support as we grew into the family we are today. I wanted to have a few quick readings just to make the “official” a bit more “celebratory” and once more rejoice in the adoption of Arianna.

For everything there is a time and a season…
In ancient times, whenever the nation of Israel experienced a miracle, they chose a special stone and called it a “stone of remembrance.” It was to be a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness in that particular time and place. In like manner, Greg, Arianna, and I created create a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness in making our family, not with a single stone of remembrance, but with many grains of sand during the sand ceremony in our wedding. Today, this keepsake reminds us of the times that led us to this place because there’s a time and a season for everything.

There is a Time to Honor God…
We know that all things work for the good of those who love God, and the fact that he brought Arianna and now Evan into our lives is evidence of that. Therefore, honor God, who will forever be the foundation of our family.

There’s A Time to Celebrate This Child…
We celebrate this incredible child, Arianna, a unique weaving together of nature and nurture into one marvelous human being, with incredible potential and purpose. We celebrate this incredible young lady, upon whom God himself has placed his fingerprints; gentle evidence of how he carefully crafted this beautiful child to be exactly what he wanted her to be. May she always remember the truths spoken by Rick Warren in
The Purpose-Driven Life:
Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you. It doesn’t matter whether your parents were good, bad, or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom “you” He had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you.

There is a Time to Celebrate Greg…
We celebrate this loving man, who has chosen to share in the raising of Arianna and love and care for her as though she were his own.

There is a time to celebrate Becky and Evan…
We also celebrate Becky for having Arianna, and Evan for the role he will play as her baby brother.

There is a time to celebrate our families…
As the Willis Three, now four, we have learned to love because of those who loved us. We celebrate our parents—Bill, Margene, Craig, and Kathy; our siblings—Aliyyah, Nurin, and Jack; our grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins; and friends who have loved and supported us in this process. You have all shown love, trust, and faith in our family, making our family unit so much stronger. Tonight, we also celebrate you.

And Finally, A Time of New Beginnings…
Just as an oyster is wired by its Creator to wrap its innermost being around unexpected pain to produce a beautiful pearl, everyone involved in this adoption process have wrapped their innermost beings—time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears—around this beloved child. Tonight we celebrate the becoming of one family; whole, healed and pleasing to Him.

At this time, we would like Dad to seal our family together with a few more words and a blessing.

**If you are a single mom or dad or the would-be “step parent”, I urge you to make everything legal. It was worth every cent and minute of waiting. So few people do this today, and I am glad we took the steps to make this happen.**

Happy Holidays!

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Looking back on 2010, we have really been blessed. A year ago, we were paying way too much rent and I was driving way too far for work. We were lucky to live right down the road from my parents, but were ready to move on to a bigger house. December 26, 2009, we put in an offer on a 3 bedroom house about 15 minutes from my office, and it was almost immediately accepted. We were over the moon, but had to jump alot of hurdles to get to closing day. Our experience was well worth it, because getting the house was the start of a slew of blessings. Just two months later, we would find out we were pregnant with baby #2, who would arrive in time for Christmas. Our little girl would keep getting smarter and amazing us more each day. We were part of two incredibly fun weddings and got to travel to obx, dc, and ontario. We hosted several family functions and enjoyed our pool. And most importantly to us, we filed for a to officially become g’s (a process that completes in just over a week). Sitting here, watching my daughter play with toys from Santa and her grandparents while my husband cuddles our son with our dog at his feet, I can’t help but think how blessed we are. Our lives are fun, simple, and full of love. We may not always have everything we want, or be able to give material things to those we love, but we know that we have a lot. Strong family support. True friends who have been there through the good and the bad. A safe place to live. A job that keeps me busy and constantly thinking. Memories that will not fade. Faith that keeps us strong. And most of all, love for each other that keeps growing. From our house to yours, the Lil Burghers wish you a Happy Holiday season and many blessings in 2011!

Welcoming Evan to Lil Burghers’ World!

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As scheduled, our (not so) little boy was born on Friday afternoon, weighing in at 9 lbs 1 oz and 21.25 inches long. Big sister Ari is very proud of him and learning to be very helpful with “m’evan”. It has been a blessing to get to spend time falling in love with him and having him meet his family the past few days. Like any new baby, he is working on getting adjusted to a schedule….he just needs to decide if that schedule will be aligned with mama or daddy! 🙂

Tomorrow is Delivery Day!

Well, everything is officially set up and ready to go, both here at the house and at the hospital. We are set to arrive at 10:00 tomorrow morning in order to get prepped for the c-section, and I couldn’t be happier. My only concern is the scariest part for me, getting the anethesia, will not be in Greg’s presence. When I delivered Ari, my mom was not in the room either. During this ordeal, the orderly almost pushed me off the surgery table and I could feel the needle going into my back and “squishing” around. NOT fun, so you can see why I am scared of this part. When the nurse told me I would be alone, tears started running down my face, but it is what it is.

Greg and I are in the middle of a quiet evening at home–Ari went to my parents’ for the night and they will meet us post-op along with my brother. Unfortunately, due to snow and ice falling across WVA, VA, and NC, the trek north by Greg’s parents has been postponed until tomorrow. They will get to join us at the hospital later in the evening to greet the baby. As for the house? The crib is set up, the playpen ready, and the swing in place. The only thing not set out are diapers…mainly because we do not have any clue if he will need Newborns or 1’s. Frankly, I think I am carrying a huge kid inside me and that we won’t be in 1’s for long. Hopefully the hospital will send along some N’s if he’s smaller than we think because I did not buy one pack for this kiddo. Other than that, everything is more in line than usual. 🙂

With all that said, so much anticipation over the last 8 months finally comes to bear fruit! We found out we were pregnant the night before my cousin’s wedding–it was April 16. A few clues had led us to believe we could be pregnant, so I took a test to be sure so that I wouldn’t do anything I’d regret. Thank goodness I did, because it was definitely positive. With Ari, I took three tests to be sure, but all I needed with this kiddo was one. My body KNOWS it is pregnant.

This leads me to a list of things I will and will not miss about being pregnant, then it’s back to enjoying our last evening as parents of one. 🙂

What I will NOT miss about being pregnant:
* Having to take medicine so as not to be sick 24/7.
* Not being able to pick Arianna up as easily as before
* Not being able to take medicine for a cold
* Missing out on chicken meals
* 3 weeks of contractions
* Having feet in my ribs
* Maternity shirts
* Preggers photos (notice the lack of them LOL)
* Having to drive to work on snow and ice…because now I get out of it for 8 weeks!
* Weird, random medical stuff

What I will miss about being pregnant:
* Arianna and Greg’s kisses for the baby at night
* Maternity jeans (a thrill because I never wore them with Arianna, now I can’t imagine life without them)
* Sleeping or resting just because, hey, I’m with child!
* Feeling the baby move and grow
* Getting out of diaper changes 🙂
* Not having to share the baby 😉 (Just kidding…a little…)
* Random foot rubs and having the truck started for me (hey…this shouldn’t stop!)
* Hearing his heartbeat

Tomorrow, our lives change once again for the better. Three years ago, I felt like I was at the bottom and now I can’t tell you how great life feels. All it took to rescue me was a beautiful little girl and her amazing Daddy. Now we get to share our love with one more amazing addition. Can’t wait to update you all with pictures, details, and Arianna-isms regarding the baby. *Loves!*

Still waiting!

You are all well aware, but Baby 2 has not made his entrance. Trust me, we’ve been trying to make it happen. I thought yesterday was it–felt like cramps and hunger pains were having a fight in my stomach and not letting up–but nope. Luckily, my body is making some progress and I am not alone. The doctor said all the babies born in the last month have been causing crazy things to happen to pregnant women who are seen at their office. Guess this is what we get! Of course, I’ve been nesting lots, but it is not helping. I am still in a good deal of pain, but luckily I have a little girl who loves to just chill on the couch with her mama and a husband who is ok handling all the lifting and potty training. Speaking of–Ari wore Dora underpants today for a few hours while we worked on Christmas treats! She is growing so fast. Unfortunately, we took them off her when we started experimenting with some foods, but who wants to deal with an allergic reaction in big girl pants anyhow? Fate has the baby set to arrive tomorrow…my parents will be traveling back from my cousin’s wedding during a major snowstorm. I can just feel it. If not, I am strapping myself in and dealing with the pain until Friday when we’ve scheduled the c-section. One way or the other, we have less than a week to go which feels great!