Have you ever wanted to watch a newborn transform into an infant in one blog post? Well, you've come to the right place. I have been majorly blog lazy during my maternity leave. With my return to work peeking over the horizon (Monday, June 17th) I know I need to record these pictures and memories.
We've had some changes with our childcare situation, more on that in a bit. I know transitioning back into being a working mom will be a big change, but I'm ready. I've loved every moment home with Ava and Levin, but I also really love the work I do. I've kept one toe in the law admission water during my time off, and I'm so excited to spend the next few months getting to know our Class of 2016 as they transition into 1Ls. It's a summer of parties and house hunting, law school visits and helping people connect with roommates and study buddies. There's not really a part of my job that isn't fun and challenging, but this summer stretch is one of my favorite parts. It's such a great time to return to work.
Let me rewind back to a couple of weeks after Levin's birth and catch you up.
This spring was one of the coolest on record in Oklahoma, so we were excited to spend some time at a park on one of the warm days in March. Levin adores being outside. Ava was so excited to show him off to everyone she encountered at the playground.
When Josh and I (and Levin, I guess) were in New York in October I bought a few outfits for him at FAO Schwarz. This one was my favorite. It swallowed him in the hospital, but within a couple of weeks it was a perfect fit.
At three weeks Levin went to church for the first time. We are habitually late to Sunday school, which makes Josh super grumpy (sorry babe, it's true). Somehow on Levin's first Sunday we were early. I suspect he has magical powers.
I made this onesie from an upcycled shirt for my nephew, Nolan. My sister graciously loaned me all of Nolan's clothes for Levin. I've so enjoyed playing dress-up in the gently loved clothes.
Ava's wonderful Kindergarten teacher is also a fabulous photographer. She captured some precious shots of our new family of four. Click on over to see the whole album.
Raising our kiddos in Oklahoma has led to many lessons on the state's history. While Josh and I took many classes in Texas history growing up (4th grade, 8th grade, 10th grade and again in college), the Sooner State's story is new to us. Ava's school participated in the 89er Day Parade. It celebrates Oklahoma's statehood and the lore of the Land Run. Did you know a Boomer was a person who waited for the gunshot to claim their land, while the Sooners rushed early to claim theirs? Turns out Far and Away is more than just a fun movie where Nicole Kidman has awesome hair.
Ava felt like a rockstar riding in the parade. She threw candy and waved to our friends along the route.
Our little native Okie slept through the entire parade.
Though Levin's night sleeping has been consistent and solid since our second night home from the hospital, I did wake him up to eat until his two week appointment. Those precious early morning moments are ones I want to remember.
From very early on Lev has had a lot of personality.
Bundled for another cool spring day
Lazy mornings with these two are my favorite. They're the thing I'll miss most upon my return to work. Thank goodness for weekends!
In April I loaded up the kiddos and my brother drove us to Texas.
Ava got to fish with Pops.
We missed Josh immensely, but enjoyed the time in Texas.
We sent lots of pictures so he wouldn't miss out on anything.
Of course we had to stop at the Texas stop sign for ice cream.
The first picture of the three cousins together. One looking, one sleeping, and one looking on. I call that a success.
Levin and I are still loving the Moby.
Reading Peter Pan at bedtime
A two month comparison. They definitely favor, but Lev has his own flare.
My favorite view
Ava's magical fairyland school hosted a Mother's Day Tea Party. During the party they showed a slideshow of pictures from the school year. Puddles of mommies melted all over the floor and had to be mopped up, no lie. It was precious and such a sweet way to celebrate moms and kids. The kids sang to us and served us sandwiches. It was a day I'll never forget. It makes me so thankful that Levin is already on the list to go to Gingerbread starting when he's three, for just a few days a week. Ava has gained confidence and the ability to handle life during this year. I could benefit from a stint at Gingerbread.
Our church's student ministry hosted a throwback prom to raise money for camp. We were a hodgepodge of costumes (high school football jersey, Christmas dress, vintage dress from a thrift shop, and a Moby wrap), and I nursed my date in the back room, but we had a blast.
We have a Saturday tradition that began once things warmed up a bit.
First breakfast, usually at the incredible Syrup (eggs benedict and sweet potato pancakes with marshmallow cream or melted peanut butter). Later, we load up Levin's stroller, Ava's bike, and Josh's soccer ball and spend a few hours on campus at OU. It's bliss!
On a very special Saturday we included someone extra on our Saturday. Remember how I mentioned that our childcare situation has changed? Well, I'm a planner. I started looking for a nanny almost as soon as the pregnancy test read positive. I'd found a nanny we were fine with. However, in the back of my crazy mind there was this gnawing that we were leaving our kids with a stranger. While we were in Texas a sweet family friend was over visiting at my parents' house. We started talking and, thanks to my sister's perfectly-timed suggestion (See Sarah? I gave you credit.), we have a new nanny! (Don't worry, the old one has a job and is just fine.) We've known Amanda for decades and she's one of our favorite people. Her family falls into that "friends that are family" category. Sweetest mom on the planet, most loving daddy to three girls - two of whom are Aggies. You get it. They're awesome. Amanda will be moving in with us in early August because she's Property of Super Summer until then. That's right, Super Summer. Where Josh and I met. *cue Circle of Life music here* Our amazing parents, mostly the grandmas, have graciously agreed to switch out weeks keeping Levin and Ava until Amanda can start. So, I get to go back to work knowing that my baby and sweet girl are in the care of a doting grandma. My mom will overlap during the week when Amanda starts to help her settle in. So basically, the best possible situation ever. I'm thankful and humbled by this perfect childcare situation. One of these days God's going to get Matthew 6:26 through my small planner's brain. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them..."
We had to welcome Amanda with fresh pasta after our Saturday morning tradition.
She was a natural at pasta making.
At a family picnic at Gingerbread, Levin was captivated by the trees.
He loves his nursery. Mimi worked tirelessly to make it perfect for him while I rested at the end of my pregnancy. He beams the entire time he's in the room. Once Josh hangs the curtains I'll post pictures, I promise.
Before school sibling shots were kind of an obsession.
Another thing I'll miss about my maternity leave is occasional lunches with Josh in the city.
Levin already has many friends at church.
Can you even handle the cute?
My sweet Ava James grew up so much during her kindergarten year. Here she is on the first and last days.
The morning of her last day was a happy one.
The lunch hour was all smiles and outside play.
(Ava is attending a summer program at Gingerbread. She goes a few days each week and is loving it.)
This outfit was Josh's. It's my current favorite.
This spring has been filled with violent storms. We spent two solid weeks hunkering from tornadoes, helmets on and underground.
Levin learned what it means to be an "armchair meteorologist".
I can't get enough of these two.
I know it's blurry, but this is exactly how I want to remember Levin as a tiny baby. He patiently waits to nurse with his big blue eyes locked on mine. So in love with him.
To take a break from the storms, we headed south to Houston for Memorial Day. Ava and Levin were absolutely perfect on the unending road trip.
One of the main reasons we traveled to Houston was to introduce Levin to Beene Beene.
These pictures made the million hours in the car worth it.
Bathing in Mimi's sink
A soapy baby comparison
Ava insisted we take her to the beach for a quick toe dip in the ocean.
Oklahoma welcomed us home with an EF-5 tornado 3.7 miles from our house. Thankfully we were underground and at peace.
A few days later we were bound for another underground tornado party. Levin was completely unfazed.
Tornado chic in the underground at the law school
My sweet storm buddy
Finally the spring storms rolled away and summer arrived.
Sleep sack sweetie
I caught this one day after buckling Levin in. He absolutely adores Ava - tracks her across the room, follows the sound of her voice, just loves to be near her.
Ava cannot keep teeth in her mouth. It's crazy. They're all falling out. Poor Tooth Fairy is going broke.
The only thing that brings Levin to life more than his sister is a book. He kicks, bats his hands, and talks to the books. I love that he loves books.
During the summer our church holds playdates for the kiddos on Fridays. Levin enjoyed his first playdate poolside.
Ava loves playdates too.
Look how strong he is.
Baba and Pops drove up to celebrate Levin's dedication at church. He was thrilled to snuggle them both.
They also brought a piano for Ava. The piano was given to our family by a precious neighbor couple when I was young. The elderly couple had no children, and my siblings and I frequented their house. Mrs. Johnson taught me to play on this piano when I was younger than Ava. After she passed away and I began taking lessons my parents offered to buy the piano from Mr. Johnson. He wasn't ready to part with it yet. About a week later he knocked on the front door and told my mom he wanted to give the piano to us. It's such a precious memory and I'm so thankful mom and dad are letting us have it for Ava to use. I've actually started playing again too. It's already brought so much joy to our house. Ava is loving her piano lessons and practicing at home.
Josh and I are both more musical these days. We're playing songs for the children's Sunday school group on Sunday mornings. While we lead them in a few songs Levin hangs out in the nursery with his friends. This Sunday was his first time in the baby room. He obviously loved it.
Baby dedications at NorthHaven are the best ever. Only one baby is dedicated during the service. The family picks out a favorite hymn (two if you beg) and a life verse for the baby. During the service, after the baby and family are introduced, Mitch walks around the congregation with the baby and they have a talk. It's a precious time when he describes what growing up at NorthHaven will be like and all of the things to look forward to. During the walk, pictures selected by the family scroll across the screens. It's so special. We have it all on video, but for now I'll just post some pictures.
Here's Levin entertaining us before the service started.
Lev with Baba and Pops
They like him just a little bit
We chose two songs for his service. The first was For the Beauty of the Earth. I walked down the aisle to that hymn at our wedding. It's a beautiful hymn that I originally fell in love with in the 1994 version of Little Women. Its words were fitting for our wedding and for Levin's dedication.
- What a fellowship, what a joy divine,Leaning on the everlasting arms;What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,Leaning on the everlasting arms.
- Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
- Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,Leaning on the everlasting arms;Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,Leaning on the everlasting arms.
- What have I to dread, what have I to fear,Leaning on the everlasting arms?I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,Leaning on the everlasting arms.
On his walk with Pastor Mitch. These two are old friends.
Listening to his life verse read by our wonderful children's minister, JJ. Somehow we didn't get a picture of Levin with JJ on his dedication day so I'm posting this one from the day they met. The Waggoners were the first people to meet Levin other than our birth team!
Levin's life verse:
"Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God..."
Sweet friend Stacy drove up from central Texas to celebrate Levin's dedication. It would not have been the same without her.
The best family shot that day
Love these two so much
This is just classic Levin. People always commented that Ava was a very serious baby. The same can definitely be said of Levin. He's happy. He smiles, coos, squeals, kicks, and gets excited. However, his default is a state of concentration. I love it.
A sweet grandparent shot
I've tried to really soak up every last second of my maternity leave this week. Ava has had swimming lessons every day, so we've logged many minutes in the bathtub. It's easier to just toss 'em in together. They love it.
Since Ava only has school a couple of days each week, she has been able to spend some special time with Levin during the day. She's never more than a few feet from him. When we return home sometimes I'll make one trip into the house from the garage before I take Levin in from his carseat. She will not even unbuckle her seatbelt until I get him out. I've told her it's okay, he's safe until I return to get him. She just shakes her head at me. She will not leave his side until I move him into the house. I hope they'll always have this sweet bond.
Ava's dolls are well nursed and burped, just like brother.
Our dear friends, the Smiths, found these incredible private swimming lessons for Ava and K to take together. The girls are completely swim proficient and brave. They can swim, jump in, get to safety, and even dive under to retrieve things from the bottom of the pool. I've tried group swimming lessons every summer to no avail. Private lessons are the only way to go.
K's little sister SM is two months to the day older than Levin. She was born on Ava's birthday! You'd never know she was older though. Levin is a growing boy, 80th percentile in everything. SM is a pixie. Ava and K are already great friends. I hope the four of them will always be close.
This picture cracks me up. See how serious he is?
When I see this picture the Beatles' song, Strawberry Fields Forever plays in my head.
Ava and K are the perfect yin and yang. K is a brave ball of energy and sweetness. Ava is more cautious and color-in-the-lines. Abby (K and SM's mom) and I think their personalities rub off on one another in the very best ways. It was especially wonderful at swimming lessons. Ava kept K in line and K pushed Ava to try scary things. And they looked darn cute doing it, let me tell you.
I'll close this never-ending post with one last shot of my stoic, sleepy thinker. He is a precious gift. His sister is a precious gift. I hope to live each day celebrating the gifts that they are to me. Thankful and humbled to be their mommy.