Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Haddon's 4 month letter


Dear Haddon,

You keep growing! And getting older! Can you maybe slow down a little, please? At 18lbs5oz, you're an arm (and back!) work out I didn't necessarily expect so soon!

So we are in Peru. And you flew on your first airplane! And I'm not gonna lie, you were a champ. You slept for most of it and when you were awake you were quite happy and content. 

You also slept from 11pm-6am last week! It just so happened to be the night after your 4 month vaccinations (we had to get them early because of our trip) and I seem to recall you sleeping well after your two month vaccinations as well!
Anyway, it was a one-off night I figured but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to it happening again anytime soon!

You are a smiler and will often giggle at your brothers antics, especially if you are tired. 
You have done well in the stroller and being worn in the carrier and will fall asleep in either as long as there's movement. 

You are cute and chubby and it seems like your Mohawk may be about to fall, but I'm hoping it sticks around a little longer. 
You are grabby grabby and seem to like to hold onto my hand as you fall asleep, especially if you're overtired and over stimulated. And speaking of sleep - you aren't swaddled anymore! I decided to wean you off of the swaddle before we left for Peru and did it one arm at a time. And now you are swaddle free. And very close to rolling from back to belly. 

You like to "talk" and it's mostly in the form of "ah-goo" and "ah-ah-ah-ah" which is all pretty cute. 

You are loved so much, my big little guy!
Happy 4 months of being alive in this big, beautiful world!

I love you,
Mama

Friday, April 8, 2016

Haddon's three month letter


Dear sweet boy,

You are three months! Three months today you were in the process of being born! I won't ever stop being amazed at the thought of carrying you inside me for 9 months and then one day you were ready. And you arrived. And we were all instantly in love. 

This month has been full of smiles and a little less tears! You are more content to be put down in a bouncy seat and you are now interested in your musical playmat! 

You have found your hands and often suck or mouth them. You've started drooling (which I just learned is not necessarily a sign of teething!) and thankfully your spitting up has started to lessen. 

We are living in the land of cat naps which is not my favourite phase but it is a phase, thankfully. 

Usually you're in bed for the night by 8pm (often earlier) and are up 2, sometimes 3 times a night but it's just for a quick feed and sometimes a diaper change and then back to sleep. I can hang with that for a while. Your day often starts around 9am which means you miss seeing your two older brothers before they head to school. But it also means I get to eat breakfast and have a coffee before you get up (the coffee is somewhat of a necessity these days). 

You have done a giggle a few times when you were over tired but other than that we wait for the laughter to start. It's close though, I just know it. 

You do pretty well in the car and on the go which helps when I have to take you and Blaise on errands. But you're also too big for the stretchy wrap now so hopefully you will learn to like the carrier more than in the past. I'm also getting a woven wrap so hopefully we'll both like it as much as the stretchy wrap! 

You have taken a bottle of my milk a week ago when I had minor day surgery and had to leave you with Daddy. Apparently you took it like a champ! That was hard for me to leave you, but I knew you'd be fine with your Dad. And you were! 

You are in 6-9 month clothing although this onesie in the picture is a 3 month one because you wanted to show off your svelt physique. I think you are close to or at 17lbs now!

Also I think you will continually become a happier little guy as you become more and more mobile. Whenever I hold your hands and help you sit up from a lying down position, you are all smiles! You are even pulling up to stand for a couple seconds! I think you'll just be happiest when you are moving and keeping up with your big brothers. And as predicted, your brothers get some of your biggest smiles and I think you've already given Noah some of your first giggles (though the very first time was with Grandpa). 

We love you so much, Haddon! I can't wait to see who you become over these next few months and years and pray you become like the men we have named you after! 

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Haddon's two month letter


Dear baby Haddon,

I am just going to go ahead and admit I will sound like a broken record each month because each month will start a little something like, how are you two months already! Time is truly flying by!

But truly, it is!
You started smiling this month and focusing on our faces and your new favourite thing; your mobile over your change table. It's the cutest thing ever and worth the $10 IKEA mobile to see you do these big gummy smiles at the little creatures looking down on you. 

You are around 14lbs 8oz and fully into 6 month clothing now. (Following in your brothers' footsteps already!)

Your eyes are quite blue and I wonder if they will stay blue or change to green or brown. 

You do pretty well sleeping at night but let's be reasonable, you are a baby so that usually means 3-4 hour stretches at a time, which is better than your brothers did at this stage.

You love being in the wrap and if you're having a fussy moment or struggling to sleep (the two are usually synonymous) then I pop you in the wrap and within a few minutes you usually fall asleep! It's a win-win situation for both of us!

Your brothers are still loving you and the feeling is pretty mutual, I'd say. You often turn your head looking around for them if you hear their voices.

Your baby acne has cleared up mostly but the cradle cap is now what I'm battling but hopefully we can clear that up soon too!

Warmer weather seems to finally be here and I can't wait to take you outside more and go for walks. 

Love you heaps and heaps my darling,

Love Mama

Monday, February 8, 2016

Haddon's 1 month letter


Dear Haddon,

I haven't even written your birth story or taken your "one month" picture yet but at least those things will happen. I promise. :) 
Oh my fourth baby, how is it possible that time has flown by so quickly and you are one month old today?!? I knew it would, but still. I feel like it was just yesterday that your daddy and I were trying to figure out when we should go to the hospital and now you're one month old!

You have truly captured all our hearts and there is no shortage of loving that you get from your big brothers albeit even if they do get tired of holding you within a few minutes. 
I just sorted through your clothes because, my big boy, you weigh around 12lbs now and are into 3 month clothing already! 
You love baths. It took me over a week to get around to bathing you for the first time (just add it to the list of fourth child problems, sorry!) but once I did, you absolutely loved it! You kick your sweet little chicken drumstick legs and look around and it's clear you are quite content. 
You have the baby acne which came early on but then faded and now is back but hopefully it fades soon. 
And speaking of your face, it's clear to everyone that you are a Strickland boy. When you were born I couldn't get over how much you looked like Blaise but shortly after I started to see strong resemblances to Jude and now? Well, now you clearly look like you are related to your brothers but you just look like you now. And you are a cutie! 
You are a good, efficient nurser like your brothers and want to eat every 2-3 hours. Sometimes more, sometimes less. There have been two occasions that you have gone a 5 hour stretch between feelings at night and I won't complain, it both shocked and pleased me to get that much sleep so early on! 
You are a fussy guy from time to time but you do sleep and calm down an average amount. A big difference is that unlike ALL of your brothers, you do not always easily go back to sleep in the middle of the night. Often times you require multiple changings and several rounds of nursing and then me rocking you back to sleep. So that isn't really fun for me, but we are both getting the hang of it. 
You also are a grunter. You remind me of Jude in that respect. Often just laying in your bassinet not upset and crying but just grunting and quietly working on some gas - sometimes not so quietly but you are nevertheless a grunter. 
Oh! And one last thing is that a week after you were born we noticed that you would look like a pirate when you would cry or yawn - with one eye wide open and one scrunched shut. We laughed and thought this was cute and then I showed our midwife and she said it could be something to do with your nerves in your face and referred you to a pediatrician. By the time we got the appointment, you had almost compel rely stopped doing "the pirate" and both eyes seemed to be functioning normally. The pediatrician said it was likely a case of Bell's palsy which shocked me but she said all was clearing up nicely and that it was more common than I knew. 

I love you so much, little mister and we are loving getting to know you. We are so glad you are part of our family!

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blaise's 2 year letter

Oh my dear, sweet, Blaise.

My baby. How is it that you are two years old? No longer technically a baby, yet I still call you "baby" all the time. When will that stop? Not in the foreseeable future. When you are 14 years old I may still call you baby and it will embarrass the heck out of you. But I hope deep down, you will feel loved and secretly love that I call you baby.

Anyway.

You are two. Loving trains, planes and automobiles. For real. All things that move, you love. You shout out "bus" or "car" or "truck" or "airplane!" or whatever it is that's passing by. Your Dad gets a kick out of the way you say "truck" as you've replaced the "tr" with an "f". So that's always good for a laugh. Sometimes you mutter it to yourself and I can't help but let a giggle come out.


You love your soother (soosee) and your two hippos and now you even sleep with a pillow and a blanket and it's pretty much the cutest thing ever.

You love being silly and making people smile and laugh and you love joining right in with any merriment you happen upon. Today you charmed your way through three different offices that we had to go to, making people smile and laugh and immediately relieving any boredom of having to sit in a small office with a bunch of strangers. You do this all the time.


You are becoming quite an independent player when the mood strikes you. I'll often find you lining up your cars along the middle bookshelf in our living room or sitting on the floor or couch with a book or two. And so far you don't seem to mind that your brothers are missing for most of the day now that school has started, but you do often talk about them or reference them when you see a school bus. 
And speaking of school buses, every morning when we take Noah and Jude to the bus stop, you shout at the top of your lungs, "BAH BYE!!!" over and over and over at the bus driver as soon as he pulls up and opens the doors. It's hilarious and adorable. As are most things you do. 


You are starting to venture out into eating more foods which is really just a lot more convenient. And usually means a little less screaming. (Also how is it that I've ended up with three kids who don't really like oatmeal? Weird. It's probably my own doing, but whatever.)
You sleep like a champ (Seriously. That was 18 months coming! Glory Hallelujah.) and prefer "Mama" to be the first one in to greet you, but you'll usually perk up for "Nono" (or Noah) to come and pick you up out of your crib. 


You are talking nonstop and I hear "who's that" or "what's that" or "what's this" or "who's this" about eleventy million times a day. It's adorable, albeit exhausting. (Not gonna lie.)


You are testing boundaries big time these days. Always looking at me after I say no or try and redirect you elsewhere. You will look at me like a dog does with a slight head tilt and then say, "Hm?" and point to what you want to do, often doing it even after I say "no". I am trying to crack down and hold firm, but often you are so hilarious, that it's hard for me not to smile or laugh at you - even when you're flat out disobeying me! Oh the joys of being the third born! (One day Noah will tell you, "Man! I didn't get away with HALF the stuff you do!" and he'll be completely right. Sorry, Noah.) 


I wish I could write down all the funny and hilarious and adorable things you do from the way you pick out a book and then walk backwards towards me and then sit in my lap. Or the way you press your cheek against mine and think it's hilarious. Or the way you often break into song and dance just to the music that plays in your own head. (I LOVE this!) You are crazy about your brothers, but often take advantage of any time they are lower than you, whether it's sitting or lying down, because you'll whack them on the head or face. But you love them. And they love you. Your relationship with Noah is so different from the one you have with Jude. I love the complexities and dynamics of each relationship and watching it all play out. I pray your relationships with your brothers will be strong and the kind that sharpens each other and challenges each other for the good, spurring one another on to love and good deeds. 

I love love love love love you, you crazy Blaiser. You melt my heart and keep me laughing. You keep us all laughing and can perk up even the grumpiest attitude in this house with your antics and I praise God for bringing you into our family on that hot evening in Kampala, two years ago. 

Love, 
Mama

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Maranatha

This morning somehow a conversation about Pokemon with Noah led to talking about the return of Jesus. As I explained about how Jesus is going to return as a victorious, strong King I teared up. 

How often do I think about Jesus returning? I know I love Him and I'm seeking Him with my whole heart, but the end goal, the grand finale is my King and saviour coming back to take what is rightfully His and I am waiting! 

It was a cool conversation with my soon-to-be 7 year old. I have hoped for conversations like this. And by God's grace I'm not worried about messing up his theology. I'm just trying to be faithful by teaching and instructing my boys at every opportunity. Sometimes it ends in chaos, often it is short and done in snippets. They don't happen every day and no doubt I miss opportunities but I am praying and hoping for God to use me to shape these man-cubs into who He had designed them to be. 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. 
Maranatha! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

On keeping it real and Instagram

I'm a total Instagram addict and I'm okay with that. It's kinda where I "blogged" for these last few months.
But I love browsing other people's profiles and I'm always drawn to those whose pictures are white and bright and lovely and airy. And I look at mine and I like my pictures but they are not all white and bright and light and airy. But they are a reflection of my life and my life is colourful and gritty and sometimes filled with shadows and sometimes it is fuzzy out of focus. Sometimes it is white and bright but it is not always so. And neither are the lives of the people whose profiles I like. 
Because there is always some sort of disparity between real life and the interwebs. Even when we try our hardest to "keep it real". 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Banana Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

We started with donuts. And when you think about it, any day that starts with donuts can't be that bad, right?


There were no tears (from anyone!) and the boys happily reunited with friends from last year. I left feeling like two adorable pieces of my heart were left behind at school, but went on to have probably the most productive day since school ended! 

Anyway, back to school breakfast has always been something I wanted to do for my kids and last year I think we did waffles or pancakes but this year I made banana donuts dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on top. I actually made these up last night and they kept just fine overnight. These are definitely better the day you make them, but I've made them three times now and they are so easy and so delicious that making toast for breakfast almost seems like more work!

Banana Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 large egg
1 banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour

Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray your donut pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Whisk together the egg and the sugar for about a minute, until it starts to lighten up in colour and really comes together.
Stir in the banana, oil, vanilla and yogurt.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and then add the dry into the wet ingredients. Mix slowly and until just moistened. Do not overmix!

Using a ziploc bag, pipe the batter into the donut pan and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven (mine were done after 9 minutes). Donuts should be fluffy and spring back when gently poked. Let donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

While the donuts are cooling, you can make up the glaze. Basically take about a 1/4 cup chocolate chips and add 1 teaspoon corn syrup, 1 teaspoon water, and about a tablespoon of butter. Melt it all for about 30 seconds in the microwave and then stir, stir, stir.

Then once your donuts are cooled, dip, dip, dip.
Then sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle with your choice of topping. I chose the milk chocolate sprinkles we picked up while we were in Amsterdam.

This made exactly 9 donuts so double or triple if you want enough to give away.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughts on the end of summer

I've kinda been avoiding "back to school" stuff. It's sad that summer break is almost over. I have had my days and moments with these three wild things, but this summer has been so good and I really just want it to last forever.


In a sense, it's been (minus the lovely heat) similar to our time in Uganda. Our family. All day, every day together. And I loved that. And this past year with the boys in school has been good, but I've missed that togetherness. So this summer has been lovely. 
And I will miss it. 

Jude's 5 year letter

My darling Jude,

I'm sitting at my computer and typing this letter up to you. I haven't blogged in a million years (okay, a few months), and it's a few weeks past your birthday, but I'm doing it.
Ah Jude. Where to even begin!?

You are a plucky 5 year old. You are tender and can be sensitive, and then the next minute you're terrorizing Blaise. You do have a compassionate heart, though, and there have been multiple instances of you seeking out a new kid in your class (whether it's the YMCA or church) and playing with them, or offering them a toy or trying to cheer them up when they're upset and scared. This speaks volumes to me about who you are and that you are listening to God's still, small voice inside you urging you to show love and friendship to those who need it most. I love for this. Seriously. My heart almost explodes a little when I hear about these occurrences.


But there's a sassy mouth on you too. You love shouting, "FINE!" or "OKAY!" when things are neither fine, nor okay for you. It's hard for you to receive instruction or criticism, but I do see growth in you in this area.

You played on a soccer team for the first time this summer and you learned so much! We watched (and okay, we laughed too) from the sidelines as you would run up to the ball but only really hover around it and the other players instead of just going in and kicking it. This was a bit surprising for me as I wouldn't have thought you to be tentative, but by the end of the season you did end up going in for a kick or two.

You learned so much at school this past year too! Junior Kindergarten wasn't too difficult of a transition for you, but you did have some teary goodbyes in the mornings for a few weeks. Your teacher, Mrs. Fulton, was an absolute gem and we are so super excited that you'll get her again in a couple weeks for Senior Kindergarten! You learned tons of songs and loved gym and recess and you can even read a bunch of words. You made a bunch of friends but I think struggled to find that one friend that you really clicked with even though we would hear you talk about many different kids in your class. I'm praying for one really good friend this year and that s/he would be someone that would be a good influence on you and vice versa.


You are one smart cookie and I often hear you sounding out words or when Noah was learning to read this past year, you would intuitively guess the ending of the sentence.

You are my affectionate boy. You love saying that you love me and that I'm "the best" and giving hugs and cuddles. You definitely need to hear words of encouragement and affirmation and I'm constantly reminding myself to give you those as it's not my first instinct to do so.


You got a scooter for your birthday and you are getting so good on it! I'm so proud of you and your desire to stick with it and get "really good" at it. It's really cute to see you bombing down the sidewalk and learning to balance with both feet on it at the same time.

You are musical! You love clapping out rhythms, you pick up on songs and lyrics (and even was a voice of conviction in a Lumineers song when the guy says, "Oh my God", telling me that you didn't like that song because of it.) and you have lately started requesting jazz music. Which totally melts my heart. You pick up on moods and feelings in music and it makes my heart so happy to discuss music with you!



You love Noah. You miss him when he's not around and I'm so thankful you have each other, even if it does mean that you fight with each other a good deal of the time.

And you're really calming down around Blaise which is good for all of us. I know you love him, but how it comes out is sometimes a little too aggressive. Regardless, you have a really special relationship with your baby brother and I see it in how you and he interact and make up games together and the giggles you share as you engage in things like jumping on top of each other from the armrest of the couch. Yeah.


Sometimes you seem older than a five year old and I know I expect a lot from you. You are just my favourite Jude ever and I am so thankful you came into our lives on that hot, July day five years ago. Such a calm, (quick), chilled out entrance into this world and yet you have one of the biggest personalities in this family. I love you, Super Jude!


I love you, Jude.

Love,
Mama (Mom, Mommy)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May THREE


We slept over at some friends last night and everyone was pretty tired today. I took this on the drive home from Toronto and I'm hoping for good sleep all around!
Blaise is busy and funny and trouble and holding his own in fights with Jude. I turn my back for a second and he's throwing toys in the toilet or mucking about with my hand cream or spitting out food everywhere (his latest thing that makes me want to stab my eyeballs).
Jude is adorable and stubborn and learning a lot and always full of stories and "Guys! Guess what?!". And praying. He loves to pray which I absolutely love.
Noah is growing up way to fast with his reading and sassy attitude and helpfulness with housework and his brothers. He is drawing and colouring with amazing skill these days and really into hanging out with his friends (a sign of thjngs to come, I suppose).
My three boys. I love them, the funny bits and the challenging bits; the easy bits and the feisty bits. Love love love 'em.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April THREE (20th)


So I'm late on this one. But I do want to post these here for posterity, I suppose.
It's Easter Sunday and I got to coordinate our outfits which was pretty fun. 


Blaise sure looks happy. (Note the sarcasm.)


Oh my boys.


Gotta love the crying kid pics. 

Happy Easter! (Sorry for the lack of insight and thoughtfulness. It's an iPhone post this month.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March THREE {on the fourth}

They like to take all the pillows off the couch and build boats or walls or forts or hideouts. It's a rare occasion that they put them all back. At first I contemplated making a rule about not taking cushions off the couch. But...I'd rather them take the cushions off and use their imaginations than keep the living room pristine with them glued to the tv because there's nothing else to do.


They are growing, growing, growing. Fighting and talking and laughing and eating {a lot!} and wrestling and making messes and learning and it's going all so fast and yet so slowly sometimes.


I seriously don't even know how I managed to capture that picture. Nothing short of a miracle, folks.


I am exhausted and full and happy and sometimes yelling and hugging and kissing and tickling and teaching and correcting and loving. I am filled to the brim and yet often completely drained. Motherhood is a complex thing.
Blaise is finally sleeping better {glory hallelujah!}, Noah is reading like a fiend and it thrills my heart every time he reads a book or a word or a sign and Jude is always full of questions {and stories} about life and God and so soft to the gospel despite his challenging behaviour at times {which one of us doesn't have "challenging behaviour" in our own lives?}.

I am just trying to live each moment to the fullest and soak it all in.

Every month I take pictures of my boys on the third {or fourth}. See past months here

Monday, February 24, 2014

running and stuff

I'm in a sweet spot with running right now. This morning I did my run at the Y and it felt so good. I've moved past the wall of feeling like I'm going to die and though I still prefer to run outside it feels so great to know that my cardio has improved and I am becoming more and more fit and strong.
One thing I've learned {or remembered} is that I'm highly motivated by music. Lately I can't get enough of Songza's Sunshine Indie Workout mix and today I was just flying. In fact, often when I'm running and I hear a song that makes me smile and pick up my pace, what I really want to be doing is this:


And you know what? I think I should probably go for a fist pump or over-the-head-hand-clap if I feel like it because do you see anyone else paying attention to this guy? Nope. Me neither. This guy is killing it. {Check out the YouTube video for the whole video. This guy has some moves.}

So that's me. I'm working out and it's become a good little routine for us in the mornings; me exercising and Blaise {and Jude every other day when he's not at school} hanging out with the stellar childcare workers and doing adorable little crafts. Everyone wins!

I know. I still suck at blogging these days. And that's okay. I'm trying to soak it all in and one day I'll come back more consistently. But for now you can follow me on Instagram for a daily look at life around these here parts.

Hang in there! Winter has to end eventually! {Right?}

Monday, February 3, 2014

February THREE

We went skating with the boys yesterday. Their second time, our first time taking them.


It was such a perfect day. Not too cold, a light dusting of snow; it was lovely. For about 8 minutes.
Jude refuses to have anything but jelly legs on the ice which is always super easy to carry a 40lb child around with jelly legs. Blaise wanted to walk on the ice in front of the other skaters. So that wasn't dangerous or anything. Noah is actually doing pretty good and seems determined enough to just keep practicing so he can skate "as good as Daddy".


We met up with our friends, Dan & Amanda there and did a bit of skating before heading back to their place for hot chocolate. But how awesome is it that our little downtown city hall has a skating rink outside it? I love our little city. It's beautiful and I really hope the boys will remember this crazy snowy winter we're having. It sure is a huge shock compared to the last two "winters" we've had in Uganda.


I have to say, I am a fan of winter. Especially days like the last couple have been. Snowy but not ridiculously cold {like, say, -30 C!!!} and sunny like today! Beauty.
Or maybe you relate to Jude and winter makes you feel like this;


I take pictures of my three boys on the third of each month. You can view past months here.
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