EMK | Seven Months

Happy seven months to E!

E won’t visit the doctor until his nine month appointment so we don’t have official stats. Thankfully his next appointment will be shot free!

Weight (unofficial): 20 lbs

Height: Tall

Head: Huge

New this month: Solids! We have started to introduce solids. E has been eyeing us more recently when we eat. I knew he was getting ready. So far he has tried baby oatmeal, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, avocado, pears, and applesauce. Bananas and sweet potatoes seem to be the two he enjoys the most so far. I can tell he is most interested in baby led weening, and it’ll be nice to not have to puree as much this time around. Also new this month – inchworm crawling! E’s daycare is great about working with him on developing crawling skills. He has officially mastered the inchworm. It’s not quick or efficient, but today it got him to the toy he wanted! Fun to see him begin to be mobile. Have I mentioned I love this age? He’s close to waving and clapping on command. Marshall and I are also trying to teach him “up” for when he wants to be picked up, and I’ve started to sign more when he’s eating or hungry.

And some photos. The light wasn’t great, and he has a cold, but this captures our life at the moment.

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Still just two bottom front teeth.

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Look, Mama! 7 months!

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Sorry, E, but you kind of look like Donald Trump in this one. Ha!

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Of course. Happens every time now.

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Just ready to crawl.

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When I start to put the camera away, this happens.

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We love you, Ellis.

 

 

Paid Family Leave Bill

I had a pretty neat opportunity today:

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Yes, that’s me. All the way to the left, holding the purple folder with sweaty hands.

In Marshall’s words:

“Today, Sarah got up early, put on her fancy clothes, and drove to Lincoln in not-so-great weather to serve as one of a handful of people asked to speak at a press conference announcing the introduction of a bill that would establish a program guaranteeing paid maternity leave for mothers of new children in the state of Nebraska. In her remarks, she relied on personal experience and conviction to speak passionately on behalf of working women and mothers in our state. And she did so despite the fact that public speaking (let alone speaking in front of media and government officials) is really, really not her thing.

Take note, y’all: Connect yourselves to people who not only have passion, but a commitment to see that passion made manifest in their world. These people will do nothing but impact your life in positive and profound ways.”

Him saying all of that meant more than I can say.

Here is a statement about this morning from Senator Crawford:

http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist45/2016/01/08/senator-crawford-introduces-relief-for-caregivers-legislation/

Here is the audio clip in case you really wanted to hear what I (and others) had to share:

http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist45/2016/01/08/senator-crawford-introduces-relief-for-caregivers-legislation/

Here is what I shared:

I currently reside in Omaha, Nebraska. I am a wife, a mother of two children, a full-time working woman and starting Monday, a graduate student. I am very proud of all of these identities, and I believe each are important contributions to my family and the community that I am a part of.

Seven months ago when our son, Ellis, was born, our family grew. How excited we were to welcome a sweet but not little 9 lbs 2 oz baby into the world. While we experienced joy, I remember feeling anxious and stressed.

I have been with my current employer since April 2013. At that time, my husband and I did not have plans to have any more kids. I accrued sick time and vacation time in my role, and used them as necessary. If I was too sick to work, I stayed home. When my daughter was too sick to go to school, I would use the time to care for her. When I found out I was pregnant and that no paid family leave was available to me, I starting saving as much sick and vacation time as I could.

Nine months was not long enough to accrue 12 weeks worth of sick and vacation time. Thus, I took only six weeks of leave following the birth of Ellis – some of which I even had to take unpaid. Then, I worked two weeks part time from home, two more weeks part time in the office after that – any hours not worked remained unpaid – and was back to work full time just 10 weeks after giving birth. While I desired to take the full 12 weeks of FMLA, I could not afford to do so as most of it would have been unpaid. While insurance covered a great deal of our prenatal and birthing expenses, and we experienced no complications, having Ellis was a financial strain. My family simply needed my full-time income.

I felt many emotions going back to work full time so soon. As other parents may know from experience, the birth of a child drastically changes day-to-day life. The first few months are a period of adjustment and trying to identify a new normal. On top of that period of adjustment, I had to figure out pumping at work and bottle feeding before I ever fully felt comfortable with breastfeeding. I love my job, and I wanted to be fully present and effective at work, yet I was exhausted both physically and mentally. Leave had wiped out my vacation and sick time. I was afraid of getting sick or my loved ones getting sick, and not having paid time available. Paid family leave would have allowed me to retain my vacation and sick time while also alleviating financial stress.  It also would have provided me and my family precious and focused time on being a mother of a newborn and a new mother of two, in addition to a fully present employee upon returning to work.

I’m smart, capable, organized, efficient, dedicated, honest, and loyal. I believe education is invaluable. All of these qualities better my ability to love my husband, care for my children and be an example for them, and to serve college students in my career. When my needs are met as a mother, I can more fully dedicate myself to my work and improve the lives of those around me. As a wife, as a mother, as a full time working woman in Nebraska, and as an advocate for full time working parents in Nebraska, I support paid family leave.

Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my story.

While it is true I hate public speaking, I’m thankful I had the opportunity to speak today. I’m thankful to my colleagues at UNO that thought I should do this. Thankful to my partner in life and a couple other close friends for helping me write my story out and make edits as needed. Thankful to have a supportive supervisor and director that allowed me to be out of the office this morning. Thankful for our amazing CRV that helped me drive safely in the snow. And honestly, just thankful to God for this life I get to live. I’m praying these two bills pass as it is a step in the right direction for the state of Nebraska.

EMK | Six Months

The photos are a little delayed, but happy six months to Baby E!IMG_2424

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Weight: 18 lbs 13.2 oz

Height: 28.54 inches

Head: Huge

New this month: two bottom teeth and sitting unsupported!

Likes: Sitting up! Standing, laughing, smiling, sister, looking out the window during car rides, putting anything and everything in mouth, eating, watching the cats, baths, grunting, “talking”, peek-a-boo, reading books, and watching football.

Dislikes: Teething, sleepiness, loud noises, hunger, and head eczema (which is starting to clear up a bit).

We had a parent/teacher conference with E’s lead teacher, and he is right on track. Our doctor was also pleased with how he is growing and developing. We’ve made a small attempt to introduce a couple of foods, but E isn’t too excited about food yet. I am proud to say I am still breastfeeding! All is well. We love this little man (and his sister). May we always remember to count our blessings.

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NRK is such a good big sister.

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An outtake. This better represents our life at the moment.

 

Breastmilk Donation

This a mama just documenting a piece of her breastfeeding journey.

With Norah I had an oversupply. I didn’t know it was called that exactly, but I knew I had zero problems producing breastmilk.

I researched early on what it would look like to donate some of the milk I was producing, and I just couldn’t find decent information. Or, the information I did find, donating just seemed like a lot of work.

Due to Facebook and the movement to normalize breastfeeding/milksharing, I was connected to a local Omaha group designed to help mamas donate breastmilk to other families.

Last night I donated 44 ounces of frozen breastmilk to another mom and her little boy. I don’t know much about their situation, but we have been communicating a bit via text. She seems very grateful. I’m thrilled I can help someone else. 

I’m not looking for a pat on the back or praise. I just want to remember that in all things, God is. He has given me a body that can produce enough breastmilk for not only MY babe, but also enough to help another baby.

I’ve started to up my supply in the last day or two, and I hope I can continue donating.

 

EMK | Five Months

Our baby E is five months…almost half a year old! Time is flying as it normally does. I want to slow it down and savor these precious moments with E, but I am also excited to continue to watch him develop and grow.

Five month photo shoot, take one:

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E is working on sitting.

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E really likes his feet.

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MK ends photo session by capturing my favorite photo of all time.

This isn’t a doctor visit month, so no weight or height stats. But a few days past five months, and we discovered E’s first tooth at 4:00 AM. He’s been extremely drooly, trying to shove anything and everything into his mouth, and not sleeping well, so we knew a tooth probably wasn’t too far off.

Ellis is also smoothly rolling from his belly to his back. We are starting to work on sitting. As with previous posts, he continues to be such a happy baby. His smiles warm every single part of my cold and hardened heart. We love this little man and are thankful for our family of four.

Five month photo session, take two:

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Such a noticeable difference in just one month!

We love you, E!

NRK | First Grade

Dear Norah,

I hope to read this note to you tomorrow, but I hope you are able to read this note many years from now on your own. I am so very proud of you.

You started first grade in August. I’ll have to admit, I was apprehensive for you to start first grade. Maybe even more nervous than when you started kindergarten! I loved your kindergarten teacher, Mrs. S. She was kind, communicative, and would give you extra assignments or more challenging books based on that smart brain of yours – she went above and beyond and I’m thankful she was your first elementary teacher.

I didn’t think another teacher could live up to such a high standard set by Mrs. S. But you started 1st grade anyway. Other than a happy note home, we hadn’t really heard anything from your teacher, Mrs. C. Papa said, “No news is probably good news”. I agreed but was still curious to hear how things were going from your teacher’s perspective.

Last night we had our first parent/teacher conference of the school year. Your music teacher saw us walk into the building. She greeted us warmly and walked us to your classroom. Once in the classroom she proceeded to tell us how creative you are and a joy to have in class. She took delight in telling us about the songs you have thought out and put together on your own with full verses and choruses and the way you enjoy dancing. The word diva may have come up, and a comment that theatre might just be for you. I was not anticipating that feedback, and here is a note to self to research musical/theatrical outlets for you!

We then met with Mrs. C. She went over all the subjects you are currently studying: math (sequencing objects, number line, counting by 5’s, counting by 2’s, and tallying), social studies (following rules), language arts (creative writing, spelling, and reading). Nor, you are aceing all of these!

Mrs. C informed us you’re in one of the highest reading groups, you’ve hit the sight words for this quarter (if we want to do things at home, she encouraged us to move on to the next set), you understand and excel at math, and it’s clear you enjoy writing as noted by the stories that fill both the front AND back of your worksheets.

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Papa almost cried happy tears reading your fishing story.

I’m so proud Norah – proud you enjoy learning, proud you are learning the knowledge and skills that will be with you the rest of your life, proud that this is the first step in your education…Oh, the places I know you will go! While all of this makes me proud, there is something else, if you can imagine it, that makes me even more proud. And no, I’m not done using the word proud.

Papa has a question he likes to ask your teachers – “What role or part does Norah hold in the classroom or among her peers?”

Mrs. C was quick to respond. She called you a leader; someone who is inclusive and makes sure no one is left out. She also called you a peacemaker. Nor! Do you know how amazing that is? In a world often full of hate you are choosing love and inclusion. Now THAT, that makes me more proud than any A or 100% percent on an assignment ever could!

I love you, Nor. I’m not always the best mom. I can be quick to anger when stressed or tired, and I often demand a lot from you. But I hope that never makes you doubt how blessed I feel to be in this life with you as your mama. You are a joy and are making this world better even at the age of six! I can’t wait to see all the other beautiful changes you will bring to this world as you grow.

Love,

Mama

P.S. In other news, your Papa yanked out your top right tooth tonight making the total count — three missing teeth! You’ve lost all three in the last month! You’re ready for UNO Hockey season! GO MAVS!

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EMK | Four Months

E hit four months yesterday! That’s 1/3 of a year, but I’m not keeping track.

Ellis rode his first plane this past month to visit Grandma & Grandpa Kole in Colorado. He did great! We also had a five hour drive from Denver to Grand Junction. While there were certain points that were stressful, I counted my blessings many times during that trip. We have two kids that adapt well and are extremely flexible. 

Today we took him to our family doctor for his four month appointment. If I had a dollar for every time the nurse said “he’s a big boy” I would have made the same amount of money I made working today. Ridiculous.

  
While he is a good and healthy sized boy, he remains calm, happy, and just an enjoyable babe to be around. Now his stats!

Weight: 16 lbs (75th % – so he’s actually starting to even out. Take that nurse!)

Length: 27.5 inches (over 99th %)

Head circumference: 18.5 inches (over 99%, obviously to house his big and smart brain)

Likes: Being outside, mornings, standing (supported, obviously), smiling, cooing, mimicking sounds, sister NRK, parents speaking in British accents

Dislikes: Papa sneezing, mama talking while nursing, shots, mama/papa picking out boogies, itchy head eczema (doctor is happy with our at-home aquaphor treatmeant and it seems to be clearing up a bit)

Current activities: Sleeping 3-4 hour chunks at night, smiling, cooing, laughing, looking out the car windows while driving, holding head up like even more of a champ, riding in the carrier facing out, drooling, discovering his feet, hanging on to toys and putting them in his mouth, watching the cats, and new this past month – rolling onto stomach (all the time).  
  
    
   

Three Months & One Less Tooth

Marshall went back to work Monday, EMK started daycare, and Nor went back to her before and after school program. I had work events both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The week seemed to pass slowly, but we all had a good week adjusting to a new routine. The center E is at is truly wonderful. They utilize an app to keep in touch with parents and to track E’s activities throughout the day. They take pictures at least once a day. I love getting the photo notifications on my phone; it helps to break up the time away from him while I’m at work. The staff have been receptive to how we want E to be cared for, and it seems they are really enjoying having him there in the infant room. I feel blessed (and privileged) to have E at such a great place with loving people.

In the last month, Ellis continues to be a calm and chill babe.  He is “talking” more and is really developing the muscles in his neck and legs.  Yesterday he rolled over for the first time! One of the biggest changes (or most appreciated changes) – longer stretches of sleep!  The last few nights he has only woken up once or twice to nurse. I’ve been very grateful for the sleep, and we are all feeling rested during a period of change. Another blessing to be thankful for!

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Happy three months to Baby E.

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Weight: 16 lbs
Length: 25.5 inches
New skill: rolling over!
Likes: Being outside, mornings, standing, smiling/talking, walking (reminder to take a video as it makes me laugh every time), sucking on thumb/hands, raspberries
Dislikes: wet diapers, hunger, and sleepiness
Current activities: rolling side to side, finding feet/toes with hands, smiling, “talking”

In other news, our family has one less tooth.  Yes, NRK lost her FIRST tooth! It had been hanging there for a while, and one night, she finally decided she had enough (with the encouragement of her papa). A few tugs with some string, and it was out. We don’t practice the imaginary tooth fairy, but we did leave five dollars under her pillow with a coupon to her favorite restaurant Raising Cane’s. NRK was pretty excited about that. Coincidentally, she had a dentist appointment yesterday and all looks great. The dentist believes the next three teeth or so in front are loose and will probably fall out all around the same time.  That’ll make for some great photo sessions, I’m sure!  We love you, Norah.

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?

This very sweet gift was sent to us in the mail by one of our good friends. We loved the bear and obviously had to take a couple photos of E with it.  Thank you, Lauren!

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For the Grandparents | First Grade

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When asked what NRK did on her first day of school, she responded, “We just talked about rules.” But hey, they had Pizza Hut pizza for lunch, so it couldn’t have been too bad of a day.

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