There's just no sugar-coating it (pun): we quit our Whole30 early. 

I promised myself I would not be a last-week-quitter when we undertook this endeavor, and felt a tad like a loser that I couldn't follow all the way through.

So what did it? An errant bite of sharp cheddar? One illicit lick of an ice cream cone? An irresistible cocktail?

No, it was my house.

I am in no way suggesting that I am off the hook for quitting, but I am proud that I didn't quit by giving in to a craving. 

On Monday the 20th we found out that the photographer would be coming Tuesday and again on Wednesday to shoot the house for our listing. This meant that we started OCD cleaning everything that night. 

Whole30 requires a lot of two things: planning and cooking. With our brains suddenly (we had no idea in March that we would even be contemplating moving any time soon) plunged into homeselling mode, there was no room left over for meal plans. And with the kitchen on DEFCON ULTRA levels of cleanliness ("LAYLA IS THAT A CORNER OF A CHEEZ-IT ON THE FLOOR?! DISOWN!"), cooking hearty skillets of sizzling, spattering meat n' veg was not happening even if we'd had our brains together enough to try it. With no energy and an inability to cook, we were barely limping along with packaged stuff that was compliant.

Cleaning the gutters blows (see what I did there?)

Wednesday the 22nd after he had slaved making our tropical rainforest of a backyard look so prime, Jesse decided to throw in the towel. His reasoning was pretty right on: " I don't think the point of Whole30 is to eat nothing but Larabars for two straight days, and that's what I have done. I am not getting healthier like this."

True dat. And what did he choose to break his Whole30 with? A bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and a fistful of the aforementioned cheez-its. Not quite the delicacies we had been fantasizing about for three weeks, but home-prep had brought him low.

I decided to try to carry on. I was still doing the pharisaical, legalistic Whole30 where I was "technically" following the rules but not the spirit of the program (aka larabars and plantain chips and chicken meatballs). But who cares, I AM A WINNER and would drag myself across the finish line, come hell or high fiber. 

We stayed at Jesse's parents house on Thursday night and had planned to stay there all weekend to let our house show as much as possible. By Friday we knew the house was going to sell and we could go home that evening. 

I had made it! I survived! I was back in my own home with all my Whole30 vittles laid by and ready to finish strong--bathed in glory and ghee!

On Friday we accepted our buyer's offer. This was what broke me. We had worked our butts off the past week (and the past 8.5 years) making our house shine and we finally sold it! Somehow arugula with oil and lemon juice just wasn't the celebration meal I had envisioned. So my fall from W30 grace went like this:

"I sold my house in one day. Eff it, I'm having a bowl of rice."

"Oh this is so good. But man I am a naughty naughty bad girl. Who cares these complex carbs are so sexy right now! But think of the carb spike QUIET YOU NOMMMMMMM!"
It was just a wholesome serving of wild rice, so even in that I think I am pretty amazing.

And then I ordered a pizza. Whatever. Shut up.

The feelings and thoughts that went along with chowing down on THAT little buddy have been censored as they are too adult for this blog.

So I guess I failed the test of emotional eating. I wanted to celebrate with food and convinced myself I "deserved" something not healthy to do so with. I am at peace with this because I transacted a 6-figure real estate deal in 24 hours (delusions of grandeur are part of my rationalization, leave me these).

Never in a million years would we have chosen to try a Whole 30 while selling and buying a house AND going about our normal full time jobs and parenting three kids. NEV-AH! 

What we learned: 

1. You can technically "do" a Whole30 but not really get into the spirit of eating healthier. WHEN we do another one, it will be much more about jam-packing our diets with positives instead of just avoiding the no-nos.

2. Dairy makes my nose itch to high heaven. After I ate the pizza, the entire next day I had to resist the urge to drag my nose all over the carpet to assuage the ever-present itch. I am even now only eating dairy when it's super-duper worth it.

3. Drinkable coffee (aka with cream and sugar) is a certain sign of God's grace. It's a potion of no equal (or splenda...pun) that tastes like Eden and makes me feel like Samson. Woe to ye who shall separate me from its loving embrace.

4. Even with only 24 days completed, I feel like my food-thinking was re-oriented (if not completely reprogrammed). It took a good ten minutes in the grocery store on Sunday to realize that I could actually buy anything I wanted (I love having those brakes aplied to my shopping/eating process), and I was even more surprised to find that I actually didn't want a lot of it anyway.

5. Water (tap and LaCroix) is a perfectly satisfying beverage 99% of the time. I did miss having a cocktail on a date night pretty badly though, and think that I would have aged less in the process of homeselling had I been able to turn to drink a bit. 

6. The cravings really didn't own me. MUCH more challenging was the planning/patience aspect of not being able to just have my belly filled in 5 minutes. So learning to listen to my appetite and respect it (that sounds so hippie-foodie lame) was a great lesson.

There you have it. 80% completion. I scored a B-minus. I am trying not to feel like a failure and to live under grace and be happy with what we accomplished (food and real-estate wise).  I learned a lot, but the most important thing--that we all need to keep in mind--is that I beat Jesse. BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.

Off to our home inspection! Sugar-stained smooches to you all.



So much more to say, but the gist is:  We sold our house and bought another one yesterday.

Home Sweet New Home...(pending closing and all that scary jazz!)

The timeline of this is hilariously insane and so US and I will write it out later. 

We are moving! 3 miles up the road in Senoia. To a neighborhood (with a pool! and cousins!) and a house that is 2.5 times larger, and 23 years newer than our current one. 

My heart explodes with gratitude and my pinterest explodes with new ideas for the next house.


The Whole Shebang - Week 1 of Our Whole30

Captain's Log // Stardate: day #7 of the Whole30 program. 

I am only blogging to try to keep my brain alive and awake when it's been in Coma Light mode since I woke up today. And since moving my fingers on keys is the extent of physical exertion I can handle today, here we are. Let's update my Whole 30 journey!

The coma seems to mean I am right on track with the program's (hilariously written) timeline of what to expect. It annoys me that I am so predictable, but more so it's just a huge relief that crippling fatigue/falling asleep on the potty on day 6-7 means, "you're doing it right! keep it up! but also get off the toilet, maybe!?"

I was a little surprised to be hit by this fatigue symptom because days 1-6 were pretty easy for me. I did have the soaring hubris of "THIS IS SO EASY" on day 1, but wasn't brought low by any hangover on the next few days. And you'll have to ask Jesse about increased irritability on days 4-5 because  I didn't really notice any mood change  (update: YES, apparently I was presenting pretty hard with "kill all the things" symptoms those days and was a sweetie pie rainbow blossom to be aroundNOT).

Answers to the questions I've been getting:

What was your last meal before you started? 

As the last few grains of sand in the dietary freedom hourglass tumbled out (grains that contained gluten, uh-doy), around March 30, we kind of threw off the, "ease ourselves slowly into the program and not have a free for all" attitude we'd embraced the past few weeks when we knew we'd be cutting out dairy/sugar/grains/legumes. We relapsed hard for that last day and went with Mellow Mushroom's Buffalo Chicken Pizza for last dinner.

UNNNNGH . What I wouldn't do to this guy right about now.

For dessert, I wanted my most favorite cupcake: the Miss Princess from Gigi's (cream cheese icing on strawberry cake). Jesse got an oreo one. We split each with Judah and Layla so "only" a half of each sugar bomb went into our systems on Program Eve..

I do really DO miss this princess.

How do you feel? Today: tired. But until this morning, waking up had been so much easier the first few days of the program (I am assuming that will return. Name it claim it). I describe it like: I'd still be more than willing and able to sleep more if I could, but my body and brain are also very alert and accepting of staying conscious and becoming vertical. This a HUGE change for the better from my normal wake up routine which is akin to the grieving process: 

Denial: no, it simply is NOT 7am NO 
Anger: this is that freaking Jesse Dukes' fault for keeping me up so late last night by getting me addicted to Walking Dead 3 years ago so now I have to stay up and watch 5 hours straight of it!
Bargaining (aka prostitution) "Jesse, seriously, I will do ANYTHING you want if you just take the baby out of here and let me sleep an extra hours. *tries to lick lips suggestively but tongue is made of dehydrated leather and breath is of grave-dust. Gives a sexy look instead and falls back asleep winking. Jesse denies me and sends Layla in to assault me with conversation.*
Depression: WOE TO ALL THE EARTH I shall be tired forever. *Ugly cries into mirror while brushing teeth because she's the only one who understands*
Acceptance: Fine, dammit, I'm up. But I am totally getting a huge coffee AND a bakery treat for being such a hero. I DESERVE THIS.

What are you eating? Lots. The program says to try to avoid snacking, but has a caveat for breastfeeders which says that snacks are okay, just not grazing all day. I am super paranoid about my milk supply, so I don't spend a ton of time doing the "is this a craving or genuine hunger?" like non-lactators would. When i am hungry, I eat something. 

We are creating sinkfuls of dirty dishes, but besides that, I am actually enjoying the cooking and weekly prep of staples (mayo, chicken salad, soft boiled eggs, pre-chopping, mixing salad dressings, lunch-portions of salad greens into individual bags). I really enjoy cooking meals when the stupid grunt work is done for me ahead of time.

I often forget to photograph my food because I'm so excited about the meal about to go in my mouth, but I did capture all of day one's victuals:

Okay I forgot to photograph this one cooked, so just snapped the ingredients. Sugar-free bacon (1 slice...its thick like ham), and a runny egg over greens. I am not a breakfast person so forcing this one has been tough, but thinking of it as meal one rather than Breakfast has helped (pork chops! chicken salad!)

Lettuce wraps. 3-ply Bibb lettuce under applegate farms roast beef with matchstick carrots (was out of broccoli slaw) in homemade mayo and lemon juice on top. 

roasted (in coconut oil) butternut squash, sauteed (in homemade ghee) shredded brussel sprouts, and salmon ($6 for a huge arm-length filet at Kroger. Wild-caught! Not the best salmon I've ever eaten, but for $6 wild caught, I bought 7 of them).

snacks: #1: a few olives and some sweet potato hash--I keep a bag of about 4 potatoes worth of diced (I have no knife skills so this thing is my savior) sweet potatoes in the fridge to just make a little batch of (cooked with cinnamon and coconut oil in a pan) when a craving hits. #2: raw almond butter on a banana and plantain chips with compliant salsa (this brand was nasty and I will make my own next time)

So no wonder I had hubris on the first day. That was a day very well-planned and provided for. But many of my meals have looked more like this:

Car porkchop! I felt so classy at stoplights hammering down this lil' piggie.

Not ideal, but they are the very armor of the Lord at a small group party that has endless heavy hors d'oeuvres. These are 3 of the few compliant flavors or Larabar. 

What are your kids eating? A lot of what we are (they MUST try at least a bit of everything), and if they dont eat enough of that to fill them, they may have whatever is in the house that we might normally eat. 

Judah is enjoying giggling and mocking us with "you can't have soda!!!" 

What's been the hardest? So far the cravings haven't hit us hard, and we have planned well in being full (bellies or lunchboxes) of our whole foods when we go somewhere where all kinds of yummy non-program stuff will be served so that we arent tempted.  The biggest temptation has been ambush food. 

Like yesterday I caught Judah bingeing on Easter candy he had snuck down from the shelf--Reese's eggs, a favorite. He had eaten a few already, but I caught him just as he was unwrapping another. After I talked to him about why that was wrong, I was just standing there holding this chocolate egg in my hand. I could almost taste the salty fake peanut butter inside the egg--unencumbered by the pointy crenellations on the conventional Butter Cups that I don't like. If it had been wrapped it wouldn't have been as hard to just chuck it. But I was hungry, it was already naked, and it was only a foot from my mouth. I could almost fall down and accidentally eat it. Walking it over to the garbage (Judah's punishment was losing the rest of the candy) was very hard. But not as hard as pouring the soap on top of it to make sure it was truly beyond my reach. (Big mommy is NOT above eating out of the garbage like a dirty Costanza).

The biggest thing (and yall warned me about this) is having go-to stuff ready or ready-to-make for when you didn't plan a specific meal but it's almost time to eat. For us it's pre-diced veggies and always some meat defrosting in the fridge.This way we can pop something in a pan or on the grill ASAP. We also lean on the chicken salad batch I make every Monday for MUSTEATNOW situations (great on greens). 

So you are drinking black coffee? LOL. No. I thought I was in a step-down program in  to get me from candy-latte to black coffee by April. Jesse had said he was only putting a little bit of flavored creamer in--and less and less every morning--so I thought I could do it and it would be peachy that first morning. I even made almond milk from scratch to try that. NO. I even looked up recipes for things to add to coffee to make it more palatable. Coconut butter, coconut oil, coconut milk. No No No. Nonoe of these natural things taste like Almond Joy (the true coconut source) flavored creamer.

My first sip on Day 1 I literally gagged and almost threw up very expensive bacon. It tastes like ASPIRIN! So I am just not drinking coffee. (I have yet to try the bulletproof version of Whole30 coffee, but I have realized it isnt the milk I am missing, but definitely the sugar element that make coffee drinkable for me). All those pinners saying that they have a delicious "so sweet" Whole30 coffee recipe are loco!!!

How is your milk supply? Completely unaffected as far as I can tell. If anything, I feel fuller in that department.

Any other physical side effects? I am getting headaches sometimes, which was very expected. I take something as soon as I feel a twinge because I cannot cope with headache pain. 

My skin has somehow gotten WORSE! I am hoping it's a case of "it'll get worse before it gets better" and is just the nasties leaving for good.

Falling asleep has gotten super easy and enjoyable. I read every night, no matter what time it is or where we are, to fall asleep and sometimes if I am really into the book I will stay up 3 or 4 hours reading (Gone With the Wind had me up til 4 two night in a row!)...to my detriment. But even now I am reading something I really enjoy (Bonhoeffer biography) and I am passing out and dropping the book (scaring myself to death) like 2 paragraphs in. Dietrich shall live forever this way.

Have you broken any program guidelines at all? NO! Okay well, just one tiny one, but I have a divine excuse. It was communion on Easter Sunday. So help me, I will not turn down the body of Christ on His rebirthday. I think the juice is 100% grape so whatever (also it's just a thimbleful), and then the eensy wafer has like 3 gluten particles in it, and whatever, I think Jesus can supernaturally protect me and my Whole30 program from "harm" in celebrating the Lord's supper.

How is Jesse doing? He is great. His yearly 3 day full-on fast (nothing but water and black coffee) in preparation for Easter was the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of April, so he got one day of Whole 30 and then nothing for 72 hours so when he started eating again, the Whole30 meals felt downright indulgent. He went to a birthday party with Judah that had cookie cake, and was actually thankful that he had double accountability with the fast AND whole30, because no man is that strong!

How much weight have you lost? Get behind me, satan! I am A) not doing this to lose weight and B) not allowed to weigh myself the entire 30 days. I did grab a before weight and will weight after I suppose, but I am doing this to retrain my mind and my mouth and my stomach into eating like someone who has plans to live beyond 45. Don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled if that also happened, and will actively try to lose weight after I wean Noa (whenever that may be), but nothing is going to stick and become a lifestyle if I just aim for a number on the scale. Amen.

Is it horrible? No! it really isn't. I was nervous about Easter with Jesse's family but they grill porkchops which were so scrumptious, and we brought our own dressing and diced sweet potatoes. I was seriously shocked by how satisfying our meal was, even alongside the rolls and creamy mashed potatoes with butter that we couldn't enjoy. 

There are definitely times when I have wanted something in a moment that wasn't a craving or an emotional eating response, like a cocktail with Jesse, and that has felt like a bit of a bummer, but, at least for now, the benefits on the horizon that I am working towards have outweighed any inconvenience or craving.

Okay I think that covers all the questions I've been getting a lot. It feels good to be 25% finished. please do not disturb me as I nap on my spacebar now.


Noa-pdate: 6 months

Noa's half birthday is Monday (mine is today, thank you. Magical 32.5. Sounds like an easy listening radio station). I am obviously super annoyed that the baby who made me pregnant for what felt like 4 years somehow has become 6 months old in ten minutes. My precious little Time-bender.

Here is what she is up to these days as Noa Lou enters her third trimester on the outside.

Eating: LIKE A CHAMP! Sometime in March she officially became my longest breastfeeding baby ever. I may have fed Layla a few cursory snacks in her 5th month, but my supply was so dwindle-some that it was never a full meal. 

Noa has still never had any formula and my supply seems great (my body agrees as I am still cycleless...aka not yet a cyclist).  She is getting super speedy at meals...but also is a crazy distractoid. She loves to kick my stomach and push off (thereby de-latching herself in the most painful way possible) at a rate rivalling that of a hummingbird's wings.

OK. Fine. Kick me all you want, then.

With Judah we started solids a few days before his 4 month birthday (and gave him an ice cream cone before his 5 month birthday...whaaaa?) because he was our first and we were dumb and all into pushing the milestones. Layla was slightly later but well before 6 months. Despite Noa being very interested in whatever we are eating, she won't get solids until her actual 6 month birthday at least....just so I can actually say I have made it that far on boobs alone. I am really excited to make all her baby food just like I did for Layla. It's weirdly cathartic for me in a way that cooking adult food isn't (AKA turns me into she-Gordon Ramsay at the beloved people I am cooking for if they dare to interrupt me).

She DID have an illegal raisin fed to her by Layla (who DEFINITELY knows better). It was found by our nannying family in her diaper. Layla is a definite boundary-pusher when it comes to Noa (and when it comes to who is actually the mommy), and she got a long raisin-suspension for this infraction.

It's a pizza crust, but it was a teething stick, not a snack. She basically made a Gluten+Saliva smoothie and then wore it.

I am not sure how things really work from here. Do babies who nurse to/beyond 1 year just get down to breastfeeding only a a few times a day? and my body just slows down to match that? My big kids slept through the night (with training) at 3 months which is when I went back to work and was the beginning of the end of supply for me so it seems foreign to me that I would be able to make milk for 3 daytime meals and then slow down overnight...just naturally without running out? Is that how it should go?

Speaking of which:

Sleeping: HA! Noa is still in our room, and is getting very large and man-handley in her rock n play sleeper contraption. we definitely have to buckle her little seatbelt in that thing or she flips over and pulls herself up to peep over the back or side. 

What's the upper limit on this thing?

She takes 2 or 3 solid naps a day...usually in our bed but sometimes in the sleeper and rarely in the crib (since it is in the sewing room and when she's asleep that's usually what I am doing). She will go down for the night at about 6-7 and I give her a dream-feed meal whenever I turn in between ten and twelve. From there, she usually wakes up around 3 and then not again until morning. I would love for this night feeding to drop out magically, but it might take moving her into her room and letting her fuss it out to accomplish this.  I think she'd go back to sleep without being fed, but since she's so close, as soon as I hear any peep I am on autopilot just scooping her up (NEVER forgetting that she is buckled...definitely not) and popping her on the breast. Whereas in another room I might turn down the monitor for 5 minutes and see what she does when she isn't instantly fed...just for that one middle of the night session. But I am also still not feeling run down in any way so I am hesitant to move her and let her sleep all night since it was the harbinger of unwanted weaning with my other 2.

She weirdly prefers back sleeping (as opposed to side) in her sleeper, side in the big bed, and tummy sleeping in her crib. Or maybe I am making that up. I sense a pattern though.

Side sleeping and basically being perfect.

She does sometimes get so tired she refuses to do anything and not even my go-to nursing her down will work. for this we strap her into her bed and let her get super angry for a minute or two. Her paci will fall out and that makes her even more saddy-maddy. Then we just walk up, put the paci back in and she's almost instantly asleep. I call this "The Wilson Theorem." She's super angry and foresakes the paci, but once she sees how horrible life is without it she is so happy to get it back that she's just super loving and content and goes to dreamland with him. Much like how Tom Hanks punts Wilson, his VolleyFriend, in a fit of rage in Castaway and then regrets it so hard and is so relieved to get him back.

Nursing Down: it 90% of the time it works every time.

And when it doesn't work. IT DOESNT WORK (this wasa  pre "wilson theorem" discovery meltdown...AND when I had the biggest zit of my life and wearing a huge bandaid was literally more discreet than not wearing it. My chin grew a chin, yall).

New Developments: Easily flipping over both ways constantly. Taking pacis with a vengeance (hooray!). Eating her toes. Sitting up unassisted for 10-15 seconds at a time. Riding in the cart at the grocery store without her carseat. Getting up on all fours (briefly...the knees are mastered but she needs to work on her upper body strength).. Babbling G noises. Bottom two teeth almost visible (and have been for a month I swear!). Earned a PhD in drool studies with a minor in chewing on everything (she almost ingested a Publix receipt completely before I realized what was happening). Is trying to sit up from lying down by lifting her head and flexing her abs!

I call this "the curveball" first two fingers of her throwing arm, in the mouth 70% of the chews.

"the three-finger changeup" for the rare, extra tired situation. Also goes by the "hang ten" for the fingers NOT inside the mouth.

Feeling all the kinds of cheeky about her rolling over skills.

Photo cred: Judah. Smile Cred: Judah. Roly Poly Chunk Cred: mommy.

Sitting in a grocery cart instead of a cozy uterus? LOL, ma.

All the pedidexterity of a chimp.

Temperment: Are you kidding me? This is the world's happiest, chillest, most fun babe. Example: I took her to urgent care one Sunday because I suspected an ear infection. This was the interaction with the Doctor:

Dr.: So this is Noa. [Noa smiles cheesily and laughs at him] My daughter has a "Noa" on her volleyball team who is an excellent player. [I am filled with irrational pride that this somehow means something] So, what are her symptoms?

Me: Well she cried like really loud for a 5 minute stretch about an hour ago. And she has the sniffles. [Noa smiles some more and chews her fists]

Dr.: Um....is this your first baby? [Noa continues to smile and do jumping legs]

Me: Hahaha, No, dude. It's my third. I promise I am not just being an over-reactive noob mom. 

Dr.: This baby does not seem to have an ear infection, but you never can tell. [looks in ear] That one looks fine. 

Me: *gets worried that I AM an over-reactive noob mom after all and have just wasted a $50 copay*

Dr.: [looking in other ear] Well this one is about as red as a fire engine.

Me: [aloud] HA-HA! I TOLD YOU! *icky shuffles*

Ear infection. LOL

So yeah, this kid is the bomb. Except the part where she is like a world class goalkeeper at denying us putting medicine in her mouth. No matter what method, how sneaky or how far back we stick the dropper in her mouth, she manages to push ALL the medicine liquid out and get everyone sticky and bothered. So we didn't give her her antibiotic after wasting about 25 mL trying to get her to ingest 5mL. Luckily it turned out to just be viral and went away on its own. So far she hates bubblegum, cherry and grape flavors. Any pain relievers in "mommy" flavor for sale out there?

Stats: 25" long and 15.5 lbs at 4mo3wks. 16.6 lbs at 5mo2wks (according to urgent care). So much chunky thighs! they are delectable and straining the bounds of Pampers' leg holes. Has a booty like Jesse and Layla: perfect bubble muscle chunks. Finally shed her dark side-of-the-ears hair that she and Layla both weirdly had (like hobbits!).


Family Role: Beloved #1 favorite of every member. We spend much more time fighting over who GETS to take care of her than we do over who has to. I literally had to put both kids in time out at a friends' house because they broke out into a brawl over who got to lean over the carseat to see Noa (after they had already pushed our friends' kids out of the way...who NEVER get to even see her).

Layla feels Judah encroaching on her Noa time.

Every. Single. Day.

Judah is insanely tender and schmoopy with her, saying at least once a day, "Shes the cutest thing in the whole world!" If only he could realize he has TWO baby sisters and apply the same smooshiness to Layla sometimes. In his words "I have a baby sister and a regular sister," however.  

Another funny: He was looking at his chore chart the other day and said, "mommy, Noa should just have one job." I asked him what it would be. He replied, "breast-eating." Genius.

She's breast-eating? no worries, he has no boundaries!

Layla is aggressively in love with her (aggressive is her love language) baby sister. She pushes the limits with hugs, kisses, rocking, booty-patting, belly-pooting, and apparently raisin-feeding to the point where Noa loves it and then immediately starts crying when it goes too far and get too intense. We are trying to let her get her violent attachments out of her system on us and save the gentle for Noa. To be fair, it's a gentle giant syndrome, Layla is smitten to death by Noa and is never trying to hurt her. I really want to protect the sisterhood and not make Layla resentful of our protection of Noa or Noa resentful of Layla's brute force.

"Um, ma? You gonna intervene here?"

Daddy is also 100% sucker for this kid. This is the first baby that he has really been away from all workday. While that is a bummer it is also good because I, the milky one, am with her most, and because he gets to fall in love with her all over again every day when he gets home (and relieves me!). Noa loves feeling his scratchy beard while rabbit kicking/leg-pressing him in the throat. No one can put her to sleep in the crib as her Daddy can.

Jesse is thrilled to get Fridays off (preacher life) and he is the babysitter those days and brings her to my office to eat and hangs out with her the rest of the time. He is the babywearing daddy master. Noa spends about an average of 2 hours a day being worn by someone and about 2/3rds of that time is on Jesse. Love that bond.

 It's possible they like one another.

For me, Noa continues to be my magic baby. I know I am a better mom, having learned from my many mistakes with the first two, and am much more laid back about milestones, schedules, and routine. With all the time I spend not doing those things, I have hours a day freed up to just marvel at her and love her.  And boy do I.  It does also help that she is a delightfully upbeat and chill baby.   

She honestly makes me a better and gentler parent to the big two because when I find myself drowning in her, I also regret that I rushed past some of their babyhoods, or hurried them into growing up in many ways-- so she is a fabulous reminder that I want to treasure them and just let them be where they are right now (because really, they are ALL still babies in the grand scheme of things). 

Loves: outside, car rides (no stopping!), bamboo blankies, pulling hair, pushing (literal) buttons, my keys, being worn, pacis, assisted standing, jumping in her office, sitting in her highchair, looking at/chewing on my phone (has uncanny 360* awareness of where it is).

Hates: medicine, getting buckled in her carseat, being stuck on the ground rather than sitting/standing, getting out of the tub.

Nicknames: Noa-pie, Noa Boa, Nowee-Dowee, Baby Lou, Baby Sweets, Boo-ba Lou

One amazing story to sign off with.

About a month ago Judah and Layla were playing room and I kept hearing them saying "Baby Jesus likes it warm in here." So I went in to investigate wondering what on earth the meant, and found this scene unfolding.

I found it kind of genius that Layla was using her Merid (from Brave) costume to be Mary. Like, "Layla, who are you supposed to be?" And she's all, "I'm Mary. Duh." Get it?

I was curious about how in the world Judah would represent Joseph and was NOT disappointed when he came back in. In fact I almost passed out with glee at how much he nailed it (you can't really tell but his hoodie is inside out to the all-gray side as well).

Joseph Wan Kenobi, Baby Jesus, and Mary(duh). On a cold night in Bethlehem. You can tell they're good parents by how happy Jesus is.

And you can tell she's a good baby by how happy her parents are.

To my baby babygirl,

There just doesn't seem to be adequate vocabulary to describe how much you've added to our world, Noa Lou. Your name means "His conquering Love in motion," and I am delighted to report that some of the things that I have mourned or been ashamed or regretful about myself in how I mother have been the first things conquered by His love in motion in your little life. Your light is already shining into some of the dark places in me, your daddy, your brother and your sister and conquering that darkness with His love. Thank you.

I know you probably won't always be giddy to snuggle up to your mama, and odds are you won't always send me into raptures like you have done these first 6 months, but I promise to always try to let Jesus' love in/for/through you run wild where it wants and to conquer my selfishness, weakness, anger, and many other shortcomings. You've got something special going on with you, my dear, and I want to let it grow without getting in the way and to let it change the world.

The only thing beautiful enough to keep me from getting depressed about what you aren't anymore (in my belly safe and sound, a tiny newborn, a non-ambulatory infant) is seeing what you have and will continue to become. If the tiny little seed can do this much to our hearts, I am already praising Jesus for what the mature, fruit-bear tree-version of you is going to do.

With a heart full to bursting for you,

Your Mama.