I am so amazed at how quickly my little girl is growing up!! Today I decided we'd test out some things to see if she was ready for them. First on the list was the umbrella stroller. I brought it in from the garage, set it up, adjusted the buckles, and fastened Lydia in. Yep... definitely works! She is stable enough now to sit in it without flopping all over the place, so we can bring it with us when we travel (MUCH smaller than the big stroller that the carseat fits into).

Next thing to try was the baby tub without the hammock in it. Again, she's totally ready to take that step, I just didn't think about it until now! So this afternoon we gave her her bath sitting a bit more upright in her tub inside the big tub upstairs. I think she liked being more submerged in the water. :-)

And lastly... my baby girl LOVES to STAND! We went out to dinner tonight and Lydia woke up halfway through. I got her out of her carseat and she refused to sit on my lap... she wanted to be standing! And she is so strong. She already practically stands on her own. She just needs us to keep her stabilized, but she definitely holds all of her weight. An older couple sitting near us ooo'd and aww'd at Lydia and asked how old she was. She seemed shocked when I said 3 months and commented that she looks like she'll be walking in another few months!

Lydia grows and learns more and more every day... I'm sooooo glad I get to be with her all the time to see it! Occasionally I look back at newborn pictures of my baby and get sad at how quickly the time is passing, but mostly I'm trying to focus on all of the joy it brings me to watch her growing. I get to be her biggest fan as she goes through all the milestones! I love it!
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I'm not enough of a writer to make an update post that doesn't sound completely boring... so here are some bullet points instead.

- I'm getting started on my new job with the church. The leadership team there is super excited about me coming on staff... which has me slightly nervous that they think way too highly of me! But I'm looking forward to learning and pray that I can at least come close to their expectations.

- Lydia's bedtime is going well at 8ish. We start the routine around 7:30 and she's in her crib close to 8. Generally she goes back and forth between mild fussing and quietly sucking her thumb until she falls asleep around 8:30. I've noticed the past couple of nights that she tends to stir around 9:30 but calms herself down and goes back to sleep. She then pretty much sleeps through a 10:30 diaper change & feeding and is completely down for the night at 11. Last night we had our best night yet... not a peep out of her from 11-7!

- One of my favorite things is how, towards the end of her "mealtime", she'll pull away and just stare up at me. When I look down, smile, and say "hi" or "I love you" she will get this huge grin on her face and then bury it between me and the pillow.

- Lydia has started grabbing the toys from her play gym. It's so fun to watch her learning to control those little hands! She also rolled over this week! I could only get her to do it once, but the one time when I flipped her on to her belly she decided to keep right on going and continued rolling til she was on her back again.

- We bought a new "family tent" for our camping trip next month. Am I crazy to be taking a 4 month old camping? I guess we'll find out!
Lydia slept all night in her crib last night! I was fully prepared to have her sleeping in the swing again... took it up to our bedroom and everything. At 9:00 I settled her into the swing and let her fall asleep there. She has always had a really hard time falling asleep at that time of night, so I went straight for the swing. But I decided that when I got her up at 11 to change and feed her I would try starting her in her crib. Historically she has done very well in her crib after that feeding, so I expected her to fall asleep and stay in her crib until around 3:00. At that point I planned to move her to the swing to help her go back to sleep.

Well 3:00 came and went and my sweet girl didn't make a peep. I, of course, woke up numerous times during the night wondering if she would be awake at any moment and debating if I should climb out of bed to go check on her or not. When 6:00 came, I couldn't get back to sleep so I checked on her... sure enough she was comfortable in her crib lying spread-eagle across the sheet.

I don't know what to thank for her full night of sleep... breaking the cycle with 2 nights in the swing? Her ability to find her thumb now? Or perhaps just having a busy day with lots of outside time? Regardless, I'm pleased that she was able to be in her crib. Tonight I may try doing the crib at 8:30/9:00 as well and see if we can get that working too. Here's hoping for more good nights of rest in the future!

Lydia conked out this morning after playtime.

I am completely overwhelmed with blessings in my life. Of course the biggest of these being my wonderful husband and daughter... and beyond that having fantastic family, awesome friends, and a cozy place to call home. But today I am grateful for the little "extras" that God so graciously sends our way.

- I've gotten 7+ hours of sleep for two nights in a row now. Granted, I've been letting Lydia sleep in her swing in order to get that, but it's helped me see that she can make it through the night. We'll work on transitioning back to the crib, but for now I'm thankful to feel rested for a change!

- Yesterday I completed my exit interview at Marathon. I'm officially done with the "career woman" thing for now and can focus on this new chapter of my life!

- We knew I'd be working part time for our church at some point, but weren't sure when the finances would be there to go forward with it. Well yesterday evening I got the word that Lee approved putting me on the payroll and I'll be starting next week! It's a 10 hour a week gig as "website content manager" and I can do it all from home while I take care of Lydia. This is exactly what we prayed for to allow me to stay at home without us having to live on beans and rice. :)

- Lydia is currently asleep in her Pack N Play and has been for almost an hour and half!! This is HUGE. Besides nighttime sleep, she has never slept for more than an hour someplace other than her swing or carseat (while travelling).

- The weather is absolutely devine. A tad hot today, but I'm not going to complain! Once Lydia wakes up and eats, I'm looking forward to playing out in the yard.

- I saw an allergist on Monday and was told I'm allergic to dust mites. The good things about this are 1) at least now I have a good idea why my sinuses have been a mess and 2) this is one allergy that doesn't necessarily require meds to make me feel better (I'm very cautious of medications since I'm breastfeeding)... of course, this sadly means that I need to get more serious about vacuuming and dusting. Boo. ;)

- Lydia is getting more and more control over her hands. On Tuesday we watched her grab the pacifier in her mouth, pull it out, look at it, then put it back in her mouth... all very intentionally! She has also figured out how to suck her thumb (as opposed to her entire fist). I'm not certain that I want her in the habit of sucking her thumb, but it at least gives her a built in way to calm herself down. Guess we'll see how it goes!

- My baby is 3 months old tomorrow! She is such a treasure and I'm enjoying every bit of watching her grow.
May is a VERY busy month for us... particularly the middle of May.

10th - Mother's Day
12th - My brother's birthday
14th - Our anniversary
16th - Baby dedication
17th - My brother's wife's birthday
18th - My parent's anniversary

Yikes! That's a ton of stuff in 8 days! Needless to say I've been keeping plenty busy this past week.

My first Mother's Day was nice. Brent had to work and I didn't get to see my mom that weekend though, so that was a little disappointing. But we went to Brent's mom's house for a cookout in the afternoon and ate yummy burgers & tossed frisbees around. Lydia didn't give me any extra sleep for Mother's Day, but she was a happy baby girl and that's pretty much all I need.

The 14th was our 5 year anniversary. Yipee! :) We had Brent's sister come over to watch Lydia so we could go out to dinner and mini-golf. I always love mini-golfing with Brent because it's one of the few things I can beat him at. He beat me last time but I was around 8 months pregnant... hard to swing a golf club like that! ;) Thanks to his hole in one it was a close game, but I beat him in the end. Hehe. It was nice to get out as a couple again, but unfortunately Lydia has now decided she won't take a bottle and we came home to a screaming, hungry child. I may keep having Brent try to give her a bottle but I'm not so sure it will work anymore... and I hate wasting milk! My mom said I never took a bottle... so perhaps this is my payback. :P

May 16th was Lydia's special day... dedication day! My parents drove up for the day and we had tons of friends and family at church to join us in prayer for Lydia and our family. Sometimes I still can hardly believe that this little treasure is ours to raise. She is an absolute joy in my life and fills each day with plenty of smiles and laughter (and laundry haha).

In other news - I went to an allergist yesterday to get tested since my sinuses are driving me crazy. Turns out I'm allergic to dust mites. Unfortunately this means I need to spend more time vacuuming. Perhaps I'll just live with the runny nose... ;)

Tomorrow I will make my "final" drive to Findlay to officially quit my job. I was on paid leave until April 21st and have been on unpaid family leave since then. It was always my intention to quit, but we wanted to wait until we received all of my paychecks and took care of the money in my company health spending account. Now that that's all taken care of, I'm calling it quits! I think Brent is still a little bummed about the major loss of income (nearly 60% of our income came from my job), but this is something we've been planning for since way back when we were engaged. The plan has always been for me to stay at home once we had kids. That's why we've always made it a point to cover all of our expenses with Brent's income and only use mine for getting out of debt & paying down the mortgage. So... we're kissing goodbye to our huge payments towards our house, but other than that our budget is largely unaffected.

Updates on Lydia: She continues to get up at least once during the night... typically 3am give-or-take 30 minutes. I've started to resign to the fact that this just may be what I have to deal with until we introduce cereal. I just keep reminding myself that she will only be this age once and I need to savor it... sleep deprivation and all! Lydia's interest in toys is starting to pick up these days. She still doesn't grab for them, but she is more willing to bat at the ones we dangle over her. She still hasn't done any rolling over either, but that's okay. Tummy time is still disliked. Lydia gets upset over being on her tummy before she tries too much to flip herself over. She has, however, gotten a lot better at rolling around on her back. She likes to tuck her knees in and tip over on to her side. Before she would mostly topple back when doing this, but yesterday she was doing really well staying on her side. I'm not looking forward to her figuring out how to roll onto her belly until she figures out how to roll back to her back... she hates the belly so much that I'd probably spend all day flipping her back over to prevent screaming!
I do not understand why bedtime is so difficult for Lydia. Throughout the day she does really well with naps. She is excellent at falling asleep in her swing or even by herself in her Pack N Play. If I put her in her crib for a nap, she might fuss a little bit but 99% of the time she is asleep within 10 minutes.

For her late night feeding (generally sometime between 10 & 11) and for any middle of the night feedings, she also sleeps very well. For those I change her diaper (at late night feed), feed her, then simply lay her in her crib. She may take a few minutes to fall asleep, but she never cries after those feedings. Just wiggles and grunts a bit then falls asleep.

But for some reason her early evening feeding + bedtime does NOT go well. In the past I had been feeding her then doing some bedtime "waketime" activities (bath, PJ's, clean diaper, rocking, singing, etc). When that wasn't seeming to work, I decided to do the bedtime activities first then feed her... since obviously she was doing well at other nighttime feedings where I'd feed her then put her straight back to bed. And it has seemed that she's been falling asleep around 9:30 (I hope to move that earlier eventually).

So anyway, tonight I got her all snug in her PJ's, turned off the lights and settled down in the rocking chair to feed her at 9:00. After eating she was still awake (even though she'd been up for over an hour which is usually the point at which she gets sleepy), so I let her have a paci and rocked & sang to her for a little bit. At 9:30 I put her in her crib with the paci and walked away. Forty five minutes later she FINALLY fell asleep.

No, I did not make her cry for 45 minutes. In fact, most of that time she was not crying... just making noises and generally not settling down. I went in about halfway through to see if she needed to burp and check if she'd spit up on she sheets... she had, so I scooched her further down in the crib out of the wet spot, returned the paci that she'd spit out, and left again. Still it took until 10:15 for her to fall asleep.

I don't get it. Every single time she goes to sleep she has very little trouble except for this ONE time... bedtime. The only difference really is that I rock her and sing to her for a little bit before putting her down (and the paci, but she had trouble before and thus the reason why I decided to try the paci to see if it would help her settle). I love my time singing to her and want that to help cue her that it is time to go to sleep for the night... I really hope that that isn't cuing her to fight sleep instead!

Any moms out there had this problem and figured out a way to deal with it? I honestly don't understand why only this one time of the day is so difficult for her... she falls asleep so well every other time!
Lydia continues to grow and change. Here are some of the latest things...

- She no longer screams bloody murder when I put lotion on her face/ears. She's pretty indifferent to it these days.

- While still a pooping champ, she doesn't poo quite as much these days. We've even gotten through a few baths without poop in the tub. Yay! lol

- Lydia talks more and more these days. Sometimes she'll carry on for a solid 5 minute span. These long stories tend to end with her getting the hiccups from so much babbling. Within the last week she's also added squeals to her growing list of noises. It is so much fun to hear her let loose with a squeal of delight during some of our many conversations.

- For the past week and a half she has been waking up around 3 am every day. This is *not* a fun change! I'm not sure if it is a growth spurt or because we've moved her to her crib or just because she's decided that that's the thing to do. On the plus side, even though she is waking up in the middle of the night she is doing very well falling asleep on her own. After her last feeding of the night (and also the 3:00 one) I can lay her down in her crib and she settles to sleep on her own. Usually she'll make noises and wiggle a lot, but she doesn't cry. Speaking of wiggling, when she really gets going she spins herself in her crib. The other night when I went in there for the middle of the night feeding I found her completely spun 180 degrees from where I'd put her!

- Lydia still dislikes tummy time but she managed to lay on her belly for more than 5 minutes with me today... she even smiled during some of it!

- She has excellent head control despite the lack of tummy time and loves to sit up like a big girl. She enjoys sitting in her Bumbo seat - which comes in very handy for tasks like clipping her nails or putting oil on her scalp.

- She still isn't very interested in toys but is slowly giving them a bit more of her attention. I think loud rattles still scare her a little though!
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Every night I get Lydia ready for bed then sit in the rocking chair holding her and singing to her. Normally she either squirms, stares off into space, or falls asleep. But last night was a very precious moment that I hope never to forget. As I sang the same soft songs I always sing, she looked back at me and smiled and cooed along. When I would stop singing, she'd stop... and when I'd start again, she'd go right back to cooing with a big grin on her face. It brought tears to my eyes. I love my little girl so much!
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