Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

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Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

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Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

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Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

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Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

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Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

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Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

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Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

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As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

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Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

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Baby #4: First Trimester Pregnancy Update

In case you missed the Instagram announcement, Dan and I are excited to be expecting Baby #4 sometime this fall/winter. Our due date is December 19th, and our doctor has high hopes that we’ll make it to 37 weeks this time (a TERM baby!) which would put Baby’s birthday around the end of November (November 28th).

At our initial doctor visit, I was less than six weeks along but we could see a tiny little heart beat pulse on the ultrasound machine. I’ve never had an ultrasound that early before. It was hard to recognize our little girl/guy.

The first question everyone asks when they hear the news is: “Are you going to find out this time?” You may know already, we found out ahead of time that Abby and Lydia were girls, but we waited to be surprised with Paul. I loved being surprised and Dan didn’t mind the wait, so we’re waiting again this time. I guess you’ll all just have to wait with us. I have an inkling suspicion that it’s a girl, but, for the record, I’ve been wrong with every single baby so far. 😛

So far, this pregnancy has been the most difficult, with more nausea and food aversions than my other three. Then again, I’m also chasing around three Little Ones this time and I don’t get nearly as long of naps. I’ve been particularly disgusted by lentils, and for several weeks I couldn’t tolerate most foods. There haven’t been a ton of strong cravings, mostly little ones: ice in my water, nectarines, and simple sandwiches with tomato, mustard, and lettuce. I’ve felt well enough to handle breakfasts, but then I’ve been unable to eat much of anything come lunch time. After nap time I’ve felt the worst, and I usually haven’t felt better until after the kids are in bed. Then Dan teases me while I make whatever sort of dinner sounds good to me at the time. Lately, I’ve had a humongous craving for cottage cheese.

I had my second prenatal appointment at eight weeks and everything looked good. (That’s the ultrasound in the Instagram pic.) My third appointment was at twelve weeks, but Baby was measuring closer to thirteen. That was also my pre-op appointment for a minor surgery performed a week and a half later. It’s the same surgery I had with Paul, and the procedure that will hopefully help me carry this baby even longer. My next appointment isn’t until July 12th (17 weeks).

So, other than the difficulty eating, this pregnancy really is flying by. The kids keep me so busy and our summer is just so full of activities, that right now I’m distracted enough that I’m not counting the days. I’ve been trying to cook and freeze meals here and there, but it’s been nothing compared to last time because I’ve been struggling to cook much of anything anyway. Hopefully we won’t really need those freezer meals until after Baby is born!

My Thankful for 2015

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Last week our family had a restful and happy Thanksgiving Day. It was so good, I didn’t even think to take pictures, as crazy as that may sound. And, though Thanksgiving has passed for this year, I wanted to share my “thankful” for the year. This is what I shared at our church’s Thanksgiving service, so if you heard me there you can go ahead and return to your Facebook feed. 🙂

A little over two years ago, our second daughter was born. At that time, my doctor told me I would probably never carry a baby past 32 weeks.

The months preceding Abby’s birth and the year following her birth were full of trials. It seemed like one trial after another. We did our best to press on, obey God, and trust Jesus that He was sovereign and using everything for our good and His glory. But it was a struggle. Toward the end of last summer, we found out we were expecting Baby Paul. Because we hadn’t moved into our new house yet (or even put in an offer), and because we were anticipating another 12 weeks in the hospital with a preemie, the news was a little overwhelming. I was praying one day about Baby Paul and felt God saying to my heart, “This is a reward”.

I had stayed up late one night researching possible medical interventions that could help Paul make it further along. That was overwhelming too. Operations, procedures, limitations, bed rest, risks, medicine, hormones…it was all overwhelming and I didn’t know what course we should take. I prayed again and God reminded me of Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

So, over the next several months, we did our best to Trust in the Lord, seek His direction in all our decisions with Baby, and acknowledge Him. Right away, many came along side us and began to pray for Baby. There were at least two women from my Bible study who really carried our burden every single day.

From early in the pregnancy Dan and I started praying that Baby would not be born until after our church’s annual Fur Rondy talent show.

He did.

We also started praying that Baby would not be breach. He had been breach through most of the pregnancy. At our 20-week ultrasound he was still breach and it was around that time that I became convinced that he would not flip. Though I asked our Bible study prayer group and my husband to pray that Baby would flip, I eventually resigned myself to the likely possibility of another breach baby, which would mean another c-section baby. I prayed about it one last time and fully surrendered it to God. A couple of nights later, Baby flipped and stayed head down for the rest of the pregnancy.

Baby was not a c-section baby. He was not even early enough for me to be stuck on magnesium or antibiotics. In fact, in answer to many, many prayers, Paul was born completely naturally. All the hospital did was provide ice chips, a birthing ball, and someone to catch Baby. (They even offered to let me do that, but I was a little distracted at the time).

My last big prayer request was that I would be able to hold Baby right when he was born. I didn’t think that was ever going to happen, but I prayed anyway, and asked everyone else to pray too. I didn’t get to hold Lydia until she was one day old. I didn’t get to hold Abby until she was three days old. Words cannot describe how badly I wanted this. The closest I can come is “desire of my heart” (see Psalm 37:4). Words also cannot describe how happy I was the moment the picture below was taken. Or any time I see this picture. I know I’ve shared it before. I will probably share it again. This was one of the happiest moments EVER.

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God is so kind.

Paul was born at 35 weeks.

He came home with us from the hospital without spending a single day in the NICU. Our transition to having a baby at home was the easiest we’ve had yet and Paul has continued to be such a content, sweet, cuddly, cute, precious baby boy. He really feels like a reward. 🙂

I am so thankful that God is so kind. That he leads us when we seek Him and He blesses us when we obey.