Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Toll

For the most part, I really love being pregnant.  I have been lucky to avoid some of the physical tolls of pregnancy--the nausea, the pains, the extreme discomfort.  I generally feel good and enjoy carrying my baby with me, feeling the kicks and movements, and experiencing the miracle of growing a person.  For the years that I wasn't sure this would ever happen, I feel so blessed to get to experience it three times.

What I had forgotten was the emotional toll that the pregnancies can take.  Not the crying-over-a-Hallmark-commercial emotions or mood swings.  It's the worry.  The anxiety.  I had forgotten how my mind can take me to dark places, wondering about what could go wrong.  We have always chosen to forego genetic testing and the high risk ultrasounds as the results won't change the fact that we'll raise and love our child, no matter the outcome.  But I do think about how a genetic disorder or physical disability or any number of difficulties would affect our life, our family.  Sometimes I even worry that I'm feeling too good or things are too easy or we have gotten too lucky with the amazing girls we have that it's time for the other shoe to drop.  I know that's not the way God works, but I can't stop my mind from going there.

So as much as I enjoy the physical aspects of pregnancy, part of me just can't wait for our baby to get here so that I can make sure he/she is healthy.  So that I can hold my baby in my arms, hear their cry, and count their fingers and toes.  I know that there are no guarantees in life.  I know there is no guarantee of a healthy infant just as there is no guarantee that we can avoid childhood illnesses or freak accidents or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And so I have to keep praying and trusting in God's love and protection.  In God's plan.  In his promise to be with us through whatever life might bring our way.  I'm definitely a work in progress with letting go of my worry, my anxiety, my need for control.  And I'm still looking forward to holding my baby in my arms so I can release this emotional toll that pregnancy brings.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The true meaning of Christmas is in the celebration of Christ's birth.  And what a celebration it was!!

Our festivities started the Sunday before Christmas with the extended Sancken family.  There was food and visiting and playing and a gift exchange and, of course, matching Christmas outfits for all the little girls from Uma.

Great Grams and the great-grandchildren

Our Christmas Eve fun included another trip to the Festival of Lights as Adelie LOVED all the "fancy lights" and reading the Christmas story from Staley's Bible before bedtime.  Both girls slept in on Christmas morning.  After another morning reading of the Christmas story, we headed downstairs for stockings and presents.

SO excited about the new fingernail polish that she found in her stocking.

Who knew socks, toothbrushes, and chapstick could bring so much joy??

With each gift she opened, Staley would excitedly proclaim, "It's just what I wished for!!"

And if you mention to my husband that you could use some little hand sanitizers and a few chip clips in your stocking, be prepared.  He'll deliver!

One of the most fun parts of our Christmas was how excited Staley got about giving.  Before she opened even one gift, or even seemed interested in opening a gift, Staley first wanted to give out all the presents that she had made or picked out.  Even Adelie excitedly handed Zach the candy jar she had painted for him and said, "Made this."  It warmed my heart to see my girls experience the joy in giving.

Staley with the picture she had painted for Zach.  
When I had asked Staley what she wanted to give Daddy for Christmas, she immediately said she wanted to make him a Bear's picture.  She loved painting on a canvas like a "real artist" and worked very hard to make it just right.  And she insisted that she could ONLY paint with blue and orange.

After present opening, we spent the rest of our morning in our pajamas, eating cinnamon rolls (or "dessert for breakfast", as Staley excitedly pointed out) and playing with all the new things.  We played Barbie horses, built with Legos and Magnatiles, read new books, and listened to Adelie's "Frozen" wand play 'Let It Go' about a million times.  Adelie also put on about 30 coats of chapstick and Staley painted her fingernails 3 different times.

Zach and Adelie both loved the MagnaTiles.  Zach enjoyed building while Adelie preferred to destroy whatever Zach built.

Staley (in her crown, of course), diligently painting her nails.

And, of course, both girls got all fancy in the new princess accessories they had given each other.

After nap/rest time, we then headed over to my parents house for more Christmas fun.  More cousins.  More presents.  More food.  More fun.

At least they're all looking in the same general direction with some smiles.

Adelie with her new Elsa doll from Aunt Carrie and Uncle Erik.

Staley got a 'Frozen' microphone from Aunt Melissa and Uncle Evan.  She proceeded to perform for the next 15 minutes.  Ideally, she wanted to turn off the lights and have everyone sit on the couch as the audience, but since it was only the second gift that had been opened, everyone around her just continued their present opening.  I think their aunts and uncles really know my girls!!

Another highlight for Staley was the little sewing machine that she got from Grammie and Grandpa.  It's awesome!!  Staley has already spent several hours sewing various projects.  She made Adelie a little pillow, and Adelie has been sleeping with it every night and likes to tell us, "Sissy made this."  Staley also made gifts for our cats, several friends, and all her Bradford cousins.

Hard at work with her sewing machine

We rounded out our Christmas celebrations with Zach's immediate family yesterday.

Uma and Papa with the grandkids

The three youngest girls got sleeping bags.  Who knew that would be so exciting??  They rested during present opening, taking over the living room floor.  Staley and Lila even asked the grown-ups and older kids to keep it down during some afternoon game-playing as they had chosen to rest in their sleeping bags in the play room instead of playing.

Taking a break from opening gifts to try out her new sleeping bag.

I love Christmas.  And what a wonderful Christmas we had!!  And even though we have no less than 4 new things in our house that sing "Let It Go", I can't complain.  This Christmas was just what I wished for!!

Sending one last dose...

of Christmas cheer.

Here's hoping yours was just as merry and bright!!

Friday, December 26, 2014


Joy to the World.  The Lord is come!!

Hope your Christmas was filled with joy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Letter

I know many of you have already received our Christmas letter, but as this blog is as much for us as for you, I am archiving it here as well.  To keep things fresh, I did add a new Christmas-y picture at the bottom of this post so it's not all old news.

I debated about whether or not to write a Christmas letter this year.  I don’t want people to get bored hearing about us.  We have a family blog that people can read throughout the year (, making it less necessary to do a yearly up-date.  And sometimes I just get caught in a writing rut.  If I wrote the Christmas letter, I’d probably follow the same general formula I always do.  I’d discuss our jobs (part-time occupational therapist at the Children’s Hospital and financial supervisor at State Farm), our kids (Staley as our independent, imaginative almost 4 year old and Adelie as our funny, active 20 month old), our baby on the way (March 2015), our cats (Jake and Elwood, never changing), our vacations (a family vacation to Pentwater and a parents-only vacation to San Francisco), and our home (that also housed my parents for 6 months while they were building a new one).   If I wrote the Christmas letter AGAIN, it might just get old.

So then I thought, “Maybe I’ll pass the buck to Zach.”  He’s a good writer.  Maybe he’d bring a new slant to this whole Christmas letter thing.  But if Zach wrote the Christmas letter, he’d probably go into way more detail about his love for State Farm and the intricacies of his job than would be beneficial for anyone.  He’d probably share more than I would about his running, his role in helping organize a St. Jude Run for Eureka, and his fantasy football teams.  Writing about football might then send him into a downward spiral as he reflected on the massive disappointment of the Bear’s season, and the Christmas letter might just end in a dark and jaded rant about how the Bears just need to fire all their coaches and players and start over.  Definitely not cheerful and Christmas-y.

To keep things on a lighter note, I could definitely turn the reigns over to Staley.  She would have no lack of things to tell you about.  She’d probably talk about pre-school and gymnastics class and funny things that Adelie does.  She might share about her love of princesses and Barbies and horses and mermaids.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she broke into song, which might not translate well into a written Christmas letter, but that wouldn’t stop her, just as being at the grocery store or Sunday School class or at the dinner table doesn’t curb her enthusiasm for breaking into song.  When she ran out of real things to tell you about, she’d probably launch right into stories about her imaginary friends and their flying horses.  As I would prefer to keep the Christmas letter primarily factual, it might be best to keep the letter writing duties out of Staley’s hands for this year.

Who knows what might happen if I told Adelie to write the Christmas letter?  She might emphatically tell me “NO!” and run away.  If I insisted, she would probably fall to the floor and burst into tears.  (Yes, she is a full-fledged toddler now.)  But the draw of not getting in trouble for playing with the laptop might be too enticing.  I wouldn’t anticipate that writing the Christmas letter would hold her attention for very long, as nothing really seems to, but she may write a few 2-3 word sentences, in the third person, possibly including a few of her favorite phrases like “Sissy go?” or “Adelie do it.”  Or perhaps she’d just mention the things she especially likes.  “Elmo.”  “Elsa.”  “Minnie.”  “Sissy.”  Then she’d probably try to stand on the laptop, cry when she was reprimanded, get distracted quickly, and then happily run off to see what Staley was doing.

Our baby, due in early March, is probably not going to be very helpful when it comes to letter writing.  He/she could probably comment briefly about the noise level in our house, the diminishing leg room, or the amount of Halloween candy I’ve consumed, but probably nothing real relevant or helpful to up-dating you on our lives.

And so, for the sake of avoiding depressing football talk, imaginary stories, laptop destruction, or unwanted insight into just how many desserts I’ve consumed, I might just go ahead and write a quick note to let you know that we’ve had a busy, noisy, funny, crazy, full, healthy, happy, successful 2014.  We hope the same for you!  Merry Christmas and may your 2015 be joyous!

With love, Ellen (and the rest of the family that I didn’t trust to write this for me)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Getting Ready

Baby #3 won't be here for another 2 1/2 months (if he/she follows the plan.)  I feel like we still have plenty of time to complete our preparations like bringing up the baby gear from the basement, washing up the blankets and newborn clothes, making some freezer meals, and installing the car seat.  My goal is to enjoy the holidays, help Staley celebrate her birthday, and then focus on baby's arrival.

Staley and Adelie, however, are in full swing of preparing for the baby.  Adelie loves to say, "Hi baby tummy" and pat my tummy.  She is practicing daily her 'big sister' skills by taking care of her baby dolls.  (She's way more of a doll-lover than Staley ever was.)  Adelie is constantly carrying her babies, rocking them, feeding them, taking off their clothes, wiping them with baby wipes, and putting them to bed.

Very serious about taking care of her baby

Of course, Adelie also does plenty of dropping her babies, carrying them upside down, stepping on them, and using their pacifiers/bottles as her own, so not sure she's entirely ready to be taking care of a real baby quite yet.

Staley has a better understanding of what's in store and is very excited about the impending arrival of our baby.  She is constantly asking when the baby will be here.  She has offered name suggestions (Ben if it's a boy and Zoey if it's a girl), likes to feel the baby kick, and is constantly making art projects or coloring pictures for the baby.  This past week-end, Staley started filling up her little backpack with rattles, pictures she has colored, the snow globe she made, baby books, and even a mostly deflated balloon so that she can take it to the hospital for the baby when he/she is born.  She is already a great big sister to Adelie, and I'm glad that she's excited to be the biggest sister for our new baby.

Happy to be a big sister

I may not be feeling ready (at all), but I'm glad that my girls are excited and ready to meet their new baby brother or sister.  Here's hoping they continue to feel that way after the baby arrives.

Not a Mystery

This morning Staley was going potty before we headed out to the library.  She went into the bathroom and shut the door.  About 5 minutes later, after I had finished getting both Adelie and I ready, I called through the door, "Staley, have you gone potty yet?"  She cheerfully replied, "Not yet!  I was just finishing my exercises."  Huh????

There's no mystery as to why it takes us FOREVER to get out the door, is there??

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Slowing Down

The holiday season is always a whirlwind of activities and shopping and lists and gatherings.  It's fun and festive, but can also get overwhelming.  This year, due in part to sickness, in part to circumstance, and in part to conscious decision, we have cut back, slowed down, and really enjoyed getting ready for Christmas.

In years past, we've taken Staley to Monticello for the Polar Express.  We've attended the church Christmas program that takes place in the afternoon.  We've gone to my work Christmas party.  We've attended the State Farm event to meet Santa.  In past years, Christmas shopping has been kept to the last minute.  Christmas baking has been time consuming.  We've felt the need to squeeze in every Christmas event and Christmas activity that is offered to give our children the best Christmas experience.

This year we chose not to spend the time and the money on the Polar Express.  We missed my work Christmas party due to illness, and chose to skip the church Christmas program as Staley's class was singing one song right in the middle of nap/rest time.  We did not attend the State Farm Santa visit as we have chosen not to include Santa as a regular part of our Christmas traditions.  We spread out our Christmas shopping over the past several months with limited December shopping to do and kept our Christmas baking to a minimum.

Instead, we've spent more time at home as a family.  We've read lots of Christmas stories and done Christmas crafts.  We've been singing Christmas carols.  Our nightly advent calendar (a gift from some close friends and neighbors) has been a highlight for the girls.  We take the scenic route home from evening events looking at Christmas lights, and the girls really enjoyed the Festival of Lights.  Staley got to go to Christmas story time, and I enjoyed visiting Staley's pre-school class to take part in their Christmas party.  But our recent days have been primarily spent at home, and that's been really nice.

I love Christmas traditions.  I like getting caught up in the spirit of the season.  I'm looking forward to special time with both sides of the family.  I love shopping for the perfect gift, delivering goodies to neighbors, and watching my girls get excited about making gifts for others. And I think that removing some of the clutter, the extras, the unnecessary busy-ness has really allowed us to focus on what Christmas is really about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Expensive Taste

The other night at dinner, we had this conversation:

Staley:  "Daddy, why do you always have to go to work?"
Zach:  "I have to go to work so that I can earn money so we can buy the things we need like food and clothes.  If we didn't have money, we wouldn't have our cars or our toys or our house."
Staley:  "I don't like houses."
Me:  "You don't like houses??  You mean that you want to live outside in the cold?"
Staley:  (in a clarifying tone) "I don't like houses.  I like castles."

Guess she's going to need to find a way to make a lot more money.  Or marry a prince.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spirit of Giving

Staley loves doing arts and crafts.  And she then loves to give them away to others.  The other day, Staley made a snowman craft at home.  When she finished, I asked her, "Do you want to put your snowman up on the mantle for decoration or give it to someone?"  She responded, "I want to give it to a kid who doesn't have any art."  Her generosity makes my heart happy.

So if you know of any kids who are in need of some art, let me know and I'll make sure to get this little beauty to them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh, The Memories

This morning as we were driving to gymnastics class, Staley and I had this conversation:

Staley:  "Can we go see a HUMONGOUS cow again sometime?"
Me:  "Where did we see a humongous cow?"
Staley:  "At the zoo with the carousel.  Remember?  We saw it going potty.  We saw it go pee pee AND poo poo."

So you can't remember that I've told you three times in the past five minutes to put on your coat, but THIS you remember.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Tis the Season...

...for runny noses, sore throats, headaches, and hacking coughs.  At least around our house, that's how it's been going down.  Adelie gets the award for trail-blazer as she was hacking and snotting before anyone else had realized it was the thing to do.  Staley wins the prize for worst-sounding cough, as you'd swear she's been chain smoking since the day she was born.  Zach is currently running for healthiest of the bunch, but he may just be masking all his symptoms with the myriad of medications he is taking to fight off what the rest of us are spreading.  And I seem to be leading the race for largest variety of symptoms, experiencing everything from the splitting headache and watery eyes to the runny nose and hoarse voice.  Luckily, being pregnant, I can combat this with heavy doses of orange juice and hot showers.

Amidst the fun of the hacking and sneezing, we've also found a little time to welcome in the holiday season with Christmas tree shopping, Christmas decorating, Christmas crafts, Christmas shopping, Christmas songs.  And although we did not trek to and from church during nap/rest time for a one minute performance, Staley has happily performed her Christmas program song for anyone who is willing to listen.

I love the Christmas season...even if Kleenex boxes are as prominent in my house as nativities.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winner, Winner

Adelie cracks me up on a daily basis with the little things she is learning and saying and doing.  Like when she says "bless you" when someone sneezes or "see more fancy lights" when we drive by Christmas lights.  I love when she sings snippets of songs or recites parts of her books.  She is getting more opinionated, decisively choosing her pajamas or her bedtime books or specific songs in the car.  And she is learning more and more, identifying her colors and starting to learn some of her shapes.  Even when we don't think she is paying attention in all of her busy-ness, Adelie is taking it all in. The other night at dinner, Zach and I were having a conversation and the girls were happily eating.  During the conversation, Zach said, "Winner, winner."  Without missing a beat, Adelie piped up with "chicken dinner."

Life with Adelie keeps me on my toes and keeps me laughing.  I'm so lucky to be her mom.  Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Time Management

This afternoon during rest time, Staley and I had this conversation through the monitor.

Staley:  (calling through the monitor) "I'm ready to be done with rest time."
Me:  "You still have 10 more minutes before rest time is over."

After several more seconds, Staley called through the monitor again.

Staley:  "Okay.  Now I'm ready to be done."
Me:  "I just told you that you still had 10 more minutes."
Staley:  "But I just counted to 10.  Actually, I even counted to 12."

Minutes.  Seconds.  Sometimes it really does feel all the same.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Does It Make Me a Bad Mom??

I love my girls.  I love being their mom.  I love getting to spend days at home with them.  But let's be honest.  Some days, being a mom is hard.  And being the mom that you really want to be?  Well, that's even harder.

Does it make me a bad mom that, when Adelie woke up this morning at 6:30, I just turned on a Micky Mouse Clubhouse episode for her because I didn't have the energy to play?

Does it make me a bad mom that I could hear Staley and Adelie calling my name while I was in the shower this morning and I didn't answer?  (No one was crying, so I figured it wasn't an emergency.)

Does it make me a bad mom that I told Staley that she couldn't tell me another made-up story about her imaginary friends until she told me about something that really happened?

Does it make me a bad mom that I broke a small plastic clip off Adelie's carseat cover because I was so frustrated trying to get it off the seat that, instead of taking the time to un-install the carseat, I just snapped it off?

Does it make me a bad mom that the reason I had to remove the carseat cover in the first place is because I waited too long to change Adelie's diaper and she leaked all over her carseat?

Does it make me a bad mom that I sighed loudly, told Staley how frustrated I was, and refused to listen to Staley's excuses when I asked her to get dressed while I was in the shower and she was doing somersaults in her PJs when I got out?  And again when it took her 5 minutes to walk up the stairs for rest time because she got distracted by the mirror and then was just lying down on one of the steps saying she was "stuck?"

Does it make me a bad mom that, in exasperation, I slammed Adelie's cup loudly onto the table after she threw it on the floor at lunch again today?

Does it make me a bad mom that all I want right now for is my girls to take an extra long nap/rest time?

There are some days that I feel like I'm doing something right.  But there are other days when my patience, my energy level, my focus just don't match up to the needs of my girls.  I want to be fun and present, patient and kind, calm and collected.  But on some days, like today, I'm just not the mom I want to be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How Quickly We Forget

Tonight Staley is having another sleep-over with her Bradford cousins at their house.  A text with a picture of the 3 girls, freshly bathed, showing off their newly painted fingernails assured me that she is having a fabulous time.  But a night at home with only one little girl just felt strange.

It was only a little over 18 months ago that this was our normal.  Three people at the dinner table.  Two on one attention for our little girl.  Only one child to help at dinner time.  Only one child to get ready for bed.  Only one child to read to, sing to, pray with, and kiss goodnight.  It really wasn't that long ago that this was our normal.  Relatively calm.  Relatively quiet.  Relatively drama free.  (This is Adelie we're talking about, so it wasn't entirely calm, quiet, and drama free.)  But not so long ago, we had two adults who only had to take care of one child.

As Zach lingered in the doorway of Adelie's bedroom while I put on her pajamas, not quite sure what to do with himself, we reflected on how things have changed.  How did we ever think that life was busy before?  Instead of an all-hands-on-deck approach to bedtime with a flurry of pajamas and potty time and tooth brushing and songs and books and prayers, we just took turns calmly walking through each of Adelie's bedtime rituals with her.  Once in bed and immediately asleep, the house just seemed eerily quiet as usually Staley still has a little talking or singing or requests to get out of her system before she falls asleep.

Now that our life is filled with two, a night with one just seems odd.  Easy.  Calm.  Quiet.  And special to have that time solely focused on Adelie.  But still odd.  We have gotten so used to our life with two that it's hard to remember when every night was centered around one child.  And I'm sure that as we grow accustomed to three, we'll look back on these nights with two and reflect on how odd a night with two will seem.  How easy and calm and quiet life with two can be.  I know that another child will bring more work.  More mess.  More noise.  More chaos.  More bedtime busyness.  But also more laughter.  More playing.  More good night kisses.  More good night hugs.  More love.  And we may relish the calm and quiet of a night with just one or two.  But we'll never, not for one second, regret our life with three.