Unfortunate Victim...

...of hat hair.

This is why you MUST help Cameron in applying his stocking cap before going on a run to the store. Otherwise, you get this. Defintely not "let's go out in public" material. :)

What a ham! Try and look at him without laughing...

Baby Business

And now...finally...I mean it's been three weeks...


Sweet baby #4!!

Since I don't currently have scanning abilities, a picture of the picture will have to do. Same sweet little nose as his three older siblings, and same (extra large) noggin, too :) His profile is looking awfully similar to both brothers', but my prediction is that he's going to arrive looking more like his sister, with dark hair, skin, eyes, and a little longer face than Cam or Bennett. Don't know why, just my guess :)

We got a 4D ultrasound as well, though the little guy wouldn't cooperate to let us see much of his face. He had his arms curled under his chin and placed over his profile (again, like his brothers) almost the entire time, so we didn't get to see much feature-wise (which is actually OK with me...a little surprise is good!) He is active and healthy, and had the hiccups several times during the process! I was glad to see him movin' and groovin', because I haven't felt as many of those precious baby kicks this time around. Something about how he's positioned (probably also scarring from two c-sections) has limited my feeling up to this point.

Even though baby boy was measuring for June 3, the doctor is still going with my original (guesstimate) dates and assigning a due date of May 22. I thought that it was changed to June 1 as of my last appointment, but I found out he's staying with the May date for now, unless my tummy starts measuring small (ha.hahaha.ha. really??) So...we shall see! As long as the 5.22 date sticks, we'd schedule a c-section for the week prior, which would likely put his birthday on May 16, 17, or 18 (Elly's due date)! Looks like a May birthday buddy for the princess!

People have asked me if I'm sad that the baby is not a sister for Elly, and I can honestly say that I'm not in the slightest. It would be wonderful for her to have a sister, yes, but I'm not in charge of that decision. I personally think Elly was born to hang with the boys, and I think she'll do just fine :) The part I'm having trouble coping with emotionally are the bins full of baby girl clothes in the basement I'll have to look at someday...sigh. My sister-in-law just found out that they are having a baby girl in June, though, so it looks like I'll be seeing those sweet summer dresses around after all. Can't wait to have a baby niece, either :)

Just wanted to report that all is well in babyland! Siblings are preparing mentally...Cam asks daily if his brother is ready to come out yet, Elly kisses and talks to my belly, and Bennett has recently taken to hugging and holding baby dolls and stuffed animals rather than body slamming them (good sign). Can't wait to meet you in May, little man!


Much Ado About Bennett

A good deal of my blogging time has been devoted to Cameron and Elly lately. I wrote the other day about some of their interactions, and a fellow mama asked me how Bennett interacted within the mix. It made me sad to think that the past few blogs have been far too short on my precious baby. My littlest (BIG) boy. My Bennett Isaiah. My Brown Brown :)

So I'm going to do something that's hard for me. I'm going to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Hard, arduous work. Bragging mama work. That's right. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! A post just for Bennett...because there haven't been nearly enough :)

Where do I start with the baby of the family? As far as interaction with his siblings, he's the ULTIMATE little brother. He was born with a fierce drive to pester, heckle, harass and torment. He can disrupt sleeping baby dolls, destroy perfectly put-together puzzles and knock down sturdily constructed towers in record time. He knows how to bug...but that's part of his M.O. He's the little brother!

As long as we're on the word, "little" can only be used to describe Bennett's place in the family in reference to AGE. He's edging ever-closer to picking Elly off in the weight department, and Cam won't be hard after that. He's solid...not chubby...but quite sturdy :) He's a little above average in the height department, but something about his build tells me that he's not going to stay the baby for very long. I think he might even grow to be taller than his Daddy. :)

Bennett's personality is intense. I say this because you could meet him one day and think he was the sweetest, most affectionate child in the world. But if you meet him the next day...or even in a few hours, you'd shake your head and smile at what kind of a firecracker, independent, stubborn personality you saw. I think he's got a stronger will than Elly (and those who know Elly, know her will). He needs consistency and structure, but at the very same time needs devotion, attention and AFFECTION! Yep, I really think he's going to be a 6'4 teddy bear...

This intensity lends itself to a great amount of emotion, as well. This little boy crumbles at a stern word, and squeals, claps and screams at the opportunity to pig pile on his Daddy in the middle of the living room floor. He's all-in, 100 percent. He wears his heart on his sleeve...and I love it.

Bennett probably gets into more trouble than either of his older sibs did at this age, and I think that's due to a combination of things. 1) his personality, 2) the urging/manipulation of his brother and sister, 3) my eyes and attention now going three different ways, and 4) his problem solving mentality. There's a chair in the way? Move it. Can't slide it over? Knock it down. Oh, you wanted to get your finger into that outlet? Surely we can find one of Cam's toys to pry off the outlet cover and get closer. Can't quite reach what's on the counter? Knock mommy's cookbooks off the shelves and climb right up the stack. You catch my drift... :)

I must say that I do catch Bennett in the act of troublemaking (also) more often than Cam and Elly because he can't contain his excitement when he's about to pull something off. I hear the door creak open and the little pats of his hands on the floor as he goes toward our (uncarpeted) stairs to take a light speed climb...and right before he takes the initial crawl up, he SQUEALS with joy at the prospect of making it up those stairs. I mean, a crazy loud noise that totally gives him away! Fortunately this also gives me the opportunity to fetch him before he completes the task. A similar sound is made when he's about to reach his hand in and play in the toilet, or pull every plastic grocery bag out of the dispenser. Busted by his own glee. Poor little stinker.

When Bennett's happy, relaxed and content, you will almost ALWAYS find him sitting with his little ankles crossed in front of him. Sitting with a snack in the high chair, waking up and jabbering in his crib, on the living room floor with a cup of milk, or in his carseat jammin' to some tunes on the way to the grocery store, those precious little ankles are al.ways.crossed. It's totally his own thing, and it makes me smile every time I see him do it!

Teething, sleep training, and weaning when I was nursing have all been most difficult with Bennett. Caleb would say it's purely because he's the baby (which I completely don't understand... :) but he's probably the most physically sensitive baby I've had. His shots were difficult and needed extra care, his teeth coming in were the END OF THE WORLD, and when he gets overtired...just watch out. It's not easy being the baby, as Daddy would say ;)

This boy has the perseverance of a lot of kids twice his age. He LOVES to throw the ball (any ball, really), and judging by his build and tendencies, I think we may have a real athlete on our hands in the future. He's already started his weight training and carb-loading for future competition, pretty sure... :)

Ah...my Brown Brown. Days are more exciting because of him. My cupboards must be stocked with more food because of him. I'm certain I'm keeping off and extra 3-5 pregnancy pounds because of him. Elly is a big sister and Cameron twice a big brother because of him. My heart is full of that much more JOY, because of him.

I'm teary-eyed right now because of him.

Just love this little boy...

July 2010. Almost 9 months.

Exhibit A. Happy boy, ankles crossed :)

Exhibit B.

Excuse me, mama, but you may not have noticed
that my snack tray has gone empty.
A boy cannot starve! Refill, please?

My jolly little man :)


Hiding Behind The Wall

So, I posted yesterday about a few of the sweet interactions I've observed between Cam and Elly lately, and someone asked me on Facebook,"are your kids ever naughty?!" After having a good laugh, I thought about it and realized that when I take time to post, I really only post about the rosy, feel-good-inside stuff. I don't always make room for the day-to-day reality...

Now I feel it necessary to reassure those of you who don't see my kids and I very often (those who do see us regularly need NO reassurance), that their interactions, behavior, and general thought processes are not always daisies and butterflies. Sometimes, in fact, they quite - ahem - embarrasing... and sometimes, they are downright naughty.

Let me just affirm this with a few stories I can think of right off the top of my head (oh, and there are many more I've buried deep for psychological reasons). HA!

Just yesterday Cameron was having a bit of an off day. He was doing OK before his nap, but something must've happened while he was sleeping that got him back out of bed on the wrong foot. He cried for a good 25 minutes once he woke up (nope, not sure what about), then proceeded to pull all the toilet paper off the roll and down the hall at his cousins' house. He hasn't tried this particular trick at home EVER, so my guess is that he was getting big laughs for doing it...apparently worth it to him. He iced the cake that evening by pulling out his first curse word. It was a word he'd used two nights before (pretty sure it was one of his many made-up words that just happened to come out wrong), so we had to explain to him that it wasn't something we said, it was a yucky word. No harm done, right? Well, until yesterday when he was upset and retrieved that little nugget from his mind and threw the word out again. Bad news.

A few weeks ago, we had to run to the doctor to get Elly's labs drawn for her thyroid medication adjustment. Usually, I either phone a friend (or aunt or grandma) to come with me, or drop off at least one child along the way, but that day, it just didn't work out. Of course, the office needed to re-enter Elly's insurance info when I got there (she's been there at least 8 times), so I let the older two go look at the fish tank at the other end of the waiting room while I the receptionist took my info. In the 45 seconds I was turned around, Elly had turned off the TV (because SPONGEBOB was on, she took it upon herself to make that decision), and she was standing ON THE [small, teetering, not-for-standing-on] TABLE so she could see some particular fish at the top of the tank. It took me one quick "Elly Mariah" to get her down from a distance, then just a couple apologies to the parents of crying toddlers whose morning cartoon viewing had been put to a halt. She knew she was being sassy by turning it off, and really knew she shouldn't be on the table...

Continuing on the lab visit morning, once Elly screamed and writhed through having her blood drawn (Bennett yelped too - he wasn't upset but wanted to compete for volume control...Cam fought back his own tears, ha) the precious lab tech felt my pain and gave Cam and Elly each a sucker and Bennett a sticker. Bennett's sticker was - again - our dear friend Spongebob. Elly started commenting as I pushed/rushed her out the door. I thought we were in the clear and stopped outside the elevator to put Bennett's snowsuit back on. Elly and Cam somehow got into a traffic jam that caused Cam's sucker to become COMPLETELY LODGED in Elly's hair. He, of course, started yanking his sucker back, screaming at her for trying to take it from him, while she screamed at him for pulling her hair. Of course, cue a sweet, expectant couple coming out of the elevator right at that moment (getting a tour of the hospital, I'm guessing?) who nervously smile and pass us by as I attempt to remove the lollipop without also removing a chunk of Elly's scalp. Bennett is chewing his Spongebob sticker to tiny bits and spitting those bits out onto the stroller and floor. Charming, yes?

Same day (this morning was a rough one). We make a quick swing through Wal-Mart, and by the time we hit the checkout lane, the kids are getting restless. I open a package of string cheese that I have just purchased so they can share a snack, and the cashier is politely making conversation with Cam. I can't remember exactly what she asked him, but he started rattling off the entire story of our family, explaining himself and each of his siblings by their nicknames (Bubbaloo, Looney, and Brown Brown, oldest to youngest, in case you're wondering). Then also proceeds to tell poor, unassuming cashier that I have a baby in my tummy, but in two weeks (we're still working on time concepts...days/weeks/months are confusing) the doctor is going to pull the baby out of my tummy and he will cry. A bit intense for a mid-morning "you look like a good big brother," don't you think?

A few months ago, we had a volunteer appreciation/recognition day at church. We had a service and a potluck, then the microphone at the front was left open so anyone could express their gratitude or share encouragement. Somehow, Cameron made his way to the front...and someone gave him the mic. I'm sure they were thinking, "How sweet! His Mommy sent him up to say thank you or share a cute little poem or something!" Nope. He took the captive audience and ran with it, and started saying something about everyone coming with him to the palace, where there would be lions and tigers and (maybe dragons? My mind is swimming at this point as I realize it's my son's voice being projected throughout the sanctuary). I run up and retrieve the microphone, apologize, and try my best to laugh it off and say something kind and memorable on his behalf...aye.

It's getting a little late, and I can't think of all that I'd like to...but I hope you can also enjoy and relate to my crazy stories :) Sometimes our days are filled with disagreements and discipline, and some days I pray for the patience even to walk into a room that I know has been too quiet for too long. Sometimes, instead of being a fly on the wall, I want to run to the next aisle, wall, or room and HIDE...and sometimes, I collapse onto the couch in sheer exhaustion! I don't always share about these days, and I definitely don't have it all figured out...

I hope I don't make it seem like things are a fairy tale around here :) We don't do it all right - not even close. Still, we're BLESSED, and even at the end of the most trying day, I find myself filled with gratitude for God's grace and humbled by the privilege of raising these imperfect, but oh-so-precious, little lives! :)


Fly On The Wall

I have SO been enjoying the interactions I've observed between Cameron and Elly lately. They really are becoming the best of friends, and it's amazing to watch. This doesn't mean, however, that they won't turn into the fiercest of foes if the wrong toy or activity comes between them...but when the rubber hits the road they're in it together for life :)

Here are some of the creative playtimes I've overheard and/or witnessed:

Playing "stomach flu." Elly is the sick little girl and Cameron is the Daddy. She sits on the couch and tells him she doesn't feel good, and this prompts the Daddy to bring her a small pot from the [play] kitchen. She proceeds to "vomit" in said pot, then Daddy takes it and dumps it out in the sink. He tucks her into bed to rest, gives her some kisses on the forehead and covers her up with 4-5 blankets, then reports to Mommy (me), that she is too sick to go to church tonight. Gross, yet still so precious? ♥

Pretending "we just got married." Elly puts on her sparkly necklace, bracelet, pink shiny shoes, princess crown and wand. They walk through the breezeway, kitchen and living room holding hands. When they arrive at the couch, they announce that they just got married, give each other hugs, then break into dance (?) This one had me rolling today. Definitely brought about by increased curiosity in the wedding photo hanging in our living room. "Wow, Mommy, you looked beautiful in that picture. Someday, when you get little like me, you can wear that dress again." HA... ♥

Cameron assuring Elly "I'll protect you." Since a children's church lesson on The Good Samaritan (and the "bullies" who left the man on the side of the road) there has been much talk about bullies in our home. Cameron lets Elly know ALLLLL the time that he will "pritect" her from all the "bollies" and that she is on his team. The bad guys and bullies aren't on his team, but Elly is. "Mommy, Elly is my best sister." ♥

Frequently they are Mommy and Daddy to Elly's baby dolls. She has about 4 she plays with on a regular basis, pushing them around in her shopping cart, feeding and caring for them, etc. Cam passes in and out of noticing them and caring nothing for them, but sometimes he engages and plays right along with her. Evidently, they have quadruplets, or at least 4 children very close in age (surely don't know where they'd get that wild idea from). Together they parent their babies. Sometimes, I find all 4 tucked into our bed, sometimes they each have their own throw pillow and blanket. Sometimes they each have a chair, plate and fork at the table, and sometimes they are all "havin' bad attitudes" and in a timeout... :) Daddy goes to work and ALL the babies ALWAYS cry...but he assures them he'll be back for lunch and will cuddle them then. ♥

We've become puzzle fanatics at our house since Christmas. Both of them got new puzzles in their stockings and as gifts, so we put them together several times a day. Cam has it down to a science and always finishes quickly. Elly is getting there but needs a little help sometimes...and it amazes me how patient her brother is with her and how he tries to teach her the right way to put them together :) Sometimes, she won't tolerate his invasion of her personal space...but sometimes, she is teachable and cooperative...and Cam loves to TEACH :) I see a gift building here... ♥

This is an older escapade, but still I must share. Around Christmastime, when we were mostly house-ridden, I frequently caught Cam talking to Elly about the Christmas story. Baby Jesus mostly, but also the animals in the stable with him, the stars in the sky, and the wise men. One night at supper, he wasn't touching his food, so we told him he needed to eat some of it at least...that some kids didn't even get a bite of supper at night. He took a bite, thought about it for awhile and said, "Yep, some kids like baby Jesus don't have food. But that's why the wise men brought him some." Curious. "What did the wise men bring to baby Jesus? "They brought him two fish...and five loaves-a-bread." Well...at least we're in the Bible... :) ♥

I love listening in on playtime and what I hear...and as always I'm so blessed to be near my babies each day to hear it :) Thanks for sharing my silly, simple joy!


Keep On Truckin'

Someone sent me a link to this fun little gadget...so I thought I'd made a license plate for each of my children. The characters I needed wouldn't fit on Iowa plates, so we're traveling in our second home state of MN. Can you guess who's truckin' in each of these cars to(let's test Mommy all at once, ok?)day? Ahhh, the therapy :)

Oh...and just one more :) We'll find out this driver's identity very, very soon...