Carson: Age 3

A little late here, but Carson turned three in May! She brings us and so many others incredible amounts of joy. Sean and I often remark how quickly time passes and that three years flew by, but also how we can't really remember what life was like "BC - Before Carson." 
At age three:
- She loves to: skip naps, do craft projects/color, play dress up, watch princess movies  
- Some of her favorite people are: Studpa (my dad) and Nanny (my mom), her daddy
- Her best friends are: Aspen, Caroline, Levi
- She likes to eat: Macaroni and cheese, waffles, milk, most fruits
- She is incredibly smart and picks up on new skills very quickly. Her teachers often comment on her sharp she is. She knows most Bible stories by heart and we work with her on scripture memory as well. If Sean and I had to guess right now what she might be when she grows up, we would say a doctor or nurse. She's very bright, but also compassionate and caring. 
- She wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up and loves all things horse related

For her birthday party we had friends and family over for Pancakes and Pajamas. It was a cute theme that worked pretty well for little friends. We are thankful to everyone who came to help us celebrate!

My friend Lindsay made her cake -- isn't is awesome?! It tasted as good as it looked.

Kiddo table. Most of these kids are from our small group, but a couple from school/family.

Little cutie about to blow out her candle. This girl loves anything sweet! Some of her birthday gifts this year included: bike, scooter, play doh sets, outdoor toys, princess outfits, and play camping gear. My parents and Sean and I tried to focus on experiential gifts, so we got her a pony ride and my parents got her some memberships (summer pool and a play place nearby).

The day after her birthday she woke up and asked me why she wasn't four years old. :)

Carson Ruby, 
Being with you is one of my most favorite things. Whether we are just snuggling on the couch or playing at the park, you are a light to those around you. You get your strong will from your mama and your sense of humor and wit from your dad. You are sharp as a tack and nothing gets past you -- it's actually pretty amazing sometimes. We are confident you are going to do amazing things with your life and are so thankful we get to witness you grow up and be used by God. Carson, never forget how much you are loved by us -- to the moon and back! 

31 weeks and her name: Avery Kait!

Well, the second trimester of this pregnancy was seemingly over just as it started. It was full of making fun memories like Carson's 3rd birthday, a family trip to Gulf Shores and lots of swimming at the pool. My nesting phase has just started to kick in and we will be painting Avery's room in the next couple of weeks. Having another girl feels pretty natural to me and I'm excited to get the opportunity to reuse some of the same clothing, bedding, etc. Big sister Carson is doing very well with the idea of a new baby and often asks if they can please share a room. She is inclusive of Avery in family discussions, talks to her in my belly and is pretty confident she will be the first to hold her. We will see what it's like when baby is actually here, but so far her attitude has been an answered prayer. 

How far along: 31 weeks
Gender: A girl! Avery Kait Huddleston
Maternity clothes: Mostly yes for bottoms, or leggings. Tops are a mix.
Weight gain: 16 lb, a little more than with Carson but not too far off
Movement: All the time. More rolling motions and lots of hiccups.
Sleep: Pretty well still. I don't last in any position for very long, but a body pillow helps. 
Symptoms: By the end of the day I'm spent. Somehow I feel like my belly doubles in size throughout the day. Other than tiredness and some mild swelling at the end of the day, no remarkable symptoms to speak of.
Best moment this week: We just got back from a trip to the beach. We dubbed it "Big Sis Make A Wish" -- she's been asking to go to the beach pretty much every day for six months, so we spend a few days in Gulf Shores. She loved playing in the sand and was a little fish in the swimming pools. 

Sweet Avery, we are spending a lot of time in prayer and discussion preparing our hearts and home for your arrival. Your daddy, sister and I are all looking forward to meeting you soon and showing you off to our family and friends. Avery, your middle name is Kait -- you are named after your daddy's cousin (and my best friend) Kaitlyn and we hope that you exhibit many of the character qualities she has. Kaitlyn is loyal, honest, one of the funniest people we know, and a woman who loves Jesus and her family well. When picking someone in our family to name you after, this was an easy decision. You are loved by many already and we look forward to celebrating your arrival in the next couple of months. We are confident you are the perfect addition to our team and a gift from God. Love you, sweet girl. 

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Sugar and Spice and Everything Twice

The Huddleston Family is growing and it's another girl! We are over the moon and can't wait to meet our newest addition later this Summer (due August 26th)

A few important memories of this pregnancy so far:

- I found out I was pregnant just before Christmas. I got a positive test moments after I finished reading the entire Bible in a year and cried some pretty big tears of thankfulness.
- Carson is pumped. She's been into babies since a very young age and is excited to have one of her own. She includes little sister in family conversations and also thinks she may also have a belly in her tummy to match mine.
- Much sicker this time around -- about 16 weeks of nausea. I've turned a corner here and am very thankful!
- My thyroid meds have had to be changed a few times. We are monitoring it closely and the obgyn isn't concerned, so I won't be either.

How far along: 17 weeks
Gender: A girl! We are close to a name selection.
Maternity clothes: I for sure feel bigger than I look. Started the old hair tie trick this week.
Weight gain: None yet, but I'm sure I'm just around the corner.
Movement: Yes, I mostly notice them when I'm still. Sean felt a little kick this week, too. 
Sleep: Lots of it. Sleeping like a champ so far. Sean says I snore a lot more when I'm pregnant and I have crazier dreams. He said I was talking about nachos last night. :)
Symptoms: I've been much sicker this pregnancy than the last, but the past week or two have been much better. My main symptoms are a growing belly, food aversions and sensitivity to citrus. I'm also pretty sensitive and weepy.
Best moment this week: We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week with a date night while Carson had her first sleepover. Very thankful for Sean and the way he cares for me and the girls. He's been a champ since I was so sick for much of early pregnancy.

Sweet baby girl, 
Little miss, we are filled with love and thankfulness for your precious life and look forward to you completing our family. I'll go ahead and warn you that your big sister might smother you with kisses a bit when you first arrive. I hope the two of you become life long friends. When we found out you were a girl, I was surprised but your daddy says he knew all along. He is very excited to be a daddy to two girls! We love you so much and are praying for the rest of this pregnancy to go smoothly. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow our family and think you will be the perfect fit! Looking forward to life full of loving you and your sissy. 


Carson at 2.5

Carson Ruby is 2.5 and really is such a joy. Sean describes her as "aggressively affectionate" and I'd say that's pretty accurate!

Somethings about Carson recently:

- Her vocabulary has skyrocketed and she's a great communicator. She understands emotions and will let us know how she's feeling in pretty descriptive terms.
- Her love language is for sure physical touch. Girl loves to cuddle, give hugs, and hold hands. Our church had an event centered around your child's love language and after really realizing hers was physical touch, we've avoided a lot of disciplinary type issues by just offering more snuggle ("nuggle") time.
- She has a lot of friends, but some of her favorites are: Aspen, Caroline, Harlow and Levi. She's a social butterfly and loves to be around others.
- She does ok with eating -- she will usually try about anything, but doesn't seem to eat a ton of any one particular item.
- She potty trained herself. :) Right around her 2nd birthday we officially started and she had it down with only a handful of accidents. A couple months after that, she was good to go all night, too.
- She typically gets sassy when she's hungry or when she has to leave somewhere she doesn't want to.
- Her favorite toys right now are baby dolls, coloring, playing pretend (princess, doctor), and her play kitchen.
- Her favorite TV show is Sophia the First and she asks to watch it all the time! Kiddo is persistent.
- She's very smart -- picks up on things very quickly, memorized new songs/books/bible verses after just a couple of times. Her memory is way better than mine!
- She has just recently taken to talking on the phone. She wants to call family/friends and have a little chat, but the conversation usually ends pretty abruptly ("ok, bye bye!"...click)
- She naps for around an hour at daycare and usually two hours at home, sleeps from about 8-6:30.
- If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she will say "A Mommy!" (and I know she's going to make a great one!)

Carson Ruby, your daddy and I are so very proud of you! We love getting to know you and see your personality develop. You are kind, smart and very funny. Being your mom is one of my greatest gifts and pleasures. We often pray through the fruits of the spirit over you and have seen a lot of those character qualities come out. Sweet girl, we so desire for you to grow up knowing and willingly serving Jesus. We promise to do our best to lead you into a healthy relationship with the Lord by modeling grace and ensuring our family's involvement in the Church. You are so much fun to be around, so imaginative and creative. You've just woken from your nap, so I'll leave this post to hug your neck. Love you to the moon and back, Carson!


Carson Turns Two

Our sweet Carson Ruby turns two years old today! My how time flies. To know Carson is to love her and gosh we love her so very much! This year we celebrated her birthday with friends and family with a cowgirl themed party, complete with ponies.
At age two Carson:
- Loves to play pretend
- Really enjoys reading books. Right now mommy or daddy read to her then she "reads" the books next
- Enjoys going to church, especially if we promise a bus ride (shuttle)
- Still goes to play learn during the day and has grown so fond of her teachers, Mrs. Amy and Ms. Linda
- Is a pretty good eater, though takes forever
- Has become quite girly -- as an affinity towards makeup and nailpolish and really dislikes bugs and worms
- Still sleeps in her crib, though we will probably try a big girl bed this summer 
- Her favorite people are probably my parents, her friend Caroline and cousin Harlow 
- Is really stringing words together now "I need more water, please" for example
- We've done a soft launch of potty training -- when home she usually knows to tell me and goes potty

To my main girl, Carson:

Carson Ruby -- this year your birthday and Mother's Day fall on the same day. It's so appropriate to celebrate those together, given you were the one who made me a mommy. With tears welling up in my eyes, I feel so grateful for the opportunity to hear your little voice call me mommy and to feel the snugness of your tiny arms giving me a big hug. Right now you are incredibly fun - I love your silly side and you seeing your imagination take flight. I love your snuggly side -- the way you need extra cuddles after you wake up from a nap and how freely you give hugs and kisses to others. Two years really have gone by very fast and each new stage brings a twinge of sadness for phases passing, but more joy and anticipation for the little girl you are shaping in to. Carson, I hope you know how much you are loved. Your daddy and I try really hard to make sure you are safe and know how special you are. As much as we love you, God loves you even more. As you grow older I pray that you will trust us as your parents to help guide you and trust that Jesus' plan for your life is best. Carson you are such a blessing for us -- you bring us so much joy and laughter.  We love you to the moon and back!


Here are some pictures from the birthday party:


Carson update: 17 months

We are about halfway through football season and are finally in our groove for our fall schedule (which typically means a little less of Sean!). I led a Bible study at our church this fall, so it's been busy, but a wonderful start to autumn.

Carson is now 17 months old and as cute as ever. Things she's up to now include:
  • She loves anything baby doll related. The other day she was shhing and rocking a "baby" that was a can of raisins! She swaddles, puts them down for naps and rocks them -- it's precious. 
  • She enjoys playing with her play kitchen and cooking noodles, aka headbands. 
  • She's a lover and very affectionate -- the other day at a party she made a boy cry because she was hugging him too much. Could be worse habits, haha. 
  • She's an ok eater -- I wouldn't say she really loves anything in particular, though. Still not a fan of most fruits or veggies, unless blended in a smoothie. 
  • She really loves daycare. She's always happy for me to leave her and sad when I pick her up. Today another mom told me her little girl was asking to see Carson on the way to school, so I hope that's a sign she is kind to others. The teachers love her to pieces, too. 
  • She can say mama, daddy, dog, ball, thank you, please, more, hi, bye, book and, of course...no! 
  • She knows some hand motions to Jesus Loves Me

To my dearest Carson Ruby -- 

You really could not be any sweeter. You are such an easy baby to love and care for, often waking up with big smiles and falling asleep just after sweet giggles. Your daddy and I love you so much that it's almost like life was a little black and white until we met you, then everything came in full color. Being your mom is a blessing on many fronts -- I love to love you, but I also know that this role was created for me as part of my own sanctification process, drawing me closer to Jesus. We have been praying the fruits of the spirit over you recently -- love and joy, which you embody every day. Now we are praying for peace -- peace in knowing you were created by our Creator, who has a specific plan for your life. Peace in the fact that both your dad and I will love you unconditionally. As a toddler, you lack some understanding, but the Bible tells us that Jesus can offer peace that transcends understanding -- it's not always going to make sense to you and that's ok. God can help you do big things, Carson, and we are thrilled to have a front row ticket to see how He uses you! 

With all my heart, 


Breastfeeding: Our Story

As this chapter of life comes to a close, it's important to me to document this milestone. Breastfeeding surprised me in a lot of ways. Given I've spent nearly 500 hours of my life with a little one attached to me, I think its own blog post is merited. 

So, I clearly know millions of women have breastfed their babies -- many longer than I did and most with more children. I'm by no means an expert on the topic, but I thought if this encouraged another mama in a tough spot or provided insight for a mom-to-be then it's worth it. 

Surprise #1
It changed my prayer life dramatically. I was forced to sit still. To be quiet. To relax. Breastfeeding opened the possibility of clearing my mind (which normally races) and seeking out The Lord at all times of day. For this I am forever grateful and this is one of the reasons I'm sad to see this season pass us by. 

Surprise #2
Babies adapt. With every milestone related to feeding -- sleeping through the night, adding baby food, dropping a feeding, etc. I was always very anxious. Was she hungry? Will it mess up her napping? There may have been a couple of odd days mixed in, but by and large she just figured it out on her own. It was always harder on me than her.

Surprise #3
God did, in fact, equip me with motherly instincts and I learned to trust them. The first few weeks after Carson was born were tough on me -- I think I may have even had some PPD. I didn't ever feel sad, but I definitely felt unreasonably anxious. I remember texting Sean that I was sick to my stomach about giving Carson and paci (which she never took anyways) -- how silly! After God delivered me from that anxiety, my confidence grew tenfold and I just started to "feel" what was right. Trust those instincts, parents -- God gives them to you for a reason.

When pregnant with Carson I was armed with the facts: breastfeeding is good for both baby and mommy. There are lots of studies out there -- from higher test scores to improved bonding, but I'm sure you've heard all of that before (I'm also sure there are probably other variables connecting those correlations). I also had a lot of concerns -- would I hate it? Will it hurt? I can't sit still for 5 minutes, how will I do this? I have to go back to work! 

Some things that really helped me along the way include:
  1. My pump. This helped my return to work easier. Most insurance plans are now required to offer a pump free of charge to members -- I encourage you to check it out. 
  2. My husband. When things were tough, he encouraged. Heck -- when things were great, he encouraged. A good support system is important. 
  3. My baby. She really was a good eater. She picked up nursing well early on and put herself on a very manageable schedule. 
  4. My job. I did go back to work after two months of maternity leave, but with a flexible schedule -- starting out just 3 days in the office. I would still come home at lunch to feed Carson and being around her instead of pumping as much as possible was important to me. Even when she started daycare the ladies were incredibly supportive and would have the nursing station all set up for me when I dropped by.
Breastfeeding brought out a lot of emotions {and sin!} I didn't know were there before. I was so thankful to have the physical ability to feed Carson. I was grateful that it came easily and that I enjoyed the time with her. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make breastfeeding work -- probably too much pressure. I felt like if it didn't work out it would be my fault and a failure, which is crazy -- not once have I ever looked at another mom giving their baby formula and thought they loved their baby any less. That was for sure silly. 

Carson started sleeping through the night at 11 weeks -- I continued to get up in the middle of the night once until she was 7 months old to pump. I could pump so much and was pretty quick, so I didn't mind getting up. That helped me build my freezer stock, which provided peace of mind for me. As I kept doing it, Sean pointed out that he thought I was becoming prideful about still waking up to pump -- he was right. Although I didn't really realize it, it was a source of control for me and not healthy, so I stopped and enjoyed a good nights sleep, but not without some internal struggles and confessions about my desire for control. 

As I look back over the past 13 months I have an overwhelming joy, with a twinge of sadness. How awesome that God created our bodies to help care for a baby from conception through breastfeeding! The decision to stop is multifaceted -- she doesn't seem very interested anymore, needs to learn to drink milk out of a sippy better and we have some upcoming travel. 

Yesterday -- on what I thought would be the last nursing session, I put Carson in my lap. She looked me straight in the eye, grabbed my cheeks with both of her hands, puckered up and gave me a big kiss on the lips -- as if to say, "You did great, mommy!" I teared up, fed her and knew that was that last memory I needed for our breastfeeding journey. 

I'll end with this -- moms need cheerleaders. Husbands need to encourage their wives and support them through the crazy. Raising little ones isn't easy and forming a community of support instead of judgement is so important and just one little way we can show Jesus to others. What works for me might not work for you and vis versa, but we can still understand that we all have a deep desire to do the best things for our babies and families and offer up kind words to build one another up.