More + Less

A few weeks ago I wrestled the Christmas decoration boxes down from their newfound perch in our storage shed. It was a crisp and clear fall day. The sky was a brilliant blue, the air chilly but the sun was warm. It took me three trips back and forth into the house to get everything inside. Lastly, our artificial tree still in its original box from purchase. After several seasons the tree sort of haphazardly resided in the box – mostly stuffed in askew, contained in large part due to the odd cable my husband had wrapped around it to create a carrying handle.


We purchased that tree the year we got married. We had a gift card and a 20% coupon to the almighty Bed Bath & Beyond. It was pre-lit with white twinkly lights and had various pine cones and sticks glued onto the branches. In a word, it was ugly. But we were thrilled. As newlyweds we had very little expendable income, and we walked out of the store that night with our tree and a box of plastic multicolored ornaments for $12. We excitedly drove home, our shoppers-high in full effect from getting such a steal of a deal. We immediately assembled and decorated the tree, our first as husband and wife.


Once adorned the tree transformed. It was no longer wispy and sparse. The tree proudly glowed from its perch in our small living room, and all at once our home felt warm and cozy and magical. As we admired our work I told my husband I wanted to start a new tradition. Each Christmas I wanted to add a new keepsake ornament to our little tree. Something to commemorate the year, that we could build over our time as our family grew. That year it would be a simple handmade circle, etched with The Murphy Family 2012 – Our First Christmas as Mr. & Mrs.


On Christmas Day that year, we told our families that we were pregnant with our first Son. I immediately viewed the Nativity and Mary in a brand new light. Christmas would never be the same once having children. Nothing is ever the same, truthfully. And each year we’ve added a new unique ornament to our bargain tree. A First Christmas for each of our Sons. And this year, a new memory to mark in time.


This will be our first Christmas in our new home. In our new town. In our new state. A year ago this was a dream. 2 years ago it was a conversation. 3 years ago it wasn’t even a thought. How did we get here?


I’m often asked, why did you come here? What made you choose Flagstaff? And after almost 6 months I still don’t have it wrapped into a cute little answer – but most of the time I reply, we just wanted to do it. It’s with wide eyes starting back at me that I elaborate – We wanted more and less of everything at the same time. 



Riley is 5 Months!

Wait – I have a 5 month old? Whoa.


Weight: 17lb 8oz at his 4 month check up a few weeks ago. That’s 90%. And he’s 27 5/8″ which is off the chart for height…the chart goes to 98% so let’s say he’s 105% ;) He’s a BIG guy. He’s always been large, but it’s sort of crazy how he compares to other babies his age.

Health: Healthy! The doctor said he looks great and is growing well. We’re still dealing with teething…going on 2 months and no sign of teeth. Some days are fine – and others are fussy. I’m so thankful we’ve avoided a winter cold. He’s still congested sometimes, but the NoseFrida and humidifier take care of that.
Sleep: We had a harder time with sleep this month. He went through a growth spurt – he can GRAB things now!! So for a week or so he was waking up every 2.5 hours. We really focused on getting him into good sleep habits this month. No more pacifier, no more holding to sleep – now he can fall asleep on his own, or a few pats on his back to calm him until he drifts off. We’re not into the crying it out deal – per the Pediatrician’s advice we let him fuss for 5 min before we try to calm him. Sometimes he goes back to sleep, other times he needs our help. I always feel like fist pumping anytime I put him down in his crib and I watch him drift off to sleep. I know it’s so important to teach babies good sleep habits, and each time he can put himself to sleep calmly feels like a giant parenting victory.  We’re working on getting him to two, 2 hour naps so he can be on a 4 hour schedule. Just in the past few days he’s started moving that direction. I tried the switch from 3 to 4 hours a few weeks ago and he wasn’t ready. Also – 2 hour naps?! He’s been a 45min – 1:15hr napper. Anytime he naps closer to 2 hours I feel like I’m a champion and I can get SO much done.
Nursing: Going really well – so well, that he doesn’t like to eat any other way! Oh man, we had the great bottle hold out of 2013 this week. He’s taken the bottle from Kelly before – no issues. But recently he wants nothing to do with it. We don’t give him a bottle often since I’m never away from him for very long. This past weekend we had a wedding to attend so we’ve been planning to leave him with my Mom overnight. We tried and tried to get him to take the bottle well – no dice. We did different bottles, sippy cup, normal cup, spoon even an eye dropped. He wasn’t a fan at all. After a few days of struggling we decided it wasn’t worth the battle. In a few months he’ll be able to drink from a real cup or sippy cup well. The most frustrating part was that he would take the milk in his mouth (by whatever method) but then raspberry it back out in our faces. We tried it fresh, warm, room temp – nothing was right. I will have to admit that when I was pregnant I heard so much about “nipple confusion” and “don’t introduce the bottle too early” and I was so focused on nursing that I didn’t want to try the bottle incase it would ruin all of our hard work. Looking back – I think we should have tried to do a bottle a day/every other day just so he could get used to it. But, since I was with him most of the time and Kelly was working it was just easier to nurse. In the past 5 months the bottle refusal has probably been the most frustrating thing we’ve dealt with as parents. In the big picture it’s not really and issue – but man, it made us scratch our heads. Could it be a preview of having a stubborn kid? We hope not :)

What Riley is up to: Riley is SO much fun right now! I’ve heard this time can be the “sweet spot” for having babies. They’re interactive and playful – but not mobile just yet so they won’t get into too much trouble. I do love that he can grab things now –  I feel like he’s becoming such a little person when he can hold and shake things. He’s laughing now too! I love love love hearing his little baby laugh. It’s the best sound ever. This past month we took a trip to New Jersey. Riley had his first plane ride, wedding, boat ride and trip to New York City. It was so much fun to travel with our little family. Before we had Riley traveling was one of the things I was most excited about. Adventure! Memories! Riley also celebrated his first Christmas this month. I LOVE Christmas, and it was a million times more fun with Riley. I can’t wait for next year when he’ll maybe be less into putting the paper in his mouth – and more excited to open presents :)

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PostPartum: I think I’ve lost almost all the baby weight, which makes me feel good. I’m not at the fitness level I’d like to be at – but I’m working on it. I got the best Christmas present ever – a SPIN BIKE!!! So excited for some early morning rides while Riley is sleeping. I need to make a trip to the store to get some new jeans – all my “not quiet back into pre-preg” jeans are too big – yay! I’m back into my normal pre-baby jeans which is nice, but I think I’ve crossed over into “mom jean” territory. Super low hip-hugger jeans are not so kind to the Mama tummy :) Emotionally, I feel good. This month was stressful at work, I was so ready for a break and some time at home. I really enjoy working in an office (and taking Riley with me) but sometimes it’s just so nice to work from home and deal with a fussy baby while checking emails.

Baby Gear: Toys are fun now! We got lots of toys from everyone for Christmas and Riley is loving grabbing and playing with them. We also got a BOB stroller for some jogging trips. And a Radio Flyer Red Wagon from Uncle Brad and Alex that Riley loves!

Thoughts: I love being a Mama to Riley. I never knew how I would feel after having kids – I wasn’t a big “kid lover” growing up. Yea, they’re cute and all – but I didn’t love babysitting and for sure didn’t have babyfever. Sometimes I look at Riley and just ponder the idea that he’s ours – we made him. How crazy is that?! Christmas Eve after I finished feeding him, he was sleepy so we rocked in the Nursery and I did my best to freeze that moment in my mind – always wanting to remember how it felt the night before his first Christmas. How last year at Christmas we were just telling our families the news that we were having a baby, and now – a year later he was here.