A Journey Over A Year: Eleanor & her Elephant

When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest adding to my boards all things “baby”. One thing I saw pop up on Pinterest, as well as through different friends, was the idea of taking the same photo each month to document Eleanor’s growth. I saw so many ways of doing it, and I felt inspired to find our own creative little way.

Enter cute, mint green elephant! (Thanks Swinney, Tina and Kelcie!)

I took 12 photos of her first 12 months, each with her beside the elephant. It’s so crazy to see the difference as she grew. You can tell when she starts to get mobile because she’s no longer happy to be sitting still with her elephant! It was much harder at that point, all the way to the last photo, which has food in it to keep her sitting still.

Moving forward, I don’t know how much of all of this I will do with subsequent children, but I do know that I really enjoyed these monthly photos and hope to at least do this.

Eleanor Hazel


Life Lately

Do you ever feel like you have so many areas in your life that need your attention? Almost the minute you give attention to one, you start thinking about the next until suddenly it all just feels like too much? How could I possibly get anything done, let alone everything?

I’ve been feeling that way this week, and I think part of it is that the week is going so differently than I anticipated. Last week, Robbie was away in Townsville, and I taught for the whole week on our School of Innovative Youth Ministry (SOIYM). We also had Eleanor’s first swim lesson and her 1-year dr checkup, which included her 1-year vaccinations. To top it all off, Eleanor was still dealing with disrupted sleep from our travels and getting her top two teeth and showing a bit of interest in dropping to one nap. It was a lot in one week to say the least.

I loved teaching, and I am SO grateful for the opportunity and glad I did it. However, on Friday when I finished and went to get Eleanor, I felt like I could take a deep breath. My friend Debi put it so perfectly – “These are the weeks that give you so, so much life BUT are also the most life draining at the same time.” SO TRUE!

Robbie came home on Sunday, and when I woke up Sunday morning, I wasn’t met with the excitement of my husband returning but rather a lovely cold. Then Robbie’s flight was delayed, and he didn’t end up arriving until around 8pm. Eleanor was already in bed, and he had to wait until the next morning to see her new skill – SHE’S WALKING!!!

On Monday night, Eleanor threw up. Then three more times on Tuesday, and right as she got better, my sinus congestion made it’s way to my throat and left me with a nagging cough that is only now starting to settle down.

I don’t write all this to complain because even in the midst of the hard parts, there have been many more wonderful ones. I am more writing to process where things are at. I am trying to get Eleanor back on track with sleeping, so I am reading new things pertaining to her age, as well as rereading old stuff I read the first time we worked with her on sleep. We are also doing renovations on our house soon to add a second bedroom for Eleanor (!!!), so I am thinking through all of that – furniture, paint, selling and buying, NBN boxes and more. I am also really wanting to work on our eating and planning food prep and meal times more as we’ve gotten back. To say we had a lot of sugar while on our trip home would be a MASSIVE understatement. I am thinking about our budget, and going on dates with Robbie, and hanging out with my girl friends, and exercising more regularly, and figuring out my role on base, and fundraising for upcoming things. SO many things to think through.

When Eleanor naps, I generally do one of three things. One – if she’s been sleeping particularly terribly or I am not feeling well, I nap too. Two – rush around the house cleaning and tidying things so I don’t have to do it while she’s awake. Three – work on other things (ministry, budget/finances, blog, etc.). What I don’t always do and what I desperately need to do more is to just stop and sit. To pray or listen to worship music. To write. To read a good book. Two of my three options are go, go, go, and the third is rarely used anymore.

I used to write so much more. I journaled nearly every day, and I blogged regularly. It was such an outlet for me. It hasn’t happened as much in the last couple years, and I really want it to change. Evaluating the why is helping me get back to that.

So hopefully you will hear more from me. I don’t have the monthly elephant photos and updates of Eleanor to keep me going, even though I do still plan to write about her and post photos. I want to write more, and I think I actually need it, too.

I’ll finish with that and leave you with a bunch of photos of the past couple weeks. :)


^Ok I don’t know what it is about this photo, but smiley face with heart eyes times a million. I think it’s her sweet little lips and great big eyes, and she’s 1 you guys!


^Second 1st Birthday Party cake…I liked the other one better :)


^My friend Sai made these cookies, and I think I could have eaten a dozen by myself. SO good!


^The theme of Eleanor’s second 1st birthday party was POLKA DOTS! Robbie quickly told me it should be “spheres” because I wasn’t just doing polka dots. I say, “Potatooo, Potaaaato”.


^The Elephant Photos! I am going to post a separate post just with these 12. I love looking at them side by side.



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^It was so special that Papaw could be here for both parties, and I just love this little photo.


^Not afraid of the see-through floor box…


^Alright so my sister made this book for Eleanor’s birthday back in the States. Total surprise to me. It may look like another photo book, but it is SO much more than that. It contains my entire blog from the beginning when we first chatted all about getting pregnant to the ultrasounds, her birth story, monthly updates, and more. I started tearing up in the moment and had to move on to the next present with Eleanor. It’s so special, and I am very grateful for all the time she spent putting this together. Thank you, Lis!!!


^Eleanor has started swim lessons (Thanks Aunt Deborah and Uncle Givenski!), and although her first lesson was a bit rough (hello crying through 85%), her second was great. It still included lots of cuddles with mumma along the way, though! Eleanor’s instructor, Mags, is next to me in the photo.


^Listening to instructions and Eleanor holding on to the edge like a champ.


^”Here Dad! Do you want some water on your head, too?”


^Eleanor and Daddy played in the little play space at the gym/pool while I got changed and put all our wet stuff away. She thought these little holes were pretty much the coolest thing ever. She climbed in and out of them a million times.


^Robbie shared at our first Public Meeting of the year! ::heart eyes::


^Eleanor hugging her baby doll from Aunt Kristie. She has a love-hate relationship with this baby doll – hugging one second and banging her head against the ground the next. We’ll work on it… ;)

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^The morning after Daddy came home. Eleanor was so happy to see him…but definitely not as much as I was!

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^Doing the fish face again! I am SO happy that she remembered how to do this from months ago.

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^Checking out a new park. She actually wasn’t that interested in the park as much as she was by the dogs the kept walking by. She started walking this past week, and it’s so cool to explore the world with her in a new way now!

Twelve Months With Eleanor


Eleanor is now a big 1-year-old. In fact, she’s been a big 1-year-old for about 10 days, and I am just now writing this post. It’s sort of hung over me like a (shiny) cloud, and I’ve wanted to ignore it to be honest. It seems impossible that we are already here.

I’ve gone back and forth about what to write. I actually started another post called “One Year With Eleanor”, and as I was writing it, I realised that it more reflected the whole journey of the past year. That’s a totally different subject in some ways. So to keep with tradition, here is the next update as I’ve been writing all the updates. I may do some other ones as well.

Also, a few people have asked if I will continue these updates and the elephant photos. I don’t plan to do them monthly anymore, but I do plan to continue writing about Eleanor. Maybe every 3 months or so like these, and then I have some other ideas for posts as well. And in keeping with broken record fashion, I do fully intend to get more active with my blog again. I have so many ideas swirling up top, but life has been a little hectic (and disorganised) to get it going the way I want. Stay tuned.


Highlights & Milestones

Probably the biggest highlight from Eleanor’s 12th month was visiting the States again. It was such a special trip. We went home for a family reunion and to celebrate Eleanor’s 1st birthday. I haven’t been back to the States in Summer since I left for Australia 7 years ago, so it was really fun.

I had been planning all sorts of “summer” activities for Eleanor while we were there. Some highlights of the trip – Freedom Water Park, The Indianapolis Zoo, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, playing outside in the grass with Reese (parents’ dog), walks in the stroller and wagon, trying ice cream for the first time, her birthday party, seeing fireworks (and sparklers!) and of course, allllll the summer berries. Robbie’s parents and sister and her husband came up while we were there, and it was so special to have everyone together. We really loved this trip, even though it felt entirely too short.

One milestone is that Eleanor got her first top tooth. This girl grows teeth sloooooowly! The second one is nearly through now, but it’s pretty hilarious to see her one top tooth poking through.

Another milestone is using a walker. She started this in Australia using her little friend’s doll stroller. She walked around the warehouse with it, and we were impressed with how quickly she picked it up. My mom found one in Indy at a consignment shop for her, and she didn’t miss a beat ripping around their house. It only took her a day to figure out how to turn it. She loved that thing and the freedom that came with it. She also would walk if she had your fingers, and by the end of our trip, she was practically running. She would guide you (quite strongly too!) with her arms in the direction she wanted to go in. She also began standing up all on her own without having to hold onto something. She’s pretty proud of this new skill. She has only taken a step here and there from that freestanding position so far.



  • Frozen – the girl is crazy for Frozen and got quite a lot of Frozen paraphernalia for her 1st birthday
  • Grapes, raisins and blueberries – she would eat any of these all day long if she could
  • Walking around everything
  • Standing on her own
  • Books, books, books! (She got a lot for her birthday!!!)
  • My parents’ dog, Reese – bffs!
  • Spinach dip – a new discovery and quite hilarious
  • Animals – thank you zoo!
  • Jumping, bouncing, rolling around on the bed – maybe part monkey?
  • Water
  • Playing peek-a-boo and chase
  • Putting on shoes
  • Eggs!!!
  • Bathtime (only in our bathtub apparently)



  • Moderate dislike of the car still
  • Vegetables (unless they’re hidden in things)


How Am I Doing?

At this very moment, I am pretty darn tired. Eleanor didn’t transition too well sleep-wise with jet lag and a new place/cot. She was up a lot and at random times, and as we’ve returned from our trip, she is still not doing too great. It’s a bit of a perfect storm really – jet lag, new place, back to the old place, new teeth, turning 1, not wanting 2 naps, etc. I am pretty tired from it all, though.

Aside from that, I am loving this stage with her, tiredness and all. She is so fun, and her personality is so vibrant. She is such a joy, and I love how much she loves other people. She makes people smile so easily, and I love that about her. I am excited for all these new experiences with her and this next year. I am amazed at just how quickly this year went, that I have been a mum for an entire year now. I am enjoying this stage with her and in no rush for another baby quite yet. There are lots of little baby friends, some brand new and some nearly here, for Eleanor, too, and that is always a lot of fun for us. I find it a huge privilege to be a mum in missions. There is an incredible community and so many opportunities, and I feel really grateful for all of it.