Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer 2018 Schedule

   We've been needing a new game plan with regards to our daily schedule. Normally, I like to have the children play outside for an hour or more in the mornings and afternoons. However, the temperatures are now steadily in the triple digits and it's simply too hot by the afternoon. The mosquitos are also out in full force, and they just love us. So, we spend more time indoors in the summer months, and that requires extra attention to how our time is being spent. 

     At this point in my pregnancy, children running wild through the house is not an option. I mentally and physically cannot keep up with the chaos that ensues. Everyone needs to be productively occupied. On a similar note, I'm presently at a place in which messes in the house cause me a lot of stress, and therefore need to have a couple of built-in times in the day in which we can all work together to get things cleaned up. We also need a feasible way to do "school time" and/or have some one-on-one time with each child in a day. All this to say- we need a good schedule!





     
Notes: 
*I've labeled outside play as either independent or dependent. It's easy for me to simply say "go play!" While I do want them to have some playtime without my direction or involvement, I also don't want to miss out on the opportunity to play and explore with them outside. I don't want to fall into the tendency to "check out." So, I've set aside a portion of time for them to play apart from me (hello, outside reading time for Mama!) as well as time for us to play together, read stories outside together, or go for a walk in the neighborhood. 

*Cleaning- I've finally figured out the key to accomplishing cleaning with all little ones is to separate them. Two children play in the play yard together while I work with a third. Then, after 15 minutes I rotate one child into the play yard and one child out to help clean. When cleaning with a child, I'm able to give specific instructions. I simply bring the child along in what I'm doing. This has worked really well. I allot 45 minutes each morning and afternoon to rotate everyone through their cleaning role. It works!

*School time- Like cleaning, I've learned that separation is again key. Some arts and crafts and reading can be done together, but for the most part the older two are able to focus so much better without someone else in the room providing entertainment. For our oldest two children we use activities from My Father's World. For our youngest, I use select activities from abcjesuslovesme.com In all cases, the activities are very simple and playful, and not heavy academics at this point. It's just an opportunity for me to spend one-on-one time with each of them. 

*Table activity- We've gotten into a bad habit of expecting to simply get down from the table when finished eating. (For a young child, they may finish before David and I even get seated!). It's difficult to enjoy a meal if we're constantly getting up to supervise the children when they're in complete free play. We also need them to better understand and develop the ability to remain seated when we're at a restaurant. Furthermore, having them sit for just a little longer once they finish allows me the opportunity to clean up the meal mess. Otherwise, it can be difficult to clean it up and it remains all day (reminding me of it's presence! haha). 

*Naptime- I have two children who need a good naptime, and one who can go without. However, we all need the break and time alone. So, the rule is that you can sleep, play with a toy quietly or look at books, but you must be quiet and you must stay in your room. For the child that often doesn't like to sleep, I have an Okay to Wake! clock in the room. When the clock lights up, then she may come out of her room. I had gotten overly relaxed about allowing her out of her room once she woke, and that was causing a problem in the rest of us (including Mama) getting the break/rest time we needed in the day. It's also good for her to be able to play to herself at times. 


     The biggest change in this schedule is just the implementation of more directed means of being productively occupied. There's time built in for many areas: independent play, collective play between siblings, cleaning time, school time etc. Rotation of activities has been key. 

     Perhaps to some, a schedule with little fully free play would be overly restrictive. I like the notion of "wild and free," but presently that just doesn't work too well with all the children being relatively closely spaced and they all still being quite young. I believe there will come a time in which they can be permitted to have greater free play. It makes more sense to offer that opportunity when they can resist impulses a little better (ie not empty an entire cabinet or draw with or on something they shouldn't. haha). In the meantime, find that we all function far better with a schedule and pre-planned activities. They're not creating means of entertainment for themselves, which inevitably results in disputes and colossal messes. I also feel less overwhelmed and tempted to lose my patience or temper. To me, maintaining joy and relationship with them is an important priority. They also are thriving far more with the designated times that are created to be alone with me. It just works for us in this current season. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Baby 4 Pregnancy Journal: Week 30

*I'm so far behind in these posts! 28 weeks was on 05-31-18. I missed getting a picture and writing a post. At this point, I might as well pick up where I am at 30 weeks*

This is me trying to look awake and lively.
I don't think it came across well in the photo. haha!

This baby deep inside me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rogers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

How Far Along? 30 weeks! Only 10 more weeks until we'll meet this newest little one!

"growing daily is his brain, which is actually starting to look like the real thing with those characteristic grooves and wrinkles. And now that your little genius can regulate his own body temperature and turn up the heat, he'll start shedding lanugo, the downy body hair that's been keeping him warm up until now." -What to Expect When you're Expecting,  4th ed. 

Baby Size: "...weighing in at over three pounds now (he'll be packing on the weight at a rate of half a pound per week for the next seven weeks)..." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed.   

Gender: We'll find out when he/she arrives! 

If the baby's a boy, then the name will be Emerson Phillip. If the baby's a girl, then the name will be Laurelei ____. (Ah, we still need a middle name!)

Weight Gain: 136 lbs. Up 22 lbs. from pre-pregnancy weight. 

Belly: So big. 

     We often visit the same restaurant when we go out to eat. It's fast and child-friendly. We may go too often though. A couple of the employees asked when I was due thinking it was soon. When we replied that we weren't due until the end of August they were surprised. (One then asked if it was twins! Not the first time this pregnancy to be asked that question. I simply reply that it's not twins just a fourth baby in four years. haha). Another employee noted that the belly has grown a lot in the last few weeks. Haha, you know you might go to the same restaurant when the employees are on baby watch! 

Sleep: I fall asleep fast, that's for sure. I try to get as much sleep as possible because what sleep I do get is fairly fitful. I'm pushing through, but many days are such a challenge and don't go quite as smoothly as I'd like. 

     People always talk about the sleep deprivation of the newborn days, but I think the pregnancy days are so much harder.  

Symptoms: The constant extreme exhaustion is still a daily battle. As belly grows, the aches and pains also increase. My body just feels worn out at this point. Whenever I later begin to grieve there not being any more babies, I need to reread these posts. Carrying and delivering babies is not easy on the body. I'm so grateful to have been able to carry four babies. I must admit, though, this body of mine is done. Carrying a baby while caring for other young children has been really, really tough.  

Clothing: I still love all the lovely dresses purchased this pregnancy. Best clothing purchases ever. 

Movement: I'm pretty slow these days. I attempted to go for a walk around the neighborhood with the children one morning but was so worn out by it that I had to pause a couple of times to rest before continuing on. It was a struggle to get us back home. I decided that I'd not do that again. Walks may be best done with David with us. 

Baby Movement: He/she is a wild wiggler! He/she will go through periods in which I feel just shifts, and then other times when I can see and feel distinct feet or hands trying to push their way through. I captured one active moment in a video. It's pretty amazing to watch.

     Tennyson really enjoys getting to feel the baby move. He'll often come up to me and lay a hand to my belly to feel him/her move. He's so excited about a new sibling!

Food Adversions: None.

Food Cravings: I was going to write "none" but then considered how much milk I drink. It's my beverage of choice in pregnancy. haha

Other Notes: It's interesting to note the responses each of the children have had to new siblings past and present. I believe age makes a big difference. At four years old, Tennyson is so excited about a new sibling! He lays a hand to feel the baby kick whenever possible, and even randomly comes up to me and kisses my belly. He talks daily about the new baby. He's even begun picking up one of Annelise's baby dolls and caring for it as though it were the new baby. He can't wait for the baby's arrival. Annelise (3 years old) talks about the new baby, but I don't believe is quite as excited as Tennyson. She'll often say, "there's a baby in your belly, Mama!" but I don't think she quite grasps what that will entail once he/she arrives. I think she may have the hardest time adjusting. (I believe Tennyson was similar & at the same age when Huxley was born). Huxley (16 months old) knows something is different about Mama's belly, but not quite sure what's going on. One nice thing about they being so young when another sibling arrives is that their lack of understanding actually lends to a fairly smooth adjustment. 

     In other news, we bought a van! We've been saving for a van for a little over a year. While we were still a family of five, we determined to be content in our five-seat suv, though we were quite squished. But, as we prepare to welcome a sixth member of our family we needed to upgrade to a bigger vehicle. It's a mama's dream! Everyone has a corner of the row and plenty of space. There's a central aisle so that everyone, including myself, can be inside the vehicle and out of harm's way while I get everyone buckled and unbuckled into seats. I'm loving it already. It's going to make going places with all four children so much easier. 

    In less than exciting news, we recently got hit with a stomach bug. The stomach bug at 30 weeks pregnant was pretty rotten. David had to take off work one day to take over for me as I was in no shape to safely care for the children that day. It took me two days to recover fully. Phew, I hope we can avoid any more illnesses for a while. I'm certainly glad to be back to "normal." haha

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Baby 4 Pregnancy Journal: Week 26!

*26 weeks was actually on 5-17-18

This baby deep inside me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave me to take care of whether for a day or for years. That care began at conception. Whether he or she lives or dies each day I am with him or her is a gift and has a purpose with eternal consequences. My baby is now part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rogers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

How Far Along? 26 weeks!

"this week, her eyes, which until now were developing under fused eyelids, stare to open. Of course, there's not much to see in there, but if your baby spots a bright light (or hears a loud noise) near your belly, you may notice and increase in fetal activity. ... What accounts for that response? Her brain in more developed and sophisticated." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 


Baby Size:  According to our latest ultrasound, the baby is a little over two pounds now!

"now weighs a full two pounds and measures nine-plus inches." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

Gender: It's a surprise! Although, I really think it's another boy. haha

Name: If the baby's a boy, then the name will be Emerson Phillip. Emerson continues our literature theme for boys' names. Phillip is a nod to my maiden name. My father is the last of that family name, and he asked if there might be a way to incorporate it so as to continue it in some way.

     If the baby's a girl, then we're still not sure on a name! The literature theme with boy names is so much easier to choose than girls' names. We had decided on Laurelei Eileen, but we're now debating the Eileen portion. The ending of the first and the beginning of the middle is the same "i" sound and so they run together a little too easily. We'll keep it as an option, but we may explore a new middle name to pair with Laurelei. 

Weight Gain: If I remember correctly from my last appointment, I believe I'm up to 132 lbs. which is a 17lb increase from my pre-pregnancy weight.

Belly: Big. I'm regularly asked about being due soon when I go out. When I answer that I have a few more months, the eyes widen. Occasionally, I get the "twins?" question. No, just the fourth baby in four years. haha. 

     I did purchase a maternity band since I remember the level of discomfort towards the end of my third pregnancy and this baby belly is already getting heavy. Why did I not purchase this long ago? It's so nice to have that extra support! (Although, in the Texas heat it's quite toasty). 

Sleep: I don't. At this point I'm often uncomfortable and by early morning my hips hurt so bad. 

Symptoms: This has been a really, really challenging pregnancy. My body just feels depleted. The extreme exhaustion, the varicose veins, the overall discomfort just feel so overwhelming. So many days I feel so desperate for a moment to sit and rest, but there is no opportunity for a break as the house still needs maintained and three other children cared for. There have been a lot of tears shed during this pregnancy. I try to remind myself to cherish the moment because when it's gone, it's gone. Mama's tired though.

Clothing: I bought a few maternity/nursing dresses from Milk Nursingwear. I wanted a few dresses that would be cooler for these hot, summer days. They're fabulous! They're so very comfortable! They'll be great later on for nursing as well. 

Movement: I'm pretty slow these days. I just don't have the physical comfort or energy to move much faster. 

Baby Movement: He/she is a wiggly one! I'm so grateful that I've not had too many panic moments wondering why he/she hasn't moved. This little one can be felt most times of the day. Nighttime is his/her favorite! I lay down and he/she had his/herself a dance party. haha

Food Adversions: none

Food Cravings: None. Okay, well perhaps milk. For whatever reason, I love drinking milk during my pregnancies. Between the children and I, we buy a lot of milk each week. haha

Other Notes: We saw a new MFM (high risk specialist), and I really liked her. Their ultrasound scan seemed so much more thorough, which is comforting. The doctor also discussed the scan with us as she went through the images. It's always nice to be able to somewhat hear the doctor's thought process. Later that same day, I saw the new OB again. I must say I really like her. She's very thorough and professional while still being very personable. I definitely feel like I'm in good hands with the new OB, MFM, and hospital. I'm so glad I made the switch!
       Good news! We learned from that scan that the baby is measuring perfectly on track! We also learned that the placenta has moved. We are off all preterm labor precautions and are now eligible for a vbac delivery. Whoo hoo!

      In other news, the ladies in our homeschool co-op have all offered to help with the other three children whenever need be. Between all the mamas, I'm confident we'll not be lacking in assistance when the time comes. I also know that the children are familiar with them and their children, and would thoroughly enjoy themselves at an extended playdate. This is a huge relief to me, as we still had not had an offer or arrangement with anyone else. I'm so grateful for our co-op group! They're really wonderful :)


   
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