Saturday, November 29, 2014

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: 12 Weeks!

**I'm actually now 13 weeks along. I just didn't get this post up in time last week**

This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to 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 a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

 How far along: 12 weeks!
"Most of his systems are in place, though there's still plenty of maturing to do. For one thing, his fetal digestive system is beginning to practice contraction movements necessary for eating, and his bone marrow is busy making white blood cells."-What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size:  "baby weighs a full half-ounce and is about the size of a large plum" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Gender: We'll find out in about 7 more weeks! (I decided that there was no way I was going to be caught unprepared again, and that includes knowing the gender for clothing (preemie clothing doesn't come gender neutral)). I still think the baby will be a girl.

Weight gain: I don't know the current number. I'll have an ob appointment just before the week 14 post and will know of and share a number then.
Belly: It seems like this baby belly has gotten much bigger much faster this time around. I've been feeling at least two weeks bigger than I was at the same time last time. I'm amazed to see a growing baby belly so soon. I love it though. :)

Sleep: Sleep improved for a bit, and then disappeared again. Of course, I'm still making frequent bathroom trips and up with Tennyson a couple times each night. Some days I feel like I manage okay on just a little and other days not so much. A daily nap when I can is magical!

Symptoms: So far, the digestive issues and sickness that plagued me the entirety of my first pregnancy have not made their appearance to the same degree they did last time (and hopefully they won't because that was rough). I've still had some instances of digestion troubles. For the most part, though, feeling pretty good.

 Clothes: Hello, maternity clothing! I could still wear my regular clothes, but by the end of the day the waistbands have left their mark. I had one day in which I delighted in thinking that my skirt still fit well. Then, I looked down and realized I hadn't finished buttoning it up when I got dressed that morning! Haha, no wonder it seemed to fit better!

        I didn't quite get back all the pieces I loaned. Not really worth making a fuss over though. I would like to purchase some new (to me) pieces anyways. I've found some great deals on maternity clothes at I'm especially looking forward to having several more pairs of pants and a different style of pant this time around. (I had only two pairs last time and they were full panels, which didn't work very well for me. This time, I chose pants with the bands that hit below the belly instead of stretching up and across. It's the little things. haha).
     As much as I love and prefer to wear skirts, I've come to the conclusion that pants will be the garment of choice this winter. I had a really hard time finding properly fitting skirts during my first pregnancy. The ones I did find were knits. It's way too cold here to wear knits (even with leggings underneath) during the winter. I also have a hard time with the..awkward ankle situation. Flats are the easiest and most stylish with skirts, but not very warm. Boots would be warmer, but I feel very clunky and am super clumsy in them, especially with a long skirt. That does not pair well with carrying two little ones. So, I'll just do pants for the winter maternity season, and then switch to skirts and dresses for the spring postpartum season.  :)
Movement: If cleaning the house until it shines and double cooking everyday count as exercise, then give me a gold star! My in-laws are visiting and so I've been preparing by cleaning and keeping clean the house beyond my normal. I've also been cooking our daily meals and the meals we'll be having with them each day. It's been a lot of work, and I'm plum worn out. Mission accomplished though!

Food aversions: Meat and heavy meals. Pretty much anything that requires significant energy to consume. haha
Food cravings: Chocolate cake!!! I'm obsessed. Haha. I've been indulging in a delicious a chocolate cupcake each week when we do our grocery shopping. The bakery has those gourmet cupcakes for only $.99. So, I've enjoyed a weekly cupcake thoroughly!

With my first pregnancy, I craved salty and meaty foods. Sweets didn't really do much for me. This time around, I'm less about the salt and meat and more about the sweets. If the old wives tale is true (and it was for the first time!), we may have a little girl on the way!

What I miss: I kind of miss appropriately fitting clothing. I'm in between currently- regular clothes getting a little too tight but maternity clothes still a bit too loose. I'm feeling like I wear the same things everyday. I kind of miss variety. Hah, not the most tragic loss, I know.

   We're making progress on weaning Tennyson from nursing. My supply is nearly up so that has helped. I still have moments in which I miss freely nursing Tennyson, especially during those moments that nursing provides the ultimate comfort. He's doing well, and we've had a great experience. I'm looking forward to sharing the same with baby 2.

What I'm excited about: I'm just thrilled beyond words for this little one. Though it may be early in the pregnancy, I already feel so bonded. I adore Tennyson, and I know that I will adore his sibling just the same. Love multiplies!

      I'm also excited about the happy organization that has been taking place at our home!  I have gone through and done a major organization overhaul of our home. I must say it is glorious. I still have a few more items to try to sell and others to sort and store. So far, it's been so nice to have a purposeful place for everything!

     Finally, I've begun looking into activities for Tennyson. I know that by spring I'm going to have an active little toddler to keep busy. I've been browsing websites and Pinterest for ideas for purposeful baby/toddler play. Incorporating these activity times into our day will be a great precursor to starting homeschool with him.  

What I'm nervous about:  Last post, I was nervous about handling two little ones. This time, I feel much more confident. Perhaps it's because I don't feel quite as drained and exhausted. The bit of added energy to think about organization and toddler activities gives me confidence that I can do this. Confidence has also been gained through seeing my belly grow and thinking of this little one with complete delight.

       ... And then that glorious energy depleted and I'm once again wondering about managing on very little rest. Functioning at tip top level as a mama while completely worn out has got to be the hardest part of the job. Phew! I'm still learning how to do it well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Classic/Wooden Toy Gifts - 1 yr old boy

     The gift season is upon us! This year will be Tennyson's first Christmas! He'll be 11 months old by then, which will be such a fun age for a first Christmas. I'm so excited to watch him partake of the various holiday traditions!

     One of those traditions will be opening gifts on Christmas morning. My husband and I desire to not have Christmas be focused on a Christmas morning present extravaganza. We discussed various ideas for how to accomplish this goal. We ultimately decided upon a set amount we'd spend per child for the occasion. It's a reasonable amount that can provide plenty of gifts without being excessive.

     In general, we've focused on classic and wooden toys in our home. Classic/wooden toys develop the mind in a different manner than other toys. They permit calm and creativity. I find them to be just wonderful! Plus, most are gender neutral and high quality so they'll easily pass from one child to the next making the investment worthwhile.

      After making and remaking my list, I've finally settled on the specific items that will be adorned with bright and festive paper and eagerly await reveal on Christmas Day.  Some items I may be able to find second-hand. Books will all be second-hand (via Amazon Marketplace). I already found the puzzle at a consignment store, and if I can find any other items second-hand then I'll opt for those as well. However, classic and wooden toys are a little harder to find than conventional toys. Most likely, many of them will be ordered through Amazon (we have prime and so shipping is always free).

     The following is my list for Christmas gifts for my soon to be one year old son.
(a) Stacking Ring - Plan Toys
(b) 1st Bead Maze - Melissa & Doug
(c) Shape Sorter - Melissa & Doug
(d) Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone - Hape Toys
(e) Tools Chunky Puzzle - Melissa & Doug


(a) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. And John Archambault
(b) Llama Llama Nighty Night by Anna Dewdney
(c) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

    We live at a distance from all family, and so aren't able to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day in the traditional way with extended family. For the past few years, though, David's parents have driven into town the weekend before and we prepare a little Thanksgiving feast of our own.

     We prepared the traditional Thanksgiving foods: turkey (breast only since there are only four of us), green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, "tomorrow salad" (a family recipe), and rolls. And pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream for dessert. MMM!

(Tip: I spent the previous week making one dish ahead and freezing it. That way I didn't have to spend the entire day busy and cooking. It was also easier to manage making that many dishes while also caring for a little one.)

    Tennyson enjoy sucking on/chewing a piece of turkey. At one point his piece broke to where he had a small piece in his hand and a larger piece remained hanging out of his mouth. Instead of removing it, he just kept on sucking on it- hands free! He'd look around and carry on as if there wasn't a large chunk of turkey sticking out of his mouth. He never missed a beat in sucking that thing dry. So, so funny! A comment was made about Tennyson knowing how to really smoke a turkey. I cracked up until tears flowed. He's a funny little man!

     Since we don't have family or a meal for Thanksgiving Day, I've been trying to think of other fun ways for our family to spend Thanksgiving Day. For this year, we're starting the day off with some pumpkin pancakes with sweet apple cider syrup. Later tonight we'll all watch "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" while eating the featured meal of pretzel sticks, jelly beans, buttered toast, and popcorn. I think this will be a fun tradition for the kids. I have several other ideas for games/activities for the day, but they'll have to wait until the kids are old enough to participate. My goal is to make it a fun day together.

*Note: This post contains an affiliate link with I am personally an affiliate with and as such will receive a small compensation for any purchases made through the links provided on this site. Thank you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Story Time & Other Activities

     Now that I have my own car again (hooray!), I've been eager to find activities for Tennyson. I would like for us to be able to get out of the house more during the weekdays. I think he'd really enjoy the change of scenery, having new things and places to explore, and being around other children. Some days, I need a break as well. If we can find some freebie activities then that would be even better.
      Today, we began attending the weekly story time event at the public library. Tennyson did fantastic sitting and listening to the stories. Afterwards, he and another child spent an hour playing in the play area. (The play area was fantastic!). Time got away from me, and so we didn't have time to look into getting a library card for checking out a pile of board books. Hopefully next time. If there is one area that I have spoiled Tennyson that has been books. I personally love books and, of course, hope to encourage him to develop a similar enjoyment. Too many children learn so early that stories come from a screen and subsequently lose appreciation for the great tales told in books. I'm excited for us to continue attending story time each week and he getting great exposure to the world of reading. I'm also excited for him to have access to such a wonderful play area. Play is important too! 
     Tomorrow is the "Tiny Tots" play group with the Moms Club. It's only the second time we've attended, but we've enjoyed it so far. It's so nice to have other mamas for me to connect with and for Tennyson to get to be around other children. Outlets are always healthy and help maintain balance in life.
     It's so good to have my own car again! I'm thrilled to be able to get out of the house more, especially when a change of scenery or relaxing break from daily routine is needed. Of course, now that I finally have my own car the weather has turned to being freezing. Loading and unloading a baby in the car in the bitter cold suddenly makes me desire to be a hermit and stay inside all winter. Haha.  Soon there will be ice and snow everywhere, and we will be staying inside more. For now, though, it's just cold. We'll bundle up and enjoy getting out to various activities while we can!
{Picture-less post again. Bummer. My camera finally died, but a new one arrives on Monday! (hooray!) I hate missing photo moments, or getting to share them alongside the stories. Soon, pictures will return here.}

Friday, November 14, 2014

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: 10 Weeks!

This baby deep inside of me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God gave to 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 a part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"
How far along: 10 weeks!

"bones and cartilage are forming -- and small indentations on the legs are developing into knees and ankles. ...the  elbows on baby's arms are already working. Tiny buds of baby teeth are forming under the gums. Further down, the stomach is producing digestive juices, the kidneys are producing larger quantities of urine, and, if your baby's a boy {he is} producing testosterone."-What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size:  "nearly 1 1/2 inches long (about the size of a prune)" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Gender: We'll find out in January! (I decided that there was no way I was going to be caught unprepared again, and that includes knowing the gender for clothing (preemie clothing doesn't come gender neutral)).

Weight gain: 1-2lbs gain from pre-pregnancy weight
Belly: It seems like this baby belly has gotten much bigger much faster this time around. I've been feeling at least two weeks bigger than I was at the same time last time. I'm loving having an itty bitty baby belly though!

Sleep: Desired all the time, but rarely achieved in sufficient quantity. I'm typically up at least every hour either with needing to make trip to the bathroom or caring for Tennyson. Most days, I try to get in at least a 30 minute nap. Napping depends on how well Tennyson naps and/or how much I need to get done around the house. I do my best though.

Symptoms: Strangely, I barely even feel pregnant. So far, the digestive issues and sickness that plagued me the entirety of my first pregnancy have yet to make their appearance (and hopefully they won't because that was rough). Other than being really tired, I'm feeling great.

Clothes: Still wearing my regular clothes. Some of the waistbands are getting a little tight though. I did pull out the smaller maternity tops (the one in the picture is one of them).

    I loaned most of my maternity clothes to a friend, and I'm still waiting to get them back. She's sending a few of her pieces as well. Hooray for a maternity clothes swap!!!!
Movement: I'd love to say that I've been exercising, but honestly I don't have the energy. Maybe soon though.

Food aversions: Meat and heavy meals. Pretty much anything that requires significant energy to consume. haha
Food cravings: Chocolate cake!!! With my first pregnancy, I craved salty and meaty foods. Sweets didn't really do much for me. This time around, I'm less about the salt and meat and more about the sweets. Currently, I'm obsessed with chocolate cake. I may have indulged in a chocolate cupcake or two. hehe. If the old wives tale is true (and it was for the first time!), we may have a little girl on the way!

What I miss: Energy. haha

 I also miss nursing Tennyson. As part of the plan for delaying preterm labor this pregnancy, I must wean Tennyson completely by 16 weeks (only about 5 weeks from now- eek!). He's been getting all of his milk from a cup for a while, and only comfort nurses before or during sleep. I've been surprised to learn how attached I am to those moments. I know I've got to start gradually moving away from nursing so much. If not, then week 16 is going to be here and an abrupt stop would be so much tougher on us both. I've got to remind myself that we've had a great breastfeeding experience, Tennyson is still getting what he needs (from a deep freezer full of stored breastmilk), and it won't be long before I get to share that experience again with baby 2.

What I'm excited about: I'm excited about another little one! I'm already so curious about him/her. I find myself noting characteristics or behaviors of Tennyson and wondering if his sibling is going to do the same things or be completely different. The most exciting part of having children is certainly coming to learn who they are and helping them grow. Can't wait to do it with two little ones!

    I'm also excited about the happy organization that has been taking place at our home. Having two children so young has prompted me to do a big clean out and get organized movement in our home. I know I'm not going to have the time or energy for a lot of unnecessary nonsense when I'm caring for them both each day. I love organization though and so I'm rather enjoying myself with all my little projects.

What I'm nervous about: Some days I'm a little nervous about tending to two children only 15 months a part in age. At these ages, all needs are expressed (loudly!) as demands. Some days the demands of one child plus other household responsibilities leave me so fatigued. I also wonder how I'll manage keeping the house in order and meals cooked. So much of my time and attention is directed towards one child presently that the house and meals go neglected a bit. Of course, adequate rest is also concerning. I'm running on so little that I fear it's unhealthy for a developing baby. *sigh* Despite it all, I'm sure I'll figure it all out once I'm there. I still don't feel like there is any concern greater than the value of a child. For this reason, I'll proceed with faith.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Goodbye, Facebook!

  Facebook was just starting to become popular during my freshman year of college. I considered it to just be a trend and resisted joining. Then, I transferred schools and longed to remain in close contact with my friends. So, I joined. Since then, Facebook has taken off and single-handedly transformed our entire society. It's absolutely amazing how present this one entity is in practically all aspects of life. 

     While there are positive aspects to it, I've become so aware of the overwhelming (yet widely accepted) number of negatives. I've noticed a breakdown in relationships. Interacting through a screen suffices instead of putting forth greater effort to make contact personal, albeit in person. I've noticed how social media creates almost an addiction response. For many individuals this screen and this site are the first things seen in the morning and last in the evenings. Even I have had to fight not logging on at least daily. I've also noticed with great dismay how guests within our home have logged on to Facebook with their device of choice. I've noticed a great demise in conduct and acceptable behaviors reflective in posts. I, myself, have at times felt like using this medium to rant whereas I wouldn't do so in "real life." Furthermore, in logging on to the world of Facebook, I've noticed a disconnecting from one's own life and entrance into the realm of concern for everyone else and everywhere else. Most of all, I think of the home and family life my children within which my children will grow up. How much attention and time will they witness Mama and Daddy directing towards a social media screen/world? Will they learn how to properly develop and invest in meaningful relationships with others? Will they truly learn to manage their time wisely through our example if we remain so distracted? Will they become driven by attention-seeking and instant-gratification? 

      While Facebook seems to be "just part of life" nowadays, I still weigh the pros and cons and question my participation. Honestly, I  rather desire a simpler life, one without Facebook and all that it entails. And so, as much as I've enjoyed connecting with friends, family and blog followers, I've decided to log off for now. I think this move will be refreshing. Plus, the next few months will be very busy (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Tennyson's 1st birthday, and continued preparations for baby 2), and I want to get so much accomplished. I know I'll be able to be much more productive without the Facebook distraction. Ultimately, my heart is for home and family. I want my attention and focus to be directed towards these entities most of all. 

     I'll probably reactivate later, but for now.... Goodbye, Facebook! :)

(No worries, I will still be apart of the blogging realm. :) )

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Menu Plan: Fall (Nov. 9-15)

    I'm going to use the menu plan by Confessions of a Homeshooler this week as a base. The meals appear to be real-food oriented. Also, I figure that a busy homeschooling mama of four littles must know a few things about preparing fast and affordable meals. We shall see. :)

    I did make quite a few changes though.  We have had several of the meals recently, and so I substituted so as to not have to directly repeat them. I also can't imagine my husband eating things like french bread pizza or "ham and cream cheese pinwheels." Haha. It served as a good base, however. Perhaps another week I can apply the meals in her plan more directly. 

- When I make a green smoothie the first morning, I'll make a large batch to freeze for other occasions in the week. This way I don't have to remake it each day saving myself time and a kitchen mess.
- Pancakes will be made and frozen in a similar fashion. I'm hoping I can find a recipe that will make just a few. Usually a recipe makes a bunch and it takes forever to stand and cook them. This just wouldn't work in the morning. 
- To make side salads quicker, mix a couple of containers of lettuce and then add the toppings (easy would be lettuce, tomato, cheese, cucumber, carrots, seed/nut etc). Store all combined. When you need a side salad, simply pull out the desired amount. 
- I'm planning to utilize leftovers as lunches on several days. It's the absolute easiest way to go!
- I did go ahead and buy the "Dirty Dozen" as organics. I'm always in great debate as to whether or not the extra expense is worthwhile. There were just a few on the list that I'll use for Tennyson's homemade baby food, so I decided to go ahead. 
- I've gone super simple on snacks. I've learned that a protein snack every two to three hours is very helpful for keeping pregnancy sickness in check. I simply repeat the same snacks each day for a week. Next week I'll choose a different set. The hardest part is simply stopping long enough to prepare and eat them so frequently, but it's worth it when I do. 

- Cranberry-orange muffins, milk
- green smoothie, pancakes
- green smoothie, french toast, bacon
- parfait (yogurt, mixed berries, almonds slices, honey)
- green smoothie, scrambled egg with cheese, bacon

- grilled ham and swiss cheese sandwich (I'll be heating my ham up to "steaming hot" first since I'm expecting), apple
- leftovers
- pizza, side salad 
- leftovers
- avocado egg salad wraps, pretzels
- chicken fried rice

- Grilled pork chops, breaded cauliflower, side salad
- Bean & rice burritos
- Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, potato salad, brussels sprouts
- Crockpot BBQ ribs, baked potato, sauteed spinach
- White Chicken Chili

- apple and peanut butter
- protein bar
- hardboiled egg
- cottage cheese and fruit (peaches)
- hummus with carrot and celery sticks

Saturday, November 8, 2014

When Others Hurt

      I listened as my sister expressed feelings of failure for her recent miscarriage and the quick response by another to refute such sentiments. I quickly chastised her for that response. While her intention is to be encouraging, she doesn't realize how harmful her response is. She doesn't understand the emotions because she's not been there herself. I have. I know.

     I remember those feelings of failure well in having delivered my son nearly two months early. I felt like a failure as a woman. Even now as I work through the highly-involved care associated with having a uterine abnormality, I wrestle with the feeling of being defective as a woman. The ability to have children is so tightly woven into the identity of a woman that the inability to do so is devastating. A piece of you is forever missing. This is natural as we women are the only ones able to perform this role. It's precious to us.

     When conception, pregnancy or delivery aren't as they ought to be, then there needs to be a time of grief permitted. Quick denial  of such feelings does such harm. It's invalidating. Whether or not we should feel like a failure, defective or whatever else, we do. Don't deny it. We need to feel as though we can express our emotions. We need to feel as though we can grieve. We need to feel as though we're being permitted to work through the process of arriving at a better conclusion. Our perspective isn't going to suddenly change because someone says to us, "that's not true," "don't think that way" or "it's not your fault." We have to arrive at those conclusions on our own. And we will in time. 

     In her book, My Heart's at Home, Jill Savage writes:
When home is a trauma unit, it becomes a safe place for emotions to be expressed, grief to be experienced, and the healing process to begin. ... When home is a trauma unit, Mom, Dad, and siblings become the trauma team to administer love, lend a listening ear, share the disappointment and grief, and encouraging healing and hope in due time. ... When family members are allowed to express their emotions and are not encouraged to 'buck up and move on,' then home becomes a safe place." pg. 42
      This needs to be our goal. Far too often home and family are the least safest places for our emotions. We turn to others or things because we can't go home. At home we find our emotions invalidated. The act isn't intentional, and perhaps that's due to a lack of intention. We must purposefully create home and family to be a safe place. We must purposefully create in ourselves a more appropriate response. Savage's statement is a wonderful starting point. 

Intentionally Creating Home & Family to be a Trauma Unit

1. Don't rush from hurt to healing. Understand that emotions need to be expressed, grief experienced and healing to be a process. 

2. Administer love. "Love says, 'I care.' It is gentle and kind. Love ... comes alongside and walks through the hurt with the other person." (pg. 42)

3. Lend  a listening ear. When we hurt, we're filled with an overwhelming amount of mixed emotions. It's hard to know what to really feel or think. We need someone who will simply listen as we go through the sorting process. Someone who will listen without trying to fix or offer pat answers. The hardest things to do is listen without trying to fix, but that's an important part of the healing process.

4. Share the disappointment and grief. Disappointment and grief are natural parts of life that should be acknowledge and respected. When those feelings are denied or invalidated, we don't reach the point of healing. That area continues to be a hurt in life. An emotional wall may even be built to cope with the hurt. Instead, allow the individual to feel and for you to have empathy and feel with them. Sometimes not having had the same experience can cause one to only be capable of sympathy not empathy. In that case, help the individual find someone who has been through something similar and overcame.  

5. Encourage healing and hope in due time. In time, healing will occur if the hurt was handled appropriately. The individual will come to see that better perspective. She will be able to move on in a positive and forward direction. She will find hope again. These things take time, though. Allowing that time and for healing and hope to be a delayed end product versus an immediate one makes a tremendous difference. 

     I'm confident that eventually my sister will find healing and hope. I've been there. I understand. These things take time and it is a process. I remember my emotions being so quickly denied and feeling so invalidated. It pains my heart to hear the same thing happening to her. I understand that individuals are only trying to help, but sometimes "helping" can do more harm than good. It's important to learn how to approach these situations intentionally, especially if you haven't been through the same or similar experience. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Medical Marvel

     I had my first ob appointment today. Baby #2 is doing well! My heart instantly swelled with joy and eyes filled with tears at the sight and sound of that sweet, sweet heartbeat. I'm so grateful for this little person. I'm already so curious as to his/her appearance and personality. After having Tennyson, it's difficult to imagine any other combination of David and I. The running joke is that Tennyson is so laid-back and easy-going like his father, so this second baby will be more uptight and high-strung like Mama. haha. We shall see!

     I did learn some shocking information while at the appointment. What we thought was a septate uterine defect is, in fact, a full bicornuate uterine defect. I carried a baby to 33 weeks gestation and could potentially carry another baby even longer despite a full bicornuate! This is unheard of for this condition. It just doesn't happen. Bicornuates frequently miscarry or deliver micropreemies. I called my cousin, who is a nurse, and shared the discovery with her and she was just as shocked as I was. Medical marvel haha. 

    Although I absolutely miss midwife care and the natural approach, I am grateful to be under the care of a very capable MFM  (Maternal and Fetal Medicine ob specialist). He clearly had researched all aspects of my history prior to coming in the room, and entered with a plan. It will be rather.. involved. My "favorite" part is requiring injections every week beginning at sixteen weeks onward. I've heard these are a real doosy, too (wee!). There will also be frequent monitoring and tests. It's going to be a long road ahead, especially with continuing to care for the home and raising a toddler while also dealing with medication side effects (not to mention pregnancy symptoms too). I keep thinking of that little babe on the ultrasound screen, though. I'll do it. I'll make the sacrifices, endure the pain, and joyfully welcome this baby into this world. 

      That wasn't the only shocker though. The MFM believes we could potentially make it as far as 36 weeks gestation! Of course, there are a lot of factors at play. Growth restriction is likely again, and there will be a point at which delivery will be preferable.  Ultimately, when he/she runs out of space, then he/she runs out of space. 36 weeks would be fantastic though because that would mean would could bypass the separation and NICU stay (depending on the health of the baby). He also believes that there is potential that the baby could turn. (Tennyson was stuck and breech). If the baby turns and no other complications are present, then he's okay with allowing us to try a VBAC. Although, a VBAC would be highly risky, and in my case maybe not possible with the uneven and random bicornuate uterine contractions. Nonetheless, the potential for possibilities we've long accepted as impossible is thrilling. We've grown so accustomed to our abnormal "normal" that having an actual normal experience is honestly hard to imagine. I think above all, I'd love to have the baby be able to reach that 35 or 36 week mark, be healthy and be able to remain with me. I don't even care if it's a c-section or VBAC. That separation is unimaginably difficult. 

     So much will be a moment by moment situation. Fortunately, we've been here once before and so will know how to intervene and handle situations proactively. Though we did receive a big dose of hope today, we're still proceeding very cautiously. The fact of the matter is that I do have a defect that affects my ability to carry a baby. And I do have a very high chance of delivering early at any point in the pregnancy. We're excited and hoping/praying for the best, but we know the reality is that abnormal will always be our normal. I've just got to remain strong and focused. Once this little one is here with us, it will all be worthwhile. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrating the Season with Thankfulness

       November is here and now is the time that everyone seems to be sharing their participation in a "30 Days of Thanksgiving" gratitude activity. One year, I was all excited to join in as well. I had intentions for each day to list, photograph and share an area of thankfulness to focus on for the day. Well, I believe I made it to day 3. The ideas from various sources for acknowledging gratitude were wonderful. However, they weren't my own and as such didn't strike a personal cord within me. Moreover, I felt like I needed something more than the words "thank you." How do I truly experience gratitude? Act on it.

        After that experience, I decided to compile my own list of activities. I believe it is important to define "Thanksgiving" as a season of celebration and not just a two hour meeting for stuffing belllies and entering food comas. Moreover, I feel as though thanksgiving should be more than a daily statement made one month each year. It's a year-long, life-long attitude that is so deeply seeded in my life that my life reflects gratitude beyond my words. The following is what I came up with for last year. As I look over the list again this year I'm refreshed and encouraged to strive towards making these aspect more apart of life, both now during the Thanksgiving season and through the upcoming new year. There may be areas that need to be altered a bit or changed entirely, but that's okay because the idea is to always be discovering new ways to be thankful and reflect that attitude. 
Give Thanks Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar - PDF Pattern

1) I stumbled across this pattern for a calendar at Everyday Celebrations. I plan to make a few changes though. I would like one which would be year-round so that I can also fill the pockets with ways to appreciate other seasons or holidays. So, the colors will be those in my home's color scheme and the title will be changed to say, "Enjoy the Moments." Having the pattern as a base will make it much simpler to create and personalize!

2) I wanted my list to focus on three areas:
Express Thanks= 10         Express Giving=10          Come Together=10
1. Express thanks for good neighbors. Invite a neighbor to tea/coffee/dinner. If you don’t know your neighbor, then introduce yourself (be sure to include your gratitude for them!)

2. Make Java Chip Pumpkin bread* loaves and share a loaf with someone who is usually under appreciated. 
             *Java Chip Pumpkin Bread= 1 box quick pumpkin bread + chocolate chips + replace 
                  water with coffee.
3. Discuss how you can serve a family or person specifically over the holidays

4. Express thanks for relationships (friends/family) so close that the distance doesn’t even seem present. Call, write, or contact them in any way to express gratitude for them and your relationship. It could be a character quality, something that was done, favorite memory, or the impact they’ve had one you.

5. Create a Blessing Bag to keep in your car and offer to homeless individuals you encounter.

6. Have a family game night. Before each turn name a blessing.

7. Express thanks to a veteran for their courage and sacrifice. Write a letter** to someone currently serving. Greet and talk with someone you see while out today.
           ** Day 7: Letter to Soldiers- multiple sites to allow participation. Letters to Soldiers, &
                Soldiers Angels are two that I found just by doing a quick Google search.

8. Leave a cashier with a bit of a payment towards the next person. (You will need to place a rubberband or clip around it with a note or something designating it as such. Don’t want to get the cashier in trouble for having money lying around out of the drawer!)

9. Enjoy the beautiful fall foliage during a family walk/hike.

10. Express thanks to the Lord for the day. Some days just seem like they shouldn’t have even been attempted. Nonetheless, each and every day is a gift. Write Psalm 118:24 on a notecard and place by your alarm clock for when you rise. Then, stick it in your pocket or somewhere visible to be reminded of it throughout the day.

11. Leave a generous tip. Next time you’re at a restaurant leave a generous tip with a compliment on the receipt. If there is a tip jar, then leave a little more than just your change.

12. Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving together. Make it even more fun by enjoying the "Thanksgiving Meal" (buttered toast, jelly beans, pretzel sticks and popcorn)!

13.  Express thanks for the quiet times. Rise early and put some coffee or tea to brew. Spend extra moment with the Lord and in thought of ways to live out your gratitude during the day.

14. Offer a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. So often poor attitudes cause poor support systems (ie friendships!). Call or meet up with a friend to simply listen.

15. Use Thanksgiving Box Of Questions during dinnertime. (I haven't personally used these, but I love conversation cards!).

16. Express thanks for the good in life. Critical and negative perspectives are nearly impossible to escape. Have you become a perpetuator? Determine today to examine your words and heart to only allow that which is follows Philippians 4:8 to permeate your environment.

17. Grocery shop specifically with the intention of donating the entire bag. (Many grocery stores offer donation boxes or packages for purchase).

18. Review the story of the first Thanksgiving. Why did they want to observe a time of thanks? What is the significance of the holiday today?

19. Express thanks for your husband. When did we begin to see him with a critical (disrespectful) eye more than a grace giving (loving) eye? Challenge yourself today to not only speak well of him, but to think such as well! Praise him! Believe in him! Respect him!

20. Delight a child by taping change to a vending machine (bouncing balls, gum balls etc)

21. Capture with your camera the various things throughout the day you’re thankful for.

22. Express thanks to God for his provision. Stress can easily mound when it appears that there is more going out financially than coming in. Yet, when all is said and done there was somehow enough. Do we have shelter? Clothing? Food? Support from others? Our notion of provision and the Lord’s may look different, but one thing that is certain is that He is faithful in His promise to provide for us. Trust Him to do so. Thank Him for already doing so.

23. Graciously relieve someone of one of their responsibilities.

24.  Revisit the family photo album and travel back to previous Thanksgiving celebrations. What was your favorite memory of those times?

25. Express thanks for all those that God places in our paths. Some individuals and experiences will build us up, while others will refine us. Remember Romans8:28. Choose to recognize the good that came from our interactions and experiences. Make an effort to be kind today, even when someone we encounter appear to be “tearing us down.”

26. Visit with someone who may be lonely. The best way to combat a feeling of loneliness in ourselves is to remove that feeling from someone else. Nursing homes and hospitals are a great place to start. Don’t stop there though. Think outside the box. Is there anyone that lives alone? Spends evenings alone (spouse works night shift)? New to the area? Etc etc.

27. Everyone share what is their favorite aspect of the holiday season. What activities/traditions added meaning or joy, and which ones detracted from it? What would each person like to include this year?

28. Express thanks for God creating you to We are his workmanship. He carefully crafted us into being. What we perceive as flaws may be a part of God’s special design for us. Remember  that He created us to be as we are in order to fulfill His purposes for our lives, not our own. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and see shortcomings. Snap a photo of yourself and on the back of the printed picture write ways in which God sees you.    

29. Spending time with family often times requires a road trip. Make the stress of traveling a little lighter by obtaining a gift card for gas. Next time you’re at the pump, tape the card with a little note to it. (I would say hand the card to someone nearby, but I have a hard time imagining people accepting a gift nowadays).

30. Prepare a meal together. It can be the actual Thanksgiving meal, a side, or just a weeknight dinner. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” is a complete falsity. I say the more the merrier! Divide the work and each embrace the opportunity to serve each other in preparing the meal.

Additional Resources:
 Random Acts of Kindness - Page with numerous ideas for simple acts of kindness.
Homeword 30 Days of Thanksgiving - Page with great ideas for areas of thankfulness.
Give Thanks Countdown Cards- Cards to accompany calendar pattern from Everyday Celebrations
Positively Present's 30 Photo Challenge on Gratitude- 30 days of capturing in film areas of gratitude.

          I pray that this list will encourage us as a family to determine in what ways we would like to focus this holiday season. I'm excited for my children to come to understand Thanksgiving in this manner:)
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