Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Daily Schedule (with 12 mo. old)

     It's been 6 months since I created our last daily schedule, and we've been ready for a few modifications to better fit Tennyson and I now that he's a year old. We'll continue to use this one until Tennyson completely drops down to just one nap a day or Annelise arrives. :)
(Click image to view larger)

(Click image to view larger)

 A Few Notes:
  • I keep our daily schedule and my cleaning routine in sheet protectors taped to the side of our pantry cabinet in the kitchen. It's smack dab in the middle of our home, and very easy for me to see throughout the day. I use a dry erase marker to cross off tasks we've completed. It's a great visual for the day's accomplishments (as well as a reminder for what still needs attention).
  • It's essential for me to wake and complete my morning routine before Tennyson wakes. It's not always easy considering I'm usually pretty tired and he's an early bird. Days in which I can accomplish a little self care before caring for anyone or anything else usually go much better. It also allows me to be ready to go out if need be without taking extra time to get ready.
  • Although Tennyson isn't capable of carrying his laundry downstairs yet, I still want to establish the expectation for that task. I tried collecting dirty laundry in a variety of ways, but none made things any easier for me. (It's been piled up on the floor where it was taken off (my least favorite manner of handling dirty laundry), collected in laundry baskets in each bedroom, and collected in a single basket in the hallway between the rooms). Then, it occurred to me that we walk from bedrooms to the downstairs where the laundry room is each morning to start the day. There's no sense to not bring down one's dirty laundry each morning and place it in the laundry basket in the laundry room. Duh! Presently, I carry Tennyson's laundry downstairs but am hoping that the consistency of doing so every day will establish the impression that this is simply what is done each morning.
  • I've learned that if I don't wash, dry, and put away at least one load of laundry a day it will take over. I can sometimes get two loads done in a day, but for the most part one load keeps it manageable.
  • I've also learned the value of cleaning up the kitchen after every meal. It's tempting to just leave the mess until later, especially when a nap or fussy little one is calling. However, waiting until later means an even bigger mess by the end of the day which requires staying up late to clean up. I personally hate staying up late to clean the kitchen. I'd rather be working on a project or sleeping! Clean it up now, and save yourself later.
  • Playtime with Mama- Although I'm with Tennyson at all times during our day, it's important to me that he has a time in which my attention is directed entirely on him. We'll play with his toys together, cuddle and read books (or I'll read while he crawls around), sing songs with accompanying motions etc. Soon, we'll begin adding exploration (aka sensory) bins and other hands-on Montessori style play.
  • Toy time- My intention for "toy time" is to offer him a toy that he hasn't seen in a while to play with in the Pack n' Play while I need to be focused elsewhere. This is building towards more independent play, and will be of great help later when I need to take care of the new baby without concern of a rambunctious toddler running around.
  • Videos- I allow him to watch one educational program a day. Some days I need that extra 30 minutes a video provides (usually for preparing a meal). I'm very selective regarding what programs he watches but have found the Baby Einstein - My First Signs, Baby Einstein - Baby Wordsworth - First Words - Around the House, and Baby Einstein - Meet the Orchestra - First Instruments programs to be excellent quality. (*Note: These are affiliate links. I receive a small compensation from Amazon.com for any purchases made through these links. Thank you!)
  • "Table activity" refers to any activity that can be done at the table. I prefer to him to learn to remain at the table instead of expecting to get up as soon as he finishes eating. He frequently plays with some DIY shakers/rattles and the Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze Later, I may pull out an activity from his activity bins (the Montessori style activities mentioned above). (*Note:  This is also an affiliate link. I receive a small compensation from Amazon.com for any purchases made through this link as well. Thank you!)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: Week 20!

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: 20 weeks! We're over halfway there! Hard to believe this little one could be here as soon as only 13 weeks (but hopefully 15 weeks). Wow! Time has flown by in this pregnancy!

Baby size:  "size of a small cantaloupe ... about 10 ounces and 6 1/2 inches (crown to rump)" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition
Gender: Girl!
 Weight gain: No new number this week. My next OB appointment is next week, and so I'll have a new number for the next post (week 22).
Belly: Getting bigger! I'm much bigger than I was with Tennyson (though that doesn't necessarily mean the baby's bigger). It's definitely getting more difficult to maneuver through tasks during the day, especially carrying Tennyson. I'm trying to imagine managing when I'm even bigger later on. yikes! haha.
 Sleep: Sleep is...well, sleep doesn't really happen anymore. For one reason or another I just don't sleep well at night. I absolutely have to take at least an hour nap during the day to get through the rest of the day.
Symptoms: Fatigue is fairly constant since I struggle to sleep well at night. Daily naps really help though. Other than that, I've probably been a little on the hormonal emotional side (at least I get that impression). I do what I can, but these things happen when you're growing another person on the inside. hah.
One the delightful symptom side, I'm loving the effect pregnancy is having on my hair. It's never been healthier looking. Yay!

 Clothes: I still need to fill in the gaps to be fully prepared for postpartum. I learned a good lesson last time in having not been prepared with proper clothes to wear after the baby arrives, especially for frequent hospital visits. With only 13-15 weeks left, I'm feeling like it's crunch time to get things fully ready.
Movement: I'm still moving pretty good. I can't say much for exercise. Maintaining the house and caring for Tennyson has been pretty good exercise in my opinion! haha.

Baby Movement: She loves to kick, especially in the late evenings. She can get in some really good kicks sometimes!
Ah, I just love the little movements! Big beautiful baby belly and little kicks are definitely my favorite aspects of pregnancy!
 Food aversions: Not sure. I still don't have as strong of a preference for meat and heavy meals, but that's pretty typical even when not pregnant.
Food cravings: I still love sweets far more than I should. I've come to enjoy a glass of chocolate instant breakfast before bed each night. It's my something sweet in the day. hehe. It's at least better than a chocolate cupcake or other dessert!

What I miss: Going for longer periods of time without a bathroom break! I feel like I'm well acquainted with every restroom location when we go out. In our home...thank goodness, we have a bathroom on each floor. hahaha.
It's getting harder to carry and hold Tennyson. I'm trying hard to not hold him in such a way that he'd put pressure on my belly. He's getting to be a big, heavy boy though. I manage during the day, but am glad to relinquish the holding and carrying to David when I can. We still get in our Mama - Tennyson time though.
 What I'm excited about: I'm getting pretty excited to meet her! I feel so blessed to have her.

What I'm nervous about: The weekly shot still makes me a bit nervous each week. How well it goes depends entirely on the nurse, and not all nurses are equally skilled. Fortunately, four out of five shots so far have been manageable. I've actually felt pretty encouraged about being able to endure the remaining 15, and/or be able to do it all again if we were to have another child. Another week, though, and praying for the best.

     I'm quite nervous about managing in my mothering when I have two little ones demanding of me all day and night and I having had so little rest. Inadequate rest is a big trigger for a lack of self-control for me, particularly in regard to emotions. Sometimes I lose my patience with Tennyson (particularly when he doesn't sleep well and I desperately need some rest). He's struggling with fatigue, discomfort from teething, or something else in which he's needing comfort and love from his Mama. My response isn't always considerate of that fact. I'm not as patient, gentle and loving as I wish to be. I'm nervous about there being more demand on me and less support when I need it most. Yet, I know that guilt and nerves won't get me too far too fast. The best I can do is just keep trying my best one day at a time. I believe God has entrusted these little ones to us to raise well. I can do this.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Marshmallow World

      We woke up to a marshmallow world outside! Only 2-3 inches of snow was being predicted to fall overnight, but 5-6 inches fell! It was the perfect snow, too. The kind that is so light, fluffy, and fun but doesn't impede travel. We all bundled up and headed outside to play this morning.
      Tennyson got to try out his new snowsuit (we still need to get him some  boots to go with it).  It was hilarious on him because it's absolutely massive. I think he'll be able to wear it next winter as well. Haha. It kept him warm and dry though!
      He wasn't too sure about all the fuss and snow. He just kind of quietly took it all in. David and I got in a little snowball fight before we all went back inside to warm up. We all had a good time together in the snow!
      We're supposed to get some more accumulation with the next system, but I don't think it is to be as much as this time was. I'm sure we'll still bundle up and go out to play in it though!

Baby snow angel:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stance on Alcohol

    I grew up in the Bible Belt South, and as such I came to understand a mixed acceptance of alcohol consumption. It was heavily condemned by many, but yet accepted by many others. Overall, though, it seemed to me that there was an air of taboo regarding the subject.
     I didn't grow up in the church or Christian faith, and so I never directly received the messaged for full abstinence from alcohol. In fact, my immediate family members drank. The only lesson I remember regarding alcohol was to essentially not get caught (ie don't drink and drive, don't compromise your health/safety or anyone else's etc.). It was well accepted.

    I, however, never felt fully comfortable with it. I didn't like what I saw it did to people. I didn't understand how a person could willingly put themselves in a state of complete lack of self-control.  I never desired to try it myself.

     Then, in college I foolishly thought I could impress a date by ordering wine with dinners and what not. Going out and having a drink seemed like the natural thing to do as an "adult," and he seemed very well versed with this practice. I didn't want to seem like a child or a prude. I wanted him to think of me as a mature and sophisticated woman (hah!). I think I blew every bit of that perception when I completely stumbled over pronouncing the names of wines and revealed myself to have no clue how to pair them with meals.

     We later discussed the subject of drinking. He revealed to me that he had a history of alcohol abuse. He promised that it was all history and he'd turned away from such behavior. He still had an occasional drink, but knew his limit. I believed him. I liked him, and wanted our relationship to continue. We both agreed upon the stance that alcohol like an occasional beer or glass of wine was acceptable. We also agreed that drunkenness was the point in which the line was crossed.

      I've wised up since my college dating years. I've learned that the drawl to alcohol is never entirely history. When the opportunity presents itself, compromises will occur. Moreover, how much a person drinks is dependent upon several factors, one of which being past use. The body's tolerance increases with use. So, a person may be able to consume more and more before reaching a point of drunkenness. When you have to hide if or how much alcohol is consumed, then a red flag should be going up. As in most things, if you have to hide something then it's probably not something you should be doing. In respect to a relationship, multiple threats are posed. On the emotional side, the bonds of respect for the other (non-drinking) individual and the honesty shared are broken.

    I still contend that one drink just for tasting is permissible. Just ONE. I see no need to have more than that. I firmly believe a drink should be enjoyed for what it is, not for it's effects. You don't need more than one for enjoyment. Yet, I've come to a place in my life in which drinking has little appeal. I don't think it's wrong or sinful, per say. I do think of all the people, relationships, and families that have been hurt by alcohol consumption. I know they didn't intend to be in that position, but the damage has been done. It's just not worth it to me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

One Day Is Like Three

 As long as he knows someone is nearby, he's content to
play quietly by himself. I found him just sitting
in this little cozy spot  and playing with his car
this morning while I was preparing our breakfast. Haha.
      I watched an interesting documentary this morning on the evolution of parenting styles. It began with detachment parenting which was popular in the 1950s and then ended with continuum parenting (later known as "attachment parenting") which was popular in the 1970s. The 1960s experienced a parenting style that was a transition from one to the other. This is a really fascinating subject to me. I think I'd classify myself as a mixture of all. There is no perfect model or method, and so I prefer to extract the aspects I see as wise from a variety of sources. Then, I determine my own course. I certainly don't have it all figured out, and probably never will. I'm always eager to learn and improve upon my mothering though!

    Tennyson and I had a rather relaxed morning. Today was shot day for me, and so I decided to not rush through our morning and just enjoy our time together. Fortunately, I've been really on top of my game in regard to the housework this week. It's so much easier to maintain the house when I've been diligent in my cleaning routine. The shot appointment wasn't the worst but wasn't the best. I made it through though. Five weeks down and fifteen to go! I kept reminding myself of a statistic I read last night: one day in the womb is like three days in the NICU. Wow! Thinking of having three less days in the NICU for every day we're able to delay preterm labor is quite the motivator!

Playtime with Daddy!
    The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxed as well. Tennyson and I spent the afternoon napping and then playing in the living room. Once David got home, he took over playtime and I began dinner. We had giant baked potatoes planned- yum! We frequently plan a potato meal in our weekly menus. They're cost effective, filling, and produce hardly any kitchen clean-up. My kind of meal!

     Tennyson is pretty worn out from the day, and is finally settling down for the night. Since there's so few dishes to do, I'm thinking that curling up in bed and reading for a  bit would be such a pleasant way to end the day. :)

His favorite place to be is right beside Mama!
(He's holding the hammer that goes with his Pound & Tap Bench)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Taste of Toddlerhood

     For the past couple of days Tennyson has fought taking a morning nap. He may be visibly tired, but yet refuses to go down for a nap. I'm not entirely surprised by the sudden onset of this change. He's made all big development gains in this manner. One day he doesn't roll over at all, and the next he's rolling all over the room. One day he doesn't hand and knee crawl, and the next he's racing all around our home. One day he doesn't reach up or pull up, and the next he's standing up and climbing on anything nearby. One day he's being fed baby food, and the next he's fully self-feeding table foods. You get the idea. He's not done a gradual approach to anything. It's like he one day decides to master a skill and just does it. Persistence, independence and strong-will are a few characteristics that describe both David and I, and so we've been anticipating having a child with similar qualities, which seems to be true for Tennyson so far. Anyways, I could try to fight encourage him to continue to take a morning nap. I know he needs that extra rest. (I'm also not quite ready to lose my morning break!). But, perhaps it's time to allow him to try taking only one nap a day. Perhaps his resistance is him telling me that he's ready. If he can hold himself together, then we'll continue. If not, then we'll go back to trying to maintain two naps. Trial and error. 

     We spent the afternoon playing indoors and watching it snow. It's a pretty wet snow that didn't accumulate much, so I decided not to get us bundled up to go out in it. He contentedly watched it fall from the window. He especially enjoyed the snow plows coming through!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Flying Solo Once Again

He's become just a good teeth brusher!
     I'm still amazed that Tennyson is a year old already. I think back over the course of this past year and am in awe of the moments we've shared together. Yet, I sadly know there are so many more that I simply can't recall. The exhaustion and stress of being a first-time mama, and that of a preemie no less, has left such gapping holes in my memory. I find myself desiring to making a greater effort to record more of our days and moments. They seem so insignificant at the moment, but I know they'll be so special later.  

"Here, Mama! I'm done!"

     David has been away on a trip for work. I was a bit nervous about him being gone because I've grown so accustomed to parenting as a team. We have such a great give and take flow between us in getting the daily tasks done. With him gone, I would be on my own for all of the child care and housework. I'm so grateful to have a partner in parenting!

Special slumber party night since Daddy was away.
      Tennyson and I had some great bonding time. We also had our challenges, but worked our way through them. (It didn't help that the house was still quite messy from the weekend, which made even more work at a time that I didn't have an extra set of helping hands). I made a point to rest for at least an hour each day. I knew I wouldn't have sufficient energy to complete all tasks in the day without additional rest. Even still, I hit a wall at dinner time. Then, Tennyson took an extra hour to be put to bed for the night. I suppose he was thrown off by me putting him to bed instead of his Daddy. We eventually got there and then I was able to finish up some dishes and laundry before heading to bed myself. One fun aspect of it just being Tennyson and I was that I allow ourselves a little cozy slumber party at night. When he woke at midnight, I brought him back to bed with me. He wiggled around until he found just the right position, and then slept the entire night like a champ. I, of course, didn't sleep so well but I enjoyed every moment of getting to cuddle with him. Although, I discovered that though he may be small he is the biggest bed hog I've ever encountered! haha! He must have gotten a good night's sleep because he was a live wire the next day. I'm not sure if I've seen him so energetic! He even skipped his morning nap. By the time David got home in the afternoon, though, that missed sleep had caught up to him. He cuddled and napped on David while I went to pick up a few things at Target. (Snow's coming, and so better be stocked up on necessary baby items, you know!).

Happy and refreshed from a night's rest!

       I've really cherished our time together. There may not be too many opportunities for just Tennyson and Mama to be together like that. Soon, there'll be two little ones having a slumber party with Mama. Haha. It's interesting to think back to the last time I flew solo, and how much smoother this time went. Perhaps it's easier as Tennyson gets older, or perhaps I'm finally getting the hang of this mothering job. Either way, I'm grateful for the time we had together and also grateful for David's return home to us.

He missed his Daddy.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Monkey Theme 1st Birthday

        When considering Tennyson's 1st birthday party I had three main goals in mind: 1) it was to celebrate him 2) as many elements as possible needed to have the capacity to be reused another year and possibly by another person and 3) my budget for food (for 20), decorations, activities and favor bags etc. was $50. I'm pleased to say that I was able to achieve all three goals for his monkey theme 1st birthday party! Here are a few of the details:


     I wanted to make his birthday cake. Compared to a store bought cake, homemade cakes are better tasting, more economical and have that special homemade touch. I can remember very few birthdays growing up in which my mother didn't make my birthday cake. Her homemade cakes were always special to me, and I want to leave the same fond memory for my children. Since we are doing a monkey theme I chose a banana cake with cream cheese frosting.  I made a full size cake (9-inch cake rounds) for guests and a mini cake (4-inch cake rounds) just for Tennyson :)
     We opted for a semi-homemade selection of food. The party is an afternoon event, and so we didn't necessarily need to provide a full meal. We chose to serve: ham & cheese sandwiches, club sandwiches, banana pudding cups, two types of veggie chips, fruit tray (pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe), a veggie tray (carrots, celery, tomatoes), and the banana birthday cake. We decided that the best way to serve a lot of people while still keeping costs as low as possible would be to maintain a very simple menu.  It still looks and tastes like a plentiful selection though!

    We served three basic beverages: water, homemade lemonade, homemade sweet tea.

     I shopped around a bit to find the best value for purchasing paper plates, cups, napkins, silverware etc. in the brown, white, and green color scheme. I prefer the versatility of basic colors versus a printed or patterned set. I like that I will be able to pair another color with either the brown or green for a future occasion.


     I hadn't intended to create food labels initially. But, I then considered it helpful for guests to know what is being offered (and thus I not have to answer these questions dozens of times). Fortunately, I had extra green pattern paper from the door sign and an extra sheet of stickers from the favor bags. I then simply printed the words out on sticky address labels. Super simply, and yet super cute.
     I found a set of plain cardboard pendants at the craft store and decided to make a diy birthday banner. The supplies did cost about twice as much as simply buying a premade banner. However, my diy banner has the capacity to be redone numerous times to fit the occasion. I love how it turned out!
(blacked out portion is our address, which isn't for public viewing ;) )
      I always find it helpful to have the front door marked in some way when expecting guests. They can easily spot your home and know to just walk in. I made this simple sign using poster board, scrapbook paper for letters and balloons, and the same monkey template I drew for the invitations and coloring pages.
Activities for Little Guests:
      I thought it would be great to have a few activities and things for little guests. Kids can sometimes get carried away at birthday parties with there being new things to play with and explore, people to entertain, and sugary cake and/or treats. I wanted to at least have some way to try to redirect that energy.

     I created a coloring sheet with my monkey drawing. I purchased jumbo crayons and placed them in jelly jars tied with brown curling ribbon.  (Note: I learned a lesson in buying the cheapest crayons. They were like coloring with colored candles. They were so waxy that the color would actually come off with additional strokes. I then purchases a set of name brand crayons. I learned to always buy the better crayons. haha!). The nice thing about this purchase is that we're all set for when Tennyson is able to start coloring!
     I also created felt monkey masks for imaginative play. I drew a pattern and then stitched the pieces together using embroidery floss. I also sewed ribbons on back so that the mask would tie on. (I originally sewed elastic to the back instead of the ribbon. The elastic would have held the mask up better. However, without knowing the size of the children's heads I couldn't accurately estimate the necessary amount of elastic needed or be able to adjust it later.) This project was definitely the most consuming. I stayed up much too late several nights working on these. They were the perfect touch to this monkey party though! Did I mention there is probably about $0.25 of materials invested in each mask? Cute and budget friendly- hooray!

Favor Bags:
       I wanted to offer quality favor bags. ( I have a bit of an annoyance at junky party bags that are ultimately thrown in the trash). I chose to include a monkey sticker sheet, Play-Doh and a bag of banana chips. Most young kids I know love stickers. I was excited to have found a package of monkey stickers that were on sale at the craft store. I also wanted another play item and found the Play-Doh to be only $0.50 per container. Party favor bags typically include even more candy and sweets. I, instead, choose to offer a healthier alternative of banana chips. Plus, they fit perfectly with the theme. I probably spent about $2 for the bag and everything in it.

       That's about it! Sweet and simple monkey theme birthday party (for about $50!).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fairness Between Siblings

Fair is Not Equal from @The Minimalist Mom - good way of explaining "fair"
     The topic of fairness between siblings came up in conversation today. The mama I was speaking with tried tirelessly to make everything that she could fair between her two children. Her children are grown now and live different lives. This difference, however, is perceived as indicative of the presence of unfairness in life between the two, something the mama has continued to try to correct herself. One individual is seen as having greater "success" in life whereas the other individual is seen as having not been as fortunate. Consequently, the mama continues to focus much of her attention and efforts towards the second child in attempt to make her life as "fair" as the first child's (despite the fact that they're both adults). Unfortunately, as a result of her efforts to ensure perfect fairness, the sibling are often pinned against each other in an endless game of comparison and favoritism. They can't celebrate the joys in the other's life because of the inner cry of, "What about me? That's not fair!" Their relationship struggles through conflicts, and often so does their individual relationships with their mama. It's such an unfortunate situation. The mama concluded by wishing me the best in creating fairness between my children.

     The conversation really got me thinking about fairness between siblings. Honestly, I have no intention of ensuring things are "fair" between my children. I don't see this as a favorable goal in raising my children. I feel like I have greater lessons to teach them than making sure they have exactly what everyone else has. I want my children to learn:

1) Don't look at differences through the lens of comparison. Don't evaluate how good or bad your possessions or situation is based on another's. There will always be someone who has achieved more or done so sooner. If this is your entire focus, then you'll find yourself jealous and bitter. You'll also be unable to see the good in your life or celebrate the good in others' lives.  Always find the good in all situations and celebrate with/for others as much as possible. Think of them before yourself.

2) The "what about me?" cry will not get you anywhere in life. It will only hold you back. You will always struggle in life with this perspective. It's selfishness- a highly unproductive and undesirable quality.

3) Understand that "fair" does not mean "equal." A common saying is, "Fair isn't everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need in order to be successful."  Each person has different needs for success, and as such to provide perfect sameness would be to limit one's potential for success.

4) Sometimes the feeling of unfairness is really a mask for other feelings. Determine the root of your perception of unfairness, and you may begin to see the situation in a different light.

     I hope I am able to successfully guide my children through this tough topic when it comes up (because it will). It's helpful for me to read articles (linked below), and mentally prepare for how I might approach such situations. It's also helpful for me to learn from others. I think back to the mama I spoke with earlier and consider how she continues to try to make life itself fair between her children. I think of each child and how they have grown up with the understanding that one of them has "won" in life and one has not. My heart is saddened to think of the missed opportunity for all to have embraced differences and join one another in celebrating the joys in each others' lives. That's what it's all about; that's what I want to create for my children, not fairness.

Interesting Reads:
"But it's not fair!" Teach Your Kids How to be "Fair Aware": Four steps to helping your child understand the difference between fair and equal. by: Andrea Nair -

"Fair is Not Equal" by The Minimalist Mom

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Mama's Intuition

I sent these to our parents and siblings' families.
       We chose not to find out the gender of our first child before he was born. We had several reason, and one of them was to allow us that moment in the delivery room in which "it's a boy!" or "it's a girl!" is announced. I wanted the surprise. By the time he arrived, however, my mama intuition was so certain it was a boy that the announcement was no surprise at all. I just knew the baby was a boy. I mean, 98.9% certain.
       So, this time we decided to go ahead and find out the gender. David and I joked about who would be right for quite a while. He was guessing we'd have another boy, but my mama's intuition was strongly saying "girl." I'm not sure exactly when I began to instinctively refer to the baby as a girl but I know that it was quite early. I remember getting the room reshifted early on to accommodate two children and all the while wondering if various elements would be good for a boy and a girl. And every time I daydreamt about meeting this little one, the baby was always a girl. I'm not sure how it is that a mama can automatically sense the gender of her child within her, but it's pretty awesome!
        Anyways, as you might have guessed we're having a...  
Okay, so this idea isn't original. It's been used numerous times and displayed on Pinterest and social media sites. I still thought it was cute though, especially since we live in PA (home of Hershey!)
      We've chosen the name: "Annelise Michelle" for her. I can't wait to meet her!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Baby 2 Pregnancy Journal: 18 Weeks!

*Journal entry originally written 1/7/15. Updated following appointment on 1/8/15. A more detailed update is located at the bottom.

 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: 18 weeks!
"baby is filling out nicely and getting large enough that you might even be feeling those twists, rolls, kicks, and punches he or she is perfecting. Another set of skills your baby is mastering now is yawning and hiccupping ... And your one-of-a-kind baby is truly one of a kind now, complete with unique fingerprints on his or her fingertips and toes." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby size:  "5 1/2 inches long and about 5 ounces in weight" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Gender: Read reveal post
 Weight gain: I've gained four more pounds since my appointment last month. That puts me up to 123lbs and a total gain of seven pounds. yippee
Belly: Baby belly is growing! I feel much bigger than I was at this point in my last pregnancy. I've felt at least two weeks larger throughout this pregnancy. I went back and looked at my photos from last time and that two week assessment is pretty accurate.
 Sleep: We've entered the "can't get comfortable" and "ache all the time" territory of pregnancy sleep. I have a body pillow, but it was only minimally effective. I've since discovered that stacking another pillow on top does the trick. My hips just can't take side lying without full alignment. David calls it my "pillow fort." Of course, every time I need to switch sides we both wake up because it's quite a production to maneuver with sleeping with four pillows! Hey, whatever works!
    Despite David taking the night shift with Tennyson so that I can get as much sleep as possible, I still wake up feeling very unrested. I get by most days, but have learned that a nap at some point in the day is essential. It's tempting to use that time to get housework or projects done, or take some "me time." However, I almost always regret it by the afternoon when I'm feeling so drained. So, resting as much as I can (especially after the weekly shot) has become a necessity.
Symptoms: Fatigue is really hitting me hard, especially after the shot. Keeping up with the household tasks and a curious little cruising man has really been tough. David has had to take over some cooking and cleaning on days. I feel guilty for making him work after he gets home from work, but there's only so far I can push myself physically. Despite efforts to protect my sleep, I'm still fighting fatigue quite a bit. We looked into increasing food sources of magnesium and iron, two substances which can lead to fatigue. I'm also making more of an effort to get a nap in each day.

For the weirdo pregnancy symptom- I get air trapped in my ear constantly. It only happens during pregnancy. David will occasionally indicate that I'm talking rather loudly. I can't quite hear with air in there. I've never heard of this being a common pregnancy symptom. I remember it occurring with my pregnancy with Tennyson, and then stopping once he was born. It seems to have returned with this pregnancy as well. So weird!

 Clothes: I had one of those lovely "I have nothing to wear!" moments recently. I keep putting off going and buying the pieces needed to make everything wearable and into coordinated outfits. (I tend to be rather tight with money). But, the time has come. I definitely want to make sure I have effortless outfits for postpartum. That is definitely not the time I want to face wardrobe gaps and "nothing to wear" moments (again). I did purchase another nightgown this past week. I love button front nightgowns, especially for post-op and nursing. They're delightfully feminine and very practical. I had an additional one on my list, and found it on sale. One more item checked off my baby 2 list!
Movement: I'm still moving pretty good. Using additional pillows at night has made an impact on my overall aches and pains. I can't say much for exercise. Would be a healthy move, but I can't imagine consuming and depleting myself of what little energy I have. (I have never been one to feel energized after exercise, even when it was an activity/sport that I enjoyed).

Baby Movement: I can definitely feel his/her movements. He/she loves to kick! David has even gotten to feel a kick already! Each evening he/she gives me a kicking performance. Sometimes he/she will kick when Tennyson is sitting on my lap and leaning back against me. I tell him that his best friend is just trying to say "hello!"
Ah, I just love the little movements! Big beautiful baby belly and little kicks are definitely my favorite aspects of pregnancy!
  He/she usually kicks on the right which is opposite of Tennyson's movements within. I'm thinking this baby is position in the other "horn," but we'll see for sure tomorrow on the ultrasound. Update: According to the ultrasound, this baby is in the right "horn" (Tennyson was in the left). I guess my feeling was correct!

 Food aversions: Not sure. I still don't have as strong of a preference for meat and heavy meals, but that's pretty typical even when not pregnant.
Food cravings: I still love sweets far more than I should. (girl, girl, girl! ;) )

What I miss: Going for longer periods of time without a bathroom break! I feel like I'm well acquainted with every restroom location when we go out. In our home...thank goodness, we have a bathroom on each floor. hahaha.
 I also miss feeling rested. However, I haven't felt fully rested since before my first pregnancy. It's a worthy sacrifice. There will be a day when they're sleeping independently and I'll miss getting to cuddle with them like I do when they're babies.

What I'm excited about: I'm pretty excited to find out if we'll be having a boy or a girl tomorrow. This day seemed forever away originally, but it got here plenty fast. It's really incredible to think that we're essentially at the halfway mark with at most 18 more weeks until we get to meet this little one. I can't wait to meet him/her!

What I'm nervous about: I'm nervous about continuing the shot. I've had it and barely noticed. I've also had it and cried from the pain. The location bruised and knotted up pretty good as well. I was so drained by the ordeal that I spent the next three days laying down trying to recover from it. I know it's suppose to be best for the baby and allow us to limit the growth restriction and prematurity, but I'm still having a hard time imagining eighteen more.
     There will also come to be more interventions as I enter the later stages of pregnancy (the "later stages" are sooner for my case). I'm also very nervous about those as well. Again, I know it's suppose to be best for the baby, but that doesn't take away how much I will have to endure physically and emotionally, beyond normal pregnancy matters.
     Needless to say, I'm conflicted about everything. In the beginning I was encouraged about having an extensive plan intended to make the impossible (having a baby with my condition) possible (a healthy, closer to term baby). Now that we're here working through the plan, though, I find myself less confident and quite frankly...scared. I'm not even concerned about delivery. I've been through that pain and I know I can make it. Perhaps I will look back at all this treatment during pregnancy and think the same. I hope so. But until then, I'll probably ask  my doctor tomorrow for another explanation of "the plan" for reassurance of it's purpose.

      I'm trying to keep perspective. What is four months (even if it's four painful months) compared to a lifetime with this child- this person? Such a small amount of time. I feel like if I can keep this perspective and focus on one step (or intervention) at a time, then I can make it through this. It's tough though. Maybe by the end, I'll get the hang of perspective. haha.

     On a completely different note, winter has hit. I'm not excited about traveling frequently for appointments in snow and single digit temps. I've got to start having summer babies! hahaha

*** UPDATE***
     The appointment today was quite long. However, everything looks great! I discussed how horrific the last shot was with the nurse and doctor. They both seemed shocked and believed it was due to poor administration.  Fortunately, the nurse this time was fantastic. I barely noticed it, and have zero lingering effects. I remarked to David the entire ride home how amazed I was at the difference. I have renewed confidence that I can do this! Although, I'll probably remain nervous each week because I'll never know what nurse I'll get or her skill level. Prayers. Lots and lots of prayers. haha

     We were able to see the baby on the ultrasound. It's only our second ultrasound in this pregnancy, which seems incredibly strange. (I had a subchorionic hemorrhage during my first pregnancy and consequently had ultrasounds about every two weeks to monitor it and the baby. We have lots of ultrasound picture of Tennyson at various stages.) With this baby we only have the confirmation ultrasound at 9 weeks and today's. One interesting revelation by the ultrasound was that our original due date may have been incorrect. The baby is consistently measuring at 17 weeks, not 18 weeks. So, the due date was adjusted back a week which puts the baby due June 13th (however, we anticipate delivery between April 25 (33 weeks gestation) - May 9th (35 weeks gestation)). Kind of nutty to me how I look as big as I was at 20 weeks with Tennyson, yet this baby is only 17 weeks. Hopefully, the baby will keep right on growing!

Hello, baby!

     It is amazing getting to have a glimpse of the baby before he/she arrives. Ah, my heart is instantly so full. As I looked at the photo, I became stronger than I knew to endure anything for this child. No matter how painful or frightening it may be for me, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for this little one. She's present and valuable even in utero, and my mama instincts are to fight for and love her with all my might. In that moment, I also knew that I could do it all again. I could endure whatever necessary for the child.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Resolutions Report - Week 1

      The first week of the new year is past and I was able to cross off nearly all of my New Year Resolutions! The one that still needs much work is sticking to our daily schedule and cleaning routine, but we definitely made progress last week. I made a monthly calendar for each goal, and broke the goal up into daily or weekly tasks. For instance, for the goal of reading the Bible in a year I made a calendar with verses to read written on each day. For the goal of 52 Projects, I wrote one specific project across each week. I found a chart that I printed for the 52 Week Savings goal. I then used a highlighter to mark off my progress. It's been really helpful to have a visual of where I am in working towards these goals. Ah, accomplishment and balance in life is such a great feeling!

Photobook gifts completed!
    I used the time of his afternoon nap to work on this week's 52 Projects project. I had decided to make photobooks of this last year for Christmas gifts. I informed each recipient that their gift or part of their gift would arrive after the new year because I needed the full year to finish (I wanted to include Tennyson's first Christmas). I worked on creating the first book last week and over the weekend. It was so tough to decided which pictures to include and exclude. However, I had a specific budget amount for each individual and aimed to cap the number of pages at each budgeted amount.

    As I said, last week my project was to complete a book for one side of the family. This week's project was to complete the book for the other side of the family. The second one was much faster to accomplish since I was essentially just editing the first. All I had to do was remove the photos of one side of the family and replace them with the other side. Since this was part of their gift my budget was even less (we had gone in with other sibling for a collective gift as well), and so I also had to remove several pages. I was still able to finish and order it all within Tennyson's afternoon nap today. I'm probably going to regret not getting a nap myself, but I am glad to have this week's project already done for this week! That frees up the rest of the week for projects and other preparations for his birthday party next week. :)

   I aim to  soon complete the other photobooks started but not finished. I plan to edit the 2014 photobook yet again by adding many more photos. This will be our copy and replace  having to store printed photos. (I'll also order a photo cd of all photos to store in the back of the album so that they can't be lost in a computer failure). I also started a pregnancy journal book for my pregnancy with Tennyson a while ago. I pulled up my blog regnancy updates and photos and recreated them into a photobook. (I'm so glad I documented the journey!) This month  can be summed up as "photobook" month! It will be so good to have them done and here to look at over and over! I'll also be glad that my children will be able to look at the books and we share stories for years to come!
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