Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 2016 In Our Home

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas"

"Peak Season"
    Phew! It's the most.. stressful, busy, exhausting etc. time of year! From the weekend before Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve, it's "peak season" at David's job. Work days and weeks are longer, and the stress is palpable. There's an unavoidable consumption in doing everything possible to get the job accomplished before the Christmas deadline. It's not my favorite time of year and usually by the second week into the season I'm declaring "bah humbug" and ready to pass over the entire occasion. 

     In years past, we've kept our celebration and activities very, very small to decrease additional overwhelm. We've also taken his one day a week off from work as a full day of rest (we don't even attend church). This year, we plowed through. I also had appointments frequently, which added quite a bit of strain to an already tight schedule. We ended up being busier than ever! We also all came down with a cold/sinus crud for a week (two weeks for me. ugh!). The atmosphere in our home was regrettably more tense than joyful. The children watched more videos than I want to admit. The Sunday before Christmas, we decided a single day of rest was necessary. It was so good to all be home and together for the day! I think we were all needing that moment. Next year, I think we will definitely take more full days on his off day to rest and be together. This Christmas season was... well, we made it. haha.

     In the mess that was this past month, we still tried to fit in a few festive activities.
This year we:
     *baked cookies to send to our extended family with their gifts
     *baked additional cookies and delivered them to our neighbors and mail carrier
     *went caroling with our church
     *attended our church's children's Christmas carol & dinner
     *decorated the tree and put out a few decorations in our living room 
     *colored and painted several Christmas coloring pages 
     *packed hot cocoa and drove around to look at Christmas light
     *(David and I) used Christmas conversation cards during dinners
I also prepped something new for us for next year. I don't know what next year will hold, but I thought it might be helpful to myself to use this time post-Christmas to prep for next Christmas. 
     We spent Christmas Eve getting a few things and the house in order. It wasn't the greatest of days, honestly. It was the first day off we'd had in a month and we were all a bit tired and grumpy. Fortunately, we were in much better spirits for celebrating Christmas Day. David and I woke early to get ourselves ready and bake the homemade cinnamon rolls we prepared the day before. (Tennyson called it "Christmas cake!"). We then woke the children to open their gifts and have a chance to play a bit before we went to church. I think they were equally excited to see the gate around the tree open as they were for the presents underneath it! haha. They enjoyed unwrapping their gifts and seeing "what's in there?" (a phrase frequently asked by Tennyson- the boy with a million questions at all times). I was so pleased to watch their contentment in our "merry little Christmas." (We celebrate in the same ways each year, which you can read more about how we celebrate Christmas in Our Home here). 

    It was such a delight to watch Tennyson, in particular, be of an age to really begin understanding the many little aspects and moments that comprise the Christmas holiday. I may never forget his little voice shouting from the backseat, "I love these Christmas lights!" as we drove through a display. Or, his face beaming with exciting at the mention of making cookies. Or, the wonderment as he and I stood around the Christmas tree talking about the various ornaments. These are the moments that I hope will continue and last in his memory. Next year, I anticipate having two little ones enthralled by the simplicities of the season!
He's as happy as can be simply playing in the dirt!
(35 months old)
     We checked out and read one book about a backhoe from the library and now Tennyson is obsessed with construction vehicles (in addition to rescue vehicles). One. Book. Haha. He received a couple of big metal construction vehicles for Christmas, and his favorite activity is to go outside with them and play in the dirt. (We have an old garden bed in the backyard that we dug up and is now just a fun dirt play area for the children). We also found an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood that features a backhoe, and he'll watch that short segment over and over. Take a guess what I'll be using as a theme for his upcoming birthday party?

          Somehow in the span of a few weeks Tennyson transformed before our eyes into a three year old. His manner of play showed a leap in development, his emotional state (ie tantrums) matured, his speech and conversational skills grew. He also grew physically, and our "long and lean" little guy became even longer. It's amazing how each year within the little years is such a huge leap. We've come to recognize that he is reaching a new stage and our approach and interaction will need to change a bit. This a good thing though. The little years are delightful, but I so enjoy getting to know each of my children as they grow into themselves more and more.

She really enjoyed wearing out silly holiday hats!
(18 months old)
     Annelise is quite the spirited little one! She absolutely keeps me on my toes both in physically keeping up with her busyness and in parenting strategies. She's certainly not the calm and quiet little one like her brother was! But, that's not a bad thing. She finds such delight in things and really enjoys herself. She has enjoyed participating in our school time songs,and will do all the motions to songs like "Follow My Directions" and "If You're Happy and You Know It" (from our My Father's World curriculum cd). She is so fun to watch!

     Her favorite activity, though, is without a doubt playing chase with big brother. We're fortunate to have the rooms in the main area of our home connected and so the children can run in circles. I love watching them enjoy each other and hear their squeals and giggles! She adores her big brother! (She adores him so much that many mornings she will go wake him up! She is ready to play and he should be too! haha).

    She's also begun to say words! Up until now, what she's lacked in verbal speech she's made up for in signing. (Thank goodness for signing!). I absolutely love hearing her try to say so many words. I have a feeling we're on the brink of a language explosion. So fun!

"Have the right response"
      The children have reached an age in which the behavior of one will upset the other. They each demonstrate their frustration in their own way, and their limited comprehension and emotional-control often results in poor choices. In those moments, I'm needing to repeatedly say to them: "No matter what he/she does, you have the right response" and then guide him/her back through the situation but with the right response. It's a constant and tedious effort. I question some days if I'm getting the message across at all. Nonetheless, I persist because I feel it is my job as their parent to teach them to make wise choices and behave appropriately. Eventually, they'll come to understand much more and will be able to resolve their differences independent of me. But, as for now I feel it imperative to be actively teaching them.

      While I'm teaching them, God is teach me. Honestly, how often do I need to hear the lesson "no matter what he/she/they do, you have the right response" in regard to poor behavior on their part? How often does my voice raise and tone sharpen? How often am I exasperated by the job before me? Far too often I am reactionary to poor behavior and respond with my own poor behavior. God has been showing me the fault of my own character and the need for growth through the same lesson being taught to the children. 

      Each day brings new opportunities for the children and for myself to learn and to practice having the right response regardless of the prompt. 
Afternoon coloring for "school time."
(Notice we have one lefty and one righty!)

"Finally, a break!"
     The Christmas holiday concluded "peak season." We actually had a three day weekend together that weekend! It was wonderful to have David home and he get to do life with us. (I won't deny that I thoroughly enjoyed the extra set of hands and opportunity to relax and get some things done more than normal!). He'll get another three day weekend the following weekend as well. Yippee! I intend on focusing that time on him getting additional rest and opportunity to do the things he's been needing to do but hasn't had time. 

     Afterwards, we'll be back to busyness! There will be many, many preparations needed for birthdays in January (3/4 of us have birthdays in this one month!), as well as for Huxley's arrival in February. Exciting times ahead! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 32!

"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? 32 weeks!

"In these paste few weeks, it's all about practice, practice, practice as she hones the skills she'll need to thrive outside the womb -- from swallowing and breathing to kicking and sucking. And speaking of sucking, your little one has been able to suck her thumb for a while now. Something else to note: As more and more fat accumulates under your baby's skin, she's becoming less transparent and more opaque." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

Baby size? "tipping the scales at almost four pounds and topping out at just about 19 inches." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

According to the ultrasound last week, baby boy is estimated to be 3lbs. 11 oz. No signs of growth restriction whatsoever! To think that this is Tennyson's exact birth weight! Interesting to think of knowing exactly how big he is and what he'd look like right now. (Though, I'd much, much rather that continue to be a vision and not a reality! Stay in, baby! haha)

Gender? It's a BOY! Huxley Nathaniel R., we are so excited to meet you soon!

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). Up to a total of 24 lbs. gained. 

Belly? Feeling big! Maneuvering is getting to require a little more effort. I'll admit, there are times when I debate bending down to pick something up. haha

Sleep? There's not much sleep happening these days. I easily fall asleep if sitting still long enough. I try to get in a brief nap when possible.

Symptoms? The usual pregnancy symptoms. Fatigue has hit me extra hard lately. However, I've also had a cold/sinus crud for the last two weeks and that has been a large contributor to feeling so worn out. 

Clothing? I'm so glad I did clothing shopping this pregnancy! It's been fun to put together actual outfits each day!

Movement? Waddle. Waddle. Waddle. At least, that's how I feel. haha

Baby Movement? He's still a wiggly little guy! Although, each time David tries to feel those little baby kicks they stop. I think he's given up on catching them at this point! haha. 

Food Adversions? None. I love food.

Food Cravings? Oh, the sweet tooth. (I blame the availability of Christmas cookies!). David says I need to indulge in bacon and meats instead so the baby will have a greater liking for those foods. (The old wives tale has been very true for my pregnancies. I didn't care for sweets but craved meat with Tennyson. He has always shown this same preference. With Annelise, I loved sweets and didn't care for meats. She favors sweet flavors more than others now.)

What I Miss? Energy. I think once I finally kick this cold/sinus crud, though, I'll have a little more enthusiasm in our days. 

What Am I Nervous About?
     Perhaps just keeping up when I have three children three years old and under. Days can be very, very full managing our home and little ones with little to no breaks. Character-building, right? I love getting to do what I do, though. 

    Of course, immediate and appropriate care for my other children during delivery will remain a concern of mine. They're simply not accustomed to any kind of outside care. 

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
     The busyness of the season plus sicknesses has put our freezer meal prep on hold for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully we'll get back on track after things calm down again. 

     I still have needed items sitting in my Amazon cart. I'm prepared to order but thought I'd be nice in not adding non-holiday deliveries to holiday deliveries for the shipping industry. I'll actually place the order in a few days (which will be after the Christmas rush). It will be nice to finally have those items taken care of!

     Our church has also very kindly offered to host a "diapers and wipes" baby shower for us! Considering we'll have three children in diapers initially, we'll be very appreciative of an offering of diapers and/or wipes! Although, really we'd be grateful just for the gathering. Any time people come together to celebrate a new baby (and a subsequent baby!) it's very special. I'm still in complete awe of the people in this church. They have really shown what it means to be the body of Christ. They're presence has made all the difference in us being able to celebrate more and worry less in welcoming this new little one. 

In Other News?
      I'm down to just one last MFM (OB specialist) appointment in January (on my birthday, whoo whoo! haha). According to him, everything has be perfectly normal this entire time and he sees no need to continue monitoring so closely. So, that's good news! (However, I'm a little dismayed at having gone through so much twice based on the assumption that "abnormal" would always be our "normal." Hindsight is 20/20 though, and there really was no way of knowing which case was the norm and which was fluke.)

     I'm also down to just two more injections! (The weekly injections are intended to prevent premature labor.) They're awful though. I'm so very glad to be finishing with them! I told David a nice dessert might be in order to celebrate the last one. haha

8 more weeks until we'll meet little Huxley! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A "Good" Christmas

     We all have personal notions of what constitutes a "good Christmas." On the 26th, greetings will be followed with the inquiry, "Did you have a good Christmas?" Your response will certainly be based on some criteria. What makes a Christmas "good?" Was it the cutting (or unpacking) of a Christmas tree and then adorning the limbs with memorable ornaments?Was it the cookies baked whose aroma delightfully permeates the room? Was it the cards sent and received? Was it the dinner that brought family and friends in unity? Was it the gifts beneath the tree? Was it the warm and welcoming decor? Was it the cheer, joy, goodwill, and generosity of the season? Was it the day or the season?

      What happens when our answer or even an element of our answer is removed? For instance, a "good Christmas" could be defined as time with family. However, circumstances may arise at some point which limits the presence of family member(s) on Christmas Eve/Day. Does Christmas as we have defined it then become "bad?" If our association of Christmas is so tightly wrapped around particular activities or sentiments then we risk arriving at the day and feeling like it was somehow lacking. 

       There are countless sentiments and means of celebration associated with Christmas, many good and honorable notions. What is at the heart of of all of these though? I began to see this year a commonality in that they aren't exclusive to this one time of year. In fact, they are merely a different representation of the same heart. So many of the Christmas activities are ones that are (ought to be) exhibited throughout the year. I'll only take a moment to list a few of my notions of Christmas, but really wish to encourage you to take a moment to sort through your association of Christmas and begin to place them into  the following cluster headings:

Relationship Building
*Cards of greeting, goodwill, encouragement, and perhaps even a letter
*baking/cooking together
*dinner parties with friends
*sipping cocoa during a movie together
*decorating a gingerbread house together
*offering a neighbor, service man/woman, retirement home resident etc a visit and homemade treat
*packing into a vehicle to travel to see homes and gardens' brilliant display of lights
*selecting (unpacking) a Christmas tree and adorning it's limbs with ornaments 
*family gathering/meal on Christmas Eve or Day

*offering a neighbor, service man/woman, retirement home resident etc a visit and homemade treat
*purchasing food for donation at the grocery
*purchasing clothing or toys for children
*donating to a charity/mission/organization
*serving a meal at the local shelter
*giving time to provide company to someone who may be lonely

*greeting and smiling at passersby
*encouraging, cheerful, positive media
*gift giving based on delight of pleasing another

 Warmth and Welcome 
*decorating the home
*hosting or visiting with friends/family

*reading the Bible together
*Advent countdown activities
*church attendance

      Not one of the activities listed above is limited to the holiday season and yet so often is the case. This Christmas I pondered upon the meaning and value of these activities and recognizing that they are good things wondered further why they are so challenging, stressful and exhausting to partake in each Christmas. My inquiry concluded at the discovery of these entities are ones that can (and ought to) be practiced throughout the year and at Christmas time they simply take a different form. Of course I'm overwhelmed with so many additions in the short time of one month when it isn't something I've developed a heart for and practice of during the last eleven months of the year. 

     As I look back upon this year, feeling once again that something was lacking in the celebration of the season, I am encouraged in coming to a greater understanding of the heart of the matter and how that translates into Christmas in our home and family. Perhaps Christmas is never lacking when it involves things we've had all along. Christmas is a special time, but it isn't the only time. 

     And so, as we now approach the coming of the new year I wish to encourage you to also carry some of those admirable and good qualities of Christmas with you. 

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 30!

End of the day photo equals a tired face
with no make-up remaining. 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 a part of my life, my testimony." -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy"

How Far Along? 30 weeks! Wow, so hard to believe we're already in the 30s!

"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. 

At my last OB appt., it was noted that he is beginning to measure slightly on the smaller end of normal. She suspects he may just be a small baby as all my babies have been small. (My post-term baby was only 6lbs! I would be just fine with delivering another 6lb baby if we have a VBAC! Bigger babies are not for this small frame of mine. hahaha). My MFM (OB specialist) is regularly monitoring growth and watching for a repeat growth restriction situation. So far, that hasn't been the case. (hooray!)

Gender? It's a BOY! Huxley Nathaniel R. 

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). Still at a total of 19 pounds gained. I'm at the same end number I've reached the previous two pregnancies. At that point, I seem to always hit a plateau which seems to be the case already. 

I spy a Huxley baby!
 My boys (Tennyson- #1 & Huxley #3)
 have carried very similarly, and have
 had a special way of getting into rather awkward positions!
Belly? Feeling big! It's getting more difficult to carry Tennyson and Annelise. Often when we're out all together, David will lift and/or carry Tennyson and I will have Annelise. He also gets the double stroller in and out of the car for me. It's a big help!

Sleep? There's not much sleep happening these days, but I still manage to get through the days. Although, I easily fall asleep at any moment if sitting still long enough!

Symptoms? The usual pregnancy symptoms. However, there isn't one in particular is standing out at this point. Well, perhaps tired but that just to be expected. haha

Clothing? I'm so glad I did clothing shopping this pregnancy. It's been fun to put together actual outfits each day!

Movement? Slowing down a bit. Mostly, I'm just tired after a full day and haven't had the energy to do much additional activity. 

Baby Movement? He's still an active little guy! (Although one weekend he was much more still than normal and caused me to panic a bit. haha). I absolutely love all his movements. I'm really, really going to miss feeling a little one inside. 

Food Adversions? None. I love food!

Food Cravings? The desire for sweets has struck! Yikes!

What I Miss? Coffee. I would love to have one of those fancy holiday coffee drinks! Yum!

What I'm Nervous About? Of course, immediate and appropriate care for my other children during delivery will remain a concern of mine. They're simply not accustomed to any kind of outside care. 

   After delivery, it will be a push for David to assume complete care of our home, three young children and myself (if it's a c-section). However, he's very capable and I know he'll be able to do it well. I still believe he'll be the most appropriate person to help manage things while I'm unable to initially, even though it will be asking a lot of him. (He's a super dad/husband, after all!)

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
     We've started cooking and stocking the freezer! Our plan is to make one dinner and one breakfast meal each week for later use. So far we have:
     - lasagna x2 pans
     - blueberry muffins x12 ct.
     - quinoa, broccoli and cheese casserole x1 pan
     - baked oatmeal x1 pan

    I still have needed items sitting in my Amazon cart. I plan on placing an order in the coming weeks. I at least want items that would be immediately needed if a premature delivery situation were to occur. I don't think that will be the case, but knowing my risks I'd rather be safe than sorry. I can push purchasing other items to January. 

In Other News? 
1)  We had a playdate with some new friends recently. She has a four year old child and 3 month old baby. The oldest boy and Tennyson seem similar in personality, and got along really well. Tennyson was actually quite upset for them to leave! I held the youngest for just a little bit to see how Annelise would react. As suspected, she was very jealous and not pleased in the least. Hopefully, we can get together with them more. It's so warming to my mama heart to see Tennyson play with a friend. It will also do Annelise some good to get used to the idea of a baby being present and receiving Mama's attention. 

2)   Several individuals from the church we have been attending have very generously offered to throw us a baby shower and assist us when the baby comes. I'm so very grateful for their kindness. This does help relieve a bit of my concern and stress. 

3)  On a completely different note (and very personal one at that)- As the end of this pregnancy nears, I'm finding myself teary-eyed of this being the last. I'm grateful for this time and this child, especially since we thought our second child was our last. I realize that we've been very, very fortunate to have made it through so many risks and complications each time. As much as I may wish I had been born without the uterine defect that has place us at such a high risk, it is what it is. I must concede in it being too much risk to continue (it's also too much financial strain for high level of care each time). I have a responsibility to be present and care for our home and family. Perhaps God will grow our family in other ways in the future. And perhaps He won't. Perhaps, instead, He desires for us to remain a family of five and explore other opportunities. I'm prayerful to fully accept and obey His plan for our family. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 2016 In Our Home

Finally, a family photo!
(Annelise is demonstrating her grump-face, which is pretty funny)

34 months old!
       I've really come to relish quiet this month. My soul has craved this state of being. I simply desire less noise and less nonsense, and more calm and peacefulness. We lessened the videos watched. I lessened my viewing of the internet, especially social media. We lessened outtings and gatherings. Meanwhile, we incorporated more instrumental music. We read many, many more books throughout the day. We enjoyed simple activities and playtime together. We've always been a low-tech family, but this month we chose to unplug even more. There is a remarkable beauty in simplicity. How easily overstimulation and overwhelm take hold of life, and we never really realize it until we do finally disconnect from it all. How much more we have enjoyed ourselves this past month!

  One of our favorite simplicities has been playing in the leaves! There are no pretty fall leaves or cool fall temperatures here. (Oh, how I miss that!). Instead, the leaves are just brown and fallen to the ground. The children didn't seem to mind, tough, and enjoyed the experience regardless. It has been a daily activity to go outside to toss leaves in the air and jump in the pile. My heart is delighted to watch them enjoy such things! It's childhood. It's unplugged. It's beautiful. 

One of the cards we created to send to family
as part of our Thanksgiving celebration.
   We did a few of our "Celebrating the Season of Thankfulness" activities this month. I've learned in the past couple of years that it is best to simply choose a few to incorporate each year and allow the traditions to slowly build. Otherwise, the activities become yet another task to complete and loses it's sentiment. This year we:
     * created cards sharing our thankfulness and sent them to uncles, aunts and cousins
     *  used Thanksgiving conversation starters during dinners
     * made a "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal" (toast, jelly beans, pretzels, and popcorn) and watched the movie
     * made and enjoyed a fully Thanksgiving meal together (turkey, rolls, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream). 

17 months old!
     There is so much more I would have liked to have done- more decorating, more activities, more intentionality. However, I'm learning how to better match my expectations to reality (a process for this idealist!). Unrealistic expectations can lead to so much holiday disappointment! However, I must acknowledge that I am in a season with all little ones and another to come. In this season, it's okay to simply focus on the daily tasks if that's what needs to be done. The holiday activities will still be available in future years. The children will even be able to better understand and enjoy the festivities then. The holiday "magic" would be lost, not by waiting and taking the celebration slow, but by pushing too much too soon. So, as I pack away our list I take note of the activities accomplished and the ones yet to come. There's a certain excitement in the possibilities awaiting us next year (and those possibilities being so simple that they're actually feasible to accomplish!). 

Such a delight to watch them
 simply playing together!
     Another annual event in our home each November is David parents coming for a visit. They live about 12 hours from us currently, and so it's quite remarkable for them to choose to spend their time, finances, energy etc. to visit for only 2 1/2 days. With their visit also came an early Christmas for the children. I think they're favorite part, though, was getting so much attention! I wish I could say that it was a lovely hospitality moment, but truthfully it was a hospitality fail. This time of year is already very busy, stressful and exhausting for David and I. (This is "peak season" at his job which is rather demanding. My days are quite full with caring for three little ones (because pregnancy counts too) and our home). By the third day meltdowns were happening fairly regularly (myself included). Nonetheless, I'm glad David got to spend time with his parents and the children with their grandparents. However, hospitality may need to be something we work on more intentionally as a family in the upcoming year. haha

       November was a pretty full month in our home. Yet, it was also a wonderful lesson in simplicity. I pray to continue that premise onward. 
Story time!
 While I read a book aloud, they each selected a book to "read."  
New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
(I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. For additional insights into the books we're enjoying in our home, click the "Bookshelves" tab at the top of the page and then follow the links to our various online bookshelves).  

Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 28!

This baby deep inside 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 part of my life, my testimony. -Brenda Rodgers, "New Rules for Announcing a Pregnancy

How Far Along? 28 weeks! Up to 12 more weeks left! Wow!

"Your baby is settling into the proper position for birth, with his head facing downward ... He's busy adding new skills such as blinking to an already impressive repertoire of tricks like coughing, sucking, hiccupping, and taking practice breaths. Your baby's sleep now includes REM (rapid eye movement) phase -- and that means he could be dreaming already." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition *

Baby Size? According to the ultrasound the week before last, he's measuring 2.6 lbs. and is 26 weeks 1 day along. On that day, I was precisely 26 weeks and 1 day! He has matched that gestation estimation exactly the entire pregnancy. No indication of growth restriction as of yet!

"Your little work in progress is now about 2.5 pounds and almost 16 inches long." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition *

Gender? It's a BOY! Huxley Nathaniel R. 

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). I've gained a total of 19.5 pounds so far. 

Belly? I feel like we're already running out of room! haha

Sleep? I don't. I have been known to have to cut storytime short when reading books with Tennyson before bed because I'm dozing off. There have also been many instances in which I fall asleep on his floor! As long as I'm staying active, I stay awake. If I get still long enough, though...zzzz. hahaha

Symptoms? I've resorted to medical grade compression stockings for the varicose veins in my legs. Who knew veins could be such a pain?! On bad days, I just want to be able to prop my legs up for extended periods of time, but that's not exactly an option with two toddlers and a household to run. haha. I still have three more months of a growing baby, so hopefully the stockings will help. 

Baby boy's position is also causing me quite a bit of discomfort. I'm fairly certain he's discovered every uncomfortable position to be in. During my last ultrasound, my doctor commented that his position couldn't be comfortable. It's not. haha

Clothing? I'm enjoying the new pieces I've gotten recently. I bought all tunic shirts, so no more tugging on shirts to cover this belly! haha. It's also just nice to have all coordinating pieces that I can mix and match to maximize outfits and feel a bit more put together during this season!

Movement? I'm still enjoying getting out for a walk around the neighborhood several days a week. Other than that, I'm going to consider housework and caring for toddlers to also be "exercise." haha

Baby Movement? Oh, he's quite a wiggly little guy! We're already at the point where I will breathe through some of his movements because they're so uncomfortable. Like his big brother, he'll occasionally get into what I call the "dumb bell" position and phew, that is not my favorite. I still love the little wiggles and kicks though. I know it won't be too long before it's over and I'll miss feeling a little one inside. It's so very special.

Food Adversions? None that I can think of. I love all food.

Food Cravings? Oh man, the sweet tooth has become so bad. Yikes!

What I Miss? More coffee would be nice. I love coffee. :)

What I'm Nervous About?
      We still don't have a solid plan in place for care for the other children during delivery. Our small group at church has offered to do what they can to help. Hopefully we can get something in the works soon. A plan would be a tremendous peace of mind for me. Other than the hospital stay, we do know that we'll have it just be David and I for the two weeks that David gets off work. Afterwards, family can come and visit. I really wanted an opportunity to rest and recover directly after delivery this time. And, if delivery ends up being a c-section then I'll need assistance after David goes back to work not while he's home. As to whether the request to wait and give us some time to adjust will be disregarded again, I don't know. That's our plan, though. It will be a tough time, but I am relieved by just the thought of having some time before having additional people to tend to as well. 

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
     We have a few baby items collected: newborn diapers, bottle set, etc. I will probably soon order other immediate necessities like the pump accessories, milk storage bags, car seat etc. I'm prioritizing items and getting a few at a time. 

     We intend to begin meal preparations this weekend. We'll try to do one breakfast and one dinner meal each week. Some meals may be freezer meals and others may just be pantry stock-up (ex. jar of sauce + box of noodles etc.). If we can do more than one of each each weekend then that would be even better but I'm going to keep my goal to a minimal manageable amount, especially with the holidays. 

In Other News?
     According to the last ultrasound, Huxley is currently in a breech position. I'm not entirely surprised as he's felt as though he's positioned very similarly to how Tennyson was (Tennyson was frank breech). Ordinarily, this wouldn't be overly concerning because at 28 weeks a baby still has plenty of time to get into the proper position. However, neither one of my previous two babies have moved once they found their position. Tennyson was head up and stayed head up. Annelise was head down and stayed head down. This could be a result of the restriction imposed by my uterine shape deformity. We don't really know. What I do know is that based on my previous two experiences, I don't have any confidence that this baby is going to move out of a breech position. So, I'm beginning to prepare (mentally) for a c-section instead of a VBAC. We'll, of course, attempt a repeat VBAC if he does turn. But, again, I'm not anticipating such considering his positioning thus far. 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Home Tour: Office/School/Guest Room

    When we were looking for homes to purchase, one feature that was very important to us was for the home to have some sort of extra space. It could be an extra bedroom, a formal living room plus family room, a formal dining room plus eat-in kitchen etc. We wanted to have a space to serve the function of our office/school/guest room. These areas had previously resided as part of other rooms and the arrangements simply weren't working well for us.

     The house we chose to purchase features a formal dining room and an eat-in kitchen. The eat-in kitchen is small and clearly intended to be a breakfast area, but our new (to us) large table fits and so we are using it as a main dining area. The original dining room was then repurposed into a multipurpose room (that highly desired office/school/guest room!). 

    It looks quite a bit different from it's original form! It took some investment to transform it into the kind of space we had envisioned. In the end, the efforts and expenses were absolutely worthwhile. We love this space! It is one of my favorite rooms in the house! 

    Welcome to the home tour of our office/school/guest room!

The Original Room
   These photos are prior to us having moved our things into the house. The previous owners generously offered to sale to us the table that was in the room (which is why it's also in the room photos). The room also had an antique dining room light fixture. 

The New Room
      Since we were not going to be using the room as a cozy dining space, we wanted to change the light fixture to something that offered a lot more light. We opted for ceiling fan as this also serves the purpose of helping to keep the room cool (this is Texas, after all!). 

      The biggest investments in the room were in the form of furniture. We made a trip to IKEA to purchase a desk with hutch, children's table and chairs and sleeper sofa. (I had been planning this space for quite a while and had saved up for the purchases. It was great to be able to go shopping to purchase everything to make the room fully functional and beautiful for us!) 

    We repurposed our bookshelf pantry shelves to be... well, bookshelves! We now have a rather large space for our books and love it! We also already had the large cork board and dry erase boards. The curtain was a set we had purchased while living at the rent house here, and they worked out nicely in this space as well. The rod was one we had created for use in our townhome. The nice part of having taken a DIY approach then is that now all we had to do was recut the pole to fit the window. 

     My big crafty project in the room was the alphabet wall. I wanted some kind of a subtle "school" element since we would be using it as a school room as well when we homeschool the children. I loved the idea of an alphabet wall, and ordered plain letters from the Letters For You Etsy shop. I painted them in colors that coordinated with the curtains and hung them with command strips. I love how the wall looks with them! A simple yet very effective decor element!

    My decorative desires for this space was for it to be a simple, calm and comfortable place to be. Of course, functionality was also high on my priority list. It needed it to be a space we'd enjoy spending a lot of time in and worked really well for our needs. I believe those goals were accomplished! 

    As you can see, the new lighting makes a huge impact. I love bright, white lighting in rooms! This is the view we see from the kitchen. I really enjoy this space being in a central location in our home. I can be nearby and available, but still able to tend to a task elsewhere. 
     We use the dry erase board on the left to write out our current memory verse, poem or anything else of interest that we might wish to display. The cork board on the right is used for the All Aboard the Animal Train material and/or current artwork. (It includes a border and cards that show the components of the day ("together time," "surprise time," "story time," and "outside time.")). When we complete any of the paper components of the units we display them here. 

     The bookshelf contains a majority of our books in our home. Yes, we have a large home library and love it! I do periodically go through and weed out the lesser quality books. I also keep our family recipe books and cookbooks here since it's right off the kitchen. There are some baskets and bins on the shelves currently that hold some extra office supplies (but those can be relocated to within the desk in order to clear even more space for books on the shelves for future homeschooling materials for three children). The bottom shelves contain our current homeschooling/activities materials. To the left is material for Annelise's activities. The five bins in the middle are the "surprise time" boxes that correspond to the All Aboard the Animal Train curriculum that we use for Tennyson. The box on the far right is a file box with files of themed units, some book-based activities we've used in Mama & Me Book Club and some from M is for Monster Box subscription boxes we used to receive. The children and I thoroughly enjoy selecting books from our home library shelves! 

     The new desk offers us a lot of storage space and writing area. The shelves to the left contain the student sheets to the All Aboard the Animal Train curriculum. The shelves to the right contain all printer paper, notebook paper, specialty printer papers, construction paper etc. I also have some small buckets on the bottom shelf that hold crayons, pens and pencils, scissors etc. The drawers on the bottom right hold additional office supplies and a filing cabinet. It's so nice to have a easily accessible filing area to keep paper clutter cleared elsewhere! On top of the desk is a laminator, printer and box of wipes for art/messy projects. I've longed to have a nice large desk space, and this set up as been a dream! It's been so very nice to work at this space!

             The sleeper sofa is the component that makes the room a guest room. Aside from an office and school room, I  really wanted a separate space for overnight and long-term guests. In our previous homes, they would choose to sleep on our living room couches and utilized the main living area for their stay. It was very inconvenient and taxing on our family after a week's time. So, for our purchased home I wanted a space guests to stay apart from our main living area so that we might maintain full functionality of our family for the duration of their stay. This room provides that purpose! We have talked about adding glass doors to the entrances to the room (covered by sheer panels when guests are present) to provide extra privacy and block some noise especially when the children are trying to sleep. We haven't implemented that plan just yet though. Nonetheless, I think having this space will work out much better for us all!
       We purchased a sleeper sofa for the room. The interior of the sofa stores all the sheets, blankets, pillows etc. that we might wish to use for overnight guests. I like being able to have everything in one place and right where it's needed! When we're not needing it for a guest bed, it folds up into a sofa and becomes a delightful reading spot as an element in our office/school room!

     I really enjoyed getting to dream up this space and then adding all the elements to make it a reality. I'm eagerly dreaming, saving, and awaiting working on the next area of our new home! 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 26!

This baby deep inside 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? 26 weeks! Only (up to) 14 more weeks to go! It's going to go amazingly fast now with the upcoming holiday and birthday months (November- Thanksgiving, December- Christmas, January- 3/4 of us have birthdays). 

"this week, her eyes, which until now were developing under fused eyelids, start 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 an increase in fetal activity. ... What accounts for that response? Her brain is more developed and sophisticated." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition

Baby Size? Baby boy is measuring exactly 26 weeks.  

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

Gender? It's a BOY! Huxley Nathaniel R. 

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). I've gained a total of 19 pounds so far.  I'm actually at the weight I was when Tennyson was born, which is remarkable to think of just how little we both were then. Things have changed a bit now that we're on baby #3!

Belly? I'm feeling as though it's rather prominent for just 26 weeks along! The large gap between my abs from three babies in three years is showing itself in this pregnancy. And to think we still have up to 14 weeks left! 

Sleep? I'm not even sure what to say for this one because sleep is very hard to come by. So many nights I'm missing deep sleep and, instead, dream all night. I've noticed there being a correlation between the number of times the children wake and the amount of dreaming and light sleep I get. It's simply part of the territory of having closely spaced children. I'm very grateful that David has always gotten up with the other child(ren) during each pregnancy so I can at least remain in bed. I keep telling myself that in just a few years, they'll all be sleeping through the night and this time will seem but a blink.

Symptoms? This is the first time I've dealt with varicose veins, and it's ranking at the top of my dislike list. (The level of sickness I had in my first pregnancy will always remain in the top spot). By evening, I'm ready to sit and prop my leg up. David helps out a lot with the children and around the house in the evenings and weekends so I can have some opportunities for rest. 

Clothing? I recently placed orders for more clothing items. I had in mind what pieces I could mix and match and then shopped around for those pieces. It's just nice to feel a little bit more put together during this season!

Movement? We've neglected our stroller walks lately, but are getting back into the routine a bit more. 

Baby Movement? Mr. Huxley is quite the wiggly little guy! There have been days in which he has moved all day long, and by the end of the day I feel as if my ab muscles are in a sustained crunch as they resist relaxing. Haha. But, on the bright side all those kicks and wiggles are comforting to know he's okay in there! 

Food Adversions? None. I'm a bottomless pit. haha

Food Cravings? I still love all juicy fruits. I have wanted real smoothies this entire pregnancy. I've also developed quite the sweet tooth lately. Yikes!

What I Miss? I would still love to have an extra cup of coffee some days. (I limit myself to just one a day)

What I'm Nervious About?
    I'm still nervous about childcare for the other children. We still don't have a plan in place for them during delivery. (yikes- only up to 14 weeks!)

    I've also been increasingly nervous about delivery. Although I have been through this twice before, neither instance went very smoothly. There are many possibilities, but I have a feeling we'll end up with a c-section as deliveries are kept rather low-risk here. (Annelise's delivery was a VBAC induction only 17 months post c-section and we ran into several complications. They won't touch a VBAC induction here and if there is any trouble with the VBAC itself we'll very quickly move to a c-section.). I'm trying to prepare myself for... well, who knows what will happen. hah. That moment is going to be here very soon though. 

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
     The time has come for some serious meal prep to be done! We're three months out, and so nearly everything is appropriate to be frozen for that time span. We're going to aim to prepare one freezer dinner and one freezer breakfast each weekend. We also intend to stock the pantry with some meals (boxes of spaghetti noodles, sauce, cereal etc). At some point it will probably be a good idea to go ahead and plan a few menus in advance for that time. Beyond food, a few household items stocked up would be nice as well (ex. laundry soap, dish soap, toothpaste etc). The intention here is to try to lessen trip to the store or time/energy required for cooking meals as we adjust to two toddlers and a newborn. That's the intention, at least. The execution of that plan will likely require a lot of flexibility as getting so much accomplished with little ones can be a challenge. hehe

    My list of items needed is still sitting on Amazon. We don't need a lot, but what we do need will be expensive (like two additional carseats. yikes!). I've got to get a move on in getting those items. I certainly don't want to end up in the same situation we were in the first time in having a baby arrive and yet having absolutely nothing for him. haha

In Other News?
     Huxley was kicking one night and we called Tennyson over to feel. He laid a hand on my belly, looked up with his "surprise face," and said "Baby Huxley's kicking me!" We got some adorable pictures of that moment that I will always love. He will occasionally say when he's simply nearby me, which is cute. I hope he's as excited when Huxley arrives!
     Annelise will point and indicate "baby," but I don't think she has any idea what that will mean come three months from now. She is fascinated by other babies she sees. However, those babies aren't going to be taking her place as the "baby of the family" and getting all Mama's attention. I suspect she will have a tough time adjusting when the time comes. I think having big brother to play with will help though. 
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