Friday, October 28, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 24!

(I thought the curtains would make a pretty
background for these pictures, but it has been
so difficult to get a clear picture! haha)
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 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? 24 weeks!

"Much of [baby's] weight comes from accumulating baby fat, as well as from growing organs, bones, and muscle. Those little ears of hears are getting sharper and can hear very loud sounds, from a yapping dog to a jackhammer. Also by now, that fabulous face is almost fully formed, complete with eyelashes, eyebrows and hair. Is your baby a brunette, a blonde, or a redhead? Actually, right now her locks are white since there's no pigment yet." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

      That part about "can hear very loud sounds" may be very helpful later! Perhaps little Huxley will be our best sleeper yet having been already accustomed to so much noise by his older siblings! haha

Baby Size? "Your baby is about eight and a half inches long and weighs one and a half pounds, gaining steadily at a rate of six ounces per week."  -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed.

Gender? It's a BOY!

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). No new number this week (I only take note of weight when I'm at appointments).

Belly? Still feeling rather large for just 24 weeks. Three babies in just three years will have that effect! haha. 

Sleep? It's all a blur at this point. I pretty much stay really tired. Honestly, there are many days in which it is a hard fight to maintain a good attitude with the children and work ethic in our home regardless of rest. David helps me tremendously in picking up responsibilities in caring for the children or the housework. I'm so very grateful he has the heart to see needs and lend a hand so much. He's amazing. 

Symptoms? Hello, reflux! Once the belly reaches a certain size, I always have a hard time with reflux. Bending down and picking things up or laying down often exasperates the issue. Antacids are my friend at this point on. haha. 

Clothing? Fortunately, we now live in the land of perpetual summer (did I really just say "fortunately" with that?!). That means I don't have to fuss too much over purchasing new clothes for the season just yet. I'm told that there is a winter here, but until I see it I'm wearing out the few summery maternity clothes that I have. haha. 

Movement? We've kept up with our stroller walks around the neighborhood! The rough roads and pushing both children in the double stroller certainly give me a good workout! It's nice to get out and move though. I still wish I could find a prenatal yoga video or something.

Baby Movement? This baby may be my most active yet! When he gets going it nearly wears me out. I feel like I've done a bunch of crunches! He still seems to be on one position and will kick against the same spot which will become sore after a while. I still love those movements though! It makes me happy to be feeling them one more time. :)

Food Adversions? None really. I love food!

Food Cravings? I still love all juicy fruits. I've also been on a carb kick lately. Move over eggs, Mama wants oats and muffins for breakfasts. haha

What I Miss? More coffee! I limit myself to a cup of coffee each day. It's my morning happy place. Some afternoons, though, I wish I could have another cup. 

What I'm Excited About? Just excited to meet this little one and learn all about him!

What I'm Nervous About? I'm nervous about several things. 
     First, the medical care here is unlike anything I've had previously. I'm rather nervous about those differences in care now and delivery later. Unknowns can be so unnerving. 

     Second, we still don't have any person or plan in place to care for Tennyson and Annelise during delivery or prior to delivery if something were to occur. I'm reminded of the previous deliveries, which are still gut-wrenching for me. When I had Tennyson, I was devastated by he being immediately taken and I not getting to even see him for another 12 hours. It was two days before I was able to touch him, and another two weeks before I could bring him home to be mine. I swore that the next baby would remain with me if at all possible. Regrettably, soon after delivery of our second baby David had to return home to care for Tennyson. I was in no condition to safely care for the baby on my own, and so she was sent away to the nursery. The feeling of having to send my baby away and I being alone in that room was just terrible. Yet, here I am again faced with the same situation. We actually have far fewer resources now than we did then. The only halfway feasible option currently would be to schedule a c-section so that one set of grandparents could be here in advance to care for the children. However, the children only see grandparents a few times a year and so they're really not entirely familiar with them especially for an overnight occasion. Plus, that puts me electing to have major surgery and a much more difficult recovery, which is not ideal either.
       We've always lived at a distance from all family, and that's just been a way of life for us. We manage perfectly fine on our own (and actually prefer a little distance). However, when it comes the occasion of delivering a baby the situation becomes so very difficult. I so deeply do not want to send my new baby away or be left alone in a hospital room again. I also want my other children to be comfortable and well cared for while we're away. Maybe something will change and things will come together better than they have here so far.

     Finally, there are days in which I fearfully wonder how in the world I will manage three children who are all within 37 months of age of each other. Some days of managing two children 17 months apart and our home is quite taxing. I also know much of the present challenge is the closeness in their ages and us doing this entirely on our own (ie we've never utilized any outside childcare whatsoever for our children). It's hard to imagine how I'm going to effectively divide myself yet again to care for an additional person and tasks. However, I know I wrote of this same concern many, many times during my last pregnancy and here we are having successfully managed for the last 16 months. Clearly, I've done it before and am capable of doing it again. I just have to remind myself of that, right? Right!

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
      We came across a toddler bed at a consignment sale recently and decided to purchase it to add to what will be the boys' room. Our plan is to initially have Huxley in our room. Then, when he no longer needs to eat during the night he will move to the crib in what is currently Annelise's room. Annelise will then move to one of the toddler beds in the current boys' room. When Huxley joins everyone else on the same sleep schedule (ie one nap a day), he and Tennyson will become permanent roomies. So, the additional toddler bed wasn't an immediate need but it was a good deal and will be helpful later. The room is pretty cute with two beds in it again!

     I've really got to get moving on purchasing the more immediate items and preparing freezer meals. Lesson learned from baby #1- have everything needed purchased and ready early. Lesson learned from baby #2- have as many meals prepped and/or planned as possible (a stock up of household items would also be helpful). Why am I delaying with these things?!

Other News?
    Tennyson will occasionally talk about "baby Huxley" or things that will belong to him. I think he's getting the idea. It's a tough concept to understand for a little one. 

    Annelise is at least picking up on the idea of their being a baby in Mama's belly. While watching the Baby Einstein "First Signs" video one day, she crawled over to me and pointed to my belly when the program said and signed "baby." She's clearly getting the concept that there's a baby inside, but likely has no clue what that will mean in terns of she having to share attention later. haha

     

Friday, October 21, 2016

Favorite Home Management & Parenting Resources: Blogs

    


      As homemaking blogs have emerged over the past several years, a few have stood out to me as good resources for my own homemaking. These are resources that I have taken out a pen and paper to take notes at times! The beauty of online blogging is the ability to be guided and mentored in an area that you might not otherwise receive such. It is the preservation and transference of homemaking knowledge and skill in the modern age. It has taught individuals like myself who have zero domestic background the ability to not just survive domestic life but to thrive. Certain online blogs have been fundamental in my homemaking. 

Choosing Blogs Wisely
      Over the years, I've learned to wisely discern which blogs are worthy of my time and energy to follow. For me, I desire to consume homemaking materials which will teach and move me forward in my own homemaking career. I need the practical "how to.." in regard to homemaking and parenting. I often seek out ladies who are further along in their  journeys and can offer wisdom that comes from retrospection. I've also learned the importance of finding individuals who share my personality type. I am a strong Type A personality, and therefore find suggestions from other Type A personality ladies to be the most helpful. We get each other (haha). It's also important for the individual I choose to follow to be in or have been in a similar home/family life situation. For instance, I'm home with my children 24/7 and my children are closely spaced in age. Therefore, I'm most interested in learning how to manage best within these conditions from others who have also been there. Managing a home with multiple closely spaced children simply looks different than it would with one or even two children further spaced apart. While there is something that can be learned from all persons, the greatest learning will occur when there is also an element of relation. Last, I look for individuals who have experienced success with their chosen approach. It's easy to find homemakers who believe the "life with children is a mess" mantra. My desire is to achieve a different outcome. Therefore, I'm interested in resources which will present methods or techniques that may aid in accomplishing that goal. 

My Favorite Home Management & Parenting Blogs


       Valerie has written quite an extensive resource page! In fact, it is so full that is can be overwhelming! She has topics organized nicely on the left sidebar as well as an index by age within the top menu, which makes searches for specific information easy. The blog is perhaps the best resource for addressing specific topics and/or needs in parenting. If you can't find exactly what you're looking for on the website, then she also has a coinciding Facebook page and is very prompt in responding to messages. This particular resource is very thorough and very well done. 

   Rachel shares her thoughts and experiences on subjects like discipline, emotions, faith, home, routines, motherhood and sleep. She also shares on how personality type influences the role of wife and mother. She uniquely blogs from the perspective of having closely spaced children, and having once done so while living at a distance from family. I can relate to the aspects of being far from home (and therefore lacking that particular support or help), having closely spaced children (though mine are average 1.5 years apart, not 1 year), and having a strong type a personality. I enjoy the practical advice offered through her blog, and read it often. 
Jo Frost is another of my "go to" resources for parenting guidance. She provides a plethora of techniques for a variety of needs. I own several of her printed books, and have also utilized the website for additional techniques or insights when needed. The website, however, isn't near as organized and easy to navigate if looking for specific topics like Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. It's still a fantastic resource though! (And I highly recommend her books!)

     (Formerly "Large Families Living on Purpose"). This blog is beautiful sharing on how to manage the home with a large family (or closely spaced children). Erika also shares strategies for wise use of finances, living in small home, child training, and "mothering with vitality." Although I don't necessarily agree with every philosophy or practice shared, the blog is such a wonderful resource for demonstrating how life with littles can be manageable and a joy, regardless of family size. I have read many of the pages multiple times. 

Other Homemaking Blogs of Interest
     I enjoy reading the following personal blogs as well. These are bloggers who I still relate well to, and are in the same season of life that I am. Many posts are personal in nature, but there are many others that are highly informative. 

      This is perhaps one of the original blogs on homemaking during a time when blogging wasn't yet as popular as it is today. Lindsay shares on a variety of topics such as areas of personal and spiritual growth, nutrition, healthy/ sustainable practices, simplicity, family, etc. I particularly enjoy how you can so easily see the many facets to life as a homemaker. She accomplishes a great balance in her presentation of herself, her family and her homemaking journey. Although the posts date back to 2008 and she admittedly doesn't still practice everything she's ever written on, the blog is still a wealth of applicable information and experience. I was very glad to see her decide to resume blogging after an extended break!

     Amy shares on a variety of topics pertaining to family life. (She has many posts on cloth diapering that are so thorough I recommend them to anyone interested in the topic). She and I have followed one another's blogs and journeys into homemaking and parenting for several years. Our oldest children are close in age as will be our youngest ones. It's been rather nice to share and connect with another homemaker in the same stage as I!

     Vanessa also shares on a variety of topics pertaining to family life. We have share and connected through Instagram and then through blogging. Our oldest children are close in age (a month apart actually), and they also participate in "tot schooling." Again, it's been enjoyable to connect and share with someone with similar interests!
Update: She has recently decided to take a break from blogging for an undetermined amount of time. The blog will continue to be available and she can continue to be reached/followed through Instagram. 

*Note: Updated 02/12/17. This particular post is regularly updated to reflect the most current blogs read. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: 22 Weeks!

(Actually 23 weeks in this photo)
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? 22 weeks!

"developing senses, including touch, sight, hearing, and taste. ... He or she may grab onto the umbilical cord (there's not much else to hang onto in there) and practice the strong grip that will soon be clutching your fingers (and pulling your hair). ... Though it's dark in the uterine cocoon -- and even with fused eyelids -- fetuses this age can perceive light and dark. ... [The baby's hearing] The sound of your voice and that of your partner, your heart beating, the whoosh-whoosh of your blood circulating through your body, those gastric gurgles produced by your stomach and intestines, the dog barking, sirens and a loud TV. ... [The baby's tasting] pretty much everything you're tasting (so pass the salad)." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition (affiliate link to 5th edition)

Baby Size? "Forget about ounces, baby. This week we're talking about a whopping weight of 1 pound and a length of nearly 8 inches, about the size of a small doll." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition (affiliate link to 5th edition)

Gender? It's a BOY! I think Annelise is picking up on the idea that something is going on, though she doesn't understand what. She does what Tennyson did when I was expecting her which was poking/patting my belly, looking at it, and then looking at me repeatedly. It's so fun to watch them become big siblings!

Weight Gain? (This is for my own record since I started out rather underweight). Up 12lbs. since the beginning. 

Belly? Big. I feel quite big already. I naturally carry entirely out in front and I have a good bit of diastasis recti from my previous pregnancies, so this belly is certainly much larger than the previous ones. There is now no question of expecting a baby. I receive a wide-eyed response frequently when people realize that I have a two year old, one year old and am expecting another child. haha

Sleep? Same? Better? I can't even tell at this point! I, at least, feel as though I'm coping a little better now (though I still have days in which the energy level is quite low and I take every opportunity to rest).

Symptoms? Fortunately, the migraine headaches have decreased significantly. Unfortunately, the vericose veins in one leg has become a predominate issue. Despite two other pregnancies, this is a first time for that symptom. I've discovered that some sort of compression hose/leggings/socks are a must. The layers are rather warm (it's still upper 80s-90s in temperature here!), but they make a huge difference. Whatever works, right?

Clothing? Sadly, I've already had to retire a few of my shirts! I have a rather long physique normally and my baby bellies are all in front, and so shirts get to be too short quickly. Enter the tunic top. I think this style is going to be the only one that is going to last the remainder of the pregnancy because this belly isn't getting any smaller! haha. 

Movement? I've gotten into a much better habit of going for walks around the neighborhood with the children most mornings. It's been so nice to get out and get moving again like I had done in my previous pregnancies. (Even though we may still have to coat ourselves in bug spray and sunscreen despite it being October! haha). The roads are so rough here that it ends up being quite a workout to push the double stroller, but we're doing it! haha

Baby Movement? Mr. Huxley has become quite the wiggly guy! He's most active in the evenings and at night. If I'm active, then he's quiet. If I'm quiet, then he's active. He stays on one side (he's in the right "horn"), and after a while of wiggling and kicking in the same spot I get rather sore. I absolutely adore all those movements though. I know there's only a short time left to experience them. I can't help but to put my hand to my belly or look down to watch him (because you can easily see my belly rolling with his movements!). I finally got a neat video of him kicking and moving one evening, and it's posted on my Instagram account. 

Food Adversions? Nothing really. I love food. haha

Food Cravings? Juicy fruits and milk. I could be the happiest expectant mama with a big class of milk and a pineapple. (Something that has been true of both my boy pregnancies) haha!

What I Miss? This pregnancy has taken a harder toll on my body than the previous two. There are many more aches, pains, and discomforts than ever before. (Not to mention exhaustion in simply trying to keep up with my roles and responsibilities.) Although, I'm so very grateful for this new life within me, it's also been difficult at times to deal with the physical aspects of pregnancy. And, I'll admit there's an aspect of personal vanity in that. 

What I'm Excited About? Huxley! I'm so very excited to have this little boy be apart of our family! 

What I'm Nervous About?
      I've now had four of the injections which are presumed to get this baby to term. Two were tolerable, but two left me in tears in the office and hobbling back home. Some weeks I think, "Okay, I can do this!" Other weeks I think, "I said I wouldn't do this again, yet here I am! I'm never doing this again!" Oh man, I hate those things. 14 more weeks of them. *sigh* 

How Am I Preparing for Baby?
      I've created an Amazon wish list to keep track of everything we may need for this baby boy. I've also made a tentative timeframe as to when to make purchases to spread things out. Little by little it will all come together! 

(Funny note about having done this- I did this exact same thing when I was preparing for Tennyson's arrival. I thought, "I have seven more weeks. I have plenty of time to get everything we'll need." ...He was born that same night!)



Monday, October 17, 2016

Embracing the Season of Little Ones

     Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a time and a season for everything. Yet, how often am I attempting to do all things in this one time? Am I choosing my activities and living as though there are seasons of motherhood? These are just a couple of the questions that have been on my heart lately. My thoughts on embracing the little years in the video below. 

   

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September 2016 In Our Home

The sweet friendship between siblings




32 months old!
   This month began with the feeling of being on a roller coaster ride with many moments of sickness, teething, and tantrums. There were days in which I felt at such a low. David recognized the deep needs we were struggling through during our days, and took a "staycation" (we rarely go on vacation, and so he always has those days available to take a break on occasion). I, of course, thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with him and he simply "do life" with the children and I! I was also very grateful for a helping hand during this time of pregnancy and toddlers. 

      We chose to spend the time focusing on two areas of need: 1) the lengthy to do list that has been building since our move(s) and 2) neglected training with the children. We still needed to get our licenses and vehicle registrations switched over to Texas (*sniff* offical "goodbye" to PA). Fortunately we had the time available because it took us multiple trips and a couple of days to complete the process. We also had some home projects that were needing to be completed.

     The second area of focus was in regard to a few areas of training with the children that had been neglected. Our main objective was to begin working on improving independent sleep. To ease the adjustments to different locations, we had been allowing each of the children to become dependent on our presence to fall asleep or fall back asleep. While I'm glad we could provide the comfort they needed, we had reached a point in which it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to settle them both to sleep by myself when David was away for work. The children were also not attaining the full amount of rest they needed without the ability to cope with sleeping alone. (We believe that to teach them independence is to teach them how to cope well in life). So, we spent a week diligently progressing through a method for each of the children. It was tough at first, but by the end of the week the difference was remarkable. They were sleeping so much better and rising in more agreeable dispositions (and Mama has been getting just a little moment in the day to rest as well which has allowed me to be more personally refreshed and better able to manage the remainder of our day). 

15 months old!
     Speaking of personal refreshment and investment, I have felt a renewed passion for homemaking. I've been inspired and motivated to purposefully pursue learning and growing in the many aspects. I firmly believe homemaking is a valid profession if treated as such. Any good professional will continue to hone her craft. And so, I'm eager to make a greater effort towards improving upon my cooking skills, home management, personal management, and care of the children. Domestic knowledge and skills do not come naturally to me. I was certainly raised to attend college and then work a career outside the home (as is standard nowadays). The matters of home ec and domestic life require effortful education and practice on my part. Otherwise, I'm easily lost and overwhelmed. I'm tempted to give up and accept the mantra of "life with children is a mess- you're a mess, your house is a mess, your children are a mess etc." Instead, I wish to represent homemaking well, not just for myself and my family but also for others. There are other ladies who desire this pursuit, but also have little knowledge or skill. There are also those who are looking at homemaking with speculation of its validity. It begins and continues with education and practice. I've been exploring a few resources that will be of aid. It's always exciting and encouraging to determine to be a person who is always learning.
   
It's a boy!
His name will be Huxley Nathaniel R. 

     Our "tiny tot school" and "tot school" activities have very slowly crept along. I've discovered that two elements of child training are essential before success with planned activities. First, sleep training allows each of them to maximize rest and be fully alert and cooperative in the day's activities. We have just not been able to incorporate an activity many days due to poor attitudes and/or behaviors resulting from a lack of adequate rest. While we've made great strides with teaching Annelise to sleep independently, Tennyson continues to have difficulty falling asleep without someone remaining in the room with him. He consequently falls asleep entirely too late and wakes less rested than he needs. Second, independent playtime or roomtime training allows each of them to receive individualized and focused attention. They need to feel as though they have a moment in which they are not having to compete for attention. So, while one receives attention, the other one quietly plays alone in his/her bedroom. We have never been strong in the area of independent play. Both of the children prefer to have someone else with them (though they are not always able to maintain a peaceful relationship). It's something that I had always intended to instill in them, but never did. They need this time to themselves and this time for individualized attention from myself. I believe it will not only help us now, but also when Huxley arrives. I've created a plan for the next few months to begin working with each of them on independent play/roomtime each afternoon when David gets home from work (so that I can focus on one child and he can care for the other one). We are also continuing to work with both children, but namely Tennyson currently, on independent sleep. Hopefully, by next month we'll see some progress and can incorporate more fun activities in our days!

New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
(I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. 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!)).  

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