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. 

NOTE: An "*" indicates an affiliate link. I am a personal affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. Thank you. 

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. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October 2016 In Our Home

Mama may enjoy doodling with chalk the most!

     We finished paying off my last school loan this month! Not only has this been significant financial burden lifed, but also a personal one. It's very nice to finally put that piece of my life fully behind me. It's also really nice to see our debt snowball pick up even more momentum! To think that it started with a mere $3 and has grown to where it has now is incredible. There have been a lot of sacrifices to make it continue each month, but the effort has been so very worthwhile! I'm excited to now begin snowballing our next debt. 

   We restarted our Tot School and Tiny Tot School curriculum. Though, some days we accomplish only one activity and other days we accomplish none. The really nice part of our chosen curriculum is that it's activities-based (vs. academic) and there is no pressure to complete everything exactly according to the schedule. This month we've danced around the room to music while periodically stopping to identify shapes displayed around the room (video on Instagram), we made a red Jell-o treat and then cut out shapes, we colored pictures, pretended to be bunnies (the coinciding animal for the unit theme) and of course read lots of good stories. (All those activities focus on skills in the form of play- gross motor, fine motor, real life, pretend, colors, shapes etc., and yet I don't feel like they are presented as structured "school" lessons in the least! :))
"Tot School" one day was simply creating a red Jell-o treat, 
and then cutting out shapes. Such a fun way to teach the color red!
Um..that's not sleeping! 

     The children have made great progress in "room time"/ "independent playtime." We're still at the point in the plan in which I'm in the room with them and playing. The intention here is for them to get very comfortable being in the room apart from everyone else and to introduce them to various objects of play. We currently use our tot school "Surprise Time boxes" during this time. (These are bins of educational toys, and are a component of the My Father's World "All Aboard the Animal Train" curriculum). It's so neat to watch their progress in skills and play.  I can announce "room time" and Tennyson excitedly picks out one of the bins and runs to his bedroom. Annelise is still learning the concept of this time in the day as she often wants to join us. Her room time follows Tennyson's, and so she's quickly satisfied. It's great to see us having made lots of good progress in just a month's time. Learning to play and be a little more independent will serve us all well, especially since we're all home and together each day. 
33 months old!

     For about two weeks this month we were dealing with sickness in our home. Annelise first started the fever, runny nose and cough. Then as she was improving Tennyson began to show the same symptoms. No one was able to rest well, and everyone was super cranky and clingy. It is tough when both are so little and sick. We indulged in watching so many Baby Einstein videos. (What else do you do at a time like that? At least they're great quality videos!). They enjoyed all the extra screen time, of course. The programs got a little tiresome for Mama though. haha. Fortunately,  the children are feeling much better now. David seems to be contending with some sickness off and on (allergies?). Hopefully, I can't continue to resist whatever it was that was passed around!
16 months old!

    Looking at the month ahead, we'll focus on our celebration of the Thanksgiving season and planning for the Christmas celebration that follows. Lots of activities and fun to come!

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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