Monday, January 30, 2017

January 2017 In Our Home



Birthday Month
     January is birthday month in our home. Currently three out of four of us have a birthday in January (will Huxley be a fourth?). It's cake, cake and more cake! 

     For David and I, our celebrations were rather simple. We exchanged gifts (session at the local indoor golf simulators for him & a new water bottle for me). I made him a pound cake (he's not big into sweet birthday cakes). I decided to postpone my cake as that would've been three cakes in one month! 

Homemade donuts for
breakfast! Delicious!
     For Tennyson's third birthday, we decided to celebrate with a party this year. His interests have been fixated on backhoes for the past month. It all started with checking out the book, *Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander from the library. Every week he would ask for this one book when we went to the library. Then, we found an episode of *Mister Roger's Neighborhood that featured a backhoe, and it became a daily request. So, a dirt digging/backhoe theme party was the plan! 

    We celebrated the day of his birthday in our usual fashion. I made a birthday banner and hung it on the wall. For breakfast, I made homemade donuts with chocolate and plain frosting for us all to enjoy. That evening, he opened gifts from David and I, as well the gifts the grandparents had sent him. I think I was equally excited for him to open gifts, as we had gotten him the two items he had been wanting for quite a while- his own copy of the *Backhoe Joe book and *a backhoe truck to play outside. We have read that book multiple times every day ever since! We then made him a family favorite for dinner of homemade macaroni and cheese with mixed vegetables (shh! Don't tell them mac and cheese doesn't normally include vegetables. haha). Afterwards, we enjoyed another special treat of ice cream sundaes. Birthdays are a good time for special treats!

      For his party, we continued the dirt/digging/backhoe theme. I kept things pretty simple in our preparations, but yet it was still a huge push to get it all pulled together. We were so glad we were able to offer him a party (but also glad we decidedly only do one party per child per year! Phew! haha). The children played in the backyard in the dirt with trucks or in the exploration bins that were filled with shovels and sand (ie the digging theme). We had simple ham & cheese sandwiches, blt sandwiches, pretzels, chips, fruit tray with dip, veggie tray with dip, dirt cups, and of course the cake. I semi-homemade (time was tight!) a peanut butter cake by modifying a boxed cake mix and then topped it with homemade chocolate frosting. I used a couple of tiny construction vehicles and crushed chocolate cookies for the decorations on top. It turned out pretty cute and quite tasty! Tennyson seemed to thoroughly enjoy the playtime outside with the others, cake and party in general! 

     (I really wished I had gotten some photos of the party. It was such a push to get it all put together that I didn't get a chance to take photos before guests began arriving!)

      Next year will be Annelise's turn for a birthday party. Hmm...perhaps if I start now on some of the preparations I can have them completed in time and not have to rush again. Heh, probably not!

      Flashback- Tennyson's 1st Birthday Party

3 years old!
(Being silly wearing Daddy's cap!)
Tiny Tot School & Tot School
     We've slowed down in our "school" activities quite a bit. I just haven't been able to keep up with everything now that I'm in the final weeks of pregnancy. We had reached a point in which nothing was being accomplished, and I hated that the materials and opportunities were being neglected. Since my intention with "school" at this point is simply purposeful activities we can do together each day, I decided we'd try to simply complete one tiny tot school and one tot school activity each day (the full schedule for a day of tot school with our curriculum usually includes 3-4 activities each day). And...success! 


    I love having a purposeful activity for us each day. It really helps focus energy and keep down the chaos that could erupt with too much free play. (Free play is good, but too much free play results in sibling squabbles and a ridiculously messy home). It's also, of course, a nice time we can spend together and invest in family relationships. I think one activity each per day will be how we proceed for the foreseeable future, especially once Huxley arrives. 

Lessons Learned- Teach vs. Tell
19 months old!
(Enjoying the sunshine
 and outside playtime!)
      As Tennyson as gotten older, he's begun to mimic our words of correction. He will give a "no instruction" to Annelise regarding a behavior, much like we do. For example, he might tell her at mealtime, "Sister! Don't throw your food!" While the instruction is completely warranted, it coming from a little three year old mouth sounds oh so ugly. It sounds bossy. It sounds unkind. It's not the kind of sibling behavior we desire for our children. I've therefore begun to think creatively on how he can better say those comments. I tell him the way he said [____] wasn't best and ask him how we can instead encourage her to make the right choice or have the right response. So, for the food throwing incident I might have him repeat me saying, "Annelise, our food goes in the bowl or in our mouth, not on the floor." The same applies in instances in which she behaves poorly and then he behaves poorly in response. How can we encourage one another to have the right response? The heart is for each of them to see that we all work together in a family to encourage and to help each other make wise choices.  

       This effort has been a very strong lesson to me personally as well. How often am I giving a "no" instruction and focusing on the negative behavior alone? (Answer: way too often!). It takes an extra effort to pause (ie calm the emotional response) and then provide teaching and encouragement. If I want Tennyson or any of the children to demonstrate a certain attitude or behavior, then I absolutely must model it myself. I can't possibly yell "no!" or "don't...!" etc. constantly at my children, and then expect them to have a better response. That's nonsense, not to mention ineffective. Of course they're going to treat one another in that manner .. that's what they've seen! 

     This is requiring a lot of retraining of my natural response. Many times, I miss the mark but then remember and repeat myself in the way in which is desirable. It's a very slow process, but I feel like it's a move in the right direction. (Parenting is parent-training too (at least for this Mama!)). The subtitle of the book *Sacred Parenting is absolutely true- raising children shapes our souls. 

(Note: There are absolutely instances in which a "no" instruction is warranted. Forget the positive perspective, they need to understand that boundary immediately or well. The above is in regard to other instances in which a little flexibility in the approach is appropriate). 

New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
     I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. For an additional look into the books we've enjoyed in our home, click the "Bookshelves" tab at the top of the page and then follow the links to our various online bookshelves. 

  • Me:
    • *Devotions for Sacred Parenting: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Parents by Gary Thomas
      • I love *Sacred Parenting and *Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. These two books alone have transformed my perspective and approach towards these entities. I highly, highly recommend either of these books. The devotional book has been a wonderful resource for daily/weekly doses of wisdom. 
    • *Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
      • We're going through this book with our small group from church. I'm not impressed so far, but perhaps it will surprise me as we continue to work through it. (Since reading Sacred Marriage, nothing else has compared). 
    • *Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage
      • I had the expectation that this book would be about applying the characteristics of a profession or career that takes place outside the home or mothering role and applying it to motherhood or homemaking. For example, setting objectives/goals, establishing a schedule, attire etc. However, it is nothing of the sort. It's just an individual's musing on motherhood. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not what I was anticipating based on the title of the book. I'm not entirely impressed with it thus far, but I'm not finished either. Perhaps it will surprise me and change my opinion of it by the end. 
  • Tennyson
  • Annelise:
    • *The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
      • We checked this book out from the library and the children enjoyed it so much that we added it to our home library. The writing is really creative in it's rhyme and rhythm, and overall very well done. 

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!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 36!

 Note: I'm publishing this a week late. I'm currently 37 weeks along. :)

This baby deep inside me, ever so small, is a child of God. A child that God game 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? 36 weeks!

Most of the baby's systems (from circulatory to musculoskeletal) are just about equipped for life on the outside. Though the digestive system is ready to roll, too, it hasn't really gotten a work out yet." -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

Baby Size? 

Weighing about 6 pounds and measuring around 20 inches tall. -What To Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

We'll have a final ultrasound at 37 weeks to look at his size. I'm not too reliant on this measurement as it's just an estimation and known to be wrong. (Annelise was estimated to be an entire pound bigger than she actually was!). At this point, we at least know that the baby is likely not going to be "too big." The OB is estimating him to be in the 30s%, which is considered healthy but small. (Annelise was healthy, but small at birth). Neither one of us is concerned and acknowledge that I simply have small babies (good for delivery by my small frame! haha). 

Gender? It's a BOY! Huxley Nathaniel R., I am so very, very excited to meet him soon!

Belly? Seriously, how much bigger can this belly get?! 

(Social etiquette #1- Making comments about someone's face shape, cheeks or size is highly inappropriate, especially during pregnancy. Regardless of relationship (acquaintance, friend, or family), keep all comments to "you look beautiful" or say nothing at all. 

Social etiquette #2- I'm not self-conscious of belly size. However, I do feel it very rude to comment or worse share with others regarding a woman's pregnancy size. Again, just say she looks beautiful or say nothing at all. Certainly never share a photo with regard to a person's size. That's just odd and uncomfortable for everyone. ;) )

Sleep? Not so much. I toss and turn most nights. I frequently get pretty stiff or sore, and will get up just to move around a bit. 

Symptoms? My joints and back are revolting! Mostly, my back is aching from the all-forward carry of this baby plus the need to still lift and carry the other children and continue to work within our home. 

Clothing? The belly has exceeded the capacity of the bands on my pants! The pants still fit, but the bands are now too tight against my belly. If I'm going out, then I'll fold the band down a bit but then have to constantly pull up on my pants to keep them up. haha. If I'm at home for the day, then I've been wearing a single pair of yoga capri pants. It's not ideal, but with only three weeks left to go I'm going to make whatever is still available work. haha

Movement? We've been trying to go for a walk around the neighborhood whenever possible. I've resorted to waiting until David's available in the evenings to go for a walk so that I can avoid lifting and pushing the double stroller with the children. We don't get to go daily, but when we do it's so nice to be all together!

Baby Movement?
     I believe he may be the wiggliest one of all at this point! We're definitely at the point of deep breathing through some of his big movements. He still has some mighty powerful kicks and has a special way of finding the gap between my abs. haha 

Food Adversions? None. I love food...perhaps too much. haha

Food Cravings? Ah, too many desserts lately. yikes! We had Christmas last month and now birthday month, and so the yummy treats have been plentiful. 

What I Miss? A bit fewer aches and the ability to rest comfortably. That time will come soon enough though. 

What I'm Excited About? (I'm not sure when it happened but at some point this question was accidentally omitted and then the entire questionnaire copy and pasted without it!) 

      I'm so excited to simply meet him. I keep thinking on the possibilities for what he'll look like or what his personality will be like. It's interesting that when you have one child you can't imagine any other combination. Then, you have a second and she is completely different than your first. Then, another child poses potential for yet another combination of characteristics. They are each so unique and so very special. Will this new baby be like either of his siblings or completely different as well? It's absolutely thrilling to get to experience getting to know each of these individuals. I'm so very grateful to have the privilege of having all three of them!

What I'm Nervous About? 
     Believe it or not, all this time we've been anxious about a preemie situation. Now, we're beyond that point and concerned about another over-term situation. There's not much allowance in the medical OB realm for overterm babies. I'm afraid that if he doesn't come on his own and they won't induce with a VBAC, then we'll end up with a scheduled c-section. I'd much prefer a VBAC. Hopefully he'll decide to come on his own soon!

How Am I Preparing?
Adorable little puffy vest
 outfit is part of the priority list,
 right? ;)
      Some wonderful friends recently offered to watch the children for us as a trial run for when Huxley arrives. We've been getting together with them weekly so that the children can become more familiar with them, which has really been a big help. The children also getting to have some time with them without David and I around has been an even bigger help. I'm feeling so much better about they being comfortable and well taken care of while we're at the hospital greeting Mr. Huxley. I'm so grateful for this family who has so wonderfully heard our concerns about the children not being accustomed to outside care and has done so much to help them (and us) feel more comfortable by gathering frequently before the need arises. This has been my prayer throughout the pregnancy. This couple..they're amazing. 

     We've made it through peak season/Christmas, Tennyson's birthday celebration, and now I feel like I can move on to focusing on baby preparations. I mainly need to make sure we have my hospital bag packed, the children's away bag packed, and the house kept stocked and tidy. I have a list of other little tasks that also need accomplishing still (like finding my nursing cover, washing bottles and pacifiers, finding the bassinet portion to the pack n play bed etc). My sticky note reminders around the desk are lining up! hahaha

     We're still getting some meals prepared, but not near as many as I had hoped for originally. It's just challenging at times to find extra time to complete extra tasks. We'll at least have a few for when he arrives. We may still end up with a lot of cold cereal breakfasts and sandwich lunches though. haha. 


Other News/Thoughts? 
     At this point, we've once again achieved a "normal" baby and "normal" pregnancy. David and I are convinced that this outcome has nothing to do with interventions, but, instead eliminates our first experience as the standard. In other words, we no longer believe in such high risk status or need for interventions. The first pregnancy with numerous complications, preterm delivery, and growth restriction was, in our opinion, an anomaly. Without the need for extra appointments, interventions and worries our determination of this being the last baby has begun to sway. (I've always left the decision for starting or continuing our family up to David. It's very, very important to me for him as the father to want a child not just deal with it.) It seems as though we've become open to the idea of this baby being the last biological child or perhaps next to last. One thing we do know is a lengthier space between pregnancies & children would be desired. As much as I do enjoy aspects of the children being closely-spaced, there is a degree of greater difficulty in physically sustaining close pregnancies and parenting all little ones simultaneously (ie everyone requires very hands-on care and attention at the same time). We'll revisit the matter in a couple of years. I personally feel much more at peace with an option remaining open for either choice. (However, if this baby ends up being delivered via c-section (but hopefully not!), then that will certainly influence our choice since it is putting my body through major surgery yet again.) 


4 more weeks to go until we meet Mr. Huxley! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

(Blog) New Year Resolution 2017


    Last year, I determined that I would establish just one resolution. My goal was to have only one area in which I could focus, develop and enjoy. I knew with two young children I wouldn't be able to accomplish much more (and I was right!). That resolution was to be something that reconnected and refreshed me personally. I chose- writing. More specifically, I chose to 1) Write a blog post to be published every Wednesday and 2) Write a new chapter in my book every quarter (approx. 4 months). 

     I did fairly well with the first goal! Although there were a few months in which posts were not published weekly, I still managed to share 52 pieces over the course of the entire year! My intention of this activity being something that reconnected and refreshed me was certainly felt. I thoroughly enjoyed coming to this space each week to contemplate, write, share and connect with others. I also now have a lovely collection of our family's life the last twelve months! How exciting to be able to reread those posts in the future or perhaps use them in other ways (more on this below). Weekly blogging is certainly an activity I'd like to continue in 2017.

     The second aspect of the writing resolution was completely neglected. (I had actually forgotten it was even part of the resolution until I pulled last year's post back up!). At the time I made the goal, I had been investing time and energy into developing a book idea. Then, we moved..and moved some more.. and found out we're expecting another child etc.. Life simply got too busy and too chaotic for work that kind of an endeavor. Book writing is not blog writing. For me, it requires far more concentration and composition. (I typically write blog posts in short segments over the course of several days. I can't write a book chapter in this manner. I need to be able to sit for hours to write). I still have a great aspiration to develop in more formal writing, specifically in composing a book. However, I must acknowledge that that endeavor will simply have to wait until a later season. In the meanwhile, years of blog post already written and more to come will provide a wonderful resource for potential content when I do pick up the book writing process again. 

       And so, in regard to a resolution for 2017 I wanted to continue with the same focus I had established last year. The goal needs to be one that won't overwhelm, discourage or result in a lack of joy. It also needs to be something that reconnect and refreshes me personally. Finally, there need be only one resolution for it to be feasibly accomplished in this current season of all little ones. 

      I considered many options. I have been most preoccupied with the idea of choosing twelve "30 Days to..." in which each month would focus on establishing a new habit. (For example, 30 Days to... reduced sugar intake/ natural sugars, healthy snacking, screen-free, early to bed & early to rise, children's activities, prayer, reading, Bible reading, (presentably) dressed etc). I've considered other ideas as well such as showing greater hospitality with weekly playdates and monthly dinner guests. Or, working towards a healthier lifestyle with less stress, more rest, daily exercise and more nutritious foods etc. I've even considered choosing a focus word (a very popular concept, but one I've never implemented). 

     Ultimately, I know that accomplishing anything new or consuming may not be very realistic in 2017. (After all, I will have three children three-years old and under who will need my full time, attention and energy.). I also don't really want to drop weekly blogging as I enjoyed it so much the previous year in order to take on a new endeavor. Therefore, I considered simply expanding the existing goal. And so, for 2017 I'm aiming to:

     1) Write a blog post to be published every Wednesday  between 1:30-2pm (cst)
     2) Post between 1:30-2pm (cst) daily on Instagram and Facebook 

(1:30-2pm is a reliable time slot available to me during naptime. A set time helps me to not be distracted by screens while I'm with my family or needing to be productive with housework).

     I will likely also attempt some of the "30 Days to..." ideas and other aspirations. I simply withheld making those "New Years resolutions" though out of concern for them not to be consistently achievable, especially with a new baby soon. I think this year's baby step of a resolution will be most feasible to accomplish at this time. 

    And so, much more to come from the Our Homemaking Story in 2017! I'm excited! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Baby 3 Pregnancy Journal: Week 34!

Tired Mama :(
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? 34 weeks! Only 6 weeks remaining until we get to meet this little guy!

"those tiny little fingernails have probably reached the tip of his or her fingers by this week" -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

Baby Size? "Your baby could be as tall as 20 inches right now and weights about 5 pounds: -What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th ed. 

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

Weight Gain? No new number this week. 

    Can I be honest for a moment? I'm feeling like all the weight gain is going either belly or face. I've become so self-conscious with the puffiness in my face (goodness, what will it look like after being pumped full of iv fluids at delivery?! yikes!). At this point, I'm not feeling much pregnancy beauty or glow. I just feel heavy and tired. haha.

(p.s. Social etiquette gem #1- Making comments about someone's face shape, cheeks, or size is highly inappropriate, especially during pregnancy. Regardless of what you think someone's norm. is, keep all comments to "you look beautiful.")

Belly? Big! Apparently, stretch marks can stretch further. My poor skin is breaking down rapidly. I'm having a hard time imaging how this belly could get any bigger in the next six weeks!

(p.s. Social etiquette gem #2- I'm not self-conscious on belly size. However, I do feel it very rude to comment or worse share with others regarding a woman's pregnancy size. Just say she looks beautiful or say nothing at all. ;) )

Sleep? Doesn't happen. I might have been able to pull through a day previously, but it's now become a struggle. Mama is plain exhausted. 

Symptoms? Oh man, the fatigue! I'm pushing hard to function through a  exhaustion fog each day. If there was any ounce of self-control or emotional self-control (not my strengths to begin with. haha), it's gone. I'm so tired the smallest incident brings out the tears. It's so embarrassing!  

Clothing? Some of my pants are getting a bit tight! I'm rolling down the full panel and covering the rear with my shirts to make them work a little longer. haha. 

Movement? I've gotten outside to walk around the neighborhood a few times. My pace is pretty slow though. The energy aspect is severely lacking. haha

Baby Movement? My goodness, this little guy has some powerful movements! Some nights his wiggles and kicks have been painful even. He knows just how to hit the sensitive areas (like the gap between my ab muscles!). I've been absolutely amazed by the strength of his movements!

Food Adversions? Nothing really. I love food!

Food Cravings? Cake? I love cake. It's probably because it's birthday month in our home (3/4 of us have January birthdays), and so we eat a lot of cake at this time. A simple cake is one of my favorite desserts though. Yum!

What I Miss? Coffee + time and energy to sit with a book or something else relaxing or enjoyable. That's the dream currently. haha!

What I'm Nervous About? Honestly, some days I'm pretty anxious about how busy and demanding life will be with three children so young. I already have very little margin with so few opportunities for a break or tiny moment alone. I realize that this is only a season and I do truly delight in getting to be involved in my home and family so much. However, the lack of balance can make the role/job so much more difficult. I can only imagine life to come. 

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

How I'm Preparing for Baby?
     Amazon order is done and delivered! We're all set with plenty of bottles, new pump supplies, one more car seat (still need the third). We should be pretty good on the basics. (Although, I must admit that I'm so very tempted to purchase just a few daytime (ie non-sleeper) newborn outfits! I've just done sleepers in the past out of practicality. Oh, but new baby clothes for a new (last) baby is just so thrilling!). 

     Our incredible church is throwing us a "diapers and wipes" shower this Sunday! 

     I've been majorly slacking on my freezer cooking. I just haven't had the energy to do anything extra during the week. Hopefully I can get a couple made and in the freezer this weekend. I absolutely don't have near the quantity I had hoped to have to feed our family and then later feed extended family who will come to stay and visit. Got to get on that asap!

     I suppose now that we're only 6 weeks away from the due date, I should begin assembling our bags. I'll need to think back through items needed for postpartum care for each delivery situation (because you never know!) and the hospital stay for myself. (David added yesterday that this time he'll pack a sandwich and/or snacks to eat during the labor process. I, being in labor, didn't notice having not eaten all day. He, just sitting, was really hungry going without anything all day long. Whoops! haha). The children will also need a bag for where ever they will be going during delivery. Probably should get a move on making my lists, making purchases, and packing bags soon!

Other News?  
    The nesting is strong with this one. I had zero nesting with my first baby. I had a little more with my second. The third- must decorate, organize and do all things! Our home may be decorated more in these last few weeks than it has in the last few months! haha

     This week was also the last weekly injection! We decided to stop at 34 weeks instead of continuing to 36 weeks. It's the same place we stopped at with baby #2, and quite frankly we're becoming increasingly convinced it and many other interventions haven't been necessary after all. I'm so very glad to never have to have those weekly injections again! There's only one more medication remaining, and that will be discontinued by next week. One more step to getting closer to delivery! 

    Speaking of delivery, I really wanted to cherish every moment of this pregnancy and not wish any of it away. However, I'm reaching a point in pregnancy in which I'm looking forward to the end. This has by far been my most difficult pregnancy. Granted, it's my third in three years and I have two other very young children to care for each day. I'm tired. I'm very, very tired. I pulled up my pregnancy journal post from baby #2, and was shocked by the pictures of myself between now and then. It's all been worthwhile, but..um.. Mama clearly needs some rest. hahaha.   

    In a strange way, I'm feeling ready. I can't quite put the right words to describe the sensation, but I just feel ready for this baby. I'm very eager to see him and snuggle him against me!

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


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