small detail, big surprise

There’s something rather important that I haven’t quite gotten around to saying here yet. It may or may not be responsible for the sporadic writing of, oh the last thirty-four weeks.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? We have another baby due to arrive in six weeks!

Yay!!! It seems like it would become ordinary after doing this six times, but it is still just as exciting. and exhausting. = )

This business of being a part of God reproducing his image in the world is absolutely amazing. We pray for the health and safety of this little ones body; we pray that he would be used to glorify the grace of God and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In other news, I have really missed writing here recently. Time will only tell if that will turn into more frequent posts or not. There’s a dream of just sitting down for fifteen minutes every day to write. So many thoughts constantly swirl around my head. (And yes, like we feel about most others, it’s probably good they’re not always shared.) = )

But – at least now you know that we are having another baby so I can talk about it! = )

Did I mention it’s a ***boy***???

A new adventure awaits!
A new adventure awaits!

Love to all,

Christie

 

Skittles and Casserole

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To say that candy is a lifelong weakness for me would be an understatement.

My father-in-law faithfully keeps me supplied with Skittles, keeps me up-to-date on the newest variations, and often throws in variety bags of chocolates just for good measure.

My sister and I once ran a rather black market operation smuggling junior church candy.

If you remember from this post it took me awhile to learn how you had to eat while pregnant. Oh yes, it also took me a long time to figure out how to keep a house stocked with the kinds of food you should eat while pregnant. I learned quickly that when I was hungry, I would eat whatever was near and easy.

Usually Skittles.

So we have a scene that makes no sense: I’m pregnant, hungry, trying desperately to get dinner on the table. Why? Because I’m hungry! And so are the little people. However, I’m so hungry that I can barely concentrate on cooking. Is there anything in the pantry I can snack on? I’m so hungry!

Out would come the easiest thing to shake out in my hand and snack on.

Skittles.

Or some such other non-satisfying substitute for a good, hearty dinner.

Need I bore you more? The more Skittles I would eat the more I would want which would make dinner take longer and would also make me want them after dinner, for a snack…

So pathetic.

After the birth of Zoe this past summer, friends from church were so kind to bring us meals. Good, delicious, well-balanced meals.

Of course, anytime you’re feeding a baby you will be hungry 24/7 so I would grab a spoonful of casserole or barbecue while putting everything out on the table. That’s so good! I would eat a helping for me and Zoe and still be eating out of the pan as I was putting it away.

I literally had chicken tortilla soup for breakfast several mornings because it was so good!

Brief digression: this was awhile after the uncontrollable Skittle snacking fiasco. I had improved a little.

It was funny to me that when I’m in that pregnancy or nursing-induced hunger cycle, I will eat whatever is there.

Sadly, it rather reminds me of myself spiritually.

My soul hungers for the God it was made to worship, yet I so often stuff myself with spiritual Skittles because I’ve failed to either prepare myself for God’s Word or cultivated an appetite for junk.

I might on a very good day fall out of bed wanting to read my Bible, but if I fail to get up before the girls, or get distracted with other things – the temptation to snack on less will persist the whole day. I won’t naturally take that five minute window when the girls are all happily occupied to be still and pray.

Hearing the Word faithfully taught or tasting it’s riches while reading alone is like taking a bite of a delicious casserole. This is what I need! I want more.

I’ve been working at learning to make those yummy casseroles (thanks everyone for the recipes!) and hunger-satisfying meals. It takes time to meal plan, grocery shop, put them together and even freeze for busy days. But oh the reward when you pull that meal out of the oven or find leftovers in the refrigerator. Yay for avoiding Skittles! (Not permanently, just as a meal substitute.) ; )

The work of preparing my heart for the Word has an even greater enemy than a sweet tooth. As I’ve already said my flesh so easily replaces the worship of God with distraction, busyness, laziness, indulgence.

May I work to prepare my heart to hear and savor the teaching of the Bible at church, to grow more desperate for it’s nourishment as I go through ordinary days here at home.

Psalm 107:8-9 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

Hope, a birth story

She was such a special baby, such a timely gift.

I guess since this isn’t titled “A pregnancy story” or “The life of the mom and dad story” I’ll start as close to her birth day as I can.

Just a few hours old
Just a few hours old

Our little Hopey was due on January 1. She was our first baby and we were ecstatic about having her! At a mid-December appointment, our doctor predicted that we would have her by Christmas. I was already dilated at least two to three centimeters.

I was feeling great and if I experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions I wasn’t aware of them. We were busy with Christmas preparations, Paul’s responsibilities at the church, and my piano teaching.

Christmas was on a Tuesday that year and several things had been planned for the days right before the big holiday. Some friends were having a Christmas party on Saturday night. A man had planned a special Christmas service on Sunday afternoon for the inmates at the local juvenile justice center, and my brother and his family were going to be in town. My sister was also coming in from a few hours away and would be staying with us.

On Friday, a friend and I went to Target to do some Christmas shopping. While there something abnormal happened which I would later realize was what they call “losing the mucus plug.” Lovely. Right before the Christmas party on Saturday, we dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up some other gifts. (Seriously, Christmas is a great season for staying active and doing things to help you go into labor.) = ) While there, I began to feel quite poorly and felt a great, sudden need to use the restroom. It seemed to go away, but when we got to the party, I knew I wasn’t quite myself. After sitting down on the couch, I did not want to move. Usually the independent one, I was quite content to have Paul get my food and refill my drinks. I started to notice that every so often I would feel really bad. So I asked my sister on one of those occasions what time it was. When it happened again, I would ask her again. It didn’t take long to realize that the “bad feeling” was happening every fifteen minutes. Later, I would realize, duh, the contractions were beginning. That was around six pm on Saturday night.

We went home when the party was done and stayed up late. I was wrapping Christmas presents for bus kids and Paul was assembling some nightstands I had just bought. I kept careful track of how often the contractions came. They worked down to seven or eight minutes apart, but never felt unbearable. When all our work was finished we went to bed.

In the morning, the contractions were still there. But as they weren’t really that hard to take, we got up, got ready and went to church. I was definitely walking different. My pastor’s wife took one look at me and said, “Are you in labor?”

“I don’t really know.” I answered. “Maybe?” Ah, first round ignorance. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal since the pain was not that bad.

I played the piano for the church service noticing that every now and then it did take some extra concentration if it was during a contraction.

We ate lunch at my parents house with all the family. I remember walking in the door and my brother saying, “Hi, Labor Lady!” It was decided that my sister would play for the service at the justice center.

This was great for me, because I still hadn’t found the perfect Christmas gift for Paul yet. So where did my sister-in-law and I take off to? The mall! I happen to be a very picky shopper so we literally walked through every department store of the mall. I found the right gift and then headed to Walmart. Of course it was crowded, we had to park very far away, and once again, did quite the walking regimen.

By now I knew I was in labor. I didn’t know if it would be it for sure, but the contractions were regular and a little more painful.

We went back to my parent’s house to switch cars and people. Paul and I and my sister headed back to our house. At this point, my sister had a movie she wanted us to watch, so we did. It was horrible. There we were on the couch and my contractions were consistently every six to seven minutes. Sometimes I would look up at the ceiling or breathe really hard through one of them and Paul and Laurie would look over at me and ask, “Are you okay?”

After it passed I would look back at them and say, “Yup.”

This went on until the end of the movie (for which we all rejoiced). = )

I decided that I would go to bed. If I could fall asleep, then there was obviously no reason to go to the hospital, but if the pain kept me up, then we would go from there. We made sure the right phone numbers were on the refrigerator and headed to bed.

At about 1:05 AM I realized the contractions were too painful to sleep through. I told Paul that I was going to get up and call the hospital. The contractions were five minutes apart so the hospital told us to come in.

I remember having a great quandary over what to where to the hospital to have a baby. I didn’t want to go out in my pajamas, but it seemed silly to get dressed. I ended up wearing some of Paul’s basketball shorts and his Duke sweatshirt.

My sister came with us. We were all very excited. I kept wondering if this was really it.

We arrived at the hospital around 2:30 am. The people did not take us seriously at all. They nonchalantly called for someone to wheel me up to the maternity floor. That guy wasn’t the greatest; he laughed at us and said, “If you were going to have a baby tonight, she’d be cursing.”

I don’t remember too much about the first little bit of being there. I think I was only dilated to four centimeters. Thankfully we had an older nurse who thought it’d be great for us to walk around a bit. So we walked around the floor while the contractions continued. Once they were too bad to continue walking, we went back to the room. Again, I don’t remember too much; only asking for a ball to sit on, trying it and realizing it would never work for a short girl like me; and being very hot. Paul and my sister would take a washcloth and wet it with cool water to put on my forehead or neck. This felt amazing.

For some reason, I climbed up on a loveseat and kind of leaned my arms and torso over the armrest while kneeling on the seat. The pain was very bad. I rocked back and forth a little bit trying to do different things with my breathing to just stay in control and not give in to the pain. It was kind of like a zone. I knew other people were there, but still felt all by myself.

The next time the nurse checked me I was at nine centimeters!  We all cheered. Apparently, the weird rocking on the loveseat experience had been “transition.”

From there I stayed on the bed.

Again, the exact details here are a little sketchy. I think the nurse asked if I wanted to try to push. Of course, I did and she gave me this long explanation of what to do. I was excited as everything I had heard was that labor was bad but pushing was good.

Well let me tell you, not for this girl. I tried pushing a few times and stopped. That was not for me. To this day, I hate the pushing part!

Through all of this, my water had yet to break. They said they would call the doctor to come break my water. Then we found out that our doctor would not be there, he was out of town.

This didn’t seem like a big deal. A doctor’s a doctor, right? We’re pretty laid back.

I remember somewhere around five or six in the morning telling Paul that he needed to pray for me. I’d been doing pretty good, but was beginning to lose my trust in God. Why is this taking so long? It really hurts!

When the doctor walked into the room, a new wave of confidence was given.

He broke my water, which I thought was pretty cool. If nothing else, childbirth is a feast for curiosity.

I started trying to push again and was miserably unsuccessful. Let’s just say I push like I’m trying to play a trumpet or something and all the force does not go to the right place. And no, another explanation of how to properly do it will not be helpful, thank you.

The doctor gave the nurse a look and she told me they were going to do something to numb it because he was going to cut.

For some strange reason, this bothered me not at all. I don’t remember feeling any pain until recovery.

A few more pushes and there she was. (I have to say that the moment when the baby comes out is really cool! I thought for sure that that part would hurt quite badly, but for me it really didn’t.)

In just a moment, there was a beautiful red and purple skinned, dark-headed screaming baby on my chest.

“Hi! Oh, you’re so beautiful!!” I said to her over and over again.

I looked up with tears in my eyes at Paul and saw his first proud daddy smile.

“She’s here!”

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Happy can’t even describe how we felt.

They took her and cleaned her up all while Paul followed and watched.

I remember being sewn up and not even caring. (Whatever they did to numb me worked really good!)

When they brought her back to nurse, it was so precious. She latched on beautifully and I watched in amazement at what was happening.

She was six pounds even and nineteen and a half inches long. Such a little peanut. An absolutely perfect little peanut to me.

One funny memory from after delivery is when the nurse informed me that I needed to get up and try to use the restroom. I looked at her like she was crazy and thought, “Hello, just had a baby! I don’t need to get up and do anything!” 

But sadly, I discovered, that yes, I did have to do something. And from there the pain and annoyance of recovery began.

****

We spent the first Christmas of our married life in the hospital. It was great. Everyone was being so sweet, bringing us gifts and miniature trees. All the while I was thinking, We just got the best Christmas present of all! Nothing can top this.

We held our sweet little Hopey and tried to take in all that she was. I was so surprised by how many faces and expressions and noises she already made. I had never been around a newborn before.

She was such a sweet baby, nursing and sleeping so well.

****

All the pain of delivery didn’t seem to matter anymore. I was thankful and surprised to have gotten through without any medication. While it certainly isn’t for everyone, setting myself up for it to be really bad and trying to breathe and concentrate through the pain seemed to do the trick for me.

I will say that recovering from the episiotomy was very painful and unpleasant. To this day I have no idea how many stitches I had. I didn’t want to know and didn’t ask.

Also, unexpectedly painful were the contractions that returned with nursing during the first week. I was totally caught off guard by this and a little mad that no one had told me about it.

Baby

The whole experience was only about half as bad as I had prepared for. Someone had let me borrow some Lamaze magazines and much of what I had read in there was helpful for ideas on how to breathe through contractions and for the overall “You were made to do this!” mentality. It wouldn’t be true to say that I followed it completely and I think that some women have a lot harder time than I do, but overall what I read  was helpful.

I remember the week after we had settled back down at home my sister-in-law sitting down and saying something like, “So tell me the birth story.” As I talked it out for the first time, I realized just how special it was and how special it was to be able to share it with someone else.

Even as I’ve written this I realize how many details I’ve already forgotten. But at least what I still remember and what was really important about those hours is recorded here. I can’t wait to write out Sophia’s! Hers was quite the whirlwind.

 

The only thing better…

I heard a great quote a few months back and thought it might be a good time to share it with you.

The only thing better than four girls…

 

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… is five.

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Yes! Our new baby on the way is a girl!

I know I’m way overdue in sharing that information over here, but I couldn’t think of a good way to do it until now.

We are so excited! The girls, even the ones who wanted a boy, are so excited and talk to her and hug her and make plans for her every day.

We do have a name picked out, but I don’t think I want to announce that here until later. = )

Until July!!! = )

My number one rule for getting things done during pregnancy

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It humors me slightly that I just wrote that title when I feel like I’m not getting anything done during this pregnancy. But in retrospect, that’s not exactly true; and feelings are never the best barometer of progress.

So in the interest of keeping things short for those who have a lot to do and not much time to do it, here it is.

My number one tip for getting things done during pregnancy is if you feel like doing something, do it!

I surely hope your world isn’t so small and fragile that it is now shattered. This is not rocket science, but it has been a huge help to me.

Case and point, in case you’re not quite tracking (I wouldn’t be either yet), every now and then I put the girls in bed and think, I’ve got twenty minutes until Paul comes home, I could clean a bathroom. If that thought even enters my mind, boom! I’m going to do it. Because honestly, the next time I have that time, or energy, or inclination… it could be in three weeks.

Disclaimer: I don’t always wait for a feeling to do something and I do try to clean the bathrooms more often than every three weeks.

That being said, energy really does come and go on a whim during pregnancy; if you’re motivated to do something go ahead and get it done.

Many times the next day I will think, I could not possibly do that right now! I’m so glad I did it when I thought about it. 

This can apply to housework, errands, doing something special with your kids, meals, just about anything.

Well, that probably didn’t change your life, but there’s enough awesome stuff out there that can do that, right?

What is your number one rule for getting things done during pregnancy?

Three no-brainer tips for pregnancy

Today, I decide to state the obvious.

These tips should be easy, but they’re just not always easy for me.

1. Drink water like you’re about to spend a week in the Sahara Desert.

If you think about getting a drink, drop everything and just go get one. If you’re thirsty, drink all the water you can handle. Try not to leave home without it, and take any opportunities when out and about to have some.

Drinking water has helped me with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, other nameless annoyances of pregnancy, and overall comfort.

And if someone could come up with some glasses that would block out any and all advertisements of Coke, that would help, too.

2. Eat something before you get hungry – every two hours. Or forty-five minutes.

I totally did not get this when I was first pregnant. But now I do and my life is so much better when I obey.

Even a handful of almonds (my current go-to) can do wonders.

3. If it’s not already, make sleep your new best friend. 

I am not the greatest at going to bed early or getting up on time. However, I am working on it really hard this time around because I know *negatively* what a big difference it makes.

Napping if possible is a wonderful help.

Adding any extra nighttime sleep you can is truly worth the effort.

****

And… ladies and gentleman this has been my three no-brainer tips for a fantastic pregnancy. Pardon me, while I go work on them myself.

So let’s talk about February (and make a long list for March)

It was the middle of December when Paul looked at me with blurry eyes and said, “Baby, if we can just make it through February 15.”

I’m here to tell you that February 15 has come and gone and we made it! By the way, I am so proud of my husband and how much he gives to those he works with and for.

On my end, February was filled spilled-over busyness from Paul’s responsibilities and unexpected challenges. There have been some bizarre and annoying pregnancy symptoms that have just majorly slowed me down. I was just reading through my February list of things to focus on and thinking, “Yeah, I was sleeping when I would have been doing that.” Have you ever realized your kids had five minutes left to finish breakfast and been like, “Sweet! I’m going to lay down on the couch because I cannot hold my head up any longer.” (and not because of staying up too late) = ) That makes you feel real optimistic about your day from 9:30 on.

However, if I had to summarize the month… I’m really proud of all we did. The girls (especially the big ones) were amazing with everything else going on. Paul put on an amazing middle school conference and finished the work for one of his seminary classes. Woohoo! Three more credits down, baby! And I have lived to see the light of March. = )

Here are my comments and thoughts from my February goals; next will be general thoughts from my original New Year’s goals, priorities, plans, and resolutions; and last will be specific ideas for March.

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Going to bed and waking up earlier? Improvement, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Might write a post soon about finishing well at the end of the day. Spoiler! I don’t normally.

Exercise? Average of twice a week. I’m really starting to enjoy it and want to do it more.

Reading? Pretty good. Need to do a little better to finish What Jesus Demands from the World and Robert Frost’s Poems by the end of March.

Biography for Hopey? She picked one on Louis Braille and we read a little, but are nowhere near done. a la February. (anyone recommend a way to learn how to pronounce French fast?)

Bible memory and reading? picked Ephesians 4 to memorize and did not finish the minor prophets (possible post coming about a different method to memorize)

Training in the morning for the little girls? Helped a lot, plan to continue

Organize our bedroom? small chuckle… clearing of the throat… well… our closet has been organized. Lots of stuff thrown out or put in a better place. There’s still a lot of work to do. However, the March room to organize can probably be done in about a day, so there should be time to finish our room. I just have to stay motivated and determined. I love the results!

Menu planning and grocery shopping? Eh? I will say that I have insured that there are ingredients to make pasta with homemade alfredo sauce on hand at all times. We’ve eaten that, oh, about five times this month. Then I had this idea to make creamy chicken enchiladas, so I did; and quickly realized it was a very similar dish. Just keepin’ the lady makin’ the baby happy. = )

Morning responsibilities for the girls? We (Paul and I) had a fun conversation about expectations and what we need to see from the girls. More on this in the March list. However, I do think the girls did pretty good with taking care of their stuff in the mornings.

Toys? Tubs bought? Check. Toys sorted and put away. The girls actually helped with this and I thought that was really good. We also put away a huge amount of stuffed animals to be brought out for parties or school or special things. This has made a huge improvement in the neatness of their rooms and the amount of time it takes for them to make their beds.

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Goals

To be more organized and prepared… I feel again some small measure of success here. Thinking ahead a little bit more… one small example: I am normally frustrated on someone’s birthday around here because no matter how much I think or prepare, it always seems like I come up short. Especially because I never remember to clean the house or have it neat and orderly for that day, I realize on the actual day that everything is a mess and we don’t have a “blank canvas” on which to celebrate. That being said, two days before Sophia’s birthday I remembered this! and vacuumed! and cleaned stuff up! and on the morning of her birthday the house was not perfect, but it was good enough. And while it probably didn’t make any difference to her, it certainly did to me. That being said, pregnancy brain is in full effect, so all efforts and successes are subject to change. = )

I did not do well with playing the piano this month. As already mentioned, I was probably sleeping.

It’s funny when you realize you did “better” praying because that really means you were struggling a lot. When you’re forced to rest, the house becomes messy, the meals become stressful, the little kids start to push the limits, and the “crafts” that the older ones occupy themselves with in the afternoon overflow to every last imaginable space in the house. This can make for one frustrated mommy. Prayer doesn’t feel so much like a spiritual response, but a desperate reach for the help and grace you now realize you need. I can give thanks for any circumstance that opens my eyes in this way.

Plans

Laundry. It piled up again, and sometimes didn’t get done. Last month’s victories don’t guarantee future successes.

Homeschooling. Oh dear, what a month for homeschooling. First I have to say that I am so thankful for Hope. Her sweet and patient nature are such a gift. Her cursive writing is starting to look beautiful and she is catching on well to more concepts in math. We lost several days of school through the first weeks of February, but the third week we fought through and conquered and the fourth week was back to normal with an extra day made up! That felt even better than a whole month of perfectly executed lesson plans.

We did play outside a lot in spite of the cold. I think being outside helps me as much as it does them.

Priorities

This would have been a good month to fall back on those priorities and remind myself of them constantly. That didn’t happen, but hopefully it will the next time some challenging weeks roll around. (because I’m sure they will)

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I’m out of breath! But just one more list to go and I can go to bed! Because I know if I don’t do this now I won’t maybe for the rest of the year.

So here we go: specific plans for March!

(wait, one more thing. I have this policy about lists; I try not to let things roll over. Of course everything doesn’t get done, but just putting it on the next list seems to mean it won’t get done. If an item is that important, it will bug me until I get it done, list or not. All that to say, there will be things missing from March’s list that I will still be working on.)

*Get chalkboard ready for the next day during the afternoon

*Read at night

*Try to go to the park every week with the girls

*Make extra effort to be early for church, just to see Paul before everything starts

*Choose to use even the five minutes it takes to check email, facebook, or the weather in the morning to pray (weather could be checked the night before) ; ) for that matter, let’s be ambitious: have clothes ready the night before

*make list of things we might need for the new baby

*Exercise three times a week

*Organize Mckayla’s room

*Make spring cleaning plan

*Fold all current laundry, then fold as it comes out of the dryer and do not do more until the previous load is folded and put away. Get.caught.up.

*Homeschooling: more science, go to church library, find a time to do piano lessons

*Make list of expectations for the girls. Include personal responsibilities, chores, manners, attitudes, and possible rewards or consequences

*Remember the priorities!

*Evaluate weekly activities; eliminate those that might bring more stress than benefit.

*Consistently work on Awana verses with the girls. Try to be ready every week!

*Possibly purchase some organizing stuff for our room/papers/stuff.

*For profitable fun, dream up an entryway project from Pinterest, craigslist, Target, etc. Include storage, place to sit, and things to make it pretty.

What a lovely way to end a list. I think I’m just trying to encourage myself for the work ahead.

And if you read this… go eat a Snickers or some other rewarding treat. I can only imagine it is as laborious to read as it is to write. This is so helpful for me, though; thanks for bearing with me. I referred to the list many times in February.

What else should I be thinking about in March?

Happy Almost Spring! (I like winter enough that I’m cool with it for another twenty days or so)

Two months down, ten to go.
Two months down, ten to go.