Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thirty weeks.

The first time around looked a lot like this:

The second time was a little more like this:

The last time I was in this position, we were packing up our house to move into my mom's for the next three months.  We didn't have a place to live, and the future felt very uncertain.  I had one child who was still sleeping in her crib, the first place she rested her little head a little over two years before.  It was hot.  HOT.  Unbearably, record-breaking hot, and would continue to be beastly hot for(ever) a really long time.  And I'm pretty sure that stressed doesn't begin to cover my emotional state, even though I was super happy to be 30 weeks pregnant.

And, these days...

As I write this, my two littles are outside playing in the sandbox in our backyard.  Their room is 98% finished, and the nursery is the next on the chopping block.  Bottom line?  Everybody is happy, healthy and will already be settled and ready by the time this little person makes its appearance.

Did everybody else just hear that great big sigh of relief?

I know, it's a bit superficial, but the truth is that it gives me such profound peace of mind to know that we will be ready for this baby before it gets here.  Praise the Lord.

So a few weeks ago I had a doctor's appointment where I let slip that Casey had been gone for over 4 weeks in a row.  Evidently this was distressing news to the doc, who got rather alarmed and promptly started listing off the ways I need to change my life so I don't end up on bed rest later in my pregnancy.  Seems that mothers with small children are like number one on bed rest... something about not taking care of ourselves, eating, drinking or resting properly, most especially when they're on their own... yeah, I don't know anything about that.  

She put me on the same restrictions that women whose husbands are deployed are on: I can do everything in my life, but that's it.  I can still pick up the kids and the stroller and go to the grocery store and all those things, but I'm supposed to pay very close attention to all the things that don't need to be immediately done.  Can someone else mow my lawn?  GREAT!  Do I really need to move the couch, or can it wait until Casey gets home?  So the general guidelines are to keep doing what has to get done to run our lives, but make the extra effort to eat, drink, and lay down when I can (back to that age-old nap when the kids nap rule of thumb), and don't lift anything over 5 pounds that doesn't immediately need to be lifted.  

I was all ready to disregard this advice since I was feeling really good.  And then the third trimester hit, and out of the blue I discovered that I have some very real limitations.  It's funny how fast that happens, and how quickly you have to remember to adjust.  

This baby is most definitely a girl.  Not only has this pregnancy kept up pace for pace with my pregnancy with Leah, but she's just so dainty.  Logan was honestly ready to break out, Alien-style.  He thunked me, seriously thunked me, all the time.  He was the same on the inside that he has come to be on the outside: full-steam ahead pretty much all the time.  This little one is subtle, quiet and downright demure.  Those are the adjectives I'd use to describe her.  I've never really had to kick count before, because my kids were movers.  This one makes it tougher and requires me to actually keep track of her.  

I also think she's going to be an easy baby (knock on wood and throw some salt over your shoulder.  For reals.)  She doesn't freak out in the car - first one of my kids I can say that about.  Leah and Logan both wiggled and wiggled every single time I got in the car, which translated to screaming bloody murder for the first five months of their lives each and every time we got in the car as soon as they were on the outside.  This one sleeps in the car.  My other two were totally counter to the rule of thumb that babies sleep when you move and are awake when you are still.  This one adheres to that pretty closely, except... wait for it... when I wake up to pee ninety times in the middle of the night, she wakes up, wiggles a tiny bit, and settles back in.  WAAAHOOO!!!  I am seriously, seriously keeping my fingers crossed that this will be something that continues once she makes her way into the real world.  (For the record, sweet little Logan would wake up and decide to hang out and do somersaults, which is exactly what happened when he got to the outside just slightly less the somersaults).   

And, yes, I have taken to referring to the baby as "her."  I know, seems a little risky.  But I'm convinced deep in my soul that this baby is a girl.  I've carried a girl and carried a boy, and this one is nothing like Logan and everything like Leah.  In my head I have always unconsciously thought of her as a girl, so often that I've just given in.

We also began to feel the baby and the outline of her little body in my belly.  Oh my word, that precious little body!  How much I love and cherish being able to carry this baby in my belly!  I feel so blessed to be able to lug her around all day.  All my wonderful little people, they sure turn out amazing.  Clearly, the world needs a few more...

We consider ourselves pretty lucky around here!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


My sweet baby.  The next time I write one of these posts, he will be two - which is amazing in and of itself.  Where has time gone? - and already have become a big brother - which is beyond hard to believe.

I love, love, love this phase.  I loved it with Leah, and I think I might love it even more with Logan.  I'll be the first to admit: he was a pretty tough baby.  His first year, though I loved and adored having him, was rough on me physically and emotionally.  Over the last nine months, he has gotten increasingly easier and more fun, and that trend continues.  I adore watching his great big personality come out, and the way his brain processes things.

The kid loves animals.  He can name just about any animal you can think of.  He also loves trucks, diggers, basketball and food.  I am convinced more and more that boys are just boys from day one, because I did exactly the same things with Leah - pointing out trucks and construction and sports - and she was totally not interested.

His favorite foods are probably yogurt, cheese, bread and banana.  He also loves cereal, eggs, any kind of fruit, carrots and ice cream (but who can blame him?!).
No, seriously.  He loves food, really!

He has all his teeth, with the possible exception of a set of molars (okay, I confess.  I don't know how many molars he's supposed to have).

He has had two hair cuts, and has a full head of hair (unlike his sis, who was pretty much party on top and that was it).

The kid can't sleep without his blanket.  He's my little Linus and would carry it around everywhere if I'd let him.

He loves to dress up, particularly by putting on shoes, hats or glasses. Especially if he thinks it will make us laugh, then he's all over it.

He has the best memory, and I adore listening to his stories.  They go like this: "Kooger. 'Ock. Zoo!  Eat.  Up there."  Which, I happen to know 'cause I was there, translates to: I saw Kruger (the lion) on a rock at the zoo.  He was eating.  He was way up there!

Logan is still not my little academic.  He does recognize a handful of letters and a few colors, but he doesn't know his shapes.  He doesn't count.  He doesn't know the ABC song.  And if you try to practice these things with him, very often he will tell you, "Uh-uh.  Stop."  And you know what?  It's totally cool.  He'll get there in his own time, and in the mean time, his fine motor skills are strong, he likes to build and play with trains, he loves to read, he is passionate about the things he does like and he never, ever stops talking.  All day long.  It's a different experience than the one I had with Leah, who was eager to answer any and all questions directed her way and absorbed especially those things that were "learning-oriented."  Even so, it's neat to watch his brain process and get to have a front row seat to the way he learns - because he is soooo ridiculously smart, even if it isn't the more "traditional" way that I'm accustomed to after Leah.  

He is such a good sleeper!  We've moved him to the bunk bed at bed time, and, though he and Leah keep each other awake for about a half an hour, he typically sleeps from about 8-6 and naps from 12:30-2:30 or 3:00.  The kid loves to sleep.

He is already showing interest in using the potty, which is a good thing because we're at least going to attempt to potty train him before the baby comes.  He tells us when he has to go, and he knows when he's pooped (even though he doesn't always want to stop playing to get his diaper changed).  

He wears 2T clothes, size 5 or 6 shoes and has the world's thickest feet.  It's seriously a challenge to find shoes that fit!

He is so unbelievably kind and helpful.  He has the sweetest little soul, loves to give kisses and hugs, and is genuinely empathetic and concerned about other peoples' well being.  He hates it when others cry or are in pain, and he very often brings sister or me things just because he thinks we want them: water, a blanket, a toy to play with, whatever.  He enjoys emptying the dishwasher and helping me with the laundry, and he's actually really good at putting toys away.  He looooves babies, and tries his very, 21-month-old best to take good care of them and share with them.  I cannot wait to watch him become a big brother - he's going to completely rock it.  Every day, more and more I come to appreciate what a wonderful little blessing God has given us.  

We love you, sweet baby boy!  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A year of preschool

With our school year at an end, it was fun for me to go back and look over the progress Leah has made this year.  I am so pleased to have the opportunity to homeschool her, and as I look back I can truly recognize and appreciate the amazing ways she has grown this year.  There's definitely a little brag in this post {whaaaat?  Humility is overrated!} but I can't honestly take any credit for what a superstar she is - that's all her.  She's just built this way, and, as is so often true in the parenting world, all I can do is hang on and enjoy the ride.

Beginning of the year: She'd never held a pencil before.  What?!  She was three and a half!  We'd colored, painted, used markers, etc, but I'd never actually asked her to pick up a pencil and write anything formal (though she could absolutely write a handful of letters - all upper-case - including those in her name).

Now: The kid can write, pretty much without assistance, any letter in the book.  Occasionally I have to remind her which direction something goes, like the hook in a J or the way the tail of a y faces.  But really, she's golden.  We still do most of our writing in upper-case purely to make things simpler as she practices, but she can do the lower case letters as well.

Beginning of the year: She could count to 13 independently without error.

Now: She counts to 20, and recognizes her numbers up to 30 (though 10, 13, and 20 still trip her up if they're out of context).  She also understands mathematical equations and can add numbers under 10 without any assistance - provided there's a picture to help her figure it out.

Beginning of the year: She knew and recognized all her letters, and had figured out most all of the phonemes.

Now: She knows all her phonemes, can segment them in a word (she can make out individual sounds in a larger word), recognizes the difference between long and short vowels, knows a number of her digraphs (th, sh, etc) and knows about two-three dozen sight words.  She rocks at decoding simple short-vowel words; we haven't worked much with long vowels since they usually have a silent e or something more complicated.  Cat, Dog, Mom, Dad-style words, though?  She's totally got it.

Beginning of the year: She'd never held scissors or cut anything before.

Now: With a little focus, she does beautifully.  Her fine motor skills have really picked up with practice this year!

Beginning of the year: She could complete patterns about 70% of the time.  She was mostly grasping that concept.

Now: She's a pattern pro!  She can replicate and extend, or tell you where you've gone wrong.

I've read some different statistics on how long you can expect a preschooler to hold their focused attention on something, and mostly they say about 20-45 minutes.  In fact, several of the curricula I looked into recommended about 45 minutes at most per day for structured activities.  I've found with Leah that she really enjoys the preschool process, and most days we spend somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours  doing preschool.  Yes, that often includes playing with playdough or painting, but it's usually directly connected to some form of learning that supports our lesson.  The girl loves to learn, and has the ability to focus on one activity for a very extended period of time.

She's also kind of a perfectionist - which is definitely not an apple/tree situation, by the way.  I'm an easy-going, fly-by-night kind of gal.  Yeah.  Her greatest challenge is that she likes to do everything to her own level of completeness.  With things she enjoys, this can take a while because she wants to get it perfectly right.  With things she doesn't enjoy, she gives up super fast because she can't do it perfectly the first time.  I... um... have absolutely no clue where that compulsion comes from.  It reminds me of no one I know...

With this baby coming, I have seriously questioned whether I will have the time and attention necessary to dedicate to Leah's schooling in the fall.  We briefly considered putting her in school, but the truth is that I very firmly feel she needs a kindergarten environment to meet her needs academically and socially, which would place her in kindergarten at four and a half.  Beyond that, our family is just called to this.  That's the message I've gotten loud and clear as I've prayed over it, and even Casey, who was once a bit skeptical of the homeschool route, told me recently that he prefers the idea of keeping her home.

And, on that front, the truth is we're just going to have to do what we can do.  Some days, we may accomplish a lot.  Others, we may just give up and watch TV.  And you know what?  The beauty of this phase is that either is really okay.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Over the edge (but it just might save my sanity)

It's funny, because if you had asked me to select three words to describe myself as a mother, the words "crunchy," "hippie" and "natural" would have appeared exactly nowhere among them.  Still, somehow I've gone down that rabbit hole.  Maybe it's because I went to college in Boulder... somehow, those granola-loving hippies got their hooks in me way back when and it's still catching up.

It may have hit me as we were working toward finishing the school year.  Which, by the way, is every ounce as hard when you're homeschooling one child as it is when you're finishing out the year with 140 8th graders.  Just for the record, my burn out is somewhere along the lines of this.  As in, three worksheets + I meant to do it but we watched TV instead Wednesday + did I brush my teeth yesterday? + same sight words for two weeks + how many days till my husband gets home?  It's been ugly.  (For anyone keeping track, Casey was gone 27 out of 32 days.  FIVE DAYS AT HOME out of 32 - non-consecutive, because that seems overly relevant.)  Momma needs some sort of illegal concoction definitely not approved for pregnant ladies invented by a shady bartender who learned to mix cocktails while working for a covert foreign government agency like the KGB.  But here's the genius of homeschool that doesn't happen when you're a paid teacher... wait for it... I declared it SUMMER BREAK!  Because I can do that!  I'm drunk on power!

But I digress...

Beyond the bread making, homeschooling, cloth diapering, pillow and curtain and baby-food making (oh my!) I am now also swearing off western medicine.

Okay, so "swearing off" is overstating things a bit.  It's just that we have been so unbelievably and continually sick this season that I'm pretty well broken down and ready to try something new.  There has got to be something better out there than being sick more days than not between November and April and wracking up a $5000 hospital bill because my almost-four-year-old couldn't breathe.  Yes, that's a real number.  Be afraid.

Enter: DoTerra oils.

I know, I get it.  It sounds completely hokey.  I thought it did, too.

A friend gave me some samples, which I was attempting to use to treat the kids in the middle of the double-ear-infection fiasco of 2014.  Aaaaand, as predicted, they weren't working very well.  (Turns out, you can't start using essential oils right smack dab in the middle of an illness that requires antibiotics and expect a miracle.  Shocker.)  I was totally ready to throw in the towel, until I tried this:

It was recommended for sciatic pain, which is something I suffer pretty severely from for the duration of each of my pregnancies.  I've tried a number of homeopathic remedies since I don't take medication, but nothing has ever had any effect.  Without expecting much, I put a couple of drops directly on my back at the site of the pain.  To my extreme surprise?  The pain was gone.  Almost completely gone.  Easily as good as Tylenol, except that even me and my pregnant self can take it!

And so I took the plunge.  I bought a few starter oils and a diffuser (a handy little device that takes all the benefits of oil and makes it airborne).  I didn't know what to expect, nor did I have very high hopes that this craziness would really be effective.  But here's the thing: I got the oils on Sunday and had my first chance to try them out, since Logan came down with a cold Monday morning.  What the heck?  Why not give it a shot?

So here's what I've done: 
  • Onguard and Melaleuca on the feet 4 times a day for immune support
  • Blend of coconut oil and Peppermint on chest, back and down the spine to help with congestion and cough
  • Homemade cough syrup: 1 TBSP honey mixed with 1 drop each: peppermint, OnGuard, Melaleuca and Lemon
  • Small drop Lemon on sides of nose to help with congestion
  • Diffuse OnGuard and Melaleuca once a day
We've been sick a ton this winter, and here's our typical pattern: As soon as one person gets sick, everybody else goes down within 48 hours.  3-5 sleepless nights per kid as they cough their heads off.  Several days of couch sitting with two littles who don't have enough energy to do much else. Illnesses typically take 10 days to clear up, or get worse after that point.  

On our oil regimen, here are our results: Logan was already sick when we started this, but he is currently the cheese who stands alone.  (WIN!)  There has only been one sleepless night, and we're now on day five with significant improvement.  As in, he's through the worst of it and back to his happy, playful self, even if he still has a bit of a runny nose.  On day five!!!

I'll admit to being pretty impressed.  Obviously, there's no way for me to know whether this is a direct result of the oils; all I can do is continue using them to see if we have any long-term success.  In the mean time, my world has been sufficiently rocked.  The simple addition of coconut oil and its awesome health benefits is worth the price of admission in my book.  

So, there you have it.  I'll keep you posted on the results once I get a little further through the rabbit hole.  See?  I told you.  That crunchy sound would be coming from this girl. 

Yeesh.  Better go gas up the Subaru...

I changed my font at