Pregnancy #4: 36 Weeks

20 Apr

Only 1 month left! I waffle between being totally ready for baby to be born (and to be done being pregnant), and wanting baby to wait until we can get some more stuff done. Not like I have much choice in the matter though!

OB Appointments

I went in at 32 weeks, and my OB told me I didn’t have to come back in until 36 weeks, which honestly surprised me a bit. I feel like I had more appointments with my other pregnancies, but oh well, they are most often pointless until the end anyway. I have my next appointment this Friday, when they will test me for Group B Strep. I tested positive during all my other pregnancies, so am guessing I will during this one too.

Symptoms

I’m still having a lot of Braxton Hicks, but they have been very obviously not real contractions, so I haven’t worried as much about going into labor early. I still have quite a bit of downward pressure, and when I go to bed at night, it often seems like baby is trying to escape by punching my cervix and bladder. Everything I read online says that baby doesn’t drop in subsequent pregnancies until you go into labor, so I must just carry low, because I really am not sure how baby could get any lower without being in the birth canal.

My inner thigh/pelvic pain hasn’t been bad the last month. If I use my legs to move or close something, or carry something that is too heavy, it comes back with a vengeance for a few days, but otherwise, I’m feeling pretty good. Unless I have to pee. Then I can barely stand up and have to walk like a grandma to the bathroom.

I’m actually sleeping pretty decent at night — I’ve been taking 1 mg of melatonin, and it is a lifesaver! I have also been using my wedge pillow for the entire night. I sleep mostly on my back, and alternate with my sides a little too.

Similar to pregnancy #3 with Corbin, there are times when it seems like the skin on my belly cannot stretch any further. I see a few new stretch marks around my belly button (boo). I’ve gained about 25 lbs so far. It’ll be interesting to see how big baby is when she’s born. Emma was 7.7 and born on her due date; Annabelle was 7.15 and born at 38 weeks 2 days; and Corbin was 8.15 and born at 39 weeks 3 days.

Clothes

The number of shirts that fit over the belly continues to decrease. I have 4 pairs of leggings and 2 pairs of pants, but only 4-6 shirts that I wear at this point. I actually just broke down and bought a pair of maternity yoga/bike shorts to wear underneath the maternity dresses I have (just in time for winter to return, go figure!). It seems like wearing some type of bottoms helps hold the belly up, and it is just a good idea with kids (I had actually started wearing shorts under dresses even before this pregnancy). Hopefully the weather warms back up soon.

Food/Cravings

I have reached the point of pregnancy where nothing sounds good, and I just wish I had a personal chef to make all my meals. If someone else is making the food, I am fairly easy to please. But alas, even my husband who enjoys cooking is currently too busy with work to think about dinners, so we have been eating a hodge podge of frozen food and easy dinners. Whenever I get busy or tired, dinners are the first thing to drop off the priority list. I don’t mind going grocery shopping; I just don’t carve out the time to plan the meals. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

I do still have a fairly strong sweet tooth, though (and with the kids’ 3 birthdays back to back, we have eaten a lot of cake in the past month!). For breakfast every day, I have been eating an English muffin with PB & J with a glass of milk.

Nesting

The nursery is FINALLY set up. It’s not 100% done, but it’s so very close. The only thing I really have left to do in there is hang a couple shelves above the changing table. I will post more pictures when that is done. I am really loving how it has turned out so far though!

I also set up the baby swing that we borrowed from a friend, and pulled the rest of the baby stuff we’ll need right away (like the infant bathtub, Rock ‘n’ Play, baby toys, etc) out of our utility room. (It is very exciting to think that I will never be putting that stuff back into storage. Once baby is done with it, it’s gone!) I also got all her NB and 0-3 month clothing washed and put away, and bought a box of size 1 diapers at Costco (it seems like we always come home from the hospital with enough NB size ones — babies grow so fast!)

The next thing I need to get done is start packing my hospital bag, and make a list of all the last-minute things to pack.

Other things I want to get done before baby comes are:

  • Decorate the girls’ new room (there’s nothing on the walls in there yet)
  • Deep clean the house
  • Finish school/do standardized testing. That’s on the schedule for the first week of May.
  • Get the barnwood up on the new wall we built in the basement
  • Organize Travis’ office (it is still a disaster from moving upstairs for a couple months and then moving back to a different room in the basement)
  • Make a run to the dump
  • Find places to store the stuff I got from my dad and stepmom

I’m guessing that we won’t get all of that done, but having things to get done helps me be more patient in these last weeks of waiting.

Pregnancy #4: 32 Weeks

29 Mar

I hit 32 weeks on Corbin’s birthday, March 22 (so now I’m actually 33 weeks). Hitting 8 months feels both like the end is in sight, and I still have such a long way to go. But considering we’re in the middle of house projects and have nothing set up for baby yet, I guess it’s better to have some time!

OB Appointments

I just went in last Friday, and everything looks good. I was expecting that maybe my appointments would start being more frequent but my OB said I didn’t need to come back again until 36 weeks. OK then! With every other pregnancy, I’ve been annoyed with how many prenatal appointments I was supposed to have, but with this pregnancy and my anxiety surrounding it (which has continued to find ways to manifest itself), I like the reassurance of the appointments.

Symptoms

Speaking of the anxiety… Since hitting 32 weeks, I’ve had a LOT of Braxton Hicks and some have been more painful than uncomfortable. I’ve also had a lot of downward pressure at night in bed, which has made me worry about my water breaking early. (My water broke in bed with my first two, but I was full term.) My OB said that the fact I’ve had three full-term pregnancies is the best indication that I’ll go full-term with this one too. So I’ll try to take a chill pill and stop worrying about it, but it’s hard when I keep having contractions. (Not to mention that it’s uncomfortable and keeps me awake at night!)

Other symptoms I’ve had are still the pelvic pain (which comes and goes) and exhaustion (I take a nap everyday, no shame). I’ve also started feeling the first trimester sick “blah” feeling in the afternoons and evenings, and can’t decide if that’s caused by hormones or acid reflux. I also have mild swelling — I took my wedding ring off a few months ago and my legs have indents from my pants in the morning. But nothing like when I was pregnant with Emma and working full-time at a desk!

Food and Cravings

For the most part, my cravings have gone away. I am still loving rice and Asian food. My favorite breakfast lately has been an English muffin with PB & J, and a glass of milk. I have toned down my consumption of candy, but now it’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg season (my fave), so I’ve had at least one of those (mini ones!) a day. So far, I’ve gained about 25 lbs.

Exercise

It took me almost a full week to recover from our time in Florida (it didn’t help that Corbin was beyond exhausted too, and his sleep schedule was wonky for several days with wakeup times in the 4s), and since then, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m just bagging the workouts. This happens to me every pregnancy — I have the desire to keep being consistent, but the reality of life is that I have a finite amount of energy. And between the activities of daily living, homeschooling, nesting, house projects, and spring yard cleanup, the reality is that I just would rather use my energy for other things. It is disheartening to lose the fitness I worked so hard for over the past couple years, but I know that I will get it back. This is just a season!

Sleep

I’ve started taking 1 mg of melatonin every night. It helps me avoid the restless leg, wide-awake-at-3-am problems. I also bought a Belly Bunker inflatable maternity pillow on Amazon. While it hasn’t been the sleep panacea that I was hoping for, it has been nice to have an alternative for those times when I do wake up and it isn’t morning time, but I’m also so over sleeping on my sides. I’ve used it a handful of times so far, and while I don’t usually fall back asleep on my stomach, I’m able to relax until drowsy, then roll to my side. The main problem I have with it is that the kids love playing with it, and will probably pop it before my pregnancy is over.

Nesting

We are making progress on the house and bedroom situation! We are closing off a space in our basement that could have been made into a legal bedroom but wasn’t when the basement was finished by previous owners. We have the wall and sheetrock up, and the door installed (hardware was installed since I took these pictures). The only other things we’re planning to do to this room before baby comes is finish the outside of the wall (facing the room with the couches) with barnwood. This room is actually going to be Travis’ office.

The girls have been sleeping in that space for the past several months, giving us the opportunity to repaint their old room upstairs. Travis has been using their old upstairs room for his office since January:

We painted the room a color that would work both for Travis’ office and Baby’s nursery, because we were unsure of our plans for the bedroom situation then. But this will be Baby’s nursery after all! I am really excited about the green accent wall. This is my inspiration for the nursery:

I am anxious to get started on setting up the nursery, but unfortunately that is several steps down the road. We just finished painting the girls’ new bedroom. Once we set up their new bunk bed, we can move the girls in there, Travis can move to his new office space, and then I can start on the nursery. Whew! Musical bedrooms.

Corbin is staying in his current room, but I’ve decided to update his decor a little to make it more boy-ish. He loves trucks so I’m going to put these on his walls ( graphics bought on Etsy from SweetandDimple, I just tweaked them a bit in GIMP to fit my vision more):

I also bought graphics on Etsy for the nursery and the girls’ new room:

Other nesting I’ve done is buy outfits for Easter and family pictures after baby is born. I was pleased to see that Carter’s now offers coordinating outfits in baby, toddler, and big kid sizes.

I’m targeting 37 weeks to have hospital bag packed, baby stuff bought and set up, and clothes in a dresser. I’m also itching to get the rest of the house organized (so many things are displaced right now with the room shuffle) and to sell/get rid of some more stuff. The challenge is to find the energy for all that with all the other things on my plate! But we have time.

Pregnancy #4: 28 Weeks

22 Feb

Hello from Florida! As of today, I am 28 weeks and in the third trimester! Only 3 months to go.

OB Appointments

I had my follow-up ultrasound on January 20, and even though Baby Girl still didn’t completely cooperate, the technician and my OB felt like the views they got were better, and good enough to be satisfied. The only thing they noticed on the ultrasound was a “small echogenic focus of the left ventricle”, which apparently could be an indication of Down’s Syndrome, but the genetic test for that came back negative, so neither the radiologist or my OB is concerned.

I go back in on March 8 for my gestational diabetes test. Even though I’ll be 30 weeks by then, and they usually do the test between 26-28 weeks, my OB said that since all my previous pregnancies have been healthy, and I’m at a healthy weight and blood pressure, she wasn’t concerned about waiting.

One other praise here is that when we had first gotten the genetic testing done at 13 weeks, we got a bill from our insurance for $1,100, saying they didn’t approve it because we didn’t get pre-approval. But the genetic testing place resubmitted it and somehow got it fully approved a different way, so it ended up being no cost to us! That’s a relief.

Symptoms and Exercise

I’m probably going to jinx myself but honestly, most days I feel pretty good. I do notice that if I overexert myself, my pelvis starts to hurt, making it hard to stand from sitting and I walk like a granny. There was one day down here in Florida that we went to a state park where the walk to the beach was 7/10 of a mile, mostly through loose sand. Travis was working, and Corbin wasn’t cooperating, so for quite a bit of that walk both ways, I was carrying Corbin and a 15-lb backpack. Uff da. I definitely felt it the next day. Thankfully it went away after a day or two. That unfortunately means running or even long walks are out for me from now until giving birth. But I am still getting 8K – 10K steps in a day down here!

I had been pretty consistent with doing my Prenatal Barre workouts on Beachbody a couple times a week from 20-24 weeks, but since we’ve been in Florida, I’ve only done one Beachbody workout — for two reasons: 1) We are on the second floor of a condo building, and our downstairs neighbors have complained about the noise, and 2) The Beachbody workouts are effective but also tiring, and I need all my energy just to keep up with these kids who are constantly wanting to go swimming. I definitely think the workouts have given me more core strength at this point than I have had in previous pregnancies, though, so I will getting back into those workouts once we get home!

Other symptoms I’ve had besides the occasional pelvic pain are occasional hamstring tightness, more stretch marks on the belly, a few varicose veins (getting old is a b!tch!), and some acne. Sometimes my belly feels small and manageable, other times it feels like it has its own zip code and weighs a ton of bricks.

Baby Girl has overall been super active — seemingly more active than my other pregnancies. Or maybe I just can’t remember.

Sleep

Sleep quality has been hit or miss. The first couple nights we were in Florida, I slept amazingly because we were so exhausted. Since then, I haven’t been sleeping the greatest at night. My back and hips start to ache, I roll over every hour or so, and anything in my bladder makes me feel like I’m going to pee my pants, so I sometimes get up to pee 3-4 times a night. Several nights, I look at my watch to find it’s 1 AM and feel like the night is lasting forever (but that could be because I’ve been going to bed with Corbin between 7:30 and 8:30…). I still take a 30-60 minute nap with Corbin each day when he goes down (Travis manages the girls while he works).

Food and Cravings

I really have missed being able to drink copious amounts of coffee and wine. There’s just something about relaxing with a beverage! I’ve been drinking more coffee than I probably should… 2-3 cups a day. And I’ve been eating too much candy and doughnuts. (Maybe that’s why Baby is so active?!) But hopefully the extra activity cancels that out… ?? I don’t have a scale down here, so it will be interesting to see how much weight I’ve gained when we get home!

Nesting

Before we left for Florida, I bought a floral swaddle and matching headband on Etsy, as well as a few adorable outfits that I couldn’t resist (but since we have all the girls’ old clothes, I’m trying to behave myself and not buy much more). Since we’re out of town right now, I haven’t been able to do any nesting or buy anything, though I have looked at ideas for family picture outfits a bit.

But when we get back at the beginning of March, it will be game on and T minus 2.5 months!

Pregnancy #4: 20 Weeks

2 Jan

I was 20 weeks this past Monday (halfway!!), and just had my 20-week ultrasound on Thursday. The ultrasound tech confirmed that Baby looks like a girl!

OB Appointments

We are moving life to Florida for the whole month of February (!!), so I had an OB appt in the middle of December and a short follow-up after my ultrasound this week. Baby Girl didn’t cooperate for views of the heart (though everything else looks great!) so I will have to go back in sometime in January for another ultrasound. Then I’ll go back at the beginning of March for my gestational diabetes visit (I’ll be 30 weeks by then, which seems crazy!).

Symptoms

Travis and I both tested positive for COVID-19 right after Thanksgiving. We quarantined for the required 10 days, and kept our kids home from things for another 10 days after that (they never had symptoms, and the girls’ tests came back negative, but it’s what the CDC says to do). Travis’ symptoms were body aches, low energy, and loss of taste and smell. I had a low-grade fever, headache, mild cough (that might be more related to acid reflux than COVID), upset stomach, and low energy. It took us pretty much the whole 10 days to feel back to normal, and even then, the lack of energy lingered some. But it wasn’t too bad for us. My OB wasn’t at all concerned with me getting COVID (since it wasn’t serious for us), and said that it was actually better for me to get it now than in later pregnancy.

Other symptoms I’ve had since my last post at 13 weeks have been constipation (my biggest issue with all my pregnancies), a hard time falling back asleep in the middle of the night, and exhaustion. I pretty much take a 30-45 minute nap every day when Corbin goes down for his nap. The girls either watch iPad or just continue playing downstairs; Travis is available if they need anything.

Name

We have pretty much narrowed our first name options down to two that we both like, and we know what Baby’s middle name will be. Not sharing yet though!

Maternity Clothes

I have been wearing maternity pants since about 8 weeks. Between the constipation, bloating, and this being my fourth child, I probably looked just as pregnant then as I do now!

I still have several pre-pregnancy shirts I can wear, because I have bought quite a few longer, looser tops over the past couple of years. Which is good because my style has changed since having Emma (my first) and some of my original maternity clothes are meh to me now.

Food and Cravings

My biggest craving this pregnancy has been Asian food. I have been loving chicken fried rice from Costco (freezer section), chicken or pork dumplings, and sushi (the cooked kind!). I have also eaten McDonald’s more often than I should, though I am trying to behave myself. I bought an 8 lb bag of crinkle fries from Costco hoping that might satisfy my craving for French fries at home.

Travis has lamented that our once-healthy diet has morphed back into more processed and frozen food, but it is so hard to eat what you “should” and not what you WANT when you’re pregnant!! I do enjoy big salads, though, (with lots of dressing!) so trying to eat those more often, instead of what the kids are eating for lunch (usually mac & cheese, quesadilla, or PB&J).

Exercise

I haven’t been exercising as much as I would like, but I have been doing the Prenatal Barre videos on Beachbody 1-2 times a week. I really like those videos because the instructor is super encouraging (even if she does talk maybe a little too much) and I can tell my core is stronger at the halfway point than it has been in previous pregnancies when I’ve only done cardio for exercise.

Last weekend, I walked/jogged on the treadmill for the first time in 3-4 months, and it actually went really well. So hoping to do that some more too!

Sleep

My sleeping habits so far haven’t changed a ton from pre-pregnancy. I start the night on my wedge pillow (for acid reflux) sleeping on my back or side. Usually somewhere around 2 or 3 AM, I get up to go to the bathroom and ditch the wedge, keeping my two main pillows. Then I sleep on my stomach until morning. I’ve still been getting away with sleeping on my stomach by rolling slightly to one side and propping myself up with the opposite leg, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to last much longer. Sad day.

Nesting

I boxed up all our boy clothes that Corbin has grown out of almost immediately after we found out we were having a girl, and was able to organize the girls’ bigger sizes (we were running out of room and totes!).

Then Thanksgiving weekend, we sold a bunch of stuff on Facebook Marketplace, moved the girls’ beds and dresser down to their new “room” in the basement, and started repainting their old room. We (I mean, Travis ) just finished painting it this past weekend and he’s now trying out that room as his office. If he stays there, Corbin will move down to his old office, and Corbin’s current room will be baby’s. If Travis decides to stay downstairs after all, the newly painted room will be baby’s. We will decide all that after we get back from Florida!

I would LOVE to finish off the girls’ new room (the space could be a legal bedroom, but the previous owners didn’t make it one) before baby comes but that ball is really in Travis’ court. It’s a big project – we need to build a wall, fix and add electrical, do a bunch of sheet rocking, replace the flooring, and then paint. He has already prepared me for it to not happen before then so we’ll see!

Pregnancy #4: First Trimester

12 Nov

We are expecting our fourth child in May! My official due date is May 17, two days before our wedding anniversary. But since our first three kids arrived either early or on their due date, I highly doubt the date will be shared.

That means I am 13.5 weeks along. So far, this pregnancy has been very different than any of the others, not so much in terms of physical symptoms but in mental experience. (Though I am showing much more at 13 weeks this time around!!)

Back in June, I had an ectopic pregnancy. We caught it before it got bad. I had had weird bleeding for a while, then when I started having stabbing pain, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive, so I went to the ER pretty much right away. I had surgery within a few hours, and went home the next morning. Because of COVID, I was in there alone. It was a lonely experience but I felt God increase my faith and reliance on Him.

They took out the whole Fallopian tube that was affected, but assured me I could still get pregnant with just one. I didn’t know how long it would take, but after waiting two cycles to try again (what the doctor had told me to do), we got pregnant that first month. I took the pregnancy test on September 9 and it was positive!

Another reason this pregnancy has been different is that we had wanted to start trying back in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately I had been on the depo provera method of birth control, and I discovered after going off of it, it can take up to 18 months to get pregnant. It took 9 months for my period to come back. And then I had the ectopic. So this pregnancy/baby was waited and longed for far more than any of my others. We had given ourselves until the end of this year, and if I didn’t get pregnant by then, we figured we were meant to have only three biological kiddos. (Which is still a huge blessing, don’t get me wrong!)

Another way it’s different is that at age 37, I am now of “advanced maternal age” and insurance (supposedly) covers extra things like genetic testing at 12 weeks, and a detailed ultrasound and fetal echo at 20 weeks. We have already done the genetic testing and know that we are having another GIRL. Honestly, we were hoping for a boy to even things out, but we trust God’s wisdom. And baby is healthy so I am incredibly grateful about that.

Because of my history with the ectopic pregnancy, I had ultrasounds early. My first was at (what we thought was) 6 weeks. But unfortunately, only the gestational sac and yolk sac were visible. The tech explained that it could just be too early — maybe my dates were off. (I do think that I ovulated slightly late.)

So I had a couple of HCG tests to make sure things were trending in the right direction (which they were, but I had had a miscarriage back in 2017 so this was bringing up bad memories and lots of anxiety), and we went back for another ultrasound a week later. That was such a long week!! This whole first trimester has felt like waiting on pins and needles for more information. We hadn’t planned on telling anyone for a while but I needed my friends to know what was going on and to pray, so I told my Bible study ladies and another close friend.

Thankfully, at my second ultrasound, there was baby with a heartbeat. Baby measured 5 days behind where we thought I should be, but apparently you have to be more than 5 days off at that point for them to change it. So my original EDD of May 17 was kept.

Physically, I felt sicker with this pregnancy than my others, but I have noticed a correlation between being really active (maybe “overdoing it”) and feeling sick, so I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that this time around, I have 3 kids, am homeschooling, and am just that much older (Corbin will be a couple months over age 3 by May).

My cravings, on the other hand, have been practically the exact same as my other pregnancies — salty foods and fruity things (including fruit itself). Probably my number one craving is Asian food, followed very closely by French fries. Sweet things have lost a lot of their appeal.

My acid reflux is NOT loving my pregnancy cravings. Interestingly, since getting pregnant, my acid reflux hasn’t manifested itself in a burning in my throat, but instead, my chest just feels tight and it’s a little harder to breathe. Which also makes it hard to know when I’m having acid reflux. But I will say it’s a lot more comfortable.

My biggest goal in this pregnancy is to keep exercising, even when I don’t think I have the energy for it. I found a Prenatal Barre program on Beachbody that I’ve been doing, and the best part is that the instructor has a whole bunch of 10-minute workouts (the regular workouts are 30 minutes long). I’m hoping/planning to do one of those 10-minute workouts most days. They are definitely effective, even if they’re short!

My other goal in this pregnancy, and the main reason for finding out gender so early, is to purge clothes and organize our utility room. Clothes take up so much room! We need more space for other things.

I’m also trying to convince my husband that we should frame and drywall a wall to close off our extra bedroom space downstairs so that the girls can move into that space, and baby can have her own room. (Corbin would keep his room.) We’ll see how it goes.

Emma and Annabelle are totally pumped about having a baby sister (they’ll have just turned 8 and 6 when baby arrives). Corbin is just starting to notice my belly is getting bigger. I think he’ll start to understand more when I’m obviously not just getting fat.

We did a piñata gender reveal for the kids, but apparently Emma had overheard Travis and me talking earlier that day, so she already knew it was a girl. (Stinker!) The girls still had a blast hitting the piñata— and getting the pink candy!

Emma Grace: 7.5 Years

7 Nov

Man, time is flying. My oldest baby turned 7.5 years old back on October 7. She’s in 2nd grade this school year! I haven’t posted an update on Emma since she turned 6, so there’s a lot to cover in this post!

Emma turned 7 on April 7 (her golden birthday!) in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine. We had wanted to do a special family party for her in the Cities at a waterpark or something, but that did not happen. Instead, we played outside, put the kiddie pool at the end of the slide, ate Culver’s drive thru in our car, and played FaceTime hide and seek with Nana and Papa. #lifeinquarantine

We did celebrate all 3 kids’ birthdays (since they’re all 2.5 weeks apart) with Travis’ family in August at my in-laws’ cabin, but another birthday celebration is definitely in order.

She got a smart watch from Nana and Papa Kluthe. We bought her the singing Elsa doll.

Size

Emma is still tall and thin. She is 4′ 3” tall (that’s 4 inches taller than she was at age 6!) and weighs 56 lbs. She is wearing size 7 or 7/8 clothing (most of the pants are somewhat baggy on her, though they are the right length), and size 13 or 1 shoes.

Eating

Emma is a great eater, and is almost always one of the first ones done with dinner. According to her, her favorite foods are spaghetti, watermelon, cantaloupe, McDonald’s, french fries, pumpkin pie, and ice cream. She also frequently asks for PB & J’s, clementines, turkey sandwiches, cereal, quesadillas, chocolate milk, applesauce, popcorn, and berries (frozen or fresh!). And of course, she still loves sweets of any kind, but mainly ice cream, popsicles, Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, Ring Pops, and those baby bottles with the sucker on top and sugar inside.

She loves making Christmas cookie cut-outs.

This past summer, Emma FINALLY lost her first tooth. We were up at my in-laws’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park. Emma’s tooth had been wiggly for weeks. One night, she ate a snack and brushed her teeth, and the tooth was gone. The tooth fairy did not come for that tooth. But about a month later, she lost the other bottom middle tooth, and the tooth fairy gave her $1, half for each tooth (sister also got a quarter for being supportive). But then Emma told us she knew we were the tooth fairy, so that’s that.

Sleep

Emma still sometimes has a hard time getting to sleep at night (we’ve started giving her melatonin to help with that), but other than that, she sleeps like a champ. She usually gets up to pee once a night a couple hours after going to bed. The girls go to bed around 8/8:30 these days, and get up between 7 and 7:30.

Emma still enjoys sleeping places other than her own bed, and several times, Emma and Annabelle have slept in our master bedroom closets, downstairs in the guest “room”, once in the tent that we set up downstairs (it was too humid and buggy to camp outside), and a couple times under the stairs.

Development

Emma is such a creative girl. She colored two pictures of gingerbread houses in school last year, made little people to go with them, and then she and Annabelle played house with them. For her Barbies, she has made miniature moving boxes and lockers (cut and taped together from real cardboard boxes), tiny magazines and Valentine’s Day cards, drawn and cut out tiny school supplies… and so on. After watching YouTube videos of kids playing with Barbies, she started making her own amateur videos. She also still loves drawing and writing (though her spelling could use some help!).

We read The Boxcar Children this past summer and Emma had the idea to create a brook and swimming hole for her Barbies (see picture below).

For Halloween in 2019, she dressed up as Poison Ivy (Annabelle was Batgirl and Corbin was Batman).

For Halloween this year, she was a princess/bride. Annabelle was Maleficent and Corbin was a shark.

Like I mentioned in Annabelle’s 5-Year post, the girls loved being pulled on sleds behind the snowmobile last year. We got 10 inches of snow in October this year, and they still loved the snowmobile rides. Sometimes it gets pretty intense!

They also got into pretending they were Odd Squad agents for a while during the quarantine…

And into making makeup and dresses for their Barbies out of playdough and paper…

And scrapbooking.

Emma likes helping with things only older kids can do. She has started to cut strawberries, carrots, and celery with a serrated paring knife (Annabelle does too). She helped mail our Christmas cards last year, she painted my toenails, and both she and Annabelle helped with my in-laws’ honey harvest for the first time this year.

Last summer (2019), Emma started getting comfortable with her head going underwater, and she jumped off the dock a lot. This past summer, she really embraced the swim goggles and started swimming without a life jacket. She really enjoyed throwing things to the bottom and diving to get them.

The summer of 2019, we took the training wheels off Emma’s bike and she went on several rides of 4-6 miles. In August, she biked from our house to Whipple Beach, which involves quite a few difficult hills, and is a 6-mile ride. I was very proud! This summer, though, biking was not very appealing to her so we didn’t do much (she would always complain that biking was too much work).

On a bike ride in Crow Wing State Park

Also in the summer of 2019, Emma got slime stuck in her hair. I am happy to report that we did not have to cut any of her hair off, though it did take a good 45 minutes to remove all the slime. Slime is now outlawed in our house.

We also did the VBS at Journey North in 2019, and in 2020, we did Summer Impact at our church. There were mixed emotions about both at the time, but they’re good memories now!

VBS “Roar” 2019
Quilt Pattern for Summer Impact

In the Fall of 2019, I ran the Brainerd Homecoming 10K, and Emma ran the Kids Race. It was a nasty day weather-wise, but I was proud of her!

Finally, a few silly photos just because…

And that’s Emma from 6 to 7.5 years!

Why I Stopped Using Social Media, and Am Not Going Back

7 Sep

Note: I am not writing this post to judge or shame anyone. This is simply my experience and my opinions. If it prompts you to think a little deeper about your social media usage, great! If not, keep calm and post on!

The What

I spent June, July, and August 99% detached from social media. I did have to jump on Facebook a couple of times to gather information about or RSVP to an event or group that someone had told me about in person.

With the time that I would have normally spent on social media, I read a couple of news emails that I had sent to my inbox, so I did stay aware of what was going on in the world.

The Why

I have been going to counseling to figure out why I struggle so much with mom guilt, neurotic housekeeping, and feeling overwhelmed. Back in May, I started wondering if all the extra voices and “highlight reels” I was seeing on social media were maybe just adding fuel to the fire.

The How

I deleted Facebook and Instagram off my phone. Voila! Disconnected. I didn’t delete my accounts because I wasn’t necessarily planning for my hiatus to be permanent.

I found other ways to share things. When I took a super cute photo of the kids, I texted it to my parents and in-laws. When I ran across a good quote, I texted it to a friend who I thought would appreciate it. If I wanted to tell someone about my deep love for silicone kitchen brushes, shocker, I just kept it to myself.

Note: I do consider texting to be a form of personal interaction. Even though it’s still electronic and not face to face, it’s intentionally communicating with a specific person or group of people.

The Experience

The first few weeks of my social media hiatus, I missed posting more than I thought I would. I was still in the mode of looking at life through an Instagram lens, and processing thoughts in terms of captions or posts I  could add to my Stories.

But I didn’t really miss seeing other people’s feeds. In fact, not knowing what they were up to was actually kind of freeing! When I saw friends in person, we could actually catch up, instead of just retelling what we both already knew from seeing one another’s posts on social media.

After those first couple of weeks, I stopped thinking about posts and started just enjoying my life. Sometimes I took photos with my phone, but most of the time I didn’t. Instead, I noticed things. This awareness went hand in hand with my learning about the Charlotte Mason method for homeschool. I started really looking at butterflies, moths, and dragonflies; I collected mushrooms to identify; I watched squirrels and birds in the trees. I took mental snapshots of moments, and just enjoyed them without camera in hand. The few photos I did take were mostly to commemorate moments I had already enjoyed, instead of an attempt to document everything in hopes that something turns out worthy of posting to social media.

The Result

I had always justified my use of social media with the idea that “it’s fun to see what people are up to.” And I do still really enjoy knowing about people’s lives. But I think that this modern version of “knowing” has taken a natural human affinity and distorted it. Before social media, the main way you learned about other people’s lives was through actual human interaction. You run into Sally at a park and chat for 15 minutes about what you’ve both been up to. Or you do a play date with Mary and hear from her that Jane just bought a house and will close next month. Or you wonder what Bridget is up to, so you just call or text her to catch up.

I realize that the pandemic has decreased the usual amount of in-person human interaction we’re getting with people beyond immediate family, so that would seem to be an argument for the value of social media. But ask yourself this: Is seeing vacation photos posted by a friend from high school enriching your life? Is it adding value to your life to see photos of the birthday party an old friend from the state you used to live in hosted for her 5-year-old? Even if you limit who you follow on social media to those people you actually know and see on a regular basis, do you really need to see what their kids are doing every day?

Some of you might say yes, and honestly, even now as I’m typing this, I want to agree. Because I do like seeing cute pictures of kids and hearing people’s thoughts. And God created us with an innate desire to know others and be known.

But here’s the problem with social media: Knowing about people’s lives, without interacting with them over it, creates a vacuum. We know way too much about people and yet spend way too little time actually getting to know them. (Don’t even get me started on the people we follow that we will never meet IRL.) My rule of thumb is, if something important happens to someone I know and care about, it will come out in my personal conversation with them. If it doesn’t come up, then I don’t actually need to know.

“I don’t need to know.” That is pretty much the antithesis of social media. Social media is built on the idea, nay, the lie, that we have to know everything, all the time, from everyone, and if we don’t, we will be left behind. What will we have to offer if we haven’t seen the latest viral video, or the funniest new meme, or… or… or… something new that I can’t even imagine right now because I’m not on social media?!?!

I’m taking a stand against that lie in my life by being done with social media. Even though I am tempted, I am not linking to this post from FB or IG. I don’t need people to know that I’m leaving. And they probably wouldn’t care anyway. Surprisingly, knowing less about other people and having the anonymous universe know less about me makes me feel better. Being slightly “off the grid” has allowed me to enjoy my own, real life more.

(I say slightly because yes, I am still telling the universe in a blog post about why I decided to stop using social media. If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it.)

And so, I will end this post with probably the last up-to-date term from social media that I will know…

Mic drop.

(Full disclosure, I am not deleting my Facebook account, since it is unfortunately the method of communication that several IRL groups I am part of has chosen. I plan to delete my Instagram account once I download all my data, which is in the works. And I do plan to keep my blog.)

What We Did in the Summer of 2020

1 Sep

The Summer of 2020 was like no other. Well, actually for us, it wasn’t *that* different since we are mostly homebodies anyway. But since it also coincided with me not being on social media, I wanted to write down the things that we did this past summer before I forget. We:

  • Biked from the Arboretum to Dairy Queen
  • Hiked in the open space across the river
  • Went to the Nisswa Waterpark (Corbin LOVED it, Emma was brave enough to go down the waterslides on her own, and Annabelle hung out in the kiddie pool)
  • Barbies, Barbies, Barbies
  • Went to the Gull Dam beach a LOT. One time, we brought our dinner of McDonald’s there, and got caught in the rain. Another time, we left Ryder from Frozen there in a rush to leave.
  • Corbin started swimming in a life jacket. He LOVES the water, and quickly abandoned playing on the beach. For a while, he loved throwing things around in the shallow water, but toward the end of the summer, he only wanted to swim.
  • Boated to Squaw Point on Gull and swam for a couple hours on the sand bar
  • Emma started swimming without a life jacket and started wearing swim goggles. She loved diving for things on the bottom of the lake.
  • Went to my in-laws’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park 3 times. The first time, at the beginning of June, the girls went up with my in-laws for the first 3 days, then Travis joined with Corbin for a very short trip.
  • The second time, in July, all 5 of us went (and my in-laws were there). It rained the whole full day we were there. I swam out to Blueberry Island and back, in the rain, while the girls and Travis paddleboarded alongside. We hiked to the zipline and back.
  • The third time, in August, Travis’ whole family was there too. We celebrated our 3 kids’ birthdays. We paddleboarded over to Houseboat Bay and back (in white caps!). We threw clay at each other.

Annabelle Lyn: 5.25 Years

25 Jul

Annabelle turned 5 years old back on March 22, during the COVID quarantine. By the time I am writing this, she is now a little over 5.25 years old.COLOR_POPIMG_6401 (Medium)For her birthday, we went hiking at an open space with my in-laws and then ate pizza outside while the kids played on our driveway. She got a Minnie playhouse from my in-laws, a Barbie airplane from my dad and stepmom (Emma’s gift too), and a singing Anna doll from us (and two weeks later, she decided she didn’t want it to sing anymore so she had us remove the battery).

Size

Annabelle’s well-child check was done over Zoom so according to my own measurements, Annabelle is now 3′ 8″ tall and weighs 40 lbs. (For comparison’s sake, Emma was the same height and 42 lbs at that age.) She is wearing 4/5 clothing and size 11 shoes.

It’s still hard for me to comprehend how big Annabelle is getting! She just seems so much like a little girl in my mind (probably because she’s still smaller than Emma) but she’s going to be a kindergartner this year!IMG_4624 (Medium)(Photo from Summer 2019)

Eating

Annabelle’s favorite foods are yogurt (her breakfast almost every day), scrambled eggs, bacon, mac & cheese, fig bars, applesauce, most fruit, cereal, quesadillas, pancakes/waffles, and muffins from Costco. She is still a master of snacks and it’s a battle to get her to eat dinner most nights. (Though as we realized when the girls were up at my in-laws’ cabin and we just had Corbin at home, Annabelle almost always leaves the table mid-dinner to play with Bud, which explains why she doesn’t eat. But it allows us to eat  our food while it’s still hot, so there are some benefits to that!).7F4CE411-989D-4E60-ABC4-61EAF0586719E6882C17-A2FB-4C53-8A60-FFE093E72052IMG_6078 (Medium)IMG_6872 (Medium)Sleeping

Annabelle still shares a room with Emma, and she now has her own twin bed instead of the toddler bed (I can’t completely remember when we got her a twin bed, but I feel like it was around the time she turned 4?). Last summer, we bought the girls matching mermaid bedspreads, though now Annabelle says she wants a unicorn bedspread instead (too bad!).7b2d24e2-719a-40f3-8c12-7457bc8fab43Annabelle has gotten much easier to put to bed at night. She still drags her feet to get jammies and lotion on, brush teeth, and go potty, but once she’s in bed, she’s usually out within 10 minutes or so (especially during the summer when she’s exhausted!). Similar to Emma, some nights she does the bedtime routine with minimal pushback, and other nights, it’s like pulling teeth.

Annabelle has been wearing undies to bed for probably the last 6 months or so (since age 4.75). She does still have occasional accidents, so we have a waterproof mattress cover on her bed, limit her fluid intake after dinner, and make sure to have her go potty every night right before bed (we tell her “Stink or tink!”, meaning she has to try to go potty hard enough that even if she doesn’t have to pee, she farts. HAHA!)

Emma and Annabelle go to bed at the same time (between 7:30-8:30), and usually wake up around the same time (usually 7:30 or so).IMG_4312 (Medium)Development

Annabelle went to Pre-K (School Readiness) in Pillager this past school year, and will be homeschooled for kindergarten this coming year (a decision we made pre-COVID). She really enjoyed preschool, and was really excited for kindergarten at Pillager. The night of Kindergarten Roundup, she really wanted to go, and wouldn’t accept that we wouldn’t be going (because we already knew we would be homeschooling). She got her jacket and shoes on after dinner, and when I told her that we had already missed it, she had the biggest meltdown of her life, which lasted a couple of hours. I felt absolutely terrible. Poor little Ducky.2C810EB3-5C6E-40FC-80BB-BDB0266FE6ECAnnabelle now knows how to spell and write her name (it’s a long one!), and knows all the letters of the alphabet (she still asks which letter is which sometimes, but I’m unsure if it’s because she’s being hesitant or if she really doesn’t know). We’re still working on writing the letters too. She can count up to 30, and knows all her colors and shapes. She also made a lot of progress in her coloring and cutting abilities this past year.IMG_6471 (Medium)Annabelle can be shy, and during her Christmas program for Pre-K, she didn’t do any of the motions to the songs. She knew the words and sort of sang, but otherwise, she stood there with no expression. Haha!IMG_5664 (Medium)IMG_5683 (Medium)Annabelle also started receiving speech services through the school district at the end of the school year for her trouble with pronouncing certain sounds.

Annabelle has a special bond with both of her siblings, and they both love her.3F203ADD-DD63-402A-8BF7-C3D082F79E246DF53260-DC57-49FF-8FCD-EFF29F34B898 Emma and Annabelle are two peas in a pod, and play together 95% of the time. Overall, they get along great and have both made progress in compromising. They do disagree/fight over the same toys (“I need another bed for my mom!” “No, I do!”) or who gets to play which role (“I always have to be the boy!”) or who does the voice for which doll. Over the past year, Emma and Annabelle have:

  • Gone sledding behind the snowmobile until they fell off whipping around corners – they usually laughed about it but sometimes they didn’t:IMG_5768 (Medium)IMG_6309 (Medium)
  • Done imaginative play with Barbies, dolls, kitchen utensils, soap bottles, you name it. They even turned our minivan into a camper for a few days this summer. (See this post for some more details about what they were up to during quarantine.)3C9C9697-4326-4935-A9A1-B36B84B68650259E1555-DE39-49E4-A887-E7FB21DAE578EC17ED23-0645-4387-A9BC-20B712F726B7IMG_6584 (Medium)
  • Scrapbooked, used playdough to make clothes for their Barbies and pretend makeup, helped stamp and seal Christmas cards, and started drawing pictures with elaborate backstories or humorous jokes (like a dad farting).9B9ACA03-2CE6-4CA8-BCBA-F66BF8F5DD502450F84B-E812-4FA0-BF87-7AC98059E7ADIMG_4782 (Medium)IMG_6204 (Medium)IMG_6213 (Medium)

Annabelle also loves Corbin, and he loves her so much. He will run to her in the morning yelling, “Ducky! Ducky!” or even go wake her up if she sleeps later than Emma. Annabelle still shows her affection by tickling/pinching his cheek as she walks by. Corbin gives hugs sometimes, other times he throws something at her (#boys). Sometimes Annabelle muscles through with amazing resilience, and other times she melts into a puddle at the slightest injury (she does this with Emma too).

She will often disappear into Corbin’s room (“Don’t let him in here!”) to set up an elaborate tower for him to knock over.IMG_5273 (Medium)71552568-49E6-4561-9CF9-CFC2B32DF91EDBD4579E-9124-4FC1-BE3B-15A709798FABIMG_4399-EFFECTS (Medium)IMG_4855 (Medium)IMG_5084 (Medium)IMG_5253 (Medium)IMG_7166 (Medium)

The Summer of 2019, Annabelle learned how to pump on the swing. This summer, she learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. She also got her first salon manicure for my dad’s wedding in November 2019.IMG_5256 (Medium)IMG_5259 (Medium)Annabelle is still pretty silly, and has the most hilarious “duck” voice (which we have yet to capture on video). She still talks in a whiny voice often and will ask me the same request 3-4 times in a row thinking I haven’t heard, even when she can clearly see I’m in the middle of doing something, and sometimes even after I’ve acknowledged her but still haven’t gotten her what she asked for. 47F6A92A-F642-4748-ADCA-E4AA7C663AD0IMG_3900 (Medium)IMG_4002 (Medium)IMG_5272 (Medium)

We love our little Duckles! (aka Duck, Ducky, Fon Duck, or Duke-uhl-bear.)

Corbin Travis: 2 Years

20 Apr

Corbin turned 2 years old on March 22, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. On his birthday, we went hiking with some friends at a nearby “open space” (as Colorado calls them), had brownies and ice cream at home (but Corbin didn’t eat a single bite!), and took Corbin on a car ride, one of his favorites right now.img_6329img_6340Size

Corbin hasn’t had his 2-year checkup yet because of COVID-19, so these aren’t official. But according to our wall ruler, he is roughly 2′ 10″ tall (just slightly taller than his sisters were at this age and in the 30th percentile for boys). And according to our bathroom scale, he weighs about 30 lbs (80%). He is still wearing size 5 diapers, though I plan to buy size 6 whenever I run out of my current stash because they’re getting a little tight. And he is wearing 5/6 shoes.img_6568Sleeping

Corbin has gotten into a pretty good napping and sleeping routine. His typical day looks like this:

7 AM – Wake up

1 PM – Down for nap

4 PM – Up from nap

7:30 PM – Down for night

Corbin almost always takes a solid 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon, which is great (now that I’m home with the kids in quarantine, that’s when I do some work for my job). And he now goes to sleep at the same time as the girls, which makes doing stuff in the evenings possible–except that now we don’t go anywhere because of the quarantine. Regardless, it is nice to get family time after Travis gets off work.

Corbin still has a hard time falling asleep in the car, and will only do so if he is absolutely exhausted.

Eating

Corbin still LOVES his baba (bottle). He gets a 4 oz bottle right when he wakes up in the morning, usually one mid-morning, one before his nap, one when he wakes up from his nap, and one before bed (and if he’s crabby around dinnertime, he gets one then too). He refuses to drink milk out of a sippy, and he is very comforted by his bottles. For the past couple of weeks though, when he asks for a ba-ba, he has been fairly receptive to eating something he likes instead, so we’re going to continue that. We might try water in his bottle too.

I feel like I can’t even give a list of foods that Corbin likes because it changes on a daily basis but for the last few weeks, he has liked: pancakes with maple syrup, toast, scrambled eggs, hot dogs, cheese, clementines, grapes, almond flour crackers, cheese pizza, applesauce, yogurt, fig bars, blackberries, strawberries, and banana. But often even when it seems like he likes something, he takes 2-3 bites, and then refuses the rest. Part of the problem is that he just can’t sit still long enough to eat. We’ve tried the highchair but he ends up screaming. I’ve also tried following him around and offering him bites. That sometimes works. But the thing that actually works the best is to get out his dessert (3-4 Skittles or something similar) and offer him a Skittle if he will take 1-2 bites of his dinner. It’s nice that he’s old enough to understand that now!img_6573If Corbin gets upset about anything though, he is more than willing to part with his food or eating utensil in the form of throwing it across the room, or smooshing it.img_65528f3a766a-349c-4272-bd66-a02e218e0ee2Development

Corbin LOVES books and at least once every day, motions that I sit in the chair in our living room to read him books. He is learning new words every day. His most-often used words are birdie, cookie, hone (phone), go, side (for either inside or outside), cocks (crocs), boots, Kayhee (Katy), Chowlee (Charlie), bath, and bah (iPad–not sure why?!?). When we are talking to family on Zoom or FaceTime, he will say hi or bye if we prompt him to. 675aa43d-f311-4e0c-a3ff-84ce9c8690c6He spent a lot of time this winter riding the snowmobile with either me or Travis while we pulled the girls in sleds, and LOVED it! I unfortunately do not have a picture of that.

Other things Corbin likes:

  • Playdough and coloringimg_6352img_6317
  • Sticks and puddlesimg_6456
  • Walking through the woods (there was a period of time when it had warmed up and then gotten cold again, so the top layer of snow was super crusty and hard, making it very easy to walk on, and we walked through our woods on game trails daily).c7edc741-4482-41a9-a74a-e7acecbaba96
  • The dock, specifically throwing sticks into the water off the dockimg_6389
  • Climbing and slidingimg_6649b74acc63-a996-4569-83fd-2b6bc57376b7
  • His familyimg_6161img_6326img_5946
  • Staring off into space with his baba and cakey img_6652img_6656img_6178
  • Playing with laundry and piles of blankets/pillows/clothesimg_6265
  • Making a mess (he really can’t be trusted with anything)img_6298ba66ca19-6625-4816-9861-40ce6b8eb9ca

Corbin is adventurous and fun! He can be a little stinker (he is often caught playing in the toilet, especially now that he figured out how to open the lids) and usually overreacts when we tell him no (it’s actually quite hilarious and adorable when he clenches his fists and growls…until he starts throwing things, then you need to watch out). He’s curious about everything, and has several enigmatic behaviors that keep us on our toes (like wanting to take a bath only to get out a minute later). But we love our little Corb man!