Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Alice Juliet- One Month

A month ago this morning, our sweet girl was born and our lives got so much better! I know every parent in the history of forever has said this, but I really can't believe how fast my baby is growing! This month has been full of firsts and crazy experiences and about a million moments where I shake my head in bewilderment when I realize that this tiny little person is actually mine (well, ours. =) 

Day she was born/One Week/Two Weeks
Three Weeks/Four Weeks

Weight and Length- at her last doctor visit she was 8.5 pounds and I think 20.5 inches long... her one month appointment got moved when we switched doctors so I'm sure those numbers have changed since her last checkup was over a week ago! She's definitely growing!

Nicknames- Booboo, Goose Egg (it's a family thing!), Alice from the Palace, Poocho (something Mamaw says- ha!), Love Bug. 

Sleep- she is doing really well... she's slept several 5-6 hour stretches at night which is always a gift. =) Knock on wood, she'll be on track to sleeping through the night before too long! Typically she only wakes up once to eat and we're very thankful for that. Her nap times have been a little sporadic but I'm much more concerned with her nighttime sleeping at this point! 

Eating- like a champ! She's good about taking a bottle too so that's really nice for when we're out or when it's 3 A.M. and I want a break. Gotta let Daddy have some of the fun! =)

Clothing- definitely still in newborn stuff only. I'm kind of surprised because sooo many people said that most babies outgrow their NB stuff after like two weeks but everything 0-3 that I've tried has swallowed her up. She's just petite like her mama. (*Snort.*)

Mood- mostly very content. I feel SO lucky that she rarely cries unless she's hungry... her fussiest time of the day is usually the last couple of hours before her daddy gets home. (Perhaps she senses my despair after a long day at home? Ha!) But she is definitely getting more alert and looking very thoughtful as she stares around the room. And we're getting more smiles all the time which always makes my day. =)

Obviously she finds me hilarious. =)

-snuggling with her daddy
-napping on top of mama 
-her carseat, believe it or not!
-lying on the changing pad
-music, especially Auntie Manda's CD and Christmas songs
-waving her arms... I think she might be a music minister someday. =)
-shopping, of course!
-having her hands free, which is rare since she still scratches herself

Doesn't Love-
-the initial dip into her bath- it makes her mad. Ha!
-having her clothes changed
-losing her pacifier- although sometimes I wait a minute before giving it back because watching her try to get it herself is hilarious. #meanmom
-tummy time- our few attempts have ended with many tears. =( 
-hiccups- she gets them all the time! (And yes, I burp her. Ha!)

Big eyes!

What I Want to Remember/Milestones- so many things! Her chubby little face when she's done eating, the way she sleeps with one hand up on her face, watching Disney movies and listening to Christmas music together, holding her head up (this girl is STRONG- all her nurses said so too!), the way she is getting so alert and smiling a lot, how she tucks her bottom lip in, her raspy little cry, grabbing my hand with her fingers, pulling my hair (ouch!), her hair getting lighter and suddenly standing up one side all the time... so many things. Everything! I'm the most stereotypical new mom ever. =)

What I'm Looking Forward To- moving up to 0-3 clothes since she has waaaay more stuff in that size. And introducing her to everyone at Christmas! Yay!

Me- Well, I'm actually feeling much better (knock on wood) and that makes the long days and short nights a whole lot easier. It's not nearly as awful to survive on very little sleep if you're not also in tremendous pain most of the time, so I'm thankful for that. And as far as motherhood goes... is it bad to say that I'm doing way better than I thought I would? (#humblebrag =) I remember feeding her at the hospital with the help of my mom and a nurse and thinking, "Does one have to be an octopus to nurse a baby??" The answer, it turns out, is no... although eight arms would help. =) I guess I was just so paranoid and nervous because I really am a big spaz and I've gotten much more confident and "at ease" with everything in the past few weeks which is a pleasant surprise. Emotionally I'm getting better too, I think... some days it definitely feels like I'm on a hamster wheel (eat, wake, change, sleep- rinse, repeat) but we're getting in a good rhythm and that helps a lot. I'm fitting into quite a bit of my pre-baby clothes but not in the same way =) so now that I'm not so sore hopefully we'll be able to do some more walking and maybe even visit the gym. (Gasp!) I'm incredibly thankful for Jonathan because as always he has done everything I've asked and beyond this month and I would be a mess without him. 

We couldn't thank God more that He blessed us with this beautiful, sweet girl. We love her so, so much and look forward to all the fun and crazy times ahead! Happy one month birthday, Alice Juliet! 


P.S. Our first attempt at a "one month" picture was less than successful... #reallife

Friday, October 30, 2015

We Have a Baby!

FYI: I wrote the bulk of this post when Alice was like nine days old and haven't had the desire/energy/mental capacity to go back and edit/finish it until now. #newmom #sleepdeprivation It's more about the "birth story" and first few days but I'm sure I'll write something that's more up-to-date with our current daily routine if I ever get a decent night's sleep. So, maybe never. 

The title of this post is a bit obvious if you follow me on any form of social media since I've posted about a million pictures since the big day, but still... it's true! Alice Juliet joined us on October 10 and we have spent the last three weeks falling completely in love with her. Here's how it all went down...

On Wednesday morning (the 7th) I woke up having contractions... really the first ones I had experienced during my pregnancy which was kind of a miracle, I'm told. (I think the Lord just knew I couldn't have handled them any longer than I did.) They were anywhere from 10-30 minutes apart all that day but as the evening wore on, they got closer and closer together until they were about 4-5 minutes for a while (and I was hurting really bad... or so I thought, naive little first-time mom that I am. Ha!) My mom and sisters were telling me to go in to the hospital, and I really wasn't trying to be brave and stick it out only to have to deliver at home with only hot water and towels, Little House style. I just didn't want to go in and be sent home, which ended up being exactly what happened.

I decided that if I was still having contractions five minutes apart by 10:30 we would go to the hospital. Jonathan is a doll so he passed the time by cleaning and getting things ready in case we left. The appointed time came and went with my contractions still going consistently so we took a few pictures, looked around in disbelief that this was actually happening, and off we went. As we got closer to the hospital, my contractions were actually getting closer together, about three minutes, confirming to me that I had made the right choice. (HA!)

Last bump picture... taken right before our first trip to the hospital. 

Since it was after nine PM, we had to enter through the emergency room (why are there always such sketchy-looking people in the ER late at night?) and as I approached the desk, holding my huge belly and panting, I was still asked why I was there. (Um, I broke my thumb?) Thank goodness we preregistered so after only a couple of minutes a nurse from the maternity floor arrived with a wheelchair and up we went.

I got into triage and hooked up to the machines... and then things got interesting. As you moms know, getting checked to see if you're dilated is uncomfortable at best and SO HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL at worst and mine was the worst. (Long story and totally TMI but it was truly awful.) I had done fine with the contractions (I mean, within reason) but the exam totally did me in and I was sobbing when they were finished. They asked me a million questions, gave me a huge thing of water to drink because apparently I was dehydrated (a result of being sick of having to go to the bathroom every two seconds, I guess) and left me to be monitored for over an hour. Then they examined me AGAIN... two nurses this time and it was nothing short of traumatic (more tears and more cries of pain.) Anyway, blah blah blah... I was barely dilated so they gave me a shot of Demerol and sent me home around 3 AM. Then I had to roll out of bed to be at my OB appointment by 8:30.

My doctor told me that I wasn't in active labor and that she could tell by looking at me that I wasn't going to go that day. She basically told me I would have to just survive it and went ahead and scheduled an induction for the following Wednesday (as I nearly wept at the thought of enduring this for another six days.) I continued to have contractions throughout Thursday but they were more spaced out. I pretty much didn't sleep at all that night as I was either worried to death about actually going into labor or breathing through another contraction. (So fun!)

Being sent home...

By Friday morning, having endured another night of contractions and having them more intense and closer together, I decided to go in again. More monitoring, another painful exam... and once again, I was sent home in tears. (Fortunately my mom arrived right before we left and that helped a lot.) They told me to come back in if my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and even more intense (something I couldn't imagine at the time) and after moaning my way through the day, I finally broke down Friday night. I knew that I couldn't handle any more pain... it was absolutely unbearable by that night and my contractions were super close together. I was begging God to let them tell me I was dilated because the thought of being sent home again was just more than I could take.

We got to the hospital around 9 P.M., got whisked into triage, examined, and... miracle of miracles... I was dilated to 3 cm and we were admitted. Even as panic gripped me- hello, you're having a baby!- I was so relieved to be getting something for the pain that I couldn't even be as terrified as I had planned on. The anesthesiologist (my new best friend) arrived around 10:30 and I felt like I could take a full breath for the first time since Tuesday night. Then the waiting game began... my water still hadn't broken and I had to obviously progress to several more centimeters so I tried to just get some sleep.

I progressed bit by bit throughout the night, dozed in and out of sleep, and since I still wasn't quite where I needed to be, they gave me Pitocin around 7 A.M. My water broke a few minutes later (such an odd feeling!) and they began to prepare for the delivery. I'm not sure when I began pushing- so weird! so surreal! so hard! (the epidural definitely didn't dull ALL the pain)- but Alice was born at 8:33 AM! I was thrilled that she had lots of hair and my first thought when I saw her face was that she looked like Amy (my little sister.)

That face!

I just read an article that said it's okay if you don't hear angels singing the first time you see/hold your baby... and that was true for me. First of all, my entire body started shaking uncontrollably and I was sobbing- not even happy tears just "I'm completely overwhelmed, that was incredibly traumatic and I can't believe it's over and she's out" kind of tears. And... this is probably TMI, but #realtalk- something you definitely don't want to hear two seconds after your baby is born is that you can't hold her because the doctor has to stitch you up since you tore through three layers including muscle. Ah! Yeah, that was one of my biggest fears and it came true in a big way. I was pretty much terrified that my recovery was going to be absolutely awful as soon as I heard them say that, but I have to thank the Lord and the amazing doctor (not even my regular doctor- she was out of town!) because it's been really hard but not as bad as I thought. Given the severity of the tearing and my complete lack of pain tolerance, that's a miracle!

SO, I was getting stitched up (ewww) while they cleaned her up but they finally gave her to me and I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. It was like I had been pregnant forever and that part was over but somehow disconnected from this little person who was now out and blinking her big blue eyes at me like, "You're going to keep me alive, right?" Honestly, she's three weeks old and I still hold her and can't believe she's here. It's a little terrifying to think of all of her fitting inside me... no wonder I was so uncomfortable!

So even though people who say "As soon as I held my baby, I forgot about the pain!" are either crazy or lying (hehe), all the craziness and trauma and pain WAS, of course, completely worth it. The last few weeks has been a hazy blur of huge smiles and laughing and a million iPhone pictures, keeping up with medicines and burp cloths and pacifiers, emotional moments where I'm convinced I'll never have this mom thing together, and then feeling my heart explode about a million times a day when I look at my girl's chubby cheeks and realize I just want to squeeze her and never let go. (Ever seen Homeward Bound? Poor Alice is the cat. "Sweetheart, Sassy can't breathe.")

There are so many things about this time, especially those first few days, that I want to remember... putting her in the carseat for the first time, carrying her around to give her a "tour" of her nursery, watching Jonathan be totally paranoid (I knew he would be!) and also the sweetest daddy ever, realizing I've become a person who claps in delight when her baby has a dirty diaper (since that was a concern at the beginning), watching Disney movies all day, eating giant chocolate chip cookies from Costco, staying up late with my mom laughing ourselves to tears over ridiculous Facebook posts, dutifully drinking my weight in water from my huge hospital mug, the way Alice tucks her bottom lip in when she finishes eating, her squishy face when she sleeps, her little hand wrapped around my thumb, how she sleeps with one hand against her face, her snuggling on her daddy's chest, the million (nearly identical) pictures we take a day, the smiles she seems to reserve only for Gigi... I could go on! (P.S. My mom left last Saturday and after a week without her I've decided the only viable option is for my parents to move here. Sorry, Georgia.) 

You think you're fairly competent with a newborn and then your mom leaves. =( We never would have made it through the first two weeks without her! 

I follow a few other new moms on Instagram and sometimes I think, "she looks so happy and put together and she's wearing real clothes... I wonder if she ever sits up in bed at three in the morning with tears streaming down her face because the pain of nursing rivals the pain of labor and she feels like her life is just one big painful recovery in addition to having a tiny human to obsess over and worry about 24 hours a day? Does she lie in bed knowing she should 'sleep while the baby sleeps' but then find herself scrolling through pictures of her instead? Or checking on her even when she's two feet away?" (I bet she does all those things and is just choosing to spend her time curling her hair instead of watching episodes of Diagnosis Murder which is currently my activity of choice. We all have our priorities! =) 

The past several days have been the hardest of my life in terms of pain, exhaustion, and just a complete overwhelming of emotions... but I can't imagine loving someone more. I could (and do) just stare at her and snuggle her all day and thank God a million times over that He gave us this sweet baby. She's pooped on us, deprived us of sleep, and broken our hearts with the saddest, raspiest little cry... and we are loving it. (Well, the poop not so much.) 

...and one day you put a crown on your baby and die of the cuteness. We love our princess!

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and words of encouragement over the last few days! We are super blessed with the best friends and family and can't wait for Alice to meet more of you at Christmas! Keep us in your prayers as we continue to adjust to life as a family of three! (And if anyone truly wants to be a big help, just consider using your Costco membership to send me a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookies... they're Alice's favorite. =) 


Monday, October 5, 2015

Third Quarter Reading

Every time I do a reading-related post, I second-guess myself because, you know, who really cares? But then I remind myself that a) I love reading posts like these and b) I get a message from at least one or two people every month saying they've enjoyed these recommendations and I am nothing if not a people-pleaser so let the book lists continue, I say! 

I didn't read nearly as many books this quarter (only 37 as opposed to last quarter's 56) but other than having a lot of baby-related stuff to do (finishing the nursery, etc.) I blame mostly the very real malady of "pregnancy brain" which in my case seemed to keep me from concentrating on much at all for any length of time. (I realize that 37 books is still a lot of books for a 3-month period, but it's really not impressive considering the openness of my schedule. Anyway.) 

I love my Nancy Drew bag so much.

I read a lot of fiction this time around (it's so much easier to fly through a novel than a biography!) but most of my favorites were still nonfiction. Anyway, without rambling on any more, here are my recommendations for you (in no particular order except the order I read them.) 

1. The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly. I'm always a little leery of a book that tries to modernize or "borrow from" a classic, but this story of three sisters, particularly the middle sister Lulu, and their distant family tie to Jo March (in this book, Jo's a real person) did it exactly right. Lulu feels like a bit of a black sheep in her family (don't all middle children?) and discovers a kindred spirit through Great-Aunt Jo and the letters she wrote to Meg, Amy, Beth, and others in her life. Sometimes when a book contains a lot of letters, it's tempting to skip or skim them, but these captured the voice of the Jo we know and love so well that I actually enjoyed them as much as the modern-day story. It all plays out so well, with sisterly dynamics I definitely recognized, that I found myself wishing it would go on for another hundred pages or so. 

2. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley. Anytime Janssen raves about a book, I know I have to read it, and this was no exception. The author examines the progress of three American exchange students in South Korea, Finland, and Poland and compares their experiences- good and bad- with the comparable education they'd receive in America. I'm not gonna lie- it's a lot of data, numbers, and statistics to wade through, but it's absolutely fascinating to see the way the American education system lines up against these other countries (which have the top three test scores in the world) and the way their approach to schooling differentiates pretty wildly from what we're used to here. (Next time your child complains about homework, you can let him know that students in South Korea spend about 14 hours a day in class or studying with a tutor. Yikes!) 

3. Do Over by Jon Acuff. I love this, but then I love anything Jon Acuff writes (pretty big fangirl here.) His newest book is mainly about, well, a "do over" or fresh start in your career (the subtitle is Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck) and I highly recommend it if you're venturing out into a new job or life change. However, there is practical and helpful advice for anyone in any job, even if you've been where you are for 20 years and have no plans to leave. This guy is super smart but also so, so funny and he takes what could be fairly dry information and makes it engaging and practical. So many career-related books are vague ("chase your dreams!" "be yourself!") but this one, while certainly inspiring, gives advice that can actually be implemented in your life. Snatch it up- you'll want a copy for yourself to underline and take notes in!

4. Move Your Bus by Ron Clark. In case I haven't mentioned it before, Ron Clark is my teaching and education hero. This book is obviously from an educator's point of view but applies to any professional, really. He compares different types of employees (Runners, Joggers, Walkers, and Riders) and offers strategies for dealing with each type (and improving if you're a Walker or dreaded Rider.) I think, because Mr. Clark is single and his entire life is devoted to his school, which is fine, that he is maybe a little too impressed with people who basically have no life outside of work. He does mention that he understands that some of his teachers have families but he expects their full cooperation while they're at school, which I understand. But killing yourself day in and day out at any job, even if it's one you love, isn't really healthy and he kind of glamorizes being a "Runner" who's always the first to show up and the last to leave. That's not really sustainable without some major burnout, in my opinion, but other than that one caveat with his philosophy, I love the book. If you're a teacher, it will definitely get you fired up about being the best you can be (and possibly convincing your administrator to install a giant slide in your school's foyer.) 

5. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Oh man, this was so interesting. An American mom (and her British husband) found themselves raising their new baby (and eventually two more) in Paris and the resulting clash of cultures led to some startling insights as to the different in French and American kids. Basically, French kids eat everything (no tasteless rice cereal!) and have more sophisticated palates than most adults (including me), start sleeping through the night very early, and are just generally much more well-behaved than their American playmates. (The author said she only saw one meltdown from a French kid at the park in the three years she worked on this book. One!) Since one of my handful of nonnegotiable goals for Alice is consistently polite and non-horrible behavior, I am definitely going to be implementing some of this advice. (Sending her on a two-week field trip in first grade? Not so much.) 

6. NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Another fascinating look at the myths, legends, and otherwise widely-accepted tales we take at face value as truth about kids and parenting that are not necessarily right. This covers a wide range of topics from lying to racial attitudes to sleep patterns, but all of it was super interesting and made me think a lot about the way I want to raise my kids. The chapter I found most interesting was the discussion on praising your kids and how constant praise actually produces anxiety and a lack of effort in kids who feel their only worth is in being called "smart" or whatever other adjective you choose. Specific, earned praise is much more helpful, and even carefully worded criticism can do more to help your child improve than a standard "You did a great job," "I'm proud of you," etc. I don't plan on being a happiness miser and never praising my kids, but doing it thoughtfully makes a world of difference. Good stuff! (I did find some of the statistics pretty disturbing- especially the study on lying that found that pretty much all kids lie and their parents can't tell. I mean, teaching taught me that but still. I don't look forward to it!)

7. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. This book has a lot of negative reviews on Amazon that claim it only applies to upper middle class (or above) career professionals with a lot of disposable income. Well, you could probably make that argument if you wanted to ignore all the helpful information and feel better about yourself, but the truth is there is plenty of advice that can be applied to anyone, even if you don't have the money for a full-time laundry service (one time-saving practice recommended in the book.) Everyone claims to not have enough time to do all they want to do or should do. "There aren't enough hours in the day!" is a fairly common lament from all adults everywhere. But this book highlights the lives of several different kinds of people who actually have fulfilling jobs and home lives while devoting time to hobbies, volunteering, and other pursuits. How do they do it? The author points out that we all have the same amount of time- 168 hours per week- and that by taking a long, hard (and honest) look at what we do with those 168 hours, we can find the time to do just about anything we want. Again, some of what she recommends isn't for everyone (allowing your house to be messy, for example, is not on my list of acceptable exceptions, since that would drive me insane) but there are definitely principles that we all can apply. If nothing else, this will convict you about your social media and TV time, for sure. 

8. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This one might be my favorite of the whole bunch. Not only do I love anything set in the 40s or 50s, but I love baseball, and this book has both. It's a memoir of the author's childhood spent on Long Island as an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, an obsession shared by her dad and one that gave them a bond that lasted her whole life. He taught her the game, how to keep score, and the dedication of a truly loyal fan. Since the Dodgers barely missed out on the World Series multiple times during her childhood, she became well-acquainted with the comforting refrain, "Wait till next year." Aside from all the baseball talk, it's a fun look back at an innocent time of tight-knit neighborhoods and communities and just an all-around fun era to live in New York (the three-way rivalry between the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants was practically a living thing.) The author's life wasn't all happy times- her mother died when she was just 15, and she had to navigate through the uncertainty of the Cold War and adolescence, which some would argue are equally terrifying. But overall it's a very sweet book that reminded me a lot of Beverly Cleary's works, both her memoirs and fiction. And the mark of a truly good author, to me, is if I want to reader of their books. I requested everything our library had by Miss Goodwin so she's a winner. =)

There you go! I anticipate my fourth quarter reading to drop off a little more as we get adjusted to life with a new little person but we'll see how it goes! Maybe I'll include Alice's books to boost my numbers a little. =) As always, let me know if/when you check any of these out so we can have a virtual book club! Happy reading!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

38 Weeks

It's incredible to me that I'm 38 weeks pregnant, the baby could come any time, and that this could very well be my last pregnancy update. I had put together a bunch of nostalgic thoughts about the past several months and I was all set to write this glowing report of how I'm feeling since I was having a really great day and wasn't really in any pain or even discomfort. I was on my way to go shopping (just window-shopping really but I just felt like looking at clothes today) and had gotten all the way to the mall when I started having such sharp pains (contractions?) that I thought I might pass out at the wheel and had to turn around and come home. So, once again, "All those who think you have it made, take one step forward. Not so fast, George Banks!" (Story of my life!)

Anyway, I shouldn't be such a Debbie Downer because I really have felt pretty good lately... just not this morning! Maybe the Lord was keeping me from the mall so I wouldn't spent money. =) But now that I'm almost done being pregnant, I have become reflective of the whole experience- the good and the bad (and the ugly- there's definitely been some ugly.) I'll probably write a post solely dedicated to things I didn't expect about being pregnant or something like that... but these days I'm just having a bit of a hard time getting my thoughts together. (Imagine that!) I will say that even though it's been hard at times, I know that I've had an extremely easy pregnancy compared to most people and the fact that I've been pregnant at all is something some women never get to experience so I don't take that for granted at all. I am very (hashtag) blessed!

So, I'll try to put together a fun pregnancy-related post (maybe more humorous than my usual rambling questionnaire that you don't necessarily care about!) but for now, here is my (hopefully) last update before Alice makes her big appearance! (And it will be big... Homegirl is already in the 75th percentile for weight!) 

Speaking of the 75th percentile for weight.. ha! Ice cream = a reward for making it through a rather (ahem) invasive exam without crying. (I did whimper a lot but there were no tears.)

How far along: 38 weeks today!
How big is baby: not entirely sure but the app said the size of a Swiss chard... that's not something I'd want to eat let alone compare my baby to but I guess it means about 21 inches? 
Weight gain: yeah, yeah... it's there (but still not as bad as I thought it would be? Maybe I'm in denial.) I'm really starting to think about how that's going to be after the baby comes and how my clothes are going to fit with my new shape. It should be interesting! =) 
Sleeping: uggghhhh. Not good. I'm lucky to get a couple of hours uninterrupted by a bathroom break or just pain in my legs or back. I guess it's just practice for when I am forced to get up to feed the baby but it seems a little cruel to be deprived of my last few weeks of "freedom" to sleep when and for however long I want. 

Food cravings: still M&Ms, all day every day.
Food aversions: nothing in particular, but not much actually sounds good these days, hence the handfuls of M&Ms. (#cleaneating ha!) 
Symptoms: back pain, lack of sleep, uncontrollable emotions... poor Jonathan! We've both been a little edgy- mostly excited but obviously a lot of anxiety is building up since this is kind of a life-changing thing we're about to experience. To quote George Banks yet again, "There were leg cramps, backaches, and cravings... and the women were worse." 
Miss Anything?: sleeeeep. Also my wardrobe is pretty small (as in quantity not size =) right now, which is fine since I so rarely put on an actual outfit but still. And this has far less to do with being pregnant and more to do wit the weather but I am really ready to wear fall clothes and it's still SO. VERY. HOT. that even a light scarf (like I wore yesterday) is a huge mistake. 
Doctor’s appointment: Everything has been fine. As of last week I wasn't dilated but I guess we'll find out Thursday if that has changed. (Say a prayer for me!) 
Clothes: like I said, I'm not able to wear a bunch of stuff right now but it's mostly because it's too hot for my fall clothes, not because stuff doesn't fit. A lot of my clothes still fit but I'm typically reaching for the same handful of dresses since they're the easiest (and putting on pants or shorts requires careful maneuvering that I rarely have the energy for. #lazy) (Being super inflexible reminds me of being a cheerleader in tenth grade- I know, I know- and how one of the girls was trying to do the splits and even thought she was still like a foot off the ground she was like, "Coach! Coach! Look how low I am!" Poor thing. I shouldn't judge though since I of course never even really attempted the splits because again #lazy.) 
Movement: mostly just pushing outward since the poor baby is so squished in there at this point. She's definitely  outgrowing her space and needs to upgrade to a larger room! =)
Best moment of the week: we finished the nursery! (Cue Hallelujah Chorus and other fanfare type music.) I absolutely love how it turned out and mostly I'm just relieved that it's done... it was fun to put together but my indecisive nature along with lack of crafty skills made it pretty stressful at times. Plus we didn't really have a particular "theme" other than what was in my head so putting it all together was a challenge, but it's done and I'm happy with it. (Pictures are on Facebook if you wanna see!) 

Just one picture of the crib =)

What I’m looking forward to: having this baby! I'm definitely not looking forward to labor or pain or recovery BUT nothing can be as bad as the worst-case-scenario dread in my mind so getting past all that and just meeting her is going to be a huge relief!
What I did / Got for babyfinished the nursery. Packed her bag for the hospital (and mine too!). Read more of Babywise. 
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me... and peace for me and Jonathan. Like I said, we're both just a teensy bit anxious these days, mostly from fear of the Great Unknown that is Becoming Parents (and Experiencing Childbirth) so prayers to calm our nerves would be appreciated. It's easy to say that the Lord has everything under control (and He does!) but remembering it and taking it to heart are a little harder to do (especially when you're borderline crazy worried like I am.) I know soon it will be over and I won't feel like a nutcase anymore but for now pray for us! =) 
I'm really thinking that this will be my last update for this pregnancy... if she's born on or past her due date you might be treated to one more but I hope not! I don't want her to be really early- October 13 is just fine! But anything past that is too long... this family does not make a habit of being late! No tardiness for you, Alice! (Telling her that will make a difference, right? =)
Once again, thank you all so much for your prayers and sweet comments as you've endured my ramblings and worrying and complaints and ALL THE EMOTIONS for the past several months. It's been fun to document this journey but it wouldn't be all that great to write these posts if no one was reading about them so thanks for following along and being so nice. Now it's countdown to labor time... let the fun begin! (You know I'll be letting you know what happens right when it happens. Why come this far to miss out on the grand finale?) 

Monday, September 21, 2015

I'd Highly Recommend...

Since I have little better to do than sit around and freak out about going through labor (so fun!), I thought I'd share a few things I've really been enjoying lately. I really enjoy reading posts like this because I'm hesitant to try new things but I'm much more likely to venture out if someone I know recommends something (within reason... you can recommend all the kale and 5ks you want... not having any of it.) 

So, at the moment, I'd highly recommend...

...reading More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena B. Miller. I was extremely curious about what this would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised by the practical advice. The author was writing a novel about Amish life and in her research and time spent in the Amish community, she was so impressed with the behavior of the children that she wanted to explore the topic further. Paul Stutzman, who grew up Amish, contributed to the book. Together they picked out the positive aspects of Amish families, including the work ethic, patience, and sense of community that are strongly ingrained in the children from the earliest ages. One of the most interesting tidbits was that the youth retention rate of Baptists is about 65%, while the Amish retention rate is a staggering 95%. Clearly these people are doing something worth studying with their young people. (Also, I recommend Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. Both are super fascinating and were definitely great additions to my long, long list of parenting books.) 

...listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, a podcast that discusses happiness, human nature, and habits (in the most interesting way possible.) Gretchen co-hosts with her sister Elizabeth and together they cover all kinds of topics and give tips to help make life easier and more productive. I am a huge Gretchen Rubin fan (and you should definitely read her books) but most of the information in her books is discussed here. I always get some useful information and feel more productive just having listened to each episode (that's pretty impressive, right?) so download their series! It's so helpful!

...eating soup! A few of my favorites: creamy tomato (grilled cheese is a must!), jalapeno popper chili (in the crockpot... SO good and perfect for a football party!) chicken italiano (takes me right back to my childhood!), and taco stew (my personal favorite- make sure you get some Fritos to put on top!) All of these are easy (obviously, since I'm recommending them) and very, very yummy. If you're actually having soup weather then lucky you.. it's still in the 90s here so I'm just pretending it's fall. =( I'll try to keep my envy to a minimum. 

...watching... wait for iiiiiitttt... PSYCH, of course! Since Jonathan (tragically) hadn't seen the series the whole way through, we're watching it from the beginning and, as always, I'm reminded why it's my very favorite show. It's just so funny and quotable and makes me extremely happy. Also, if you have Netflix, they've recently added Person of Interest which is another favorite of ours. I'm not into crime shows at all but it's really good and the violence is kept to a minimum (Mr. Reese mostly shoots the bad guys in the knees, so there's not too much blood.) Or, if you're a 90s kid and feeling nostalgic, Girl Meets World is also now on Netflix and even though it's very much a "kid's show," it's so fun to see Cory and Topanga again as well as the occasional delightful appearance from Feeny, Shawn, Eric, and the rest of the BMW family. 

...drinking for those of us who aren't alllll about the pumpkin spice life, there's Alpine Spiced Apple Cider... sometimes this can be a little bit hard to find but I'm pretty sure Walmart always carries it. It's no Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks but sometimes (almost all the time) I don't want to shell out nearly four bucks for one drink so when I get a whole box of this for a dollar I think it's great. It's not too sweet or too tart and definitely tastes like fall! (I just bought some of this and some hot chocolate mix because again, I'm in denial about the temperature outside.) However, if you're totally hung up on coffee (which I understand!) then my personal favorite is Peppermint Mocha (and I prefer the Coffee Mate to International Delight, which is a little toothpaste-y to me. I probably shouldn't have such strong opinions about hot beverages.) 

...wearing swing dresses from Old Navy! (Sorry, male readers, if you were expecting something for yourselves there!) I bought my first ON swing dress this summer and it's been perfect for throwing on when I want to wear something cute but super comfortable (and totally works with my big pregnant self.) I grabbed a second short-sleeved color for $6 the other day but I'm most excited about the striped long-sleeve version I got on super sale online a couple weeks ago. They have a whole bunch of colors and prints but I figured black and white stripes would be the most versatile (plus, you know... stripes!) I ordered it in a tall for a little extra length and I can't wait to wear it with ankle boots and maybe even tights if we ever get some cooler weather. (Can you tell I'm slightly hung up on the weather?) I also really want this hat but it seems a little frivolous. =)

...browsing- what else?- Target's Dollar Spot. I realize I'm not totally objective since I have a slight Target addiction (hey, YOU try living across the street from one!) and the Dollar Spot always has cute stuff but specifically you should go check out the fall decorations. I didn't need much this year (okay, does anyone NEED fall decorations? I guess they're more of a luxury) but I did want a pumpkin with some gold on it. I looked at one of the "craft" pumpkins at Michaels along with gold paint and it would have been over $10 (plus I'd have to do it myself, so the results weren't guaranteed to be good!) but I found exactly what I was looking for in the Dollar Spot with no crafting required. They have a BUNCH of cute stuff and while some of it looks a little cheap, most of it looks really nice! Go check it out and may you have more self-control than I usually do.

I leave you with a gratuitous selfie because why not? (Oh, maybe because I'm 26 and about to become a mom, that's why not.) 

If you try any of this stuff and like it, let me know! (If you don't like it don't tell me because then I'll doubt myself forever.) 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

36 Weeks

Hello there, friends. I thought I'd share a few facts about how life is at this stage of pregnancy. Since you're reading this, you'll assume that my voice is calm and unhurried, perhaps the voice of an automated reminder from your doctor or the voice of whoever reminds you at the airport that "the next station will be Concourse A. Concourse A as in Alpha." (A voice, to quote Beverly Cleary, of a person "who had never hit his sister or cheered at a ball game.") 

If I were telling you about all this in real life, you'd have to listen to me trail off mid-sentence as I totally lose my train of thought, get slightly hysterical over the fact that I still haven't found any curtains for the nursery (my current thorn in the flesh), or just go nuts in general over the fact that I am having a baby very, very soon and that makes me a little bit crazy. 

Lucky for you, you're only reading this so I'll sound slightly normal and coherent, very different from real life. =) 

Moving on... even though our five-year anniversary was in July and we knew we wanted to take a short trip to celebrate, we opted to wait until the weather cooled down (and by that I mean back to the high 80s and low 90s... we are still in Texas, after all.) Then our wonderful church family and pastor decided to make the trip a gift for Pastor Appreciation Month and paid for our hotel room plus gave us food/shopping money, so that was an unexpected but gigantic blessing. (Thank you, thank you again Woodforest Church!) 

We spent last weekend in San Antonio and other than all the walking that seriously made me question my sanity, it was absolutely perfect. =) The weather was tolerable- not too hot, but of course carrying another human around inside me kind of bumps my temperature up anyway- and we stayed right on the Riverwalk, which is a must if you ever go! It was so nice to get away for a couple of days and soak up the last little bit of "alone time" we'll have before Miss Alice joins our little party. I've said this before but I'm really starting to get sad that the time we have with just the two of us is coming to an end, so ending the pregnancy with a trip like this was wonderful. I seriously have the best husband, y'all. *Sigh*... okay, mushy time is over. 

How far along: 36 weeks and 2 days.
How big is baby: about 19 inches long (ish?) and the ultrasound last week said close to seven pounds (!!!) but of course those are very flexible numbers so we'll see. I do know (because it was very clear on the screen) that she's pretty maxed out in there so either she'll come early or I'll have to stretch some more and neither of those is appealing to me so... we'll see.
Weight gain: I'm starting to see it more than just in my stomach... catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror can be like, "Woah! Who's the girl with the puffy face?? Oh, just me... carry on," as I eat another handful of M&M's. (Don't judge.) 
Sleeping: Hmm... a mixed bag, really. Sometimes it's good and sometimes not but for the last few days I've still been waking up at an ungodly hour BUT have been able to go back to sleep until around the time Jonathan's alarm goes off so that's a blessing. And I'm napping most afternoons, well... because I can and I know sleep doesn't work like rollover minutes but I'm enjoying it before it's gone forever.

Food cravings: Mostly just M&M's (the fall-colored ones, thank you) but I did finally get my Arby's the other day... shocker, it didn't live up to the hype in my head.
Food aversions: I'm kind of tired of soup... it's not an aversion per se since it doesn't gross me out or anything... I've just eaten it a LOT for the past few months and I don't want any for a while. (I'll probably make it again in a day or two though... it's so easy and I'm so lazy.)
Symptoms: um, well... I completely threw my back out the other night by moving a heavy object (in my defense I didn't know how heavy it was and dropped it almost immediately BUT it was just long enough to hurt myself.) The past couple days I've been moaning constantly and avoiding the use of my right leg (pretty hard, it turns out) but I think I'm turning a corner. Fingers crossed. 
Miss Anything?: sleep. A waistline. Being able to shave my legs without cramping up like a runner who forgot to stretch. 
Doctor’s appointment: Last week's was really good... we had an ultrasound and everything was perfect, my fluid was good, etc. We'll have another checkup today and each week until she arrives. 
Clothes: I'm now trying to avoid buying any more maternity clothes since I'm so close to the end but I did buy a few tank tops and t-shirts at Old Navy the other day (I think they were less than $2 each... yay clearance!) to get me through the next few weeks. I still have my tent-like dresses and elastic-waist shorts so I'm hoping that will see me to the end!
Movement: after last week's ultrasound I know where she's positioned so I now can tell if it's a foot, hand, or elbow jabbing me... nice to know exactly how I'm being assaulted. =) 
Best moment of the week: our trip was amazing, I got the sweetest baby package (that totally made me tear up!) from a dear friend (love you Mrs. Temple!), I got my dresser drawers organized and my fall/winter clothes were gone through again... got out a bunch of lighter stuff that I'll be able to wear soon, washed it, listed some stuff to sell, etc. (I think I'm nesting!) Oh, and I ate In 'n' Out Burger for the first time almost ten years and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. 

The Holy Land... also I never eat late at night anymore but you better believe I downed a cheeseburger and fries at 11:30 pm with NO regrets.

What I’m looking forward to: if I could just find some curtains my life would be much better. Seriously, curtains and a lamp should not be so hard to find. And it would be nice if everything I saw wasn't either absolutely hideous or or required the sale of one of my kidneys. Ah well, such is life. 
What I did / Got for baby: I was tempted on our trip to buy ALL the baby clothes but I stuck to a very few needed items (namely newborn stuff since we had almost nothing that size) but I'm telling you... it was hard. It's a good thing my love of cute clothes is only outweighed by my cheapness or this kid would have me in serious trouble. 
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me... the hardest part right now is not knowing when she's coming so pray that the timing is just right. I'm leaving that in the Lord's hands. Too soon and I'm not ready, too late and I'll probably be rolling around like Violet Beauregarde as a blueberry. Sounds fun!

If you care about such things, my jeans are Liz Lange Maternity, my top is Loft Maternity, and my shoes (my favorites ones pretty much ever) are from Target last year and I deeply regret not buying them in black. Also some people were staring when I took this picture but considering that the San Antonio Comic Con was also going on I refused to be made to feel self-conscious by people dressed up as cartoon characters.

Thanks again for sticking around and being so kind through this whole experience... asking about the baby, praying for our family, telling me I look pretty... equally important things. =) You're all the bomb! Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Classic Book and Movie Combos for Kids

For most of my life, I haven't had very many kids to buy presents for. My nieces and nephews were easy since anything bright and shiny (including wrapping paper) would be a hit but now that Emily is reading, I feel the need to be enriching her education by introducing her to some of my favorite books. The same was true of Miles and Meghan (my ring bearer and flower girl)... I wanted to be the cool "cousin" (our chosen title =) but also give them something that was actually beneficial. 

Any kid would be happy to get a new movie, but not every kid is delighted with a book. (Weird!) Last year I had a moment of inspiration and decided to get Miles a movie I knew he liked and the book it was based on... hopefully inspiring him to enjoy the movie AND to read and appreciate the classic book. (He was thrilled with both.) 

SO, since that went over so well and since I just found a combo-pack of some of my favorite book-turned-movies this weekened (yay Target!) I was inspired to make a list of some of really great classic books (and their equally wonderful movie adaptations.) These make such good Christmas or birthday presents!

1. Anne of Green Gables- naturally this first of the Anne series by L. M. Montgomery  is the most well-known (and it's my personal favorite) but the movie version with Megan Follows is a classic in its own right. It still blows my mind that a made-for-tv movie could be so good and still beloved by pretty much everyone 30 years later. (This was evidenced by the public outcry of grief over the recent death of Jonathan Crombie who played Gilbert Blythe... RIP, Gil! =( Anyway, both are definitely worth reading/watching and it would be pretty cool to introduce a little person in your life to Anne-with-an-E. 

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- this was always one of my favorite movies (the Gene Wilder version, not the creepy-as-all-get-out Johnny Depp version) but, inexplicably, I had never read the book until last fall. Ronald Dahl is just a wonder- the book is smart and sweet and hilarious and any kid would love it. And if you get the movie to accompany it, the kid will get to see that amazing chocolate-making montage in the beginning (and also be haunted by a lifetime fear of Oompa Loompas. Win/win, right?) 

3. Pollyanna- this is another one that I had somehow reached adult without reading, but the Disney movie starring Hayley Mills was a Baines family favorite when I was growing up. The book by Eleanor Porter is excellent and delves a little more into the story, especially the perspective of the adults (more background in the whole Polly Harrington/Dr. Chilton storyline, for example) but I do love the movie with Aunt Polly brought to life by an austere Jane Wyman. While I never quite mastered it, maybe your child will take a shine to playing the "Glad Game" and become more positive. =) 

4. The Secret Garden- this book might be a little hard to get through in some spots for some kids, simply because it spends a lot of time describing scenes (like the garden) and the dialogue and story are more sparsely placed... it's not an action-packed novel by any means. But it's beautifully written and can give the reader an appreciation for descriptive writing. (I promise, reading good writing is SO helpful in forming kids' vocabularies and writing ability.) Anyway, the movie version (starring Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock- the other versions are no good!) is awesome. The little girl who plays Mary is perfectly prickly and thaws as the magic of the garden and new friends unlocks her cold, lonely little heart. 

5.  Cheaper by the Dozen- this book is just a pure delight to read. I'd probably recommend it for middle-grade and up (and warning, there's a bit of language from Mr. Gilbreth) but these stories just make me so happy. This real-life family and their hilarious antics seem almost too good to be true, making it even more heartbreaking when their dad does pass away unexpectedly. But, in true Gilbreth fashion, they take even a tragedy in stride and do their best to keep things rolling the way Dad would have wanted. (Read the sequel Belles on Their Toes for a better look at their life after losing their father and then read Time Out for Happiness, written by Frank, Jr. in 1973... it's basically a biography of both Frank, Sr. and Lillian Gilbreth and a detailed look at their work in motion studies- absolutely fascinating.) Anyway, the movie is one of my favorites ever and it's on Netflix if you want a preview. (I'm talking about the 1950's version- not the lame one with Steve Martin that has absolutely nothing in common with the book other than the twelve kids.) I think this would be really fun to read aloud!

6. A Christmas Carol- I bought this for Meghan last year and then took her to see the play... if you can't manage that (although you should if you can- so fun!) then there are several movie versions available. The book isn't very long- it's actually considered a novella- and is divided into only five chapters or staves- you can impress your child by explaining that a stave is a musical staff. Stave-music-Christmas carol- get it? I also had my students read this and we really enjoyed the discussion. (Well, I did.) My favorite movie version takes quite a bit of liberty but then, it's the Muppets, so... yeah, Bob Cratchit wasn't really a frog, was he? But Michael Caine is awesome as Scrooge and I love the songs. That said, if you want to be more of a purist, the George C. Scott version is very good and slightly less ridiculous. =) 

7. A Little Princess- I saved my favorite for last... this book (a hardcover from a garage sale my mom bought for probably a quarter) was probably my most re-read and beloved as a child (and teenager- and adult.) It's just so GOOD and never gets old to me. (Side note- I used passages of it every year to teach the unit on adjectives. The descriptions are excellent.) There are several movie adaptations, ranging from a Shirley Temple one complete with tap-dancing to my personal favorite, the 1995 version that, while not terribly faithful to the book, is just a great movie. (I scored it and The Secret Garden in one DVD!) Please, if there is a little girl in your life, get her this book and the movie. But first, the book- she needs to appreciate the beauty of it. (I still love finding my copy at my parent's house and seeing "Ashley Baines age 11.") 

To this list I would add Ella Enchanted (the movie's okay but the book is SO good),  the Harry Potter series, Matilda, with the movie starring Mara Wilson, and James and the Giant Peach, with the Disney claymation version. (Roald Dahl can do no wrong and particularly excels at writing nasty adult characters that kids will love to read about.) I know that there are tons more options, but these are what I'd consider classics and books I'd really want a child to be familiar with. Not every movie is a cinematic masterpiece but if you have a reluctant reader, the promise a movie version (after the book is read or maybe while they're progressing through it) can help encourage them to try a new or more challenging book. 

Speaking of, it's going to be so fun to introduce Alice to all my favorites over the next few years. If by some strange coincidence she doesn't become a bookworm and/or movie buff, it won't be from lack of trying on the part of her mother. =)