Monday, May 31, 2010

26 weeks pregnant!

Happy (Merry?) Memorial Day, my friends! I feel so blessed to live in such a wonderful country, despite all the "issues and concerns" I may have with the government and society in general.

I am sure you are incredibly shocked that I have actually been posting regularly lately. You see, I do most of my "computing" from my touch phone (I have the the HTC Hero), and it can be difficult to write a post. I'm trying to hop on the laptop more often (at least every evening) and answer emails (often, my emails don't get sent from my phone... bah!), check on some of my favorite websites and blogs, and scramble up an entry.

So, hopefully, I can keep this up, even if it means writing a post or two in advance and setting it to post in a few days. :)

I am now 26 weeks pregnant. I'm telling you, every week that passes I feel so crazy-blessed. After four miscarriages, I had a hard time believing we'd make it this far.. and after everything that we went through with this little sweetie [Read: The Day That Shook My World], I definitely feel like I'm walking on air. This pregnancy has actually flown by quite fast, although I'm sure that will likely change as I enter the last few weeks- especially if this pregnancy runs a little over 40 weeks, like with Keagan.

That's when people start asking those ridiculous questions like:
You haven't had that baby yet?
(You know, I thought that was obvious....)

It's funny because, when I was 41 weeks pregnant with Keagan, I dreaded going to church that Sunday- not because I didn't want to go to bible study or hear the sermon... but because I had been getting bombarded with silly questions and comments for the last 5 weeks!

And, because we were planning an unassisted birth with him, some of the legitimate questions people had (like, "Is your doctor going to induce?" or "What does your midwife think?") made me squirm because I did not want to tell people that we had dropped professional prenatal care once I made it to the third trimester, and I DEFINITELY didn't want people to know we were planning an unassisted birth. (Especially since our small group had three or four doctors and four or five nurses who would have likely freaked out on me!)

This time, we do have a midwife. (Mainly because my intuition told me it would be best- NOT because we didn't have a wonderful, awesome unassisted birth... because Keagan's unassisted birth was AMAZING and I would love to have a DOZEN more births like that.)

[Btw, you can read my posts regarding the Unassisted Birth HERE.]

Interestingly enough, little Evangeline is due around the same time Keagan was due. Keagan was due on September 2nd, or September 4th, depending on which time line you listened to (the ultrasound said the 2nd, my calculations said the 4th). He arrived on the 12th.

Evangeline Rose is due on the 6th. I am expecting her to come mid-month. If she arrives earlier, I will be most thrilled and excited, though! :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Project: Mosiac Graph Paper Art

By the way- I've officially hit 200 posts! :) YAY ME!

Moving on....

Just as with recipes, some crafts and projects are a hit, and others are a flop. Sometimes one kiddo loves it and the other hates it. This project was one of those.

It's incredibly simple, and it's one of those art projects I can set out and step away from, instead of watching over their shoulders to make sure no one is gluing plates to the table, painting the walls, or cutting their hair.

It only requires graph paper and map pencils. (You could also use markers or crayons, but I found map pencils are better for the small squares, and there's none of that inevitable smudging that comes with using markers.)

Make note that you could also use your word processing program to make graph paper (by using tables and making each column and row the same size and width). In fact, you might want to do this to make larger squares for younger kids to fill in. (I think Nolyn probably would have done better with larger squares- less time consuming.)

I drew a large shape on each piece of graph paper (a star for Merikalyn, a boot for Nolyn). I specifically chose shapes that I not only knew they'd like, but that would also fit in our livingroom "theme" since I'm displaying them as art.

I had them put a magazine or book underneath because my table cloth is textured. Merikalyn loved this project and worked at it until it was completely finished. Brandon loved how it turned out as well.

Nolyn, on the other hand, didn't really have as much fun. This is what he completed yesterday, although today, while I prepared for lunch, he worked on it some more. While the rice was simmering, he asked if I would help him, so I did half of it with him. Hopefully he'll have it completed by the end of today so I can frame it. I should say, he likes the project, but he just feels it's too tedious. He loves the end result, but doesn't want to do "all that work" to get there. :) I know the feeling.

And here's the end result. I "traced" the star a little larger on a piece of white computer paper and mounted it on construction paper (with those little scrapbooking sticky squares). I wrote Merikalyn's name, the date she did it, and her age. My mom kept some of her favorites of our artwork, and I always enjoyed flipping through it and seeing how much my style has changed and how much I've improved. I hope my kids can do the same some day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I love being pregnant!

[24 weeks pregnant]

I love being pregnant. People assume, because I love being pregnant, that my pregnancies are easy going and peachy, when they really aren't.

However, this pregnancy has been different from all the rest. With my first three pregnancies, I spent the first 20 weeks hovering over the porcelain throne. It wasn't pleasant. It was hard to keep food down, and I ended up losing anywhere from 10-15 pounds with all three. My third pregnancy (Keagan) was the most difficult. Our house had major issues- like mold and mildew- and living in Louisiana isn't exactly easy on the allergies anyway. Pair that with the usual pregnancy "morning" sickness, and I spent the majority of the first trimester on the couch, wishing I could get up and be a REAL mom and a REAL wife. My husband even bought new toilets for the bathroom, since I was having such personal conversations with them on a hourly basis.

[22 weeks]

But this pregnancy? I've been nauseated from time to time, and I've had "conversations with the throne" a few times (usually due to sinus drainage, which, combined with the nausea, has me running to the toilet), but it's been incredibly pleasant. I never dreamed I would have a first trimester that sailed so smoothly. (Maybe it was just God way of blessing me as we went through all the difficult things with Merikalyn's brain mass.)

Yes, I love being pregnant, but it's not exactly the most comfortable state of being. Early in the first trimester, my right leg starts having issues. I don't have great circulation in this leg to begin with, but then comes the loosening of the pelvis which always causes a pinched nerve. The result is so painful that, when it hits I can't even put my weight on the leg. (It comes and goes, but occurs most often in the evening and throughout the night.)

And the back pain. Oy. The backpain. I have a tiny frame and my growing belly pulls at my spine (which already has issues of its own).

Then there's the problem with food. I'm hungry all the time. My stomach doesn't seem to hold much, so I eat a portion and am stuffed.. until twenty minutes later.

Of course, it's always dangerous kneeling or sitting down, because it may be quite a struggle to stand up again- especially if I sit on the floor.

And the nose bleeds? Oh, the nose bleeds. I'm sure if you looked in my trash can, you would think we had murdered someone and tried to keep it up with toilet paper and tissues.

Then, the baby grows and starts dancing around... and sometimes you wake up to find your whole womb is sore- like someone had a boxing match with your uterus all night.

But... it's all worth it. It really is. And I know so many women who would not mind suffering through the worst pregnancy symptoms if it meant carrying a child in their own womb.

And besides- there are all the wonderful moments of pregnancy that definitely overshadow those pesky nosebleeds, aching muscles, and talks with the toilet.

Like feeling the rush of excitement when you first realize you're pregnant.
Like watching your little belly grow and wondering at the life inside.
Like feeling the first little flutters of movement which grow into more obvious movements.
Ah, yes- there is something awesome and inspiring about peering down at your belly with your spouse and watching a foot or elbow slide around your belly.

There's the anticipation of arrival- the planning that goes into it all: picking a name, browsing baby items, setting up the baby's space (whether it's in your room or a nursery of her own).
There's the wondering, "What will she look like? What will her personality be?" and the eagerness to nurse that little one and grow strong bonds.

[Keagan, showing where the baby is going to nap- in her new "lite", aka mini, pack'n'play.. a gift from my friend Mellie!]

And then there's that moment when you realize that a child is the only thing "you" can make that is eternal... everlasting. A wonderful gift that God allows us to have part in.

Pregnancy is AMAZING. It is God's special gift.

I'm lucky to have a husband who loves my pregnant body. There's just something awesome about the whole ordeal!

[25 weeks]

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Craft Closet

My kids are a lot like their parents- they were born with the creativity gene. My mother-in-law is quite the artist- the sews, gardens, paints, creates beautiful rugs, and much more. My husband is equally as talented. Their artwork is more of the "serious" style (painted china, rich tapestries, etc), while mine is usually more playful- cartoony doodles, silly poems, contemporary paintings. My mother-in-law and my husband will spend weeks, months, and even years completing their art, while I normally don't create anything I can't finish in a couple hours- at most, a couple days.

My art is a release- it's important to me- whether it's a doodle, a song scribbled on the back of a piece of junk mail, or a painting slapped onto canvas. When I was a kid, especially in my preteen and teen years, I spent a lot of time writing poetry, filling sketchbooks with drawings, and painting whatever came to mind. My days were filled with these sort of things, and they always reflected what I was feeling at the time.

It's no wonder my children are so drawn to art. They are always asking to do a "project", and love when we venture out to Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

We do a good bit of Mommy-made crafts and spur of the moment things, but the kids love the little cheap projects that we snag here and there. I like to keep stocked up because there are times when I need something to keep them busy while I get things done around the house. I've been collecting little projects for when the baby arrives as well, and soon I'm going to get started on setting up my own set of project bags for them. I want to stock pile so they'll have plenty to do and keep them upbeat when Mommy can't give them all the attention they desire because the baby needs feeding or diaper changing or... Mommy needs a nap! :)

Here's some photos of the loot we recently grabbed from Michael's. (They were putting in new inventory which means MAJOR CLEARANCE!)

Four bins of stuff- plus five frames for displaying more of their artwork around the house.

What was in the bins. All sorts of good stuff- crosses to paint, wooden spoons to make dolls, tiles to decorate, mini canvases to paint, beads to make cute safari necklaces, sponge "bugs" to grow, stamps to make cards for friends, mugs to decorate, and so much more! RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP!

A view of the kids' game and project closet. (There's a couple more boxes elsewhere.. but this is most of it.)

And, how about a snapshot of my cuties and me to close this post out?
I'll post photos of the "Mommy-made" craft bags when I get them done! I know I always love some quick craft-spiration!

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The day that shook my world

Wow, what a day, what a day.

I'm quite stunned..... Stay with me here, because either you should clearly read the whole thing, or don't read it at all. Otherwise, you'll have only part of the information. Please don't skim!

So, it turns out my midwife didn't give me the full amount of information on our baby's condition. I am sure this is because she thought, after all we had been through with Merika (and just, in general, PERIOD), it would have been too much for us to digest.

The diagnosis was quickly adding up to Trisomy 18. While he was doing the ultrasound, Dr K asked me, "Do you know what Trisomy 18 is?"
I shrugged, "Well, I know that most babies don't live very long."

We were not told that, during our first ultrasound, a cyst was found on the baby's brain. (I think I probably would have had a heart attack, since it was just days after Merikalyn had been released from the hospital.. and I would have instantly thought it was something related.)

Turns out, this cyst issue and the heart issue our baby had are two of the "symptoms" of Trisomy 18. To our knowledge, she didn't have any of the other issues, though. (Although it is not uncommon to only have 2-3 of the issues appear in an ultrasound.)
So, did you read all of that? Do you understand that? Did you catch the key words like, "had"?

Because all of that... is gone.

The cyst on the brain? Gone.
The heart condition? Gone.
Four chambers? Check!

I was honestly tearing up during the ultrasound. I wanted to hop up, fling my arms around Dr. K, and give him the biggest, tightest hug ever. (And btw, Dr. K is the best OB I've ever met. He's so kind... and has a great sense of humor. I just love him!)

I just kept thinking, "Wow God, you were answering prayers we didn't even know to pray."
I hate to say it, but while I prayed that God would completely heal the baby's heart- I actually didn't expect Him to. (Where is my faith, right?) I mean, I just figured God had a purpose for her, and we would go through this ordeal, and .. well, anyway. Not that it would make God any less awesome or great in my eyes if He didn't heal it all up completely. Not that He'd be "a bad God" in my eyes if we had a Trisomy 18, but


Our baby is perfect, and beautiful, and lovely and WHOLE AND COMPLETE.

(My MW just called and I told her the news, and she nearly blew my eardrum out screaming and praising God! It was awesome!)

I am truly humbled and reminded of the power of prayer. Inside, I ache because I know there are so many people out there who received "NO" as an answer, and why am I so fortunately to receive a YES and HEALING for our prayers... and for prayers we didn't even know to pray!?

But WOW, the God I serve it pretty rockin' awesome.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Super Seven: Happy Birthday Merika!

I've been a mother for seven years now. It's hard for me to believe. In fact, I am sure there are a lot of folks out there thinking, "Well gee, I remember when that girl's momma was seven!"

Merikalyn was ever so excited when she realized TODAY was the day. She did a little jig around the house. We didn't do any homeschooling (as if you can keep these kids from learning anything!), although I'm sure she wouldn't have minded homeschooling on her birthday.

I had a midwife appointment this morning and took the kiddos with me. No new news, although tomorrow I am setting up an appointment with the specialist to have a closer look at the baby's heart. (Reminder: Our first ultrasound showed that our little baby, who is due early September, has a three chambered heart, instead of four.) The MW spoke to my insurance today and filled out the request/recommendation, so we can move ahead (as we have been eager to do for the last month).

She has a very strong heartbeat- and from the sound of it, you would never know it's not complete. She wiggles and moves a lot (in fact, the MW's assistant had to chase her around to listen to her heartbeat). I imagine that she is hanging out in there, sucking her thumb (as she did throughout our first ultrasound), and playing hide and go seek.

Anyway, after my appointment, I treated the kids to Happy Meals (very rare!) at McDonald's and read a magazine as they played on the indoor play equipment. We headed home, where I planned on setting up the pool we had used last summer, but I guess we just wore that sucker out, so we loaded ourselves back in the van and bought another... a better one.

The kids have been ACHING to "go swimming" since last summer. (I can't tell you how many times during the winter I had to tell them "Sorry! It's just too cold to go swimming outside!") Today, while splashing in the little pool with her siblings, Merikalyn exclaimed, "This is the best day of my life!"

I just love that it's the simple things kids really enjoy- like running through the sprinkler.

After a good bit of splashing and playing, the kids changed back into their clothes and headed to their bedrooms for an hour long nap before AWANA. This is the second to last AWANA class they have, and I know they will miss it until it starts up next year. (I'm lazy and have not got around to putting all their patches on their vests... bad mother!) They really love the bible, and while we do try to memorize scriptures at home, I know it can be really fun to do so in a group setting as well. Nolyn used his AWANA bucks to get me The Prayer of Jabez (as an early mother's day gift), and I absolutely LOVE it. If you're looking for something to read (it's a really short book though) and something that will really touch your heart and give you some insight into God's heart for us, this is the book. I can't tell you how awesome it is. You'll just have to read it yourself.

I know some of you don't know what AWANA is, so I'll try to explain it. Their website says, "Awana helps churches and parents work together to develop spiritually strong children and youth who faithfully follow Jesus Christ." They have little booklets and lessons that focus on the key verses for the foundations of what we believe. Children earn patches for memorizing verses, and can also earn "Awana bucks" for showing up on time, wearing their vest, having their bible, etc- which can be used to purchase items in the Awana store.

I like it because it's a great environment for them to make friends as well, and it's one of those "extracurricular activities" that adds another dynamic to our homeschool.

Anyway, I would say the kids really had a great day.