Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I forgot a couple cute parts to the gender reveal story.

Lucy never asked how the ultrasound tech knew it was a boy. And when she was looking at the pictures later, the tech wrote "it's a boy" on the money shot. Lucy read, "It's a boy!" but didn't ask what the picture was of. Haha. Whew. Explanation avoided! I can't wait to hear the questions that arise when she helps change that first diaper . . .

As we were leaving the doctor's office, I told Lucy I wanted to stop at Target and get a "little brother" outfit, so we could use it to reveal the news to Grandma and Aunt Niki. Lucy said, "No! I want to tell them!" And she actually did it. She exclaimed "It's a boy!" to everyone who asked. So sweet.

2. I pulled out the fall bins of Lucy's old clothes for Lena, and put away some of Lena's outgrown stuff this week. And I got a little sad that no one will wear those adorable outfits again. Thinking of all the newborn dresses and skirts that are packed away nearly brought me to tears. Yeah . . . I don't think this can be our last baby . . .

3. Last week at Sparkies (Lucy's Wednesday night church program), they had a fire drill and had to go outside in the dark. Lucy was totally traumatized. (Imagine that.) She insisted that she's never going to Sparkies again. These kind of issues are so hard for me. I was that fearful child. I know how she feels. I don't want to force her into situations that she's scared of. But I also know that I can't coddle her and she has to learn to face her fears in order to function in society. Justin said that she had to go on Wednesday. She didn't really want to, but wasn't in all-out fit mode when they left the house. But he said she was crying in the corner when he left her at church. Ugh. My poor anxious child. I hate that I've passed it on to her. We reassured her up and down that they only have to do one fire drill a year and there wouldn't be another one, that fire drills are actually a good thing and teach them how to be safe, that even if there was a fire, she knows what to do and the firemen will come put it out, etc, etc. But if there's one thing I know, logic doesn't apply to fear. Fortunately, Lucy came through it just fine. She came home bouncing up and down, singing new songs, showing off the Halloween goodies she got from her teacher, and talking all about what they did. I'm glad Justin made me make her go. It's a good thing someone around here has his head on straight and isn't crippled by fear. Haha.

4. I discovered Anne Taintor on Pinterest this week. I don't identify with her hatred of being a housewife, but her cooking philosophy aligns perfectly with mine:

I made two meals for dinner this week that Justin didn't like. On Thursday, he had to work late, then planned to give plasma afterward, so he said he was just going to get fast food on the way home. Well, that's just not fair that he gets to eat out and we don't (life is all about fairness, you know), so I told him we'd meet him for dinner. As it turned out, Olive Garden was running a special for $1 kids' meals, and I had $50 in gift cards from my birthday. So Olive Garden it was!

If you know me at all, you know I love Olive Garden. So Lucy has had it many times in her life. She's never had a problem with their food. On Thursday, she got macaroni, fries, breadsticks, and milk. She gobbled down 3 breadsticks, hardly touched her food, and guzzled two cups of milk. I specifically asked what they fry their fries in and was told canola oil (soybean oil makes her puke). While the waitress was at our table boxing up our leftovers, Lucy started to whine that her belly hurt. After years of experience, I am prepared for these events. I whipped a plastic grocery bag out of my purse, threw it at Lucy, and she promptly puked everything she had eaten into it. The poor waitress didn't know what to do. I really wanted to assure her that she's not contagious, she just has some kind of weird allergy or eats too fast. As soon as the puke was out of her belly, Lucy felt fine again. So weird.

5. Here's one for my fellow Friends fans: one day recently, Lucy and Lena were doing something with their hands and Lucy randomly said, "Look mommy! Our hands are twins!" All I could think of was this:

6. I had an eye doctor appointment yesterday. We have vision insurance, so I get one free exam a year. I hate going, because the doctor always scolds me about how I'm ruining my eyes, wearing my contacts too long, have to stop buying cheap Meijer brand contact solution, etc. But either pregnancy is good for my eyes or he was feeling lazy yesterday, because he didn't lecture me at all! And when my exam was over, he looked at my insurance information and said I was eligible for free frames! I was excited because my glasses are from the year 2000 and are pretty much worthless. I want some cute glasses to wear in the hospital and after the baby's born. So I picked some out, then sat down with the receptionist. Imagine my surprise when she said I owed $165. I'm a dunce and didn't realize the lenses are an added expense on top of the frames. It was fine because we have HSA money just sitting in our account for this kind of thing, but it still annoys me. She itemized my bill and told me before insurance, the exam and glasses total came to $440. That is so ridiculous. You can go to America's Best or Eyeglass World and get an exam and glasses for like $69. Stinkin' optometrists. (But stay tuned for pictures of my cute glasses! Haha.)

7. I recently figured out how to save my own snapchats. So here's our week in snapchat pictures:

Niki sent me a snapchat saying they finally got the cable hooked up at their new house. This was Lucy's response:
Lena came down with some kind of stomach bug this week. She's not the pro Lucy is at puking and doesn't realize when it's coming, so she spewed all over the kitchen floor one night while I was making dinner. She spent the rest of the night like this:

The girls got new boots from Once Upon a Child. Lucy adores hers and walks around saying, "I look so cute!" Lena likes hers too, but doesn't like pictures:

While Niki lived in an apartment for the past year, we housed her cat. Now that she's finally getting settled in the new house, we knew she'd be coming for her cat any day. One night, Trouble did this, so I had to send a picture to Niki:
She was not nearly as accommodating when it actually came time to ride in the car and go to Niki's house. Haha.
And this was in my gender reveal post, but it pretty much sums up our week. Still trying to wrap our heads around it!

Happy Halloween, y'all! Stay warm and dry!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The [Long] Reveal Recap

After much anticipation, we finally had our big ultrasound yesterday. I've waffled this entire pregnancy between thinking it's a boy and a girl. This pregnancy has been very different than my other two - I was sick, I've had all kinds of bleeding issues (which has nothing to do with the baby's sex), and the baby's heart-rate has been consistently lower than my girls' ever were. So that made me think it was a boy.

But I just couldn't picture having a boy and my intuition was telling me girl. I'm usually a believer in a mother's intuition, but this time it was flat out wrong! Haha.
I wasn't crying. That's just how my eyes look. Haha.
I was lucky and got in for a semi-early ultrasound at 9:45 am, instead of having to wait all day. We let Lucy take the day off of school so she could come with us. She's been looking forward to it for weeks, but when it came time to leave Lena at Niki's house, Lucy melted down, saying she wanted to stay with Niki too:
Crying in the car.
She got over it pretty quickly, though, and we headed off to the doctor's office. The first thing the ultrasound tech did was check the baby's heartbeat. When she said the BPM was 125, I started to doubt my intuition. Neither of the girls' heartbeats was ever lower than 140. But I know that's just an old wives tale and nothing scientifically proven. The tech looked around a little and we got some cute pictures of the baby's profile, then she started to make her way down its body.

I am terrible with ultrasounds and can never really tell what I'm seeing:

But as the tech focused on the baby's lower half, I really started to think I was seeing something between its legs. Haha. Finally, she said, "Do you have a guess for gender?" Justin and I both said, "yes" and I said, "Is it a boy?" She confirmed that it was! I think the first words out of my mouth were, "I can't believe it!" Haha. Up until recently, Lucy only wanted a girl, but yesterday morning she said she wanted a boy. So she was thrilled. And Justin, while not outwardly enthusiastic, was also excited. :-) 

The tech continued on to check the baby's anatomy. She pointed out kidneys, bladder, 4 chambers of the heart, brain, spine, arms, legs, hands, feet, nose and mouth. Again, I didn't recognize a lot of it. Haha. But I was relieved to hear it was all there. When she was done, she asked, "Is there anything else you want to see?" and I said, "Can you just double check that it's definitely a boy?" Haha. I still couldn't believe it. She chuckled and said, "It's pretty unmistakable." And the picture she printed off for us definitely leaves no doubt. Whew!

I was a little nervous because she spent a lot of time looking at his head and heart. I hate that the tech isn't allowed to say anything if there's something wrong. But the doctor confirmed that everything is perfect and he's growing right on track!

My subchorionic hematoma still hasn't changed at all, which is a little disheartening. Everyone that I've talked to who had one said theirs was gone by 20 weeks. I finally asked the Dr. to explain the risks to me. I wanted to know if having one my entire pregnancy will up my risk for bed-rest or a c-section. She assured me that neither of those were likely and the biggest risk is that it could cause the placenta to tear away. But she also assured me that my hematoma is no where near my placenta and she has no reason to think it will be a problem. I just get to keep having ultrasounds to check on it!

And now, my feelings about having a boy . . .

You'd think that having two girls already would make me want a boy. Most people want at least one of each. But I'e always wanted girls. I love having girls. I love that they're sisters and will [hopefully] be best friends all their lives. I adore having sisters and would've loved to provide my girls with another one! Also, having another girl would be more practical. We're poor and already have totes and totes filled with girl clothes. It's kind of daunting to think of starting over with a boy. Fortunately, 95% of my baby gear is gender neutral, and honestly this boy will be fine sitting in a pink Bumbo. Haha.

If you had asked me a couple weeks ago what I wanted, I would've said girl. As we got closer to the reveal, I started to think I might want a boy. It's likely this will be our last baby (although we're not doing anything permanent, so I won't rule out another one ;-) ) and I started to get a little sad at the thought of never having a boy. So I was thrilled when we found out it's a boy.

And yet . . . I'm a little uncertain. Mostly because it's unknown for me. I'm used to being a girl mom. Being a boy mom kind of scares me. I don't like dirt or sports or fart jokes. And yes, I know I'm gender-stereotyping and my boy may not like those things - or my girls very well could. But so far, my girls are very girly and I haven't had to deal with most of those things (although they do enjoy a good fart joke). I also feel a tiny bit disconnected. Somehow, I feel like I'd be closer to the baby if it was a girl. I'm kind of weirded out that there's a boy living in my body. Haha. I can't really articulate it - which is unusual for me; and which is why this entry is ridiculously long. 

I feel like this adage is true: "A daughter is a daughter for all her life. A son is a son til he takes a wife." In my dream world, my girls are going to be my friends forever. They're going to share things with me and rely on me and love me forever. A boy is going to love me while he lives with me and need me while I'm providing the food, but he'll grow up and leave me. 

But I also know that all these concerns about bonding will fly out the window as soon as they put this baby in my arms. I will love and adore him immediately. The connection just hasn't been as instant as it was with the girls. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited. It's just something new to wrap my head around. And I'm already stressed about picking a name. We had Lucy's name picked out before we knew she was a girl. With Lena, we had a list we needed to narrow down. With this boy, we have a list of like 4 names that are ok, but nothing we love. I read through the social security website's top 1000 boy names yesterday and still didn't find anything I love. Oy vey.

And while I'm a little stressed about spending money, I'm going to enjoy shopping for a boy wardrobe. :-)

It's been fun to share the news, too. Everyone would've been happy with another girl, but people are even happier that it's a boy. Haha. I got 137 likes on my announcement picture on facebook yesterday. Niki cried. My mom shouted excitedly. It's just been fun all around. :-) 

Sweet nameless baby boy

Sunday, October 25, 2015

20 Weeks!

Lena was not in the mood for pictures today. And I don't know what is going on with my hair . . .
Baby is the size of a banana this week.

How Far Along? 20 weeks - halfway!!
Total Weight Gain: +4 (!) this week, +7 
Maternity Clothes? Jeans, yes. 
Sleep: Night sweats, psychotic dreams, takes forever to fall asleep, trying to stay off my stomach and missing it.
Best Moment This Week: Strangers noticing I'm pregnant. 
Movement: Starting to feel a lot more. And it's getting stronger - definitely more than taps and pops now. I'm feeling it all over the place too. Down low, up by my belly button, on my sides. (S)he is getting big and wiggly!
Food Cravings: Nothing specific.
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: Tomorrow! Tomorrow!!! My official guess is girl. I'll be shocked if it's a boy.
Labor Signs: BH getting stronger
What I Miss: Being pain-free 
What I'm Looking Forward To: Finding out gender, feeling stronger movement, the girls being able to feel the baby move, seeing the baby on the ultrasound tomorrow!!
Milestones: My belly button popped out this week. It's clearly visible through my shirt now. Lovely. 

Yesterday, I spent half an hour picking up the house and ended up paralyzed in pain from my sciatic nerve and Braxton Hicks. I rested for a couple hours, then worked at the school auction for 2.5 more hours. I was soooo sore by the time I was done. So it begins . . .

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Saturday Siete

1. We had a busy week. Actually, it's been a busy month. And our weekends are booked for the next 4 weeks! So unlike us. It's mostly fun stuff, though, so I won't complain. Last night was our small group Halloween party. Justin was a party pooper this year and didn't dress up, but the girls and I had fun:
Some bees and a grumpy Sofia the First.
Cupcake time!
Silly snapchats on the road. 
2. I have been having so many ridiculous dreams lately. I'm actually kind of amazed at my brain's capacity to think this stuff up. Haha. They're so detailed and convoluted. And they last for hours - or at least that's what it feels like. They just keep going and going and getting weirder and weirder.

One this week was like a crazy soap opera. There were all these people who were secretly sleeping with each other. I was pregnant and didn't know who the baby's daddy was. Finally it came out that it was my best friend's husband. (Who is someone I know in real life and is totally awkward. Lol.)

Last night, I dreamed that I was in college and my roommate and I were both in love with our (very old) professor. We somehow got in a boat crash and were stuck in a pocket of air underwater for weeks. And there was a baby and someone got eaten by an alligator. And we had to go down this water slide thing, but I got stuck. 

It makes no sense when I type it out, but it's actually really frustrating to dream like this all the time. I feel like I never get restful sleep. And I hate that everything's left unresolved. It's like reading 8 books a night, but skipping the last chapter every time!

3. Lucy fell at school this week and ended up with a massive bruise. She had to get an accident report sent home and everything! Check out her bruise:
It's weirdly circular. Doesn't it look fake? She was carrying her lunch, tripped over her own feet, and hit the teacher's metal desk. She gets her gracefulness and coordination from me. 

4. And yes, the girls were playing with make-up right before I took that picture. Check out Lena's look:
Doesn't it look like she's going for a costume-y look a la Pinterest?

5. Speaking of Pinterest, have y'all heard of "socially awkward penguin?" I'm sure I've posted some of the memes before, but it's become Justin's and my excuse for everything. 

"Wanna hang out with friends this weekend?" I can't. I'm a socially awkward penguin.

"Wanna watch Shark Tank?" I can't. I'm a socially awkward penguin.

"My parents are having their home group over tonight." Oh no! We better go out for dinner!

 But going out for dinner is dangerous too!

It's so painfully true for both of us. Our poor children don't stand a chance at being well-adjusted functioning members of society.

6. Every single year when I run out of refills on my anxiety meds, I forget to call in for a refill in time and end up missing a few doses and going crazy. My withdrawals from Paxil were physical: hot flashes, dizziness, nausea, etc. But now I'm on Prozac and had a new kind of withdrawal: emotional. I was an emotional wreck most of this week. Yesterday, it manifested itself as orneriness, but on Thursday it was ridiculous weepiness.

I made the mistake of looking back at my past two years of Instagram photos. I get weepy because my kids are growing up so fast and I miss them being little. (Even though they still are little.) And then I get weepy because I'm such a terrible mother. I seriously think I've gotten worse in the past year. Looking back at those Instagram pictures, I realized I used to have tea parties and do crafts and play outside with them. Now, I'm glued to my computer/phone/Kindle 24/7 and rely on them to play by themselves all the time. I've been extremely convicted, over the past year about my laziness and selfishness . . . but I don't change!

I've been thinking about dying in childbirth (because I'm positive and upbeat like that), and am worried that the only things my girls are going to remember about me are my obsessions with Dr Pepper and my computer. And yet, day after day, I do the same thing. Day after day I get annoyed with them and wish they didn't demand so much of my attention. Day after day I hate myself for being that way. And then I start to panic that I'm adding another child to the mix! What am I doing??

I've been consistently doing my devotions from that book Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, and subsequently spending a lot of time praying that God would change me. That's been my refrain for a year - take away my selfishness and laziness. Make me more like you. Feel me with your Spirit and His fruits. And yet, I feel like nothing is changing. I realize I'm supposed to be desperate and coming to the end of myself to show me that I need Jesus. But . . . here comes my sacrilegious statement . . . I don't feel like he's helping me to change. :-( Ugh. I should've made this its own post. There's no resolution. This is where I'm stuck right now.

7. So . . . let's end on a happier note . . . did you hear the good news??
It's coming back!!!! The original writer has agreed to write 4 more 90-minute episodes and most of the actors have signed on to come back! I'm soooo excited!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

19 Weeks

Baby is the size of a mango this week.

How Far Along? 19 weeks
Total Weight Gain: +1 again this week, +3 total
Maternity Clothes? Jeans, yes. Shirts, not really. Although I noticed my regular sweaters are working hard to stretch over my belly. But my maternity shirts are still a little too big.
Sleep: Well I did my best to skip my nap this week . . . and ended up asleep on the couch by 5:00 every evening. Can't win.
Best Moment This Week: Feeling movement.
Movement: About the same. Really wanting to feel more - and higher. It's still so low. Justin did feel it for the first time this week. That was fun.
Food Cravings: Chocolate. 
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: We find out one week from tomorrow! The suspense is killing me!! 
Labor Signs:Just a few BH here and there. 
What I Miss: Being able to take good drugs for headaches. 
What I'm Looking Forward To: Finding out gender, feeling stronger movement, the girls being able to feel the baby move.
Milestones: The baby is 6 inches long now -  at least according to the Internet. My baby is probably actually bigger because I make heifer babies. 

On Monday, I woke up with some intense sciatic pain. It was unbearable all day. But by Tuesday it was totally gone and hasn't been back. Trying to enjoy these last few weeks when my bump is cute and manageable and I'm not in agonizing pain. :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Saturday "7"

1. Lucy had her first field trip this week. We went to Klackle's - the local orchard that is the place to go. We've never been there before because it's expensive and we're cheap, but Lena and I each just had to pay $5 (the school paid for Lucy). All 3 of us got a bag of apples, a pumpkin, a donut, a cup of cider, and free reign [rein?] of the place. I think you usually have to pay individually for the rides and activities, but we could do anything. It was a tiny bit cold, but could've been so much worse, and the girls loved it. Their favorite part was definitely the carousel. Lena's too short to go on it by herself, so I had to go with her every time. Whew. Apparently when you turn 30, spinny rides start making you nauseous.

2. I finally bought Lucy a Halloween costume this week. Lena is still young enough that she doesn't care, so she will be wearing something from the dress-up closet. I did look online a little bit for Lena and was flabbergasted once again by the "sexy" costume obsession. I know I say it ever year, but seriously. Why must everything be made sexy?? I actually saw one on Pinterest called "sexy pizza costume." Lol. That seems like a bit of an oxymoron.
Other ridiculous ones I've seen that have less appropriate pictures - all for women: sexy Buzz Lightyear, sexy Donald Trump (??), sexy Mrs. Claus. How about sexy lobster? Lol. This one really makes me laugh:
I haven't decided what I'm going to be for our small group party yet. This is my third time being pregnant for Halloween and I'm running out of pregnancy-related ideas.

3. Speaking of holidays . . . are you getting excited for Christmas?? Now that my birthday is over, it's on to Christmas celebrations! We've been listening to Christmas music all week, I've started making Christmas lists for the girls, and even bought my first present today! It's the most wonderful time of the year!!

4. Today was "mom's day out" for me. I went to a Mary Kay party this morning and got all beautified. When I stopped home afterward, I asked Justin how I looked. He said, "Cute. You never wear make-up."  I said, "I'm glad you think so because I spent lots of money to replicate this look." Lol. I really just bought some foundation. It looked really nice this morning when I did the demo. We'll see if I can re-create it on my own every day.

I rushed home from the party, wrapped a present real quick, and then headed to a bridal shower for my cousin. I'm usually the queen of the games, but my mom got put in charge of games this time and delegated that responsibility to me, so I didn't get to play. I totally would've owned my game, too.

I can not for the life of me figure out how to make a word file into a picture, so I just took a picture with my phone. It was "Name that Literary Couple." You just have to match the women on the left to their literary counterparts on the right. Can you get them all?

5. My day of fun was somewhat dampened by the raging headache I've been battling for the past two days. Lena shared her cold with me, and anytime I get a cold, I immediately get a wretched sinus headache. Headaches during pregnancy are the worst because there's so little you can do about it. Tylenol doesn't touch it. I've tried coffee, sleep, food, water. Nothing. I feel like my brain is going to start oozing out my ears. Ow ow ow.

6. I've been going strong with my new devotional book (Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood), and really enjoying it. It's a couple pages a day, which is a great length for me. All the passages from the Bible are included in the book so I don't have to look it up myself (yes, that's how lazy I am). And it asks questions and has space for you to write down your answers. I don't always actually write them down, but a lot of times I do - and it's been super helpful for me to get more out of the scriptures. I have a bad habit of skimming through them and saying, "Yep. Read that before. What's next?" The questions make me slow down and really look at the text.

One thing I read this week struck me as very interesting and has somewhat changed the way I pray for my girls. The author shared a bunch of passages about how Paul prayed for the churches. (Ephesians 1:15-19, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:9-12). She had us go through and underline the verbs, to see specifically what Paul was praying for. It was amazing to me to see that he overwhelmingly prayed that the people's eyes would be opened, that they would be strengthened and have power . . . not necessarily to obey, but "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge." (Eph. 3:18-19) He prayed that God would give the churches "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." (Eph. 1:17b)

It struck me, especially in light of that grace based parenting book I just read, that he didn't just pray for the churches to be obedient. He prayed, first of all that they would understand God's love and grace. Because when we understand his love and grace, we're inspired to obey. It changes us from the inside out. *light bulb moment!* My new prayer for my girls is, "Give me grace to show them grace that they would understand your grace." Lol. It's a good thing I can't confuse God. Sorry if I just confused you. But I really am loving the devotional book. Check it out.

No number 7 because my brain is trying to break out of my head and I don't have anything else fun and exciting to share. Check back tomorrow for the 19 week pregnancy update! Almost half-way!

Monday, October 12, 2015

18 Weeks

Lena insisted on jumping the whole time. Lucy's covering the "1" in "18" and I don't feel like this is a good representation of how big I really am.
This is from last night.
Baby is the size of a sweet potato this week.

How Far Along? 18 weeks, 1 day
Total Weight Loss/Gain: +1 this week, thanks to birthday week. ;-) +2 total
Maternity Clothes? Jeans, yes. Shirts, not really. Justin bought me some cute ones for my birthday, but they're still too big for now. 
Sleep: I've really been trying to skip my afternoon nap and it helps me sleep a ton better at night.
Best Moment This Week: Feeling more and more movement.
Movement: Yep. Still very low. I feel it most when I'm sitting at a 90 degree angle or flat on my back in bed. Love it.
Food Cravings: Restaurant food.
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: We'll find out 2 weeks from today! 
Labor Signs:Just a few BH here and there. 
What I Miss: Being pain free. I had one blissful week of no sciatic pain, but it's back with a vengeance this morning. I'm pretty sure my back/hip pain started by 20 weeks with Lena, so it's only a matter of time before that kicks in again. Steeling myself for 20 more weeks of pain and discomfort. 
What I'm Looking Forward To: Finding out gender, feeling stronger movement, the girls being able to feel the baby move.
Milestones: None.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. It's birthday week!! Did you notice? ;-) Here's the photo recap:

I didn't cook all week. I did bare-minimum cleaning. And I ate so much good food. (Really, I eat junk all the time, but don't usually spend as much on fast food.) At one point this week, Lucy said, "You sure like taking pictures of your food." Lol.

2. This morning, Justin and the girls brought me breakfast in bed:
Last weekend, we celebrated my Grandpa's 90th birthday and my dad wrote "Happy Birthday, Grandpa" on the chalkboard. Lucy erased "Grandpa" to add my name, then kept a running countdown of how many days until my birthday. :-)

Also, a word about breakfast in bed. After 10 years of marriage, Justin and I have this great arrangement where I buy canned cinnamon rolls when I go grocery shopping and tell him, "I want breakfast in bed on my birthday. There are cinnamon rolls in the fridge. No earlier than 10 am, please." That way, I'm not disappointed when I don't get breakfast in bed, and he's not irritated that I expected him to read my mind. :-)

3. I've been a little overly vocal about my apprehension over turning 30. It's mostly in jest. Aging is certainly better than the alternative! [Death] I just feel like you should have your life together by the time you're 30. The 20s are for "finding yourself" and making bad decisions and working toward your future. By 30, you should be secure. And here I am, living with my parents, a college-dropout still paying off my student loans. Blurg.

It helps that I'm among the youngest of my friends, so most of them are already 30. It's old hat by now. :-)

4. My big birthday plans for today include chilling at home, then going out for dinner, shopping, and a movie with Justin. The girls gave me my presents before I could even drink my morning coffee. Haha. Justin got me some cute maternity shirts (My husband has better taste in clothing than I do) and some new winter boots. I wanted some tall ones with handles, because I'm not going to be able to bend over and pull them on in a few months. Lol. But the handle ones (Bogs) are ridiculously expensive, so we went with these instead. Justin's probably going to have to tie them for me by February, but look how cute they are:
Lucy modeling my new boots. Haha.
5. In non-birthday news . . . I finished my 30 Before 30 and actually ended up reading 75 books between my 29th and 30th birthdays. Wowza. I read another one this week, too. The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble. I usually can't predict the endings of her books, but I got this one! I was pretty proud of myself. Haha.

6. So I've been stalking these pregnancy message boards lately. This week, there was a post about hiring a baby nurse to come help you out with your newborn the first week of its life. A lot of women commented that if they had the money and didn't have help from their moms/mothers-in-law, they'd do it. I was shocked by how many women said they had their moms move in with them for a week or two after the baby was born. I have a very close family, and they definitely helped out - driving me to doctor's appointments, making meals, giving me a break here and there to catch a nap, but no one moved in full-time! And I honestly wouldn't have wanted that. I'd understand if you were having triplets or something, but really . . . newborns aren't that hard. I've had two, so I can say that. And then, watch this one pop out a holy terror . . . Haha.

7. Lucy had Grandparents' Day at school yesterday. She was soooo excited. And most of her grandparents were able to go. I realized that when I was in elementary, all of my grandparents were always able to come, because they were really old and retired. Both my parents and Justin's parents are still working - the ones that came yesterday for Lucy got out of work early to do so. And then I realized that Justin and I are pretty young parents. I wasn't born until my dad was 30. And my mom is the youngest of 8, so her parents were already old by the time she was born. They were real old by the time I was born! I also realized for the first time this week that my Grandpa and I are almost exactly 60 years apart.  And while my dad and Lena's birthdays aren't as close, if you go by the years they were born, they're also exactly 60 years apart. Just some fun facts for you. :-)

Thanks for all the birthday love, y'all! You're a huge reason it's one of my favorite days (ahem, weeks) of the year! Oh, and as a special birthday present to me, my all-time blog views went over 100,000 this week! Thanks!!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The 30 Before 30 Wrap-Up

Well, folks. I did it. I completed my year-long goal of reading 30 books between my 29th and 30th birthdays (with 5 days to spare, thank you very much). When I turned 29, I noticed a lot of my peers creating "30 Before 30 Bucket Lists." Well, I'm not very adventurous so I decided just to challenge myself to get back into reading. I used to be a voracious reader (which is why I use words like "voracious") but life got busy, I got lazy, excuses, excuses. Not only, did I challenge myself to read, I challenged myself to read something outside of my normal genre (inspirational fiction - aka Christian romances). Originally, I just asked for recommendations and ordered them from the library. Once I ran out of recommendations, though, I found myself grabbing random "general fiction" books that fell pretty comfortably into my wheelhouse without the "Christianeese." So I made myself this list:

7 Christian Living Books
5 Non-fiction

18 Fiction:
5 Highly Recommended by Friends 
1 From a Genre You Wouldn't Usually Read 
1 On the Bestseller List 
1 Book You Should've Read in High School But Didn't 
1 Published the Year You were Born 
1 Highly Rated on Amazon/Goodreads 
8 Just Because

Overall, I stuck to it pretty well. You can scroll down on my 30 Before 30 Page to see where each book I read fell into this list. I ended up with 10 "Just Because," only 4 non-fiction, and 4 highly recommended by friends. Not bad!!

So here are my grand thoughts regarding "branching out:" I enjoyed it! I found a few new authors I really like (JoJo Moyes, Kate Morton, Janet Evanovich, Liane Moriarty, Kristin Hannah). I read some great books. My favorite fiction reads were probably: You Before Me (Moyes), The Secret Keeper (Morton), Dear Mr. Knightley (Reay), The Rosie Project (Simison), The Heist and its sequels (Evanovich), The Nightingale (Hannah), and Big Little Lies (Moriarty).

I also read some that I really disliked: Unspoken (Henderson), The Cuckoo's Calling (Galbraith), The Girl on the Train (Hawkins), The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), and Unfinished Business (Roberts). Honestly, most of them weren't badly written (with the exception of Unspoken). They were just too dark for me, too depressing, too sexual, or too boring. I wrote in one of my reviews, that the thing I appreciate the most about Christian fiction is the redemption element. That element is sorely missing in a lot of secular fiction.

As for non-fiction, I forced myself through 11 books. Haha. I'm not a non-fiction reader. The only ones that weren't "Christian living" were autobiographies of funny people (Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Melanie Shankle) and the complete opposite: the awful story of Unbroken. Again, Unbroken was masterfully written and did have that redemption at the end that I so crave. It was just way too dark and horrible for me.

The Christian living books I particularly enjoyed were: Out of a Far Country (Yuan), Loving God with All Your Mind (George), A Woman After God's Own Heart (George), Crazy Busy (DeYoung), and Give them Grace (Fitzpatrick). By "enjoy," I mean, it was thought-provoking, got me in the Word, made me ask questions and think through hard topics. I never really enjoy reading Christian living books like I do straight up fiction. :-)

You can see the whole list of books I read and read my reviews on them by clicking the link here.

And here's the bonus: Forcing myself back into the reading world whet my appetite and got me reading voraciously again. I made myself stay out the inspirational fiction genre for my 30 Before 30, but I got back into it anyway. I actually read 45 other books outside of the 30 Before 30 in the past year! (Also documented on my 30 Before 30 Page) So when I set out to read 30, I ended up reading 75! Whoa, baby! Never mind the fact that we ate a lot of frozen pizza for dinner this year and my girls watched a lot of TV. Lol. I loved this challenge for that benefit alone - it got me reading and enjoying reading again!

So the question remains, will I continue to branch out or will I wander back to the comfort and familiarity of inspirational fiction? I think you'll all be pleased to hear that I will continue to read "secular" fiction. I find myself gravitating toward the "new fiction" section at the library and looking up my favorite new authors. I.F. will remain my genre of choice. You'll never truly pry me away from it. But I've learned to enjoy mainstream fiction as well. Mission accomplished. :-)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book #30: Give Them Grace

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Amazon Synopsis:
All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good?” And is “being good” really the point?
Mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson contend that every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law—a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them.
No, rules are not the answer. What they need is GRACE.
We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.
Grace-based parenting seems to be the parenting trend of my generation. Part of me balks at anything "new and revolutionary," but most of me thinks this is actually a really Biblical idea.

This was a very complex book that took me a long time to work through. At first, I had some major questions. But the more I read, the more I agreed with the premise . . . whether or not any of my questions were really answered. Haha. This is going to be an extremely long review, mostly punctuated with passages from the book that stood out to me.

One thing I loved about the book was the authors' emphasis that our efforts as parents don't guarantee anything.  The introduction puts it like this:
Although we long to be faithful parents, we also rest in the truth that our faithfulness is not what will save our children. Giving grace to our children is not another formula that guarantees their salvation or obedience. Grace-parenting is not another law for you to master to perfect your parenting or your children. (22)
And later:
Freedom to love and enjoy our children flows out of the knowledge that God saves them in spite of our best efforts, not because of them. Salvation is of the Lord. (53) 
What a relief! This next quote totally echoes what the author of Crazy Busy said:
We have far too high a view of our ability to shape our children and far too low a view of God's love and trustworthiness. (57)
Chapter 3 was hard for me. Fitzpatrick calls out parents who thrive on works-based-righteousness. She talks about the people who asked Jesus "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" (John 6). Her description of them perfectly describes me:
They wanted the list. Can't you just hear their hearts? We can. Just tell us what to do and we'll get about it. We know we can and we really want to, so just give us the list and we'll work it out. (63)
But Fitzpatrick says that a list of rules is the last thing we need. And it's the last thing we should be bringing to our parenting.
Do you want to do the work of God? Okay, then believe. Believe that God is strong enough to save your children, no matter how you fail. Believe that he is loving enough to bring them all the way into relationship with himself, whether you understand "grace parenting" or not. (63) 
I wrote in my Saturday 7 that while I agree with the book, I can't quite figure out how to apply it practically. Fitzpatrick really does try to help. She gives anecdotes and suggestions on dialogues to have with your kids, but they were so over the top. This one was really hard for me:

She tells the story of a mom and her kids in the pool. Mom is just trying to enjoy the peace and quiet. Kids won't stop fighting. They're playing Marco Polo, but David keeps cheating and Susan keeps yelling at him to follow the rules. In the story, Fitzpatrick identifies David as the rebel and Susan as the rule-keeper. (Guess which one I identify with. ;-)) And she says they're both in the wrong. David needs to stop cheating, but Susan needs to show grace. That's really really hard for me. I wrote in the margins, "So David wins. Soon he'll start cheating and telling Susan, 'You have to show me grace!'" Fitzpatrick devotes a whole chapter to the prodigal and the Pharisee. I'm definitely a Pharisee and it's very hard for me to wrap my brain around grace. Listen to this:
The gospel is not good news to those who pride themselves on their hard work. It is infuriating news. But it is good news to the younger-brother types who are tempted to turn away from the faith fairly early on because they don't think the gospel is for sinners.(71)
So how do I raise my kids not to pride themselves on hard work? Let them revel in their sin so they'll appreciate the gospel more?

Fitzpatrick goes on to say this about Susan: "What does Susan need to hear? She needs to hear that her desire to prove her own worthiness is one of the greatest hindrances to faith that she'll ever face" (72).

While I was reading this book, I was tempted to hold on to the caveats from the beginning: I really can't change my kids. It's up to God anyway. Why do I torment myself to try and get it right? I should just give up on the grace idea. But "the grace idea" is pretty much the whole theme of the Bible and despite my years and years of Christian training, I've obviously missed it. My desire to prove my own worthiness is one of the greatest hindrances of my faith. I have to try to help my kids understand it from a young age, so they're not left to grapple hopelessly with it like I am now.

Again, I don't feel like I have a ton of answers. The last third of the book focuses on practical applications. I think I need to re-read it about four times to really take it all in. I've already admitted it's hard for me to apply. It's going to take years of practice. But for now, my mind is opened to it. I can try to be aware of ways to show God's grace instead of just ramming the law down my kids' throats. I liked this paragraph. Pay attention to the order:
Remind your children who they are, of your love and welcome. Then remind them of God's gracious offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Then command their obedience. (106)
She's not saying we eliminate training our children in righteousness or expecting obedience. But the rules and regulations have be the third rung on the ladder behind love and grace.

I loved the second to last chapter. It seemed like kind of a random addition, but is so important. Fitzpatrick emphasizes that our purpose in life is to glorify God. Our modern American society has trained us to think that God can only be glorified in our children when they're obedient and compliant. And we can only glorify God as parents if our kids love Jesus. But, Fitzpatrick posits that God is glorified even through the pain, the sin, the rebellion, and the anger. He is glorified through redeeming our kids from their sin. He is glorified when we continue to trust him and follow him even when we're not seeing immediate results. "God's sustaining power is seen and developed in our weakness and failure" (151). We know this. We know the passages in scripture that say, "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) But Fitzpatrick fleshes it out in a way that was new to me. I loved this:
Sometimes he shows us his power by changing the circumstance, miraculously accomplishing what we could never accomplish. At other times he shows us how his sustaining grace enables us to endure situations that otherwise would crush us. Sometimes he makes us feel his strengthening arm upholding us in the trial. At other times he teaches us to walk by faith believing that his arm is there even though we don't feel it. It is in these varied circumstances that we learn of his greatness, his sustaining grace, and his ability to glorify himself in ways we would never have imagined. (152 - emphasis mine)
 The last chapter reminds us again that this "method" isn't a cure-all for parenting, we're not always going to get it right, and a lot of the time we're not even going to be sure how to do it.
When we're feeling our weakest and really don't have any idea how grace or the gospel might apply in a particular situation (and are not sure if we care), we'll know that it's okay to be silent and simply wait. Many times, our children don't understand the gospel or grace either. We don't need to try to drum up some gospel speech that isn't resonating within our hearts to be sure we've got our bases covered. (164)
Overall, this was a difficult book because it's a paradigm shift for me. I'm probably going to have to read it - or other books like it - a few more times before it really starts to sink it. But I would absolutely recommend it. Maybe you all will understand it better than I do and help me out. ;-) I'm going to end with these words of wisdom from the end of the book. They sum it up better than I ever could:
Further, we know that sometimes it is nearly impossible to remember the gospel at all, let alone think about ways to bestow it on our children. Jesus? The cross? What? And then, when we find ourselves floundering without a clue, we are overcome with guilt because we aren't living up to our own expectations. I thought that understanding the gospel of grace and how it applies to parenting would transform me, but here I am forgetting what he's done and being the same old me again! When we forget the gospel and then feel guilty about it, we are completely missing the point of the gospel. Our ultimate joy as parents is not dependent on our ability to parent well. God's smile on us is not contingent upon anything other than the record of the beloved Son. It is based on our belief that Jesus has already done it all perfectly for us. Grace simply means resting in Jesus' blood and righteousness. (161)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

17 Weeks

That shirt's getting pretty small!
Baby is the size of an onion this week.

How Far Along? 17 weeks
Total Weight Loss/Gain: Haven't checked.
Maternity Clothes? Yep. I got 2 new pairs of maternity jeans from Kohl's and finally retired my regular jeans for good. I was happily surprised that both pairs of jeans I ordered online actually fit. Maternity jeans are so weird, and the size options are small, medium, or large. Still wearing mostly regular shirts. 
Sleep: Can't make it through the day without a nap, but then can't sleep at night. Vicious cycle.

Best Moment This Week: Hitting my sweet spot. The nausea is gone, the sciatica is gone, I'm not in terrible pain yet. Actually feeling pretty good and enjoying it while it lasts!
Movement: The taps and pops are getting stronger. I notice it often enough that I start to get worried if I don't feel it for a while.
Food Cravings: Restaurant food, chips, pop. Not craving sweets nearly as much as I did with Lena.
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: We'll find out 3 weeks from tomorrow! 
Labor Signs:Just a few BH here and there. 
What I Miss: Summer.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Finding out gender, feeling consistent movement, the girls being able to feel the baby move, my birthday!
Milestones: Making the move to full-time maternity jeans.

I've been having crazy dreams this week. I always have vivid dreams, but they're just getting ridiculous now. Here's a small sampling:

One night, I dreamed that I was at a baby shower at my sister's house, when a bear broke in . . . and no one except me was worried! At one point, the bear even put his arm around my shoulder and said, "My you look tasty." Still, no one seemed concerned! They thought it was so cool to see a real, live bear up close and personal! Not cool, guys.

I also dreamed that my nephew's girlfriend was trying to kill me because she wanted Justin for herself. Lol. That was bizarre.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. Today, we hosted my Grandpa's 90th birthday celebration with my Dad's side of the family. I get my introverted genes from my dad and his family, so it's no wonder that we only see each other once every few years. Haha. It was great to catch up with everyone.

2. As a result of the big party today, all I did this week was clean. I'm a lazy housekeeper and at least attempt to surface clean during the week - vacuum, wipe down counters, clean the bathroom, etc. But I never do the nitty gritty cleaning. I actually dusted this week. If you were thinking of stopping by for a spontaneous visit, now would be the time to do it. (Just kidding. Remember those introverted genes I was just talking about? Spontaneous visits give me anxiety.)

3. I've been forcing my way through the grace-based parenting book. I only have three chapters to go (and 6 days to read them!). My overall impression so far is that it's a great idea. I think it has Biblical backing. It makes sense logically. But I still don't understand how to apply it practically. Maybe my kids are still too little, but her suggestions just seem way too complicated. This is one example that I snapped a picture of:
You might have to click on it in order to make it big enough to read. But those two long paragraphs in the middle are what you're supposed to tell your kids when they won't pick up their toys. I read it to my mom-friends the other day and they all kind of glazed over. Can you imagine a little kid listening to/understanding all that?!

4. Yesterday, after a long day of cleaning, Justin took the girls outside to play. It hadn't been long when he came in with a crying Lena:
She was running through the yard and smacked her head into the wooden part of the hammock. In the time it took him to carry her from the backyard to the house, that bruise/goose-egg appeared on her forehead. I've never seen anything bruise so quickly! She refused to let me put ice on it, but the swelling actually went down a ton overnight. I showed her a picture and she said, "My head is blue!" I told her it looked like make-up, so she thinks she's totally cool now. Haha.

5. The farmers have been harvesting the wheat right next to our house. The girls love it:

And so do I:

Can you see the tractor in the distance? I love country life.

6. Justin and I actually looked at a house for sale this week. We're not really ready to buy yet [so close to paying off our student loans!], but this one was so cheap, we were tempted. Here's the link. It is tiiiiiny. Only two [minuscule] bedrooms to cram ourselves and 3 kids in. But for that price, we were really considering it. We drove over and peeked in all the windows (foreclosure - no one's living there) and decided we should at least call our realtor and check it out. I called the next day and the realtor informed me that it already has four offers on it! Ha! We're not interested in a bidding war, so we decided not to pursue it. It'd be nice to live on our own again, but we really have a good thing going here with my parents. And I honestly think it was a God-thing that we moved here when we did. Lena was 6 weeks old and just beginning to show signs of colic . . . while I was just beginning to show signs of post-partum depression. I needed the community and nearness of family then. And I probably will again in a few months when I have another newborn. Plus, Lena would not know what to do without Grandma . . .

7. I can't think of a last one, and should really be in bed, so I'm just going to leave this here . . .
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