Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent 2015

It's that time of year again! I started this tradition of doing a daily activity leading up to Christmas when Lucy was 2 years old, and we love it so much that I've kept it up. Of course, I always wait until the last day of November to get everything together. This year is no exception. Haha.

On top of the Advent Activities, I'm trying something new this year and making my own little devotional. I bought the Little People Nativity set last year on super-clearance and decided that we're going to get it out one piece at a time this year. On day one, we'll set out the stable and talk about why Jesus was born in a stable. On day two, we'll add all the animals and talk about what it must have been like for a little baby to be born among the animals. On day three, we'll add Mary and talk about how the angel came to her, etc. I'm still working on writing up the detailed devotional, but stay tuned. I'll share it when it's done.

So here are the activities for this year. Some are pretty specific to our family, but feel free to steal any ideas that will work for you!

Advent 2015
1. Make red and green play doh/ day 1 nativity devotions
2. Christmas tree pizzas for dinner
3. Christmas mad libs/ day 2 nativity devotions (The girls did some mad libs at the library and loved them, so I'm just going to make some up with fill-ins like color, animal, number, silly word, person, etc. instead of parts of speech.)
4. Family game night/ hot chocolate
5. Paint nails red and green
6. Get and decorate a Christmas tree
7. Buy gifts for each other/wrap them
8. Make cinnamon ornaments/ day 3 nativity devotions
9. Pick out toys for Toys for Tots
10. Make minion ornaments/ day 4 nativity devotions
11. Christmas program at school
12. Jesus’ Birthday Party
13. Unwrap special ornament
14. Make and play with Shivery Snow Paint
15. Treats for librarians/ day 5 nativity devotions (I think we're going to make "snowman soup.")
16. Buy presents for Mrs. Ellsworth (Lucy's teacher) - probably this and this and this 
17. Make a homemade gift for Grandmas/ day 6 nativity devotions
18. See the Christmas Trees/Train at Frederick Meijer Gardens with Great Grandma
19. VK Christmas
20. Family movie night
21. Make treats for the mail lady
22. Random act of kindness/day 7 nativity devotions (we're going to do this Redbox code thing)
23. Make Play-doh Snowmen in Jars and deliver them to friends
24. Read Christmas books in front of the tree/ day 8 nativity devotions

Back-up ideas (because sometimes all my good intentions don't actually work out. haha)
-          sledding/snowmen with daddy

-          Christmas cookies
-     homemade cards

See also, Advent Activities from 2012, 2013, and 2014

Sunday, November 29, 2015

25 weeks

With my little Vanna . . .
I'm starting to feel big, but looking pretty comparable to my pregnancy with Lena . . . or maybe a little smaller? Definitely whiter! Haha.

Baby is the size of a cauliflower this week!

How Far Along? 25 weeks
Total Weight Gain: Well I gained 2 this week. Officially up 10 pounds. I told you I'd start packing it on toward the end . . .
Maternity Clothes? Almost everything.
Sleep: It's starting to get harder. Lying on my side is getting uncomfortable because my belly pulls forward so much - even with pillows wedged every which way. I'm worrying a little bit about the next 15 weeks . . .
Best Moment This Week: Seeing him on the ultrasound Tuesday.

Movement: Sometimes I wonder what on earth he's doing in there. Jumping jacks? Break dancing? Still feeling it pretty low unless I'm lying on my back. 
Food Cravings: Cheese, pop, milk, savory foods
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: It's a boy!!!!  
Name: Still waffling between those same two and waiting for something better to fall into my lap.
Labor Signs: Nada. Although I'm starting to notice the lovely pubic bone pain if I'm on my feet too long, so my bones are probably stretching and making room. 
What I Miss: Being able to be on my feet for more than an hour at a time without intense pain.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Picking a name, organizing all the baby clothes in the new dresser I bought (Black Friday deal!).
Milestones: I can't see my toes anymore . . . also got my first ever maternity coat. Woohoo!

I had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. I started with the glucose tolerance test. I forgot I was taking it that day and had two cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Oops. They say to eat normally until an hour before the test, though. That's actually pretty normal for me, and I passed, so my body apparently handles copious amounts of sugar quite well! ;-)

Then I had an ultrasound to check on the SCH. I had a tech I've never had before and I don't know if the baby was being uncooperative or if the tech was just particularly aggressive. She kept jiggling my belly and pushing on it to get him to move. I've never had anyone do that before. She switched over to 3D for a while and he's actually starting to look pretty cute! (We did a little bit of 3D at the 20 week and he just looked creepy. Lol.) After a while, she said she didn't see the SCH anywhere and I started to feel so relieved. Two seconds later she said, "oh wait . . . I think I see it." Unfortunately, the baby was pressed up against it, so the jiggling and pushing started again. I even had to lay on my side to try and get him to move. I was actually sore the rest of the day from all the poking and prodding! She eventually got him to move enough that she could measure the SCH and - surprise, surprise!- it hasn't changed at all!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Saturday 7

It is Saturday, right? This week has me so confused . . .

1. Lucy had her first class party at school on Monday. They had Thanksgiving dinner before the party and Lucy informed me that she only ate Jell-o and a roll. Typical. Lena and I arrived after lunch for the party. They had 5 tables set up with different crafts/activities for the kids to do. Lena loved it as much as - or more than - Lucy.
Gobble gobble!
This was Lena's favorite station. She refused to move. I definitely bought her some of those foam stickers for Christmas when we were out shopping yesterday.
2. We did Thanksgiving with the VanderKoddes this year. I was assigned a vegetable dish of my choosing. At first, I was going to make this:
It's nothing I would ever eat, but I figured the health nut VanderKoddes would appreciate it. So I went off to Meijer to buy tomatoes and zucchini. Did you know that zucchini is $1.99 a piece during the off season? I couldn't bring myself to pay that much when we grow them in our backyard for free all summer. So then I decided to make sweet potato casserole. Apparently I procrastinated a little bit too long, though, because Meijer was out of sweet potatoes! Finally, I was annoyed and decided just to make corn casserole. That's still a vegetable, right? Ha. 

3. Because I'm as bad as my girls, all I ate for Thanksgiving dinner was ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, cheesy au gratin potatoes, and sweet potato casserole (someone else made it). Plus a lot of dessert. Mmmmm. Carbs and sugar. My main food groups. And this is what I looked like afterward:
Justin has a cousin who is due 8 weeks before me (which makes her like 8 months pregnant) and I definitely rivaled her for size. It doesn't bother me. I'm a whale when pregnant. It's worth it for all the good food I get to eat. Well, and for the baby at the end obviously. ;-)

4. We had dinner at 1:30 and everyone was packing up to leave by 4, which was perfect timing for the annual Black "Friday" shopping extravaganza! And now I'm going to rant. I am so sick of these holier-than-thou memes on facebook:

I don't go out shopping to buy myself a bunch of fun things. I'm not greedily adding to the possessions I'm already thankful for.  I am a stay-at-home-mom. We choose to send Lucy to a Christian school. We live on one income and don't have tons of money to spend on Christmas. I brave the crowds and fuel the "corporate America conglomerate" because I'm trying to be frugal. You can't beat Black Friday prices. I buy Christmas presents and stock up on things we need throughout the year while they're on sale. So y'all need to get down off your high-horses and take a chill pill. (Defensive, much? ;-) I told you pregnancy makes me angry. )

5. I also did a lot of online shopping during the week as most stores had early access to their Black Friday deals online. Between the online shopping and the madness on Thursday, I am now 95% done with my Christmas shopping. I have 2 people left on my list who will probably just get gift cards because they're too hard to shop for. Haha. Time to get wrapping!!

6. Today was the one day a year I work outside of the home. Niki and I did a 6 hour shift at our cousin's store. I wore my maternity belt and brought a stool to sit on, so I wasn't in unbearable pain. The maternity belt looks ridiculous and doesn't seem like it is doing much while I'm wearing it, but I can't deny the difference. When Justin and I shopped for an hour last weekend, I was in agony without the belt. When I wore it Thursday night and today, I was definitely uncomfortable, but not in nearly as much pain. Hopefully it will continue to help as I continue to grow. It looks like this:
Pretty awesome, eh? Haha. Don't worry. I wear a shirt over it.
7. My brother and his wife moved to Florida today. We hate to see them go. My girls adore them and I'm so sad that they won't be such a big part of their life anymore. Luke and Esther stopped over to say good-bye last night and Lucy refused to let go of Esther. Then Esther gave her a random key she had in her pocket and Lucy made me tie it on a string so she can wear it around her neck to remember them by. Lol. The good news is that they're moving to Orlando and renting a 3 bedroom house. Disney World, here we come!!! (You know, in like 3 years, after we've saved enough money for gas and Disney tickets. Ha.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

24 Weeks

Baby is the size of a cantaloupe this week!

How Far Along? 24 weeks
Total Weight Gain: Still steadily gaining a pound a week. Up 8 total. Which is right about where I was at this point with Lena, and I gained 40 lbs with her, so it's still coming for me. ;-)
Maternity Clothes? Yep. My regular shirts are working hard to get over my belly these days.
Sleep: Night sweats are still out of control. Most of the night I'm freezing cold, but drenched in sweat. 
Best Moment This Week: The movement - it's not painful or constant yet. Just fun. 
Movement: He's really getting strong and moving all over the place. I'm pretty sure he's going to be an acrobat for all the flipping and somersaulting he does.
Food Cravings: Pop, sour candy, chocolate, milk
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: It's a boy!!!!  
Name: Still waffling between those same two and waiting for something better to fall into my lap.
Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks. I noticed them while I was lying completely still in bed last night. And they're definitely becoming more regular with any physical activity. 
What I Miss: Sleeping on my stomach. I can still kind of do it if I tuck my belly under me just right, but I can't stand it for any length of time.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Him moving up. I feel like he's kicking me in the groin half the time. I know that soon I'll be complaining about him being up in my ribs, but I'm looking forward to that happy medium where he hangs out by my belly button for a while. Also really looking forward to picking a name. It's driving me crazy that he doesn't have one yet.
Milestones: Today is viability day! Basically, if he were born today, he'd have a chance of surviving. 

Sometimes it still seems a little surreal that I'm really pregnant. I don't know why. My belly is getting huge, my belly button is sticking out like a turkey timer, I feel movement like crazy, and have been stocking up on all kinds of clothes and blankets and pacifiers. I feel like I've been pregnant forever and yet can't wrap my mind around the fact that there's a living, human child inside of me. Haha. 

Comparison Pic from 24 weeks with Lena. 
I love that Lucy's being a dork in both pictures. I think my belly looks about the same size-wise.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I don't remember much about this week. You can't wait to read on now, can you? ;-) I do remember that on Tuesday, Justin and I went out to eat with some friends for my birthday. Haha. Only a month late. We all have too many kids and responsibilities these days. It's hard to find a time that works for everyone. But I'm so glad we did. It was so great to sit and catch up and talk about everything under the sun. I love you, friends.

2. We did horribly with eating at home this week. I went grocery shopping, I made a meal plan. I don't know what happened. (I do know what happened. We love restaurant food. I'm a terrible cook. A+B=C.) Anyway, I did get around to making one new meal from Pinterest. It was actually very good! And easy! My fave.

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c. mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1.5 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Mix mayo, cheese, and seasonings. Spread over chicken in a baking dish. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes. (recipe source)

You're welcome.

3. Do you know what week it is?! It's collection week for Operation Christmas Child! I know it's controversial all of a sudden (what isn't these days?), but this is a tradition I love doing with my girls. I'm a sucker and start to feel guilty about how much we spend on restaurants and how much I'm planning on spending on my kids for Christmas, and then think about all these kids in third world countries who have nothing. So I let my girls go a little crazy at the dollar store and pack our boxes to the brim! Feeling guilty like me? Don't worry! It's not too late! You can drop your shoebox off by Monday at select locations. I'm a procrastinator and will be taking mine in Monday morning. I like to live on the edge.

4. Remember how last week I wrote about my anger problems? They haven't gotten better. I am so irritated with all the fighting on faceook. All the articles about Syria, the blasting people on both sides, the politics, the opinions and debates. Blech. I need to just stay off of facebook, but I can't stand feeling like I'm missing out. Anyway, I've been following a new blogger. She's written plenty about Syria this week, but then she wrote this. Such a breath of fresh, funny air. This is my favorite line:
Have you ever taken a sick chicken to the vet?  With four crying children?  Children literally screaming, “My chicken! Please save my chicken? Jesus! Spare our chicken, take me instead!” 
Lol. You have to go read the article after that.

5. For my big 30th birthday this year, my parents got me a certificate for a night at a local hotel along with free babysitting. (Not that I ever actually pay them for babysitting. Haha.) Justin and I cashed it in on Friday night. The thing I was most looking forward to was sleeping. I love sleep. We made a stop at Qdoba for queso covered goodness, then vegged at the hotel watching HGTV and ESPN. I read a whole book. (Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris) And then I slept for nine hours. It was glorious. Of course, I was sore from sleeping in a bed that wasn't my own, but I don't even care.

6. We did a little bit of shopping at the mall this afternoon. It was a test run for Black Friday shopping, and it left me a little worried. I was probably on my feet for an hour before collapsing into a chair at the food court with Braxton Hicks and intense sciatic pain. Not a good omen for things to come. Ow ow ow.

Then we saw Mockingjay: Part Two. It was too long and too scary for me. I actually had my eyes covered at one point. But overall, I liked it. And we saw a preview for a new Amy Poehler/Tina Fey movie that I'm going to have to watch. I love them.

7. I was very happy to come home to my girls - even after just one night away from them. Nothing like a little absence to make the heart grow fonder!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

23 Weeks

Today's picture turned out terrible, so here's one from yesterday.
Baby is the size of a grapefruit this week.

How Far Along? 23 weeks
Total Weight Gain: +1 again. +7 total.
Maternity Clothes? More and more.
Sleep: Pretty good these days. Can't get enough.
Best Moment This Week: Getting a whole bunch of awesome hand me down clothes.
Movement: I felt like he slowed down for a couple days this week and made me nervous. But yesterday and today he's been turbo. Loving it.
Food Cravings: Pop, sour candy, warm hearty meals
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: It's a boy!!!!  
Name: I'm not totally in love with either of my top two. But I'm so over searching. Just waiting for something to fall into my lap. Haha.
Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks. Still not as many as with Lena. 
What I Miss: Being able to bend over and breathe at the same time.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Meeting him. I've been dreaming about him and getting excited about having a newborn again. (Although in one of my dreams, we kept him in his swing in the garage. He never cried so I kept forgetting to feed him. Lol. Mother of the Year.)
Milestones: Nothing really.

Today's picture, just for continuity's sake:
The shirt and wall colors are totally washing me out. My face is blurry. My hair is doing some weird Alfalfa thing. Blech.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I had a rough week depression-wise. Ladies' retreat was great, and I came home feeling inspired to be a better mom, to show God's grace to my kids, to dive into His Word. I think Satan decided to make it difficult for me from the get-go. Monday morning, Lucy was being belligerent. I snapped at her before we even left the house. I had to physically drag her to the car. I had to carry her into her classroom, the teacher had to peel her off of me, etc. On the way to school, while she was wailing in the car, I had the foresight to pray and ask God to show me how to respond with grace. I immediately had the thought that I should apologize for snapping at her, then pray that she'd have a good day. So when we got to school, that's exactly what I did. When I finished praying, she screamed "Never pray for me again!" and I left feeling so defeated. I got home, sat down to do my devotions and saw the headline was, "Letting Go of Harshness and Anger - Walking in Patience and Kindness." Ha! 

I've really been struggling with my anger lately, I don't know if it's pregnancy hormones, extra testosterone from this boy, or just my plain ol' sinful nature, but anger is my immediate response to most things these days. So the chapter in my devotions was timely for me. Something that stuck out to me was this phrase: "Part of patience involves remaining faithful to our commitments and responsibilities even when our efforts don't seem to make a difference." (Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood. Pg. 150) I felt like I failed God that morning when my efforts to apologize to and pray with Lucy were met with hostility. It was a good reminder for me that even though my efforts didn't change her attitude, it didn't mean they were in vain. 

2. Usually I struggle through a couple days of depression and then I start to feel better. This week, it lasted allll week long. I'm so tired and so cold all the time. Our heat isn't working, so we've been using the fireplace as our sole source of heat. It really only keeps one room warm, and the rest of the house is still freezing. I despise being cold so much. It's also been windy and nasty outside, so we've been hunkering down inside. We didn't even get out of our pajamas Thursday or Friday. Ha. While that sounds fun, it's not great for my depression. At one point, I decided I'm not cut out for motherhood. But I really don't want a full time job either. I just want to be one of those people who's too depressed to function in society and just lives at home with their parents and watches TV all their lives. Doesn't that sound fun?

3. The good news is my girls have been playing soooo well together. Lucy didn't have school on Friday, so they've been soaking up their time together. I feel like I complain so much about their behavior and how depressed I am and dwell on the "woe is me" a lot. I was thinking again about dying and how at least my girls could read my old blog entries to remember me by. But I don't want them just to read all the bad stuff. So this point is devoted to the good - to how much I adore my girls. They are wonderful and hilarious and usually very well-behaved. Lena is a major snuggle bug. She loves to lay in my bed with me every morning. Even though Justin is gone by the time she gets up, she still insists on laying on my pillow and resting her head against mine. She loves to give hugs and say, "I love you, Mommy!" She's a total goofball and I don't think she's going to be nearly as shy as Lucy. She loves to jump and do somersaults and sing and be just like Lucy. Yesterday she kept insisting that she wanted to "go outside and have an obstacle course." I was so confused, until it finally dawned on me that she meant "popsicle" not "obstacle course." Lol. And Lucy amazes me every day with how old she's getting, the concepts she's grasping, the questions she comes up with. She's taking off with her reading. I love to see her reading to Lena and figuring out books that are beyond her reading level. She's started to read signs and labels and anything she can sound out. She's blunt and hilarious and says the funniest things. She wants to be a doctor and a fashion designer and a mommy when she grows up. She loves to draw and create things with play-doh and play imaginary games with Lena. She still loves to cuddle and still tells me she loves me and I'm her favorite. Although lately, she's been saying, "I wish Niki was my mommy and you were my aunt." Haha. They are the best thing that's ever happened to me, and while it's hard at times, I cherish staying home with them and having a front row seat to their firsts, their questions, their tears, and their joys. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

4. One of the discussions I had with Lucy this week was about fear. She's not a fan of the wind. We live in a field and the gusts this week were out of control. Every night after we put her to bed, she'd come back down crying that she was scared. Finally, one night, I just laid in bed with her and told her that I used to be afraid of the wind too. I tried to assure her that she will grow out of her fears someday just like I grew out of [many of] mine. And we had a good talk about God watching over us and knowing what's best for us. I told her that I pray Psalm 34:4 for her: "I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." I told her a little bit about how the author of Psalms (David) was afraid, but God delivered him from his fears and he can do the same for Lucy. I don't write all this to show what a great Christian mom I am. It's mostly a reminder to myself that God is answering my prayers. He's giving me words to say to point Lucy to Him, and helping me use what I've been through to help her. I read these great Christian parenting books and think, "Yeah right. I'll never be able to talk to my kids like that," but God is helping me. 

5. On a much more frivolous note, I've been getting some killer deals this week. Kohl's is my favorite store ever. I got 4 more sleepers for Baby Boy for $14. Then on Wednesday, they had all kinds of stackable coupon codes and I went crazy with the online shopping. But I got some awesome deals for Christmas and a few more cheap outfits for the baby. I just laid them all out on my bed and decided I have a stripe-obsession. Haha. I'm not crazy about dinosaurs or "Mommy's Little Rookie" baseball outfits or dump trucks, so I gravitate toward stripes. Prepare yourself to see this baby in a lot of striped outfits. 

6. I picked up my new glasses this week. What do you think?

I actually got done-up for a wedding today, so I threw on my glasses to get a picture for you all. I'm not really wearing them out and about yet because I'm still adjusting. I wore glasses for one year in high school before switching to contacts, and never went back. So my glasses prescription was over 10 years old. But it's old enough now that I don't dare drive while wearing them and I can't really even see the TV from my bed, so I decided it was time for a new pair. The eye doctor did not warn me about the adjustment period with the new ones. It is sooo disorienting. Every time I put them on, I feel like everything around me is moving. The other day I was washing off the table and actually thought to myself, "Has the table always slanted down like that?" It is the weirdest feeling. So I've been trying to wear them for a few hours every day. Any longer than that and I get so dizzy and nauseous I can't stand it! Stupid vision. I'm so jealous of people like Justin who can just wake up and see. I'm as blind as a bat without some kind of corrective lenses. Hopefully our kids all get Justin's eyes!

7. Well as has become custom, I can't think of a seventh, and this is already dreadfully long. So I leave you with this hilarious picture via Pinterest. I laugh every time I see it:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Belated Saturday 7

This weekend was Ladies' Retreat with my church, and I wasn't on the ball enough to have this post written before I left. Alas, it is late, and I apologize.

1. Quick Halloween recap: the weather was horrendous. It was 45* and pouring rain. We all bundled up, stopped at each of my sisters' houses (my brother brought candy to us at our house - thanks, Luke!), then met some friends at a local church's Trunk or Treat. We did their 10 or so cars in the pouring rain - with coats, boots and umbrellas and still ended up drenched. I had originally planned on trick or treating in the neighborhood, but the weather was ridiculous. So we stopped at our friends' mom's house for more handfuls of candy, hit up Justin's parents' on our way home, and called it good. The girls' buckets were full and we didn't have to freeze all night. Win!

2. Justin and I attended our first ever "parent-teacher conferences" on Wednesday. I keep having these moments where I think, "How am I possibly old enough to be doing this?" Haha. Lucy got a great report. She's right on track academically and is improving socially, although there's still room for growth. Haha.  Exactly what we expected. And a likely formula for her life to come. She's not a prodigy. There are kids in her class who are better readers, better at math, etc. But so far, the academic part of school has been easy for her. She picks things up quickly and understands concepts easily. However, she will probably always have to work harder at battling her anxiety, accepting change, and asserting herself relationally. Sometimes I think I'm projecting my personality on her. Most of the time, I don't think any projection is necessary, because it's innate. Ha.

3. I have a friend who posted on her blog about taking the Myers-Briggs personality test. I took it in college, but I don't remember the result and was curious, so I took the one she linked to.  I am ISFJ:
The above picture is Carrie's result because she's way more tech savvy than I am. I couldn't figure out how to save the picture of my results, but our types were exactly the same and our percentages were extremely close. So you get the idea. I always feel like I fill these things out wrong. I think my results pegged me as way more empathetic/compassionate than I actually am. But I do put a premium on kindness, and I [generally] try very hard to avoid hurting people's feelings - especially people I don't know well (which is probably kind of backwards). 

4. All that's to say, we had a tiny bit of drama at our weekly Bible Study this week. I'm not about to get into the details, but a lady who had come at the beginning stopped coming and we just found out she was feeling a little attacked by some of us regulars. It's ridiculous that even though she's the one who was hurt, I took it personally. I was legitimately shocked (and offended) that anyone would think I could purposely be mean. The whole thing was a good learning experience for me. I was reminded anew that I don't take criticism well. My first response was to be mad at her for being hurt by me. How awful is that? And I also learned that even when I think I'm being kind and disagreeing in a friendly way, I have to be really really careful with my words. I can be blunt and straight-forward - especially in Bible Study where people know me and I know them and feel comfortable. She wasn't to that point yet and took my bluntness as an attack on her personally. Ouch.

5. Enough about that. Have you all been stalking the leaked Black Friday ads as much as I have?? It's one of my favorite times of year. And I know it's controversial, but I love the thrill of a good deal and the fun of doing crazy things to get it. Haha. I went when I was 31 weeks pregnant with Lena, so this time at 24, it will be a piece of cake! ;-)

6. And now the Ladies' Retreat recap. I wish I could remember how long I've been going to the retreat. I think I started in high school. I originally went with Niki and her old church. Niki and her married friends taught me alllll kinds of interesting things. Lol. I must have missed a couple years in college, but I know I've been going every year since I've been married. Now, Niki and I attend the same church, so we go to our retreat. It is the best. We get away for two nights, stay in gorgeous condos right by Lake Michigan (although it's always too cold to enjoy the lake), have someone else make us meals, hear inspiring speakers, get to know the other women in our church, and stay up to the wee hours of the morning talking about everything you can imagine - from boob jobs to parenting to whether or not you can lose your salvation. 

It's a different dynamic every year, depending on who comes, what the speaker's like, and how the retreat is organized. I think we all agreed that this was one of the best years yet. Our speaker was our senior pastor's sister. She lives in California, but flew in to talk to us. She has a great redemption story, and works in jail ministry, juvenile halls, and homeless shelters. I think I've written before about how women's events tend to be hard for me. I'm not a typical girly-girl, sappy, emotional drama queen (although a lot of my past entries might lead you to think otherwise. Lol). Retreat speakers tend to have big hair, big jewelry, lots of make-up, and lots of sappiness. They think when they're speaking to women, they can only talk about submission in marriage, godly motherhood, or the Proverbs 31 Woman. Those subjects are great and need to be talked about, but I want more than just that all the time.

Anyway, this year's speaker (Gina) was the anti-retreat speaker. Haha. She had kind of a rough life. She works in a rough environment. She's blunt and straight-forward and says it like it is. But she also loves Jesus and radiates a passion for him that is contagious. Her talks were engaging and convicting and inspiring. She was a great balance of funny stories, amazing anecdotes, and practical Biblical wisdom. I think we all really appreciated her. (Even the women who do love big hair, make-up, and sap.) ;-)

7. We had a lot of fun outside of the "sessions" too. Niki and I always go out to eat on the way to retreat and on the way home. Can't go wrong with Olive Garden and Red Robin as bookends to our weekend! For the first time in 13+ years, Niki and I didn't room together! I stayed with another friend who was at the retreat for the first time, and Niki was in the room next to us. So it was good for us to branch out a little bit, even though we still spent the majority of our time together. Haha. We love each other! We can't help it! We got to play some fun games (4 On A Couch is always a good time). We got to know some new people better. And we actually got an adequate amount of sleep!

One of the fun things we've been doing as a group for the past few years is the sock exchange. Everyone brings a wrapped pair of cute/funny socks and we exchange them white elephant style. It's always fun to see which pair gets stolen the most and who ends up with what. Last year, I got some awesome llama socks. I've loved llamas ever since Tina the Fat Lard on Napoleon Dynamite.   

So this year, I stole some cute arctic animal socks to go along with my strange animal socks tradition. They were adorable little knee high socks with pictures of penguins and walruses and polar bears. Here's what they looked like on my feet:
Cute, right?
Here's what they looked like on my calves:
Not so cute. Lol.
I swear I don't have abnormally large calves. I usually don't need to buy wide-calf boots. My legs are not swollen from being pregnant. But those socks did not fit. Poor bloated penguin. Lol. 

22 Weeks

Blurry bathroom selfie from Ladies' Retreat. I'll try to remember and get a picture with the girls tomorrow.
Baby is the size of a papaya this week.

How Far Along? 22 weeks
Total Weight Gain: +1 again. +6 total.
Maternity Clothes? I actually broke out some maternity shirts this week. I decided to try them on again and found a few that fit, so I've been wearing more and more maternity.
Sleep: Terrible night sweats. Some trouble falling asleep. Mostly, though, it's glorious and I love it.
Best Moment This Week: Really popping out. I have a love/hate relationship with my bump. I do think it's fun. I like people to notice it. Right now, even as I start to get bigger, I like that I look obviously pregnant. I'll start to get uncomfortably huge soon. But I'm enjoying it now.
Movement: Rolling, twisting, punching, kicking. Still so low. I was trying to get Lucy to feel him this week, and I kept moving her hands way down. She finally said, "Why's he so far down there if your belly is so big!" Haha. I wonder the same thing!
Food Cravings: Pop, sour candy, salty snacks
Food Aversions: Nothing. 
Gender: It's a boy!!!!  
Name: I have two that I think are my top contenders. They're very different and I'm having a hard time deciding. (Justin likes them both and told me to decide!)
Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks. Not a ton, but they're there.
What I Miss: Being pain-free. Not feeling guilty about my caffeine consumption.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Choosing a name, buying little boy stuff, the girls being able to feel him move. 
Milestones: I'm starting to get that sore/achy feeling in my lower stomach. I think I grew a lot this week - I felt a lot of stretching and pulling. And I'm starting to feel a little cumbersome. Check out the comparison from last week to this week:

Obviously, it's different clothing, different angles, different distances, but you can't deny that I definitely grew this week. (I flung my name-tag behind me for the picture. I'm really not wearing a choker. Haha.)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

21 Weeks

Putting my hand there is deceivingly slimming. Must remember that . . .
Baby is the size of a pomegranate this week.

How Far Along? 21 weeks
Total Weight Gain: Well according to my doctor's scale last Monday, I was up 4 more pounds (+7 total), but I was fully dressed and wearing my tall, clunky boots. According to my scale, I'm only up 2 pounds (+5 total). I'm going with the latter.
Maternity Clothes? Jeans, yes. I was looking back at pictures of my pregnancy with Lena, and I was definitely wearing maternity shirts by this point. But when I try to wear them now, they're just baggy and saggy looking. Not sure if that means I'm smaller this time or my maternity shirts are just stretched out from wearing them to 40 weeks with Lena.
Sleep: Terrible night sweats. Some trouble falling asleep. Mostly, though, it's glorious and I love it.
Best Moment This Week: Finding out gender! Being reassured he's perfectly healthy!
Movement: Getting stronger and stronger. Sometimes I get a kick strong enough to startle me. And it's getting much more consistent. Love it!
Food Cravings: Chocolate - specifically baked goods. I polished off half a chocolate cake this week.
Food Aversions: Nothing. Give me all the food.
Gender: It's a boy!!!! It still feels weird to refer to the baby as "him." 
Name: Oy vey. I read 3 baby name books this week and read through the top 1000 boy names from 2014 on the social security website. Still only have 3 contenders that I don't totally love. Hopefully one of them will grow on me . . .
Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks. Not as many as I was having with Lena at this point, but I think I'm lazier now than I was with her (I was still working almost full time). 
What I Miss: Being pain-free. Not feeling guilty about my caffeine consumption.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Choosing a name, buying little boy stuff, the girls being able to feel him move. 
Milestones: According to my email, he has eyebrows now. I fully expect him to come out looking like this: 
Stolen from the Internet, but that's actually kind of what my babies look like. Haha.

And just for fun, a comparison pic:
Is it just the way I'm holding my stomach, or am I smaller this time?!? Please, Lord, let me be smaller. Please let this baby be under 9 lbs!
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