Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our New Christmas Traditions

We've always been into traditions in our house, but this year it just so happened that we stumbled upon some new ones that we absolutely love and not one of them revolves around commercialism.  They focus on giving of ourselves and quality time with each other as a family.  Here are my three favorite.

#1.  I had my kids make presents for each other -  I asked them what they wanted to give each other, got the supplies, and they made them.  My oldest wanted to make a coloring book for her little brother and a handwriting practice book for her sister.  We just printed sheets off the internet, she decorated a cover, and we stapled them together.  My middle girl wanted to color pictures and glue them together into a booklet.  We found coloring pictures online, copy/pasted them into a 2 column word document, printed them out, then folded them into a booklet.  She glued the pages together and colored them.  Finally, my son wanted to make his sisters some "monsters", so we bought some cheap dollar gloves and I hot glued googly eyes wherever he wanted them and drew mouths in the color and shape that he said.  They turned out really, really cute.  What I love about this new tradition is that they were thinking about what they could give to each other instead of only about what they were going to get.  To see the excitement on their faces as their siblings opened the presents they so lovingly put together was priceless.  

#2. Christmas Eve Sleepover - my sister bought my 3 oldest each a sleeping bag for Christmas this year, and they opened them at my mother's house on Christmas Eve.  They were SO excited about them!  So, we let them line them up in my son's room and let them have a "sleepover" together.  I was afraid they wouldn't get any sleep at all, but it was a total success and a special time for them to spend together.  As long as they're willing, I want to keep this tradition alive.

#3. Date Night Tickets - I knew my children were going to bank with presents from the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/etc., so I purposely didn't want to get them any big toys.  I've been wanting to start date nights with each child once a month for years, but just haven't been able to get my act together.  But then it dawned on me at about 1 am Christmas morning - I was looking at this pin for the Minivan Express, where you put tickets under the kids pillows and when they find them, they file out to the car and get hot chocolate and drive around looking at lights - TICKETS.  BRILLIANT!!!  I did a google search and found this website where you can design and print your own tickets.  The plan?  Print a ticket for each child to have a date with both mommy and daddy once a month.  My first thought was "this is such a cheesy gift idea - they're never going to go for this."  But you know what?  I was totally wrong.  They LOVED it!  They can't stop talking about it, actually.  My oldest went on a lunch date with daddy today and could not wait to get her ticket off the fridge and have daddy tear the stub off.  Such a fun idea.  I really, really hope that we can keep this up all year.  My goal is to sit down with all of them at the beginning of each month and schedule the dates/guys' nights out/girls' nights out so that we make sure to keep it up.  We'll see ;P  Maybe y'all can hold us accountable. 

More than anything else, I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas - the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I knew I was doing something right when my oldest drew this picture during our church's Christmas Eve candlelight service.  

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may you be blessed in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Punch Drunk Sleepy Crazy

Oh. My. Word.  Holy. Sleep. Deprivation. Batman.

Seriously, I can't even make my brain work anymore.  I was at the doctor's office with my 2nd child for an ear infection yesterday, and when they asked me to fill out some paperwork, I literally stood and stared at the form for 2 minutes before I even processed what I was looking at.  After that, I printed where I was supposed to sign and couldn't for the life of me remember what the date was.  So embarrassing.

With this information in mind, please bear with me as my blog posts over the next few weeks and months will most likely not make much coherent sense.  It's the holidays, and I so desperately want to blog about all kinds of fun, Christmas-y things, but time and energy - they escape me.  To make up for my lack of creativity, I will simply post other people's stuff that I love.  But not today.  No, not today.  Today I sleep.  Goodnight :D

DUDE!!!  I found this article, and it totally explains why I ate that entire box of chocolates today - or at least why I wanted to.  It's the baby's fault ;P

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Fourth Trimester - UGH.

For those of you who don't know, I gave birth to my fourth baby - a little boy - on the 18th of November, so a little under 2 weeks ago.  He is AMAZING!  I mean, seriously, the kid eats, sleeps, and poops like a champ.  I couldn't ask for a better baby.  I've also had an awesome recovery.  MUCH better than with my other 3, I'll tell you that much.  But now, I find myself in the gross in-between phase lovingly referred to as the "Fourth Trimester".  You know, where you look like you're at least 3-4 months pregnant, but you're totally not?  Yeah, that one.  If you don't have your newborn with you at all times, you run the very great risk of being asked how far along you are.  The first three trimesters have their own challenges, but at least you can say "I'm pregnant" and any amount of weight you've gained is totally fine.

I don't know about y'all, but I was not the most weight-conscious or work-out savvy pregnant woman.  In reality, I ate anything and everything I wanted and my only workouts consisted of cleaning the house and chasing my children - which IS a workout, thank-you-very-much.  Because of this, the fourth trimester presents some interesting challenges to me that more health-conscious women would not have to deal with.  Namely, the baby pooch.  Yes, this can be worked on after I get the go ahead from the doctor, but for the next few weeks, there's not a whole lot I can do about it.  Which is SO great, because it's the holiday season which means holiday parties and sad attempts to look nice.  Ugh.  Yup.

The other part that's tough about this fourth trimester is breastfeeding.  I'll admit, I haven't had the best track record with breastfeeding, but I at least tried it with all of my other 3.  I knew that I really wanted to do it with this last baby, and for once in my life, all circumstances seemed lined up so that I could do it successfully.  Let me explain.  With my first, I didn't have a pump that worked and I had to go back to work, so I ended up having to switch to formula.  With my second, I had a pump, but ended up losing my milk supply by 12 weeks, even with fenugreek and other attempts to fix it.  If I could have nursed her in person, I don't think it would have been a problem, but I had to be at work unfortunately.  With my third, I had a 3 year old and a 13 month old, had moved out of state and away from my entire support system, quit my job, and we had sold one of our 2 cars.  To put it simply, I basically lost all of my freedoms and became extremely depressed.  My 13 month old knew the difference between me nursing the baby and giving him a bottle and she SCREAMED bloody murder when I tried to nurse him and not when i gave him a bottle.  Based on my lack of success with pumping the last time, I just decided that I was done for my own sanity and they've all been fine.

But now, I'm home and I'm used to being home.  I'm near family again.  Now, breastfeeding is working much better and doesn't hurt anymore - but my goodness, it did at first.   Like, make me burst out in operatic singing - or just tears - when he latched on.  My favorite was people telling me "Maybe he's not latched on right."  As if that's the only reason breastfeeding might hurt.  No offense, but it's not the first time I've done this.  I know the difference between a correct latch and an incorrect latch.  Just because I wasn't successful at nursing for a full year, I have nursed and know what I'm doing.  My decisions to stop nursing had nothing to do with me not knowing how to do it correctly.  But just to give you a visual, this, in my opinion, is the main reason why breastfeeding hurts at first:

Yeah, that's exactly what you think.  When you nurse, your nipple basically gets pulled down your baby's throat.  Now, do this for 10-30 minutes on each side every 2-3 hours.  Unless you have nipples of steel, this is bound to be uncomfortable and yes, after a couple of days, even painful.  I didn't hurt the first day or so.  It was that in-between phase where he was nursing hard but I hadn't gotten calloused yet.  So yes, it hurt.  So the next time a nursing woman who has just had her baby says breastfeeding hurts, don't jump to the judgment that she's doing it wrong and remember this image in the back of your brain.  Just saying'.

Anway, the transition from pregnancy to new mommy is hard for so many reasons.  All of this is to hopefully show you that what you're going through is probably normal and no, you're not a horrible person for disliking breastfeeding at first or feeling depressed that your maternity pants keep falling down but your fat FAT jeans still don't fit.  This too shall pass.

I just look at this little face:

and it's totally worth everything - and more.  

P.S.  Having been through postpartum depression several times, I know how awful and isolating it is.  If you need help, please don't hesitate to get it - call your doctor, a therapist, or even me if you need to.  I'd love to help.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012


For those of you on Facebook, you may have noticed people doing daily "Thankfulness" posts - saying one thing each day that they are thankful for.  I am not good at the every day thing - 31 Days of Halloween just about killed me!  But I am so SO thankful for many things and I feel that today is a great day to shout if from the rooftops - er - blog-tops...ahem.  Okay, that was bad, even for me.  But here goes.

I am thankful:

1.) For a God who loved me before time began, who created me, who wooed me, and who captured my heart.

2.) For that same God who has never, ever given up on me, no matter how deep I have fallen or how far I have walked away.  He is the greatest romance of my life, and I wish I could say that I even remotely deserved His faithfulness and love.

3.) For the Bible - the love letter from God, that shows me how to live my life, how not to live my life and every important thing.

4.) For a husband who has always been my best friend - the one who makes me laugh so hard I end up in old-man wheezy coughing fits, the one who holds my hand when I'm afraid and knows exactly how to calm me down when I'm freaking out.

5.) For my oldest child - Miss EG, my 6 1/2 year old bundle of sweet and sassy charm.  She amazes me with how smart she is and how quickly she picks up on things.  She has such a kind heart and sense of empathy for those around her, and her compassion sometimes simply overwhelms me.

6.) For my second child - Miss Charlie, my almost-4-year-old strong-willed, hot-mess bundle of amazingness.  She cracks me up all the time with the way she sees the world and how determined she is to control it.  And yet under all that determined attitude, there lies a strong vein of compassion and love and desire to serve.

7.) For my oldest son - Mr. Drewby, my  2 1/2 year old tank of a boy - rough and tumble, sweet and kind, he is the perfect mixture of masculinity and compassion.  He shocks me with what he picks up on, and the insight he has into the inner workings of people's minds, saying things that point out the truth of a situation much more effectively than I ever could.

8.) For my youngest child - Baby J - my 4 day old little man that I can't wait to get to know.  So far, I know he's passionate about eating, sleeping and pooping, and I can't wait to learn more about him every single day.

9.) For my father, who consistently seeks after the Lord's heart, who was a rock in our family.  There was never a spiritual question that I felt I couldn't ask him and he wouldn't at least know where to point me to.  We haven't always had a great relationship, but I praise God for second chances at that as an adult.

10.) For my mother, who has been such a support and friend throughout my entire life - speaking truth when I really didn't want to hear it but really needed to, letting me call and rant and cry for an hour on the phone when I'm sure she had better things to get done, and showing me how to prioritize people over things and relationships over so-called duties.

11.) For the family that God placed me in at birth - the youngest of 5 kids, I was so blessed to have 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters who took care of me and loved me - even when I was probably the most annoying little snot to ever walk the face of the earth.  I know that, even though they still live thousands of miles away, I can call them and ask them advice, laugh about kids, and just have a great conversation about anything.

12.) For my in-laws, who have become more than in-laws to me, but are now a second set of parents.  I am thankful that they are so kind and generous, and that I am blessed enough to get along with them.  Even better, that my family and my husband's family get along so well.  I know too many people who don't get to experience this, and I treasure it even more because of that.

13.) For an amazing delivery of my fourth child just 4 short days ago.  Every single thing I asked of the Lord, He granted to me: I was able to have him on the weekend before Thanksgiving, only one day after his due date, so I could maximize my husband's time off and get to spend time with family from out of town.  He came out in literally 4 push cycles, about 10-15 minutes, and for only 3 of those was the doctor present.  I didn't and haven't had any of the major problems that I had with my other deliveries and the recovery has been phenomenal.

14.) For being put in the part of the world that I have been at this time in history - where I have access to clean water and food and medical care whenever I need it.

15.) For the ability to stay home with my crazy children.  It's not easy, nor is it always fun, but it IS always a blessing to me.  Not having been able to stay home with my first two children when they were very little was hard for me.  I wanted so badly to see all of their milestones and had to hear about them second hand from my mother - which was also a blessing that I didn't have to put them with someone I didn't know.  I treasure all the silly moments and crazy comments they make and that I get to experience it first hand.

16.) For the ability to craft and do what I love and actually sort of make some money off of it.  Is it super lucrative?  No.  But does it pay for itself and allow me to continue doing what I love?  Yes.  And bonus, sometimes it even makes enough that I can do fun stuff with the kids that I wouldn't get to do otherwise.

17.) For my Lifegroup, a great group of ladies that I can laugh with, cry with, and spend time seeking the Lord's heart with.

18.) For friends that make me laugh, commiserate with me, and watch bad movies with me ;P

19.) For my husband's job - that provides for all of our needs and allows me to be a stay-at-home-mom.

20.) This sounds dumb, but for my minivan.  I have a big ol' brood of kids and really wouldn't make it too far without one.

21.) For the ridiculous amount of food we're going to eat today...

22.) And for the awesome amount of leftovers we'll be eating for the next week ;P

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!!  God bless!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nesting Instinct

Well, Baby Boy is due any day now - 5 days from now to be precise - but I would just LOVE for him to come right now so I can be done with this pregnancy.  Any woman who has reached this stage in the game knows what I'm talking about - seriously, it's miserable.  Heartburn, round ligament pain, your body aches because every joint in your body is relaxing in preparation of labor, and you have to pee every 2 minutes.  My favorite is when people say "Get some rest while you can" because there hasn't been such a thing as uninterrupted sleep in a long time.  Oh well.  Anyway, I have a tendency to get a hardcore nesting instinct each time I'm pregnant, and that usually results in a sewing rampage of some kind.  This time was no different.  Just to give you an idea of how crazy I am, I've attached some pictures so you can see my insanity.  Maybe after Little Mr. is born I can post some tutorials on how I made this stuff, but today is not that day.  Sorry!  Anyway, hope all is well with you all out in cyber world!

Carseat redo - this was a hand-me-down from a sweet friend, but it was black and hot pink.  Didn't think Little Mr. would want to come home in that ;P

Close-up of the inside with headrest and strap covers.  I didn't want the really thick strap covers because I just felt like that would be too much fabric around his neck.  These are SUPER easy to make.  May be the first tutorial I do post-baby.

Carseat blanket.  Looks a little ghetto, but it will do the job!!

Diaper bag - this one, I'm actually quite proud of.  Designed it and everything ;)

Paci tote - no more digging in the diaper bag for it, and it attaches with a clip, so I can attach it to the carseat if I'd rather.

Baby mitts made from an old t-shirt of mine.  Also super easy.

Paci strap.

Changing pad

Can hold the wipes case and a diaper so you don't have to bring the whole bag with you.  I thought about adding a strap, but just didn't want to deal with it.  I might just regret that decision in the future.  We'll see...

Storage pouch - can be used for anything - extra diapers, nursing cover (or both, in my case)

Sling and storage strap - yeah, I know, I folded the sling inside-out.  This sucker's LONG and hard to roll up, so I'm not that concerned about it.  The style is like a Moby - just a long piece of knit fabric that you wrap around your body.  We'll see how well it works when Little Mr. arrives.

The inside of the diaper bag with all the goodies included.

Newborn cocoon and hat - I thought these colors looked like a snow owl, so I added little wings ;P

Slippers for me.  They look a little dumb off your foot....

But definitely cuter on.

They're supposed to have a cute decorative strap, but I just didn't feel like putting that much effort into it for just me.

Hospital gown - regular knit nightgown repurposed, with snap/velcro openings at back, shoulders, and underarms.  We'll see how comfortable it actually is on the big day.

And a nightshirt/pants set repurposed into a nursing nightgown.  A little granny-ish perhaps, but I don't care.  It was cheap :D  Thank you Ross!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days of Halloween 2012 - Day 31: AHHHH!!!! We made it! It's Halloween!

I don't know about you guys, but the whole blogging-every-day-for-a-whole-month thing was pretty tough - especially on weekends.  That's my family time, you know?  But I stuck to it and we've finally made it to Day 31 - HALLOWEEN!!!  I'm so excited - I love Halloween :)  Not for the creepy, gory stuff, but for the fun, silly stuff - oh, and candy.  Lots and lots of candy.  I'm definitely an advocate of the 50% candy tax on my kids - I carved your pumpkins, made your costumes, bought the candy, dipped the caramel apples, made gifts for your teachers - you owe me some candy ;P  Plus, I can just tell them that they don't need that much sugar and I'm helping them not be wasteful - no need to throw it away...Now I'm just justifying my theft of their goods.  Oh well.  Anyway, thought I'd post some pics of the munchkins in their costumes and the few outdoor decorations I was able to get up.

Oh my word, I could EAT him, he's so cute!!  Mr. Doo as "Dupaman" in his own words ;)

Faster than a speeding bullet!  Ha ha!

My beautiful little Rapunzel :D

She asked for some makeup - and that mascara just makes her eyelashes pop so much - like she needs it.  The kid has got eyelashes TO DIE FOR!!

My little black cat.

Seriously, she asked for makeup, too - those eyes KILL me!  So gorgeous!

My $20 lantern thing from Ross.  Excuse the dead plant - my husband went out of town and my black thumb, aka inability to water plants, killed it.  Oops...

The sign on our front door.

My fun $15 birdcage from Ross with a Dollar Tree raven in it.  My personal fave is the spider attempting to skydive off the bottom :/

Our pumpkins - I did Lightning McQueen, which consequently is why it looks like crap.  B did the other two, and his hard work and precision made them look so beautiful :D

Hope you all have a spook-tacular Halloween!!

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