Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sweet November

When October began, I had a 3 year old.  

Working on one of his masterpieces.

But when October ended, I had a 4 year old!  
my bug boy

And for one special October night, I was mother to a soldier, a garbage man, and a recycling man
Halloween.  We are big fans of home-made costumes.

Mike, with a lot of James' help carved some really awesome pumpkins.  Unfortunately, he lost his wedding ring in the process.
One of the last pictures we have of his ring.

He really DUG pumpkin carving
Mac is obsessed with Ms, so it was pretty easy figuring out his perfect jack-o-lantern

In October, our biggest boy finally got more interested in playing soccer
All ready for a game on a chilly day

And our littlest boy became even more of a bruiser

He's trouble all right!  Taking pictures became a hide and seek game :)

When October began, I thought that we were probably only a month away from meeting our baby girl!
36 weeks

As October ended, I thought this may be the last shot we got of Clare in the womb:
38 weeks

Then when November began.  We thought this belly could not possibly get much bigger
39 weeks

And then it did....
40 weeks- November 8th!

My due date, which we never really though we'd make it to, came and went.  And I got a little lot antsy, desperate, depressed, cranky, and emotional because our baby wasn't here yet.  So we tried to distract everyone with a trip to the children's museum.
My guys playing with a water table while I sat down and rested my swelling ankles.

And just when I was preparing to endure another week of pregnancy, some little person decided that she was finished gestating!
look at this little chunk

The wait was so worth it.  We had our most calm, gentle birth and got to meet a calm, sweet baby on November 15th!  

my little doll a few hours old!

 After a couple of days, we got to leave he hospital

leaving the hospital- what a great feeling

Our first drive with a van-full of 4 kids!  

And then we brought her into our home.....

Henry holding Clare for the first time

James holding Clare for the first time
And then the craziness really began!
Holy cow, we have 4 kids.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 Random Updates (with pictures)

 1.  What Floats?  

Mike is teaching James and Henry about 2 science lessons a month, usually on Sunday afternoons.  After our first week of homeschooling, he taught them their first lesson.  I watched and snapped some pictures.  I have to say, my husband knew what he was doing!  He was so patient and encouraging and knew just the right things to say and questions to ask!  It was really fun to watch.

Getting set up with their assortment of different items to check for float-ability.

I'm thinking James' profile looks probably a lot like Mike's did at age 18. Buzz cut!!!

I stopped taking pictures at this point, but the experiment went on and they tried making boats out of some of their items to see if they could hold other items!  It was really neat and also kind of surprising which things held more!  

2.  Mac Attack!

Mac is officially 2.  Well, actually he's been 2 for over a month now.  But at 25 months old he has entered the "terrible twos."  By this I mean the propensity to respond with the word "no," sometimes yelling it.  He is also experiencing what I call the "bipolar" 2 year old phase.  Example:

Mac: I want dat, mommy!
Mommy: here you go, Mac. (giving him requested item)
Mac: No! (while throwing requested item at me)
Mommy: OK then.  (While removing the item/weapon and putting it up).
Mac: No! I want dat! (while breaking down into a full-blown tantrum)
How can someone with such an angelic face have such a fiery temper?!

Hitting is another big part of Mac's twos.  See.... I thought we already went through this with him.  While in Sierra Vista (while he was 18-21 months) he went through a horrible hitting phase.  The boy has a temper, I get it.  So we addressed the hitting head on.  Each time he hit, he was told no hitting and picked up and placed in his bedroom.  I never closed the door but I would just walk away.  It didn't end the problem, but at least it got the point across that the behavior is inappropriate (which I think is sometimes all you can do at this age!).
Mac likes teddies.  Not a teddy.  Not 2 or 3 teddies.  But all teddies.  Every single one.

When we moved back to Albuquerque, the hitting really started dwindling down and his personality mellowed.  I was almost in awe of the laid back little angel we had on our hands.  I would tell him not to do something and he would actually listen to me and obey me out of the goodness of his heart!  I was relieved that his behavior had gotten so much better as I neared the end of my pregnancy and the prospect of bringing a new baby home and going through those changes for him.  Oh what a difference a few months makes.  I guess that period of time in Sierra Vista was just a warning, a brief glimpse into what was in store when he actually turned 2.  Now we are back to responding to the hitting.  Which means me (huge belly and all) picking him up several times a day for his "time outs."  (And by time out I mean, basically just removing him from the situation he was in when he started hitting).  I'm hoping we can see him mellow out a little again before November gets here!

3.  Goat-head the Caterpillar

We had a pet over the last 2 weeks.  It all started when the boys were helping Mike weed the nasty goat-head producing plants from the back yard.  They found a cute green caterpillar who enjoyed eating the leaves of the goat-head plants. We made a little home for him in a salad bowl and he became our pet.  We noticed over the next few days that all Goat-head did was eat and eat and eat.  The little guy got F.A.T.!  And then he crawled up into a top corner, where the bowl met the saran wrap on top and started making a cocoon!
Goat-head in his cocoon, which is suspended by a spider-web looking material that surrounds him.
We watched over the next week as he started looking more brownish and less green.  Then one day I told Mike, Goat-head doesn't look so good.  He was totally black and from what we had read, he was reaching the end of the time-frame for metamorphosis.  I should have had a little more faith in nature because the very next day I checked on him to find an empty cocoon and a big, beautiful black moth just waiting to bust out of the salad bowl!  The boys and I released him and after letting his wings dry out, Goat-head was free to fly away and have an exciting moth life!  I am so grateful for this free science lesson in one of the many wonders of nature.  I think I learned just as much as the boys this time.

4.  Third Trimester!  

Yay!  I am finally in my third and final trimester with little Miss.Clare!  It's so exciting to think that in less than 3 months she will be HERE.  And looking at my calendar, I really only have 2 full months, September and October, to get ready.  We have accumulated a few new baby items and some new girly blankets and clothing AND her carseat has been ordered!  It's starting to get really real as our house fills up with a little more pink.  Another thing that is making it more real is seeing how big I am getting.  And the fact that I am feeling closer and closer to having her.  I've had about 10 braxton hicks contractions since I started writing this post.  And some of them it seems are starting to feel more intense.  I know I'm nearing the homestretch of this pregnancy now!  Next week we have our repeat growth ultrasound and I am over-due for a new belly picture.  So a new update is on it's way :)

5.  Homeschooling: Week 3  

We have almost completed our 3rd week of homeschooling.  I am very happy with how things are going.  James has a very good attitude and he is doing so well.  He loves to learn.  We especially enjoy phonics together.  It's so amazing to be the one to teach my child.  I love when he looks at me enthusiastically telling me the sounds each letter we have studied.  (And he's also bringing phonics into the conversation when he notices sounds he has learned already!)  We have been working at a faster pace with phonics because so far all of the letters have been consonants that he has already been introduced to, so it's coming quickly for him.  By the time Clare gets here we'll be into the vowels, so we may be slowing down to a more normal pace then.

In my last post I mentioned that he was a little bored with religion class (which is a very short, no-stress class).  Well, something clicked, I am not sure what... now he is very cooperative and interested in religion class!  So far we've been reviewing prayers he knows, learning a few new prayers, and reading and looking at religious pictures.  He now reminds me when it's prayer time and is enthusiastic about learning his new prayers!  Yay for progess!

Handwriting is a bit of a struggle some days.  We do not work ahead on this subject because I think that there's only so much handwriting a 5 year old should be expected to complete on a given day.  So far it's even been very simple for him, but we do struggle at times with him having the patience for it.  Sitting still and not bouncing his feet or humming.  I know not to expect perfection at this age, but he loves to act silly and intentionally make the letters look too big or too small or out of proportion.  He doesn't have this behavior for any of the other subjects.  I really think it's just boring to him.  I have noticed that he does a little better when using a colored pencil and even better if he's writing on the chalkboard.

Henry still does some parts of phonics and math with us and all of religion and science.  Although he is a stinker at learning his prayers!  I really don't want to put pressure on him for that subject, but I'm hoping he catches on at some point and decides he wants to do it more.  When James is doing his workbook pages Henry (and sometimes Mac too) will often come to look at the pictures.  But so far Henry hasn't expressed an interest in actually doing what James does.  He has asked me to help him hold the pencil correctly like James does, but he doesn't want to write letters himself (except for H's of course!).  I was sort of expecting him to be a little jealous and want to do exactly what James does, but he is content with his drawing for now which is totally fine :)  

Our Homeschooling Space

 I wanted to share some pictures of what our current dining room/home school area looks like.

The dining table with our homeschool shelf for James' books and a few things for Henry and Mac.  I am still on the look-out for an American flag to hang above the chalkboard.
Just to the left of the table is where we keep James' desk. I just pull my chair right next to his and we have a nice working space. I miss his long hair!  This was before they got the WORST haircuts!

We also have their easel nearby. We use this and the wall chalkboard several times a week.  It's nice to have a variety of different writing surfaces to mix it up.  And sometimes it's also a way to distract Mac temporarily :)

This is the wall opposite the homeschool shelf and dining table.  Both of these are filled with art supplies and different manipulatives and flashcards we've made over the last year.  Our front door is just to the left, which is why we keep their hats and the shoe basket there too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

First day of Kindergarten!

 Today was our official first day of kindergarten!  It feels so good to finally settle into our new routine (or start to settle).  I am very pleased with how our first day went.  James woke up and told me right away that today was the day he started kindergarten!  He was very eager to begin.  It was so cute when he got out his pencil and eraser and sat in his special little desk just ready to start!

First day of school 2013

Henry was also excited and Mac could just feel the excitement and was just as anxious to start whatever it is this homeschool business is that his brother have been carrying on about.

My big 5 year old boy starting school!
My very happy 3 3/4 year old
the teacher's assistant
After our first-day-of-school photo shoot, we headed back inside.  I set up Henry and Mac with some coloring books, paper and crayons so that I could focus on James.  Luckily, that was enough to distract them for our phonics lesson.  This morning James and I did his first full day of Kindergarten phonics.  It was pretty simple (AKA: easy) but I am happy with that because it was a good introduction to the format of his book.  He loves learning about letters.  Next, Henry and Mac moved onto playing with some counting bears (slightly more distracting for James, but we pulled through).  We were able to do his first math lesson which was super simple.  I am hoping it gets a little more challenging fast or it may not keep him interested.

The next subject was handwriting.  Our usual handwriting lessons will be working through 1 workbook page a day of handwriting skills.  But for this first week or two we get to do more fun "readiness" activities.  These activities involve using crayons to make horizontal and vertical lines.  It was a good review in working from the left side of the page to the right side and the correct way to hold a pencil.  They also got to make rainbows and bowls of porridge (like from the Goldilocks story!).  It was nice to be able to include Henry in this because it definitely benefited him (and was fun!).  But I'm still not sure how well he'll be able to participate in the regular handwriting lessons once these readiness activities come to end.

After handwriting we took our lunch break (even though it wasn't quite 10:30 yet).  After Mac went down for his afternoon nap James, Henry and I did 1 science experiment from his science book which they really liked.  I was originally thinking science would be a here and there subject, since phonics and math are the main priorities.  But beginning first thing this morning, James started asking what experiments we were going to do and when we would do science. So I have decided that we will have to make it a bigger part of his curriculum.  I'm hoping we can do about 2 experiments a week from his science text and then supplement them with library books on different science topics and field trips.  James has already told me he wants to "build a planet" so a model solar system is going to be a big project for all of us this year!  We also need to buy a magnifying glass because that should provide a lot of opportunity for learning just around the house.

Our final subject of the day was religion.  I introduced his new religion books and we reviewed the prayer the Sign of the Cross.  Henry still struggles with doing this one correctly, so I made sure to take our time.  James was not thrilled with this slower paced topic, so I tried to make it fun by pretending to be at church and teaching them to genuflect while doing the Sign of the Cross.  Well.... from there James and Henry decided to play Mass (I sure hope there is nothing wrong with letting them do this!).  They took turns being the priest while the other boy and I pretended to be parishioners.

James pretending to be the priest at the altar with his candles and bible (really it's a book about cars)
Father Henry offering Holy Communion from one of Mike's old shot glasses (I told him it was a chalice)
I am hoping every homeschool day can go something like this day!  But I know that won't always be the case.  There will be hiccups and there will be times when we fall behind.  Over the next month I have 5 doctor's appointments for myself/Clare!  (Not counting extra trips to the lab).  Some weeks that will be twice a week for appointments.  I am really hoping we can maintain a not-too-hectic pace with not too much time out of the house.  I still want to be able to do library trips once or twice a month and homeschool co-op meetings once they start next month.  Oh, and hopefully a sport for James.  Sometime in November a new little member of the family will be joining us, so hopefully we can settle into a good routine by then!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Baby Clare Update (25 weeks)

Once again I fail at blogging.  In my defense this past month has been crazy (which I will go into later).  But first, let's talk baby!

I am currently 25 weeks pregnant with our sweet little girl.  My last post mentioned that we'd have a repeat ultrasound and appointment with the specialist because of concerns over Downs syndrome.  That ultrasound went beautifully!  The little focus was still present on her heart, but there were no other soft markers for Downs syndrome noted.  Given this information and my age, there doesn't seem to be an increased risk for her having Downs syndrome.  Mike and I were a little taken aback by how much of a big deal they made one tiny soft marker that really doesn't mean anything.  We had decided long ago to not do genetic testing so this was a bit of a surprise!  But they are going to watch me a little more closely from now on because of my thyroid, so we have another ultrasound to look forward to in about a month.  (yay!)

24 week belly

Baby Clare is an active baby.  She likes to flip around a lot still.  And it sure seems like I can differentiate her movements so much more than I could with my previous pregnancies.  I can usually tell when she is breech or not.  When she is head down, I can feel her little feet kicking up in my ribs.  When she is head up I can literally feel her kicking my butt from the inside.  I don't remember the boys doing the latter!  Although I do love feeling my baby move no matter what, I find the head-down position to be more comfortable on my side :)

Some other current pregnancy symptoms:

-  round ligament pain at the slightest bend in my movements
-  foot and calf cramps, especially at night
-  increased hunger some days, some nausea in the mornings still when I'm starving
-  braxton hicks contractions
-  some lower back pain/hip soreness (worse some days, much better others)
-  mixed excitement and fear when thinking about giving birth naturally again (excitement at the thought of actual birth; fear of the pain!)

My weight gain this time is much more than it was with Mac.  I am nearing what I gained over the whole pregnancy with Mac already and I am not in the 3rd trimester yet.  It gets me down when I realize I won't be able to fit into some of my non-pregnancy shorts/pants for as long like I did with Mac.  But I have to remind myself I wasn't as healthy with my pregnancy with Mac.  My digestive system was not functioning well (due to having un-diagnosed Celiac disease) and I had frequent upset stomach aches and little appetite during that pregnancy.  I'd much rather have a better working digestive system with more weight gain than feel sick all the time!

How could I resist this?!

Monday, July 1, 2013

We're having a.....

... baby GIRL!  Here is our sweet little Clare Catheryn!

Hi baby girl!
Our ultrasound started off with a bang, little baby was wiggling almost too much for the tech to get a reading of her heart rate.  But luckily our tech was awesome and despite Miss.Movesalot, we got a nice solid reading of 158 BPM!  All of baby's organs were working wonderfully perfectly and her measurements were pretty spot on for how old she is.  The tech also pointed out baby girl's full tummy (which looked like a black spot), so it was neat to see my girl getting her share of the cereal I ate!

I thought this picture was cool because you can see her left hand kind of waving!

When we heard the words "it's a girl" my first reaction was, "are you sure?!"  The tech was pretty confident.  Mike is actually a really good reader of ultrasound and so he had actually been expecting to hear it since the tech started measuring baby's legs and he noticed something seemed a little different than usual.  Mike is getting used to the idea of having a daughter.  We had both kind of pictured ourselves with 5 boys someday!  But I have to say that I am THRILLED with the thought of having a little girl!

We brought home pink frosted donuts to surprise the boys and grandma and grandpa.  Grandma got the biggest surprise of all.  The boys were sort of matter-of-fact about the news and were mostly pleased with the sugary treat!  My dad had been anticipating a girl since he and my mom experienced the same thing (a girl after 3 boys).

Here they are munching away on the pretty pink treats.
Baby girl was completely healthy in every way, but the tech did notice what is called an echogenic cardiac focus on our baby girl's heart.  It really freaked me out at first because I thought it meant there was something wrong with her heart!  After talking to my doctor about it I realized that this "little focus" is a calcium deposit on the baby's heart and doesn't indicate a heart problem.  It is considered a "soft marker" for Down Syndrome by the office that performs the ultrasounds.  We have a repeat ultrasound this Friday, along with a meeting with the genetic counselor and the specialist.  I think this must just be standard procedure for the office that performs the ultrasounds (it's also a maternal-fetal-medicine office).  The tech mentioned that they like to just keep an eye on these things.  I was concerned at first, but after talking to my doctor, I get the impression that these specialists are just being ultra-cautious.  Lots of babies have this "little focus" and it doesn't mean they have Down Syndrome.  Mike and I decided long ago that if any of our children had Down Syndrome, or another type of special need, that we found out about during an ultrasound, that they'd still be perfect to us.  I am very excited at the chance to see her again on Friday and I would like to hear what the specialists have to say about it all.

20 weeks.  This is before the formal officer's dinner with Mike.  Luckily this dress still fit!

This pregnancy is going very well.  I feel Baby Clare moving all the time!  She's an active little baby already, which gives me a lot of peace.  I have more aches earlier this time around it seems, but I'm really not surprised.  I am also getting those pesky braxton hicks contractions already.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Another reason why I've been a lousy blogger

We are pregnant!

This is an ultrasound from April 3, 2013.  The little whitish blob in the black lima bean is our precious baby!  His or her heart was already beating away!
Most of our family and friends know this news already, but it's been a big deal for me to finally get it up on my blog!  We are due November 8, 2013.  We have decided to call this little one Baby Shay, at least until we find out if this is a he or a she.  Shay comes from an Irish word that means  "a gift."

The above ultrasound is from over 2 months ago.  It was a loooong first trimester.  Having this pregnancy begin less than 2 months after our loss of Baby Teddy brought many fears.  It felt like I was going to forever be in the "is this baby going to be OK mindset."  I did everything I could to put my faith in God and to accept His will for this new life.  But that didn't stop me from praying that He would give this child a heart that would continue beating for a long, long time!  When our 8 week ultrasound finally rolled around, I laid down alone on the chair in the sonographer's room.  Mike was watching the boys at a park across the street.  It was my first early ultrasound alone and definitely the one I had been the most nervous about.  But at that point we didn't want the boys to know about the pregnancy until we had a better idea that things would go well this time.  Well, I had never cried during an ultrasound before, but when the sonographer put the transducer on my abdomen and I saw the familiar white lump nestled into my uterus... and then the flicker of a heartbeat, I felt such sweet relief!  Our little one had a beating heart and was measuring to be exactly how old he or she should have been!

We told James and Henry later that day.  They are two very excited big brothers!  I was nervous that they'd be afraid that Baby Shay would go up to heaven like Baby Teddy did.  But that doesn't seem to be a huge concern.  I show them pictures every week of how big Baby Shay looks and they love the fact that he or she may be able to hear them now.  James hugs Baby Shay separately from hugging me, and likes to tell him or her goodnight sometimes.  Henry adds a special prayer for both Baby Teddy in heaven and Baby Shay in mama's belly every single night, without fail.  And Baby Mac even knows to touch my belly when I ask where Baby Shay is.  (We're still working on gently touching my belly)  When Mac sees a picture of a baby in the womb, he uses his "that's cute" voice and excitedly points at it.  Kids are smart.  They recognize and appreciate the value of the smallest lives so effortlessly.

18 weeks with Baby Shay

It's hard to believe that in two months I haven't been able to see this little one!  He or she was less than an inch long back at my last ultrasound and now is over 5 inches long.  Luckily I can tell he or she is growing and getting stronger because I am feeling kicks and twirls.  Mike even got to feel Baby Shay already.  Shay loves to do his acrobatics in the evening, when I (sometimes for the first time all day) lay down and actually fully relax.  It has been a huge blessing to have that knowledge that the baby is doing well by feeling those movements every day.

It is still sinking in that I am nearly halfway through my pregnancy and that we will be finding out if Baby Shay is a boy or girl in a little over a week!  I think the first trimester dragged on and on but now the second trimester will speed by.