Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Laundry Day

Time to lighten things up after such a heavy post yesterday!

On Sunday, as I was thinking through the coming week and making some plans, I asked my oh-so-helpful mother if she would like to help me have a laundry catch-up day on Monday. Being continually willing to offer assistance (and enjoying laundry very much), she immediately said yes. :)

We got A LOT of laundry done yesterday! Between her washing machine and mine, her clothesline and my dryer (since lugging a load of wet clothes out to my clothesline was the last thing I wanted to do), we must have done 8-10 loads. I had one more load to do today, and that was it: I am completely caught up, including clean sheets on all the beds, fresh towels, everything, all the way to the very bottom of our laundry chute--and now, everything is folded and put away. What a great feeling!

I was feeling thankful yesterday, not only for my mother's help (which was huge), but also for such a pleasant room in which to do laundry. As I reminisced, I thought of the various places in which I've done laundry and the machines I've had to use: my college dorm room where we shared a few machines at the end of the hall or in the basement, our first townhouse in California where we were grateful to have a little laundry room in our complex instead of lugging all our laundry to a laundromat (there were two washers and two dryers for the 14 units in the complex, so we got to deal with the frustration of waiting for others to finish before we could do ours), our second townhouse in California where we were able to have our own washer and dryer in our garage!, our tiny apartment in Israel where we managed to fit a tiny washer into the tiny laundry room (and later, through the generosity of some American friends, we added a dryer, just in time to help us keep up with the increased wash load of having baby David)...and now, here in this home, we have a whole, fairly large room just for laundry! Oh, the luxury!!

When we moved in, the walls were white and the trim was wood, of course. This was the first room we changed, adding some brightness to the walls with a cheerful yellow color and painting the trim white. Since this room doesn't get any natural sunlight, I knew without a doubt that I wanted something light and bright on the walls.

It's a fairly simple room; we haven't "gussied it up" much...but here and there are some decorative bits and pieces, things that are special to me.

This is the view as you walk in...
You might notice that our washer and dryer don't match. That's because our dryer that did match met an untimely end, and our budget told us to look for a replacement on Craig's List rather than the closest appliance store. We did and found one; and even though it's old, isn't the prettiest thing ever, and makes a horrible squeal at a certain point in its cycle, I'm very grateful to have a working dryer!

In another corner are these big sinks; and my oh my, do they come in handy for washing out big, dirty stuff: roasters, buckets, paintbrushes, etc.

Here is a closer look at the old washboards that are hanging beside the dryer. These came from my maternal grandparents' home, and the one on the right is extra special since it is the small washboard that my grandma would let my mother play with while Grandma did the regular laundry on the big washboard. These are an excellent reminder to me to be grateful for technological advancements, even when the dryer sounds atrocious. At least I don't have to scrub clothes on a washboard! :)

This is a close-up of the smaller washboard. My Aunt Joyce (my mother's sister) painted this pretty scene on it (to coordinate with our wallpaper border), and surprised me with it during their visit earlier this year. I love it!

And here is a closer view of the wallpaper border: sunny, cheerful, blue and yellow, exactly what I wanted.

This is an old cabinet that has faithfully functioned in this laundry room for longer than I can remember. It has a wonderful enamel top; and besides housing all the necessary laundry stuff (as well as car wax, bug spray, mouse traps, etc.), it provides a handy work surface that can get wet and that cleans off easily. At one point, I had thought about painting this blue (except for the enamel top); but obviously that hasn't happened yet!

You might be wondering why in the world there is a wooden spoon in my laundry room. Let me tell you, even though it looks like a wooden spoon, it isn't. It is......a laundry stick. What? You've never heard of a laundry stick? Well, neither had I until I moved back here and saw my mother using my grandma's old laundry stick; and then, after a long while, I wised up and realized I could benefit from a laundry stick, too. So, what can you do with a laundry stick? You can poke the laundry in your machine after it fills with water and starts agitating to assess how full the washer really is and whether you can put more clothes in it. And, if you've filled it too full (not that I ever do this!), you can poke the clothes down in the water and try to convince yourself that it really isn't overfilled because, after all, all the clothes are now wet! Seriously, this is a lifesaver for me...actually a hand-saver...because with the eczema on my hands, putting them into wash water just irritates them, so the more times I can get the laundry stick wet and not my hands, the better!

One of the other little things I like in this room is the way the outlet cover and switch plates are all decorative and matching. It's the little things that make me happy. :)

The latest addition to the laundry room is this simple white shelf that Jeff put up for me so that I could place a few things there: two antique jars, one with old buttons, one with old wooden spools, and best of all, a picture of our family, which always reminds me of who my labor of love in the laundry room is for.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Mountain

For the past several days, I've had a very strong sensation that a mountain looms before me. Of course, I've known for quite a while about this mountain; but lately, my awareness of it has been heightened exponentially and my visualization of it has become much more detailed.

Obviously, a big part of the mountain is the actual process of labor and delivery; but I now realize that standing behind that high peak is another mountain, just as high and possibly even higher, though its true height is obscured from my vantage point here in the foothills that precede the first peak. That second mountain is, in a word, ADJUSTMENT. The whole process of returning to normalcy--or rather, finding a new normalcy--is what currently feels immensely intimidating as I stand here and quake in my hiking boots. I don't know how to get over that mountain. I don't even know what that mountain looks like--how rugged or how smooth--whether there is any kind of trail or whether I'll have to blaze my own way--whether it can be crossed in two weeks or six months. I know nothing about it.

Jeff reminds me that I've successfully navigated these mountains of adjustment before, after the birth of each of our other children. He's right. But I've never seen or gotten over this mountain before, and the fear of the unknown is challenging the peaceful equilibrium I like to have (and usually have, I think it's fair to say) as I hike along.

The biggest difficulty I perceive in crossing the peak is the fact that I'll be carrying two very dependent beings on my back. Obviously, the newborn requires hours of care, and that doesn't surprise or scare me because I'm used to that. But Tobin--my dear, sweet Tobin--is still a very dependent child. Eighteen months old for my boys is not like eighteen months old for most other children. For some reason, God has seen fit to give us children that fall on the late side of the physical development spectrum and make up for those babies who crawl at 5 months and walk at 9 and who would otherwise throw the average off completely! I don't mind that; and in fact, I see the advantages of it since early mobility means lots of extra vigilance for the parents. But I've never needed to care for a newborn while still caring for a needy toddler; and when I imagine it now (in this admittedly crazy fog of late-pregnancy hormones), all I can picture is the baby crying for some reason, Tobin sitting on the floor crying because I can't pick him up, and me crying from the sheer impossibility of it all. Josiah and David will probably look at us in bewilderment, then go outside to play.

I know my imaginations are running wild, but part of that comes from the sheer exhaustion of the climbing I'm already doing. Every day is a foothill to cross. The fatigue, the physical discomfort, the feeling of time slipping away with accomplishments undone, etc.--all of that makes even these low hills feel challenging. Add to that a week of Tobin being sick and needing extra care, and I suppose it's no wonder that life is feeling overwhelming now. I don't even know how many more foothills there are to cross before the huge peak that I can currently only see in the distance.

This evening, I was in full-blown collapse mode; and right before supper, I said to Jeff, "I wish I could just go to bed." He urged me to do just that (despite the clean sheets that needed to be put on Josiah's and David's beds, the pancakes still frying on the stove, the boys that needed feeding and bathing and putting to bed, etc.), so I did, thanking God again for my sensitive husband, wearily climbing the steps, and falling asleep quickly until a few hours later when my empty stomach wouldn't let me sleep any longer. I should be sleeping now, but instead here I sit, using writing as a form of therapy. I'm reluctant to even publish this because it feels so raw to me, but my pattern and desire is to live life as an open book. I wish every page was neat and clean and beautiful; but in the book of my life, this particular page has ink blotches and misspelled words and crooked letters and tear-stained illustrations. Not very attractive, but real.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh every morning.
~ Lamentations 3:21-23

O Lord, be gracious to us;
We long for You.
Be our strength every morning,
Our salvation in time of distress.
~ Isaiah 33:2

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Simple Sunday - Tobin Ezra

~ so thankful for our beloved Tobin...in this picture, he's hanging out in his stroller, chewing on his shirt, and watching Josiah and David ride on the big swings carnival ride at the neighborhood lawn party we attended on Friday evening
~ there's something about a child being sick that makes a mother's heart melt and soften, something about seeing one of our little ones in pain that makes us want to cry right along with them (and sometimes we actually do let the tears flow)

~ Tobin, our sweet little Tobin Bear, has been sick this past week with these symptoms:
1. fever of 102.2 on Tuesday (on that day, we gave him a lot of apple juice to keep him hydrated which perhaps led to...)
2. diarrhea (very loose and frequent stools for the past four days, which probably led to...)
3. a HORRIBLE case of diaper rash (the worst he's ever had by far; it hurts him so bad that he screams and cries and tenses up his whole body and literally shakes when I have to change his diaper)
4. continued fever, up to 101.8 (but not constantly that high)
5. at least two new teeth (top and bottom molars on his left side...and maybe a molar on his right side, but he wasn't too happy with my finger in his mouth so I didn't get to check thoroughly)
6. loss of appetite (he's been guzzling milk but has eaten very little in the past few days...because of the diarrhea, I've been reluctant to give him what he would probably like best--fruit--and I've tried to interest him in rice, crackers, things like that...but not with much success...I'm not worried that he's dehydrated because he really is drinking a lot of milk...last night, I even started giving him some Ensure to make sure he was getting some decent nutrition...but obviously, his lack of desire for food is not normal at all)
7. EXTREME clinginess (he is a little koala bear when awake, wrapping his arms and legs around me, laying his head on my shoulder, tensing his muscles if he even senses the slightest degree of letting go on my part...he's been forcing me to rest :) because I can't get much of anything done with him in my arms...yesterday, we spent a lot of time together outside on my birthday swing; and that was oodles of fun...but oh, my heart hurts for him, and I wish so much that I could take his pain away!!)
8. he doesn't want to scoot!...you know he's in pain when he doesn't want to sit down and scoot somewhere! :)

~ one of the frustrating things now is not really knowing the root cause of these symptoms, many of which could be obviously related to each other, but what started it? and what is really the source? and how do we really treat it?...is it just a terrible case of teething? (after all, "they" say teething can lead to diarrhea, fever, etc.)...I really don't think that's all it is though because we have never experienced teething like this with any of the boys...is it some kind of virus?...maybe a malicious combination of things?

~ as far as treatment, we're using Immodium for the diarrhea, Tylenol or Motrin for the pain and fever, soda baths and ointment that's supposed to be super-duper for the diaper rash, also fresh air for the diaper rash (Tobin was showing his little hiney off to the world in our yard yesterday in an effort to dry out that area), and lots and lots of snuggles for the clinginess

~ as much as I wish I could snap my fingers and heal him, I will admit to relishing the extra time focused just on him...even this morning, I'm staying home from our church service to care for him (that's why I have time to write a longer-than-usual post today since Tobin's sleeping right now)

~ I adore my little cuddle bug, and pray fervently that God will speedily heal him and take away his awful pain

~ Tobin, you are more precious than words can say; and on this Sunday (and always), I thank God for you!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

He Came Home

Thursday morning was a rough one for me, mostly caused, I'm sure, by late pregnancy hormones and discomforts, but exacerbated by, of all things, our air conditioner not working. So far this season, we've gotten along just fine with open windows and ceiling fans (and I love the fresh air!); but that morning, after feeling hot all night, I woke up and decided to run the air conditioner for the first time this year. Unfortunately, it didn't work (although it made a noise like it was working); and the temperature in the house continued to rise instead of fall. Really, it wasn't a big deal; but like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, it contributed to my feelings of gloom and doom on that morning until I was ready to throw my hands up in despair and crawl back into bed to hide from the world!

I sent Jeff several emails that morning; and he, being the very wise husband that he is, read between the lines to recognize that emotionally I was fried. A little after noon, I was sitting on the couch and had just finished reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to Josiah and David (a book that made Josiah emotional...and me, too, a little bit) when I heard the distinctive sound of Jeff's Jeep coming up the driveway. My hero, riding his gallant steed, had come to rescue me! I had not asked him to leave work to come home, but his intuition must have told him that his presence was exactly what I needed to revive my spirits. Plus, he wanted to check the air conditioner. :)

When he came in the house, Josiah, David, and I were still sitting together on the couch; and Jeff came over to greet us. As he leaned down to hug and kiss me, I started crying; and Josiah, being surprised, asked, "Why are you crying?" I, of course, couldn't answer through my choked-up throat; but Jeff said simply, "Because she loves me." And Josiah said to me in an astonished voice, "You don't normally do that," which made me laugh through my tears.

Later that night, I was thanking Jeff again for being willing to take time off work to swiftly come to my aid that day; and he said, "I didn't do much."

"You came home," I answered him. "You came home."

The next day, I was reading a short article from Focus on the Family in which Dr. James Dobson answered the question, "What do you consider to be the greatest threat to the stability of families today?"

He wrote:

It would be a phenomenon that every marriage counselor deals with regularly. The scenario involves a vulnerable woman who depends on her husband to meet her emotional needs and a workaholic man who has little time for family responsibilities.

Year after year she reaches for him and finds he's not there. She nags, complains, cries, and attacks him for his failures--to no avail. He is carrying the load of three men in his business or profession and can't figure out how to keep that enterprise going while providing what his wife needs.

As time goes by, she becomes increasingly angry, which drives him even further into his workaday world. He is respected and successful there. And thereafter he is even less accessible to her.

Then one day, to her husband's shock, this woman reaches a breaking point and either leaves him for someone else or files for divorce. It is a decision she may live to regret and one that often devastates her children--although by then the marriage is long gone. It was such a preventable disaster, but one that millions of other families will be victimized by in coming months.

As I read this, I thought again--for the umpteenth time--how blessed I am to have a husband who is sensitive to my emotional needs, even when those "needs" are the crazy ups-and-downs of a very pregnant woman.

When Jeff said Thursday night, "I didn't do much," I could have answered him with, "Well, you tried to fix the air conditioner...and when that didn't work, you called the repair company...and you kept Josiah and David happily busy with 'helping' you with your project...and you brought a smile to Tobin's face as he was eating his lunch...and you changed the atmosphere of our home by bringing new energy to it...and you helped me recover from my doldrums so I could have a much-better-than-the-morning afternoon and evening...and you showed the boys and I that we are more important than your job, and you're willing to sacrifice earning potential for time with us...and I didn't even ask you to do it..." But in the end, it's simpler than that:

He came home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

36 Weeks...

I was planning to wait to post this until I had a picture to go along with it; but because I've been feeling supremely UNphotogenic, there won't be a picture. Not tonight anyway. Not all this past week. Maybe tomorrow? Or maybe not. Maybe after the baby is born. :)

Some tidbits from this 36th week:

~ I measured my "waist" last night, and it was 44 inches. When I looked back at this post, I was reminded that at the end of my pregnancy with Josiah, my waist was only 42 inches. At 38 weeks, 5 days, with Tobin's pregnancy, I was 45 inches. Here I am at 36 weeks, 4 days, already measuring at 44. I'm not sure I can stretch much bigger! :)

~ The general consensus, when people see me in person, is "I don't think you're going to make it to your due date!" :)

~ As far as when this baby will be born, I'm going to hold a contest to see who can get closest to the date AND the time. If you want to play along, leave a comment on this post with your guess of the baby's birthday and time...and whoever is the closest will receive some kind of prize in the mail! The contest will be open until...well...until the birth, I guess!

~ To help you make an educated guess, let me remind you of some facts. My due date is July 18. Josiah was born one day early, David was 12 days early, and Tobin was four days early. Obviously, there is an early trend, but it's not definitive; anything is possible. For the time of day, Josiah was born at 11:23 AM, David was born at 9:40 PM, and Tobin was born at 6:37 PM.

~ Last evening when we were discussing the birth, I believe Jeff said that his guess is July 14th.

~ My personal guess is that it will either be the 14th, 15th, or 16th...for the simple reason that in our family, we have a birthday on the 11th (in December), the 12th (in January), the 13th (in June), and the 17th (in April), so it would be nice to fill in one of the dates between the 13th and 17th. Very scientific guess, I know. :)

~ I remember this from the end of Tobin's pregnancy so it's no surprise, but I am finding such satisfaction with ticking off the dates and getting past certain events that I was hoping to be past by the time of the birth! For example, Josiah's birthday...I did not want this baby to be born on or near that day because I wanted it to remain special just for Josiah. The week of VBS at our church was another big milestone to pass, since it would have been incredibly inconvenient to give birth that week! Each date on the calendar, each meeting, each obligation that passes makes me breathe a deeper sigh of relief and think, "Whew, we made it past that one!" :) Now that I'm basically a day away from being officially full-term, I'm very grateful to have made it this far; and there's really no indication that I don't still have a few weeks before the birth. But the only thing that I'm really holding out for now is to make it to July since I think it would be more convenient for future birthday celebration plans to have Josiah's birthday in June and this baby's birthday in July. The funny thing about this stage is that I can't just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until the baby's birth, so we continue to make plans and be active (sure, we'll go to an Independence Day party on July 5th--yes, we'll be at the annual Huffman Reunion on July 12th--a dentist appointment for Josiah on July 15th? no problem!)...although everyone that we plan something with knows that all our plans at this point are tentative--subject to change without much notice!

~ One more tidbit about the date, Misty and I were pregnant at the same time with our 3rd child, and she gave birth to Elissa four weeks to the day before I had Tobin. Lo and behold, we were also pregnant at the same time with our 4th child! She had Anastasia on June 8, so if I follow the pattern and give birth four weeks after that date, it would be July 6. I'm just trying to think of all the helpful advice I can give you so that you can make a smart guess; I'm nice like that. :) Oh, two more things I didn't check: the date of the full moon in July, and the Farmer's Almanac weather predictions for that month (since, of course, low atmospheric pressure can make babies suddenly pop out, right?) You're on your own with those two factors! :)

~ Changing from the date to the other BIG QUESTION: boy or girl? I find it interesting that in the blog poll, there have been 14 votes for boy, and 33 for girl. I'm sure the majority of you will be happy to know that the Chinese fertility calendar predicts a girl. :)

~ A little while back, I made a comment about the odds of having another boy; and in response, Bekah posted this. She's right, you know; they do say the odds with each conception are 50/50. But doesn't experience teach all of us that somehow, boys or girls do tend to run in a family, despite the scientific odds? Anyway, I was honored that Bekah thought about and wrote about the question that's been so much in my mind recently. :)

~ One more issue to mention: contractions. Margie asked, in a comment on this post, if I'm still having contractions. The short answer is yes. Detailed answer is this: I seem to have two phases these days. Phase A includes pangs of cramping which are noticeable, but very short-lived. If they lasted longer, they would feel like a regular contraction to me. Phase B involves a constant feeling of muscles being squeezed, like one long contraction with no release. I often notice this in the evenings, especially after I've spent some time sitting in front of the computer without getting up to stretch. That happens consistently enough that I'm very glad I don't have a desk job because I would definitely be uncomfortable most of the time in that kind of situation! With the short "contractions," I've gotten to the point of thinking that maybe they're related to the baby's movements. With both Josiah and David, there were certain spots that got very sore from their kicking: a place near my right ribs with Josiah, a spot near my navel with David (and I can't remember with Tobin). But with this one, the movements--although very consistent and obvious--are almost gentle compared with my first two pregnancies. It feels like my insides are being kneaded and convulsions are happening, but they almost seem to be slower, more deliberate movements, rather than sharp jabs. At any rate, they don't hurt...at least, I thought they didn't hurt, but now I'm wondering if those "mini-contractions" are really just a response to the baby's movements. I don't know if that's making any sense or not...

Enough from me. It's your turn to venture a guess--and maybe win a prize! :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why, David?

My darling David,

Why do you fall asleep at the table without eating your lunch and in such an uncomfortable position...but then when I pick you up to carry you to your own comfortable bed and let you continue your nap, you wake up and never go back to sleep, even if you lay in your bed for an hour? You were obviously exhausted today--and looked so cute with your sweet little slumbering head laid on the table--but why didn't you nap in bed?

And why do you draw such big hands when you draw pictures of people? In this self-portrait that you did a few days ago, you carefully explained to me every detail of the picture: your head with eyes, a nose, and a big smile...your tummy...your legs and arms...and of course, your hands. Why is that always the biggest feature on your people drawings? I'm sure some psychologist out there would give me an answer for that. Maybe it's a sign that you're a hands-on learner, or that you prefer action over words, or maybe it means something else in psycho babble that I don't understand. But I still wonder: why do you do it? What is in your head that makes you draw huge hands?

Silly boys! :)

David dear, one last question... Why do I love you so much??? :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Battle

There's a battle being fought between my body and my mind.

My body says: Stop.
My mind says: Go.

Body: Rest!
Mind: Work!

Body: But you need to rest in preparation for labor, delivery, and the upcoming weeks of sleep deprivation.
Mind: But you need to get stuff done NOW before this baby is born.

Body: But I don't feel good.
Mind: You feel good enough. Besides, you're probably not going to be feeling much better for quite a while, so you might as well push through and do stuff now.

Body: But I'll feel better if I rest.
Mind: You'll actually feel better from the sense of accomplishment you'll get if you don't rest now but get something done instead.

Body: But I just can't.
Mind: Are you sure? Come on, you can do it. Don't be a wimp.

Whew, these guys wear me out with their constant arguing! :) They also help me identify a lot with Matthew 26:41, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak!"

I'm undoubtedly head over heels in the nesting phase which I usually enjoy, but what's frustrating is that I've been feeling like THE WHOLE HOUSE is a mess with way too many projects started without being completed and several hot spots burning fiercely and discouraging my soul. I've felt like, "How am I ever going to be able to get on top of this??"

Today, my mother came to my rescue by taking Tobin (who had a fever of 102.2 degrees and was extremely clingy) to her house for the afternoon, where he suddenly became a picture of cheerfulness, not once having a crying spell, but happily playing with the special toys kept at my parents' house and cuddling with my mom to watch "Little House on the Prairie." Meanwhile, I got Josiah and David set up for quiet time; then I fell asleep on the couch and had a pretty decent nap from which I awakened refreshed and ready to tackle life again. Tobin was still happy at my mom's house so she kept him and I was able to have a block of time to work in the nursery, finishing up the things that I could do to restore order there after everything had been removed for the new paint.

When Jeff got home from work and we had eaten supper, he further encouraged my soul by being in tune with my nesting urge and taking the time to do various projects in the nursery that I couldn't (or didn't) do on my own: assembling the cradle (since the crib is now in the guest room for Tobin to use), putting some shelves back up on the walls, screwing some hardware back in place on the windows, doing some touch-up painting, etc. I was so grateful for what he did because, after he went off to a time of prayer with some friends, I was able to finish everything else in the nursery! The closet, armoire, and changing table have all been thoroughly sorted through and organized. All the decorations have been put back in place (except for some that I'm getting rid of as I declutter). The furniture is dusted, the floor vacuumed. The beautiful blanket that Amy made for The New Baby is packed in my bag to take to the hospital (that was another project I started today: packing the hospital bag--so much fun!). I have newborn diapers on the shopping list for tomorrow. Best of all, the baby has a place to sleep when we bring him/her home from the hospital!

The only things left to do in the nursery are install the new outlet covers and switch plate (ordered from Ebay) when they arrive in the mail, put the rug down on the floor (after I vacuum it thoroughly tomorrow), put the new diapers in the changing table, get some kind of inexpensive window covering for under the valance so we can block the sun when the baby is sleeping...and then, after the baby is born, get out the appropriate clothes and put them in the armoire and changing table (or beg, borrow, and buy girl clothes, if this happens to be a female I'm carrying!).

It's so different to see the armoire and changing table basically empty and bare this time around. Last time, when we were awaiting the arrival of Tobin, I joyfully got out our baby boy clothes and carefully arranged them just so. This time, the shelves are empty, waiting to be filled once God's little secret is revealed. I can hardly wait!
I want to take more pictures of the nursery soon and post them, but that will have to be on another day. My body is starting to win the battle against my mind, overruling the notion that I'll be able to accomplish much more tonight!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A First Time...

...for roller skating! :)

"They" say there's a first time for everything, and the first time for my boys to strap on roller skates and step onto the rink where I used to go skating as a girl came last week when our church's children's ministry sponsored a trip to Funky's (AKA "it used to be Skatetown"). I wasn't sure how things would go for them. Obviously, I would be no help as they learned to skate, so I asked Jeff if he could leave work for a little while to come and give them a hand. What I didn't know was that Funky's allowed members of our group to walk inside the rink, wearing regular shoes, to help those who were learning to skate. That was GREAT, so Katherine M. helped David...
...who continually lost his balance at first and had to literally be held up most of the way around the rink (but who was having a ton of fun anyway).

And Jeff helped Josiah...
...who true to his cautious nature, proceeded slowly at first, with Jeff on one side and the wall on the other, but who actually learned to do it by himself by the end of our time there.

Meanwhile, Tobin got to hang out with Kristin E...
...and then with Kathryn L. who interacted with him as he played with and stood beside this activity toy for a long time.
He would rather have been scooting around on that shiny, smooth rink though; I had to hold him back a time or two! :)

I enjoyed watching the boys have fun, and I also enjoyed the time to chat with some of the other moms. Most of all, I was grateful for all those who helped my sons to have such a good time: Katherine M, Jessica H, Emily S, Kristin E, Kathryn L, and I'm probably forgetting someone else that I should mention...but my brain is shutting down because it's 11:30 PM, and I exhausted all my mental energies in a meeting of the Organizational Structure Revision Committee tonight...plus, I feel really crampy and have ever since I got home from the meeting. I told Jeff, "I'm either hungry, or I'm having a lot more contractions than normal." So I munched on an apple with peanut butter and some string cheese and some prunes (pardon me, dried plums, to be exact) and drank some milk; but I still feel very uncomfortable. It's time to ascend the steps and hope for some restful sleep!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Simple Sunday - Brown

~ so much to be thankful for today: my own dear dad, the wonderful father that my children have (who also happens to be my very favorite person in the whole world!), the first day of summer, the time spent visiting with the Shanks yesterday and admiring their new little Jason, etc...but today, I want to say thank you for brown...brown is a beautiful color, like when it appears in my sister's eyes, in the coat of a Jersey cow, or on the skin of my African-American friends that I used to envy because no one could tell when they were blushing but everyone could tell when I was! (which was often...this pale skin does nothing to hide embarrassment)...the brown that I am particularly thankful for today, however, is the brown paint that has been newly applied to the walls of our nursery...for all of our boys, we've used the same color scheme and decorations for our nursery: a safari theme with various shades of brown and tan and cream...Jeff, who is very fond of earth colors, picked our nursery pattern originally; and I, who had previously preferred blue & yellow for a nursery, immediately and uncharacteristically loved it...here in this home, we had never painted the nursery so the walls were white and the trim was wood, just like my parents left it...it was time to change that :)... (my parents, by the way, are amazingly good sports about all the ways we change the house that they planned and built and lived in for 33 years, and I'm continuously grateful for that!)...one day a few weeks ago, I took the comforter from our nursery set and went to the paint store to try to choose a shade of brown for the walls...I soon gave up...it was impossible to decide which was the right one because there were SO MANY shades of brown!...about a week later, Jeff went with me and didn't take long at all to select a color...I trusted his judgment, and we went with that shade...but to tell the truth, when I first saw it on the walls, I didn't like it...I decided though that I wouldn't make a fuss about it because, after all, Jeff let me choose the color for our bedroom so it was only fair that he choose the color for the nursery...I did admit to him that I didn't really like the color but could live with it; then I realized incredulously that Jeff really DID like the color, so of course, we wouldn't change it (I guess I was sort of hoping that he would say, "Yeah, it's too dark; we'd better get another color," but no such words came from his mouth!)...anyway, coming to the conclusion of the story, now that all the walls are painted and the trim is a beautiful crisp white, I have decided that I really do like the color Jeff chose!! :)...it's an interesting shade of brown, and it changes as the sun hits it in different ways...so now--finally--I'm very pleased with it and think that this brown is such a beautiful thing!...that's why I couldn't stop with just one picture today but had to include three :)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Much

One of the pleasant things about pregnancy is nesting--I really, really love it! Especially when I actually have a significant block of time to devote to it, which rarely happens...but oh well, I still have fun with it as I do it in bits and pieces!

Our nursery has just been painted and only needs a few odds and ends finished up before we can move the furniture back into that room, and I can really get it ready for The New Baby. Today, however, I went ahead and worked in the closet in that room, going through things, discarding some, and organizing the rest. Here is a picture I took part of the way through that job...
It struck me as slightly ludicrous that nearly the entire hanging space of one of our closets is devoted to coats for the boys. Is that really necessary? What would people in Nigeria think of this? Of course, maybe they don't need coats there, so they might think it doubly ridiculous. :) But really, while people around the world are literally starving to death or experiencing the loss of their ramshackle homes and all their belongings to floods, we have this many coats? And that's OK?

On the one hand, these coats range in size from 6-9 months to 10-12 years, as well as being handed down from one son to the next. A number of them came from thrift stores or were given to us by other people. They definitely get used, and I can't really get rid of them yet because if I did, we'd just have to buy another coat when the next son grew into that size. Also in my defense, I did find at least half a dozen coats today that we can give away to our local thrift store so that they can be sold to someone around here who needs a coat and the money can be sent to the far reaches of the world, wherever needed for food, medicine, shelter, etc.

On the other hand, it's still a lot of coats.

As I live and work and nest here in this house, I feel like we could probably get rid of half of our stuff and be just fine. Of course, it wouldn't be wise to get rid of some of it, only to have to purchase replacements later. But the question in my mind is not how much is enough, but how much is too much? That is a difficult question for me to answer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

35 Weeks...

Here I am at 35 weeks, 6 days, just hours away from 36 weeks; and I'm finally taking time to get this update posted. Better late than never!

The picture for this week is not my typical pose, but I hadn't asked Jeff to take a picture of me earlier in the week; and tonight when we got home from the VBS program, I asked him to take a picture of me then...which he willingly did...quite a few, in fact. When I downloaded them and looked at them, I didn't like a single one. My reason? I looked so tired in all of them! So I decided to just use a picture from the program tonight, not because it really shows my growth, but because it does show what a lot of time and energy has been going to this week! :)

I'm finally getting to the stage of admitting that this pregnancy is getting a little harder. Up until a week or so ago, when someone asked, "How are you doing?" I would usually say, "Great!"--and mean it. But now I'm not feeling quite so energetic and upbeat, and I'm looking forward with even more anticipation to the birth and the subsequent return to "normal" that will come.

At the same time, I really have nothing significant to complain about; and compared with the real hardships that some women go through during pregnancy, I do feel good and know that I'm blessed to have such an easy time even at 35 weeks. My neighbor Wilma expressed it well: it seems easy when we think how bad it could be; but compared to how we normally feel, it's hard. Very true!!

Speaking of Wilma, she gave birth to her fourth child yesterday: a BOY named Jason Douglas who joins three adoring big sisters. Wilma and Douglas had found out the gender, but had not told anyone--not even their daughters! Jeff and I had a feeling it was a boy though, so we weren't too surprised at the news; but goodness, I'm excited for them!!! It will be fun to watch our babies grow up together. :)

Here are some of the things that are adding to my 35-week discomfort:
~ having contractions: these really picked up during week 34 and have continued...they're not really painful, and they've never made me think I was going into labor, but they don't exactly add to my comfort either!
~ caring for (and carrying) Tobin: even though he's 17 months now, he's still not interested in walking since scooting fits his style just fine....since neither Josiah nor David walked until 18 months, I'm not surprised; but I am at the point of wondering if Tobin will even walk by that age!...the big question is not just "is this baby a boy or girl?" but "what will happen first: the birth of the baby or Tobin's first steps?" :)...Jeff has been a great help in this area, often reaching for Tobin when we're out together and Tobin needs carried; but there are so many times throughout a normal day when I have to lift Tobin and care for his physical needs since he's still quite dependent...this was one of the things that I worried about during the early, emotional weeks of this pregnancy; but now that I'm here in this stage, I realize again that everything's fine if I just take it one day at a time!
~ getting tired and out-of-breath more easily: for example, just carrying a gallon of milk up to our house from my parents' shed is enough to make me huff and puff and feel tired!
~ feeling weak: yesterday morning it dawned on me that virtually every morning, an hour or so after breakfast, I feel weak--not just sleepy tired (although I often feel that, too!), but literally weak...the thought crossed my mind that maybe I'm a little anemic since I have been sporadic with taking my prenatal vitamins recently, and I can't even remember the last time I craved a nice big piece of red meat so I haven't been getting much iron from that source!...I don't know if I really am anemic or not; but whatever the reason, I do have spells of weakness these days...I can't remember if that was typical during the last weeks of my other pregnancies or not
~ being big: I'm definitely wearing my larger maternity clothes and am realizing that it's nice to have a variety of sizes, even within maternity clothes...I always feel big these days, but sometimes I'm even more astonished by my size than usual...for example, one day recently I was sitting on the edge of the guest room bed, watching Tobin happily play in his crib before I got him out after a nap...I happened to glance over to the mirror in that room and couldn't believe how BIG I looked...something must be wrong with that mirror! :)...I don't feel truly self-conscious or guilty about how I look because I know I'm supposed to grow, but it does amaze me how much my body has stretched to accommodate this little one!

Despite how big I look and feel these days, I've still technically gained only 22 pounds, according to my last visit with the midwives. That's on the low side for me; and I don't know if this lower weight gain is the only reason or not, but I'm actually finding it easier to roll over in bed at this stage than I did when I was 8 months along in my other pregnancies. I don't audibly groan each time I attempt it; but the other night, when Jeff saw me beginning the slow process of turning over, he jokingly asked me if I needed a crane to help me get over. I told him what I just wrote--that it seems easier this time to roll over and maybe it's because I haven't gained as much weight--and he said, "Well, you haven't been gobbling down food!" It's true: my meals do tend to be light, and I'd almost rather drink than eat on some days. But I also find that I can't go very long through the day without eating something. Instead of three meals a day, I have about six, but they're not huge. I am not one to carefully keep track of the food I eat during pregnancy (or at most other times either!), but I am grateful that my weight gain has stayed relatively low this time around.

Other tidbits from my last midwife appointment:
~ I saw Donna, which was nice since I hadn't seen her for a while
~ my blood pressure was good
~ my uterus measurement was 34
~ baby's heart rate was 126, and Donna predicts a boy :)
~ I did the lovely (or not) Group B Strep test...although I've never had that infection, I know it could have serious consequences for a baby so it seemed worthwhile to do it
~ I go back in two weeks, and then will go every week after that
~ the night before this appointment, the baby was uncharacteristically quiet, to the point that I, for the first time during this pregnancy, grew concerned about the baby's health and safety...I was quite relieved to hear a good, strong heartbeat and to talk with Donna about my concerns...most of all, I've been relieved that since then, the baby has been quite active again

It's interesting to me that at this point, there are 10 votes in my blog poll for boy, and 29 for girl. :) I still expect a boy, and would be surprised by a girl. When Josiah and David are asked what they want, their standard answer is, "I want it to be a boy, but I think it's a girl." When David said that yet again recently, I said, "Why do you want it to be a boy?" And he replied, "So we can have a big lightsaber fight!" Apparently, he thinks girls don't like to fight. :)

One thing is for sure: both Jeff and I feel a tremendous amount of anticipation regarding this birth because of not knowing the gender. There is ALWAYS a lot of anticipation before a birth; but wow, this is really exciting!!!

Before I end, I do want to mention for memory's sake that I've had several dreams about water recently. These scary water dreams were SO COMMON in David's pregnancy, but weren't a huge factor in Tobin's or in this one so far so I was a little surprised to have a couple of them now. I only remember the details from one of these recent dreams, but for fun I'll record it here.

In the dream, there was a high, very steep hill that Jeff, Josiah, and I were climbing. When we got to the top, we could look out over a low wall and see a river in front of us (the hill was actually an embankment next to the river); and a little to our right, there were large rocks in the river that were close enough that someone could conceivably cross on them. The river was rough, however--not at all a smooth, gentle, peaceful body of water--there was definitely a sense of danger that I felt just from looking at it. I guess when we got to the top, Jeff told me that he (and some other guys) had crossed the river on those rocks, just to get to the other side to explore; and I was not too happy about that because I just wanted him to be safe! (Maybe the book I've been reading, Wild at Heart, played a role in this dream, too!) :) Anyway, after we looked at this river, it was time to go back down the hill, and this was the really difficult part. The hill was so steep that it almost seemed impossible to get down safely. Somehow Jeff went down just fine, and I think Josiah did, too; but I was still stuck at the top, holding onto the wall, completely afraid to start the descent. I was thinking about how to do it: should I just sit down and slide down that way or could I carefully choose my steps and actually make it down without tumbling? It was just so steep, and I couldn't find secure places to step. I knew, however, that I just had to let go. I couldn't do anything until I did that; but I clung to the wall, feeling completely stuck (and wondering why Jeff didn't come back up the hill to help me!), yet NOT WANTING TO LET GO.

Hmmm, you think that's related to my thoughts about labor??? :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cutie Pies

This has been a busy week for us--very fun, but very busy--with Vacation Bible School every evening involving the whole family: Jeff being involved in drama almost every evening, me leading the music, Josiah and David having a blast in their respective classes, and Tobin hanging out in the kind arms of Leah (until Jeff finishes with his duties and takes him home before the rest of us are done so Tobin can stick with a "normal" bedtime). One evening after Jeff and Tobin had already left, I went outside to the playground during my break between music groups and snapped a picture of this cutie pie.
This is Levi, and he's one of Tobin's buddies from the church nursery. Isn't he handsome?

Meanwhile, this cutie pie was at home, experiencing another one of Jeff's creative baths.
Why not hang out in the kitchen sink, playing in the water, feeling the fresh air from the open window behind you, and munching on the green grapes Daddy prepared for you and set beside you? This is the life!! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scenes from Sylvan Drive

It took me a while to find the perfect card for Josiah for his birthday this year; but once I saw a musical card WITH THE STAR WARS THEME, I knew my search was over. It was so much fun to give him this card, knowing that he wouldn't realize immediately from the shape and thickness that music would play when he opened it. I love how, in the video, he opens it, then quickly closes it when the music starts. :) I love how David does his little Jedi fighting scene in the background. I love these boys...
video

...and this little one, Tobin, who impressed us so much by his flexibility that Josiah and David decided they had to try his bend-your-body-in-half routine, too!
video
To me, they look like Orthodox Jews, bending and bowing as they pray at the Western Wall. :)

These sons of mine may never win an Oscar; but in my eyes, these short movies that capture snippets of our lives are worth more than anything Hollywood has ever produced!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unique

I've been pondering the concept of "unique" recently, fueled by my observation of my own three sons, specifically the way they come from the same gene pool but are so different in so many ways.

Here's Tobin, for example...
...hanging out at Grandma's house...
...being a serious little guy as he "talks" on the telephone (the same toy telephone I played with when I was young). He's unique for many reasons, of course; but if nothing else, the way he scoots sets him apart in our family since neither Josiah nor David did that. In fact, it sets him apart from most other toddlers in the world and garners him a lot of attention, whether we're with our church or at a friend's house or in the bowling alley. People look and point and smile and laugh at the funny way he gets around; then they talk about how there's no way in the world they would be able to scoot like that! :)

And then there's David, our little monkey, not content to simply sit on the swing to enjoy it, but preferring to hang from the top bar. If there's a way to include more physical activity as he goes through life, he'll do it.
If there's a chance of spending more time with people, he'll pursue it. He lavishes love verbally through long speeches of "I love you from here to the airplane to Antarctica to the airplane to California to this wall to the door over there," and so forth (and I always say, "WOW! That's a lot of love!"). Recently he's asked some deep questions about God, heaven, hell, and who would take care of him if something happened to me, Jeff, and Josiah. He's a sunshiny boy, but there are deep waters in his heart.

And dear Josiah. He and David share many of the same interests (Star Wars, for example), but approach life in such different ways. Josiah is more careful, more conscientious about doing things correctly, more concerned that everyone is doing well--and behaving properly! :) Josiah often sings his heart out during church services and particularly loves the song, "Here I Am to Worship." (David, by contrast, is usually looking around for the Sacra family...or anyone else who will smile at him...while we're singing!) :) Josiah still says "zizzers" instead of "scissors" and LOVES to play with Legos. He has eagerly taken on the responsibility of feeding the animals this summer; and in return we're paying him a dollar a week. He's excited about earning money and being able to buy more Star Wars stuff (of course!). :)

All of them are so precious--opposite from each other in some ways, but unspeakably beloved to us.

So this concept of "unique" keeps popping up in my head; and the first thing I think about is that if this baby is a boy, it's not "another boy." I know technically it would be correct to say that a son would be another boy; but to me, that almost makes it sound like it's a duplicate of the three previous children we've had. I can almost hear people saying in a disappointed voice, "Oh, another boy for the Fishers." What??? This child, if it's a son, is not a carbon copy of Josiah or David or Tobin. This child is UNIQUE. This child has never existed in the world before and has fingerprints that no one has ever seen. This child will do and say and be things that no one has ever done or said or been. This child's personality is like no other's--not like Josiah's, not like David's, not like Tobin's, not like anyone's. This child, if it happens to be of the male gender, is not "another boy." It's our son, UNIQUELY created by our Heavenly Father; and the fact that we happen to have three other male offspring doesn't mean that we've somehow "been there, done that" with this child. His life is a new book, ready to be written--a fresh adventure, ready to be lived--a blank slate, ready to be filled with love and affirmation for the infinitely special individual that he is.

David, it seems, has been trying to sort out who he is in relation to Josiah recently. If Josiah gets affirmed for various talents and abilities that David doesn't currently have (like reading, for example), where does that leave David? As he asks questions about what makes him special, my heart aches and I just want to hug him and squeeze him until all doubts about his unique place in our family and in the world are squished out of him. He's no less special because he's the second son. He's not just "another boy." He's our David, and there's no one like him in the whole world!

The second path my thoughts have traveled as I've thought about uniqueness (and this concept I find harder to explain) is how, as a young person (preteen, teenager, even early 20s), I--sometimes unconsciously--bought into the idea that value comes from being LIKE someone else, someone whom I or others deemed valuable. I didn't understand how God could create us so differently, know us so intimately, and truly treasure our differences. I thought that fitting in and being like the "somebodies" of the world was the way to be worthy and loved. I didn't, however, take this to an obvious extreme, giving in to peer pressure and being concerned with the latest fashions and watching the most popular TV shows and being in the "cool" crowd...because in my heart, I put down girls like that and didn't consider them worthy of imitation. The people who did have my admiration, however, were often my measuring stick of how good I was based on how closely I came to living like them.

On the one hand, there is good in that. After all, the easiest way to learn is to see and follow someone's example; and the New Testament is full of references to imitating the example of great men and women of the faith. I don't plan to stop doing that!

However, as a parent, I now realize how God can revel in our differences and rejoice in the ways we are not the same! I would never expect Josiah to suddenly stop being himself and start acting just like David...and vice versa. I would never want Tobin to grow up thinking that in order to measure up, he had to become a carbon copy of his big brothers. God, who made us out of his infinite creativity and variety, doesn't enjoy looking down and seeing us trying so hard to be like the people around us--in essence, destroying the very seed of uniqueness that He placed within us. His heart is more than big enough to love and value each of us for who He made us to be, not for our ability to blend in with those nearby.

I often think about this when I'm in a crowd setting, particularly with young people. At the county fair, for example, I see all these teenagers milling about, obviously insecure, obviously trying to fit in and not do anything to stand out as a fool, obviously dressed very similarly to the people they're hanging out with, obviously concerned with being LIKE their peers. And I think to myself and wish I could say to them, "You are all so beautiful! You with the blond hair and blue eyes and round face, you're gorgeous; don't think to yourself that you'd be better with an oval face. You with the brown hair and very long legs, you're gorgeous; don't stoop over, thinking that you're too tall and wishing you were short and petite like that tiny cheerleader that just walked by. You with the dark skin and you with the pale skin, you're gorgeous; don't wish that you could somehow be the perfect shade of khaki, as if skin color really meant anything at all. You're all so very beautiful!"

In life, there is no beauty queen. Somebody gets to decide who is Miss America or Miss World or Miss Universe or whatever, but there is NO ONE that is really "the fairest in the land." I could never say who I think the most beautiful woman is because beauty comes in such a variety of shapes, sizes, coloring, etc. (The most handsome man, on the other hand, is easy. Without a doubt, Jeff wins my vote in that contest!) :) I can't even choose what kind of flower I like best because there are so many beautiful kinds...or what my favorite piece of music is...or the prettiest place I've ever been...or my favorite kind of candy!

And I could never, ever say which child of mine was the most handsome or the best or my favorite because I love them all so much--not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Uniqueness is a gift--not something to be repressed, but something to be cherished and celebrated.

When my children hit their young teen years, I'm going to sit them down and read this to them until they "get it." On second thought, I'm going to start the lecture early, so it will be ingrained in them. Tomorrow morning seems like a good time to begin!! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Simple Sunday - Cake

~ this is kind of a silly Simple Sunday post, but today I'm thankful for birthday cakes...not just because they taste good (although that is a strong point in their favor!), but because they reveal something about the person being celebrated...in our family, we always let the birthday person choose what kind of cake and icing; and now that the boys are a little older, I also let them choose what decorations we put on it...David's request this past April was for chocolate cake, green icing, sprinkles, and four dinosaurs...Josiah wanted chocolate cake (which he helped me make), chocolate icing, sprinkles--and then he chose seven cowboy & Indian figures to put on top of the cake, along with the seven twisty candles...I don't think I've ever had a cake with cowboys and Indians on top :), but I love it because it gives me a glimpse into Josiah's personality at this seven year-old stage of life...he's definitely a little warrior, rising to the call to be a fighter for righteousness and a defender of those who need protection, but still needing guidance from us about how to channel that warrior spirit and fight the right battles! :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seven Years Ago...

...our world was forever changed by the arrival of our darling first son, Josiah Jeffrey. The transition from DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) to parents was an extremely welcome one for us, but how does one ever truly prepare for that anyway? No one can really explain what parenting is like...no one else's experiences exactly mirror yours...there is no way to understand it without doing it. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the past seven years of doing it, of being Mommy & Daddy (and then just Mom & Dad) to Josiah, and later to his little siblings.

I sound like a broken record since I say this every year, but I can hardly believe this tiny little newborn...
... (and please excuse the poor color of these pictures; these were taken before we owned a digital camera; and tonight because of time, I quickly took a picture of these pictures in Josiah's scrapbook, so I know they don't look the greatest)...
...has grown into this amazing seven year-old. He seems so big now...and so...so...capable. He read his own birthday cards today. He carried his own plate at Golden Corral (his choice for his birthday dinner tonight). He fed himself. He put his bowling shoes on by himself. He bowled by himself, not needing Jeff's help to hurl the bowling ball down the lane, just to get it all the way to the end (like another son of mine did tonight). He buckled himself into his booster seat in the van. He got into his pajamas by himself. He did all these things that a seven year-old would normally be expected to do, so what's the big deal? Only that, for years, I did those things for him, sometimes rejoicing in his need for me and the pleasure that comes from serving those we love, sometimes chafing and wondering when he would ever learn to do it himself. And now, he does, all by himself.

The day ended sweetly, with me singing his lullaby to him, listening to him sing his prayer to God, answering his question about what my favorite part of today was (my response: watching him open his gifts, by the way), then receiving a hug and kiss from him.

Happy birthday, dearest Josiah. I am so proud of you and have not gotten over my surprise and pleasure at being your mother (still occasionally feeling like I did when we brought you home from the hospital after you were born, "Wow, I can't believe they're actually letting us take him. I can't believe he's really ours!"). You are a treasured gift of God to us.

I love you more than words can say...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Aarons and Hurs

If you're familiar with the story of the battle between the Amalekites and the Israelites, recorded in Exodus 17, you know exactly what the title of this post means. If not, you can go here to read it.

As this pregnancy ever-so-gradually gets harder and harder and my energy drops lower and lower, I am BLESSED to have a number of Aarons and Hurs in my life. One such arm-holder-upper called this morning and asked if she could drop by with a surprise for me. Why, yes, of course she could! :) Jenn soon arrived with a container of blueberries, a big wedge of watermelon, and some yogurt for me. She had obviously read my blog this morning and knew exactly what I was craving! I'm convinced that food is the sixth love language (sorry, Gary Chapman), and Jenn spoke my language perfectly...a big thank you to you, Jenn!!!

Tomorrow, my arms are being held up in another food-related way, when we go to the Sacra's house for supper. Since Josiah's birthday is on Saturday, we'll get an early start on the celebration tomorrow by sharing his birthday cake with them; he'll love the extra attention and "fuss" about him turning 7. :) Time with the Sacras is always refreshing, and I am looking forward to it very much! And I don't have to cook dinner. ;)

Of course, my parents are my #1 Aaron and Hur combination, and I'm always grateful for their help. Even something as "little" as taking Tobin outside for a while after supper so I can get the kitchen cleaned up before his bath and bedtime makes a world of difference as far as how my whole evening goes. My mother often offers to do even more for me; and most of the time I say, "No, I'm doing fine. I don't really need anything, but thanks anyway." But in those moments when I DO need a hand, it's so comforting to know that they're willing and available.

Besides being extremely thankful for the Aarons and Hurs I'm encountering these days, I'm also inspired to keep my eyes open for opportunities for me to uphold others in this way, realizing that this season of my life has many demands on my time anyway, but that even during this stage of mothering young children, I can be an Aaron or a Hur to someone God puts in my path.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Little More about 34...

...weeks, that is.
First, the details about the pictures. The top picture was taken by Jeff during our day-before-our-anniversary date last Saturday evening. We went out for dinner at a new-to-us restaurant, the Blue Ridge Buffet at Massanutten Waterpark, that had been recommended to us by one of Jeff's co-workers. The food was good, the view of the waterpark and the memories it brought back of my Mommy/Josiah date last year were fun (and exciting as I think about taking Josiah here again sometime this coming fall for our next annual date--and starting this tradition with David!), but the absolute best part was the time with Jeff to talk. Hands down, that was the highlight of my evening.

It's been a while since I've posted a belly pic. Are you ready for this???
Woah, that's a BIG belly!!! I took this picture this morning, at 34 weeks, 4 days pregnant; and I laugh as I look at it but also truly treasure this shape. Huge as it is, it's a constant reminder of the miracle inside, God's little secret that He's preparing for us. This evening, when Jeff commented on how I look like I won't be pregnant much longer (although I still have a ways to go, we both realize), I asked the typical-for-me question, "Was I really this big with my other pregnancies?" Jeff didn't even hesitate before answering assuredly, "Yes!" :) The thing I like about my belly right now (besides the obvious fact that it houses a baby!) is the fact that it's firm. It may be enormous, but at least it's tight--not like the wiggly, jiggly mess of a tummy that I'll be left with after the birth. As much as I realize it will be more comfortable to not be sporting this extra extension in front of me, I also realize that I'm not really looking forward to the exercise that will be necessary if I ever hope to tighten up my abdominal muscles again. :)

This happens so often that it's almost ludicrous: I'll write something on the blog about how things are going, and then almost as soon as I post it, the opposite happens. I'll write about a rough area with one of the boys, and then it changes. Or I'll mention something that's going particularly smoothly, and suddenly it's a problem spot. It happened again. In my last pregnancy post (Saturday), I remarked about how well I was feeling and how grateful and amazed I was at my continued general well-being, my lack of contractions, my energy and cheerfulness, etc. You can see where this is going, can't you? The very next day, I had LOTS of contractions--basically, from lunchtime on Sunday until I went to bed that night. They weren't particularly painful, but I was just uncomfortable. Having to sit through our church service and then sit in Golden Corral restaurant (where my parents took us for lunch in order to celebrate our anniversary) and then sit in the minivan on the way home was not what my body was wanting. I could hardly wait to stretch out and give my cramped abdomen some room! A Sunday afternoon nap was wonderful; but even after the nap, those old Braxton Hicks contractions kicked in again. On Monday I had some as well, especially later in the day; and I'm realizing that when I do a lot of activity without taking some rest breaks, I'm much more likely to wind up with some contractions. I'm not at all worried about preterm labor, and I realize that these contractions are par for the course at this stage of this pregnancy...but still, it doesn't make these days quite as comfortable as last week was!

Here's another silly thing I've been bothered by: cooking supper. I've been in quite a cooking slump, lacking a good plan, having to scrounge at the last minute to figure out what to make appear on the table before everyone shows up for supper, expecting something to fill their tummies! I blame my lack of enjoyment and zeal in this area (which I usually have plenty of!) on my own strange appetite these days. Heavy stuff doesn't appeal to me; but for some reason, the rest of the family isn't quite satisfied by a meal of...say, frozen blackberries and milk...or watermelon, just watermelon (my latest craving). They really expect some meat, veggies, maybe a starch, something like that, something balanced. Yesterday as I was pondering what in the world to fix, Jeff called from work and as we discussed it, he suggested tacos, even volunteering to make them after he got home so I wouldn't have to worry about it. As it turned out, I was able to pull myself together enough to get them mostly ready before he got home; but as the rest of the family dug into their meal, I declined a taco and turned instead to the blender to make a strawberry smoothie for my supper. It was great! :) I think I'm over this cooking hurdle for now though, since this morning I took some time to look through my recipes and pull some out that looked enticing; then I got groceries today, so I'm ready for the next few days. Guess what's on the menu for tomorrow evening? Watermelon! :)

I think the hardest thing I've been dealing with the past few days, however, is keeping my mental focus where it needs to be. I am so eager to be done with all the extra things of life--committee meetings, music obligations, etc.--and simply be able to focus on nesting and having this baby when he/she is ready. But I know I have 5 and 1/2 more weeks, more or less; and it's far too early to be really shifting my mental state to the birth. Thoughts of this baby and the upcoming delivery do take up quite a bit of my time, however!

Most of the time, I feel a very real sense of peace about the birth. I am so completely excited for this nine-month mystery to be revealed and to meet this little person face to face!! As far as labor goes, it's impossible to predict how it will be; but at this point, the apprehension I've felt at times has mostly faded away, leaving calmness, joy, and even a bring-it-on attitude. I feel comforted by the fact that I'll have such good help during labor; with a triumvirate of Jeff, my mother, and one of the midwives, I know I'm in good hands. But for sure, the suspense of not knowing the gender adds a huge amount of anticipation as I look towards the birth. :)

Speaking of the gender, the lady at Black's Paint said yesterday, when we were in the store to pick the paint for the baby's room, that she thinks it's a girl and that she's usually right about these things! Today, the lady at the drycleaners said matter-of-factly that it's a boy! Jeff told me yesterday that he voted "girl" in the blog poll. :) I expect a boy and would be quite surprised by a girl, but one thing (and really only one thing) makes me think it might be a girl: my size and weight have been on the lower end than in the past. At the 20-week ultrasound, the baby's measurements were right at the average, whereas with Tobin, he measured bigger at that point. My weight gain has only been 21 pounds so far (and it's usually more than that), and my uterus measurement has been a little less than the normal for several weeks. So because of the smaller size, I'm thinking that maybe--maybe--it's a girl. Even though the mystery of it all is driving me a little bit crazy, overall I'm thrilled that we didn't find out; and I so much look forward to going into labor and finding out who this is!!!

Today my anticipation increased quite a bit because I got to see two newborns: first, my friend Misty's little girl Anastasia, and then my friend Ceci's little girl Charlotte. Seeing these two itty-bitties reminded me of how tiny newborns are! I thought I had reminded myself of that before I saw them; but really, you just forget and can't even imagine how small and light they are until you see or hold them when they are so new and fresh. What a miracle--every single time!