Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life With Two

I'm slowly adjusting to life with 2 kids-and I thought one was hard!
:-) It must have taken me 30 minutes longer just to get out the door with both of them the other day. I kept forgetting something one of us would need. Caleb went to Grandma's and Ella to Kimberly's so I could get a much needed trim and go grocery shopping. Of course, after the haircut I had to stop at Grandma's so Caleb could nurse before I went to the grocery store. But soon the day will come when I have to take them both with me on errands-and I suppose by God's grace, I will survive.

I can't believe our Little Man will be 3 weeks tomorrow! Time is already flying by. I'm feeling great now (no more walking w/my legs together-wahoo!) and wanting to get out more. Today, we all went to a nearby farm with my MOPS group for a hayride, lunch, and pumpkin-picking. I think Ella's favorite part was petting a bunny and Caleb's? Nursing, of course. As Ella says, "Caleb is growing, growing, growing 'cause he's nursing, nursing, nursing." :-)

Ella continues to be a help by bringing diapers, wipes, etc. to me when I need it and likes to comfort "her baby" by patting and kissing his head. In fact, though most toddlers have a baby doll to play with, mine has "Spotty dog." She diapers him, wipes him, nurses him, burps him, and has tummy time w/him, just as she sees me do with Caleb.

However, I have been crying out to God for help in dealing with Ella especially when she wakes up the baby by running into the room singing at the top of her lungs. Let's just say I don't win the mom-of-the-year award for my controlled response. My verse to memorize and most importantly utilize this week is Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. I know I don't show Ella as much grace as God has shown and continues to show me and by His power I want to get better at that. Mainly I don't want to make mountains out of molehills-something I'm famous for. The next time she spills her juice, I'd like to not get aggravated and yell but just say, "It's okay, honey, that happens. Next time, please hold it with both hands." Please pray for me in this area. With me just completing my first week having them both by myself (Will was off the first week and my Mom came up the 2nd-such a blessing!), the hardest part was getting frustrated with Ella and therefore not enjoying the time with her as I should have.

She really is such a precious child. And I can't even tell you how much BIGGER she seems to me now that Caleb is here. Holding her in my arms now, I feel like I'm holding a 10-year-old. After giving her a bath the other night, I just kept exclaiming, "Ella, you're HUGE!" which made her laugh and laugh. But I was serious. When did her legs get so long, her hands and feet so big? She's growing up right before my eyes and I want to be right in the moment with her and not wish the time away, longing for peace and quiet.

And she's already had a big adjustment to make-no more Mommy's milk. She got her last official feeding the day before Caleb's birth. I had gotten her down to one morning feeding every other day but the week before his birth, she was doing one morning feeding every day (anything to get the baby out!). I'm so proud of her for realizing it's Caleb's turn now. She still has comfort in pinching my underarms and sucking her two fingers. :-)

As for Caleb, he's quite the grunter. He grunts in his sleep, while he's nursing, basically all the time. And poor thing is still getting so much milk as it's letting down that he can't keep up. He gulps and gulps with very loud swallows and then chokes and coughs. But he is gaining weight. We took him to get weighed at 9 days old and he was 9 lb, 5 oz. (He had lost down to 8 lb. 8 oz.) And we can just look at his tummy and tell he's doing okay. Oh, and he has sideburns-ever seen a baby with those? Our little Elvis man. He loves his Native Baby Carrier (thank you Letisha and Sarah!), his bouncy seat, and sleeping on his Daddy's chest. And he does sleep a lot; I forgot how much newborns sleep. Sometimes his feedings take an hour because he drifts in and out of sleep; I usually wake him by changing his diaper-those cold wipes sometimes do the trick. Speaking of diapers, we're on our 4th pack already-our man poops A LOT! I bought some cloth diapers (hemp-they're sooo soft) and I'm going to try those this next week and see how it goes.

And my favorite thing that he does and has done since his first day? Flash that beautiful smile-we call it his "sleepy smile;" others call them "gassy smiles." I know he is not yet smiling because of us, but it's no matter to me. I love to see it. And he's laughed in his sleep a few times too-sweet dreams, I suppose. He's had several baths now too and seems to love the water, just like his sister.

Thank you all for loving on us and praying for us.

Enjoy some of my favorite photos.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Caleb's Birth Story

Giving birth is a time when I feel my Savior's presence with me in such a real way. During Ella's birth, the "wave" imagery worked until I reached transition. Then when I thought I couldn't do it any longer, I felt Jesus's presence with me and He spoke to me. "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." From that point until Ella came out, "My grace, my strength" become my mantra and helped me deal with the pain. With this birth, I started having some fears a couple weeks ago. I wasn't looking forward to the intensity of the contractions and was talking to God about this and playing some hymns to calm me down. That's when God let me find this hymn and I sang it repeatedly over the next couple days. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's entitled, "He giveth more grace" and the first verse reads,

He giveth more grace when the burdens are greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth his mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure; His pow'r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

Then a few days later as I was looking through an old devotional from church, I found these verses and knew God was giving them to me to claim for my birth.

Isaiah 40:28-31.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.

I felt better about the upcoming birth with these reassurances. I knew I wasn't going to be alone going through it-He'd be right there beside me.

Now here's a timeline for you as Caleb's birthday approached.

9 days before Caleb's birth, Ella got a stomach virus.

8 days before his birth, I caught it. You know when you're on the toilet w/a trash can-yep, that was me-it was horrible.

7 days before, I lost my mucus plug tinged w/blood and went outside to get Will off the lawn mower believing I would start labor in a few hours, as that's exactly what happened at Ella's birth. So, he came in, we cleaned up the house and then reluctantly went to bed several hours later.

6 days before, we went walking hoping to get something started as Ella and I were fully recovered now from the virus and I was ready to meet our little one. I had a couple contractions but they petered out.

5 days before Caleb's birth, Will finally caught the dreaded virus.

4 days before, I went to see Lisa for my 39th week prenatal visit. The baby's heart rate was good (it averaged in the 140's, which by the way reinforces my theory on predicting the sex of the baby) and Lisa said from her experiences, women usually go into labor w/in 2 days of losing their plug. I was on day 3 at this point. But she also said how glad she was that I hadn't gone into labor in the last few days as she had 3 births in 5 days and had gotten hardly any rest.

3 days before-Will finally feels better.

2 days before the birth, Will went into work late because I had a couple contractions but after an hour had passed and I had no more, he went on in.

1 day before the birth, we went to Mama's house. On the way there I had 2 contractions but once we arrived they had stopped and I had nothing else the rest of the day. By this point I was feeling pretty discouraged and thinking I might just stay pregnant until November! However, I indeed was thankful that I hadn't gone into labor while we were sick.

So now, we begin the real story. I was awakened from sleep at 3:45am Sunday morning with a contraction. It was stronger than I had been having during the week. When the next one came just 5 minutes later, I knew this was finally the real thing. I woke Will up at 4am to tell him I was in labor. For the next 30 min. in between contractions, I helped him sanitize our house, clean bathrooms, doorknobs etc, as we didn't want Lisa to catch the virus we'd all had. Pretty soon, I let Will take over and began leaning into the contractions using Will's chest of drawers for support. I knew I was going to wait until 5am to call Lisa to give her some extra time to sleep but as it got closer to 5, I started really questioning whether I wanted her or anyone to come at all. What effect would it have on me to have people "invade" my labor space? I was really quite content at that point with just having Will there with me. When I mentioned this to Will, he said very emphatically, "Call her!" So I did. After explaining to her that I was 4-6 min. apart lasting about 45 seconds in length, she said she could be on her way. I hesitated, still unsure if I wanted other people coming so soon and she said I could call her back at 6 and let her know. By 6, the contractions were much more intense and this time it was me telling Will, "Call Lisa NOW!" I was afraid if I waited much longer she wouldn't get her in time (she had almost an hour's drive) and we would be doing it ourselves whether we wanted to or not.

Backing up to 5am, it was then that we decided to start getting the pool ready. I had decided on this one after reading good things about it from people who had used it for a birth. Lisa also had the aqua doula which is what I used with Ella, but I wanted something w/softer sides that I could lean on. Ella was still sleeping in our room, but I was afraid that if we started pumping it up it would awaken her, so I asked Will to move her into her room. Sometimes this works and she'll stay asleep; this time it didn't. Will tried lying down beside her to get her to go back asleep but she was still crying. Finally, I called out, "Forget it. I need you in here. She'll just have to stay awake." Ella of course was thrilled to watch the pool being blown up in our room. When having contractions at this point, I was leaning into Will's chest of drawers and counting through them. God was also bringing to my mind those wonderful reassurances. It helped to speak truth to myself, "He understands. He gives strength and power to the weak. He gives-He has no limits." After having a few intense contractions while trying to drown out Ella's babbling in the background, I asked Will to call Kimberly to come over. She had agreed to watch Ella during the labor. Since it was Sunday, Laurance could keep Jonathan at home, so she'd just have Ella to focus on. Kimberly arrived around 6:45 and Julie, Lisa's apprentice, arrived shortly after at 7am. Lisa arrived around 7:30am and after checking the baby's heart rate and my blood pressure (both fine), she and Julie got some prep work done-putting new sheets on the bed, unloading the home birthing box kit I had ordered, arranging chux pads, etc. and left me alone to labor.

Will had already begun filling the pool up but of course ran out of hot water so they began boiling water and dumping it in. After the first go at the heater Will noticed some brown stuff in the water. By the time it was full enough to use, it was pretty cloudy. Lisa later asked had we drained our water heater completely before filling up the pool. We were supposed to do this a few days before but she had forgotten to mention this to us, and thus the brown stuff was sediment from the bottom of our heater. I still decided at one point to get into the water-even if I wouldn't birth in it, I was interested to see if it would help w/the pain. I stayed in through 2 contractions but couldn't get comfortable so decided to get out. Just like with Ella's birth, the only comfortable position for me was standing up or leaning through contractions. With Ella's, I leaned into Will the entire time (before getting in the water prior to pushing), but with this one, I moved from the chest of drawers to my dresser and put 2 pillows on top of it for comfort. When I would get a contraction, Will would stand behind me and move with me-it helped so much just knowing he was right there with me. Before the contractions got too close together, I would sit/bounce on my exercise ball while waiting for the next one.

During the really intense contractions, I felt Jesus with me in such a real way. I was still counting through them-if I could just make it to 30 seconds, it would start easing up. And I felt as if He was saying "Okay, Laura, here's another one, let's count together." And we did. However, after awhile, the contractions got less intense. I remember thinking at one point, "Wow, this isn't that bad." I had prayed for a pain-free birth or at least something close to that but I guess I didn't really think it could happen. (Oh, ye of little faith!) I even got scared thinking my labor was slowing down. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom and Will came with me. It was then that I asked him to ask Lisa and Julie to leave the room. They were both sitting on the bed at that point. I think Lisa was writing some things down, but I just started feeling like I was on show or something and that maybe that was why my labor was slowing down. Lisa listened really quickly to the baby's heart rate and then left w/Julie and stayed in the kitchen.

However, as it turns out I was in transition; my labor wasn't slowing down at all. In fact, I felt the baby moving down inside me-such an amazing feeling. And I had prayed specifically that God would let me feel that this time as I didn't w/Ella. About 30 minutes later I told Will, "Call Lisa back in here; I'm feeling pushy!" Lisa came in and asked me if she could check me-she had done no checks thus far as I hadn't wanted any. I still didn't. I told her there was no way I could lie down on a bed. She said I could stand and she would just see what she could feel or I could do it myself. I let her do it. She felt my bag of waters and said, "It's bulging-when it pops, it's really going to go." I quickly said, "Don't break it!" Of course she didn't and then said from what she could tell I was about a 9 and could start pushing if I felt like that was what my body was telling me to do. The amazing thing? That check didn't hurt at all! With Ella, Amy checked me when I got to the birthing center and I was laying down. I was an 8 then but that check was excruciating.

I saw that Lisa had the birthing stool set up and decided I would try pushing on that. Kimberly had told me how good squatting felt when she was pushing and I knew from Birthing From Within, that your pelvis opens 28% wider when you are squatting versus lying flat. The one thing I definitely wanted to do differently this time around was not to be in even a semi-lying position as I had in the water with Ella (Will was supporting me from behind in the pool). I think that's why the pushing hurt so much with her-it was 54 minutes long and much more painful than the whole time I was dilating because I didn't have gravity working with me. However, when I tried using the birthing stool at first, I couldn't get comfortable and standing wasn't helping either. I was starting to panic. I even considered getting in the water again on all fours but Lisa said she'd rather the baby not be born into water that murky w/sediment floating around and thus the water birth plan was finally nixed.

Finally I had to push and the really amazing, wonderful thing this time around? No one had to tell me how to push, how long to push, when to hold my breath-I just knew. I couldn't help but push. In fact, the intensity of it was so much bigger than myself-I finally understood what people were talking about. With Ella it was as if I was making it happen; with this one, I was just letting it take over me. At first I just had small grunts and pushes. But it was during this time, that I really felt the baby move down and I was shaking my head back and forth. I was thrilled to feel it but at the same time inwardly thinking, "No, I can't do this." It helped to hear Lisa say, "It's okay, Laura, let your baby come out. You want the baby out." Then I had an intense push and my water exploded and went all over Will and Lisa. (And our carpet was completely dry afterward as we had a tarp for the pool down and an extra shower curtain liner.) Now before this Lisa had been applying a warm compress of ginger root to my perineum and it felt wonderful. I think everyone was so surprised when my water broke that she just forgot to continue that. The next push was the most surreal thing-I couldn't stop pushing though I remember Will saying, "Slow down." But Lisa said, "It's okay." Of course, had we all known what would have happened next, everyone would have been saying, "Gentle pushes, baby pushes." Because that next push after the water broke produced the baby's head. In one push-I couldn't believe it! It took me forever to get Ella's head out. It would slide down a little and them move back up. Yes it was intense but there was no ring of fire like with Ella-just pressure. I felt his head a couple times with my hand and was amazed. I didn't do this with Ella though I did see it in the mirror. I remember Lisa saying, "Okay one more push and you'll have your baby." Will said it was just amazing to see him just "hanging out" there waiting so patiently-he didn't get such a close view w/Ella b/c he was sitting behind me in the pool.

Sure enough he wriggled out with that next push and Will caught him! He said he was quite slippery as he was completely covered in vernix, even more so than Ella was. He said he thought it was a boy at first but had to take a second look-he couldn't believe it. Then he handed him to me and I said, "You have a son!" Oh, what relief I felt-that it was over, that we had survived and thrived with our home birth. That I was holding a new miracle in my arms. But at the same time it was an out-of-body experience. It didn't seem real that it was over, that this was my son. Very surreal-I felt the same way after Ella was born. Thankfully, God had given me the clarity of mind to call Ella into the room when the head "popped out" so she got to see her baby brother being born. That was really important to me and I'm so glad it worked out that way. She wasn't scared at all seeing it or the blood, etc. I had prepared her by letting her watch her own birthing video. Of course, you all know her first words, "But I wanted a baby sister!" Thankfully, she's warming up to the little guy.

Oh, speaking of videos, I had my camcorder in the room but things happened too quickly and we failed to ever set it up on a tripod, so unfortunately, Caleb has no video or pictures for that matter. :-(
I think we all were surprised with how fast it happened-Julie knew she could take pictures of the baby being born but unfortunately we didn't get any. At least she took one after he was born. I'm still on the birthing stool and Will is on the birthing ball. That's another interesting point. When I started squatting I could tell Will was uncomfortable as he had nothing to rest on. I was just much more aware of things this time around-I was in total labor land state w/Ella by the time pushing came around, but this time, I had the clarity of mind to say, "Will, go get a chair to sit on so you don't hurt your back." He found the birthing ball and used that instead. I think it helped as well that I had gotten a few hours of sleep before going into labor-with Ella I was up all night.

I moved to the bed with Caleb and he began nursing. A few minutes later (about 20 minutes after he was born) I delivered the placenta while standing-all was intact thankfully. After the cord stopped pulsating, Will cut it and we all lay in the bed and bonded with our newest miracle.

So would I do a home birth again? Absolutely. I prefer it over a birthing center because for one I don't have to drive while in labor or after labor and two I'm more relaxed in my own home. I would make it a matter of prayer though just as I did this one should we have another little one. God gave me the assurance that this was good and right for us this time around. I would want the same for each time because as we all know, each pregnancy is different and could produce different concerns. One neat thing is that Lisa had 3 births still to attend the last week in Sept. and 4 ladies due in October by the 16th. Had any of those women gone into labor when I did, we would've had to go into the birthing center (or else do it by ourselves at home) b/c she would be with them there. I had prayed God's will be done b/c if He wanted me at the birthing center, closer to the hospital (and a better one I might add), then I would want to be there. As it turned out, Lisa finished all her September deliveries by Sept. 30 and I was the first October one; I don't consider that a coincidence at all.

I most likely will use Lisa again if we have another one. I think it was just hard for me to get used to her and her way of doing things after having such a close relationship with Amy, my midwife w/Ella. However, now that I've given birth with Lisa attending, I can truly say she's wonderful and does a great job at offering competent care in a non-invasive way. She only checked the baby's heart rate about 3 times, and only the 1st time was for about 30 sec-the others were quick, 5-10 sec. checks. And she checked my blood pressure twice and did a quick check when it was time to push. But it was my call. That's another good thing about home birth-you have even more of a say so on what happens and what doesn't. After the birth, she checked me for tears and unfortunately I had somewhere b/w a 1st and 2nd degree tear at my perineum-I'm sure I got that when I pushed the baby's head out. She said the tear lay together nicely and should heal fine on its own, so of course, I opted for not going to the hospital for stitches. What I would love is for SC to change their ridiculous law about midwives being able to do everything but stitch a woman up if she needs it. Lisa knows how to do it and could in most any state but this one. Anyway, so now, like with Ella, I'm walking around the house w/my legs together-such fun.

There are a few things I would have done differently. First I would set my tripod up for the camcorder beforehand and also designate someone to take pictures and somehow make sure it happens. :-) Second, I would have drained our water heater down so that I could have gotten in the pool for pushing if I so desired. Who knows-maybe that would have helped w/the tearing. I do like though that now I have had both experiences-a water and a land birth. I think I prefer to stay on land until the pushing stage for sure. My body just can't handle contractions as well in any position but standing or leaning. But squatting in the water might be an option for pushing if we have another one. Third, I would try to remember that if I have a land birth again, someone should be applying the warm compress to my perineum at all times during pushing-it's just no fun to tear. And I would do perineal massage a couple weeks before birth. I would also try to remember that once my water goes, I need to try my hardest to go slow on the next push. Honestly, I don't know if I could have this time-I felt as if I had no control over that push when Caleb's head emerged-it just took over me.

So that's it. It really was an easier, faster labor than with Ella. 5 hours and 21 minutes versus 14. Of course, with this one, I know now that I had probably been in the beginning stages of labor for a week and when I awoke I was heading towards active labor pretty quickly. Ella's really didn't start at all until the night before she was born. I prefer Caleb's way. :-) The only downside was the tearing and the afterbirth pains. I had hardly any with Ella but tons with this one. For awhile, I was wondering if there might be another baby in there that needed to come out. They finally subsided on day 3 or 4. I've heard they get worse with each one. Fun, Fun!

We're truly blessed to have our little man and I give God all the glory for his safe and wonderful birth. Thank you all for your prayers as well!

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Caleb William arrived this morning at 9:06 am.
8 lbs. 15 oz.
22 inches
And soooo laid-back. Which is nice-so different from Ella's first day. He's cried enough to let us know that he's okay but other than that, he's been quiet. And what a champ at nursing! Also different than Ella. He latched on for one session for an hour! (switching sides in b/w)

More to come later about the actual birth story. We're all doing fine and Ella is adjusting to having a little baby brother. However, when she found out he was a boy, she said, "But I wanted a baby sister!" Maybe next time. Yet, she's already been showering him with kisses and telling him she loves him. So I suppose all will be well. :-)

Thank you all for your prayers!

And by the way, it's so hard to call him Caleb! We keep saying, "Icee!"

It's Time....

.....Please pray.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beach Trip

We just returned from a wonderful mini-vacation (3 nights) to Surfside Beach. We planned our trip in order to be there the same time as the Fisher family whom we met last year. Ella and Casey had a ball together. Casey celebrated her 3rd birthday while we were there, and Ella was thrilled to go to her party. And Leigh, Casey's mom, is expecting her 2nd as well. She's due in January and Casey's getting a baby brother.

Here's a short video of them doing "Ring around the Rosie." Sorry for the noise in the background (I guess it's the wind/waves or just a bad videographer :-)) ,but if you listen closely, you can hear them singing. Oh, and you'll need to scroll down and pause the music first, so you can hear the video.

It was just wonderful for me to watch Ella run and play on the beach. It was important for me that we do this for her as this will be her last vacation getting all the attention-occasionally it's good to spoil your child. :-)

And yes, I was praying the whole time, "Lord, please don't let me go into labor," especially considering I had to walk 3 flights of stairs to get to our condo. Great exercise, just not when you're so close to delivery. And Will said I got some interesting looks as we took walks down the beach. I'm sure people were expecting me to double over in pain at any moment, but all went well and baby's still safe inside. :-)

Oh, by the way, I got my hair cut short. I knew I would do it when the baby came, so I figured I might as well get it done now when I had a little more time to decide on the cut and style. The choice? A layered bob. I was supposed to leave the salon looking just like Katie Holmes...okay, so no stylist can work magic. And my hair is rather wind-blown in the beach pictures, so you'll just have to wait to see what it really looks like. :-) Overall, I'm pleased though, and it's pretty easy to style, which is always a plus.

Oh, and here's my belly shot at 36 weeks.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Perfect Place to Give Birth

Will and I went to the mountains for a babymoon last weekend. It was our first time leaving Ella for 2 nights. And yes, it was harder on me than her. Especially considering that the mountain cabin is so well-equipped for kids-there are toys, books, swings, and even a huge playhouse. So, everywhere I looked, I kept thinking, "Ella would love playing with this or reading this."

There was only one time during the trip that I was glad she wasn't there. And that was when we took our "hike" to the waterfall. Actually there's a new path directly from the mountain cabin so you don't have to go through Aunt Joan and Uncle Will's yard, and it is more of a hike-especially when you're very pregnant (34 weeks). Upon arriving there and sitting on a huge rock, I felt such calm. And I was thankful there wasn't a 3-year-old vying for my attention. As I listened to the water cascading down and talked to my littlest one, I couldn't help thinking, "This would be the perfect place to give birth." When I voiced it to Will, he actually said, "You're right-how can we make this work?" Hmm...."Aunt Barbara, Uncle Langdon, can I camp out in your cabin for a few weeks-I'm planning on giving birth at the waterfall." Somehow I don't think it would fly. And I certainly won't be able to drive 5 hours once I'm in labor to birth there. So it was just a dream. A wonderful birthing dream. I just couldn't imagine feeling any pain if I was in such beautiful surroundings and hearing the falls. But I'm sure that's a dream too. I'm sure there would still be pain, though probably quite lessened. Instead, I suppose we'll settle for listening to a CD which has waterfalls and ocean sounds. :-)

Before we went to the mountains, Will had a conference in Alabama and we went with him. We were able to see Letisha, Daniel, and their 5 kids and it was such fun. Ella especially loved the Birmingham Zoo. "I saw a baby raffe and baby zebra," she'll tell you. But I think the kids had the most fun with the monkeys-I never tire of their antics either. And Ella did so well with Joshua and Caleb-usually she's terrified of older boys. Joshua would hold her hand and she went happily along. When she sees his picture now, she'll ask, "What's his name 'gain?" I'll tell her and then she'll say, "He's oldest." At their house, Ella enjoyed the steps the most-so now I know-our next house will be a 2-story and I'll have an automatic built-in toy for the kiddos. :-)

On the way back from Alabama we stayed a night with Em and Jeff. And of course Ella enjoyed seeing Benjamin and now can't stop telling everyone how he's walking now. "But sometimes he falls down, but that's otay." :-) We had a wonderful visit to Tribble Mill Park. Ella asks about going there all the time now. And she so enjoyed reading All the Place to Love to Benjamin.

This pic is blurry but I think it's so cute. As if Benjamin is saying, "Eh? Read a little louder, Ella."

Before the Alabama trip my dad, his fiancee, Marna, Marcelo and their 4 kids came up to see our house for the first time. Here's some cute pics from that visit.

Kaitlyn looks more and more like Marna, I think.

Ice cream and summertime-what could be better?

Dad and Nancy

As far as baby goes, I'm fine but just really tired and have been pretty much the whole pregnancy-so much for that boost of energy you're supposed to get during the
2nd trimester. I suppose being 4 years older and having a toddler to look after has something to do with it. I found out a few appointments ago that my blood sugar is high and hemoglobin very low (a 9-I was a 14 at 20 weeks). So, I'm watching even more carefully my sugar intake-so hard to do!, especially when I need to cut out most fruits too-and taking some food-based iron supplements. At my last visit I was up to a 10.9 for my hemoglobin but I really can't tell a difference in my energy level. I'm hoping I will have a great energy boost after the baby's born-ha!

We're still deciding on names-let's see, we've narrowed it down to 4 boy names and about 15 girl names. That's actually good-if you could have only seen my list when I started. Hopefully, in the next few weeks I can narrow the girls' names down some more and then when the baby comes, we'll just have a few to decide upon based on how the baby looks. Hmm, not sure how that will go. When Ella came out, she was quite purple, screaming very loudly and rather funny looking :-); I don't think based on that I would have decided on Ella had it not already been chosen.

Thank you all for your prayers as we prepare for our newest arrival.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Family Reunion

Here are some pics from the get-together at the Mill. Will and I came late and stayed for just a couple hours as we were still getting over our sickness. Even though it wiped us out, we're glad we got to go. It was our last chance to see Dayton, Erin, and their kids before they left, and we got to visit w/Em, Jeff, and Benjamin one more time.

Also, including a couple pics of Chuck and Sarah when they came over for supper a few days later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm Three!

Ella celebrated her 3rd birthday the first time on Saturday June 28 for her pool party. Unfortunately, like last year, she was sick. She woke up saying her tummy hurt and by the time the party was over, she was running a slight fever. Fortunately though, there were no upset stomach "conditions" to deal with like last year. But everyone else had a wonderful time it seemed. And though she was overwhelmed w/how loud her "Happy Birthday" song was w/18 people singing it to her, she managed to blow out all 3 candles just fine. :-) And she did eat about 3 bites of a cupcake.

We enjoyed having Dayton, Erin, and their 4 kids visit a few times while they were here (including at Ella's party) and just recently got to see Chuck and his girlfriend, Sarah. Also a few days before Ella's party my beloved Sarah spent two nights w/me and helped me w/all the party plans (including a very long trip to Walmart). The night before the party, Laurance and Kimberly helped w/weed-eating and popsicle and cupcake making (guess which one did which?) :-) So, Ella's party was truly a family affair!

On Ella's actual birthday on June 30, my mom, step-dad, and grandmother came up and we grilled out again and let her blow out candles again. She was feeling better by this time but still not quite herself.

Then Will and I got sick with an awful cold/sore throat/congestion thing and I'm just now feeling more like myself. Thankfully Ella only got a small portion of our sickness. And because of this sickness I missed my own baby shower! and Ella missed having Grace over to spend the night w/her that same night. I got some consolation with Emily and Jeff bringing presents and food over later that day and visiting w/us some (I really hope we didn't get you sick!) but poor Ella won't get to see Grace again for at least 2 more years!

Enjoy the birthday photos!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Birthday Picnics

Ella is totally into turning 3. She's in countdown mode now. She knows that it's June and that at the end of this month, she'll have her special day. She's been getting picnics together w/me and her animals for awhile now, but for the last couple of weeks, Ella has called them birthday picnics. Just today, she told me, "Mommy I made you a birthday picnic. Come eat your birthday food." I think she assumes we're all going to celebrate our birthdays on her special day!

We're so loving the pool. Now that it's warmer (86 degrees in the water!), we're swimming most every day. Ella's a little fish; with her floaties on, she can swim all the way to the deep end and back. And she jumps off the side of the pool into our waiting arms. Maybe she doesn't need those swim lessons at the Y after all. :-)

And, I turn 6 months tomorrow-yay! The crib bedding has arrived. I chose this pattern, as I could never find the fabric to mach the memo board I had. (Scroll down to the 3rd pic and enlarge, so you can see how it looks w/all the bedding on the crib.) And no, I didn't pay this price; thankfully, I got it used for much cheaper! Even though it doesn't match my original plan exactly, at least it's still a zoo theme in primary colors. Hopefully the green walls will get painted in a couple weeks, and I'll post a pic when it's all set up.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's Kicking Time!

I've been feeling this baby move for about 8 weeks now, but Will finally felt "him" this past Sunday when I turned 20 weeks. What joy! It really is The.Most.Amazing.Thing to feel life moving around inside of you, but it's even better when it can be shared! I'm not sure Ella has felt Icee. She always moves her hand when I try to put it in the right spot, insisting, "No, Mommy, Icee's over here." Plus, she has a tiny hand, which makes it harder. :-)

It's interesting that Will didn't feel Ella move until 24 weeks, but of course, I didn't feel Ella until about week 20. I guess the more babies you have, the earlier you feel movement b/c you know what it feels like.

But as I write that exciting news, I can't forget the heartbreaking news I heard yesterday. I'm sure you all have heard by now of Steven Curtis Chapman's 5-year-old daughter Maria who was killed Wed. night in a tragic accident. Let's lift his family up in prayer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Children's Book Monday

Dimity Duck by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Sebastien Braun

It's so funny. Elise reviewed a different Jane Yolen book last week and I did a search for her books at my library. Only then did I realize that she is the author of one of Ella's favorite books. (Guess I don't pay much attention to details, huh?)

This is such a fun read, with winsome rhymes and adorable illustrations.

It tells about a day-in-the-life of Miss Dimity Duck.

Dimity Duck
she toddles
out of bed.

goes her tail
and quack!
goes her head.

After getting some breakfast, she meets her delightful friend, Frumity Frog.

Dimity Duck waddles,
she paddles to his side.

go the two,
playing seek-and-hide.

Only the sunset can separate these two playmates and finally Dimity must blow a kiss and say goodnight to Frumity.

Then she puts on her PJs, plumps her pillows, and waddles off to bed.

Sleepy-sloppy goes her tail... (of course you have to read this part very s.l.o.w.l.y)
And snore goes her head.

I'm sure you & your toddler will love this book as we have. It's one of the few I don't mind reading over and over again. You just can't help yourself from smiling while doing so. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look What We Can Do

I can't believe my little girl's hair is finally long enough to do this.

She now has her own pocketbook full of ponytail holders and loves to pick out the color for the day. Just the other day, I wanted to put a pink one in her hair since she was wearing all pink. "No, Mommy, wanna wear purple one. Purple is my favorite." And today she told me, "Know what, Mommy? I'm growing up."
Indeed you are, my precious girl.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Birthday Bash

Ella rarely sees either of my sisters' children. In fact, this is the first time she's seen Marna's 4 kids since August! This is mostly due to the fact that they were in Mexico over Christmas and when they returned, 2 them got chicken pox, followed by the flu.

So, I defintely wanted to make it down for Dylan and Kaitlyn's combined birthday party. Kaitlyn was turning 2 and Dylan had just turned 7. And wouldn't you know it, Ella and Kaitlyn are the same size, even though Ella will be 3 next month.

It took awhile, but by the end, Ella and Kaitlyn were giving each other hugs and kisses. And jumping on the trampoline together. And playing in the sandbox. And splashing on the pool steps. It was WAY too cold to actually get in and go swimming. This was 2 weeks ago and the water *may* have been 74 degrees. Of course, Marna's boys got in. I just think boys can do cold better than girls can. But Dylan did put on his flannel PJ's after getting out, though he insisted it was NOT because he was cold.

And I had to thank my sister for making more work for me. As soon as Ella saw Kaitlyn's brightly colored Dora cake, she exclaimed, "Mommy, I want that cake for my birthday, too." Now I have to try to duplicate that. I've made a vow to make all of my children's cakes. Not that I'm much of a cake baker, but it's something special I get to do once a year, so why not? And I always loved my mom's cakes. In fact, I still remember one year (I think I was turning 16) when my mom's cake flopped, so she ran out to buy one. I took one bite of it and knew it wasn't homemade. Thus, my mom was forced to bring out the falling-apart-cake and *that* was the one that got eaten!

Enjoy the sweet pics.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Great Mother's Day

I was so surprised to get a corsage at church this morning for the youngest mother. I never considered 31 that young, but apparently at the church we're visiting, it is. It's beautiful-two red roses-and it brought some sunshine to my black dress. :-)
(By the way, Emily, this is one of the dresses you gave me from Abbie and it fits perfectly! So thank you to you both!)

Ella and Icee made me the sweetest card.
Will asked Ella what she wanted to say to me and this is her reply,
"Good morning, Mommy! How are you? Happy Mother's Day, Mommy."
Then Will asked, "What do you think Icee would say?"
After saying some undecipherable words, she finally said, "Bopee."

We enjoyed some great KFC w/Will's parents and got to see Aunt Joan and Uncle Will when they brought Mama back home from dinner.

Re: this pregnancy, I think my weight has finally started to level off. After gaining 10 lbs. the first trimester, I was getting a little worried, but I haven't put on much more than that since then. And we finally decided (after much prayer and research) on the local midwife. (Well, local, meaning the one that's an hour away.) I've had one official appt. so far and it was great. I go to my first of two required doctor visits in a couple weeks.

I've also had a horrible rash since 12 weeks (which didn't itch, thankfully) all over my stomach, part of my back and my legs, but thankfully the stomach and back part are better. Hopefully the leg part will be better soon too. And the nauseau is gone and I'm getting a bit more energy. So all is going well. Praise the Lord!

Here's my recent belly shot and one of my precious little girl all sweaty from running around!

Those Curls

There once was a girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very, very good....

We all know how the rest of it goes, but since it is Mother's Day, I'm just going to reflect on the *good* part.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Swim Time!

We went swimming today for the first time this year! Let's only took me 20 minutes to get all the way in. Will, of course, just dived right in. But he made me feel better when, after catching his breath, he said, "Wow, it *is* cold." Yeah, that's why I'm going in
s-l-o-w-l-y. Ella only "swam" for part of the time. She had her floaties on but has not gotten the swim motion down and when you're not swimming, you, of course, get cold even more quickly. So then she became our lifeguard. Will wrapped her in towels and put her on a chair right by the steps. After being prompted on what a lifeguard might say, she began shouting things to us like, "No horseplaying!"

I so enjoyed swimming some laps but finally had to get out because I just had to go the bathroom. And you can't get back in the water after you go pee. Okay, maybe it's just me but having to pull a wet bathing suit back up is just not fun. And besides, it was time to eat. And did I mention the water was cold?
77 degrees to be exact.

But still we enjoyed ourselves.
And we're looking forward to going again soon.
Perhaps tomorrow?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Mama

We had a wonderful time w/Em, Jeff, and Benjamin last weekend. Ella just doted on Little Jeffrey Benjamin the whole time; she was truly like a 2nd mama to him. She kept offering him his water bottle, even when he had his paci in his mouth. I'm not sure whether to be excited about this or not. On the one hand, it seems she'll be a good helper when Icee comes, but on the other hand she might try to help too much. I finally had to explain to her that when the baby is finally quiet, you leave him alone! :-)

Ella informed me yesterday that when the baby comes, she'll be the mommy and I'll be the big sister! She already tries to nurse her stuffed animals, so I guess she figures she can nurse the baby too.

And for those of you I haven't told yet, Ella is quite convinced there are AT LEAST 2 babies inside my tummy. Soon after she named the baby Icee, Will asked her if she wanted a brother or sister and she said, "Brother AND sister." The other one's name is Bulldozer and that one's a girl.

So, the other day, when Ella was nursing, I reminded her that when Icee pops out, he'll need lots of milk too. She said, "Icee gets this side, Ella gets this side, Bulldozer waits."
Hmm, somehow I don't think Bulldozer will like that.

Oh, and Will took Ella out fishing again and they caught some more bream and crappie. This time he took the camera.

Enjoy the pics!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fish Fry!

Will had a grand time at the mill fishing today. Ella and Laurance went w/him this afternoon and Ella caught her first fish! She helped reel the bream in and Will said she was so excited! Will also caught yellow perch, crappie, and tons more bream.

When they got home, I went out to get Ella and she was fast asleep in her car seat. I tried to gently get her out without waking her and cradled her in my arms. No such luck. She woke up and asked, "Where's Uncle Laurance?"
"He's right there, helping Daddy clean the fish."
She turned to see them and then quickly looked back at me.
"Listen," she said, completely serious, as she grabbed my chin and turned it towards her. "Wanna tell you a story."
"Wanna clean fish by myself when I'm 16."

"Okay, sweetie."

Hope this makes you smile as much as it did me; enjoy your weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Those Cravings!

Monday night, Will came in from work and met his salivating wife. "I have to go to Olive Garden tonight!"
"That's an hour away!"
"I know, but I've been looking all day at this coupon w/their new meal-Five Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni With Shrimp-and I just have to have it."
Let me tell you, food advertisements really work for pregnant women!

He's still amazed as we head out-"you're really going to drive that far?"
And turns out, we can make it in about 48 min.

Well, we get there and I suddenly don't know if I want the Shrimp Rigatoni. My usual favorite, Chicken Alfredo suddenly sounds so delicious. What to do? Well, you get both obviously! After all, pregnant women have some leeway. I knew I couldn't eat it all, but also knew Ella and I would have a great lunch the next day.

While I stuff my face w/food-I just can't get enough-Will just smiles, especially when I tell him he's made Baby Icee very happy.
And truly it's the most content I've felt in awhile.

Olive Garden is my favorite restaurant and yet b/c of the drive, we don't get there very often. Even where we used to live, it was a good 40 min. away. So anytime I'm there, especially when I'm pregnant and have been craving it all day, I have a very good time! And can I just say, we can't understand why there's not one in every town. I mean, they're always crowded; it's not like they wouldn't make money if they decided to build one here. Maybe one of these days, we'll move to a town where there is one. (My favorite restaurant for casual fare would be Chick-Fil-A, just in case you're wondering. And that gets hit a lot more often, like once a week!)

I have to admit I felt like quite the hog as our waitress brought out my two huge plates of food. And of course after loading up on their delicious salad and breadsticks, I did have lots to take home.

But don't worry-it all got eaten the very next day! Ella and I enjoyed it for breakfast and lunch! And in case you're wondering, yes! the Shrimp Rigatoni is delicious!

Friday, April 11, 2008

First Mud Puddle

This was Ella's first time playing in a mud puddle. We just got these boots for her; they're a size too big but no matter to her. She had a ball! By the time she came inside, her pants were actually falling off of her they were so wet, and she had a good 2 inches of water in her boots. But, of course, she wanted to go out again after her bath.

It wasn't really cold that day, but she wanted to wear the hat and mittens-go figure. :-)