Friday Five : 2/10/17

1) The cuteness of this one….I just can’t even!!! She’s cutting her 1st 2 teeth on the bottom and they’re almost through. The drool though….well that’s another story. She’s just the best.

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2) I made my first ever from scratch gluten free cake! I combined this recipe and this recipe to make a gluten free black forest deliciousness for someone’s birthday….. we shan’t name names of who is old enough in this house for that. many. candles!.  😉  IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! The only downfall to gluten free sweets is the incredibly expensive replacement flour blend that costs $5 for 4 cups. *welp*  This cake was worth it and might be my new favorite cake ever!!!

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3) Well I was planning to do the ever-exciting  dreaded task art of grocery getting today, and then share with my blog readers the ‘how we do’. But instead, I’m homebound for the 2nd time this week with the third sick kid 😦  I know, I feel the pity. Hopefully NO ONE ELSE gets this because I’m sure I could go through all of life without this and be quite content. Tuesday night was the beginning, with 2 girls coming down with in within a few hours of each other, then G picked up the slack last night at 2:45am. Let me just tell you that one of the worst parts of having a sick kids(s) is having to sleep on the couch to keep them company. My sore, aching body this morning was quite a bummer, and I’m apparently quite spoiled by my love of our Tempurpedic mattress. I should have given the 7 year old the ‘short couch’ so I didn’t have to sleep in a complete fetal position all night!!! He’s recovering and enjoying some Netflix and a documentary on airport technology from the couch while I try to get some fluids and crackers in him. *what a life*

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4) After almost 2 1/2 years of living in the Maple Street Estate, we FINALLY got curtains in the living and dining rooms.  My first goal was to have them by Christmas a year ago since the first floor was finished by then. Whoops. Then I thought I’d get on them over the summer, when you know, I was hugely pregnant. Great idea. Yeah that didn’t happen. Then I couldn’t decide what I wanted and I was no way going to shell out the 5K for the blinds that I was quoted. So I improvised and did a little sewing and this is the result. I’m going to shorten them by about 10 inches, but that would require me not having sick kids and getting to the store for more thread since I ran out when I was originally sewing them. Yep. Won’t be today, but that’s alright.

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5) We went to our first ever Hawkeyes gymnastics meet a few weekends ago and it was AWESOME. By ‘we’ I mean ‘myself and 4 kids under 7’ as J was already busy with a weekend commitment. I was a bit nervous to take them solo to a highly trafficked public sports venue, but actually they did really good.  I’m not sure if I just missed my calling as a gymnast (highly unlikely) or if I just like to live vicariously through those very nimble and at-the-top-of-their-prime 19 year olds (more than likely), but I loved watching it! They have another meet tomorrow that we’ll hopefully be attending. The best part is kids are FREE!!!

Happy Friday!

 

How We Do: Groceries

This post is going to be rivoting. Mind-boggling good. Blow your socks off. Super boring?….Or maybe actually very interesting for others….I don’t really know!

I got a lot of questions after I posted in passing that I get groceries 2 times a month. So this post is about just that. I like to figure out ‘systems’ for doing things; I guess I’m a creature of habit and it makes life a lot easier. As far as groceries go, I’ve done the once-a-month system, the freezer-meals system, the no-plan lack of system, the I’m-hungry system, the I’m-nauseated-constantly-but-still-have-to-cook system………everything has had a season. HA! I like reading how other families do things and stealing their ideas. 😉 I stalk other bloggers and pinterest in my spare time, AKA after 10pm when I should be sleeping!

Get ready for this wildly exciting ride….

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Aldi here we come! (They’re remodeling)

I start usually 1 or 2 days before I get groceries, and I plan dinners for 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes what I plan actually lasts longer than that. I have a master set of dinner recipes with listed ingredients that I have in a binder in sheet protectors. This way the papers don’t get all nasty when I cook, because when the kids help in the kitchen there’s no hope for neatness. There’s probably 30 of the recipes, I’ve never counted. They are easy recipes that I know we like and are decently healthy and GF. Win-win-win. I don’t like to re-invent the wheel every 2 weeks. I don’t plan for breakfast or lunches because it’s always the same…..we eat eggs or cereal or protein bar for breakfast and leftovers for lunch (G and L eat school lunch). I have the name of each recipe written on a post-it. I keep this all in a binder. So I take my calendar and stick a post it to the days for the next 2 or 3 weeks to designate which meals we’ll have when. I like the post-its as then I can change it up if I want without having to scribble all over the calendar. And yes I recently color coded the post-its because I AM A HUGE ORGANIZING DORK. I blame Mel for that quality. 😉 Blue is soups/stews, green/yellow is stuff to bake or grill, coral/pink is crock pot. And the fighter plane on the right is just for you to wonder about 😉

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So then I make a grocery list for all the recipes I’ve stuck to the calendar. This is super quick because all of the recipes have the ingredients listed in the binder! Genius, I know. Too bad it wasn’t my original idea (thanks Pinterest). I have a little magnetic list on the fridge too where we write things when they run out, so I add those to the list as well. I get super nerdy here and organize my list by category – pantry (canned/boxed goods, etc), fridge/freezer, and produce because this makes sense to me and saves me time. I’ve also started buying flats of common canned goods that we go through a ton of. A flat at Aldi cost like $4-5 depending what it is. I get what’s on the list plus quite a bit more because I don’t always write the regular things down (ie bananas or milk) or specials they may have in store that day. This whole planning session takes me maybe 15 mins depending how many times I’m interrupted.

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So then it’s time to shop. I seriously have to psyche myself up for this, and sometimes I’ll even tell my coworkers or J that tomorrow I’m getting groceries so I’m trying to prepare myself. This is legit. It’s an undertaking. I pack the diaper bag and put my list in there the night before because it really sucks when you go to all this work then forget your list!

Amelia and Ruth are always my 2 tag-alongs because we go right after we drop the bigs at school in the morning. Ruth goes in my sling and Amelia either walks or sits in the top of the cart. We  go to Walmart first and get the few things that we cannot get at Aldi, then we go to Aldi and get the rest. Amelia does really well grocery shopping if I let her get licorice. You see, the licorice is right by the entrance door to the store. I let her get a licorice, and she sits in the cart the rest of the time coddling and protecting her tiny box of licorice that she’s been told she can have a few of after we’re done, as long as she’s a good helper. She does this through the whole store. I try to cross stuff off as we go, but soon my cart is overflowing and I cannot locate the list because it’s now buried beneath the 6 dozen eggs and 3 loaves of bread…..

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Would you believe that on this very day I forgot my BAGS!? Rookie mistake! It was almost a tragedy. I snagged a mountain of produce boxes and we trudged along. Aldi rocks.

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So we go to check out. I forgot the salsa…dang it. My kids have been great, Ruth hasn’t even made a peep. I always get a lot of looks at the checkout. I think it’s either pity or the she’s-crazy look, but I can never tell. What???? Doesn’t everyone buy 6 gallons of milk at a time?!?! So some guy named Larry (Amelia wanted to know his name) who’s behind us in line gets tired of waiting on me to unload this heap, so he takes it upon himself to unload half of the cart for me. Bless his heart. I pay for our food and thank him, then it’s onto another huge task, boxing/bagging all that food! I get it all in the boxes, but then it won’t all fit in my cart. I’m mentally assessing the problem when stranger #2, and Aldi worker, takes pity on me and tells me to take an extra cart that she has. So I have TWO CARTS. This is another issue. I have a baby strapped to me, a 3 year old who is darn ready to eat her licorice, and 2 carts to get to the car. I take the gigantic cart first, put girls in the car, unload cart #1, lock the car, run furiously back into the store and grab cart #2, unload it into the car, buckle up kids, lock car, run furiously again to return the cart to the corral, then hop in. Another issue–Ruth needs a diaper change! There is no empty available flat space in the car. I am NOT going back into the store. I change her on my lap.

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Cart #1

So we drive home. At home I unload all the groceries into the kitchen….my weightlifting for the day! Talk about multitasking! Amelia is in charge of putting away canned goods into the corner pantry and I put away the rest. If G or L happens to be home on grocery day, they are in charge of putting away produce and upper corner pantry stuff, but today it’s just me and the 3 year old.  4 gallons of milk and 4 dozen eggs go into the overflow fridge in the basement along with anything else I can’t find a home for. 3 loaves of bread go into the deep freeze. The rest goes in the kitchen.

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I’m tired. And now it’s time to make lunch. Licorice for lunch, anyone? JK….

 

A Day in the Life 2/1/17

Last Thursday I went to work and must have looked horrible. My 2nd patient of the day (740am, mind you) said, “You look really tired”. Thanks. “Weren’t you off yesterday? You should be rested!” Why yes, yes I was. It’s hardly a day ‘off’ as any mom of littles knows, there is no such thing, no matter if you are working at home or outside of the home. So, for that patient and anyone else who wants to read, here’s what I do on days ‘off’. Someday I’ll look back at these ‘day in the life’ posts and chuckle. Right now I just feel tired, and my feet hurt, although it was a good day. I am pushing 31.5 yrs so I guess that’ll happen. 😉 Here’s Wednesday:

I wake up around 6:20am. Normally on Wed/Fri I give myself the grace to ‘sleep in’ till 6:55am. I was up earlier because, well, nursing….if you’ve ever nursed a baby that sleeps all night (bless her little heart!) you know why I’m awake. I venture downstairs, do a few things and watch the news for approximately 5 mins.  Back upstairs I wake up the girls. G is already up, dressed, and building Legos at his table. He’s such a little man. He’s got his lamp on, sitting in his office chair, and listening to the radio as he builds. I think he’s an old soul 🙂

Lucy, on the other hand, takes 3 times for me to get her awake. The morning struggle is real with this one! Side note–I don’t know what my girls do to their hair at night but it’s always atrocious in the morning! The kids pretty much get themselves ready in the morning, I just make sure they’re up, fix hair and question their breakfast choices, and drive/walk them to school and kiss them goodbye. They’re always excited for school! I get Ruth up and dress and feed her, then we’re off.

We do dropoff then Amelia and I and Ruth head to pickup our hog from the locker. 225 lbs was that little piggie before he met his maker. I hope he tastes good in brat/roast/ground pork/pork steak form!

The nice guy from the locker helped me fit all the meat between seats/carseats. *sigh* carseats….they’re a necessary evil I guess! We run a few other errands then make it home. I carry the meat from the car to the kitchen (x5), from the kitchen to the basement (x5) and then pack it all in the deep freeze. My back hurts!!

I snagged 2 huge new-to-us bookshelves on Craigslist the other day so Amelia and I got to work on putting one of them to good use in the girls room. I was pleased 🙂 This took a significant amount of time as my girls are hoarders. They do NOT get this from me, I’m quite the opposite! Side note–J thinks thd dolls on top of the shelf are the creepiest thing ever. As long as they don’t move at night we’re all good.

On the daily, Amelia INSISTS that we do the dinosaur puzzle and play Connect 4. She also always is very concerned that 1 piece is missing from the puzzle. Every time. At what age do kids start remembering? Added in some My Little Pony Memory game just for kicks, because we like to live on the wild side. Ruth plays in the exersaucer for the next 45 mins (Love that kid…) We switch laundry and play.

Lunch time! Amelia is quite the independent child and makes her own pb&j frequently for lunch, as she did today. She also is very proud that she can peel her own cutie orange. “MOM! I DO IT!” After lunch we make brownies (note the very well-used apron) and dinner for tomorrow night–cranberry pineapple pork roast in the crockpot. Yes this is made over 30 hrs in advance, but things go much smoother if I plan. I like to plan. #prepared   I get scolded by the 3 year old because it’s HER job to lick the bowl, not mine. Note taken…… Normally she would be napping at this time, but some days I’m a pushover and we do fun stuff, like eat brownie batter together 🙂

I fold laundry and switch loads.  Ruth drifts off to sleep and we head for the basement so I can get a workout in. I usually do this in the morning, but today was a bit off. Amelia chooses to sit right in front of the airdyne bike so she gets a wind in her face and colors, rides her bike and scooter, and plays with trucks on the dirty basement floor. A little basement dirt is good for everyone, right? I ride for 30 mins then Ruth is awake. She’s such a catnapper.  I hope for a shower but Ruth has other plans……so we fold laundry with Ruth in the sling.

Before I know it, G and L are walking home from school. Amelia eagerly awaits their arrival and waits at the window, waving and yelling at them from Gabriel’s room. She cannot wait for preschool next year….

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The kids come in and right away I go through their backpacks, FULL of papers today, things to sign and dates to put in the calendar. “Mom, my teacher had a real challenge for us today” says the kindergartener. What 5 year old talks like that?? She kills me. Gabriel is completely and utterly enamored with a National Geographic robot book he got at library today, so we settle in and read that for about 20 mins.  Good stuff.

They graze, build a tunnel out of a cardboard box, set up a ‘show’, ‘ticket booth’ and ‘offices’. I’m summoned to ‘buy tickets for the show’ and find Lucy has repurposed the dollhouse into an office, and Amelia’s office is in the bedroom. Amelia says “I look good, Mom”. Yes, yes you do indeed. The ‘show’ never does occur. lol

After 2 hours of their shenanigans I make them clean it allll up. I quickly make dinner and toss it in the oven while I’m talking on the phone with Aunt Mel. Lucy gets ready for dance (it’s PJ week) and we head out the door.

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Here’s the thing. Some Wednesday nights go well, others, no so much. Wednesday is my single mom day, allll day and nighttime too as J has grad classes. Tonight was towards the ‘good’ side. See that dog Amelia’s holding? Well he got left at the dance studio. No more than we got halfway home and I was alerted, tears and hysterics, that puppy was missing! The despair! The horror of what could be happening to him! The absolute panic! Being the kind-hearted person  that I am, we drove back and retrieved him, laying on the toy table in the dance waiting area. Gabriel was angry that 1) I took his picture and 2) I made him bring a book to read to me while we were waiting, sorry kid, it’s good for you #multitasking

We finally get home from the dance/dog fiasco and dinner is done! I know it’s probably not the best idea to leave the oven running while we leave, but it worked tonight.  Chicken parmesan it is! {so good!!!} No, not gluten free, but on Wednesdays sometimes we eat all the gluten because Jeremiah has night class at gets home after bedtime. No less than 10 times I have to tell the kids to stop talking/laughing/joke telling/singing and eat. I mean, if the food was bad I could understand, but this was just the opposite!

I tell the kids that if they get everything done, they can watch a little TV before bed. I’ve never seen them unload the dishwasher, clear the table, don pj’s and brush teeth so quickly! They chose this animal documentary on IPTV that sneakily sends robotic animal look-alikes into the wild and records the animals reactions. Entertaining stuff!  We head up to bed, I read books to the kids and they’re off to sleepytime. I read and nurse Ruth to bed. Sleeping babies are so sweet! And I finished that book! BAM!

I sweep the dining room and contemplate sweeping the kitchen and folding yet another load of laundry, but decide writing this blog is way more enjoyable. 🙂  I’m hoping to be asleep in approximately 35 minutes and completely ignore the filthy floor we’re all walking on.

It’s been a good day 🙂

 

 

How we do: Gluten free

In my last post I mentioned how we’ve gone gluten free, mostly. I guess people are super interested in this, and I feel like us GF peeps need to encourage each other! So, here’s my post on doing the GF thing. We are still figuring it all out, it’s definitely a work in progress, and I definitely do not consider myself an expert, probably not even novice! Here’s what’s working for us.

I don’t cook 2 separate meals. Although the kids and I are not obligated to be GF, we pretty much do it anyways, simply because it’s easier. The kids or I will have a flour tortilla with our tacos or an occasional sandwich, and I do put wheat crackers in my chili, but that’s pretty much the extent of it.

I do the majority of the grocery shopping and cooking, and I’m pretty sure J would eat eggs and cheese for every meal if I didn’t do a little research 😉 I’ve learned a lot. First of all, reading the labels is really important. It says common allergens right on the bottom of the ingredients list “Contains: Milk, soy, peanuts, wheat” etc.  That’s the easiest and quickest way to tell. Often, but not always, you can find “Gluten free”on the front of packages that are. That being said, we’ve found many things that are labeled GF that you’d think would be a no-brainer. Raisins, for example. Yes, duh, they’re gluten free. Same with bacon, cheese, vegetables, fruit, etc. Gluten free green beans?! What a find! 😉

Then there are a ton of things that have gluten that I would have never thought. Chili/taco seasoning, most chocolate, frozen turkey meatballs, beer, condensed soups, salad dressings, many pre-made sauces, anything malted or malt flavoring, of course anything with wheat, flour, or barley. It seems like almost all processed things have gluten. I do buy some specifically GF stuff, and it’s usually made with rice or oat flour instead of wheat. They mostly taste pretty good, but we just do a few of them. We’ve kind of just switched to not eating the kind of stuff that normally has gluten in it, or I . They are more expensive and a bit harder to find. Aldi has a great GF line called ‘Live G-free’ that is really well priced and tastes great. Here’s a look at what we currently have in the specific GF variety:

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So here’s basically what we’re eating:

Breakfast: eggs, omelets/salsa, some protein bars, bacon, hashbrown egg bake

Lunches: corn tortilla quesadillas/wraps, eggs, salads, GF leftovers from dinner

Dinners:

Mexican lasagna (this is a big favorite in our house)

Hawaiian chicken bake

Crock pot chicken apple sweet potato 

Tacos (corn tortillas)

Enchiladas (corn tortillas)

Loaded chicken and potatos casserole

Chicken enchilada soup

Sausage and veggie soup

Chili

Taco soup

Roast

Baked potato bar (cheese, sour cream, bacon, broccoli, etc)

Homemade pizza with the G-free brand crust

Baked fajitas

THM BBQ chicken

 

Snacks: hard boiled eggs, almonds, dried fruit, yogurt with flaxseed, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, tortilla chips/salsa, cottage cheese, rice krispies treats

Yeah, we’re eating a lot of eggs. We are currently averaging 3-4 dozen eggs/week. I guess they are a cheap protein source so that’s good!!!

Eating out: We haven’t done much of this lately. We’ve got 4 kids and trying to put money towards other things, soooo yeah. I do know that Applebees marks their food as GF and has several choices, and the southwestern salad at McDonalds is GF and VERY good (but hard to eat while driving)!

So that’s my post on gluten free. We’ve got a lot to learn, but are on the upwards swing. And he’s worth it 🙂

 

Friday five

20170120_102330.jpg1) It’s official. We need a bigger grocery-getter….stay tuned, J has been putting in hours of ‘research’ (AKA watching lots of youtube reviews and scouring the Ford build-your-won website). Amelia and I and Ruth ventured today for our bi-monthly grocery run. I cook A LOT. We eat A LOT. I get groceries 2x a month. That’s a lot of food to get at each trip. When I was placing the contents of my cart onto the belt, some older woman told me I ‘had my hands full’—like I’ve never heard that before– and offered to help me. I found that very nice, albeit comments!  After that I proceeded to stack and place all of my bags into every nook and cranny of the Expedition, and it was full. Yikes. It’s a workout. Good thing the kiddos have carseats because otherwise they wouldn’t have a place to sit! Amelia gets one bag to fill (on her lap in the pic) when we’re bagging groceries and it always ends up to be the bag full of licorice, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Go figure.received_1868864253393295.jpeg

2) These bunks! J has orders coming out of his ears! We’ve thought about these for awhile, but when I sent a pic to J right before his Christmas break with the caption ‘How bout you build these over break?’ I didn’t expect much of a response. Boy was I wrong! They’re all torn apart now as we are debating what color to finish them…white? light grey? covered in glitter? I kid, I kid.  Hoping they will be in the girls room soon, and then I’ll do a ‘tour’ for the blog. Yes, I’m a mom-dork 😀

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3) 3 year old whining.  It’s like nails on a chalkboard. You can only tune it out for so long. Amelia is a great kid, but her whining just about does me in some days. I sure hope this phase passes fast. And yes, I gave in and she got to watch that darn movie she’s holding. *sigh* You win some, you lose some. She still tells me “Mom? You know that you my best Mommy?!”  I love her heart.

4) We’ve turned gluten free over at the House of Costellos, and it’s been great! I read an article several months ago and it sounded just like some symptoms J had been having. Since then, we’ve been GF.  At first, I had no idea what we were supposed to eat because I am not going to make 2 meals, one GF and one ‘normal’.  Fast forward 2-ish months and I’d say we’re doing pretty well. J is feeling a lot better. I’m eating mostly GF and mostly according to the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan, and I’ve lost all of my pregnancy weight! HOORAY! I would still like to lose 5 more lbs, but realize that may not happen until I’m done nursing. Soo, that could take awhile. But I feel good and can honestly say I’m not hungry! I eat as much as I want, but just eating differently.  THM is science based and not a ‘diet’. It’s been eye opening and made me appreciate people who’ve lost pounds.  GF is not too hard, once you figure out what it all entails. Of course no pasta or bread (unless it’s the GF variety), and not much processed food. That’s another whole post in itself that I’ll save for a later date!

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5) And this munchkin is 17 weeks today! She’s such a delight, sweet, content and ADORABLE! I cannot resist her pudgy cheeks and I love how she lights up all the time. She’s got a great smile! She’s such a good baby, we’re getting spoiled! She can roll belly to back and prefers sitting/standing instead of laying anymore. She can sit up independently for about 5 seconds then topples over.  She’s pretty much the sweetest! 😀

That’s all I got for today! Have a great weekend!

 

 

My Favorite Things: Mom of 4 version

It  only took me 4 kiddos, but I think I’ve figured out what’s actually necessary (as far as things) for this season of mom life that I’m in. I’ve also figured out exactly what it takes  as far as material things to have a baby. We used to have a TON of baby gear and stuff, and come to find out, you can have a baby without all that stuff! 😉 Over the years I’ve gotten rid of most of it and over the past few months, I’ve been going through EVERYTHING in our house. Closets, cupboards, totes, storage areas, kids clothes, etc. I’ve only kept what we need, and it’s been really nice. (Other than toys, because, well, Christmas….)   I decided to join the ranks of Ellen and Oprah this year and make my own version of ‘My favorite things’.  Theses things have really helped me in life, no joke. And they have stood the test of time and kids, as many of these things we’ve had for 7 years and 4 kids worth of use! No dancing elves and no, I’m not giving away all of these things (but I did include links to Amazon!), but I thought it’d be fun to put together some the things that I find to be ah-mazing.

Sorry if I seem kind of excited about some of these things, but they really are great!

So, my top 10 favorite things:

10) Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper

This thing is amazing. We didn’t get it until #2, but I’d never go back to a bassinet or pack’n’play or whatever. My 3 girls have loved sleeping in it. Amelia loved it so much that she slept in it until she was 6 months old (whoops). The incline is great for reflux, the pad is removable to wash, and one is able to rock it with one hand while half falling out of bed at 3am. Yes, it’s a keeper.

9) ConAir Handheld Steamer

ExtremeSteam® Handheld Fabric Steamer

I own an iron. I bought it went I went off to college because I thought all ‘adults’ needed an iron. It never gets used. The whole idea of getting it out, plugging it in, putting it up high enough that no one can reach it, warning and re-warning all little people in the house to stay far, far away from said iron, laying down towels (no ironing table here), and then actually completing the ironing just sounds completely and utterly exhausting. I ain’t got time for that. J got this steamer one year at Christmas and I thought he was nuts. Now, I use it all the time. Plug it in, wait approximately 60 seconds for it to warm up, run it quickly over your wrinkly clothes, unplug and lay it wherever because IT’S NOT HOT, then leave with wrinkle free clothes. Awesome. I might as well take my iron to Goodwill.

8) Prince Lionheart Faucet Extender

So Amelia is a climber, just like her brother. Before I discovered this little gadget Amelia would climb completely on top of the bathroom counter and sit there while she splashed water all over the sink, the counter, herself and anything else surrounding while she was supposed to just be washing her hands. Enter: the faucet extender. It makes it so little arms can reach the water without having to climb all over the place. Makes it so Amelia can independently wash her own hands without supervision, while I’m busy doing something else. Now we just need to work on the idea that one does not need to completely soak the hand towel  and then throw it over the shower curtain into the tub while washing one’s hands. Every. Time. (where do they get this stuff?!).

7) SwaddleMe Swaddlers

SwaddleMe Original Swaddle 3-PK, Who Loves You (SM)

Whoever invented this thing is my hero. Yes, one can swaddle their baby with a regular blanket. But everything you read as a mom freaks you out about SIDS and infants.  Loose blankets, baby being too hot, not having a fan on, etc etc etc ETC. Makes me worried sick. The swaddleme at least puts one’s mind a little at ease because there are 3 velcro fasteners that don’t allow the baby to get out of the wrap on their own, and don’t allow the wrap to move or slide around on the baby while they’re sleeping,.  The fear of the blanket shifting and covering baby’s mouth or nose is gone. My kids have always slept better for the first few months while swaddled in these puppies. Yay for sleep!

6) Cell phone wallet

I stopped carrying a purse quite awhile ago. I figure I won’t need a purse for quite some time, as a diaper bag is my go-to bag for all the things.  I don’t really mind, purses aren’t really my thing. But this. This little gadget has been so great. G won it at a family holiday game and I thought it was kind of cool. I stuck it on the back of my phone and haven’t had a real wallet since. No more wallet, no more purse, no more forgetting my ID/health insurance card/points card for Once Upon a Child (doesn’t everyone have one of those?!).  I just keep it all together and toss the phone in my pocket or diaper bag to go anywhere. It’s just about the handiest thing.

5) Tommee Tippee bib 

Tommee Tippee Explora Easi Roll Bib, Blue and Green  2 Count (Color may vary)

Yeah, yeah, it’s a bib, so what’s the big deal? Well! This bib has a pocket on the bottom to catch, yes catch all of the stuff that misses the baby’s mouth. That equals less food and gunk all over the floor, the highchair, or the baby. It also can go in the DISHWASHER and is made of durable flexible plastic-rubber. One less thing to clean, and then it’s ready for the next meal. We’ve had ours since G started eating solid food and it’s still being used!

4) Sea Salt spray

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, 8 Ounce

I stopped washing my hair everyday. Don’t got time for that. It’s getting long-ish and I’m going through that weird postpartum head hair loss which is utterly sad, as I’ve never had thick hair in my life and do enjoy that while pregnant! On days I don’t wash my hair, I spray this stuff on and it works magic. No greasy hair, no weird colicks. Gives it a little volume and texture and it takes all of 1 minute to do. Mom score!

3) Crock pot liners

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners (6 Count)

These were a huge revelation to me when I first found them. I rock the crock pot 3+ days a week at our house and washing it can be a beast. These things make cleanup about 60 seconds, and then the crockpot is ready for the next night, or tomorrow’s breakfast! Love them!

2) School paper files

This was a Pinterest steal, definitely not my own original idea! Next year we’ll have 3 kiddos in school! Even this year, with 2 in school, we get a lot of papers, photos, artwork, projects, etc brought home. Everyday I sort through their stuff, pitch some, enter any dates of events, etc into my phone calendar then pitch that paper, and then we choose which important or cutesy things to keep, and I put them right into these files divided by grade. I put in any pictures from school, report cards, cute projects, nice artwork, things they wrote about themselves, certificates. I took me 1 evening to do this a few years back and was definitely time well spent. I’m not a scrapbooker, not even a little bit, but I feel like this way the kids will still have many memories of school, along with picture albums.

1) Second floor laundry room

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HOORAY!!! This is my #1 for several reasons. It saves me a ridiculous amount of time and effort carting laundry up and down the basement stairs. The laundry is never sitting in the living room or hallway or stairs, waiting to be folded or put away. The kids can put their own away, as the room is only steps from their bedrooms and they won’t dump it trying to walk up the stairs while carrying a stack of clothes. I have a place to hang my hanging clothes, finally. And Jeremiah and my Dad put several days of work into this room this summer so that my dream would come true, and that made me feel loved! In all honesty, this was a dream of mine from the time we started remodeling this house, no matter how nerdy that makes me!!! It’s a small room, so difficult to get a picture of, but there’s 2 hanging areas, one for shirts and one for dresses or longer clothes, a countertop for folding/stacking, a cupboard and shelves, a place to store baskets (or currently totes of baby girl clothes), and of course a washer and dryer. This means that we have TWO sets of washers and dryers, and you better believe I use both of them at the same time! Efficiency!

I hope you enjoyed my favorite things as much as I do 🙂

 

 

Well, that was quick

So much for my well intentioned frequent blogging during maternity leave.  10 weeks has come and gone and now I find myself on the ‘last’ day of my leave. Since the first 2 weeks have passed (thanks hormones…) it has flown by! I have REALLY enjoyed my maternity leave.  With my other 3 kiddos, I always got to a point where I felt like I was ready to go back because I was bored or whatnot. This time….not so much. I feel busy at home, lots of projects, things to do, people to take care of, meals to cook, laundry to do, schedules to coordinate, and errands to run. I suppose I can continue doing all of those things but with a few days of work intermixed! It also helps that Ruth is an AMAZING baby! We really got a keeper!!!

So here’s what we’ve been up to since I last posted….about 6 weeks ago. HA!

10 weeks today!

10 weeks today!

Ruth is growing like a weed. She was off the charts for length at her 2 mo checkup, measuring in at 24.5 inches! Shes now 11lb 14 oz and stretching out her 3 month clothes because she is so long! She loves to smile, coo, sit in her Bumbo and watch her siblings, get her diaper changed, be swaddled and nap.  She is a fantastic sleeper, usually going between 8-9.5 hrs at a time at night. No kidding! This actually exists! I’ve gotten more sleep during this maternity leave than ever before.  We had to do a lot of coaxing her to finally take a bottle, but she is slowly getting better. She’s curiously laid back but does enjoy observing everything going on around her. The older kids all still compete for who can hold her first, and she hands-down prefers her brother.

Birthday girl!

Birthday girl!

Amelia is now 3 and becoming such a big girl! We celebrated her birthday on the actual day and she got exactly what she wanted…a BLUE cake! This girl continues to be obsessed with all things blue. She loves helping me in the kitchen, pretend playing with food especially, swinging, bouncing on her new trampoline, riding in the combine with Uncle Kyle, and singing. She melts our hearts when she says a version of her favorite phrase, “Mom? You know that you my best mommy?” and plants a big ole kiss on my cheek and squeezes my neck.  Awwww! I hope she’s always this affectionate and loving. She does this for everyone in our family. Adorbs. But she does also have her stubborn times. She’s got the classic arms folded, looking at the ground scowl posture nailed. She is 3, after all.

Lucy

Lucy

Lucy…..well where to start? She’s rocking kindergarten like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. She really really really enjoys school, her classmates and teacher, and misses it on weekends and breaks. She’s done very well and is beginning to read. She continues making ‘cards’ for everyone and anyone and I have to say that her art skills are quite impressive! She is constantly writing, drawing, doodling, making up shows and games,  talking, and getting distracted! She’s excited for her holiday window dance routine next weekend and wants a unicorn for Christmas. She did have quite the meltdown last night as she was sure that the Elf on the Shelf that showed up in her classroom yesterday had a ‘key to her bedroom’.  Well now.

Biggest and littlest!

Biggest and littlest!

Gabriel seems to be getting older by the minute. He’s becoming quite mature and loves hanging with his older cousins and uncles.  I do believe he’s developed a hollow leg as he never stops eating! He has taken an intense liking to wrestling, much to his father’s delight, and will participate in his first tournament this weekend. He cooks his own eggs for breakfast and prides himself in his Minecraft knowledge (although we don’t have the game!) and wearing his Cub Scout uniform.  He’s really improving in reading, and apparently can code computers at a 6th grade level (what the what!?) He has been loving all things manly lately, and even went target shooting a few weekends ago. There may or may not be a compound bow under the tree for him this year that I’m actually really excited about!

Jeremiah is busy busy busy. He is almost done with his first semester of master’s classes for educational administration and has done very well. He’s doing all kinds of observational hours for the master’s program as well as teaching 7 periods/day. He’s been helping with wrestling meets in his school district and helping me corral these 4 little people that live with us!

I’m to return to work on Monday and will return to ‘life as usual’ as a part time working mom.  I do expect some bumps in the road, but we’ll just see how things go for now. I’ve got 90% of my Christmas shopping completed (thank you, FedEx man!) and the tree is up! I’ve been working back into an exercise routine and am recognizing that this body has now grown, birthed, and nourished 4 humans and it’s no easy task to return to prior state of being. I guess it’s a journey, but I’m not the most patient!

Enjoy this beautiful and holy Christmas season!

-The Costellos

 

 

Meet Ruth

“Where you go I’ll go, Where you stay I’ll stay” -Ruth 1:16

Today Ruth is 1 month old!  The last post I wrote was Ruth’s birth story, so I know it’s time for her introdution.  Our family of 6 is doing well.

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Ruth is a great baby. To put it simply, similar to her birth, she is absolutely AMAZING.  Don’t hate me. I’m afraid to even say some of these things for fear that she will change her ways, but here it is. Sleep? 6 hr stretch at night, waking almost always at 3am to eat, sometimes closer to 4.  She rarely wakes more than once a night. She’s done all the way up to an 8 hr stretch at night, but only once. I made the mistake the first or second night we were home of waking her every 4 hrs to eat. BIG MISTAKE. Learned that lesson fast. She wakes when she’s hungry and that’s that.  She eats alot. She’s a good nurser and spends a lot of time doing so.  Evenings are spent nursing almost the entire time from 5/6pm until 9, when she goes to bed. But I’ll gladly oblige if she continues her sleep patterns! She’s given me a few grins, always in the morning. Ruth is very scheduled in her own way. I like that, I like schedules. She naps almost always consistently from 9 to 11am, and 1 to 3 pm, and numerous other catnaps in the late afternoon and evening. She loves to be swaddled, look at lights, stare at faces, and be cuddled. 🙂  She has an amazing wardrobe, because being the 3rd girl to come along in 5.5 years, we have it allllll.

Ruth is pretty low key for the most part.  She’s been carted along to everything since birth, and has done great! She’s been on her first 4.5 hr road trip (one way), stayed on campus visiting Uncle Cam, attended a soccer game, to church, dance class, hiking, shopping, dr/chiro/eye appointments, library and school programs, and everything else in between. I haven’t tried going too many places in the evenings as I spend the entire evening nursing usually.  She spends a lot of time in my baby carrier or wrap during the day.

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Ruth’s first trip to Missouri!

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Today Ruth was baptized, on her 1 month birthday!! She has 2 cousins, all born within 1 month of each other, that were baptized at the same time. It was a great day! I always get emotional at baptisms, even when the kid isn’t mine, and today I got a bit teary.  There is something truly special and holy about baptism and welcoming a baby into the church. Gabriel got the job of wiping Ruth’s head dry after the baptism, and Lucy got to hold the baptismal candle, which I strongly cautioned her about not catching her hair on fire beforehand. Amelia spent almost the entire time smearing her face with her new EOS lip balm that Aunt Mel gifted her. Amelia does love to give kisses!!

Ruth is absolutely the perfect 4th baby, and a wonderful addition to our family. G, L, and A are smitten with her, love to hold her, entertain her, give her high 5’s, read to her, play with her, dress her, tickle her feet. Gabriel has lived up to his title of ‘baby whisperer’ and Ruth almost always calms when he holds her. Watching the siblings interact as they get older is probably one of the best parts!

Ruth’s amazing birth

After each of our children’s births, I’ve written their story of entering the world, partially for my memory, and mostly for them to read as they grow up. Each one has been so different and unique.  Ruth’s story is beautiful!!

The Birth of Ruth Gianna Costello

September 23, 2016

8:03 am

8lbs 9oz

20 in

 

Thursday September 22, 2016 was my due date, 40 weeks pregnant. Given the fact that my midwife was concerned with preterm labor and that I had never made it to my due date before, I was more than surprised that I was still pregnant at this point. At my midwife appointment earlier in the week, I was 3cm dilated, 0 station, 90% effaced and had a ‘bulging bag of waters’.  She had swept my membranes on Tuesday, and I STILL had not went into labor.  My midwife, Kim,  put me down for the following Monday morning to come and and have her break my water, because she was confident that was all that needed to happen for me to have a baby. I did NOT want to be induced.

 

I woke up at 4am on that Thursday, couldn’t sleep. I was SO uncomfortable. Couldn’t sleep, could hardly walk, and was in a lot of pain whenever I was up and about. I had been off work since the last Thursday, and I was tired of waiting to go into labor. I finally got out of bed at 6am and went for a walk. I walked in the dark around our small town.  I was in tears and hurting a lot, but I kept walking. If I wasn’t in labor yet, I was going to make myself get there soon.  I got everyone to school after that and posted in one of my mom groups a question on the best way to induce labor.  Someone suggested labor stimulating massage. I immediately set up an appointment for later in the afternoon.  Amelia and I went to the grocery store. The kind checkout lady asked when I was due, and when I answered ‘today’, replied with ‘Oh bless your heart’.  I may have unconsciously scowled.  I was so DONE being pregnant, and done with carrying around the almost 40 extra pounds. I didn’t feel that beautiful glow anymore, and I was pretty sure that my belly could not possibly stretch any bigger.  I went to the massage appointment later in the day, where the therapist worked 3 accupressure points in my bilateral ankles, feet and lower legs.  I stopped on the way home and got a smoothie with pineapple in it.  I also massaged the heck out of another accupressure point on my hand that the therapist had told me about. Still no contractions greater than they had been. I picked up Amelia from my mom and dad’s house, and my mom assured me that I would not be pregnant forever.  I wasn’t so sure. That night I made tacos for dinner, for the second time that week, because I was too exhausted to think of or attempt anything else. I was cranky, moody, and overall unpleasant to everyone in my house. We got the kids to bed and I announced to Jeremiah that I was going for another walk. It was lightly raining and lightning outside, but I didn’t care. I had a major pity party for myself as I walked a 2 block circle around our house, over and over and over. I cried and felt sorry for myself, was mad and frustrated at my body for not going into labor yet, and overall mad at God and the world. I was miserable. I came home after an hour with a severely sore pelvis and still NO LABOR. I took a shower and went to bed at 9:30pm.

 

3am I woke up. It was still lightning outside, and I noticed I was having contractions. I thought no big deal, I was confident I was not going to go into labor on my own, so I tried to go back to sleep. After a few more contractions, I pulled out my trusty contraction timer on my phone and timed for the next 30 mins.  Contractions were 4 min apart, but not overly painful, just noticeable. I woke up Jeremiah at 3:30am and told him that he needed to call my parents.  It took him a minute to figure it out, but then I told him I thought maybe we should go to the hospital. Kim had told me to come in when the contractions were 7 mins apart, because I had fast labors. Well, we were already at 4 mins. He called my dad, whom sounded very very awake for 3:30am. He said give them 30 mins to get here. 17 mins later, my mom and dad were pounding on the back door. We got dressed, I wrote down school drop off and pickup times, said goodbye to my parents and got into our Expedition in the pouring rain. I told my mom and dad that maybe by this afternoon they’d be able to come and see their new grandchild, if they didn’t send me home.  I thought this was probably going to take awhile, seeing how things seemed to be going quite SLOW, and I wasn’t even confident that I was in labor.  Contractions were ranging from 2 to 4 minutes apart, and still just uncomfortable, not painful.

 

As we drove to the hospital, I told Jeremiah we needed to seriously decide on a boy’s name. Up until this point, we had each had a favorite boy’s name, but had not come to a conclusion on what name to use. We STILL didn’t come to an agreement during the drive, so good thing it was a girl. We did agree that the drive to the hospital was eerily similar to when we had Gabriel, with the rain and lightning, in the very early morning. I was praying that I wouldn’t be in labor as long as I was with Gabriel. I texted Kim, my co-workers, and my sister to give them all a heads up.

 

We got to the hospital and the contractions were a bit stronger. I had to stop and breathe through the contractions, but they still were not bad. We went into the ER entrance of the hospital, and when they asked me how they could help me, I answered ‘Uhh, labor?’ That’s all I could come up with!  The receptionist called ‘Many blessings to you!’ as the nurse wheeled me away in a wheelchair.  I told them I could walk, but they made me sit in it anyways.

 

We went upstairs to labor and delivery and they put me in a different room than I had ever delivered in. Apparently there are 3 delivery rooms, and now I can say I’ve delivered in all 3! The nurse asked me what was going on, and I explained the contractions. She suggested we put on the fetal monitor and check my cervix to see if anything was happening. ‘Well, you’re a good 6 centimeters’.  Wow!!! I was pumped! I was actually in labor and my body was doing SOMETHING!  The ER nurse came back to start my IV (she was really good!), and I told her I wanted a saline lock, so she did it. The nurse asked me what kind of pain medication I had planned. I told her this was my 4th baby and I didn’t want any pain meds, I had never used them before. She nodded and said ok.

 

Jeremiah and I started walking the halls. It was 5:30am.  The nurse told us she called Kim and she would be here in about 45 minutes.  I felt kind of silly being at the hospital, as I was not in pain and the contractions were still about 4 mins apart. I thought maybe we should have stayed home awhile longer. I asked the nurse how long she thought it would be before I was 10cm, and she replied ‘several hours, because you seem so comfortable!’ I didn’t care for her answer.

 

Kim arrived at the hospital around 6:30 am.  I told her I felt like I was wasting people’s time and I was sorry the nurse had woken her up.  We talked and joked and she suggested that she check me again to see if anything had changed. I doubted it had.

 

‘Ummm, you’re 8 centimeters, why don’t you look like it?!’ Kim said. HALLELUJAH! Progress! I felt like skipping! I wasn’t going to have to be induced after all! I was +1 station which means baby had moved down even further.  I told her I still was just uncomfortable, not really painful.  My water still hadn’t broke.  Kim said she could break my water and take probably 90 mins off labor, or we could leave it alone. I’m very natural minded when it comes to birthing, but I saw no reason why she couldn’t help me out here. She said I would not go backwards from 8cm and would most likely be quick once she broke the water.  We talked evidence based birth a little longer, told her our girl’s name (we still didn’t have a boy’s name decided) and then she broke my water with that crazy crochet-hook looking thing. It was 7:05am.

 

I immediately felt pressure and much heavier contractions in my pelvis. I had to concentrate and really breathe through each contraction.  The fetal monitor was on for 15 mins or so while I laid in bed. The one place I DON’T want to be in labor is laying flat on my back, so as soon as Kim suggested I try hands and knees position to put further pressure on my cervix, I flipped right over.  A new nurse arrived and she recognized us right away. ‘I remember you guys! You’re pros!’  That made me feel good! She had attended Lucy and Amelia’s births as well.

 

Contractions remained about 3-4 mins apart, getting stronger and stronger.  I labored on hands and knees and would push back into Kim and Jeremiah’s hands with each contraction.  The contractions were painful now, and I was all about getting this baby out.  My eyes welled up with tears on a few contractions, and I declared I was going to be sick.  As I was throwing up I realized that meant this was transition labor, and that meant it was almost pushing time, but that couldn’t possibly be as she had literally just broke my water, and 30 mins ago I wasn’t in pain.

 

With the next few contractions I felt an urge to push. Kim told Jeremiah to get his gloves on if he was going to catch. He said he didn’t need gloves, as he wouldn’t wear gloves to hold his baby after birth, and she said ok, but I chimed in to make darn sure his hands were clean!  Kim asked if I wanted to push and I said yes. She said ‘Let me put my coffee down and we’ll have a baby soon’.  Immediately after she said that I had a big urge to push. She ran back over to the bed to brace me and I heard someone say to get a nursery nurse in the room.  I looked over after the contraction was over and saw the baby warmer was on and the sterile cart was in the room and soon the nursery nurse was messing with my IV, hooking up the post-delivery pitocin. I remember thinking, ‘What the heck? I cannot possibly be having a baby already!’  

 

Kim told me one more push and we’d have a baby. I looked over my shoulder and said ‘Do you PROMISE!?!?’  She kind of laughed and said yes.  I had a big lull between contractions and Kim said that usually is a good sign. We probably went 4 or 5 minutes without a contraction and then it came.  And I was pushing out a baby! I made terrible low animal noises, moaned into the pillows on the bed in front of me, but I couldn’t care less.  I felt the baby’s head emerge, and then felt a big relief.  Kim and Jeremiah told me to keep pushing!!! So I did, and I felt the shoulders come out, along with the rest of the baby.  I HAD A BABY!!!! It was 8:03 am, less than 1 hr from when Kim broke my water. Jeremiah had completely delivered the baby on his own, with Kim coaching him what to do.  Kim joked that he had missed his calling as a midwife, because he did it so naturally.

 

Jeremiah put the baby between my knees, since I was still on my hands and knees.  I grabbed her and shrieked with delight and relief.  I HAD A BABY!!!! We checked and it was a girl! I couldn’t believe it! It was barely light outside and still lightning. My kids hadn’t even started school yet and I had delivered a baby! I was overjoyed!!!

 

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I held Ruth until the cord stopped pulsing, and then Kim clamped it and Jeremiah cut it. I hugged Jeremiah and Kim and my new baby girl.  Jeremiah held Ruth while I carefully flipped over to sit in the bed. Kim delivered my placenta and showed it to us. That thing is absolutely amazing. She said I was ‘intact’, meaning I had no tears! Hooray! 4 babies and no stitches EVER! I was thrilled again!

 

Kim told me that was an amazing birth, and I completely agreed. She said she wished she had it on video to show people how delivering on hands and knees is done. That kind of made me feel like a rock star!  I asked her what time she had patients that morning, and she said 8:15.  It was 8:17am and she left to go to the clinic. I think I was still in shock that I had a baby already!

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The pitocin finished, the nurse locked off the IV, and Ruth nursed pretty quickly after delivery. She was hungry!  Aunt Mel was in the doorway by about 8:30am and got to hold Ruth after Jeremiah. She was an instant Facebook star.  We finally weighed Ruth at 9am and I was absolutely floored by her weight…. 8 lbs 9 oz!!! My last 2 babies were in the 6lb range, and Gabriel was 7lb 8oz.  Ruth is my biggest baby by over 1 lb, and she was by far the easiest delivery.  Jeremiah called the school to tell Gabriel and Lucy that they had a new baby sister over speakerphone in their classrooms. It was so sweet!

 

Bart and Julie arrived and they let me get out of bed around 10:30 am.  I felt kind of light headed, so this time I gladly took a seat in the wheelchair to go to the postpartum room.  Soon my mom and dad arrived, with Amelia in tow, Gabriel and Lucy were in school. Amelia was very concerned about what the IV was and why it was in my hand.

 

I requested to leave the hospital at 12 hrs, but the nurses told me we at least had to stay 24 hrs, even though we were all doing well. We got to go home at noon on Saturday, about 28 hrs after Ruth’s amazing birth.

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Today Ruth is 10 days old. I’ve had my share of emotions following her birth, but the biggest emotions I’ve felt are happiness and gratitude. All those days and nights I waited and pleaded with God to go into labor were all for a reason. My labor was fast, productive, and ‘easy’.  I have such fond memories of her birth.  It took me awhile to write this birth story because I think for me it signifies the closing of the pregnancy chapter.  Although I was absolutely miserable at the end of the pregnancy, I already kind of miss it, as crazy as that seems.

 

Ruth is a great baby, and a wonderful addition to our family. Babies and birth are an amazing gift from God!

 

I’m not complaining, but……

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Today marks week 38 of pregnancy with baby #4. I shouldn’t complain, and for the last week, I made it my commitment to try and NOT complain and just focus on getting through the day and getting done what needs to be done, with a smile on my face for at least part of the day.  That’s the truth. It worked for awhile.  This pregnancy has been pretty good, as far as my pregnancies go, but I’m coming to the end of my rope, and we need to have a birth. Soon.  There is definitely a reason that God makes mothers so miserable at the end of pregnancy, and I think it’s to give us strength to get through birth!

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This is pretty much how I feel. On the daily. None of my shirts fit any more. A well meaning older woman at work the other day told me that if my belly gets any bigger I will need a cart to set it on and wheel around with. Getting out of bed is a serious feat. Don’t even get me started on that whole ‘sleep’ idea, or lack of it.

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Poor Jeremiah, he hardly has any tshirts left that don’t have a belly bump imprint.  It’s a fact of life I guess. All of my clothes look like tents, so I have to resort to something!

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Truth. There is one baby in there. Yes, I know my belly is huge, but thanks for pointing that out.

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Skirts. Dresses. I haven’t worn pants for at least 6 weeks. TOO HOT. By the way, what is with this summer?! It’s like a permanent sauna here in Iowa!!! Yikes!

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These last few weeks have been pretty miserable, I’m not going to lie. I’m having pains that I’ve never felt before. That’s another truth.  I haven’t slept well since……..yeah, awhile.  My midwife told me yesterday that she’s not sure why I’m still pregnant because everything is ready to go, to put it lightly. I’m just hoping that the longer I wait, the shorter the labor will be. We’ll see. And Lord seriously help me if I’m still pregnant in 2 weeks, or just send a lot of ice cream and a cool breeze….

BUT, I wouldn’t have it any other way! This baby has been prayed for and over and is a huge blessing to our family already. Gabriel has already snagged the title of ‘baby whisperer’ and is looking so forward to being the first sibling to hold the new baby. Lucy can’t wait to be ‘baby fashion consultant’ and be in charge of picking out clothes, etc every day. Amelia is excited to see the new baby and what he/she looks like compared to her baby dolls. We are very much looking forward to baby’s arrival!!!! (And I’m going to keep trying not to complain about my current state…)

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