Fur Rondy Highlights

Fur Rondezvous is our church’s annual talent show, named after the Fur Rondezvous festival that takes place in Alaska every year. It’s one of the most anticipated nights of the whole year and our family was especially excited to attend this year because we didn’t know if Baby would make it (in Mommy’s belly) that long.

There were so many fun and beautiful acts this year, but I wanted to share just a few with those of you who weren’t able to join us.

So we begin…

Lydia wanted me to share her two favorite acts.

The Good Samaritan:

And “the Ballerinas”:

This sweet song was a favorite of mine:

Oh, there were just so many good ones!

This group of boys did a superb job at boiling down a long, long Bible story into a very concise skit:

Now that you’ve seen the fun we enjoyed, maybe you’ll consider joining us the third Friday of next February for the 2016 Fur Rondy performance! While nothing is certain, it seems likely that Baby #3 may be making an appearance…

New Goals: 32 Week Pregnancy Update

 photo 32weeks_zpscc21506a.jpg

Several months ago Dan and I began praying that our baby would not be born until after our church’s annual Fur Rondy (more on that later) and after we reached 32 weeks. So, I could hardly believe it on Friday when we sat through Fur Rondy and Baby stayed put. I was even more excited to wake up yesterday morning realizing that we made it to our 32 week goal!

Lessons from the Couch

We have the “ok” from our doctor for me to start doing a little more, but it’s hard to decide just how much to do when we’ve made it so far already. We haven’t changed much, and during my long days laying on the couch, I’ve started learning some lessons.

The biggest lesson is on complaining. In Philippians, Paul instructs Christians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing…”. I’ve realized lately what a temptation it can be to “grumble” to get some attention and sympathy. It’s not just true for pregnant mommies on bed rest, but for everyone going through anything challenging (which is everyone). I’ve also realized that there is often no glory in not complaining. No one fully understands the trials you’re going through so no one gives you the sympathy you long for. It’s easy to talk about the discomforts of pregnancy, stress of having a NICU baby, inconvenience of getting sick at just the wrong time, weariness of caring for toddlers…or a host of other grumble inducers. So lately, I’ve been seeing that I need to keep my mouth shut and not expect praise for doing it. My reward comes from God alone.

I haven’t really succeeded at this lesson yet. I’m just starting to learn and hopefully in time I’ll be able to apply it.

New Goals

So, now that we’ve made it past 32 weeks…now what? Well, I like to have short term goals and long term goals, and Dan is just hoping for a full-term baby. So here’s what we have:

3 days until the next doctor’s appointment
20 days until 35 weeks and the possibility of not spending time in the NICU (my new big goal)
34 days until 37 weeks, and the possibility of a “normal” delivery and a full-term baby

I can’t believe we’ve made it this far and we’re actually talking about NOT spending time in the NICU. I can’t believe I could actually get to hold my baby the day s/he is born. And I can’t believe I might have to actually pack an outfit for Baby in our hospital bag (which has been packed for over 8 weeks!).

On the other hand, we’re just taking things one day at a time, knowing that Baby could surprise us any day. When you’re ready Baby, we’re ready, but as long as you want to stay put, we’re even happier with that!

New Territory: 31 Week Pregnancy Update

 photo IMG_8737_zpsea26c4cc.jpg

This week we are entering brand new territory. Sunday marked the milestone I have long been waiting for, the age at which Lydia was born. But, no baby yet. Now we’re only six days away from our original goal of 32 weeks, but already our doctor is talking about going beyond that.

Last week our doctor was on vacation and I was anxiously hoping Baby wouldn’t come while he was gone. S/he didn’t. Yesterday we had our appointment to check on Baby and everything looks good.

First we had an ultrasound that shows Baby is growing some hair on the back of his/her head. Then we measured the belly to find that Baby was measuring 5 days big (down from 2 weeks big at the last appointment). It sure seems like this baby is growing in large spurts here and there and then taking it easy for a while. Two weeks ago I felt miserable, struggling to breath and with aches and pains from a growing baby and the past few days I’ve felt perfectly well.

Everything else looked good. There are no signs of impending labor. The occasional pressure I’ve been feeling is likely just because of the positions Baby and I are in, not anything to be concerned about. There is plenty of amniotic fluid, and Baby isn’t even sitting too low in my belly.

Our doctor was talking about what happens in the weeks ahead and mentioned the 37 week mark. 37 weeks. I’m not counting down the days yet, but it sure was nice to hear talk about 37 weeks, which I had never previously considered even possible. I’m trying to just take things one day at a time (still taking it easy and our doctor thinks that’s making a big difference) at least until the next milestone: 32 weeks. If we make it to 32, then we may reevaluate and set new goals. 🙂

How I’m “Taking it Easy” with Littles

 photo IMG_8709_zpsb3f59260.jpg

A question that keeps popping up more and more is, “How exactly are you taking it easy. You have two little kids…”. So today I’ll share the little details of how exactly we’re keeping me off my feet (as much as possible). The short answer is: Dan does almost everything. The only way I know to answer the question in any real detail is to give a snapshot of our typical day.

Before I wake up…

Dan gets up early and does some work from home. Some days he exercises in the garage, and every morning he also empties the dishwasher and puts away clean dishes.

7:30 Bible Time

Nothing has changed here. Every morning Lydia joins me as I read, pray, and memorize to start the day.

8:00 Put away folded laundry, pick out girls’ clothes, get dressed, clean bathroom

So far it doesn’t sound like I’m taking it easy, does it? Every evening Dan carries up a laundry basket full of folded laundry. I put this away, and while I’m putting away the bathroom towels I also get dressed and clean the bathroom.

Now, there are a couple tricks here. First of all, I have a pretty efficient laundry folding method which I’ll share below. Secondly, I only clean one part of the bathroom a day (Monday – sink, Tuesday – shower, Wednesday – wash towels, Thursday – toilet, Friday – mirror, empty trash, refill soap as needed) and on days when it’s looking good or I’m not feeling particularly up for it, I just skip it.

8:15 First trip downstairs to make breakfast

I make a simple breakfast and get it on the table. Lydia goes potty and gets dressed in the clothes I just picked out for her. To simplify things, I let Lydia pick out her outfits (She requests what she wants the night before. This is something she started doing this on her own to make sure she only was wearing the clothes she wanted to wear.) and she typically rotates through the same two or three so they never even make it back to her dresser.

Dan brings down Abby, changes her diaper, and gets her dressed. Then he puts her in her high chair before praying for our day and heading off to work. (Except on Wednesdays, he stays home and works upstairs)

While Dan gets Abby ready, I throw some laundry in the washer from the hamper that Dan brings downstairs each morning.

8:30 Breakfast

Sit and eat.

9:00 Bible time with the girls

Just like before, we read from Lydia and Abby’s story Bibles, pray, and practice a Bible verse memory song.

9:15 Breakfast clean-up-ish, and computer time

I don’t really clean up from meals any more. I simply stack the dishes while I’m sitting at the table, then put them on or next to the sink. They pile up all day for Dan to take care of later. While I’m on my feet I put away any food from breakfast and switch the laundry clothes to the drier. We brush our teeth and the girls play while I do some work on the computer: budgeting, blogging, emailing, or meal-planning (still at the dining room table usually).

This is when Lydia often plays dress up or looks at library books. Abby crawls around to see what sort of messes she can make. Her favorites are to pull laundry out of hampers and to take all the shoes off of our shoe rack. When that’s done, she will spread toys all over the living room and pull books off shelves.

 photo IMG_8715_zpse4fc7fd3.jpg

10ish Move to couch

Next we’ll spend an hour or two just reading various library books. We’ll read some picture books but we’ve also been reading through the Little House on the Prairie series. If Lydia thinks of it and asks for a snack, I’ll take a break from sitting to get a quick snack for the girls (bread, crackers, or fruit). I don’t even bother to put Abby in her high chair anymore, she just eats on the floor. Less lifting.

Sometimes I’ll do a small “school” activity with Lydia. Then, it’s back to reading.

12:00 Lunch

Leftovers.

1:00 Lunch Clean-up-ish and fold laundry

Sometimes I don’t even clean up from lunch, but I try to stack the dishes and put away leftover food.

I pull the laundry from the drier and sit on the floor while the girls play. Here’s that laundry technique I mentioned previously. First I sort all the laundry into piles based on where it belongs: bathroom, girls’ closet, Lydia’s dresser, Abby’s dresser etc. Then I fold room by room starting with the bathroom and working my way backwards toward our room. That way, when it’s time to put the laundry away I’m not running back and forth from room to room. It’s already piled by location starting in our bedroom and working its way to the bathroom, where I also get dressed.

It’s all about optimizing the time I spend on my feet and avoiding any running back-and-forth.

1:30 Naps

Now I take my first trip upstairs for the day, put Abby in her crib and warn Lydia not to get off her bed during nap time. They play for a long time before falling asleep, so naptime can easily stretch throughout most of the afternoon. I usually read for a while before napping myself.

Oh, and on days when Dan is home, I just stay downstairs all day and nap on the couch. Dan takes care of anything that requires a trip up or down.

4ish Dan is home

I leave the girls in their room, awake or not, until Dan comes home early from work around 4. When he gets home, I make my second trip downstairs. Dan carries Abby downstairs and helps get Lyda and Abby a snack (this time putting Abby in her high chair).

4:30ish

Listen to Adventures on Odyssey with Lydia while lounging in the living room again.

5ish Prepare main course for dinner

Often while sitting on a stool, I’ll cook up a simple dish for dinner. Then I go back to the living room and read while Dan comes down and does everything else…

6 or 6:30ish Dinner

Dan sets the table (clears it from lunch if necessary), prepares a salad, changes any necessary diapers, and gets everyone to the table to eat. We eat and have Bible time.

7:30 Get ready for Bed

Now I move to the couch for the rest of the night while Dan does everything yet again. He changes Abby’s diaper, gets the girls into pajamas and brushes their teeth and tucks them in. Then he clears the table, cleans the high chair and floor, loads the dishwasher, and washes any other dishes. Every other night he washes diapers. Two or three times a week he bakes bread (in our breadmaker). As needed he washes counters and our stove, and takes out the trash. Some nights he changes the sheets or cleans the floors. After all that, he works until late into the night because his work has been demanding more from him lately.

Yes, Dan does a lot. He really deserves an award.

9:30ish

I move upstairs (my second time up those steps in a day) and get ready for bed. Usually I stay up reading until I’m tired enough to fall asleep.

Whew, and there’s a typical day.

Weekends

Dan gets up early and does all the grocery shopping. On Sundays and Wednesday nights he takes care of the girls single-handedly while I sit and listen to Bible study or church. On those occasions Dan drops me off and I find my chair and sit there until we leave several hours later (with potty breaks occasionally, I am pregnant after all!).

Helpers

Lydia is a big helper in all of this. She plays independently, puts away bibs after I fold laundry, and is constantly running on errands for me to find out what Abby’s doing or getting into. She picks things up for me and puts things away, and goes potty all by herself even though she hates to do it.

There is also a young lady from church who has volunteered to come over once a week. On Monday afternoons she’ll take the girls outside for some much-needed fresh air. She also sweeps, mops, and vacuums our floors downstairs, saving Dan from yet another weekly chore.

It’s not perfect, but it works.

So many things are far from ideal. The clutter is unbelievable. Our living room is almost always trashed. If I was able to get up and move around freely, I could clean it in about 5 minutes. Last night I asked Lydia to clean it (one object at a time) and it took her 45 minutes. So we don’t do that very often, only when I really can’t take it anymore.

Sometimes I need something that would be so easy to get but would require me to go upstairs or get up on my feet. I try to just suffer through until a convenient moment comes along to ask Dan for help. One day I left my fleece upstairs during my nap time and forgot to bring it downstairs. I was cold all evening but was avoiding another trip up on my feet and Dan was so busy I didn’t want to ask him to get it for me. On many occasions I run out of water during dinner and wait until Dan is on his feet before asking for a refill. It only takes a few seconds, but those with “littles” know how meal times go. With one person taking care of everything by himself…it’s often quite a long time after we pray before Dan even gets to take a bite. Taking care of the two is enough without me adding in extra requests!

So, while it’s a struggle at times, it’s working for now, and I’m able to be off my feet a surprising amount of the time. I will certainly be grateful when I can be fully active again, cleaning the living room and getting my own water! The days go by slowly for me, but each morning is another celebration that Baby isn’t here yet. If we can just make it a couple more weeks…

 photo IMG_8714_zps5efbcb38.jpg

Peek-a-boo: Abby Update

 photo IMG_8713_zps05520e93.jpg

Tomorrow Abby turns 17 months old. No, she’s not walking yet. The race is still on to see whether she’ll beat her big sister at that. But this month Abby started crawling around on all fours. She’s gotten efficient enough that she will crawl on all fours more often now than army-crawling.

And the favorite activity of the month is…peek-a-boo. Abby is the perfect age to play peek-a-boo and it keeps her (and everyone else) giggling. Sometimes she gets her hands over her face, sometimes she misses. It’s adorable either way.

 photo IMG_8702_zps1561f40f.jpg
 photo IMG_8704_zps266ed00d.jpg

She’s a little mischief-maker, crawling all over the house when she knows I can’t really chase her. Abby will keep herself entertained for hours. Her latest favorite toy is a small metal pot and a small ladle. She’ll stir that pot for the longest time without getting bored. She also knows some things that are off-limits, and if she ever catches a plastic grocery bag on the floor or the bathroom door open, she’ll scurry over to it faster than you can believe.

But for all her adorable mischief, Abby is still very sweet. When I snuggle up on the couch to read to Lydia, Abby crawls right over, pulls herself up to a stand, and starts yelling at me to pick her up too. She has no interest in using real words or sign language, her different grunts and yells all have their meaning and do well enough at getting her what she wants.

Is Abby ready to be a big sister yet? Well, I’d love it if she was walking first, but I think she’s going to be very excited about the new baby whenever s/he comes. It’s hard to believe that once all this snow melts we’ll all be able to go for walks to the park with Baby wrapped up in my Moby, and Lydia and Abby walking alongside. We can hardly wait.

 photo IMG_8712_zps82e3544f.jpg

Lydyisms

 photo Lydyism_zps84e48b9c.jpg

Our Munchkin is, as we often say in our household, quite the character. She’s always coming up with funny things to do or say, usually unintentional, that keep us laughing. Her best moments we have dubbed, “Lydyisms”, and for the sake of never forgetting these cute memories, I wanted to share a few.

One afternoon we were driving home from church in some bad winter weather. Lydia wanted Dan to tell her a “Billy story”, stories that he makes up on the spot about a little boy named Billy…
Lydia (knowing Dan didn’t really want to tell a story right then): Daddy, can you tell me a really short Billy story?
Dan: Once upon a time it was snowing really hard and Billy went outside to play in the snow. The end.
Lydia: No! You didn’t read all the words!

After yet another battle trying to get Lydia to “go potty” cheerfully…
Lydia: I don’t like having to go potty every day!

While trying to get Lydia to do something she desperately didn’t want to do (like going potty cheerfully and by herself)…
Justine (quietly over Lydia’s crying): It’s the end of the world…
Lydia: I DON’T WANT IT TO BE THE END OF THE WORLD! (and breaks down crying harder)

Often while Lydia lies in bed waiting to fall asleep at night…
Lydia: MOM! Can I rest-with-my-eyes-open-and-suck-my-thumb-and-hold-my-hair-for-a-little-while-but-not-too-long? Is that ok?

While laying with me in bed one morning as I read my Bible Lydia noticed a fly and hid under the covers. A few minutes later I was getting ready for the day and Dan walked into the room and looked around…
Dan: Where’s Lydia?
Lydia (from under the covers): THERE’S A BEE!

Pleasant Surprises: 29 Week Pregnancy Update

 photo IMG_8674_zpsc765ac09.jpg

Well, after the last update I wasn’t sure I would make it to this one! But, here we are, two weeks later and Baby is still staying put.

After the last ultrasound and prenatal appointment, Dan took over the household chores and I resigned myself to sitting around all day. By the end of the first week I was getting pretty bored. On Saturday, Dan let me ride along to the library and to Meijer and sit in the car while he picked up books and some groceries. These Saturday outings have since become a highlight in my week. Is that sad?

In fact, last week Dan wasn’t feeling particularly well so we stayed home from Bible study on Wednesday. By the time Saturday rolled around I realized that I hadn’t stepped foot outside the house since Sunday. Yes, I certainly have been taking it easy.

To fill my time I have been clearing out our old computer (it runs much faster now) and reading a lot. Some books I read by myself, some books I read out loud to the girls, and some books I read out loud while the girls play. I’m not sure they’re really listening to the stories but when I stop reading Lydia corrects me, “No, read louder!”. Dan and the girls have also been hearing the stories of all my reading during our meal times.

Every morning Lydia prays that God would “please help Baby not be born today”. Every morning and evening I pray the same. And every night Dan prays that Baby would not come during the night. Someday we’ll be happy to receive Baby, but not yet!

Last Wednesday I had another checkup and we were thrilled to find out that some of the “labor is approaching” signs have actually reversed themselves. We’re doing about 14 different things to try to keep baby in there and at least one of them seems to be working! Baby, for the second consecutive ultrasound, is measuring 2 weeks big.

Here are the pictures from our appointment. The top picture is Baby’s abdomen, which we measure to get a guess on Baby’s size. The bottom picture is Baby’s face (forehead on the right, chin on the left in the shadows) looking right at you. It’s a little hard to tell, but the most prominent part is Baby’s nose. (I’ve found that it’s much easier to decipher Baby’s face if you actually turn your head to the right).

 photo IMG_8675_zpsd30c73e6.jpg

Friday was a huge milestone, the gestation when Abby was born. Yes, Baby made it successfully past the 28 week, 4 day mark and then yesterday to the 29 week mark. Lydia was born at 30 weeks and 6 days, which is in less than two weeks. If the ultrasounds are correct and Baby really is two weeks big for his/her age, this Baby could be the biggest one yet.

So there have been a lot of exciting developments. Our next appointment isn’t until February 16, when Baby will be 31 weeks. Our doctor will actually be on vacation February 8 – February 14, so we are earnestly hoping Baby does come until after he gets back.

Here are the latest numbers:

2 days until my oldest sister is due with her Baby!
6 days until Baby reaches 30 weeks.
9 days until my other sister is due with her Baby!
12 days until Baby reaches Lydia’s birth age, 30 weeks and 6 days.
13 days until our next appointment.
20 days until our goal, 32 weeks.

(Yes, all three of us sisters are pregnant at the same time and only time will tell what order our babies are born in!)

On one hand, each day is an adventure. My belly is stretching so much more than ever before that it hurts every night and often during the day. Baby hardly has room in there to move around, and when s/he does it’s not at all comfortable for Mommy. All of the aches and pains are good reminders that Baby is making it longer, but also good reminders that Baby could come any day or night.

On the other hand, life it pretty uneventful. We sit, we read, we lay down, we take naps, we go to bed early. And by “we” I really mean me and Baby. Dan is working like a madman trying to do everything he does, everything I used to do, and more. As crazy as things are for him and as exciting or boring as things get for me, we are thankful for each day that Baby is not in the NICU and we are trusting God to keep Baby safe and warm for as long as possible.