Baby #4: 32 and 1/2 Weeks

I am so happy to be passed the 32 week mark! Last weekend I was utterly convinced Baby was going to be born before Monday (the day I hit 32). It was purely psychological, apart from a few random contractions, and I made it to Monday just fine, with Baby still in my belly. But let me back up a little…

Just before 31 weeks I started having some abdominal pain which I suspected to be related to contractions somehow. After two days of off and on pain, I started having clear contractions lasting about one minute, about five minutes apart. They never lasted long, so I didn’t expect Baby to come right away, but I was definitely concerned. This sort of thing started about a week and a half before Paul was born, and we weren’t hoping to have Baby come earlier than Paul.

At my last doctor’s appointment, a few days after contractions started, my doctor noticed some prelabor signs. Baby is head down, and his/her head is getting lower. There is also some effacement going on, probably from all those contractions. I’ve been taking it easy, more or less, as I have been for several weeks now. However, we aren’t putting our whole lives on hold this time. I’m still homeschooling Lydia and Dan is still at work all day. I just try to rest when I need to and avoid lifting heavy things as much as possible. I’m cooking the easiest meals I can think of and my 5-week meal plan (repeating the same few meals over and over), posted on the fridge and crossed off as each meal passes, has become my count down to Baby.

After the last ultrasound, the contractions stopped. About a week later I began to feel more pressure, but only occasionally. I’m guessing that has more to do with Baby’s position than anything else, so I just try to lie down when I notice it.

Meanwhile, we are getting excited to meet Baby! I’m only 17 days from the gestation when Paul was born, and less than five weeks from FULL TERM. I’ve finally packed my hospital bag. I wrote out a Birth Plan and stashed that in my purse along with my camera, so we’re not without either one no matter when Baby comes. We’ve lined up some babysitters for the kids too. So all I really have left to do is pack a bag for the kids and, when we get closer to 35 weeks, set up Baby’s bassinet.

I’m still craving almond milk, and have a cup every night. (We’re actually out right now, so I’m thinking the weekly Meijer run is happening tonight!) Other cravings come and go, nothing too major. My joints are all getting nice and loose, which makes it hard to sleep and lie down for very long. Between the joints and constant bathroom runs, I’m getting up several times a night some nights now. I’m trying to be disciplined to go to bed early, and I can tell my body needs the extra rest. When I’m not lying down I have an almost constant sore back, something new for me. My babies never got big enough for that before. 🙂 I’m not complaining though! A little sore back and trouble sleeping are far better than leaving Baby in the NICU every night!

I’ve mentioned this in my Instagram posts, but I’ll say it again here. It’s starting to sink in that there’s really going to be a Little Person coming home from the hospital soon. The pregnancy has been so full of medical stuff, praying, waiting, hoping, and taking it easy, that it’s not hard to forget that fact. Lately I’ve been thinking more about our names, imagining Baby and even having Baby dreams. Lydia is practically counting down the days too.

My next appointment is Tuesday, and soon we’ll be going every week for visits. I never know if I’ll have a chance to write another blog update, but mini updates will definitely be in my Instagram pictures. I so appreciate everyone who has been thinking of us and praying for us throughout the last weeks. God has been so kind and is, once again, answering our many prayers.

Kindergarten – Taylor Style

Several weeks ago, Lydia began her first “real” year of school. We handled preschool pretty casually, mostly teaching her the letters and some very beginner reading. This year we have a much more structured school day, and everybody is loving it.

For those who are curious, I’m primarily using a book called Learning at Home. This is a day-by-day curriculum that includes Bible, Reading, Math, Art, Gym, Story-time, Music, God’s World (science, geography, community), Health/Manners, Character Building, and Field Trips. The lessons are set up in a casual “talk to your child” sort of format, also using a lot of library books as resources. It’s an older book (1988), so last year I “previewed” all of the library books and made my own substitutions where books were out or print, they were unavailable from the library, or I didn’t approve of them for some reason or another. I had also started Lydia with An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading last year, so I’m subbing that for the reading lessons.

We have spent so much time talking about, researching, and getting Lydia pumped up for Kindergarten, that everyone was really excited on the first day of school.

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Because we want our children to learn how to spend time alone reading the Bible and praying each day, Lydia starts her school day by listening to ten minutes or so of her Word and Song Bible (This is our favorite audio story Bible, but it’s sadly out of print, so you have to find it used. The books are cheap on Amazon or Ebay and the sound files are available on iTunes.)

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Then we plunge right in. I printed off these daily Calendar pages from Confessionsofahomeschooler.com and the girls love filling them out. It’s totally extra and lately we haven’t even been doing them, but the girls love it when we do.

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I love how hands-on the activities are. Every day Lydia is excited to see what she gets to do.

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Since math is my favorite subject, I’ve found myself tailoring that subject to fit Lydia’s speed and interests a little better.

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Once a week I have Lydia draw a picture and narrate for her journal and once a week I have her do a few pages in a handwriting workbook.

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Paul and Abby just kind of tag along with whatever Lydia is doing.

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Our field trips have certainly made for some fun weekends. So far we’ve visited the zoo, a harvest festival, the Ann Arbor children’s hands-on museum, and an apple orchard to pick apples. Most of the pictures are still on my camera, but here’s a fun one of the closest hippo encounter we’ve ever had. 🙂

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Baby #4: 28 1/2 Week Pregnancy Update

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Here’s a picture of Baby at 27 weeks. It’s not the easiest to decipher. Baby’s face is sideways with the chin on the left and forehead on the right. The brightest white patch near the middle is Baby’s right cheek and just to the right of that you can see Baby’s right eye and nose as dark spots. Above Baby’s head is one hand and below the chin is the other, both made into fists.

It’s hard to believe I’m already at the point in this pregnancy when Abby was born! I don’t know how often I’m going to be able to give updates, but since I have a few free minutes this afternoon, I wanted to catch everyone up a little.

Things are going smoothly and so far Baby has stayed put. 🙂

I’m up to having appointments every two weeks now (starting this Tuesday) and so far, my doctor hasn’t seen any reason to feel alarmed that Baby might be coming soon. That means I haven’t been put on bed rest! We’ve been getting ultrasounds at every visit to check on Baby’s size and heartbeat, but also to check for signs that my body is preparing for labor. Last visit was the first time we could notice any signs, but they were subtle and not too concerning. (Whew!)

Originally our doctor predicted this Baby would make it 35-37 weeks and we were hoping for 37. However, Baby has measured half to one week big at every ultrasound since the beginning of my second trimester, so it seems likely that Baby might come around 36 weeks. That would put Baby’s birthday the week of Thanksgiving.

Baby is probably closing in on three pounds now (Abby was two pounds and fifteen ounces when she was born), and while that’s not huge, I’m carrying Baby entirely on my right side. Things are getting pretty tight over there. Along with the growing belly, I’m back to some of my less convenient pregnancy symptoms: nausea and food aversions. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling to eat. I’ve also been feeling weak and sometimes clammy, but my blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood count are all normal. I’ve been trying to drink more water, hoping that might be the culprit, but I’m not sure it’s making much of a difference yet.

This is the first time in a pregnancy that I’m feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions. With Paul, and only with Paul, I started having contractions a week and a half before he was born. But those were all quite painful so I constantly thought I was in labor. These contractions aren’t painful, and it’s completely normal to be experiencing them at this point. My first contractions were about a week ago (27 weeks) and I’ve started noticing them more this week.

I’ve been able to keep up with my usual routine, including homeschooling Lydia now, and hopefully potty training Abby next week. We’ll see how that goes. Even though I’ve been feeling nauseous, I’ve still been craving almond milk, sugary sweets, and fruit. I relish my nightly glass of almond milk, try to ignore the sweet cravings (but sometimes I think Baby NEEDS a chocolate chip cookie), and eat as much fruit as I can without depleting the whole fruit bowl in one day.

The milestones are coming pretty quickly now! I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s appointment, where we’ll check one more time if my body looks like it’s preparing for labor. After 30 weeks it’s too hard to tell, since it’s normal to start getting ready for labor at that point.

Our Summer Family Staycation – Part 2

(You can read about the first half of our staycation here.)

Wednesday morning we got up early, loaded everyone into the van, and started driving straight West, to South Haven. I’d never been to South Haven before, and had heard good things about it. When our vacation budget started shrinking this winter (due to unexpected home repairs) we decided to stay home for vacation, but then I had the idea that we could spend one night somewhere on a beach and give the kids a couple of beach days on Lake Michigan. So, Dan booked a local hotel about as close to the beach as we could get and we planned a two day outing in South Haven.

When we got to town, we grabbed some lunch and headed straight for the beach. It was, after all, the whole reason we had come. Abby wasn’t too sure about the water, but Lydia loved it. Paul played in the sand, and eventually figured out that he could sit in the wet sand just close enough to the water to feel the waves hitting his legs. So that became his little home on the beach.

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Although we had mentally planned on spending the whole day at the beach, it turns out a whole day is too long for our family to do any one thing. Paul and Mommy, in particular were worn out and ready for a nap after about an hour in the sun. So we made the half mile trek to our hotel and checked in. The hotel was fantastic, and I was so glad I let Dan talk me into staying in one of the local ones closer to the beach. As it was, we spent a LOT of time walking, but it was nice to just park the car and leave it in the parking lot for our whole stay.

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After a little rest in our hotel we explored downtown and grabbed some dinner. Then we headed back to the beach in time to watch the sun set. The kids loved playing in the sand, while Dad and Mom just relaxed on a bench and watched the sun go down over the water.

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As soon as the sun set, everyone cleared off the beach and our family called it a night. The next morning we got up early to get in a little beach time before naps and heading home. It wasn’t that early, but we still got the whole beach to ourselves. It was just us and the sea gulls.

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On our way out of town, we stopped to go blueberry picking. We had high hopes of picking three buckets. Soon, however, we realized the girls would not be able to fill their own bucket. So, we set our hopes on picking two full buckets. Then we realized how long it takes to pick blueberries and how impatient our children were becoming. We set Abby and Lydia to work picking blueberries to feed to Paul while Dan and I picked as fast as we could and left exhausted with just under one bucket of blueberries.

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Not to worry, though. One bucket of blueberries is enough to eat several hand-fulls, to make two blueberry desserts and blueberry waffles, and to freeze some for snacking later. (Our family loves to eat frozen blueberries for a treat).

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Friday was a day of rest. Apart from making waffles and taking afternoon naps, we didn’t really do anything but stay home. Saturday was going to be our grand-finale: a day at the splash pad. When the time came, we got into the car just in time to hear thunder and feel the first rain drops of a storm. We went to the splash pad anyway, hoping the storm would pass quickly. Then we sat in the parking lot listening to the thunder, watching the lightening, and discussing how irresponsible it would be to let our kids play on the splash pad with lightening in sight. We finally decided to drive to Plymouth and walk around instead, once the storm lightened up. It didn’t seem like a day for the splash pad, after all.

The rain was pretty much done by the time we got to Plymouth, and, as it turned out, there was a free event going on where the kid could do activities and pick out prizes. So, the kids got their prizes and we had a special dinner out followed up by dessert with Grandpa.

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We made it home late and fell into bed, exhausted, but pleased that our staycation was a success.

Our Summer Family Staycation – Part 1

Last month Dan took a week off work and we enjoyed an action-packed staycation (with an overnight trip in the middle). We started off with a day-trip to our church camping trip, which affirmed our earlier decision NOT to take our children camping overnight. Camping is fun when you’re a kid. Maybe it’s fun when you’re an adult. But when you’re chasing around three little Munchkins (and pregnant) it’s a LOT of work. We enjoyed our day of fun and I decided to let Lydia sleep in the tent with me for one night, in our back yard. Even that was a big much for me this time, with a baby in my belly, a bathroom trip in the middle of the night, and a leaky air mattress, but we survived. And, Lydia thought it was a lot of fun.

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Next up we packed everyone into the van and headed down for a day at the Toledo Zoo. I may have mentioned before that we bought a family membership this year, and this was our second trip out. Since we are able to go periodically now, we don’t burn ourselves out trying to see every single exhibit. Instead, everyone picks one thing they want to see and we call it a day.

My choice came first: the Arctic animals. They are my favorite. We made it just in time to watch the trainers feeding the seals.

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Then we went inside and watched their Mommy and Baby polar bears swimming together. So sweet.

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As always with our kids at the zoo, the statues were almost as much fun as the real animals.

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Lydia chose to see the giraffes next.

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Then we took a break to let the kids play on the splash pad. It was short break, though, because the splash pad turned out to be extremely slippery. After a few wipe-outs we decided to move on.

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Abby chose to see the monkeys, and by now most of the visitors were clearing out. We got this little guy all to ourselves.

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Dan chose the aquarium, which is always his favorite. When you first walk in there’s this big wall of bubbles that amazes the kids, again, almost as much as the animals.

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Once we made it past that bubble wall, I loved watching the kids expressions as they got close-up looks at some of the animals.

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Then we called it a day. The next day we stayed a little closer to home and had more of a low-key trip: Ann Arbor. It’s a family favorite. First we visited the Natural History Museum, where we mostly enjoyed looking at the dinosaur bones. Afterward we piled everyone onto a Blue Bus and took a trip around North Campus. Sadly, the bus trip proved to be a little too long for our kids and the novelty wore off after the first few minutes. Lesson learned.

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We had to change our plan at this point, because we had planned a beach day for Thursday, but it was supposed to thunderstorm. So, we bumped up that part of the trip, but that’ll be continued in Part 2…

Baby #4: Halfway There!

Between all of our summer activities, preparing for school this fall, and keeping up with the Little Ones, this pregnancy is flying by! It definitely helps to know that Paul made it to 35 weeks. Our doctor is very unconcerned and expects us to make it even longer this time. I can honestly say I am (now that the first trimester is over) enjoying this pregnancy more than any of the others.

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This is the famous “alien” shot. Baby is looking right at you with his/her head on the right and is holding up his/her hand over his/her chest. You can even see his/her little eyes.

At 20 1/2 weeks now, I’m not big enough to be uncomfortable, and I’m no longer feeling terribly sick. I have had some more nausea this week, but nothing compared to what it was before. I’ve also had my first evenings of pregnancy insomnia. Two nights in a row I lay in bed completely wide awake until I finally gave up and got up. After a couple hours, a snack, and lots of reading, I eventually was able to go back to sleep. Since then, I’ve cut my naps shorter and I’ve been sleeping better. Soon the days will be here when I’ll be exhausted and unable to sleep for other reasons. 😉

Pregnancy cravings are always interesting. I haven’t had any uncontrollable cravings lately, though there have been nights when I really wanted a brownie or some Ramen noodles, or the one night when I really wanted a chili dog. Mostly I’ve been craving fruit. Dan has been buying me my own little batch of nectarines every week and I eat one almost every day. I’ve also been craving almond milk. Almost every day, at some point, I have a cold mugful and it always hits the spot.

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There’s Baby’s arm and leg!

Prenatal visits have been going well. Baby is measuring about right for his/her due date so far, and was head down at our 20-week ultrasound last week! Good job Baby! I’ve mentioned this before, but people keep asking, so I’ll say it again. We are not planning on finding out if we’re having a boy or girl until s/he arrives. I just loved getting through labor and delivery and being handed my baby when I found out Paul was a boy for the first time, and I’m looking forward to being surprised again.

There have been no signs of early labor, so far. There was about a week of concerning symptoms (I’ll spare you the details) but a quick trip to check on Baby’s heartbeat calmed our fears, and our doctor suspects it was just aftermath from my surgery around week 13. I’m only going to the doctor once a month, compared to once every other week with Paul, so everything feels very laid back and happy.

I had grand hopes of cooking three months of freezer meals again for this baby, either for time in the NICU, time on bed rest, or time after Baby is born. I only got through a small fraction of my list before the first trimester nausea hit too hard to keep going. So, our chest freezer is full of soups, crock pot meals, and some homemade “Larabars” and muffins, but that’s about the extent of my emergency planning for this pregnancy. I am just hoping things continue to progress smoothly and I won’t have to be on bed rest for two months (or at all) come fall.

It’s just so hard to believe how far along Baby is already. I like to pack my hospital bag at 24 weeks, since that’s the age Baby could survive if s/he dared to come that early, and that’s only 3 1/2 weeks away! Hopefully, though, it’ll be another 16 weeks or so before this Little One arrives.

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Camp Tikva 2016

A few weeks ago, Lydia participated in her second Camp Tikva. Abby, Paul, and I came along and sat in for the singing and some of the stories, wandered around the building, visited with other moms and little kids, and played on the playground.

Lydia did a great job sitting quietly for two long story sessions, almost two hours of just listening to “Grammy” tell Bible stories with flannel graph. But, Grammy has a gift for telling stories so well that everybody wants to stop and listen. Even Abby would beg me, “Go see-uh pictures?” when Paul was noisy and we had to step out. (Abby is in a phase where she adds “uh” onto the end of many of her words. It’s pretty cute.)

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Abby also loved the music.

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Paul loved finding different things he could play with. One day it was the empty water cooler.

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He even got to go up front once. 🙂

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And, of course, the playground was a big hit.

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Every afternoon we would ask Lydia what her favorite part of the day was and every afternoon she would answer, “The Bible stories and the playground.”

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Even Paul could find plenty to do.

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It was a tiring week for Paul. And the rest of us. Although, Lydia would never admit it. (That’s her having fun on the monkey bars in the background.)

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By the end of the week, Abby was sneaking in with the kids for the singing and stories. The “Camp Tikva Song” this year was the Bible passage James 5:10-18. Everyone sang the song a million times and over 100 kids (including Lydia!) were able to memorize the whole passage.

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So ended our busy vacation, Camp Tikva craziness. The activities ended just in time for the hottest weeks of the summer, but we’re holding up ok. 🙂 In just over a week, Dan has another week off work and we’re planning a stay-cation. Until then we’ll just be taking it easy, playing the sprinklers and sitting in front of fans!

Summering

The past few weeks have been really FULL for our family. Just a typical week is usually more than enough for me, but we’ve really been packing in the activities this summer, and I’ve struggled to find both the time (away from the attention of my Munchkins) and the energy to update. So forgive the lengthy blog post and take your time scrolling through the pictures. Who knows when I’ll get back on here to update again!

First of all, our Little Man is learning to walk. He took his first wobbly steps in June and has been slowly growing more confident and steady on his feet. He still prefers to walk on his knees, just like his sisters did for so long, and he can scurry around like lightening on all fours, but soon enough he’ll be keeping up with the rest of us all the way up on his feet. When he gets tired he starts to cry and looks around for Mommy, and if I put out my arms to him, Paul will scurry right over and grab on to pull himself up to both feet. (Also, we painted Paul’s room a few weeks ago, and you can get a glimpse of that in the picture below)

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The kids love to play outside, and they especially love to play with their Daddy outside! They squeal and run when he gets up and chases them like a bear, then giggle uncontrollably when he tackles them in the grass.

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Like most 16-month-olds, Paul likes to eat dirt.
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A few weeks ago, we packed up and headed North for the first time since Christmas. We had fun at the beach, and National Cherry Festival, and were able to stop and visit lots of family throughout our trip. (I didn’t get as many pictures with family because I was just too busy catching up to stop and take any.)

We took the kids to the downtown splash pad, then continued through to the Kid Zone at the Cherry Fest, and on to the Open Space.

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It’s amazing how much fun Little Ones can have just playing in a sandbox full of (clean) cherry pits!

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“Want some?”
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Lydia loved the free giveaways (sunglasses) and the free cherry samples.

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Paul too!

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And meeting Cherry Man!

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One morning we decided to drive up the peninsula to our favorite cherry picking farm. Much to our dismay, the farm had just sprayed all the trees and was closed for the day. We decided to keep driving to see if there was another farm. We ended up driving up the peninsula until we were so far along, it seemed silly to turn back. Eventually the open grape vineyards and cherry orchards were replaced with some Up North, Pure Michigan woods that brought me right back to my summers as a Camp Counselor.

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Funny enough, I was wearing a Camp t-shirt that day and happened to run into a family of other former Camp Counselors on Old Mission Peninsula. We had a nice little reunion before the rest of my family got out of our car to explore. We were met with this beautiful view.

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We meandered down to the beach and spent a while just enjoying the blue skies and clear water.

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Then we headed back in to Traverse City for some more Cherry Festival fun. Since this was our “vacation” for the summer, we splurged and let the girls ride their very first carnival rides. Abby thought she was pretty sweet getting to “drive” a car. And, much to our surprise, Lydia did not get scared on the Dumbo ride that she so eagerly wanted to ride on with Daddy. (Please note, we made sure Lydia and Daddy got to ride in the Dumbo and we let the girls wait in line an extra time so they could get the highly-sought-after purple car.)

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Our last full day in Traverse City was largely spent with some of my family at the same beach where I spent most of my summer days as a kid.

Abby felt so big lounging next to her Nana.

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And Abby and Paul both thought it was great fun to lounge in their cousin’s beach toy.

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My favorite part of the trip was jumping in the waves with Lydia. She’s a little dolphin, although she kept telling me she was a little penguin.

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We took advantage of our beach time by catching up with my oldest sister.

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Who also had the great idea to take a family picture for us. Thanks Christina!

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Afterwards, we treated the kids to dinner at a restaurant. Lydia thought it was especially cool that there were sandboxes to play in. Paul was too tired to care about much of anything. 🙂

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And so ended our trip Up North, but not our fun! The following week was “Camp Tikva”, our church’s annual Vacation Bible School Program. But maybe I’ll save those pictures for another post.

Baby #4: First Trimester Pregnancy Update

In case you missed the Instagram announcement, Dan and I are excited to be expecting Baby #4 sometime this fall/winter. Our due date is December 19th, and our doctor has high hopes that we’ll make it to 37 weeks this time (a TERM baby!) which would put Baby’s birthday around the end of November (November 28th).

At our initial doctor visit, I was less than six weeks along but we could see a tiny little heart beat pulse on the ultrasound machine. I’ve never had an ultrasound that early before. It was hard to recognize our little girl/guy.

The first question everyone asks when they hear the news is: “Are you going to find out this time?” You may know already, we found out ahead of time that Abby and Lydia were girls, but we waited to be surprised with Paul. I loved being surprised and Dan didn’t mind the wait, so we’re waiting again this time. I guess you’ll all just have to wait with us. I have an inkling suspicion that it’s a girl, but, for the record, I’ve been wrong with every single baby so far. 😛

So far, this pregnancy has been the most difficult, with more nausea and food aversions than my other three. Then again, I’m also chasing around three Little Ones this time and I don’t get nearly as long of naps. I’ve been particularly disgusted by lentils, and for several weeks I couldn’t tolerate most foods. There haven’t been a ton of strong cravings, mostly little ones: ice in my water, nectarines, and simple sandwiches with tomato, mustard, and lettuce. I’ve felt well enough to handle breakfasts, but then I’ve been unable to eat much of anything come lunch time. After nap time I’ve felt the worst, and I usually haven’t felt better until after the kids are in bed. Then Dan teases me while I make whatever sort of dinner sounds good to me at the time. Lately, I’ve had a humongous craving for cottage cheese.

I had my second prenatal appointment at eight weeks and everything looked good. (That’s the ultrasound in the Instagram pic.) My third appointment was at twelve weeks, but Baby was measuring closer to thirteen. That was also my pre-op appointment for a minor surgery performed a week and a half later. It’s the same surgery I had with Paul, and the procedure that will hopefully help me carry this baby even longer. My next appointment isn’t until July 12th (17 weeks).

So, other than the difficulty eating, this pregnancy really is flying by. The kids keep me so busy and our summer is just so full of activities, that right now I’m distracted enough that I’m not counting the days. I’ve been trying to cook and freeze meals here and there, but it’s been nothing compared to last time because I’ve been struggling to cook much of anything anyway. Hopefully we won’t really need those freezer meals until after Baby is born!

Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

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Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

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When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

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After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

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There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

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As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

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And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

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The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.