Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pregnancy Update {35 Weeks}

How far along? 
I'm about 35 weeks.  I feel like I'm entering the home stretch. I visit my midwife next week and then it's weekly visits from here on out.

She's still a girl and her name is still a secret (we think).  Alaine slipped up once when we were in a group of people and no one noticed... or at least no one let on that they noticed.


Until recently when someone asked how I was feeling, I could honestly say I felt great.  But the aches and pains of pregnancy are upon me now.  My back has a constant low ache.  Contractions are beginning to take on a uncomfortable twinge. If it's after 4 pm, I'm no good at all because those symptoms are magnified.  I'm also incredibly hungry.  My appetite has reached a new level and my biggest craving is protein.

Still, even at my most miserable, I would not trade these weeks for the wretched month of morning sickness I experienced at the beginning of pregnancy. I'm trying to savor this time.

My best time of day is morning. I feel refreshed from sleep and full of energy.  (Well, I feel as full of energy as any almost 8-months-pregnant woman could hope to feel.)  I sleep soundly most nights so aside from bathroom visits, I'm getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep.  As a result, I enjoy getting up early to run in the morning.  The sun is rising later and later, but I'm not changing my wake-up time because I enjoy the few moments of solitude while I wait to leave the house.

Maternity clothes?  
It's some kind of pregnancy miracle that I'm not tired of my maternity clothes yet!!!  It's certainly more challenging to get dressed than in the 2nd trimester, but it helps that I can still use mix of maternity clothes and "regular" clothes from my closet.  For example,  these outfits I wore to church in December...only the green t-shirt and the black t-shirt are maternity-wear.


I've never done spring cleaning, but we plan a Christmas cleaning day every year on the day before Christmas Eve.  It's a mystery to my kids that I  look forward to this day, but I love knowing the house is all clean, all at once.  This year it will be especially lovely to have help with all the work.  Brian plans to wash the floors, even the dreaded bathroom ones.   I've even got Maddie and Owen lined up to cook dinner.

Getting ready for baby...

I washed and sorted the baby clothes and put them away in drawers next to the bassinet.  I also made a phone list of all the people to whom we want to text a photo after she arrives.  I also got a haircut and ordered refills of my contact prescription. Those are not technically getting ready for the baby, but  I can cross two things off my before-baby to-do list. 

Next up is making a hospital packing list. Owen (our 3rd child) arrived early, before I even thought about packing for the hospital.  I realized I enjoyed packing in early labor because it occupied my mind between contractions.  It's been so long since I've packed a hospital bag, though, so I decided I need to be prepared ahead of time or risk leaving something important at home!   

Birth plans
I've written birth plans in the past, but my midwives know what type of birth I want this time. I did use a free download to create a simple visual birth planI love that this download can be customized. It's a flexible plan and the subtitle promises it's a format the "nurses won't scoff at."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Snapshots From December

A Christmas gathering at church...

Celebrating our new teenager...

Owen's daily countdown to Christmas...

Extremely warm weather...

Christmas baking and more Christmas baking...

...culminating with our extra-special family pretzel treat making.

The last day of school...

Our annual visit to the Christmas lights at the beach...

Rehearsing for the Christmas Eve service at church...

Adding a silly twist to his Santa garb...

Christmas gifting...

Getting ready to host a Christmas party...

...and fellowshipping with (some of the many) cousins.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Candy Cane Pizza

We are a pizza family.  It's not unusual for us to make and eat homemade pizza on the weekends.  It's part of our family culture. Last December we began an easy tradition: make-your-own candy cane pizzas

Apparently Ben didn't remember because when we talked about what we were having for dinner on Saturday evening, he asked, "What's that?  A pizza with candy canes on it?!"

Um, no.  But here is a quick run-down of a what we really mean by candy cane pizza: 

After lunch, I make a large batch of pizza dough and let it rise on the counter under a towel all afternoon.  When we're ready to assemble, I divide the dough in 7 portions and blend up a batch of our favorite (and incredibly easy!) pizza sauce.

I roll each dough portion into the proper shape and put everything on the table. Then each individual assembles their own pizza with sauce, sliced mozzarella, parmesan, and pepperoni.  A little pizazz on the crust never hurt either. Some people prefer to leave out the pepperoni and use only sauce for the red stripe.  (Some people also prefer to leave off the cheese but that's a topic for another day.)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Photo-Filled Pregnancy Update {33 Weeks}

I reached a mothering milestone this week.  I became the mother of a teenager.  Let that sink in for a moment.  The one who made me a mother is now 13!  And in a few short weeks we'll have a newborn in the house, too.

How far along? 
I'm about 33 weeks.  At 32 weeks, I started drinking a daily cup of red raspberry leaf tea, sweetened with honey or blackstrap molasses.  I bought my tea in bulk here.  It takes a lot of tea bags to drink a cup every day for 8+ weeks!  

(To read about the benefits of red raspberry leaf to pregnant women, click here.  To read about the benefits of blackstrap molasses to anyone, click here.)


I can feel my energy waning.  After breezing through the second trimester, I am needing to slow down.  It is difficult to be unable to maintain the pace I'm used to keeping, especially at this time of year.  My body is demanding it, though, and I'm having to rest between even the smallest of tasks.  Ironically I do better when I'm moving (walking, running, pushing a grocery cart, etc.) than when I am standing still in one place (washing dishes, singing in church, etc.).

I am such a morning person and it is only magnified now.  I wake early every morning to exercise or go for a run and I feel like I can conquer the world.  By evening,  I am exhausted, my back aches, and I wonder how soon I can get some sleep. 

There was a bit of concern that I had lost weight at my two prenatal appointments last month.  (Surprising after this post, huh?)  My fundal height is still increasing, but I have lost weight instead of gaining for too long, so after my midwife ruled out the obvious causes (vomiting and fluid leakage), she suggested drinking protein shakes to give my body all the good stuff-- protein, vitamins, fat, and calories-- in one glass.  Since I am uncomfortable with protein powders or artificial ingredients, I am making my own natural protein shakes

As a precaution, I had a growth scan today. My amniotic fluid level was normal and Baby is appropriate size for her gestational age so no worries.  I had gained a couple of pounds, too.


One of my unofficial goals for the year was to run 1000 cumulative miles.  At the beginning of the year, it was an abstract idea and I had no idea if it was reasonable to achieve.  Then I got pregnant and didn't know how long I could continue to run.  By fall, though, I knew I would meet my goal.  On Saturday, I did it!

Running is more cumbersome now than it was a few months ago, but I'm hopeful that I can continue in some capacity until the baby is born.  The most challenging part is that my legs and lower abdomen start to ache by mile 3 or so, due to the extra weight I'm carrying in my belly.  My support bandhelps immensely. I kind of wonder what the neighbors think when they see me slog by.

The girls and I attended a Christmas luncheon at my cousin's house last week.  Everyone brought gifts for our new baby girl.  Alaine already feels a little territorial about her new sister so she delighted in helping unwrap the packages and discovering what was inside.

And as always...

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sugar High

There is never a shortage of treats in our house around Christmas (see this post from 2013), but I had a plan to keep it simple this year.  I'm pregnant and trying to conserve my energy, plus I knew we'd have access to sugar from many sources during the month even if we refrained from the baking ourselves.

I asked Brian and the kids their must-haves during the season and the one thing that came up multiple times was the  holiday pretzel treats we make as a family every year.   I suspect that the tradition and the memories are a bigger factor than the treat itself, though we do love to eat them, too.  (You should click on the holiday pretzel treats link if only to see how much my kids have grown!) 

Other than these special treats, the plan was to bake only as we got the urge and to keep. it. simple. 

Yesterday we attended a cookie exchange at church.  Maddie and Owen made and decorated our standard shortbread cookies recipe with no help from me.  My contribution was a double batch of molasses cookies. After bagging up what we needed for the exchange, we had a few to squirrel away in cookie tins for our own Christmas guests.  Mission accomplished.  No more Christmas baking necessary.

But we got into trouble at the cookie exchange. 
The table was overflowing with cookies to sample and all of us tried different things which inspired us to want to make a few more things at home.  That's not a bad thing necessarily, but there are only so many cookies or pieces of candy one family can eat, even a family of seven. 

Brian, who is usually more level-headed and reasonable than I am and can talk me down from my overzealous plans, encouraged me to go for it anyway.  I'm not craving or indulging in much sugar this pregnancy, but I love the challenge and adventure of baking something new. We reasoned that there are many things we can do with excess treats:
  • give away as gifts
  • share with our Christmas guests
  • take to Christmas parties
  • freeze in gallon bags (and perhaps serve when people come to visit the new baby next month)
We made a dream list of things we'd like to try in December.  Note that the majority of our list includes nuts or peanut butter and chocolate!

Will it all get made?  Probably not!  But we'll enjoy what we can...and save the rest of the list for another year.

What are your family's must-have Christmas treats?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

School in December

Our school year is divided into two semesters.  We start at the beginning of August and go through mid-December.  Then we take a long winter break to correspond with Brian's time off from work.  We resume in February and work through May. That's what we've done every year since Gavin was in kindergarten.

This year we are expecting a baby at the end of January and I'm not sure how that will change our school schedule.  I know for sure that we are not starting back to school any earlier.  Brian asked me if that was my plan and I considered working through January this year,  but I decided we all needed the rest and extended break from formal studies.  Overall, I don't fine, but when we took a few days off for Thanksgiving, I was surprised how refreshed I felt.  I think I am more mentally and physically fatigued than I realize!

We've worked hard all fall for that winter break.  We always accomplish much in the first four months of our school year (August-November) and result is a lighter spring semester.  We've now entered the snowballing period of December.  That's when we finish one subject which leaves us a few extra minutes a day to devote to another subject so we can put that one to rest and spend even more time on another subject.  I love this time of year because I feel the academics winding down for a season and I look back at all the hard work that my kids put in over the past months.

Between a birthday, holiday events, and medical appointments, we have only 11 school days from Thanksgiving until Christmas break!  I am not a naturally spontaneous person.  I don't like to take unexpected time off from school, but I sat down with my calendar in November and penciled in our days off so that surprises are minimal.  Despite the busyness, each day that we do have school is intentional and purposeful.  

Here is a peek into our December school days:

Bible consists of reading our Christmas prophecy scripture cards (2 per day), plus reviewing our Bible memory box

All of the kids will plug away at their math books until the last day.  Owen, Ben, and Alaine love math so this isn't a problem for them, but Gavin and Maddie are counting down the days.

We'll be done with the history book we're reading together on Wednesday.  That leaves the remaining days for two of the boys to tie up loose ends on their individual history assignments.  (Everyone else will be done history on Wednesday.)

For English, each child will continue grammar work until break and also do this Christmas scripture copywork 2 days per week.

Ben finished up his fall science unit on weather in November, but the three oldest kids need to finish the chapters they are reading.  Gavin is reading about crustaceans, Maddie is studying turtles, and Owen is learning about barnacles.

Gavin is taking a break from his art book until February, but the other kids will keep working on theirs until break.  Alaine and Ben are enjoying Christmas crafts and coloring in December.  Alaine, especially, is enamored with  thisbook! We also consider baking a creative art.  Maddie and Owen are loving that.  Owen plans to make fudge this week, plus we have friends coming on Friday to decorate cookies with us!

Typing continues as usual.  (Two kids hate it, one loves it.)

Alaine, Ben, Owen, and Maddie are singing in the children's choir at church so we're counting that for music.  They'll perform one song on a Sunday and then another song or two at the Christmas Eve service.  Owen is singing a duet with a friend, and Maddie is part of another duet.

What does your school schedule look like in December?  
When do you start Christmas break?
Any special plans to make learning fun this month?   

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