Monday, March 24, 2014

And Then She Was Four

Lane's fourth birthday started the way our family's birthdays usually start: with birthday pancakes. My brother traveled down from Norfolk to spend part of the week with us, so he was here that morning, too. Lane opened a few presents from her Alabama grandparents, and we took her to the movies to see Frozen for her main birthday present from us. (She also got a new jean jacket and a book, to which she replied, "I wanted a toy." Grateful child, this one.) It was the first time either of our girls have been to the movie theater, and I think they both liked it for the most part. They at least liked the experience of it, even if the snow monster in Frozen was a little scary for them. Later that evening my mom brought a small ice cream cake and we sang "Happy Birthday" to Lane and all had a small piece of cake before bed.

A birthday "4" for our oldest girlie!

Enjoying some popcorn and…the previews, I think. Noel sat in Shannon's lap during most of the actual movie…the seats were a little strange to her since they kept wanting to fold up on her.

Birthday cake #1 on her actual birthday, courtesy of Food Lion's frozen food section.

Lane's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, and my niece Denali's birthday is three days after Lane's, so we had a joint birthday party for them on the Saturday following Lane's birthday. We just had pizza and cake, and everyone opened presents and played. It was very low-key, but I think the kids had a lot of fun. The girl cousins all dressed up and we called it a "princess party," even though the only thing that made it one was the fact that the girls were all wearing fancy dresses. Lane requested a butterfly cake, so I was more than happy to oblige: this cake only took me about two hours of labor to frost and decorate…I've spent much more time on her previous cakes!

Butterfly cake with sticker butterflies and sparkler candles!

Princess birthday girl!

Opening gifts…you can see Denali in her "princess' tutu on the right!

My oldest (younger) brother with all his nieces and nephews (nephew?…there's only one boy…).

Lane's big gifts were a couple of new princess dresses with matching shoes and jewelry from my sister and brother-in-law, and my dad and step-mom took her shopping for new shoes the day after the party. And my mom gave her a box of art supplies and tickets to the…circus! So, while Shannon was in Ohio my mom and I took the girls to the circus, and my brother-in-law and nephew came along, too. It was fun, although the girls cared way more about the animals than about any of the other cool stuff at the circus. In hindsight, the rinky-dink circus we took them to last summer was probably about as "fancy" a circus as we need to take them to until they're older. We were too far away for them to really get into it, but they did like the elephants and lions and kangaroos.

All dolled up and ready for the circus!

The one thing they still mention about the circus: the elephants "standing" on each other.

My mom and the birthday girl!

And finally, I actually conducted this birthday interview with Lane on her fourth birthday, so it was relevant two months ago. I'm not sure how much it is now, but then…it was current!

1. Your favorite color is purple.
2. Your favorite toy is dollies.
3. Your favorite fruit is strawberries.
4. Your favorite TV show is Care Bears.
5. Your favorite movie is Winnie the Pooh.
6. Your favorite thing to wear is dresses.
7. Your favorite animal is cats and dogs.
8. Your favorite song is "Bless the Lord."
9. Your favorite book is Green Eggs and Ham.
10. Your best friend is Mommy.
11. Your favorite snack is cheese and crackers.
12. Your favorite drink is lemonade.
13. Your favorite breakfast is yogurt.
14. Your favorite lunch is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
15. Your favorite dinner is spaghetti.
16. Your favorite game is Hiss.
17. Your favorite thing to play outside is kicking a ball.
18. Your favorite holiday is Valentine's Day.
19. At night you sleep with: blankie.
20. You want to be a mommy/chef when you grow up.

I love seeing how these answers have changed since last year! And I also love how about half of them are totally not her favorite things…she just can't think of what her real favorite things are at the time I'm asking the questions.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

36 Weeks (third time around)

Four weeks from today (or yesterday, or Wednesday, depending on who you ask) we should have another girlie in these parts!

Belly pic brought to you from Seagrove, Florida.

A couple weeks ago I told Shannon, "Six weeks. Just six weeks. Or maybe four. I could be down with four." To which he replied, "Or eight." "No, not eight. I'm not doing that again!" And I'm not. There are worse things in life than being induced!

I'm feeling alright. The house we're staying in here is three stories and I've walked a lot of stairs this week. My calves are feeling all the stairs and the extra 35ish pounds. My back still hurts. The spot below my sternum still hurts. But at least my reflux seems to have subsided, at least most of the time. I have a baby shower two weeks from tomorrow…I'd be a-ok if this girlie decided to come at any point after that! Lane asked me to pick her up the other day and when I reminded her that she's a big girl and understands that I can't pick her up because of the baby in my belly, she replied, "Maybe when that baby comes out you can pick me up." I'm ready to be able to interact with my kids normally, to run with them and pick them up and let them snuggle on my lap. So here's to hoping we'll have a baby by April 10th or so!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Life Lately

I'd like to pretend that our lives have been oh-so-interesting as of late and that is responsible for the lack of updates. But that is not the case. What is the case is that life has been oh-so-busy, and oh-so-tiring. I have a feeling that this is a trend that will continue until we decide we are done having children and our youngest is around the 2 or 3-year old mark. Add the wild card of a long trip to America every 3-4 years into the craziness of having young children and living overseas, and I predict that this blog will resume normal posting in approximately 3.5 years. But I could be wrong.

Let's recap a bit of the past three months for those who are still around.

1) Birthdays! We've celebrated eight, I think, since being stateside. Noel's, Jesus', mine, my step-mom's, Lane's, my niece Denali's, my brother's, and then a joint party for my dad, sister, and aunt, who all have birthdays in the next few weeks. Oops, that makes ten birthdays. Add in my other brother's upcoming birthday and you get 11. Add in the addition to our family due to appear four weeks from today and you get 12. I love me some May, when birthday season is over until October!

Celebrating my youngest brother's 21st birthday.

2) Traveling. As of Monday we have visited seven states in three months. We've put just under 7000 miles on our temporary vehicle. We've spent about $1300 in gas. While living in North Carolina we traveled as a family to: Virginia, Charlotte, Asheville (2x), RDU (2x), Greensboro (2x), and Boone. Shannon traveled to Ohio (make that eight states for him), Virginia, and Atlanta alone. Shannon and I traveled to Virginia and RDU once each without the girls, and we took a trip to Knoxville before Christmas without the girls. Next weekend we'll head to Nashville for a marriage retreat. And this week we're in Florida on "vacation" (meaning we're all here with no plans but Lane has been puking off and on for four days, so we're not getting to enjoy the beach much. Don't expect many pictures of our fun times lying around on the couch watching March Madness). After next weekend we have no plans to travel outside of Alabama, other than a family trip to Gatlinburg in late May. I am so excited to not go anywhere.

The girls at the Virginia Aquarium, what we had planned to be a short detour on our way home from a conference. Instead we ended up lost in Virginia Beach on our way home. East coast roads are so confusing for those of us without iPhones or a GPS, and mapquest does not give good directions these days!

3) Snow. Dear goodness has there been some snow in North Carolina this winter! And when you're driving a rear-wheel van, and your driveway is sloped, any time it snows it means you are definitely stuck at home. We had many plans get canceled due to the snow. Shannon jokes that it snowed more in the 11 weeks we were living in North Carolina this year than it did in the five years he lived there while in grad school. Seriously. So. much. snow.

The only really good thing about the snow and cold is that it completely justified in my mind the fact that we brought the girls' snow gear and boots with us to America.

4) Doctor's appointments. Well, obviously I'm quite pregnant. I've been to the doctor three times in America…once for an ultrasound at 23 weeks in Alabama with the doctor who will deliver this baby. And twice in North Carolina, once because I needed that lovely glucose screening test, and the second time because I figured that since I'd already gone to all the work to get myself in the system for the glucose test that I might as well go for the following monthly appointment. I'll have my second appointment with the doctor who will deliver this baby in about ten days, when I'll be 37.5 weeks. I think then we'll tell her that we caved and opened the envelope in which the ultrasound tech had written this baby's gender.

I think this officially makes me a girlie mom!

Also, Shannon injured his shoulder back in August when he was on his way home after his 3.5-week trip to America. It's been bothering him for months, so he saw a doctor, started some physical therapy, got an MRI, and continued the therapy. Three times a week for the whole time we were in North Carolina. While we're glad he didn't need surgery, driving 40 minutes round-trip to go to therapy for an hour three times a week gets old really quickly. So thankful he can continue the exercises at home and not have to leave so often!

5) Sickness. Shannon caught a cold in early February. Then Lane got it. Then Noel. Then me. Then Shannon again. Then me again. I don't think the girls have ever really kicked it, as they're still congested and coughing. I know that I was so relieved when I finally got a whole night's sleep in the midst of our travels and sicknesses during the month of February. Between my being sick, the girls being sick, all the traveling, and my being quite pregnant, a whole night's sleep hasn't happened much in the past three months. I am oh so grateful when it does happen!

6) Family time. Most of my family lives in North Carolina at this point in time. We were 25 minutes from my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids. My mom was 5 minutes from them. My brother was about an hour down the road. My dad and step-mom were in Asheville, a 2-3 hour drive away. And my other brother was up in Virginia, so he trekked down to see us for Lane's birthday. We may not have gotten to see each other a whole lot, due to various work and school schedules, but it was certainly more than we've seen each other over the past four years!

All the cousins on my side of the family.

My mom, doing crafts with the grandkids.

My sister, with her oldest and my oldest on a hay ride at Lazy 5 Ranch.

7) Fun stuff. We went to the Greensboro Science Center, where Lane pet a skink (and a snake) and we saw tigers and got to pet goats. My sister and brother-in-law took us to Lazy 5 Ranch, where we got to ride in a wagon and feed llamas from our hands, emus and ostriches and giraffes from a bucket of feed, and see pot-bellied pigs, zebras, Texas Longhorns, and camels wandering around the ranch. Lane finally got to get an ice-cream cone at McDonald's and play in the play-place, only to have another kid drop her drawers and poop at the top of the slide, forcing us to leave after playing for less than five minutes. We've eaten at Chic-fil-a numerous times, had some good barbecue, and taken the girls for hot chocolate at Starbucks. We went to the Winston-Salem Children's Museum and let the girls make Krispy Kreme doughnuts, milk a cow, catch flying scarves, go shopping at Food Lion, and climb a giant beanstalk. We've been trying to take advantage of all the fun, kid-friendly things that America has to offer!

This girl would not let go of that bucket of feed at Lazy 5!

And there you have it. The past 2.5 months, in a nutshell. It's been a good, although very tiring and hard, couple of months. Here's hoping for a bit of "normalcy" over the next three months!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

31 and 34 Weeks (third time around)

Here I am, two days before I'm 35 weeks, finally getting around to posting. Seems to be the way it goes these days. We're getting ready to move (again) on Saturday back to Alabama, where we'll be until we head back overseas. Our time in North Carolina has been so busy that we're really looking forward to our time in Alabama, hoping that it provides us with some rest before the baby comes. We'll be traveling a bit until the end of March, but after that we are trying to mostly stay put until the end of May.

31 weeks.

I will say that this pregnancy has been a lot rougher than my first two. In hindsight, I think I had really, really easy pregnancies with them both. There has just been something about this being my third (and therefore having two other littles to keep up with), being in America, traveling a lot, and eating out a lot (due to the traveling a lot), that has just made this pregnancy rough. And maybe being 34 has something to do with it, too. I've felt like a whale since about 24-25 weeks. My legs ache frequently. The same spots hurt that hurt when I was pregnant the first two times: my upper back, specifically on the right side, and below my sternum right between my ribs, where they're separating to make room for baby.

34 weeks, last Friday.

My fingers have swollen so I can't wear my wedding rings. For about two weeks I couldn't wear them while I slept but could wear them during the day…now I can't wear them at all. I've gained somewhere between 35-40 pounds…I'm not sure exactly since I don't know how much I weighed to begin with, but I weigh more now than I ever did with Lane or Noel. And I still have five or so weeks to go. I don't exactly know where all that weight is, since I don't feel like my ankles are swelling or that my face is chubby…but it's there, and I'm just hoping it's not on a 10-pound baby!

Baby girl is very active…she's not head-down yet and I can frequently feel her hands on the left side of my belly and her feet on my right side. At night when I lie down it seems like she spends a good 10-15 minutes getting herself adjusted as well. I haven't felt any baby hiccups yet, and while occasionally she'll stick a foot in my ribs and really hurt me, for the most part I just feel pregnant because I'm pregnant, not because the baby is pressing on me or hurting me in some way (if that makes sense at all).

So…overall, I'm done. Stick a fork in me. I'm grateful to still have a healthy baby inside me, but I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore. I'm hoping this girlie decides to come a week or two early…it would make up for Lane being 17 days late! I just want to get to April and then she can come. Please, God?