Friday, January 31, 2014

37 weeks and one day!

First, some pictures, which have almost nothing to do with this post.

Sledding with momma.

Bird watching at breakfast. 

A fun, snowy family day outside.
Can I put myself on bedrest? Just so I have a REASON to sit on my butt all day? Which I already feel like I'm doing, but an excuse might be helpful.

I hope this doesn't mean labor is far away, but the whole Nesting Thing is not kicking in here. Don't get me wrong- I am doing my share around here, but I am TIRED. Exhausted! Anyone for a nap? Just me?

Things are getting crossed off the list, slowly but surely. Today I have a dentist appointment. Wednesday I finally got my hair chopped off.* I finally made it to the Social Security office to get William a new card.** Every time I make a meal I am trying to double it (or more). The art and mirrors that have been propped up against the wall in the kids' room have finally been hung (thanks to Brian). We have clothes for the baby and a place for it to sleep. We also have a carseat, although unfortunately not a car that can seat our whole family comfortably (humans plus dog). Brian's working on that.

As far as pregnancy aches and pains, I am actually enjoying the last month of being pregnant. I'm not worried about how bad it's going to get - I'm already there, and I can take it. I find myself focusing more on my health, so I feel better. I enjoy feeling such exaggerated movements and wondering if THIS could be labor.

Speaking of labor, OH MAN! Last night I lay awake thinking about it. I confess, I am not looking forward to the process (although I am SO looking forward to the perfect moments that follow). I had a couple contractions in bed last night, and immediately felt transported to the night of May 22, 2012. I can remember so clearly the intensity of labor. I am not as mentally prepared this time, as last time I a.) had no idea what to expect, and just looked forward to it, and b.) I had done lots of reading and... well, mental preparation. I really do need to take an afternoon to refresh myself and read a few passages from Ina May, and pray about it. I think that will help.

I am trying to soak up moments with Will. I have guilt that we're not out on the town, digging into fun community activities and taking advantage of the ease of one-on-one. But it's been so, so, SO cold lately, and did I mention that I'm exhausted?! But I assure you, whenever we visit Meijer, I let him ride the horse a couple times. Meanwhile, at home, we're doing lots of ball-playing, book-reading, and singing and dancing. He is just such a joy. Yesterday was a hard day, but there were still moments that were so cute I couldn't wait to tell Brian.

Will does this thing lately. When I tell him to give me a kiss (we're pretty much exclusively a cheek-kissing family), he sometimes grabs my face in his tiny, chubby hands, turns it toward him, and kisses me on the mouth. I just melt. I have no idea what gave him this idea. It is so adorable.

Okay, I think that's all. William is waking up, and I need to get us ready for the dentist.

I hope my next post is titled, "Baby's HERE! It's a... "


*My hair is really short now. I wanted to donate at least once in my life, so at least that's done. I don't think I'll do it again. For one thing, it took me a long time to grow it out enough to actually HAVE enough to send in... and the whole time, I did not like having hair that long! And now that it's gone, it's a little too short for my taste. But I don't really care that much! The last time I chopped my hair short, I felt a deep sense of lost identity. Now, I just feel like a fugitive, survivor-on-the-run, one of those women who cuts and dyes their hair in a gas station bathroom because that's what they need to do to survive. My long hair was always in some type of ponytail, suffering from lack of attention. Now it can be free! And I can actually find time to style it.

**Avoid the Social Security office at all costs! I had to go in, and I had to take Will, but it really wasn't that terrible because I prepared myself to wait three hours. I got there about ten minutes after they opened, and wasn't seen for about an hour. Meanwhile, more and more people were flooding in to wait. If you have to go, GET THERE WHEN THEY OPEN! If the weather is nice and you are alone, go early and wait outside!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Odds and ends about my little friend.

I'm still in my pajamas and my Breathe Right strip is still on my nose. I hope this doesn't sound like a dig at the whole being-a-mom thing, but this right here, this half hour between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, might just be my favorite time of the day. It's dark, quiet, and I'm only just launching in on my daily coffee allowance (instead of guiltily drinking my third-and-a-halfth cup at 2 PM). The only sounds in the house are the hum of the fridge and the purr of the furnace.

Will hit a new stage about a week ago, and in retrospect it perfectly aligned with the day he started calling me "Mommy," which means he's totally growing up, right? His awareness/intelligence/whatever has increased, which makes him much more hilarious and affectionate, and also much more naughty! 

Whereas at bedtime two weeks ago, I'd slip him into his crib, cover him up, tell him I love him and walk smugly back downstairs as he drifted off to sleep with nary a peep, nighttime LATELY has been different. I hold him, pray for him, and then as I lift him into bed (anxiously anticipating the moment I'll finally be able to relieve my arms of the 30-lb squirming fish I've been hefting around all day), he clings tight to my neck. 

"Chair," he whispers, pointing with one free hand to the rocking chair.

"No, we're not sitting in the chair, we're going to lay down and go to sleep."

"Bup," he then tries, making his sign for water and pointing to the bathroom. He wants a drink.

"Okay, buddy, you can have some water, and then it's time for bed." Said 30-lb fish is hefted to the bathroom and gotten a cup of water, which he absolutely doesn't need since he has drunk a gallon of his bath.

Back in the room, he whispers, "Moon," and makes his sign for book, which means he wants to read Goodnight Moon

"No, honey, we can read that tomorrow," I say apologetically. My brain is all, he's almost there! The party (aka crashing onto the couch and not moving for fifteen minutes) is about to begin!

The tender prayer resumes and I give him one more big hug. "I love you," I say. For the FIRST TIME ALL DAY, my 30-lb dead-weight fish is now a clinging monkey. I detach him limb by limb and lay him down, where he arches his back on all fours like an angry cat, raising one arm toward me in a command to PICK ME UP RIGHT NOW.

I finally get him to lay down, I cover him up, and beam it out of the room.

Two seconds out his door, and the wailing commences.

Last night I was so tired I just ignored it and walked downstairs, crashing on the couch as I'd been faithfully promising myself I'd do. "Brian, Will is crying," I said, all huffy-like.

He walked patiently upstairs and within a minute was back, and silence reigned in the house. "You just need to tell him what to do," he instructed with the wisdom of Solomon.

Oh. DUH.

Anyway, Will's discovered he can manipulate me with kisses and hugs and I have to admit, it kind of works. The other day he climbed onto the arm of the couch and I was sitting there reading to him. He coolly reached out and started playing with the lamp shade on the coffee table. "Hey!" I said in shock. "You know you're not supposed to touch the lamp!" 

He turned to me with - I kid you not - a patronizing smile. He said, "Mommy," and leaned over and wrapped his arms around my neck, and gave me two kisses on my cheek. "Mommy," he said again, patting my back. And then he reached out to touch the lamp again! "Hey!!!"

But with the naughtiness is hilariousness to the max. I just can't wait for him to be more verbal - it's just going to add an entirely new layer to his goofiness. He loves checking himself out in a mirror, kissing his reflection, saying all the words he knows, and dancing to no music because he loves the way he looks doing it. Bonus points if he's undressed and can flaunt his belly button.

He's also mastered, "No." Not in a defiant way, because I will definitely not allow that (I mean it!), but in answer to all my questions. "Are you done with your Play-Dough?" "Are you done with your juice?" "Do you want to go poo-poo?" ...are all met with a casually-said, drawn-out, "Nooo!" as in, "You're crazy, girl!" I have to re-teach myself to not frame instructions as a question. "Do you want to go take a bath and lay down?" must now be, "Let's go take a bath and lay down." Otherwise, I know what his answer will be!

He loves his instruments. When it's time for family worship, he eagerly runs to grab his tambourine. He doesn't play it during the songs, of course (!), just sets it on the floor and picks it back up several times, but he likes to start banging away on it as soon as we start praying. His favorite Christmas gift was his xylophone. It's a bit old for him, but I keep an eye while he plays it and try to make sure the mallets are not used for other purposes, like whacking the oven door. (This is the one we went with, and it's awesome: He also has a kazoo, harmonica, squeaky "horn", maraca, and a recorder, and it's so funny to see him pick out different ones to play along with Pandora or the radio when I turn any kind of music on. Oh yeah, and Brian put a grunt call in his instrument basket too, so sometimes he picks that up.

I can't keep going all day. Okay, I guess I could as far as material goes, but not time. One more. 

He's also into "UH-OH!" Accidentally dropped food from the high-chair? Got crumbs on his hands? PURPOSELY dropped food from the high-chair? Purposely dismantled his toys AGAIN? Touched the lamp shade? Poured his juice all over the floor from his sippy-cup, one drop at a time? "Uh-oh!" ...followed up by an explanation in gibberish of what happened, accompanied by hand movements to illustrate the events. He's not very verbal yet. He know a good handful of words (though a lot of them sound alike - apple, hippo, bubbles, and Bible are all "Bopple") but he's very, very talkative. He also understands WAY more than he can say. I'm continually impressed when I give him a fairly complex command ("if you're done with your Play-Dough, go pick up your roller from the table and bring it to mommy") and he can follow it. I know his baby talk won't last forever, so I'm enjoying it very much.

Alrighty then. Enough about Will.

Hey! By the way. You should try these pancakes. Will is a fairly skeptical eater when it comes to me masquerading certain foods as other foods (for example, banana pancakes and cauliflower pizza are not huge hits) but he loves these Sweet Potato Pancakes by Canada Girl Eats Paleo. I've made them with leftover squash, too, and I always add frozen blueberries. If I only have all-purpose flour around, I'll use that, because really it's only a tablespoon. Finally, I add a pinch of salt and sometimes a little bit of honey if my sweet potatoes aren't very sweet. I blend it all up in my Magic Bullet and it makes a quick and healthy breakfast for the two of us. Try it sometime! Even Brian thought they tasted decently like real pancakes.

Well, the sky is lightening and it's time to me to go get dressed. Have you ever noticed how much more motivated and inspired you feel when you're dressed for the day? Too bad it's not very fun to get dolled up right now - more like wrapped and bound with this big belly of mine. But my coffee is depleted, my dinner needs to get started, and there's BABY STUFF to do. So, Favorite Hour of the Day, we will meet again tomorrow. Until then, I will hang out with my fabulous kid. 

Only hopefully not at two in the morning.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Recap - Pics to come!

We rang in the year 2013 living at my parents' house. That night, we celebrated moving back to Michigan and having our son in the year 2012. I didn't think any year could come close to being as wonderful as 2012. After celebrating, I kept feeling surges of relief that we didn't have to leave Michigan like we normally did after the holidays. I was - and am - so, so thrilled to be home for good.

January began with bad news. A job Brian had been offered around Christmas was rescinded when one of the company's projects fell through. Brian went from negotiating vacation time to sending out his resume en masse. To say the least, this was a long and difficult trial for him as the next couple months went by with nothing. It was easy for ME to encourage him to trust God, but Brian is so hard-working and (like most men) identifies so strongly with his work that he felt like a fish flopping around on the sand. God tested him during this time with potential jobs in other states. But Brian knew where we were supposed to be and although that meant we were still in my parents' basement, he stayed the course. This month, Leeward Construction Consulting was born.

In March, Brian was officially hired on at the university. This job has been an answer to prayer in so many, many ways. He is excelling in and enjoying his work, and I am thrilled that he won't be moving from city to city anymore as the projects shift every couple of years. Lord willing, he's there to stay!

In March, my mom and sister and I traveled to New York for my cousin Katie's bridal shower. What a fun weekend that was, eating yummy food and hanging out with our family, and Katie's shower was beautiful. In the meantime, Brian took a quick trip to Montana to visit friends while he waited to begin work at the end of the month. Although we were CONSTANTLY on and Zillow, we planned to begin serious house shopping at the end of April.

A week later, I took a pregnancy test. POSITIVE! I'll never forget running out of the bathroom in my parents' finished basement, which had become our little apartment. Brian was coming down the stairs and I met him with a joyous smile and a few excited hops into the air. "I'm pregnant!" I whispered. He gave a big grin and wrapped me in a hug. Like we had done with the news of William, we prayed and thanked God for our new baby.

A couple days later, I couldn't hold it in any more. We told my parents and siblings. Erin danced around the kitchen with William in his "Big Brother" shirt and Matthew jumped in the air, saying like a total dork, "You did it! You conceived!"

In the middle of April, we experienced one of the most challenging weeks we'd ever faced as the personal injury lawsuit for Brian's eye accident finally went to trial. This was five full days of sitting in a courtroom, having to listen to lies, false accusations, and technicalities preventing evidence from being shown. (I can truthfully say I'll never serve on a jury after seeing how our justice system has been perverted by lawyers. I thank God for our attorney, but I think he is a rare breed.) There were many times I had to leave the courtroom and find an empty room to get on my knees and pray. Friday evening, the jury came back in Brian's favor. We had won! However, our victory took a turn on Monday when we were told that the fight would go on. For eight years, this lawsuit had been a giant question mark we were hoping would be resolved at the trial. That question mark still hangs in the air almost a year later. We will see.

After the trial, it was time to start house-hunting. This exciting endeavor got old FAST. Every weekend and many after-work evenings were spent driving forty minutes out to our search area. We scoured for stale listings that we had overlooked and hopped on new ones fast. After two failed offers, we finally had an accepted offer for our home at the end of May.

At the beginning of May, we traveled to New York again for Katie's wedding. She was the happiest bride I've ever seen, and the wedding itself was lovely. The weather was spectacular and the spring trees were all in bloom. My sister and I were proud to stand up as her bridesmaids.

On the way home from New York, Brian and I stopped with my parents and William at Niagara Falls. We "lost" Brian but found him again. It was a fun day.

The next day was Monday, May 6, the day we lost our little baby. He or she would have been born a little bit before Christmas. I still find myself occasionally weeping for our baby. However, more than anything, I am incredibly thankful for this reminder of God's goodness, for this test of faith and trust, and for the nine weeks I was able to carry our son or daughter. I like to picture my mom's mom holding my baby in Heaven. I was profoundly blessed to be pregnant with that soul.

In May, I celebrated my first Mother's Day and we celebrated William's first birthday! This little guy brings light to our lives in every way imaginable. Even the tough moments bring us to the Lord. He is sweet, happy, and healthy, and of course the most adorable child to have ever existed.

For Memorial Day weekend, we traveled with my family to Pentwater, MI, to stay in the cottage of my brother, Joel's, in-laws. This was a short weekend but will always stay in my mind as a very precious time for our family. I don't know why it was such a balm to our souls, but spending time with Dayna's parents and our family, sightseeing, eating, and playing games, was one of the most refreshing times I had all year.

In June, my sister Erin left for over a month to minister in the Phillippines. We were still staying at my parents' house, and I missed her a ton! William started saying "Auntie" while she was gone, and of course promptly stopped upon her return. Oh well. Erin, I promise he said it!

At the beginning of June, we took a weekend trip to Charlevoix to spend time with Brian's family (and to give MY family a little break as we were STILL living there!) It was a sweet and precious time making memories!

On Monday night, June 17th, William woke up in the middle of the night. As I picked him up out of his crib I suddenly had a feeling I was pregnant again. I smiled to myself and hoped. Wednesday night, I stopped at Rite Aid and bought a pregnancy test, which was positive. My reaction was different than it had been in March. I thanked the Lord but immediately cried with sadness that our December baby was truly gone. I thanked God - with joy and fear - for my now three children. We kept it between the two of us.

On Friday, June 21, I started bleeding again. I texted Brian that it had been "too good to be true". That night I took Will to the park and held him extra long at bedtime. I cried before the Lord that he might be my only one. It had only been two days, and I chalked it up to a faulty test or remaining hormones after the miscarriage.

While Erin was gone, I helped with our church's Vacation Bible School June 24th to the 28th. VBS is always a headache to some degree, but it's far outweighed by seeing the kids' excitement as they learn about the Lord. I love it!

We traveled to Charlevoix to be with Brian's family over the Fourth of July. I felt kind of crummy, nauseous, and tired, but we still had a wonderful weekend as a family.

On July 9, we closed on our house!

I still felt pretty bad mid-July, so I took the second pregnancy test I'd bought in June and - surprise-but-not-really - it was positive. I was all kinds of confused, so I scheduled an appointment with an OB and went for an ultrasound. That day I saw an eight-week-old baby dancing around. I still carry its picture in my wallet from that day, although it's not much more than a tiny bean blur! My bloodwork came back with good numbers. My little one had been there all along, and we trusted the Lord and began looking forward to February 20!

At the end of the month, Brian and I left William overnight for the first time ever as we drove up to Charlevoix to retrieve our stuff from his father's storage building... in order to move it into our house! Although it was a quick weekend of heavy lifting and loading, the time with just the two of us felt like a getaway.

On August 6, we moved into our dream house! I hope we can stay here forever.

That following weekend, we attended Family Camp (church camp) for the first time as members again. It was another one of those precious realizations that we live here now. Thank you, Lord.

On September 7, Brian was powerwashing the second floor of the house when his ladder slipped and he impaled his legs on our rusty, wrought-iron gate. This gate is serious business. I think it's an antique and it is seriously filthy, rusty, solid wrought iron that punctured his legs in several places. I'll never forget hearing the crash, running out to Brian, and hearing him yell to call an ambulance. The memory still gives me chills. I didn't think about it much at the moment, but we talked later about how he could have easily punctured an artery and been dead within minutes - or paralyzed, or seriously laid up for a long, long time. Miraculously, however, the punctures did not damage tendons or main blood vessels. We spent Saturday night in the hospital, he had surgery on Sunday morning, and he elected to come home Sunday evening. He took Monday off of work and returned for a half-day on Tuesday! God was so merciful to us. I have a new measure of gratitude for my husband's life!

On September 20th (don't even ask!) Brian left for a serious mountain elk-hunting trip in Montana with a few friends. His leg was healing well and he had been ANXIOUSLY anticipating this trip all year. So.... why would he miss it?! We missed him terribly as he was gone for 16 days, and we were thrilled when he brought home news that he'd shot an enormous bull elk with his bow!

That trip launched us into 2013 hunting season, which was tremendously rewarding for Brian. God blessed him with being able to hunt a wonderful spot, and he brought home a monster buck as well as a second, very nice eight pointer. He also was able to harvest and butcher a doe as a favor to the folks who own the property on which he was able to hunt.

In October, we had company stay with us for four weekends in a row! Brian's parents made it down for one of them, my parents came for one, I hosted friends during one of them, and my aunt and uncle from NY came down for one as well. We love having company and this was a blast. William soaked up all the attention - that's for sure!

November saw us celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our new house! My immediate family, minus Joel and Dayna, came for too much food yet again. It snowed all day and we had a wonderful time eating and playing games.

At the beginning of December, on an otherwise normal Wednesday night, Brian surprised me with two beautiful necklaces - one a pearl (for our children) and one a diamond (since he "hadn't bought me jewelry in a long time"). This is extraordinarily rare as Brian is not a "gift guy," and I was speechless. (When I told the story to my one friend, who is close to both me and Brian and knows him well, she looked at him in confusion and asked him, "Are you dying?!") I don't expect this to happen for another seven years, but two necklaces in one night should definitely tide me over for much longer than that! I have to mention this in my yearly recap because it was SO one of those moments that you never want to forget. Brian is a faithful, kind, present, diligent, intelligent, and FUN husband and father who gives me something to be thankful about every day. A million pieces of jewelry couldn't equal the gift that I have in his character.

But I still like the necklaces.

In mid-December, my parents took William for a couple of nights while Brian and I took a little trip to Baltimore, MD. He had a work conference on Thursday from 8-4, but the rest of the time we spent driving around the city, trying new restaurants, relaxing in our hotel room, and sightseeing and shopping (we arrived Wednesday evening and didn't leave until Friday evening). I don't know when we'll be able to have a getaway like this again, but it was relaxing to the MAX and was the perfect "babymoon" before Dubs the Second joins us.

Christmas this year was absolutely fantastic. We had a weekend family celebration for the three of us before we headed up to Charlevoix after Christmas Sunday church. We spent several relaxing, wonderful days up north, where William got to play with his two older cousins, watch "ball" with "Papa" in the den, and get spoiled by "Nana" every waking moment. What can I say - Brian's mom spoils EVERYONE! We returned to spend a couple nights with my family for a belated Christmas celebration.

We celebrated New Year's Eve with friends from our church and spent January 1 with my family and relatives from NY. The holiday stretched into New Year's Day as Brian enjoyed his Winter Break (unheard of! who has those?!) and returned to work on the 2nd. That weekend, Snowpocalypse 2014 hit us and he had TWO more snow days on Monday and Tuesday! That was a serious blessing. We caught up on a lot of sleep and shared family time, just the three of us.

This week finds us settling back into "real life".... which for us, means Serious Baby Prep. I doubt I'll go very early, but my gut tells me this baby might not hold out until my due date. (I wouldn't mind if it did, though!) I'm over 34 weeks now, so in three weeks we'll be on official Labor Watch. I've got a lot of stuff to do before then!

I didn't think anything could measure up to the year 2012, but 2013 was definitely a contender! The trials of the year highlighted the sweetness of the (way more abundant) wonderful moments. Each night I go to sleep thinking, "I am profoundly blessed." I said it before, and I'll say it again... I am profoundly blessed.