Monday, April 30, 2012

I Hit My Wall

I think I may have hit my wall.  I still feel very happy and blessed with my family.  I'm still all giddy about this sweet little baby girl that I have.  But physically, I feel extremely drained.  It's not all because of a newborn baby, though that most certainly does take its toll.  She's been better at sleeping in sets at night, something like 10:00 to 1:00 then 1:30 or so to 4:30...then sleeps til 7:00 maybe.  I should be thankful for that, but it doesn't always go that way.  And since I'm nursing, I can't just roll over and say, "You're turn!" to Josh.  I nurse her every time.

A zombie is sort of what I feel like.

But it's not just her.

Add to that...I've had three (THREE!) gall bladder attacks (not sure what else to call them) in eight days.  When I was admitted to the hospital back in September with pancreatitis (and also discovered gall stones) I thought it was the worst pain I had ever experienced.  Now that I felt labor without the full affect of an epidural, I would still say that it's the worst, mostly because contractions come and go, and for me with my attacks, it is a non stop horrible pain that lasts for about 4 to 5 hours.  CRAZY.

Usually there are months between attacks...I'm not sure why they're coming on strong now.

So that pain completely drains me.  No sleep drains me.  I'm not sure how I'm functioning, but I am!  I am not superhuman, but I admit...something feels superhuman about being able to go about my daily routine with little sleep and coming off of that kind of attack.

My insurance says I have to wait until July for surgery, though, so I'm just praying that I can adjust my diet and be better at what I'm eating to keep from having another attack.

No sleep + crazy pain = zombie Chrissy.

And yet...somehow...I have strength to keep going!  Thanking God for that! :)

I am also thankful that my husband takes care of me when I'm in pain...whether it's getting me my Percocet or getting me a heating pad or just being there...he is great.

Here's hoping my zombie self is not zombie like too much longer!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm Getting Old(er)

In June of 1998, the summer after I graduated from high school, I looked like this:

In July of 2011, the summer that I celebrated 10 years of marriage (let's add to that 3 kids and lots of ups and downs in life), I looked like this:

I'm getting older.  And what's funny is, I actually like myself much better now than the person in the first picture.  I could go into details of life, what's made me who I am, but I think I'll stay superficial with this post.  We'll get into a more who-I-am-now as apposed to who-I-used-to-be type post later.

So now that I'm in my thirties, I actually have to start to consider what kind of face wash to use.  Or what kind of shampoo to use.  Or if I'm going to actually go to the new vein clinic in a nearby town because of the veins in my legs.  Gosh, I so miss my "Barbie legs" as my sister used to call them.  I refuse to ever tan in a tanning bed again (I should have never done it in the first place) because of the age spots I've started to see on my face (two so far).  All the times my dad gave me a hard time for wearing make-up to softball tournaments every weekend...I can now tell him that I am thankful for my vanity back then...because my foundation had SPF 10 or 15 and probably saved me several years of aging!

I joke that I am going to start saving right now for a face lift when I'm in my 50's.  I should also save for a tummy tuck, Lord knows that no matter how hard I work, this tummy of mine that carried four children to term will never be flat again! 

But then sometimes I just sit back and think...why I am worried about all this stuff?  Why on earth do I think that I'm going to look 25 forever?  Why do I want to?

Our society expects it of us?

Our culture ingrains it in us?

I mean, it's good that I want to lose weight to be healthy.  But obsessing over my two age spots or the veins in my legs...probably not good.

I do still want to find a good face wash for my age.

I do still want to lose weight.

I do want to do what I can to look my best.  Maybe it's for me.  Maybe it's for my husband.  Maybe it's just for the sake of looking good.  I hope that's ok.  I'm not sure where the line is when it comes to wanting to look good.  When does it just become major vanity?  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Few Random, Postpartum Thoughts

When I was only about 5 months pregnant or so, my mom and sister took me shopping at a Motherhood store at the Battlefield Mall.  What a sweet thing they did for me...I was well dressed this time around!  But I'm not sure what I loved more: the fact that I had a few cute tops and a nice pair of prego jeans...or the fact that I found something on the clearance rack for $5 that I would use after I had the baby.  I saw my friend Bethany wearing one of these when she first had her baby girl a year ago, and I just knew that I HAD to have one!

It's a sleeveless pull down nursing tank...

Nursing?  Don't have one?  Get one! :)

 Seems simple enough, right?  Well, the neck pulls down under the breast, and I wear it under my shirts.  I'm not really a hippy breastfeeder, so even though I'm a big supporter of nursing in public, I'm not a fan of exposing myself (please don't be mad that I just referred to some as hippy breastfeeders).  I like to cover up the best I can, and this under shirt is FABULOUS!  If you were sitting across from me, you would not be able to see any part of my chubby belly, side, or even my boob.  I pull down my regular shirt to her face, and the under shirt covers the rest.  I. love. it.

And speaking of my chubby side and belly, I think I honestly forgot how long it takes for a body to get back to normal after having a baby.  I don't mean that I forgot how long it takes to lose the weight, I have about 25 to lose to get pre-baby (and that's not counting about 20 or 30 more after that to get to pre ALL babies).  I just mean...I forgot that my tummy would stick out and look pregnant for a while.  Not just fat.  Pregnant-looking.

This is the first pregnancy that I took pictures of myself week by week.  I looked through them, and I'd say this is about what I looked like at 17 weeks.

I have lots of work to do!

I found a product that I am LOVING to use with Leah.  It's called Halo SleepSack Swaddle, and it's just so neat.  I think we became pretty good at swaddling the old fashioned way, but there is just something about how snug she looks in this one and how it seems to help her sleep (and her feet never come out).  We received one when we left the hospital (it's really warm and fleece) and we also received one as a gift (which is made of a lighter material and I think it will be great when it gets warmer this spring).

I love this swaddling blanket thingy.

 It's sort of amazing to me how happy I'm feeling these days.  I wasn't really sure what to expect, I wasn't sure if I'd be overwhelmed and experience the normal baby blues (believe me, I've had them with the others and it's horrible).  But it's possible that I'm just feeling so excited about where my family is now.  And it's really easy when I see how much Caleb, Sarah, and Gabriel adore Leah.

She will be two weeks old tomorrow.  No matter how corny it sounds, I honestly can't imagine life without her.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Big Church

When Josh and I were living in Bolivar, MO during our college days at SBU, which isn't far from Springfield (oh, how I loved Springfield), I would occasionally hear commercials about James River Assembly.  It is a massive church, so big that recently they opened another location where they stream the service from the original location to the new location.  What I remember is hearing the line, "A big church that seems small."

I wondered how that was possible.  I mean, I sort of thought of how that would work, but I did wonder how someone could not just remain lost in the shuffle of hundreds and hundreds of people.

Fast forward about ten years, and now I get it.

We are a part of a large church, one that isn't massive like James River, but one that is very large for our area.  I believe the 10:30 service usually has 400 - 500 people, and that's just one of three services (the other two aren't as big, but I'd guess a few hundred at 9:15...not sure about 8:00).

And here's what I figured have to be intentional about being involved if you want to be a part of a large church.  A huge part of feeling a since of belonging (in my opinion) is being a part of our small group (some churches call them life groups).  I also loved being a part of MOPS (I've been away for a bit from when I worked...but might just have to get back to it this fall).  And when my kids are involved, it allows me to meet other parents, and friendships are formed there, too!

Not to mention, it is a huge blessing and honor to be able to sing on our worship team.  It's great to find something you love doing and something that gives glory to God at the same time.  That's why I take it seriously as I wrote about in this post.

During the two years we've been a part of Greentree, I have seen how being a part of my church family has blessed us specifically.

 Like when I see my children loving their classes and teachers...

Caleb holding up the number 8 as his 1st grade Sunday
School class sings "The Perfect 10"

Or when Josh's grandma passed away and members from our small group sent us flowers...

I thought these were just so pretty and thoughtful.

My small group put together a surprise baby shower for me and Josh!  It was so sweet, and I love surprises! :)

Hillary and Kim from our small group...this was a special
night to me, it was so fun!

When I needed to take Leah to her first pediatrician appointment, a friend from church said she would keep Sarah and Gabriel for me!

Sarah in the middle with Daisy (left) and Elena (right) as my
sweet friend Lajoie watched my kiddos.  They had a tea party!

When friends visited me in the hospital...

Jana and I are on worship team together, but she's just a great
friend, too!  She also came to see me and pray for me when I
was in the hospital with pancreatitis and gall bladder issues.
Carisma and Bryan...our small group leaders.  Love them!

I don't have pictures, but I am also so thankful for those who have brought dinner to us after having a baby!  I'm not sure where that idea originated from, but I'm glad there are churches that do this, and ours is one! :)

You may be thinking, "My church is just like yours!"  Good!  It should be! :) I guess I was just thinking of the times I've heard people say they couldn't be a part of a church "that big" and I wondered why.  I mean, if you want to be lost in the shuffle (I do think some want it that way) then you most certainly can be.  But if you want to plug in, you can most certainly do that, too.  The size of a church doesn't keep it from ministering to it's members.  If anything, church growth means the church is doing something right!

"I go to a BIG Church, but it's made up of SMALL GROUPS. Little churches within a church. We are like little families that grow, learn, fight, eat, pray and mourn together. My small group has been BUSY lately. New Jobs, new houses, new babies, marriages, and even new songs released!! It's good to be linked up with a group of friends that you love and love you back."  -Bryan

Among other things, this status update from Bryan got me to thinking about writing this post.  I'm glad he said it, I agree wholeheartedly.

What makes your church feel like family?  

Have you ever thought you couldn't be a part of a large church?

Friday, April 20, 2012

About Her Name

We successfully kept Leah's name a surprise for the most part.  I have no idea why I felt strongly about telling the kids and trying to let them in on the fun of keeping a secret to surprise everyone once she got here.  Sarah's preschool teachers told me that if I REALLY wanted to keep it a secret, I probably shouldn't have told her. :) I guess one day during circle time, she announced, "I'm going to have a baby sister!  And her name is going to be Leah!  But don't tell anyone, ok?!"

Oh, well.  I'm still glad we told the kids.

I also had a few friends guess it successfully (three friends I think).  They know me too well.  That, and they know Old Testament girl names too well!

Our kids names all have a common pattern, one that I didn't really set out to establish, but one that I just ended up following after we named our first born.  That is, first name from the Bible, middle name from the family.  I wrote about Caleb, Sarah, and Gabriel's names here.  I also included new born pics in that post!

Leah's name follows suit, her first name is in the book of Genesis (chapters 29-35); Leah was the sister of Rachel, wife of Jacob.  Michelle is my sister's middle name.  When we called to tell her Leah's full name, it made her teary - which is one of my favorite things to do, make people cry!  I know, I'm so weird! :)

Sonja (my sister) and Chris with our kids.  The kids love being with them!

And I guess the true test of a name (for the mom anyway) is how it makes you feel when you hear someone else say it out loud.  I joked with my mother-in-law that I was even going to "surprise myself" with the name because I didn't call her that while I was pregnant.  All the months that I referred to her as "baby girl" on my blog or on facebook, I actually called her that in my head, too!  So as we started to tell people last Thursday, and as I started saying it out loud, I really loved it.  Then when we had her first appointment with the pediatrician, and when the nursed called for Leah, it seriously made me smile.

My sweet Leah.  I could stare at her all day.

Some people were surprised when I told them that we had a name picked out rather quickly.  The truth is, it was in my "name vault" as I call it.  When I was pregnant with Gabriel, we didn't know if he was a boy or girl, so I already had Leah Michelle all ready to go back then!  I still loved it this time, so I didn't change my mind.

I love hearing name stories, so I thought I'd share hers!

How did you chose your children's names?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Daddy Brings Home Math

Maybe it's because he loves math...

...or because he's a teacher...

...I'm not really sure which one, but I don't care. It's pretty cute when he brings home age-appropriate math worksheets for the kids to do.

And they love it, too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nursing - The Beginning

Leah has been a nursing champ.

She latched on first time we tried...ate for 15 minutes on each side.

I was thrilled.

She's still doing great.

Except I forgot about the excruciating pain associated with the first week (or so) of nursing.

I want to cry every. single. time.

And the only things that are keeping me from dying are


Yeah, that might be over-dramatic. I probably won't die. But it sort of feels like it. It's like I'm in constant labor, not to mention the...umm...pain where she latches on.

I know it will get better. It always does. I just wish it was really soon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

She is here...

My baby girl arrived yesterday...

Leah Michelle

Thursday, April 12, 2012

8 pounds, 10 ounces

21 inches long

She is doing great, and so am I.

I am so thankful for her. I find myself just staring at her sometimes.

We will go home from the hospital today around 5:30 pm. Then our new life as a family of six will really begin.

And I think I'm ready...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Very Pregnant

Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. I'm 38 weeks, 3 days in these pics...some of my last pictures being pregnant.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids - Coloring Coordinating, Not Matching

For Easter Sunday, my kiddos looked like this in our front yard:

This one was taken at my aunt and uncle's house before they went for an egg hunt:

And I had so much fun looking for shirts for the boys and a dress or Sarah. The thing is, I finally found a store that had sizes which would have allowed Caleb and Gabriel to have identical shirts, and Sarah and baby girl could have had matching dresses (you know, when she arrives). But I just couldn't do it. I'm not sure why!

I love to color coordinate the family, but I just can't have them matching exactly. I usually find Sarah's dress first, and then I go off of those colors. She had pink, green, and I found shirts for the boys with green and/or white in them.

Maybe it's because I read an article about this once, it particularly was speaking about twins and parents who always match them. I just found it to be interesting, the truth is each kid is so different (even non-twins) that I just like for them to have their own look...even if it may be color coordinated! :)

I do find it to be cute when I see matching kids, so don't be offended if your kids match and you're reading this! It's just that for my kiddos (just Caleb and Gabriel for now until baby girl gets here) I've never matched them exactly.

An entire, professional family picture may be different...I've thought of wearing all white shirts someday for an outside shot...not sure, though.

Maybe this non-matching thing is because my mom never matched me and my sister? Oh...thanks, mom, by the way! ;)

Do you match your kids, color coordinate, or neither?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yes, You Can Have a Re-Do.

It seems like just the other day, but now that I think about it, it must have been about a year ago when I sat at a table at a friend's house discussing a topic with our small group leader. I told him that there were two things I didn't like about how I parented...or...two things I feel like we should do differently in our house. His simple response: "Well...change it!" The conversation was a little more than that, and he expounded on that statement with how and why, but I just sort of took those three words and ran with them!

The two things were:

1. My kids aren't very good at picking up after themselves.
2. My kids watch a movie each night to fall asleep.

The truth with both of these is that I take full responsibility for it because I enabled them to not pick up and to have those movies at bedtime. I felt guilty thinking I wasn't teaching them how to be good little people in our home and how to fall asleep like normal (whatever normal means).

The first one comes from being too particular as a mom and not having the patience to teach them how to do it. I mean, really. How long does it take for a mom to pick up a kid's room vs. how long it takes a 4 or 5-year-old to do it?! So instead of being patient about it and teaching them, I just had a tendency to pick it up for them. Not so bad when it's only one kid and he's only 2 or so, but add a few more kids and a few more years and this becomes a nightmare! If I learned anything from my years of watching Dr. Phil (which I don't anymore because his content has changed a bit!) it's that kids are resilient. They can change and re-adapt, even in their own home.

Caleb was the easiest to teach this to, I'm not sure why. It's probably because he now has to earn his privileges. I'm not sure if some would consider this bribing? Some things he just has to do because he lives here, but other things we reward him for doing. I think deep down he wants to please his mom and dad, and he knows that helping around the house is one thing that definitely makes mom happy!

Sarah has been more difficult, she can be very bull headed (even though in other areas of life, she seems to be my easy kid). When she's told to pick up something, it's almost like the end of the world is upon her. But we keep with it. Don't you love it when you say, "Yes, you will put your flip flops away or you will sit in time out," and the child would rather sit in time out than put away their shoes? Yep. So we have to be a little creative with her. (And for my spanking fans, there are times when she won't even do it if she was that's not a solution for everything.) There have been times when clean up time is a family effort, and if she wants to participate in the family outing/treat/time outside aftewards, she has to clean up! Is that bribing?

Gabriel is still pretty young, and when he sees his big brother helping, he tends to help, too. This makes me very thankful for Caleb's willingness to pick up!

Now as far as the second thing, I have no idea when we started letting the kids watch a movie to fall asleep! When Caleb was 3-years-old (and Sarah would have been 1), my parents gave him a very cute Cars tv for his room. I went back and forth about being ok with a tv in the room, but in the end I decided it was fine and that I would limit the time they watch an occasional movie or the time they played on a game system (back then Caleb had a V-Smile). I am now considering taking it out altogether. But as far as ending the movie at bedtime thing, we sort of went cold turkey. This upset Sarah the most (why do I keep saying she is my easy kid?), but we just told her we wold keep the hall light on so she wouldn't be scared. She still sleeps in the "boy" room because she wants to wait until her baby sister arrives to transfer to the "girl" room...or so she says!

That was another reason I knew we needed to end this bedtime ritual. I do not want two tv's going at night!

So if there is something you want to change, you can do it! Really!

Is there anything you want to change, are working to change, or have successfully changed in your home as far as habits with the kids or your parenting?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Who Do You Represent?

It was an early Saturday morning, I was sitting outside of our church's gym (or multipurpose building...I don't really know what we call it) as I held a crabby Gabriel. I was waiting for Caleb's Upward game to get going, the other games had not ended, so the crowd from those games had not cleared out yet. I saw Josh's dad walk up to the door and come inside, he stood by me and talked, it helped Gabriel to see Papa. It helped me, also, because I was feeling equally crabby as Gabriel was having his moment of being a 3-year-old.

And then a young woman and her husband walked up to Josh's dad and said, "Well, hi, Steve! What are you doing here?!" I didn't know it, but they worked together. They made small talk, he explained that his grandson played Upward and that his son and daughter-in-law attended church here. He introduced her to me.

Then she smiled at me and said...

"Oh, you sing at the 10:30 service, don't you?!"

Instantly I sat up a bit straighter. I tried to wipe off the irritated look I must have had on my face after a difficult morning with one of my kiddos. In that brief moment, I couldn't believe she recognized me as one who she sees on stage.

Stephanie and Lajoie on the left...two girls I sing with if they're on the same rotation! :)
Nathan on the right, our minister of worship. *Photo credit Greentree website, pretty sure Bonnie Hall took them.

I said, "Yes, I do sometimes." I think I also said something about not believing she recognized me because I felt like a bum that day, wearing no make-up, hair barely fixed, jeans and a t-shirt happened to be my attire.

That one moment really got me to thinking. If I'm in front of 400 - 500 people on a Sunday, and if they see me as one who represents the church, and if they see me out and about, I'd better represent the church appropriately, right?

Now please don't misunderstand me. First and foremost (of course) I should ultimately be representing God, His Word, and what His love means. We are His church. So I sort of put representing the church I attend and representing the Lord in the same category (you can disagree, leave a comment). ;) If I take on the responsibility of being in front of people, whether it's something as recognizable as being on stage or being the greeter at the front door, I am a part of something with His name on it (literally or figuratively depending on what church you attend I guess).

So if I'm at Walmart, shouldn't I be very mindful of how I speak to my husband or how I interact with my children? I can just see it now: "Gosh, did you hear what she just said to him? I can't believe she sings on Sunday mornings!"

What about other avenues in life? I've always wondered this. I know people become really adamant about having their professional and personal lives completely separate. If I'm a nurse and I do a great job, then that's that, right? But what if a patient sees me getting plastered at a wedding reception or at some other place. What about teachers? How would I feel if my son's teacher was swearing up and down at her waitress in a restaurant or at a ref during a little league game? What if I heard an off duty police officer make crude jokes in hearing distance of my children?

Shouldn't good character be evident everywhere? Should we really just turn it off and on depending on if we're "on the job" or not?

I don't think the young woman really thought anything of my demeanor that morning. She has children, too. I think most moms are understanding. But it did get me to thinking. I'm not saying I can possibly be perfect everywhere I go, but I do think I should be very mindful of who I represent.

And really...I should be mindful whether I think someone is watching or not.

"A woman of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." Proverbs 31:10

Monday, April 2, 2012

Misc. Monday - Blogging, 3cm, Girl Day, Baby Clothes, AC, Baby Stuff

Spring break is over, back to a normal Monday. Happy April!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1. I just didn't feel like blogging this morning. I'm not sure why. I think it's because I feel like I have so much to do around here (in full nesting mode) that I didn't want to pause and write. But I told myself at the beginning of the year that I would be consistent, and during the first three months of the year, I have not missed a Monday, Wednesday, Friday post! I like that I'm back to blogging, and I like documenting what's going on or what I'm thinking. Thus, I made myself sit down and do this Misc. Monday.

2. Thursday marked 37 weeks of pregnancy, which means I'm full term. Baby girl can arrive any day now as far as I'm concerned! :) I am 3cm dilated but the doctor said I was "still thick" which means not effaced much (and if you don't know what either of those terms mean, it just means my cervix isn't ready, Google for more info).

3. My mom and I had a "girl day" on Friday, just the two of us. We were going to shop a bunch, but I told her I didn't think I had it in me! So instead, we had a very relaxing day out at my parents' house. It's so peaceful out there, I just love it. And I'm also quite fond of doing nothing, so it fit my personality. We did do one, short trip to Walmart in the morning where I found a few cute outfits for baby girl, and then later in the afternoon I got a pedicure.

The next day we took a trip to Big Lots in Rolla and found the perfect dresser for the girl room.

4. I got out Sarah's baby clothes, washed, folded, and put them away in the new dresser (oh, the dresser, I might add, took Josh about 4 hours to put was so complicated). I didn't realize how many memories would come back to me seeing those clothes, it was so emotional! But Sarah made me laugh often when she would say, "Oh, I remember wearing that!" I'm sure you do, sweet girl. Ha!

Sarah and my mom at her dedication at church.

5. We turned on that AC yesterday. It's only April! We think there is something wrong with it, though. It never really cooled down the place. I guess it's better to find this out now as apposed to the heat of the summer. But I'm not good with the heat these days, so I wish it was cool NOW! Speaking of heat, I guess my kids get that from me...not liking the heat. I mean, it has been in the mid to upper 80's, but they just don't last long outside when it's in the 80's. Sad, I know! We should have gotten out a sprinkler or one of the kiddy pools I guess.

6. Sometimes people ask me if I really need anything since I already have kids, specifically since I've already had a girl. I do have all the main, big stuff and some clothes (though when Sarah was born, that's when I became a stay-at-home mom, so I didn't really get her a lot of clothes because I kept her in sleepers a lot). I'd say that main things moms need when they already have kids would be:

Baby wash

And when it comes to my kids, newborn-sized diapers aren't even necessary! I was telling my mom that the other day, size 1 starts at 8 pounds, and if I keep with my pattern, this baby will be a big one. Caleb was 8lbs, 3oz - Sarah was 8lbs, 14oz - Gabriel was 9lbs, 3oz.

Here's hoping baby girl arrives soon...this week would be fine with me! :)