Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Birth Day!

Monday evening at 8:07pm our third daughter, Charity Kathleen, was born. She weighed 9 lbs, 6.6 oz. and is 21" long.

It was an induced labor, but no drugs (I really did not want pitocin). It was fast, everything went very well, and much of it still seems very surreal to me. :-) I am very glad we had our friend and doula with us. I plan to write Charity's birth story soon. For now we are focused on our new life as a family of 5!!

Susannah and Sylvia are pretty happy with their new baby sister. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Waiting for Baby: Making Donuts!

For Christmas we gave Susannah the Richard Scary book, Humberdink's Busy Day. In the book Humberdink and his helper, Able Baker Charlie, make donuts. Susannah has been asking off and on since Christmas if we could make donuts sometime.

Making donuts isn't really that difficult, but it is a little time consuming and when it comes to the frying (because in my book fried donuts are the only REAL donuts) it is an all-or-nothing, undivided attention, must be very, very careful, part of the process. For this reason I knew it was not a project I should tackle without another adult around.

This past Thursday Daniel had the day off since his work is slow right now, and I asked if he could help at the key points of a donut making adventure. He and the girls were outside most of the morning and I mixed up the dough it had risen and was ready to cut out by about 11:30. I was going to have the girls help with the cutting out then realized that they would get just as much satisfaction out of helping me cut out a few as they would cutting ALL of them out, so I started the process alone.
They wandered in from outside in time to help with the last few rollings and cuttings of the dough. Each of the girls got a small wad of dough to roll out with their own little rolling pins.

Sylvia ended up eating her dough, but Susannah tasted some and saved some to cut into donut holes. I think we ended up with 18-20 donuts and about 10 donut holes. Then it was time for those to "take a nap" in the oven while we ate lunch. By the time we'd finished with lunch they were ready to start frying!

The girls really wanted to watch, so with very careful and deliberate safety instructions given and with Daniel's help, they watched me fry all of the donuts in our little deep fryer. It took until almost their naptime to fry the donuts. Then I mixed up the glaze and glazed a couple donut holes so they could each have a hot, fresh donut hole before their naps. Normally we don't do food or even sugary sweets before naptime but this was obviously a VERY special occasion and nothing is as good as a hot, fresh, homemade donut!!

It took me a while to glaze the donuts and by the time I had finished up the entire donut making process my legs and feet were aching from all the standing, but it was a fun way to pass another day waiting for our baby to be born.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Waiting for Baby

While we continue waiting for our baby's birth-day, I personally don't feel like doing much at all besides, well, nothing. I feel as huge and cumbersome as a beached whale, things ache, and if you've been 40 or 40+ weeks pregnant you know what I'm talking about. :-) {For reference's sake, today is Thursday; Saturday will be 41 weeks.}

There are plenty of things that I can't do with them or do very well with them these days, so when it does suit I try to say "yes!" to the extra special, fun things they like to do. One evening Susannah asked if she could paint "with colored paint". That means the real deal. Not just the paint-with-water coloring book but the easel and Crayola craft paint (washable!!).

They loved their little painting session! Susannah picks out one color at a time and I put a tiny bit (maybe 1 tsp.) in small bowls for them. I also learned that if I add a few drops of water and stir it up, it paints easier and doesn't result in them scooping out the whole thick glob all at once.

After they finish with one color, Susannah picks out another color and the cycle repeats. On this evening her colors were pink, orange, purple and white. Interestingly enough, their finished "art" looked pretty good with those color combinations!  

This wasn't something particularly related to the baby, but it was something that helped the girls stay busy for a few minutes after supper one evening.  The dishwasher was empty so after supper I asked them to clear off the table. One dish at a time they took the dishes from the table to the dishwasher. Susannah did the glass plates and Sylvia did the utensils.

It was fun to walk into the kitchen later to see how they had loaded the dirty dishes. :-)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy Due Date - A Time of Waiting

Anticipation has been high, for all of us.
For the past week or two it has been getting higher.
Today is the baby's due date. 40 weeks.
If I don't go into labor today, I will, once again, enter what we have come to call "the 4th trimester".

I try to keep the dishes and kitchen cleaned up.
I wash and fold all of our laundry every Monday and Tuesday (usually it's Wednesday or even Thursday till I get it ALL folded, but at least it's cleaned).
Last week I washed the kitchen floor one day, scrubbed toilets and sinks another day and scrubbed the shower/tub another day.

Soon it will be time to do the bathrooms. Again. If baby doesn't come first.
I keep giving little people their baths, which means getting in a most awkward and uncomfortable, stomach and baby -squeezing position for several minutes at a time. With the warmer days and outside play, baths are happening a little more frequently.

Contractions start and stop.
My ankles swell most days now.
I wonder if I should plan to make supper or not.
I think ahead, considering how many days the girls would be with grandparents and if that would include a Sunday if I were to go to the hospital "today". Then I wonder what the weather for that Sunday would be and if I have warm or cold -weather church clothes packed in their bags.

My phone rings. It buzzes with a text or two. People wondering if I've had the baby yet.
Friends empathize and give welcome encouragement.
I wonder if each twinge is the start of something.
I go to bed each night wondering if I'll wake up to a flood of amniotic fluid.
I wake up each morning wondering if we will have the baby "today".

This period of waiting is not easy on the mind. I am ready but it isn't time yet. My body is getting ready. I can tell it and the Dr. visits confirm it, but it's not time yet.

I have mixed emotions continually. I feel eager and excited about the baby coming. At the same time I feel anxious wondering if I will actually go all the way to 42 weeks and end up with my third induction. I get excited because I know that even if I would end up going as long as 42 weeks, it is only 14 days away! In FOURTEEN DAYS we will be holding our baby.

I listen to music at home and in the car when the time lends itself to enough "quiet" that I can spare my brain to listen. :) Music that feeds my heart and soul. I sing and listen to the music in church. Most of the time if there are no distractions so that I can really worship with the music, I end up in tears. Just... because. Because my emotions are a wreck and I am trying, trying, trying to wait patiently on God's timing. Because I want to KNOW and I can't know. Because I know He is in control and has all things planned out exactly as they should be. Because I know He is watching over me, gently giving me the strength I need each minute of each day to get through one. more. task. laden with the heavy weight of this precious life I am carrying within.

Perhaps it's just because I am at the end stages of this pregnancy, or perhaps there's an uptick in pregnancy related articles going around the internet, but there have been several articles and blog posts that have been an encouragement to me in various ways. I would like to share the links here, for you to be encouraged from if you're in a similar situation, and for me to be able to find again in the future.

This blog post quite possibly encouraged me the most. It put a name to the "place" I am in right now.
"The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between"

Reading this post about Prodromal Labor - start and stop, start and stop... helped put into perspective exactly what is going on when I spend 30 minutes having cramping or contractions that don't result in active labor. (This is the first pregnancy I've experienced anything other than a very few, painless, Braxton-Hicks contractions so this Prodromal Labor is quite new to me.)

Not related to before the birth or labor and delivery, but this post provides an excellent list of ways new (and by "new" it means had a new baby, not just first-time moms!) moms can be ministered to. I have been on both the giving and receiving end and both are a real blessing! I would add that especially after the first week of post partum, I would have welcomed a sit and chat (or come and help) visit from people most of the time. There were times when someone dropping off a meal and leaving immediately was good, other times I would enjoy some adult company and another set of hands to help with potty trips, diaper changes, reading books and another set of ears to listen to the older children.  And one thing I would add to the list as something that could really be helpful to a mom would be to offer to give her older children baths. Not that I want just anyone giving my girls baths, but most people that would come to visit I would gladly let them take care of that exhausting and physically challenging for new mommies task!

On the recovery side of things, this post was good to read knowing that I have never been "back to normal" anytime near 6 weeks post-delivery! :-)

*I do want to add that aside from the linked to articles or blog posts, I am not familiar in any way with the sites of these posts. I also did not re-read over each one with a fine-tooth comb just prior to sharing these links so I may have forgotten if there was any content I specifically did not agree with.

In the meantime, this time of in-between, waiting, continues. I hope to be sharing our 3rd child's birth-day celebration with you soon!!

Susannah's 4th Birthday

Getting a head start on making the March birthday cakes, Susannah got to be the main helper and watcher when we mixed up her birthday cake, a Whacky Chocolate Cake, on the last day of February.

She got to lick the beater and smile her very excited smile for the camera, too. :)  Someone commented on the "bibs" I use for the girls to lick the big beater. It's a dish-towel and it works great! The wider beater always ends up getting stuff all over their shirt sleeves and the wideness of the towel helps catch those drips and smears.

For a very long time (late this past summer, I think, is when I started quizzing her from time to time) Susannah has specifically been requesting a butterfly birthday cake. For a while I thought she would change her mind, but she never did! I guess she knew what she wanted. :-)  As the time drew closer, she got more specific and requested FOUR butterflies on her birthday cake. Sometimes she would say she wanted other things (ladybugs, flowers, Tigger, Pooh, cats, etc.) on the cake with her butterflies, but butterflies were always the main thing.

Since I wasn't up to making an all-out zoo scene on her cake with all the critters and insects she mentioned, I stuck with the four butterflies. :-)  I looked through many pictures of butterflies trying to find one I liked but none really thrilled me. I ended up loosely following the butterfly that is on her shirt (in the top photo).

When it was time to color the frosting, she knew exactly what colors she wanted her butterflies to be: pink, purple, brown and yellow. When she started naming more than 2 colors I got a little nervous but she only had 4 colors. That worked out well and they went together nicely, too.

Several days before her birthday (which was on a Tuesday) I asked what she wanted for her birthday supper. Her immediate, and never changing, request was "nuggets and salad". How many four year olds request salad for part of their birthday meal? I'm not sure but I thought it was pretty mature of her and her tastebuds to know she likes salads enough to request one for her birthday supper!

I had an appointment the afternoon of her birthday, and we needed to get some groceries, so we went grocery shopping before the girls spent a couple hours at the babysitters house. While we were getting things from the produce section we passed the mushrooms. She asked if we could get mushrooms. I started to say "no, they don't have any on sale" but then I remembered her birthday salad. I asked if she meant for her birthday salad and with a big smile she affirmed my suspicion. I happily splurged and bought a small container of mushrooms to add to her birthday salad. It's the small things in life!

To round out the meal a little bit more, I also made a batch of cheesey noodles. I had originally planned to make roasted sweet and regular potatoes but my energy simply didn't last the whole day and I ended up exhausted and out of time. Since neither the potatoes or noodles were a part of her requested menu, I didn't feel badly doing what worked for me. My mother-in-law brought a fruit salad to add to the meal. It was a very yummy, very easy birthday meal.

I found a "4" candle in my cake decorating supplies box and Susannah asked if we could put it on her birthday cake along with four regular candles. She was one happy birthday girl!

I had a great gift in mind for some time and was thrilled to find it at a local store. It is a fold-up case with colored, wooden, magnetic shapes that stick to the insides of the case. It comes with a wide array of pattern cards to make all kinds of designs from the shapes (from people to cars to mugs of coffee to surfer men). She really likes it though she needs a little help knowing where to start on the design and getting some of the placement correct. I know with just a little more experience she will enjoy doing them by herself and that this is a "toy" that will last for a very long time.

Daniel wanted to get her something and he had a fantastic gift idea. He gave her a tube of pink, Wild Cherry Chapstick and a little box of orange Tic Tacs. Oh my, you would think he had handed her the moon!  I think instead of turning 4, that gift made her be 24!! She is very specific in her frequent "need" of "lipstick" and a mint. The Tic-Tacs have been everything from mints to pills to candy. She keeps both in her pocketbook and uses them regularly and faithfully! She shouldn't have any chapped lips (or cheeks ;-) ) or bad breath for a while!! She even kindly shares her "lipstick" with Sylvia and offers me some, too (I decline since I prefer the original).

It was a wonderful, enjoyable birthday celebrating the 4 years that God has given Susannah to our care. We love the smiles and cheer she brings to our family.

A few things about Susannah:

She sleeps with a whole menagerie of stuffed animals in her bed, a few of them extra special.

Since the time change she has been taking shorter naps, but sleeping later in the mornings. I am guessing that this is the year she may drop her afternoon naps. *sniff*

She can - and usually does - go potty all by herself for #1. We require her to ask for assistance if the visit is for #2, but it's a big help to us and helpful for her, too, that she can take care of most of her bathroom visits by herself.

She has really improved in her coloring skills. She colors specific areas now, and will color an entire picture instead of a few scribbles and being done.

She loves being a big sister. When we are in town or at church she takes her responsibility to hold Sylvia's hand in the parking lot very seriously (most of the time). Lately she's even asked if she can take Sylvia to her class at church (instead of me doing it). Knowing that my hands will soon be full(er) with our new baby, I am happy to let her gently guide Sylvia where she needs to go under my watchful eye.

She still sits beside Daniel at the table for meals and adores him. She scoots her chair right up against his and many times throughout a meal she will reach over and give his arm a big hug. Both of their main love languages is physical touch so it works well for them. :-)

She loves to sing and recently memorized Psalm 23 set to song. She pronounces "enemies" as "em-en-ies". :-) She has a few other words that she gets the pronunciation mixed up, but I enjoy hearing her say them that way and know that one day she will correct them and it will just mean she's getting older. I'm enjoying all of her little girl-hood as long as I can.

She asks to pray for every meal. In her prayers she always asks that God will keep Daddy "safe well", and in a rather jumbled together thought prays "thank you for the food that we died on the cross for our sins" and most times prays "help us to learn to obey". 

That's about all I can come up with today, though I know there is much, much more about our newly-turned-four Susannah that is specific to this time in her life. She is such a joy to us!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sylvia's 2nd Birthday!!

With our new baby's pending arrival, I wanted to get a good head-start on birthday cakes for this month. On Friday, the last day of February, the girls and I mixed up and baked their birthday cakes.

For Sylvia's birthday cake, I wanted to do something a little different (not the same as Susannah's - post coming soon, is the plan) so we wouldn't get burnt out with two birthday cakes so close together. I chose to make her cake a spice cake, and decorated it with regular buttercream frosting.

Sylvia was the main helper/observer when we were mixing up her cake.

And she got to lick the beater. :)

Since she's not quite old enough to communicate how she wanted her cake decorated, I had been thinking about it for a couple of months. I kept drawing a blank, though. Her two favorite critters that she sleeps with are a stuffed cat and a stuffed duck and that was a close as I could get to an idea of some sort. Even the day before we started the cakes I was still wondering how I was going to decorate it. Then I had a light-bulb moment! She currently loves the Gossie & Gertie board books that we have. I knew that a Gossie & Gertie cake would be perfect for her.

Friday night after the girls went to bed I mixed up the frosting so I could get right to work on the decorating as I had the opportunities on Saturday (Daniel was going to be gone much of the day). Saturday before lunch I worked at getting the patterns drawn, increased in size (thank you, printer, for having an enlarge feature!) and cut out. Then the girls watched as I mixed up the different colors for their cakes. That was a bit of a brain stretch for me as they wanted to help and touch and sniff and look REALLY closely. :) 

I decorated the cakes over naptime and Sylvia was very, very happy with her cake when she woke up. :)  After the girls went to bed that night I wrapped the cakes up and we put them in the deep freezer to wait for the birthday celebrations.

Sylvia's actual birthday (March 5th) was on a Wednesday. Since we have church Wednesday nights and we knew it wouldn't make a difference to her at her young age, we celebrated her birthday Tuesday evening.

Daniel's parents came over and joined us for her birthday dinner. She is a big fan of anything noodles, so I made a 9x13 dish of Spaghetti Pie. I also had a tossed salad and a (store-bought, brown & serve) loaf of french bread. It was a yummy meal!

She loved her birthday cake and did a great job blowing out her candles after we sang to her. :) Funny enough, as soon as we put the cake - with the candles lit - in front of her, she blew them out before we could start singing. So we laughed, re-lit the candles and told her to wait until we sang. She loved it!! 

Waiting for supper to begin. 
Opening her gift from Grandma and Papa - bath toys!!!


(Secret: I couldn't think of a single thing to get her. I thought and thought and though and thought. We have PLENTY of toys, puzzles and books. She could use some new tights and clothes but shopping for any of those was about the last thing I wanted to do plus with my weekly Dr. appointments for the Baby I didn't want to spend any more time in town. We didn't officially give her a gift. I am having a friend put several childrens records onto CDs, so they will be her "gift" once we get those back. :) )

Reading the Gossie & Gertie book that I based her cake picture from.

And that is how we celebrated Sylvia turning 2 years old!! We are so thankful that God gave her to us to love and care for.

A few things about Sylvia:
She still sucks the two middle fingers of her right hand, and holds her blankie with her left hand.

She went from calling her blankie "bah-hee" to "bah-wee-see" and just recently started calling it "blankie".

She pronounces Susannah's name correctly now. It started off as 'hannah, then it was SUE-sannah, and now it's Susannah. :-)

She is very much an imitator! Monkey see, monkey do, not matter what it is. She also likes to do thins by herself. Often she will tell us "I do it". Most of the time it is for things she really can't quite do yet, like getting dressed or putting her socks on.

She has a very independent spirit but a very sensitive heart. Oh my, it doesn't take much to discipline her. One "look" from her Daddy and sometimes that is all that is needed!

She loves to snuggle. She is very good at puzzles. She just started singing a few weeks ago and sings bits and pieces of many songs.

She likes to take BIG bites of food and we have to frequently remind her to take little bites. Another mealtime frequency is knocking one of her utensils onto the floor. Almost EVERY suppertime, at some point we hear the clang of her spoon or fork hitting the floor.

She loves noodles (any pasta, fixed any way), scrambled eggs, almost any fruit, and especially DESSERT. She just started pronouncing it "dessert," too. It was "deh-wit" for a long time and it took us a long time to figure out that she was asking for dessert! :)

She likes to go potty but isn't ready to potty train yet (and neither is this mama ready to tackle that!). Some days she asks to go more and some days she doesn't use the potty once.

She is growing like a weed lately. She has pretty much outgrown all of the shirts she started out the winter wearing. I am still squeezing her into them, though, because Susannah is wearing the next size up! I have had to shift a few of Susannah's shirts down to Sylvia, though. I know brand and style has some to do with it, but overall 2T and 3T shirts are too small for her. I think she is going to take after the taller people in our families (there are very tall people on both sides).

She loves to swing. With the few spring-like days we've had lately, she has really enjoyed being outside and swinging. She will just sit there and be pushed for a very long time. She gets that from her mama. :)

She loves her big sister but also knows how to push her buttons. I have to frequently remind her to ask, not just take; use kind words; and so on.

And that's a little bit of what all is going on with Sylvia lately! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Last week we took the plunge and did something I'd been thinking about doing for a while. I took the girls to get their first "official" haircuts. I have been cutting their bangs here at home for a while, and have trimmed their longest ends, but both of them needed a little more than I was comfortable doing with my lack of skills (and their wiggles).

I also got a long-overdue haircut myself, so I went first while the girls munched some snack and watched.

Sylvia was happy to go after me, and took the whole thing very seriously for most of the time. She rarely sees herself in the mirror, so being able to see herself plus getting something "strange" done to her hair made for serious concentration. :)  Towards the end of her haircut she figured out that she could watch herself making faces and her tongue started peeking out and she got some smiley sparkles in her eyes.

Sylvia's hair is still pretty fine, but long and lots and lots of natural layers. Her ends were a mess, resulting in horrible tangles some days that she would just cry and cry when I would try to comb them out (even with detangle spray). She sleeps on her back a lot, and some days she would wake up and have a massive "rats nest" the size of a grapefruit sticking off the back of her head, her hair would get so tangled!

She got just a bit taken off her overall length and Cindy did a great job trimming all her layers. Combing her hair is much, much nicer now! 

Susannah was excited about her turn. Her hair didn't tangle all over like Sylvia's, but combing out her curls was getting pretty knotty and I knew a trim would help. I don't want to cut her curls off and she also has so many natural layers that I didn't want to do it myself this time.

I could tell she felt very mature and grown-up to get her haircut.

Again Cindy just gave her a nice trim all over and her curls are still curly. :)

I don't have any pictures but a few weeks ago I gave Daniel a haircut. I guess that makes us all freshly trimmed in time for the new baby and spring!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Post of Pictures

One night I took pictures of the girls sleeping. For a while it wasn't unusual to go in and find that Sylvia had gotten out of bed at some point before falling asleep and had collected either stuffed critters or a few shoes and added them to her bed (this wasn't one of those nights, but she had turned upside down in bed). Another night I walked in to find Susannah had switched herself and all of her things to being upside down in her bed. :)

 Back in February when we all fell sick with the stomach virus, Sylvia was the first victim. On the morning of her personal sick day she was so, so tired. I knew she needed a nap but didn't dare put her in her bed. I fixed her a place to lie down on the dining room floor and she took a good 45 minute nap there. I could keep and eye on her and she was so tired she slept through Susannah and I doing dishes in the kitchen.

The week after the stomach bug made it's rounds, the girls' "digesters" were still adjusting to normal foods again. On top of that I was pretty exhausted from all the emergency bathroom trips and wardrobe changes that were a result the aforementioned state of things. While I had been planning to make and serve lots of special Valentine's Day foods, I had to stick to some pretty basic stuff for diet and time reasons.

I think for breakfast we had leftover pancakes. When I made the pancakes a few days before, I specifically made a few of them heart-shaped for Valentine's Day morning. The girls thought they were special. :)

For lunch I made the girls their first ever jello jigglers, cut into hearts and a star. Lots of cheese cut into hearts and stars, lots of crackers and a little tuna salad rounded out lunch for them. Funny enough, neither of the girls were huge fans of the jello. :)  I love jello and it's a real treat for us so I was a little surprised. They loved the shaped cheese, though and had plenty more cheese and crackers than what I started them off with.

I don't even remember what we ate for supper; it certainly wasn't a "fancy" meal at all, it may have even been leftovers! I did splurge and we all had our first post-sick dessert. :)  Susannah had been anticipating our special dessert for so long! Before naptime she and I mixed up some chocolate pudding (and I used goats milk since she and Daniel can handle that much better than cows milk, and pudding is primarily milk). I had made a pink angel food cake the day before. After naps and before supper I assembled the pudding, angel food cake and whipped cream parfaits. They were so pretty!! They tasted good, but not what I was hoping for. Daniel and I both decided that the pudding tasted salty and different than usual. I determined that since goats milk isn't as sweet as cows milk, that was probably the difference. Regardless, it was a lot of fun to make, a lot of fun to look at, and we did enjoy eating them. :)

 These next two pictures are ones I quickly took with my phone while we were eating dessert. They are such a good example of our girls' totally opposite approaches to eating! 

We have long called Sylvia our "shop vac" eater and Susannah our "osmosis" eater. :)