Email Questions & More Ponderings

First, a Pregnancy Update 🙂 

I’m finally in the third trimester of this pregnancy and am currently in between week 30 and 31.  It’s been amazing how much more difficult this one has been, granted I am older (33), but somehow the problems have seemed much worse than in the past pregnancies.  Last pregnancy was hard at the very end, but not as early as this one has been, if that makes sense.

I’ve had a longer time of nausea/vomiting (5 months worth, and then it just came back at 7 months for a second act!), a couple of tiny varicose veins that are a little painful and annoying (just thankful they’re tiny!), and just a general exhaustion that probably comes from being a mom to three kids under 10 already 🙂 .  I have to ask my doctor about another problem that just popped up, but it looks like from online diagnosis’s that I might be put on bed-rest in a couple of weeks 😦 .  I’m so glad it is close to being over, and that the baby is growing fine and doing well – I have to think on the happy things to keep from feeling overwhelmed.  On a side note – compression socks are AMAZING lol and really seem to work for the circulation problems I’m experiencing.  My mom bought a bunch for me right away when she found out I was having issues, and I can tell the difference when I wear them or forget to, they really work!  And to note – I never had anything remotely like this with the past 3 pregnancies!!!  So varicose veins… bad circulation… all that is very new, and (I guess?) contributed to age.

Our Last Baby…

I had one email from a reader asking if I’m really ok that this is our last baby, and how my husband not wanting more is the reason we’re stopping, and how I’m feeling about all that.  You know… I really am thankful God has made this pregnancy so awkward and difficult, it DOES help with accepting that my husband doesn’t want anymore 😀 !!!  That probably sounds so shallow and non-spiritual of an answer 🙂 but it IS the truth!  I wrote a more, “wise-sounding,” spiritual answer here if anyone is still interested.  I’ve never really let it bother me much anyway, I always just accepted his limit, and honored it by not allowing myself to get upset or bothered.  I’ve actually thanked him many times over this pregnancy for calling it quits in light of how hard it’s been.

And he really is giving us a grace in setting his own limit.  It’s not just hard on me, a difficult pregnancy is hard on the whole family, because so much of what I do gets backed up or not done as well.  It’s hard on him having a very sick wife for 5 months plus, and it’s VERY hard on our other children, almost not really fair to them to have a mom that is so sick for so long (and now looking at potential bedrest for the last 6-7 weeks – you can imagine how hard that will be on them and him!).  So in light of all that, his decision has proven to be very wise in my mind, and I’m so grateful he had the courage to do it even though he knew I wanted a lot more than four.  It’s been wonderful watching his confidence as our spiritual leader and head of household grow through the years.

I think it’s good to respect your husband’s decisions as the head of the household, even if other people try to get you to feel offended or feel bad for you (had a comment like that last pregnancy)!  Recently my husband had a conversation with his parents where he could hear his dad in the background, angry at one of my husband’s boundaries and firm decisions (over something super minor and of little consequence to them!).  It immediately made me so sad he has parents who act offended at him having boundaries, I actually apologized on their behalf to him, since to me that’d be painful.  Luckily we figured out a plan where my parents could accommodate his parents’ wishes, which will hopefully make them change their mind.  We have countless examples of experiences like this with them, but it still kind of shocks me each time how they react in anger at what I’d view as, “normal,” boundaries.  The only good thing God’s shown me in this, is that it makes my husband turn closer to us as an immediate family.  The more someone reacts in anger at another person’s boundaries, the more it kind of just pushes that person away, and makes them not want to be around those people much.  Growing up in a household where he wasn’t allowed to have boundaries makes his spiritual growth in this area even more remarkable in my mind.

Fear of Childbirth

I was asked if I was scared again of another c-section… a reader remembered the last pregnancy where I mentioned this since it’s well-known multiple c-sections are kind of risky, with even the possibility of death.  I wrote about the last experience with our daughter here – in preparing oneself spiritually for childbirth (all the fears etc.).  I really was somewhat afraid of dying for some reason… it is a little more risky with multiple c-sections, so much could go wrong, yet usually doesn’t.  But this time around, it feels very different.  There’s a confidence that even if I do pass (which I’m sure is still highly unlikely) there will be contentment and peace in God allowing that… it’s almost a whole new level of trust.  I really don’t understand this kind of peace, and I haven’t experienced it before except right before each birth when I really just have to let go and trust God while being awake and cut open, knowing He has the final say in the operating room.  Last time there was a lot of scar tissue, which is normal for repeat c-sections, but it does cause complications at times because the different organs/tissues stick to each other (have literally grown together!), and need to be separated.  Last time I remember it taking them quite some time to sort it all out, and from just a little research online, most doctors don’t like opening a woman up and seeing that mess – and I don’t blame them!

Overall it’s been a fast pregnancy, and we’re so excited for the coming baby boy to add to our fold in 2020!!!!  ❤

Happy New Year Readers!

Merry Christmas Readers!

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Phew!!!!  I’m typing this as I’m making 2 tarts at the moment.  One traditional chocolate (very simplistic, with just a few ingredients that create the most decadent, yet simple taste), and a white chocolate swirled with butterscotch sauce for my husband.

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I guess it’s a let’s write between stirring the chocolate kind of night.  I am tired. 🙂  December flew by for us, and to be honest, it was a little too fast and crazy for our normal style.  Lots of things we went to, formal Christmas stuff, family outings, a few birthday parties, two that celebrated our Christmas baby.  And lots and lots of baking.

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When we needed to go to a Christmas formal, I thought it’d be fun to set up the kids and my mom (who was going to watch them that night) with a table ready for decorating Christmas cookies if they wanted to.

So the night before the formal, while doing some home-primping girly things, I was also cutting out and baking sugar cookies.  It was so much fun to do this and set up all the sprinkles (we have quite a collection!) and frostings for them to do the next day.

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I have such fond memories of doing these kinds of things with my mom, and how wonderful that she gets to repeat it with my children.  And with the exact same cookie cutters she always used with us!

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We also set the kids up like this another time when we went out to do some Christmas shopping together.  If any readers have any other ideas for what kids can do when you’re out at parties or dances and such, I’d love to hear them.  Hopefully next year’s December will calm down some, and we intend to make more so, for good measure.

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Seeing reindeer was one of the highlights!  And camels, although we didn’t get a picture of the camels 😀

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Fascinated faces… lol

Lots of fun things…

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And mesmerizing sights…

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I think we all drank our weight in hot chocolate 😉

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Our mornings have often been spent cuddling together, and squished, as all our children just have to all sit on the same couch at the same time with me LOL 🙂 it’s just one of those things where you have to take a moment.  We may go to fancy things sometimes… but on the whole, this is our reality.  And we are very, very full.

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And don’t worry, if you feel overwhelmed or stressed out this season, always remember… you’re not alone 😉

Somewhere, there is a baby being forced to see Santa…

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Merry Christmas!!!!

Stephanie

Letting Children Have a Vision of Marriage

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“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage.

On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.”

– Rev. George A. Kelly 

~ ❤ ~

I stumbled upon this passage above a month ago when reading, and it felt like getting hit with a two-by-four upside the head!  LOL  While I do strive to be the best mom I can be to our kids, enjoying teaching them and doing life with them, the overall quote felt convicting!  The worst thing I think in my journey as a mother would be to rob my children of the hope and joy they should have at this age – by making them fear growing up and feeling like they won’t be able to handle whatever burdens or trials they’re supposed to carry later on.

But I never linked breaking a youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life, with complaining – it makes so much sense!

And of course it’s true, a complaining mother is a drain on everyone in the family, she  sucks the joy and happiness out of life.  Sure, life may be hard, but I can see how crucial it is to choose our attitudesomething my husband taught me I think in our 2nd year of marriage from a book he had read in college.

Ironically, it was a book about work-ethic mentality, meant for people in the corporate world!  But it was a great book for how to live one’s life in general, echoing sound biblical advice of doing one’s work with a cheerful attitude, putting other’s above yourself in “making their day” (making them elated!), and finding fulfillment in enjoying your work.  It was interesting… to think one can change their whole experience of even their dire circumstances, by simply changing their attitude.

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How Does a Mom Exhibit a Worthy Vision of Marriage?

Make it a point to have fun, and have fun with your children and husband often!!!

This is something that should be a given, however, I think our natural default as humans is to fall into complaining.  Therefore we have to choose our attitude, no matter what is going on.  And to tell you the truth, even if everything is going well, our sin nature masked in the temptation to complain can come out even then unfortunately.

With how busy life gets, or bogged down with various day-to-day tasks, hardships or even trials families go through, I am seeing how setting aside time for making joyous and happy memories together is a necessary engagement.

This means even if we’ve had a long week, and we had something fun scheduled at the end of it, we make sure to still do it, in lieu of staying at home and calling it an early night.  We’ve found it’s so much more fun to go out together and experience our “fun” things, rather than just giving in the passivity of tiredness or even the kids’ moods.

Love your husband well… and openly… and at every opportunity!!!

It is sad to me that this still needs to be said, but nothing makes children happier and more at peace than seeing and knowing how in love their parents are, and how much fun they have together and with them.  

I think it is the secret recipe for a blissful family life overall.  Not that hard things don’t come, or heartbreaking tragedies, but even in the midst of these in our life together, we’ve found that the love and joy between us, carries us through those times much easier than it would be if we didn’t have that in our marriage.

Complaining or bad attitudes in general just makes everything harder, less fun, and definitely less loving.  This is true whether at work, school, in friendships, but probably especially within a marriage and around one’s children, who see them as they are all the time.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians, because it is the book on how to have joy in one’s life.  This passage comes to mind whenever I find myself tempted to complain:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” 

Philippians 2:14-16

I want my children to have a good vision of what a worthy marriage looks like, however human we may be.

Stephanie

Blessings in the Interruptions

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My husband snapped this picture in the morning before he left for a special assignment… said it was too cute to miss.  Recently, our beautiful girl has decided waking up VERY early is just the thing to do 😉 and I’ve been letting her stay up with me so I can continue with some time to read the Bible and pray.

What I would have considered an interruption has become such a beautiful blessing of extra time to cuddle with her and enjoy alone time with her.  I usually get her some chocolate milk, and coffee for myself, and sit back down where she stays quietly reading one of her books or her little Christmas story Bible (sooo cute!!!) and gives me another 30 minutes to an hour to read and pray.  Our boys were a little too rough and rowdy to have done this (and I tried LOL) so having a sweet, gentle girl is a nice change 😀 !  I love how different they are.

In the book, The Mission of Motherhood, this quote recently stood out,

“How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him?

We yield our personal rights into his hands.  We give up our time and expectations to him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage.  We trust him to take care of us and our family.  We let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams.  And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that he will be faithful to honor our commitment to him.”

I consider that early morning time – a time of peace and a rare stillness that falls over the house when everyone else is asleep – my time to replenish and really focus on God and His Word.  I can see how it could be called my “Me-Time,” or be something a friend would say I have a “right” to.  And I get it – having that time not go as I planned due to a fussy baby means mentally or emotionally giving up this “right.”

We’re all about “rights” as women in this day and age.  Whether it’s the “right” to some alone time, the “right” to some pampering, or even the “right” to complain (yes, I’ve heard this!), it seems we live a chronic state of feeling we deserve certain circumstances or treatment.  Since mothers usually do spend a lot of time serving, I think we have this expectation that we should receive a form of “payment” in return for all our efforts.  But that’s just it – a real sacrificial love doesn’t demand (or even expect) payment or retribution for things lost like time and energy.  Is alone time or being pampered inherently bad?  Of course not 🙂 but it can be if we view them as though they’re owed to us because we “sacrifice so much.”

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Loving our children in such a way that we try to re-frame these interruptions, or messes… or accidents… into opportunities for blessings or “divine appointments,” as Clarkson calls them, is such a dramatic difference in perspective.  I admit this is something I have to routinely call myself back to in keeping in focus.

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“Greater love has no one than this,

that one lay down his life for his friends.”

*

Clarkson goes on to describe God’s design for motherhood as comparable to what Jesus described in John 15:13.  Mother’s in many ways, are called to figuratively “lay down their lives” for their children.

This means that even when we don’t feel like it, we choose to “serve” them by getting up with them or helping them get back to sleep. ❤

It means that even when it’s the millionth time that week that we’re cleaning the kitchen floors because babies and toddlers eat so messy, that we choose to do it anyway.  ❤

It may mean SO many different changes and sacrifices made toward goals, careers, dreams, or life plans in ensuring they’re getting what they all need from us.

Something I’ve been thinking about, and something that has been brought to the forefront as we’ve had more children, is the “cost” of motherhood.  How deep is that cost I don’t know.  I’m sure it differs for each family, and certainly when considering how many children a mother has, but it is a topic very interesting to me when thinking about how much a woman gives up (yet also gains) when living out the role of a mother?

If anyone has any ideas on this topic I’d love to hear them!

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf-ing a Legacy

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This start to the new school year has been so nice and calm, and very welcomed!  Even though I have moments of missing the relaxing summer days – and moments where I can’t believe it went so fast!! – it’s still nice to be able to get back into a stricter routine and learning and everything that comes with Fall ❤  I love all the seasons, but each year I still feel like this one is my favorite.

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Baby in a Cupboard

I love all the school supplies, too 😀  The new pencils, the erasers, the notebooks, the binders – it all actually gets me excited… as nerdy as that sounds!

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She thinks this is her “house!”

I also love this time of year, because it means I organize the early school preparation for our kids, and our second boy is old enough now to really get into practicing letters, numbers, counting, hand-writing, and learning about the world – for 3 years olds 😛  I have no idea why this makes me so happy – I didn’t train to be a teacher or anything, but somehow helping him learn and do his “classwork” is SO fulfilling and fun for me.  It was the same with our oldest, too.

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I like starting early with our kids, at age 3, which I know sounds super early, but I found it really helped our oldest be prepared for the scholastic environment of sitting for certain periods of time, doing work at a desk, and focusing for that long.  Especially for boys, it’s important they’re able to handle the environment to do well in school and beyond.  It was good that he was able to go into kindergarten already knowing how to write, spell some words, read 3-letter words, and do basic addition and subtraction.

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Our second son does his work while listening to classical piano music.  We’re musical eclectics in this house 😉 and depending on the time and mood, we listen to many different kinds of music 😀 .  With the timeless music flowing through the house, it feels so peaceful and just transcendental.  Both my parents played piano ❤ so there’s probably that element that makes me feel at home with it on as well.

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Homeschooling for toddlers is pretty easy.  I usually copy pages from 3-4 different books for kindergartners on writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, matching exercises, and sometimes easy word “problems.”  I copy them so that our other children will be able to use those same books 🙂 .  Saves money, and allows for each child to have their own personal “notebook” of the work they did from 3-5 years old ❤ .

 

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Hopefully he’ll learn all his numbers and be able to write or recognize them by Christmas, that’s the plan for Fall.  And then in the Spring semester he’ll probably start on sounding out 3-letter words, copying short sentences for his writing class, and adding and subtracting as a primer for mathematics.

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We do art classes sometimes, too, nothing too big, but today we made things out of molding clay that my parents brought this past weekend.  He made a bowl with a textured design inside.  I’m actually really excited to see how it turns out once it dries and he can paint it!!  And our little one made a beautiful hand impression ❤  Love doing things like this!

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He’s using a real bowl lined with plastic to allow his pottery to dry in the bowl-like shape.

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Sometimes it feels like the days are endless streams of Groundhog Day 😀 but I try to trust the process that the little things we’re doing now will hopefully sink into their hearts forever.  They’re my legacy ❤ and I hope they’ll know they’re treasured.

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I’m in a book club this year for moms and we’re going through “The Mission of Motherhood,” by Sally Clarkson.  The book’s focus is on how to make our children feel cherished and loved, with a call to go back to biblical and traditional motherhood.  I haven’t read past the first chapter, but it sounds good so far, and encourages women to stay home to raise their children, at least when they’re young.

Seeing how fast our oldest has grown (**major tears**) makes me treasure the baby stages even more so!  I cannot believe how fast time flies by – it’s almost not fair in way, but of course they have to grow up and grow into adults.  I want them to know that home is ALWAYS here, and that they can always come back and feel loved and cherished and encouraged in their futures.

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It’s harder to find time to read online or write these days, but I love how the days are filled with SO much to do, and maybe the school year makes me feel more productive in that way.

Hope all you readers are having a wonderful start to the fall season!  Eat lots of seasonal foods and drink some delicious fall drinks, please!

Stephanie

 

Adventure into Beauty

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We went on an adventure yesterday… and found a beautiful place to fall in love with.  The beauty and serenity of this place was breathtaking.

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We’re big nature lovers.  Even when we were just dating 12 years ago, my husband and I loved going for hikes and seeking out new outdoorsey adventures to embark on together.

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And now these little ones get to do that!  I have to add… this wagon is a GREAT investment for little ones who can’t walk yet or just get tired and need to sit awhile.  We’ve been having so much fun taking it everywhere.

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It’s like a little baby bus or something… just too cute!

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More baby bus… 😀

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She knows she’s emptying out that bottle upside down!!! LOL

We got to see lots of wildlife yesterday.

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We even got our ducks in a row.

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1… 2… 3…   ❤

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But again, it was just so breathtakingly beautiful.

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I think I’m going to have some of these photographs blown up and printed out for our oldest’s room.  He really loved taking it all in.

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A family of ducks learning to fish.

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So serene.

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We packed our lunches and snacks so we were actually able to picnic there.

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Well… this one picnic’d right inside her baby bus!  LOL

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Pretty little lady. ❤

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Overall it was a great adventure.

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I’m sure we’ll be back again.

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Stephanie

Lake Break!

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Yesterday we spent some time out at the lake.  The water and the drive through the hill country was just breathtakingly beautiful!  Such a nice change of scenery!

And very peaceful ❤

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What is it about toddlers and throwing rocks into water? It’s so cute and adorable how they love to see them plunk and splash!  He had a blast!

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It was hot… not over 100’F, but close though (97’F)!  Which is a big deal for us here that it didn’t go over, LOL!  It was nice and windy, especially with that lake breeze near the water.

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The little viking child!! ❤

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Just the colors of the water and the greenery were amazing to me.  When we were driving up on a hill, you could see the entire lake and how blue it was from that far away.

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Hope you readers are enjoying your summer to the fullest extent possible.  It is gorgeous out there, even if it is hot.  Enjoy the season and take it for what it is!  I know we are!

Stephanie

Relaxing in the Shade

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Ahhhhh… this was so relaxing.  I’m amazed how wonderful God’s creation is and how peaceful just being in your own backyard can be!  The only sound we heard this lazy afternoon was all the dozens of birds making their various calls in the trees.

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It’s a great feeling when all of your littles are relaxing at the same time.  It doesn’t happen for very long LOL… but it is nice when it does happen.

I made us all homemade blue coconut icies and it was the perfect drink for being out here!  This picnic blanket is super lightweight, water resistant, and I found it for only $10 at Wal-Mart.  It’s soft and beautifully patterned, too.  That along with our pillows and the icies – well, it doesn’t take much for us to feel like we’re living in luxury 😉

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Have a Happy Mother’s Day weekend readers!!!!  Enjoy it as much as you can!

Stephanie

A Hill Country Road Trip

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The past 2 months have flown by it seems!  As a family, we’ve just been crazy busy… first leading up to Easter, and then various family-administrative stuff, and now we’re getting ready for the end of the school year.  It’s been the kind of busy where although it’s fun, it’s also been a bit stressful.

I’ve also been running 3 miles a few mornings a week with my husband ❤ and then doing pretty heavy weights, so it’s been a little exhausting, in a happy-fun kind of way at least.

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Whenever I get like this, almost on the brink of “burn-out,” for some reason I feel a strong pull to take a drive in the areas nearby our city where I grew up in the hill country.  I miss it so much… sometimes living in the city makes me feel like a “stranger in a strange land,” lol.

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The craziness of the city and fast-paced lifestyle, seems to evaporate when we’re out there.  I had the sense this last Friday when I took the kids for a nice, day-long road trip get-away, that when seeing those hills and the spacious countryside, I could finally breathe.  I wish I was exaggerating 🙂 , but it’s true that when I left with the kids, we were all tired and a little stressed out.  But on the way back from spending hours out there, the atmosphere in our little caravan was the opposite – everyone was rested, refreshed and optimistic!

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It was simply a day to roam around the country, visit places I loved going to growing up, my old church ❤ , our little town’s main street with all the old buildings and adorable shops; we visited the restaurant I used to work at as a teenager ❤ … we got food and ice cream and traveled on into even deeper, more beautiful and rural countryside.

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This church below is our town’s Catholic church, built almost 100 years ago.

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The feelings and emotions of going back there, back to where I grew up and the places that surrounded me, were sublime.  I’m just so glad that we don’t live too far away where that isn’t possible.  My children get to experience all those things in a small way, and my older son really enjoyed talking to me about growing up out there.

He sat as my co-pilot, my little man!  And when he was gazing at the hills and eating his ice cream, the sense of peace he had was so tangible.

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I don’t wish I could go back 🙂 I LOVE our life right now.  But wow is it fun to take a walk down memory lane, tell them hilarious stories about the people of that town or things my brother and I did 😀 .

It’s nice to be able to go back.

 

8 Months – There’s No One Like Dad!

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Someone just turned 8 months recently!  We are so ready for SPRING… it’s been raining for a couple of weeks – gray days, no sunshine, but now the sun is just beginning to peak through the trees.

It’s beautiful!

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Her little pink onesie says,”There’s No One Like Dad!”  And it is SO TRUE!  And so cute!  My husband is seriously the best father I could ever have asked for to our children.  She adores him, as they all do.

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She is just the happiest little baby I’ve ever seen, and so easy!  Her joy affects everyone who knows her – even the girls who take care of her while we’re working out at our gym, just adore her and tell us they love when we come in because she’s such a sweet, happy baby!

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And she laughs so much!  She thinks everything her crazy, wild brothers do is hilarious!  LOL 😀

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I can’t wait for more sunny days, gardening to my heart’s content ❤ and playing in the yard with our kids!  The Spring and Summer are just such a welcome change… yes, even for Texans ;) LOL

Stephanie