The musings of ME:
SAH mother of 3 kids, spouse of a doctor-in-residency, caretaker and teacher of random children.


Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Blake Christmas 2011

This year Ben has to work on Christmas Day, so for the first time in the Blake family history, we did not spend Christmas in Tulsa with our families.  We opted to stay here and have a little family celebration in our house today, December 23, because Ben had all day off yesterday and didn't have to go to work until 6pm tonight. 

Our "weekend" started with Ben coming home from work around 4pm on Wednesday night (early, YAY!).  We made a family trip to the Azle Wal-mart to pick up the boys' big Santa present (which was covered up in the back of the Armada and they were watching The Polar Express on the DVD players, completely oblivious to what was behind them).  Then we dropped it off at home and went to Taste of Italy off of Boat Club Rd for dinner.  We had never been there, but Ben and I have an intense love for real Italian style cheese pizza, so we decided to test it out.  It was pretty good!

Our Christmas Eve day began with me heading up to Wal-mart with all 3 kiddos to do a little grocery shopping.  I left the house by 10am and was done by 11:30, and it was on Thursday the 22nd, so it wasn't too bad as far as crowds go, and my kiddos were pretty good, but if I ever have to take them all on major trips, I bribe them with check-out chips to share if they are good all through the store while we shop.  They rarely get chips, so this is a great bribe.  :)

Why did I take all 3 kids when Ben was home, you ask?  So he could sleep.  Yesterday was the ONLY day off he has had/will get for the entire month of December.  He works AT LEAST 12 hour shifts every day (once worked a 20 hour shift) and is on call every 4th day.  Anyway, he needed to catch up on his sleep.  He slept till noon, then took a nap at around 3pm.  He deserved it!

Later that night, we dined on fajitas and did a lesson out of our December daily Christmas lesson.  It was about why we see stars on the top of our trees and in decorations at Christmastime.  Then we read a scripture from Luke and sang We Three Kings.  After I got Sam in bed, Jackson and I put Christmas cookies and milk out for Santa.

Once we go the kids to sleep, Ben and I did the usual Christmas Eve work of wrapping a couple last minute presents, stuffings stockings and putting out Santa presents.  From Santa, the boys got a blue Ford F-150 Raptor Power Wheel and a cap gun set (not my idea) to share, Jackson got his Thor hammer he has been asking Santa for every time he sits on his lap ("...you know, Santa?  The one that Archer has...", Sam got an Optimus Prime Transformer and Ally got a mat/activity center to play with when she is laying on her back.

A tradition at our house that continued on from Ben's childhood is that on Christmas Eve we make a sheet maze for the boys to go through to get to the presents.  That way they can't see what Santa brought them right away, they have to go through the Christmas lights lighted maze to get to the tree to see their presents.  It adds to the excitement and suspense, and makes lean Christmases more fun (not that this year was a lean Christmas, but last year kind of was.)

On our Christmas morning, Sam was the first one up, as usual.  He came in our room at about 7am, and since everyone else was still asleep and he couldn't get downstairs because the gate at the top of the stairs was locked, I put a movie on for him.  Jackson woke up around 7:30, and forgetting it was Christmas (?!), he sat down to watch the movie with Sam.  When Ben and I heard them both up, we got up and led them downstairs to the maze.  (Ben ran ahead and turned on the lights and got the video camera, while I stayed behind to lead them through slowly.)  Note:  Ally slept last night from 8pm till 3 am, woke up for a total of 15 minutes to eat, burp and get a diaper change, then slept till 8:30am!  Saaaa-weeeet!!!

Santa left a note for the boys telling them that since they had been such good big brothers to their new sister, he had brought them a very special present, but they had to take good care of it and immediately start being good for NEXT Christmas!  They were in awe as I read it to them!  :)  They ripped off the bow and sheet and were in shock for a few seconds and then they scrambled to climb in the Raptor truck.  We had to unplug the battery because Jackson was trying to take off in it in the middle of the dining room!

Next we opened the other Santa presents and of course, there was excitement all around.  Superheroes and Transformers are the thing in our house this year, so no one was disappointed.  We then moved to open the presents from Mom and Dad.  Both boys got a new pair of PJs, a Superhero shirt (J got Captain America; S got Superman), a Superhero mask (J got Wolverine; S got Captain America), and a building starter set (S got a Trio set; J got his first real Lego set), then Sam got a foot high Captain America guy and a stuffed Mickey Mouse (He loves MM Clubhouse.), Jackson got a Lego Police car kit and a bucket of Army guys.  They each also got 2 movies (Cars 2, Bugs' Life, Monsters Inc, and Lion King) and Jackson got a new game for his MobiGo (which they really share).  In their stockings they got Superhero bubble bath, a few small Superhero action figures and a lot of candy.  They were two happy little boys!!

 After we opened presents, the boys and daddy went outside to drive the Raptor truck while I made blueberry pancakes and bacon and fed Ally (who had finally woken up).   Some of us couldn't stand to leave the toys for a second, so they joined us for breakfast.  (Normally this is against the rules, but...it's Christmas!!)
Next, Daddy played with Ally for a bit, while the boys played with their new toys and I cleaned up the kitchen. Then Sam so graciously offered to open Ally's gifts for her since she couldn't do it yet. hehe, I think he enjoyed the opening part more than the playing part! Although he was a little disappointed to open 2 boxes of rice cereal, diapers, wipes and an assortment of level 1 baby food. Not too exciting...I don't think he'd trade Ally. :)

 The best part was when Jackson and Ben sat down to put his Lego Police Car kit together. I'm not sure who enjoyed that father-son time more, J or Ben.
While they did that, Sam and I built a cool house with his Trio Set.  It had a garage door that lifted up and everything! (I didn't get a picture of that.)  We played with the car that came with the set and a Batman guy and car that we already had.  They went in and out of the house and then back out to fight bad guys over and over again!

The boys basically played upstairs with almost NO fighting all day.  Then we had a thrown together fairly last minute Christmas dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and sugar cookies for dessert.  (I don't know why I hadn't thought to make a Christmas dinner ahead of time.  I guess I was just too busy doing all the Christmas shopping since I had to do it all by myself this year.)  I was lucky I had a frozen Jennie-O turkey breast in my freezer that could go straight in the oven and be done in a hour and a half!

We were sad when Ben had to go back to work, and we won't see him much tomorrow since he'll need to sleep, but we will wait for him to get home from work on Christmas Day and then go out to Aunt Sara's for Christmas dinner and to play with Keagan and Levi (my cousin's boys, age 5 and 3).  Then my family will be coming to Allen on the 27th.  Our plan is to have another huge extended family dinner at my Grandmother Pat's house, then Meg and her girls and me and my kiddos will drive to Celina (N of Frisco) to spend the night at my Aunt Sara's.  All the boys (sans Ben and Chris, my cousin) are going hunting in East Texas on our land so we will have overnight girl time and the kids (Keagan, Levi, Addy, Ella, Jackson and Samson - all between ages of 2.5 to 6.5) will all get to play.  This works out perfectly since the 27th is the next day Ben is on call and will be at the hospital overnight and sleeping all day the 28th.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kindness Coins

One of my goals with my kids is for them to be nicer to each other.  To stop making snarky remarks to each other like, "I am not your friend" or "I don't like you, Sam." or "You're just a baby."  To change the tone of voice they use when they talk to each other.  To share, even when you don't want to.  To respect each other's belongings.  To respect each other's wishes (especially when someone is asking the other to STOP).  To generally have a more peaceful, loving home.

I also want them to think about others.  Does anyone around you need help?  Help them!  Will that comment or action hurt someone's feelings?  Don't say/do it!  Do you like someone's shoes or shirt?  Tell them!  Is someone sad?  Comfort them!

To encourage moments to exercise these beahviors, I am giving my kids "Kindess Coins" every time I catch them being particularly kind.  We will keep them in a Mason Jar in the kitchen, and they can use them to buy special treats or privileges on Sunday.  Of course the end goal is for them to be kind just because, but in the meantime, a little incentive for recognizing opportunites and practicing won't hurt, right?  (Because yelling at them and punishing them is NOT a great example of kindness and it certainly does NOT promote peace in our home.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sam, 2.5

Tonight Sam pooped in the potty for the first time!  Like a real full-size poop.  I was so excited!!  I'm hoping this means we won't go down the major fear of pooping road that Jackson went down.  Jack wasn't poop-trained until this summer when he was just a month away from being 4!  And even now, we still have to keep a close eye on Jackson.  He'll hold it in for a few days and then really get constipated and be afraid to finally let it out because it hurts a little.

As far as potty training goes, I really haven't pushed it much with Sam.  We tried it out this summer, he didn't seem interested, so we abandoned it.  Then a few months ago, he started asking to wear underwear, so we did for a short period of time during the day, then we'd go longer and longer periods of time.  He still has accidents from time to time, but mostly he has the control thing down.  His weakness is stopping play when he has the urge to go.  He'll go potty if I tell him to, but if I forget and it has been too long, a lot of times he'll have an accident unless something reminds him he needs to go.  But we have gone out to run errands for hours several times with Sam in underwear and he hasn't had an accident.  And now, he pooped!  Yeah!  I think we are getting closer to having 2 out of 3 of our kids out of diapers! WHEW!  Maybe one of them will get to go to college after all!  ;)

Sam always surprises me with the things he understand and says.  He very rarely seems only 2 to me.  He plays with older kids a lot and they enjoy playing with him.  He gets his feelings hurt when he gets left out because someone assumes he isn't mature enough to do what the big kids are doing.  He has a very big vocabulary and not only talks, but makes jokes and expresses his likes, dislikes, things he notices, and asks me insightful questions a lot. 

Just a few months ago, he was a stubborn toddler, but now he is my sweet and helpful almost-preschooler.  He wants to do so much for himself and so much to help me all the time.  He can dress himself (with a little help with the shirt, socks and one or two pairs of his shoes).  He can strap himself into his own carseat.  He helps me with the dishes and unloading the clothes from the dryer.  He can get his own juice out of the fridge, and brush his own teeth.  He also knows the alphabet, can recognize many letters, and can count past 20!  He loves to color, so I hope his fine motor skills will be well developed when I start to sit down and work with him on paper soon.  Recently I realized I didn't need to continue getting him out of the bathtub, drying him of and dressing him.  He can do all that by himself now! This makes the bathtime/bedtime routine so much easier!!  He is also such a big help with his sister!  (See the Ally - 2 mos post a few posts ago.)

For a child who used to be the biggest daily trial for me, he is now one of my biggest sources of pride and joy.  Oh he still has his moments, don't get me wrong. He is still a fairly stubborn eater.  He still screams bloody murder when he gets frustrated or mad at his brother instead of using big boy words and asking for help, and he still craves a LOT of attention, but overall, I am so pleased with how far his behavior and demeanor has come in the last 6-9 months.  We love you, Sam!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Flip-Floppers, AKA the Always-Immediately-Change-Their-Minders

When I was a little girl I loved this book!!  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knows everything about children! She can cure them of any ailment. Patsy hates baths. Hubert never puts anything away. Allen eats v-e-r-y slowly. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle has a treatment for all of them. The incomparable Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle loves children good or bad and never scolds but has positive cures for Answer-Backers, Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders, and other boys and girls with strange habits.  Well, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, I'd like to read the chapter on how you treat the Flip-Floppers!  Let me describe the problem for you...
Scene:  Samson at bedtime. 
Me:  Sam, what bedtime song do you want to sing?
Sam:  Uhhhm...Choose da Right.
Me:  (singing)  Choose the right, when a choice is placed before you...
Sam:  (interrupting)  No, Mama!  I don't want  Choose da Right, I want I am a Child of God.
Me:  No, you already picked Choose the Right and I already started singing
Sam:  NOOOOOO!  I don't WANT Choose da Right!!!
(...and the bedtime routine takes forever because the little stinker continues to throw a fit about the song.)

Scene:  Jackson at snacktime
Me:  Jackson, do you want an orange?
Jackson:  No, I want fruit snacks.
Me:  Fruit snacks are not for snack today.  Do you want an orange or nothing?
Jackson:  Nothing.
Me:  Okay, but you will be hungry and won't get any more food till dinnertime.
(I walk away.  5 minutes later, when I am sitting down feeding the baby...)
Jackson:  Mama, I DO want an orange.
Me:  Sorry, son, snacktime is over now. I asked you if you wanted an orange, and you were mad that I wouldn't give you fruit snacks, so you picked nothing.  Now I am doing something else and I am not close to the fridge.  It's too late to change your mind now.
(a 45 minute temper tantrum ensues and JUST when I think it is finally over, Jackson comes downstairs and asks me for an orange again.)
Me:  !!!!!

Please, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, if you are out there, I am eagerly awaiting your antidote for this annoying disease my boys have contracted.  I trust in your wisdom!

P.S. I did not give in on either account.  No new song for Sam and no orange for Jackson.  And both were punished for the fit they each threw.  I'm sick of this!

Ally - 2 mos

This Tuesday Ally turned 2 mos old.  I thought I'd briefly document what she is doing these days.

She loves to smile, and a few times she has even gotten so caught up in the smiling and trying to talk, that a happy little squeal slipped out. 

She eats on avg 4 oz of breastmilk every 3-4 hours.  Sometimes I get lucky at night and she goes up to 5 or 6 hours without eating, but that is rare. 

She can hold her head up pretty well.  We have put her in the Bumbo seat a few times, but she doesn't like it much.  What she LOVES is her swing.  She would happily spend all day in her swing, sleeping or looking at her reflection in the mobile above her. 

She doesn't like tummy time much yet, I suppose because she feels trapped and there isn't much to do when you can barely hold your head up, and only for short periods.  Most of the time she ends up with her face in a wet puddle of spit up.  I can't say as I blame her on that one. 

Her brothers love her, especially Sam.  I am really surprised at that because I thought he'd be jealous.  He is very sweet to her.  When she cries, he rushes to comfort her.  Today she got her 2 month shots and he raced to her side to tell it was okay the minute she started crying.  He is also a very good helper when it comes to Ally.  He'll get bottles out of hte fridge for me, grab her pacifier, put diapers in teh trash, etc.  He is a gret big brother.  Jackson is good, too, but most of the time he is pretty oblivious that we even have a new baby in the house.  He is very caught up in his big-boy activities and preschool friends these days.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Attachment Issues

Tonight I was cleaning up Ally's room.  She doesn't sleep in it yet.  She still sleeps in our room in her vibrating seat (don't judge - she loves it and she sleeps!!)  since she still wakes up in the night to eat.  Just easier. Probably once she starts rice cereal in a couple of months, she'll start sleeping through the night and then she'll go in her own room.

Anyway, I was putting away some boxes of the boys' outgrown clothes that I had stored in there until I could get to them, and I just got so sad!  Does anyone else have issues with boxing up their children's outgrown clothes? I sort through them and remember the stages of their lives and the fun times I remember them wearing those clothes in, and suddenly boxing up old clothes feels so wrong!  Like I am trapping a little piece of their childhood, and I will never get it back. 

And don't even get me started on taking them to a consignment store!  To have some snooty lady pick through them and then tell me my son's clothes aren't good enough and they can't take them.  It'd be like her telling me my child wasn't cool enough or something.  The clothing equivalent to not getting into some elite private school.  Ouch.  I don't think I could do it!

I know I am personalizing this, and it is silly.  Someone please tell me you feel the same way...or I may be forced to seek therapy.  ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Post-Baby Weight Loss, Round 3

This is the part I hate.  Food is my treat when I am pregnant.  I figure if I have to be miserable for 9 mos, I should at least get to enjoy eating whatever I want whenever I want.  So I do.  With Jackson I gained about 50 lbs.  With Sam 40.  With Ally 35.  Of course I lost about 15-20 right after having her, which means right now I weigh about 163.  And I have since she was 2 weeks old.  Not a lb lost since.

I had such a speedy recovery after having Ally, that I felt well enough to do light workouts since she was about 2-3 weeks old.  I started with just 15 minutes a day on my elliptical and lengthened it each week.  At 6 weeks, I started lifting weights and changed my diet.  Tomorrow she will 8 weeks old and this is what I do now.

  • full body weights 3x a week, including leg lefts and crunches on the ball and 25 squats and 50 lunges for each leg
  • 25-40 minutes on the elliptical every day
  • 2 mile run 2x a week
  • 30 min-1 hour of Pilates or Kickboxing every week
  • salad to replace one meal every day and a healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber breakfast (with a Diet Coke, lol)

Two days ago I finally lost a lb.  It is such a fight to lose weight, and it gets harder as you get older.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Crescent Wreath

The concept of the crescent wreath is not new, but it is new to me.  I have never attempted one because it looks so pretty, I thought, it must be complicated.  But I was perusing my Taste of Home annual Cookbooks, specifically the 2000 issue, looking for new recipes because my rotation is getting kind of boring, and I came across this recipe.  Whether it was the tantalizing picture to the left of the recipe or the short, sweet and to the point recipe itself, something made me want to try it.  We did, and we all liked it.  Even Sam. Who eats dinner about 3 out of 7 nights of the week.  I am sharing because not only was it super easy, super quick, and really yummy, but it has a lot of fresh veggies in it, and they are hidden by the cheesy, chickeny, bready goodness, so I tricked my kids into eating something somewhat healthy!  Score!!

Chicken Crescent Wreath, pg 267 TOH 2000 Annual Recipes
2 tubes (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Co-Jack cheese
2/3 cup condensed creamof chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped water chestnuts
1 can (5 oz) white chicken, drained OR
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken
2 tbsp chopped onion

Arrange the crescent rolls on a 12-in pizza pan, (I used my Pampered Chef pizza stone) forming a ring with pointed ends facingthe outer edge of the pan and wide ends overlapping.  Combine the remaining ingredients; spoon over wide ends of rolls.  Fold points over filling and tuck under wide ends (filling will be visible).  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Yield:  6-8 servings

My note:  I receommend using a good brand of crescent roll dough.  I bought the Great Value brand, and the flaky goodness just wasn't the same.  I also used canned chicken because I was in a hurry, but I think it would be much better if you used fresh cooked cubed chicken breasts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Staller

Do you have one of these children in your home? The child who, when you ask him to do something, finds everything else interesting on the way?

I just love my 4-year-old, Jackson. He is smart. He is funny. He is kind. But this boy is S-L-O-W to get anything done. Part of this is that he gets very easily distracted. But recently, he has discovered that he can buy himself time if he pretends he doesn't hear me or flat out ignores me until I MAKE him do what I asked. When I finally do get him to acknowledge that I have asked him to say, pick up his toys in the playroom, he'll appease me by picking up a toy or two until I stop focusing on him and move on to my next task, and then he'll find an extremely interesting piece of fuzz on the carpet or a great book he's been meaning to read. A half hour will pass, and I'll find him completely engaged in a full battle with his action figures, more toys on the floor than when I left him. Note: this problem gets worse if naptime or another undesirable activity is due to follow.

As a person who is very task oriented, I find this immensely frustrating! So I'll get angry, and break down the task, barking direct orders such as, "Pick up the Spiderman guy. Put him in the bucket. Now pick up the Ironman guy. Put him in the bucket." I'll stand over him until the entire task is complete and we are both irritated with each other.

I so don't want to be this mom, and *with a new baby and an active 2 year old* don't have time to be, but how do I ensure that what I ask gets done without having to monitor the entire operation?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Allyson Anne Blake



Since she is 3 weeks old tomorrow, I figured it MIGHT be time to post about her birth!

Ally joined our family on October 11, 2011 at 6:27 pm.  She was 6 lbs 12 oz and 19 inches long.  Although she was born almost a full week later than her brothers, she was the smallest child born in our family, and the smallest grandchild in our extended family to date.  When I originally found out I was pregnant with Ally, I was seeing a doctor in Denton, and the affiliated hospital did not have the staff and resources to perform a Vaginal Birth After Cesaerean (VBAC).  However, shortly after, Ben started his residency and our family was covered under his insurance policy.  I was able to switch to a local doctor who worked for JPS.  Since JPS is a much bigger hospital, VBACs were an option, and my new doctor was very supportive of this option.  As I was not eager to spend a long several weeks recovering from a c-section, I decided to try to the VBAC option.  We set a c-section date for 39 wks and 1 day, and I was checked for readiness before going in the operating room.  My doctor told me I was dilated to a 4 and completely effaced.  He thought we could have a very successful VBAC!   They wheeled me into a delivery room at 8:30 am, Dr. McRay broke my water and I was able to do the rest on my own, without any help of any labor inducing drugs!  (I had made it clear that I only wanted to do a VBAC if my body could do it naturally.  I have heard the risk of uterine rupture is higher if you force your body to do what it is not ready to do with labor inducing drugs such as pitocin.) 

It went perfectly!  With both of the boys, my labor was slowed down or (in the case of Sam) stopped by an epidural, so my doctor and I agreed that I would hold out as long as possible for the epidural.  With the help of low doses of IV Morphine,  I was able to hold off on the epidural until I was dilated to an 8, (there was a delay in getting the epidural though, due to how busy the labor and delivery floor was.  The anesthesiologist was in another room before he could get to me, so there was about an hour of horrible labor pains after I had requested the epidural.  That was my only complaint - it took a while to get pain meds when I requested them.  My doctor came in and checked me one last time at 6:30 and said I looked ready to push.  At this point, I was pain free (a new expereince for me in deliveries) and cheerfully agrred to push.  After about 25 minutes of easy pushing, Ally was here!  She was so small, I didn't even need an epesiotomy or any stitches!

This delivery was such a different experience from the vaginal delivery I had with Jackson.  I felt everything with Jackson because my epidural wore off twice.  I was in hard labor, pushing for 2 hours with Jackson.  By the time he was here and they asked me if I wanted to hold him, I numbly mumbled "no" because I was afraid I would drop him.  I was THAT exhausted that I didn't even want to hold my first child!  I have foggy memories of the whole experience because I was so beside myself with pain and exhaustion.  With Ally, I remember everything.  It was like I was a more active player, and when she came out, I really got to experience the delivery of my child with a clear head.  It was wonderful!  Such a beautiful experience!  I felt like I bonded with her immediately.

Because delivery was such a breeze, my recovery has been pretty speedy, too!  I mopped my kitchen floor 3 days after giving birth, then Ben and I took Ally on our date to the Arlington Log Cabin Show when she was 4 days old.  People were asking me if I just went in the back room and had a baby because she was so tiny!  :)  Then when she was 8 days old, we went on a family hike near Eagle Mountain Lake to have a picnic.  I am really feeling great!  I started working out a little last week (15 minutes on the elliptical), and plan to push it a little more this week (adding 5 extra minutes of cardio and light weights). 

I just feel so blessed!  I prayed so hard that I would have an easy recovery so I would be able to do all the things that my life requires me to do.  Ben is gone so much and my family isn't nearby to help me all the time, and I hate depending on other people all the time to help me.  It makes me feel like a helpless leech.  Heavenly Father answered my prayer and then some!  I have had the speediest recovery of anyone I know! 

Since Ally was so small, we had to keep a close eye on her weight.  She dropped down to about 6 lbs, 2 oz after birth, and was only eating 2-3 ozs at a time, but she was back up to 7 lbs, 4 oz last Monday at her 2 week check-up, and with the way she now eats 4-5 ozs every 2 hours (or less sometimes), I am certain she has gained even more since.  She has already outgrown the preemie clothes she was wearing (which when we brought her home were the only clothes that didn't swallow her)!  The first few days of being home, Ally slept 4 and 5 hours chunks at night, but now she is starting to get into a more regular 3 hour feeding interval.  I miss getting that extra sleep all in one chunk, but I am happy that nursing is going so well and she is thriving.  These sleepless nights will pass soon enough, I know.

Jackson and Samson are really sweet with her, and surprisingly, Sam is the more smitten brother.  I thought I was would have to battle him since he is my child who just craves a lot of attention no matter how he can get it, but he is really sweet with her, asking to hold her and "be soft" with her all the time.  Even when I am not right next to her, I watch him creep close to her and talk sweetly to her when she is fussy.  He just loves her so much!  Jackson is a bit caught up in his big boy activities and "fighting bad guys" to care either way about her.  When he notices her, he is sweet with her, but most of the time, he lives in his own superhero world.  :)  He is very proud to tell people he has a new sister now, named Baby Ally, though.

So we have pretty much settled down into our normal routine now, albeit a bit slower than usual.  Ben starts a 7-5 M-F schedule in the month of November, so he'll be home more to help in the evenings and home all weekend long!  YAY!  We have really missed him, and it has been a little challenging having him have such an erratic schedule when we first came home, especially after my mom left, but we managed just fine.  Since he took off 10 days when Ally was born, he didn't have many days off the rest of the month of October.  He had to work a required amount of shifts for the month or he wouldn't have completed his requirements for his residency program.  So that's the story of how the Blakes went from a family of four to a family of FIVE!  :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let's Wrap This Up...

I realized last night that I really haven't blogged much about this third pregnancy at all.  I almost never post very many belly pictures because I am not a fan of documenting my growing fatness.  If I were one of those cute pregnant ladies who gains weight only in her belly, then maybe, but no...I gain mostly in my legs, butt, and face and it's just not pretty.  It depresses me to look back on, so I don't.  I think it has to do with the loss of control.  I hate losing control.  Pregnancy is a HUGE loss of control over your body.  You have to limit what you do.  You are tired all the time.  You feel sick.  blah blah blah...you know what I am talking about.  Anyway, that being said, I think the Lord knew I just couldn't take the full fledged loss of control in pregnancy this go round, because Ally has been the easiest one so far (until recently).  Here are a few facts about this pregnancy that I will share for record-keeping sake:

*I haven't gained nearly as much weight as I did with both my boys.  I started this pregnancy at 143, and I am now, at exactly 37 weeks, only 176.  Not too shabby considering I started both my other pregnancies at around 140, but almost hit 200 with Jackson and 190 with Sam.  I am super excited to see how fast I can get it all off this time.  I typically lose 20-25 lbs the first 6 weeks, so woot woot for that!  (Another bonus is that it'll be winter while I am trying to get it all off, so I can hide a little extra chub for longer even!)

*I barely got sick at all the first few months with Ally.  I almost never throw up, just get a little blah-feeling and a lot tired, but with Ally, I think I maybe felt blah for a few days (but a lot tired).

*With Sam and Jackson, I started feeling strong kicks and Braxton-Hicks at about 20-25 weeks, and with Ally toward the later end of that time frame, but not as intense...until now.  Now she could take both of them.  She is pretty strong and seems to be interested in pursuing gymnastics...all day and all night.  Sometimes it can be even painful.  Like she thinks she can dig her way out of my belly with her knee...in the same spot...over. and over. and over.

*With Jack and Sam, I started feeling totally miserable at about 32 weeks, maybe sooner (but I was a lot bigger).  I am only just now totally miserable with Ally.  I have always had this issue with once I get a certain size, my back freezes up, and when I get out of bed, my body threatens to not support me.  I take a few stumbling steps every time I wake up to go to the bathroom in the night and especially in the morning, but after I warm up, I'm okay.  With Ally, all that applies, but it has only just started happening in the last 2 weeks or so, and it lasts a good part of the day.

*I got anemic with this pregnancy, and never did with the boys.  Go figure...

*I have been super tired these last few weeks.  I lay down to rest for several hours almost every day when the boys do.  My exhaustion level grew proportionally before, not all of a sudden and not so much.

*In the last few weeks, I have been fine and super energetic.  Ben and I have been doing a lot of home improvements, and I worked right alongside with him...until I couldn't anymore, and it happened so suddenly.

*At my last doctor appt (36w, 2d), Dr. McRay measured me and said I was measuring 3 (cm?  in?  what do they measure the belly with?  I dunno...)  smaller than I should be, so he wanted to do a sono to check out Ally.  After he checked her out, he said my fluids were fine and she looked fine, too.  She is just small.  He doesn't estimate her to be even 7 lbs yet.  Both the boys were born at 38w, 2d and both were right at 8 lbs, so if she comes in a week and a half, she stands to be almost a full lb smaller.  Sweet deal since I am planning on a vbac if all goes well. 

*If I don't go into labor on my own in the next two weeks, we will see where I am at as far as dilation, thinning and descent and all that, and if I look ready enough, we will try to induce.  If not, we will do the c-section, but no later than October 10.  My doctor is going to be gone, and I don't want to have yet another dr deliver Ally after I have spent all this time finding a dr that I like. (Dr. McRay is my third dr this pregnancy since our insurance changed when Ben started residency.)  Plus, Ben's vacation time starts on October 10 and we have out of town family coming in to help with the birth, so I'd like to control WHEN she comes as much as possible, while still trying for the vbac because I think recovery from a vaginal delivery is an easier recovery.  (There's that whole control thing rearing its ugly head again...lol)

You know what else was easier this time around?  Coming up with a name!  With Jackson, Ben and I could not agree until almost the very end.  Jackson is a name we both liked (but mostly me), and Garit is a throw to my mom's maiden name McGarity.  Samson Jay is named after Ben's childhood best friend, and a super great guy that we hung out with a lot when we were dating, Keny Sams.  Jay is Ben's middle name.  Allison is Ben's mom's name, and I like it with a y to give her some individuality.  At first, ben said he didn't mind it either way, btu now all of a sudden, he says he wants it with an i, so I dunno where we'll go with that.  Anne, her middle name, is after both my grandmothers: my paternal grandmother Ann(ie) Marguerite McDonald Conroy, passed away in March of this year, and my maternal Grandmother Patricia Ann Whitis McGarity, is still very much alive and healthy.  The ending e on Anne is because, well, I am a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables (which one of my grandmothers introduced to me, actually) and I agree, the e makes the name look so much prettier.  :)

So that is that.  I hope I go into labor soon.  I am really bored and miserable.  Bored because what I can do is limited by the exhaustion/discomfort, and the fact that Ben is gone all the time for his current rotation during this residency (trauma), and miserable...for the same reasons.  *Sigh*  Dare I hope that I get even luckier and that Ally will beat her brothers who were already both 2 weeks early?  Oh well, if not, anyone can get through 2 weeks, right?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Preschool Playgroup

Since Jackson's birthday is August 31st, he is eligible to start Kindergarten next school year, but Ben and I decided to hold him back a year so that he'll be the oldest instead of the youngest.  As far as social skills and education go, he is ready now, I think.  His attention span could use some work though, and a few other minor issues, but the main reason we chose to wait to enroll him is for future confidence.  I was the youngest in my class, too, and always struggled with confidence for unknown reasons.  I was smart and a cute enough kid, I guess, but for some reason, I never felt like I could be myself.  Ben's reason related to confidence is sports, of course. 

Anyway, I have been trying to work with him myself, and have started to teach him to read.  He is doing very well, and is already blending sounds.  If I could get into a routine with it, I think he'd do much better, but these days, I am so tired, I am rarely motivated to let him stay up the extra 30 minutes after his brother has gone down for nap so that I can work with him.  Horrible, I know. 

I had wanted to put him in a Mother's Day Out program for a few days a week to keep him in a school routine of some kind, to get him out of the house for a little bit to interact with other kids, and to be taught by other people besides me, but Ben wouldn't let me pay for him to go anywhere, saying that it's silly to pay someone to teach preschool kids to our children when I am a preschool teacher!  lol, I guess he has a point there.  However, I was determined that it would be best thing for him, and for his brother, Sam, now almost 2.5.  Sam's personality is so strong that I thought if I could channel it in a positive direction, it would really help the harmony of our home, but I needed some one-on-one time with him.  Enter preschool playgroup.  Two other ladies from my ward at church have little boys about he same age as Jackson, and we have started a preschool group on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 2 hours that rotates between our houses.  Each of us teach 5 weeks before Christmas Break. 

I am loving it so far!  Jackson loves to go to "school" and play with new kids and learn, and he is getting to do a lot of things that I could never do in MY preschool since I had so many kids.  For instance, last week, they learned about Community Helpers and got to tour the fire station and police station!  jackson came home telling me all about it! 


Plus, the benefits to Sam are working out just as I had hoped.  I am really starting to see a change in his behavior.  He is throwing less fits and is generally more cooperative and helpful and fun to be around.  He is even becoming a better dinner eater! I'd say he only goes to bed hungry once or twice a week now!  (I am referring to this post if you don't know what I am talking about. http://pcolleen21.blogspot.com/2011/07/sam-doesnt-eat.html)  He now randomly comes up to me and says, "Mama, I wanna love you." or "I wanna snuggle with you."  Once, last week, we built a tent in his room and played in it just the 2 of us until it was time to go get Jackson from school.  I know that when Ally gets here, it will be a big adjustment for Sam once again (and for all of us), but I am hoping that training him to be sweet and helpful now will pay off when Ally is here.  I don't doubt we will have a bit of regression though.  Another benefit is that we have scheduled 3 of my 5 weeks to come BEFORE Ally gets here, so that while I am recovering, Jackson can go to preschool twice a week and I won't have to teach for a while. 


All in all, Jackson's preschool playgroup has been beneficial to us all!  I am grateful to have found this group of ladies and their boys to co-op with!  It was certainly an answer to several of the issues I have put to prayer lately.  :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jackson's 4th Birthday

You would think now that I am staying home WITHOUT a gazillion kiddos running around my home, that I'd be better about keeping up with my blog.  The truth is that we have been doing so much lately, that every time I sit down and think about blogging, I get overwhelmed with everything I should post, and don't.  I guess the most major event that has passed is Jackson's birthday. 
I was about 33 weeks pregnant when Jackon's birthday hit. After the Mario birthday party I threw for him in Tulsa last year (that he talked about and asked me to tell him "the story" about at bedtime for months afterwards), I had decided that this year we were going to keep it low key to make it less work for me. I looked into bounce house places and swimming pools, but everything was so expensive and I just couldn't justify the cost for only a few hours. He had requested a superhero birthday party, and I was all set to throw him a standard pre-packaged superhero birthday party, but this is me we are talking about and I just couldn't wrap my mind around something so unoriginal, especially if it is COSTLY and unoriginal.

So...I researched some homemade superhero party games and decided that the theme of the birthday party would be Superhero Training Camp. The kids would complete a series of heroic tasks and then get to decorate a superhero cape and masks as they celebrated becoming "real" superheroes. I invited most of his friends from preschool, sewed simple superhero capes, cut out felt shapes and letters for each child's name, and bought some superhero masks. Here are some pictures to document how much fun we had.

This is the villian pinata I made.  It started out as a cheap baseball pinata from Hobby Lobby, but I painted it.  The kids took turns beating up the bad guy with boxing gloves and then a bat.

This is SuperHero Jackson.  I made some felt masks with each child's name on them and we played pin the mask on the superhero.

This bad guy served as target practice with the dart gun.  The kids had to shoot him to prevent him from stealing the money from the bank.

Here is the one concession to the standard superheroes that I made.  The cupcake tower was all decorated with Batman and Spiderman stickers and decor and I tried my hand for the first time with gum paste cupcake toppers.  I just made standard store bought cake mix and made cupcakes and frosted them with store bought frosting, then made the toppers and stuck them to the top.  Easy Peasy!
Here is a cute shot of little brother Sam, age 27 months, hitting the villian pinata with the boxing gloves at the party.

And well, it was the beginning of September in Texas, so it was hot.  We had to have a water balloon fight to end the party!  My camera was dying so I just clicked away, and you can't really tell what the kids were doing.

 Here is a shot of the capes I made for the youngest partiers, the 2 year olds, Samson and Alex (Bradley Andersen's little sister).  I made their capes beforehand since I thought they'd need a lot of help to make them and that way I could use them as examples for the bigger kids to follow when designing their own capes.
The new superhero squad...

...showing off their successful completion of training camp!  :)

(One game was not pictured - as I mentioned, my camera was dying - the kids had to rescue a "victim" from the top of a skyscraper.  I had spray painted a box black and cut out yellow rectangles for windows and put a baby doll on top.  The kids had to walk ONLY on the yarn spiderweb path to get to the skyscraper.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wasting My Potential

In 1984, I was the first and only female kindergartener in my elementary school to be identified and accepted into the brand-new gifted program. 

In 4th grade, I wrote a poem for my teacher, which he loved so much, he had it professionally illustrated and mounted and framed.  Last I checked, he still displayed it on his wall above his desk. 

In middle school, several poems I wrote were published in Young Authors anthologies. 

In my senior year in a high school of over 2,000 students (juniors and seniors), I was the assitant editor and feature editor of the Broken Arrow High School newspaper and won multiple state writing awards for my newspaper articles. 

I also played Varsity Soccer, was on the Oklahoma State Olympic Development Soccer Team for a period, and played on a competitive team as well.  I won a college scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Division I college to play soccer and study Journalism. 

Since college, I have earned an Insurance Agent's License and a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education, become licensed to teach in 2 states, taught preschool, 3rd and 4th grade, became English as a Second Language Certified, and ran a successful business out of my home. 

Now I am the stereotypical barefoot-and-pregnant stay-at-home mom.  And you know what?   I love it. 

There are some who would make denigrating comments toward me (and have to my face and behind my back), insinuating that I "wasted my potential" and that I am subservient to my husband.  These people don't know me very well, do they?

Anyone who knows me would laugh at the absurd idea that I am subservient to Ben.  He would probably tell you that if you would let him in on the secret to get me to be so, he'd gladly pay good money for it.

And as for wasting my potential...well, I suppose we all choose which "potential" we want to develop, don't we?  Sure, maybe I could have been a cuthroat reporter or a famous author.  Maybe I could have used my brilliant mind for some high-paying career.  Maybe that makes some people happy.  Good.  It wasn't what I wanted.  I chose my life, and I choose it every day.  I count myself blessed to be able to stay home with my children, who I love and enjoy (if you can't tell by my multiple facebook posts about them every day).  They make me laugh, and I find no greater fulfillment than seeing the results of something I have taught them.  I am grateful that before I send them out into the world of public school, I can be confident in knowing that the foundation of their selves and all their values came from me, and not some other caregiver who may or may not share my ideologies.  I can know that they were taught more than preschool skills.  They were taught manners, discipline, hard work, perseverance, compassion for others, how to resolve their own problems and be independent, how to control their temper, how to talk to other people in different social settings, that they don't always get EVERYTHING they want and that's okay, how to eat nutritiously, and the difference between right and wrong.  To me, that IS my potential.  That is the potential that GOD saw in me when he made me a mother.  It is my greatest responsibility on this earth.  What good is all the money from my high-paying career if I go to heaven and can't look the Lord in the eye and tell Him I did my best to teach more of His children how to return to Him!  What good is all the status I can acheive in this life if my children grow up to be failures and can't carry on the legacy I create? 

And on a side note, if it is financially feasible for me to stay home, why would I CHOOSE to add stress to all the lives of my family members, but mostly me, by trying to balance the responsibilities of managing a home, plus the role of a career woman, mother, and wife?  By staying home, I not only GET to be with my children every day, but I can remove stress from my husband by supporting him in his career, manage the duties of home, AND still have time to pursue my talents and interests.  Who says that by doing this I AM wasting any kind of potential?  I got my degree.  If anything happened to my husband, I could support my family if need be.  And just because right now I am not focused on a career, doesn't mean that I never can be.  Maybe when my children are grown, I'll go back to school, earn a Master's, maybe even a Doctorate, and go teach in the education department of a university.  Or maybe, just maybe, while I am at home relaxed, and in my creative element, I'll write that children's book I have had an idea for at the back of my mind.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sam Doesn't Eat!!

Almost every night, Sam refuses to eat dinner.  Doesn't usually matter what we are eating, he is just not a dinner eater.  At all.

We typically eat dinner between 5:30-6 pm.  Sam typically goes to bed between 7:30-8.  If he doesn't eat, our rule is that he gets no treats and nothing to eat or drink except water before bedtime. 

Then every morning Sam demands that we all wake up as soon as he wakes up (usually between 6:30-7) and go downstairs and "eat some brep-pest."  Some days I feel a little guilty letting the boys watch a show so I can sleep in a bit because Sam is always demanding food and I know he hasn't eaten since he woke up from naptime the previous day and had a snack.  (and trust me, I have eliminated the snack and extra drinks in the afternoon and still...he doesn't eat dinner.)  So we come downstairs and I make the boys scrambled eggs and cinnamon raisin toast or Kashi waffles with strawberries...etc.  A good breakfast.  But every morning after making me feel like a horrible mom for not getting up as soon as he does and making him breakfast immediately, he eats only a few bites of breakfast, puts his plate in the sink and declares himself done and cannot be coaxed back to eat another bite.  I could accept that maybe he just isn't going through a growth spurt right now and so doesn't need much food, except that a half hour later he is begging me for juice or a "spe-shal treat" or some kind of junk other than what I served for breakfast. 

I hold strong.  I don't give him what he wants, except to offer him water (which he HATES).  He throws a major temper tantrum and goes to his room.  Yesterday he came right out of his room, and disregarding my warning, asked me for apple juice AGAIN when we reached the bottom of the stairs.  Of course, I made him give me the scripted "What does no mean?" answer.

(When the boys ask us repeatedly for things after we say no, we make them give us the scripted answer.  It goes like this, "What does no mean?"  "No, and stop asking."  It was adapted from the scripted answer my grandmother used to make us say when we'd visit her for 2 weeks over the summer and became exasperated with us.  Back then, no meant, "No, and SHUT UP ABOUT IT!!"  lol)

Anyway, you know what happened next.  He threw a screaming fit, and back to his room he went.

I am so frustrated to start my day this way every day!  Most days I have been awake for less than 45 minutes when I have to deal with this kids temper tantrums, and if it isn't daily, it is at least 5 days a week.  And I am NOT a morning person, so this has been trying my patience.

I will say that by the time lunch rolls around, he usually scarfs it down, then has a drink and a small snack after nap, like I mentioned earlier, but that is it.  A few bites of brakfast and a drink.  Nothing till lunch time.  A big lunch and a treat for eating it all gone.  A snack and drink after lunch.  And then? Nada.  Unless they go outside to play, in which case, they get a small glass of water or juice, because...well, it's Texas and it is HOT!!!

He is a picky eater, but it has come a long way.  He does much better now about eating more of a variety of fruits, veggies and meats which he mostly used to refuse no matter the mealtime.  I used to have to be tricky about getting him to eat things.  But now he either eats it willingly or finds it hidden, and picks it out if he deosn't want it.  I have seen him refuse things for breakfast and dinner that I KNOW he loves!  He just doesn't want to sit down and eat dinner and doesn't eat much breakfast.  Okay, and also, despite all this, my child is not in any danger of poor health and nutrition.  He is about average when it comes to both height and weight and doesn't have any digestive problems or bowel movement issues.

Anyone have any supermom suggestions about things I could try to help him eat appropriately?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fun with New Friends on the Fourth

Going home and watching the fireworks show in Tulsa with his family for the 4th of July is Ben's favorite holiday tradition, but this year he had to work the next day, so we opted to stay here and go see a local show with our little family.  We chose to go to the Trinity River show which is just ten minutes down the road from our house here in Fort Worth.  We got there at 4:30.  It was roasting hot.  The show wasn't scheduled to start until 9pm.  There were all kinds of fun things to do along the river:  water bounce houses, a live band, lots of food vendors, including complementary water and watermelon, cardboard mat sliding down the hill, and the Fort Worth Cats baseball game in the stadium right behind us.  Plus, there were people floatingthe river and all sorts of other river activities.  With me being 6 mos pregnant, and as hot as it was, I mostly held down our blanket while Ben carted the boys off to fun activities alone.  I felt bad, btu I actually got a little nauseous after hauling so much stuff such a long distance in the Texas July heat.  Sometimes I just overdo it.  Anyway, we happened to notice some new friends walking by!
This is Kajal.  She is recently married to Veer, one of Ben's new resident buddies.  Jackson was instantly enamored with her and was sitting in her lap or doing something to try to impress her all night.  She is a saint, and didn't seem to mind!  :)
Here is Sam, cheerfully enduring the heat.

Jackson and Daddy, resting and rehydrating after a trip to the bounce house.

Here are Veer and Kajal.  Notice that you don't see Jackson in this picture, but don't worry, Sam was stepping up to fill his absense.

My multi-talented Jackson.  It is a wonder Kajal didn't drop at his feet, in desperate love!  ;)

The large pregnant woman holding the blanket down.


I managed to coax him into my lap long enough to take a picture. 

Veer is comforting Sam.  Sam was throwing a fit.  Who knows why.  Sometimes I don't think he needs a reason.  :)

We had a lot of fun with Veer and Kajal, and more resident buddies joined us as it started to get dark.  I am so grateful that Ben works with some really wonderful and fun people.  We've had a few over to our house since then to play games and there were a lot of laughs. 

Ally's nursery...so far

For some reason, it won't let me put these pics in the order I want to, so sorry if you have to scroll around some.
Here is the bedding I decided to go with so I didn't have to repaint all the nursery furniture. After it got here, I painted the walls a VERY light green, which you can kind of see from this picture.

Remember the brown cubbies that were behind my front door when I ran the preschool?  I painted them black, distressed them, and found these super-cute pink fabric bins at Target.  Gonna get a few more of these to fill most of the cubbies, but I thikn I'll leave some empty.  Thoughts?

This is a close up of the quilt and crib skirt so you can see the cute detail I tried to copy on the dresser.



And the dresser after I hand painted (and scrapbook papered) a similar design on it.


The dresser BEFORE...as it was in Sam's pirate room.

Close up of the detail work before I glued on the ladybugs.

Total cost of all paint and bedding:  abt $200.00, but I am betting having Ally in it...is priceless. 
(10 weeks left.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Independence

Now that I am staying home with the boys without other children in the house, I have decided that it is time to teach them to do more things on their own, especially wth a new baby coming!  So far they have been completely on board, as both of them frequently use the words, "by myself."  As in, "I wanna turn the light off by myself!"  "I want to put my pants on by myself."  "I want to climb up this ladder by myself!"
Here are a few things we have implemented to promote independence and help our day go smoothly:

1.  Jackson now lets Lady out in the morning when we all go downstairs together and lets her back in.  He also gets a scoop of food for her, dumps it in her tray and then takes her tray to the bathroom sink and fills up the other side with water.  He is very proud of himself for taking care of our dog "all by himself"  and sometimes wants to feed her and let her out more than need be.  :)

2.  Sam changes his own wet diapers.  We are on the brink of potty training, I think. I have not been wanting to start since it was such an ordeal with Jackson, but Sam insists that he "need-a go potty"  all the time, so I bought him some pull-ups to encourage him to practice pulling his pants up and down "by himself," and he does.  He announces he needs to go potty, goes in, pulls the step stool up to the toilet, pulls his pants and pull-up down, steps up there and earnestly tries to go multiple times a day (without success so far).  Then puts his own pull-up and pants back on (with occasional help from mom).  When he is wet, he takes his old diaper and puts it in the diaper trash and gets a new one out of the diaper drawer.  When he is poopy, he is usually very grossed out and comes to tell me immediately, but just in case, I check him before he takes off his diaper every time.  He always announces it before he does this, so I have to chance to check him first.

3.  Jackson can get his own juice. (There is a limit to how many glasses of juice he can have.)  I bought a large container with a spout and put it on a low shelf in the fridge.  I keep it filled with half juice/half water mixture (and sometimes just water) and put cups for Jackson and Sam next to it in the fridge.  When he wants a drink (or his brother does), he serves it "all by himself."  Occasionally he does spill it a little when he gets eager to pull the cup out from under the spout, but I just put a paper towel on the bottom of the fridge and change it out ever so often.  A slightly sticky fridge is worth it so see how happy he is to be a big boy and get his own drink when he is thirsty.  The side issues this also helps with is a) drinking out of a big boy cup instead of a sippy cup, b) keeping drinks in the kitchen only (which in turn helps me not to have to clean up disgusting forgotten sippy cups from all around the house).

4.  Both the boys undress themselves for bath, and while I am dressing Sam after removing him from the tub, Jackson gets his own towel, dries off and gets himself redressed in bedtime attire I set out while runing the bath.  This has dropped 5 minutes off our bedtime routine.  Love it!  (I don't know why I didn't do this one sooner, but I guess I just got into the habit of dressing them both myself.)

5.  Both boys brush their own teeth.  I put the toothpaste on (non-flouride still) and turn on the toothbrushes, then I take a short "turn" after they are done.

6.  Jackson gets his own clothes out of the drawer and clothes for Sam in the morning.  He dresses himself and sets Sam's clothes out for me.  We are working on teaching Sam to dress himself too, but this is where we are at right now.  To make it easier for Jackson to do this, I have showed him which drawer his summer clothes are in, and when I put them in the drawer, I put them together in outfits that match so he doesn't end up dressed crazy.  Eventually, I will teach him how to find clothes in his drawer that match, but he's only almost 4 right now, so that lesson will have to wait until he is older.

7.  Of course, both of the boys are in charge of keeping their own rooms and the playroom clean.  They have to put their toys away at the end of the day, but we have been cleaning up our own messes as part of our preschool day for so long, that they really don't question it.  In fact, Jackson was up later than usual last night, and I was rushing through the bedtime routine and he noticed that he had left a bucket of Tinkertoys out on the floor of the playroom, and before I could read him his bedtime story, he insisted that he needed to clean up his mess.  Jackson also hates when there are toys on the floor of his room at bedtime.  I think they leave scary shadows that he is not used to, so before he will go to bed, he will pick them up himself and put them where they go so that everything casts normal shadows while he is trying to sleep.  :)

8.  Do you have two story house?  Do you find that you are constantly picking things up that need to go upstairs and storing them on the stairs for members of your family to put away?  And how often does that happen?  ;)  In my house, our stairs were always a mess, and I was the only one who would take things up and put them away.  So I instituted a basket system.  There is a basket for me, Ben, and the boys, and every night when we go up for the night, we have to take our own basket up and put the items where they go.  Right now we are doing some home improvements to our living room and dining room area.  Ben is going to replace our carpet with stained concrete floors and put in a mudroom area by our front door.  Our stairs are directly in front of the front door, so when the mudroom is complete, the baskets will be stored on a shelf instead of on the stairs.

Well, that is all I've got so far.  If you have any ideas, I welcome them.  I think one of my newest projects will include an incentive chart for good behavior and chores, but I am still figuring out how I want to do that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mother's Day weekend


Me: 16.5 weeks, Mom's Cousin Nancy, and my Aunt Sara
I know this is belated, but for Mother's day weekend a whole group of female members of my family booked a scrapbook retreat in McKinney, TX. We had a blast. The original purpose was to spend as much bonding time as possible with my mom. She has been fighting Stage 4 breats cancer for some time now, and although she is now cancer free again, just a few months ago she had so many tumors in the truck of her body that she had a nasty cough and was really limping around. The chemo takes such a toll on her. Thank goodness she is now done with that non-productive clinical trial and is back in the hands of her miraculously capable doctor. Anyway, here are a few pictures to commemorate how much fun we had!!
The 3 generational group of beautiful ladies all stemming from the Whitis family. :)
And my mother, Mollie Conroy, hard at work, scrapbooking in the crop room.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

13 weeks, 2 days, first doctor visit

Monday was my first doctor's visit with baby #3. I applied for pregnancy Medicaid (a joy of living off student loans - primarily) and was accepted, received all my welcome pamphlets and paperwork and was assigned a primary care physician and an OB, but I still had not received my card. I waited and waited and waited and still...no card. I had been waiting to schedule my appt because I can't afford to pay the office visit by myself and I needed my proof of insurance for the doctor to bill it to Medicaid. Finally I couldn't wait any longer. I had been having nightmares of miscarriages and twins and all sorts of crazy things. I needed to hear that heartbeat just to confirm that everything was okay. I went ahead and scheduled my appt hoping I'd get my card in time, and if not, well, I'd just eat it and hope Medicaid would reimburse me. It seems like when I had Jackson my office visits ran around $60-70 each. Nope. $165 for the office visit. OUCH. First visits at my clinic are always with a nurse practitioner and since I was so far along, there was lots to do. I had to have my girly exam first because I hadn't had one since after I had Sam. (I hadn't had insurance.) Then she checked for a heartbeat. After a few scary minutes she found baby, very low, almost behind my pelvic bone. That sound just made me melt. I couldn't help but break into a cheesy smile, and I almost cried. I hadn't realized how anxious I had let myself get. That is so silly because I had been feeling great and Ben had been keeping an eye on me, too, and I should have known everything would be alright. I guess that one miscarriage I had before Jackson always gives me a little panic attack. After a long visit with the nurse practitioner, she sent me to get bloodwork. This clinic does their own lab work, so I just walked down the hall. As I entered the lab and sat down in the designated blood drawing seat, the lab tech asked me, "How would you like to pay?" gulp. huh? "I thought I already did pay, up front." "No," she said, with a grimace, "this is separate. It'll be $240.00" Oh Crap. So what did I do? Shelled out my cc, got the blood drawn, and began my drive home, dreading how I was going to tell Ben what I had just done. Needless to say, he was.not.thrilled. Today's naptime agenda has me calling Medicaid to find out why they are showing that I am not active until May!? And pleading for them to backdate my active status so that somehow I can be reimbursed for the $400.00 I shelled out. I'm trying to look at the bright side: no more nightmares, and I have a confirmation that baby is fine, and so am I.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

12 weeks, 2 days


11 weeks, 2 days (This picture was last week.)


I haven't been to the doctor yet. My first appt is on Monday. Those first few appts are uneventful anyway, and I HAVE an OB/GYN trained doctor in my household if I need one, although I am a little anxious to hear the heartbeat and just confirm that everything is fine.


So far I have just been really, really tired. I had some very bad nausea at the beginning, but I started taking my prenatals at night and problem solved. Right now my biggest concern is that I have gained TEN LBS since finding out I was pregnant 7 weeks ago. I always tend to gain more than I should in the beginning, but that still seems like a lot to me. I started exercising at home on my new elliptical at least three times a week for 30 minutes (I normally quit working out during pregnancy because I am just too tired and can't get motivated since I don't see results.), and that seems to have slowed down the weight gain, but it is still rising at a rapid rate.


Maybe I'm just paranoid because I'm overly concerned about gaining after having JUST lost all the weight from Sam? It seems like my belly is measuring a lot bigger than it should at this point tho. I started wearing maternity jeans this week. You could practically hear my jeans squealing in protest every time I squeexed myslef into them. It was becoming painful and I am just not a fan of the open top button/belly band thing. It feels slobbish to me. So it is either stretchy pants or maternity clothes.


Today I took the boys to a doctor appt. As I passed the doctor on the way to the second waiting area, he commented to my husband that he noticed I was pregnant again. Really? He can tell just in passing that I am big enough to be pregnant. Cuz people don't usually say anything unless they are pretty confident. Now I am a little more anxious to get the doctor to make sure I am not measuring too big for this age and if Iam, WHY? No twins, no twins, no twins...how could that even happen anyway? We have no twins in either of our families - the chances are slim to none. But it HAS been on my mind, on others' lips and in my dreams a lot lately. Sigh - well, come what may and love it, right? And I would, of course. Silver lining of twins? I'd get BOTH the names I like (well, if boy/girl). ;)