Ten Years Old!

I should have written this post a long time ago. I have a new 10 year old. This young lady is beautiful, smart, and funny. She loves to create new outfits (like every day and sometimes twice a day). She really does have great style. She is also so athletic. Loves science and sports and music and has a competitive spirit. I can tell that once we get her some music lessons she is going to take off with that. Like her Papa she can pick out a tune on the piano very easily. Her birthday was simple but lots of fun. We went to the movies to see Annie and then back to 

Nana's house for pizza and cake. She chose cupcakes. The lighting was poor and I was tired so I got very few photos. I wish I would have taken more. She is so beautiful and I am so proud of her! Among her birthday presents was a Kindle Fire and a fish tank! She has been having a lot of fun learning to take care of her fish and I can hardly get her off her tablet.      

32 Weeks Pregnancy Update

Today I am 32 weeks and 5 days. This picture is a little cheesy but I am getting excited! The final stretch is getting shorter and shorter. It seems like an eternity until I look at my very long to-do list.   

We had a bout of illness in the house. I had some uncomfortable things going on like a lot of braxton hicks contractions and round-ligament pain that would not let up. So we spent several weeks just recovering and I spent a lot of time in bed. It was not the best for my plan to stay active, and my diet consisted of more convenience foods than I wanted. But I am back at the gym now and my meals are healthier. I have modified workouts to avoid overtaxing my body. I feel so good when I lift weights that I cannot give that up yet. Picking up laundry and toys is another story. Funny how physical exertion in the gym feels good but the daily grind is sometimes excruciating. Endorphins?  

I have never had a baby before week  40 42  .  BUT in just 4 short weeks I will be 37 weeks (full-term) and that is at least when it would be possible to have him! I know I need to remain patient and give this baby all the time he needs. I have really preferred the labors where the baby is larger (9 lbs.) anyway and there is a better chance of that if I go into labor after 40 weeks. If he comes before 40 weeks I wont complain though!! I am really secretly (now not so secretly) hoping for a birthday in February. I am collecting months. Right now I have children with the birthdays in the following months: October (1), November (2), December (1), January (1), and March (1). February would complete the sequence.  

This part of pregnancy is not only physically taxing but psychologically taxing. It is hard to wait. The most important thing though is to prepare mentally for labor by relaxing through braxton hicks contractions and thinking positively. As new-agey as it may sound, visualizing a positive birth experience and telling yourself you can do it really helps labor go better. Also watching peaceful hypnobirths on yYouTube helps. I do not practice hypnobirthing but I definitely tend to remain calm and quiet and try to be as relaxed as possible through labor. When you fight the contractions and fear the pain the pain is exaggerated. By relaxing as thoroughly as possible through contractions your body is able to do more work and you feel much less pain. 
It is also important to prepare mentally for postpartum recovery when things get tricky taking care of yourself and baby and siblings and husband. While the husband will be taking care of you mostly, there is still a relationship that has to be nurtured.  I find it absolutely crucial to envision life after birth  rather than only focusing on labor day. Once the baby is here life continues on with the same necessities as before but there is one more person to consider. So it helps me to set goals for the future and to spend time thinking about how they will be accomplished and how wonderful it will be accomplishing them with my family a little bit bigger.  

Overall I cannot complain much. I am feeling huge and uncomfortable and getting out of bed is a big ordeal.  But I have good health (except the flu and the cold that I have battled since before Christmas), the baby is doing well, and I am nearing the end of pregnancy. I have a supportive husband and a beautiful family. All in all things are great!  I will say that one seemingly silly thing that is really affecting me is that I have definitely reached the point where I desperately crave sleeping on my stomach. Does that happen to other moms? I daydream about it and sometimes almost get in a panic I want it so badly. That is one of my favorite things after birth--getting to roll over and rest on my stomach and give my hips and knees a break or (even though I am not a back sleeper) that first time I get to just lie down fully reclined flat on my back wtihout feeling like I am going to pass out. I will still spend much of my nights on my side after baby is born because of nursing in bed but even that is different because I will be a good 20 pounds lighter! 

On the Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas grandma and grandpa came to visit. I was a lame photographer because the company was so good. But I did manage to take a few photos of our cookie decorating operation. I knew I would not be up to making gingerbread this year so I bought a gingerbread and snowman cookie kit at Costco on clearance (a week before Christmas!). They might not have been as good as homemade, but they seemed to please the palletes that mattered.  

Grandma brought everyone handmade jewelry.  Mr. Trucks was thrilled to have his own manly bracelet.  We also exchanged gifts. The boys got the coolest toy called twister tracks. It has been a big hit around the house with everyone.   

The girls got very creative with the snowman cookie and made Charlie Brown characters. This is Lucy. 

 After Grandma and Grandpa left Papa played monopoly with the older girls. It was a loooooooong game. But they had fun. Our little philosopher in pink took the win and obliterated everyone.

Gaudete Sunday

We are half way through! I have a lot of the shopping done but still need to get a few gifts and this week we need to make some cookies!!! I also have a few sewing projects to do as well--want to make some gifts for friends.

The song above is one of our favorite Christmas carols. We changed the words to fit for Advent because naturally we think of it when it is Gaudete Sunday! The words of the original chorus of this medieval Christmas carol are:

Gaudete! Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria virgine. Gaudete!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary. Rejoice!

For advent we changed them to:

Gaudete! Gaudete! Christus naturus ex Maria virgine. Gaudete!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ will be born of the Virgin Mary. Rejoice!

How We Celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Lucy. It is a big deal in many countries and I have always admired the various traditions surrounding this beautiful day.  My children particularly love the story of St. Lucy's bravery and how she endured such tortures as losing her eyes all for the love of God. I still have not gotten any of them to have fake eyeballs on a plate for Halloween though. I think it is really important to tell the stories of the martyrs even though they are gruesome. Some might shy away from tales of saints dying horrible deaths but I really believe it helps them understand the depth of the love we should have for God (and the depth of the love he had for us!). It also encourages bravery in the face of the many little trials they encounter in life.  And if God sees fit, it will inspire them in the face of any great trials they encounter.

The most famous celebrations on St. Lucy's day come from Sweden. Most people are familiar with the image of a young girl dressed in white with a wreath of candles on her head. There is something so magical and whimsical about it! Someday perhaps, when I decide to buy an authentic Swedish wreath, I will start such a tradition. For now I feel too far removed from the customs of Sweden to start this at my house. There are so many celebrations at this time of year that I need to keep things simple. I would not dream of leaving out her feast day though so we have our own little way of celebrating.

St. Lucy's name means light and that theme is an integral part of the celebration of her feast all over the world. So for us it seems the perfect time to go out and look at Christmas lights! It is convenient because most people take their Christmas lights down immediately after Christmas day (when...ahem...they should just be getting started with festivities) and we never feel like we fully get to enjoy them. By celebrating the feast of St. Lucy we are able to enjoy them with purpose even though we are right in the middle of Advent. This year we will go see the Light Parade in town which happens to fall on St. Lucy's day. I am packing cookies and hot chocolate and plenty of coats and blankets. Before heading out to the parade we will read the story of St. Lucy. I might, just might, wake the children to a candlelit breakfast and read the story then.

If you have not planned anything for the feast of St. Lucy why not read the story of her life and go to a light parade? Or zoolights? Or if you don't have a light parade tomorrow, hop in the car with travel mugs of hot cocoa and drive through the best neighborhood Christmas lights you can find!

Happy Feast of St. Lucy!

A Day in Which We Enjoy 2 Whole Hours of Sunshine!

Today was sunny!!!!!! We had about 2 hours of sunshine today after what seems like days and days of grey. I knew coming back to Oregon that I would miss the sunshine. In Mexico we missed the seasons and now I am whining about how grey the world is here in the Pacific Northwest. As soon as I realized it was sunny we were out the door.  It was warm and beautiful all the way to our destination.
We went to a shop called PanezaNellie Breadstick Shop. It is funny to have such a specialized place in such a tiny town. But we were pleasantly surprised to find delicious pizza, breadsticks, salads, and other yummy things to eat. And most importantly they have coffee! It is a great place to pop in for a quick lunch or a latte. They have pastries and a little candy shop too. I splurged and got the children each a hot cocoa (only $1 each) and we shared some delicious cheese breadsticks. As we entered the shop the clouds rolled in so we did not stop at the park on the way home as we planned. The wind was blowing hard and we had an invigorating walk home. 
The clouds are back and it is dark and grey outside. But we had an outing and that little shot of vitamin D is going to get me through the rest of the day. If it were Wednesday I would wish you a happy Windsday à la Winnie the Pooh, but it is Thursday, so happy Windy Thursday!