Our friend Jon drove up from NC to visit with us! The girls were so excited and we were, too!
Our kitty was a little too excited about the pack-n-play bassinet that we set up for the baby. Good thing I had covered up the sheets. I'm going to have to watch out for him!
Good news!!!! My iron level came back at 10.4! That was totally amazing because it only went up one point in the 1st two weeks, but in one week it went up a whole point more! I attribute it completely to the dessicated liver pills, because they were the only thing I added in addition to my Floradix. I started taking 3 capsules 3 times a day and I really think it made a difference. So now I am free to go to my midwife at the birth center! I am so happy!
Baby names: we don't have them yet! It is crazy to think that this baby could come at any time and not have a name. I have middle names picked out (if they end up going well with the first name we choose.) Daniel if it is a boy (after Daddy) or Elizabeth if it is a girl (after Nina). We actually have a couple of boy names that we like but haven't decided completely yet. And we have no girl names that we can agree upon. So I guess we will just have to wait til baby comes and we see what he/ she looks like.
Which brings me to the fact that the end of this pregnancy is totally different from my others. I've been having tons of Braxton Hicks for 3 months now and I never had a single one with my other pregnancies. And with all 3 of my girls, early labor signs meant active labor within 24 hours. (With Karis my water broke and started contractions, with Karlie, I woke up sick and my body cleansing itself for labor and went that night, and with Abbi, my body cleansed itself one afternoon, I had a great sleep, and woke up the next morning in serious labor.) With this crazy baby, I've been having labor signs since Tuesday and it hasn't truly gotten underway yet! I previously didn't even really consider the fact that I might go into labor before next week, but then after Tuesday night and Wednesday, I thought for sure this baby was coming early. And now I have no idea. I really wonder if my own stress and fear might have stopped labor... on Tuesday night when things were really happening, I had not yet found out that my iron was high enough and was utterly determined not to go to the hospital. I prayed all night long that labor would stop until I was cleared for the birth center. And finally by Wednesday night, it had really subsided. Then Thursday night I started having a few strong contractions again, but really did not want to go into labor without my Mom (she had just traveled to NC for my brother's graduation). I started praying again for labor to stop and it really did. I know God has a perfect timing for this baby and I can't wait to find out when it is! This waiting game is tough but exciting :)
So, Tuesday night I couldn't seep at all because of contractions and potty breaks and my body was obviously purging itself for labor all day yesterday. I was exhausted, out of it, and miserable most of the day yesterday. Thankfully it was Mark's day off and he was home to help with the girls! I prayed for a good night's sleep and God granted my wish! I woke up this morning feeling fabulous with lots of energy! But now my contractions have subsided.... oh the joys of the early stages of labor :) So I'm trying not to be disappointed and instead focus on getting everything done for whenever real active labor starts.
I took these videos of the girls on Tuesday night before bed to see their final thoughts on the baby. Enjoy!
It is such an exciting time to be waiting on baby's arrival! Only a week til my due date so it can truly happen any time. (Karlie was a week early.) Thankfully, we have had much to keep us busy and it is amazing how quickly time is passing!
Last weekend was not only Mother's Day but also my Mom's birthday. My parents came and stayed with us and we had a lot of fun!
Then today was Daddy's birthday so we had to make my Grandmother's amazing pound cake (with sprinkles added) for him. The girls beg to make it for Daddy for nearly every special occasion because it is so good and they know he loves it.
Daddy wanted to do something fun with his girls for his birthday so we decided to check out the Homestead Creamery Farm and market. As you can tell by Karlie's chocolate mustache and arm, the ice cream was delicious!
Abbi was almost as dirty :)
The animals were quite friendly and kept the girls laughing as the followed us around and stuck their heads out of the fence. They really seemed to want our attention!
There was an awesome sandbox with the animals right beside it!
Abbi enjoyed the excavator!
Now we just have to pray that this baby will stay put through the weekend so we can get my iron level up, enjoy a visit from a favorite friend, get my parents back in town (they are going to NC for my brother's graduation), and celebrate Karis's birthday a little early. But we have completely cleared our calendar after Sunday evening, so baby is welcome to come anytime after that! (As if we could tell baby what to do :)
This is going to be quite a random post, but I just wanted to share a few things that have made my life easier lately:
1. Bandette Cup Labels -- I've gotten rid of most of our plastic ware and my girls primarily drink out of 8-oz. glass jelly jars. They are heavier and thus tip over a lot less than my stainless steel or leftover plastic cups. We have found that we have ten time less spills with these, as well as being more healthy to drink from. However, the biggest problem is that the girls would forget whose glass is whose and I would end up washing them at every meal. I stumbled upon these cute drink bands on Amazon and they have been a life-saver! Now each girl has her own color and I only have to wash them once when I fill up the dishwasher at night.
2. Boon Animal Bag Stuffed Animal Storage -- This one is a little pricey, totally worth it because it serves 2 purposes: We had been going crazy with stuffed animals all over the place. My girls LOVE their stuffed animals and sleep with many and play zoo/ pet shop with them all the time. But we get so tired of finding them all over the house! In addition, I've thought many times about buying them a bean bag for their reading nook. This is less expensive than most of the nicer (won't burst easily) bean bags. So I decided it was worth it. We probably stuffed 50 stuffed animals into one of these and then the girls had a blast jumping onto it from their bed :) Very cozy!
3. Knot Genie Detangling Hairbrush -- This hairbrush is amazing! It totally works better than any other hairbrush I have tried on my girls' crazy hair. Now it does come apart easily (like if I drop it on the floor) but goes back together very easily.
4. Fossil Key-per large shopping tote bag/ purse -- my awesome sis-in-law told me how wonderful this purse was and how handy it was and I am so glad I listened to her! This bag is the perfect solution to someone who doesn't want a diaper bag but still needs some extra space. I can easily throw in a sippy cup, Abbi's bear softy, my smaller Bible for church, a book to lend to a friend, my planner, water bottle, an extra diaper and small bag of wipes, small medicine kit, etc. And it wipes off easily if I set it down somewhere dirty. I've been using this purse for about a year and a half and it has been a lifesaver! But don't pay full-price for it... I found my on e-bay for a great deal! And I looked at the Fossil website and don't like the newer versions as much.
5. Norwex cleaning supplies -- These are also expensive but I have been slowly building up my supplies over the last few years. These are perfect for my girls to clean with because the silver and microfiber make them naturally antibacterial without the use of chemicals. Each day my girls have "chore time" and I set them to work with these things. The household package is the perfect starting set. My girls love the mitt for dusting, they go all over the house wiping down baseboards and door knobs and cabinets with the everyday green enviro cloth, and I seriously have never had such streak-free windows as when I use the purple shine cloth. My husband was a skeptic but now borrows them to clean the windows in his car :)
Less than 2 weeks left til my due date and we are getting excited! We are almost done sorting and washing the initial baby things that we are going to need and packing that birth center bag. I just have to say that we have been really blessed by generous friends. By the fourth baby, most of the clothes have spit-up stains and most of the bigger necessities are broken or out of date. The Mom2Mom group that I have been attending has really been a blessing to me. Several different ladies have given us things we needed: an infant carseat, bouncer, pack-n-play with bassinet, and even a tote full of newborn boy clothes in case we end up with a boy! And then my Sunday School friends gave me a shower and I ended up with gift cards to buy the other baby things we were needing. It is so exciting how God has provided for this little baby!
I still need prayer for my iron levels to go up and that BabyD4 will stay put at least another week so that I can get re-checked. My latest bloodwork showed that I had improved to 9.3, which is a lot better but not good enough. I'm supposed to be at 10 for my midwife to deliver my baby rather than go to a hospital. She said she can accept me at 9.8 so I have to raise it at least a half point before labor begins! For once I am actually praying for an overdue baby. Thankfully, 2 out of my 3 were overdue so I have great hope. Please pray with us that BabyD4 will stay put til my iron goes up! It would be horrible to have to go to a random hospital with a random doctor that I have never met before and they will think I am absolutely crazy for refusing all normal procedures. It would just be battle after battle. But I absolutely love my midwife and her lovely birthing center and I really believe God brought me to her so I am trying not to stress. It will all work out.
Everything else looks great -- all my vitals and the baby's as well. My GBS test was thankfully negative and I am so glad I don't have to worry about antibiotics during labor! My chiropractor said that it looks like the baby has dropped some but he thinks it will stay in at least another week. I don't know what makes him think so, but I sure hope he is right!
And here are 2 pictures of the big sisters who are impatiently crossing off each day until the baby comes. I cannot tell you how excited they are and how much fun they have had going through baby clothes with me this week!
Since this baby is due in just 2 weeks and next weekend is Mather's Day and the following is Karis' party (hopefully), we figured we should go on one more fun date before the craziness begins. We were so happy that two of our favorite couples could join us! We went to a super nice restaurant for dinner and then to another one just to get a fabulous favorite dessert :) It was so wonderful to laugh and relax with such good friends and eat such yummy food!
Look at that humongous belly! Seriously, I had no idea it was so big until I saw this picture :) I mean, I feel huge, but this picture just confirmed it. HA!
Mary and Samy
Gavin and Casey
Attempted group shot as we were heading to our cars:
We haven't taken a lot of pictures lately; just a few random ones on our phone. But we have been busy!
I've reached the last month of pregnancy and am definitely feeling it :) So sore by evening time and the baby feels like it is going to kick/ punch his/ her way out of my belly. It is very entertaining to the girls! Karis in particular loves to push on my belly to try to make the baby push back. Everything concerning baby looks great and I love my midwife! I am so excited about avoiding the hospital this time around. I do have to raise my iron level by 1.5 in order to give birth at the center, but I am diligently working on it with nasty Floradix and dessicated liver pills and molasses so I'm not too worried. As long as BabyD4 will stay put for at least two more weeks til I can be re-tested I should be fine. And I've no history of going more than a week early (I'm much more likely to be overdue) so I'm sure the numbers will go up before labor begins. I have been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I don't remember having in past pregnancies, but I'm just hoping that means my body will be more ready and labor will go faster :)
The girls have been loving the beautiful spring weather and I've been loving the chance to throw them outside in the back yard every evening while I make dinner. No more 4:00 whininess! They have a special dirt hole that they love playing with in addition to our yard toys. If I didn't have to wear out my back cleaning them off every time they came in, it would be perfect :) The girls are in love with our neighbors and they come over to play just about every afternoon. If the girls hear the neighbor kids outside at any time of the day, they immediately start begging to go outside and join them. They are still getting used to the bugs of spring-time and Karlie is known to come inside pre-maturely if she sees a spider. But she usually returns after a short break when she sees how much fun everyone else is having through the window :) I am so thankful for the fenced in backyard!
Here are some random pictures from our phones from the last 2 weeks:
Mark took the girls to a special Easter musical at our church and they LOVED the special cross that was part of the show.
We started Karis out in Karlie's 4-year old Sunday School class because they were both pretty shy and wanted to be together. After subbing in that class one week last month, however, I quickly realized that both of them had overcome their shyness and Karis was definitely ready for her age group. So we moved her up and Karlie was determined to come see Karis' new class:
My aunt gave the girls some of her grand-daughter's toys and clothes. The girls found this wig particularly hilarious:
A young man who was in Mark's youth group 8 years ago when we previously lived here is now the photographer for the local natural food co-op. He found out I shop there and asked to take pictures of our family for the magazine. Imagine my surprise to find that we were on the cover!
A random picture Mark took of the little girls pretending to be asleep in their reading nook. Usually when they pretend play, Karis is the Mama, Karlie is the daddy, and Abbi is their little girl. Apparently Karis had told them it was nap time :)
i celebrated my 31st birthday last weekend.
These awesome cupcakes were my favorite treat!
Abbi enjoyed the leftovers so much that she really tried to eat the plate to get every single bit!
Karlie was excited because Grandma braided her hair:
Well folks, we made it through our first year of Classical Conversations! And truly, we loved it. I cannot think of a better program for my girls and me. We learned so much and had so much fun! My girls love to sing and each week's memory work has a song to go with it, so they learned the info almost effortlessly. I am amazed and impressed with the program and thought I would share what I had learned to help my girls learn such vast amounts of information. I have tons of friends who are considering the program and they have all asked what we do at home to supplement the one morning a week that we meet with our tutor and friends. So here are my thoughts:
There are 3 basic things that we do: our Memory Board, our itunes playlist, and a summary binder of all the weeks' information.
1. Memory Board. This has been so helpful! We only go over CC info about 2-3 times a week and only for about 20-30 minutes. That is truly all it takes. And the girls are always excited to take a break from our tablework (math, phonics, handwriting, etc) to pull out the board and start singing and dancing to our songs. Even Abbi loves to do our memory board. For great instructions on how to make a tri-fold memory board, visit THIS LINK. But you can really make it however you would like. I ended up putting 2 weeks of history, science, math, and geography on the board at a time (one for review and one for new information). This way I made sure that the girls did not forget anything from the previous week. I started out by printing off the week's information every Sunday, but sadly did not always have time to do it and we got behind. I finally stumbled across power point posters for the entire semester on CC Connected and printed the entire second semester off at once. Let me tell you, that is the way to do it. It was so nice to have everything ready when it was time to update our memory board each week!
My girls love to dance and sing, so our review sessions usually look a bit like this:
2. Binders of the year's information: I originally did this for my own sanity, so that I would not lose any of my timeline cards or posters for the memory board. I was surprised to find that Karis and Karlie loved to pull out the binders and just sing through them! It turned out to be a great way to review. I did not mandate a time for reviewing in this way, but the girls usually did it on their own at least once if not twice a week. I tell you, they love those songs!
This notebook is organized very simply... I didn't even use tabs to divide the subjects. I basically just put all 26 weeks in order by subject together.
I just put the binders on the shelf with all their other favorite books so they could get them whenever they wanted:
And Karis will randomly pull it out and do this:
3. ITunes Playlist: CC has provided songs for all the history, timeline, and some of the math information that the girls memorize. CC Connected has songs uploaded by other parents for everything else. (Some of them are great and some of them are really annoying.) Since my girls love to dance around and sing so much, I uploaded a song for each and every piece of memory work. Then I would randomly play the playlist throughout the week as they were playing.
Extra helpful information:
1. Mystery of History audio Cd's -- My girls learn so much history by doing the timeline and history sentences that there is no need for me to try to fit in another history curriculum with our other homeschool work. However, The information they learn is short and concise and it is up to me to flesh it out and help them understand it better. I know a lot of other CC families use Story of the World to complement CC history, but I decided to try MOH because it was more biblically centered and at this point I felt like my girls needed that. We will probably use SOTW CD's also when they are in Middle School, but I wanted a firm foundation for the younger years. And I have been so pleased with it! My big girls listen to books on CD every day at naptime (since they no longer sleep) so these CD's were perfect to give them that historical background to what they were memorizing without taking any extra time from our day. Karis really enjoys these CD's and will choose them at least 3 days a week. Karlie chooses them every now and then also. The first set is absolutely wonderful, beautifully intertwining Biblical History with Secular History. The second set containing the early church and middle ages does contain some violent descriptions (martyers, battles, etc) so even though it is from a great Christian perspective, the parent will want to preview before deciding what is appropriate for the children. All in all, though, we have really enjoyed these CD's and can't wait for the 3rd set to be finished!
2. CC Connected: Only $6 a month and super helpful. All CC parents can upload their posters, videos, songs, and helpful tricks for memorizing the informtaion. This is where I find all my posters for our memory board and my songs for our itunes playlist.
3. CC iphone or ipad App -- I didn't get this until the second semester because I didn't have a smartphone until we moved, but my girls loved this! I let them play with the app each morning while I brush and fix their hair and even Abbi loved to see the pictures and hear the songs. Honestly, if you download the app, you don't even really need the teacher's book. It is fabulous for reviewing old material especially.
4. Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood blog -- there are tons of blogs out there with lots of CC info, but if I had to pick just one to follow, I would choose this one. She has great ideas and also does a lot of link-ups so you can see other bloggers' ideas easily. She has planning pages, booklists for each cycle, review games, and much more.
5. "Blobbing" the continents: After reading Leah Bortin's book, "The Core," (which I HIGHLY recommend if you really want to catch the classical education vision) I decided to have the girls start practicing drawing maps. I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it! I had seen Book 7 of the Draw, Write, Now series recommended and it did really help the girls in the beginning.
Here is Karis' very first freehand map. Very basic, but she actually really enjoyed making it and showed improvement each week!
After a she got good at the basic map, we added in the 5 major circles of latitude:
Her first map with the 5 great circles:
We will gradually add more and more detail to our maps and begin making the continents in their actual shapes :)