Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Prep: Baskets, Eggs and an Out of Control Cat

Last year I poured a lot of thought into the Easter Baskets... this year I went down to the basement and found a few gifts I'd collected over the past few months during really good sales and was just thankful that I could find an even amount for everyone.  Somewhere around here are some beautiful holy cards I wanted to add in to, but I just couldn't' find them tonight.  

Here are the finished baskets:

Sadie will find a My Little Pony, a magnetic story telling board, a small coloring book, and 1 stick of jelly candies.
Mae will find a My Little Pony, magnetic mermaid wooden dolls, a small coloring book, and a stick of jelly candies.
And Patch will find a electronic toy "book," a soft backpack with little play school supplies in it, a small coloring book, and a stick of jelly candies. 
 After I put the babies to bed, Sadie and I dyed the eggs for tomorrow's egg hunt in the backyard:

 Then it was off to bed for her so that Kittyfish and I could throw together the baskets:

As you can imagine, Kittyfish was a big help.  Until he completely lost his mind and started tearing around the room:

The sun is down and I imagine many of you are at the Vigil Mass now or on your way home from it!

Happy Easter!  I think I'm going to call it a night soon so that I can at least make an honest attempt at keeping up with the kids tomorrow!

Maggie tries out her weighted lap pad...

I've been planning the last few details for tomorrow, but before I posted anything about that I wanted to pause for a moment and share this picture.

I love it.

It was snapped as Maggie examined the weighted lap pad that I made for her for the first time.  

She did actually like it... as did her brother and sister.  I have a feeling I'm going to be making more of these in the near future:

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's the Small Things... A Story of a "Slumber Party"

Maggie on a non-slumber
party day, trying
not to get into her own bed!
All day today Sadie had one thing on her mind.  Bed time.  She couldn't wait for it.  From the moment she got up she could hardly speak of anything else.

Oh there were a few detours for Good Friday.  She knows what today is and each conversation about today was always followed by the word "and what does that mean the day after tomorrow is?", spoken in an excited tone.

Then she'd go back to bedtime.  "I have a surprise planned" she'd say.  "It's a secret."

As we packed in all the errands that I was finally getting to get done this afternoon while having a car and Paul around to help with the kids before the insanity of finals begins next week, she kept talking about her plan.  "How many hours until bedtime?" she asked.  "Four hours?  That's not too long.  It's a secret.  Maggie and I are having a party."

"It's a secret." Paul asked with a smile.

"It's a surprise."  Sadie replied, as he tried not to laugh.  "And we're going to get dresses out of the closet.  But you don't know what they look like.  Because it's going to be a secret for me and Maggie."

By that point Paul was laughing and joking that she obviously got her surprise keeping abilities from me.

"And there's a dress, and it's going to be pink and brown.  There are fairy dresses in there.  I can't remember what color Maggie's is."

"I hope you girls don't get too wild."  I told her over and over again throughout the day with a laugh, knowing they were going to.

"Maggie will probably get wild.  Wearing pink makes her wild."  Sadie would reply.

"Oh, is that what it is?  Wearing pink?"  I'd say, laughing.  And blue, and red, and yellow, and green and purple, apparently.

"Wearing pink makes Maggie wild."

This conversation went on all day long.  Sadie brought it up over and over again.  She could hardly wait until bedtime.

Finally it was time for bedtime.  I picked up Maggie's sleeper and she saw me and ran over excitedly.  Sadie had already put on a princess nightgown and was galloping around the room talking about how much fun it would be.  I was surprised Mae came over so quickly, she loves bedtime, but she's not usually a fan of changing her clothes.  She slipped into the pink sleeper with white polka dots and then quickly looked around the room.

Spying what she was searching for she ran over and picked up a pink princess dress with a tulle skirt and brought it to me and then stood while I put it on over her sleeper.

Mae pretty much never sleeps in a dress.  She's not a huge fan of change.  She's also not a fan of changing her clothing.  And here she was handing me a pink dress and excitedly putting it on after hearing her sister talk all day about how they were going to have a party wearing pink dresses.

A few minutes later Maggie and Sadie were having their "party" which involved jumping on their beds together in their pink dresses.  Twenty minutes later I peeked in when I heard Sadie say "no Maggie!" and saw that to her big sister's dismay, Mae was fast asleep wrapped in blankets on the floor.

The party had ended.

I'm still pretty excited though.  Maggie heard her sister talking about having a "sister party" all day long and how they would wear pink dresses and Maggie decided to change her regular routine and excitedly went to the "party."

I have a feeling that there's quite a few more slumber parties in our immediate future.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Kittyfish spent last night try to break down my door to force me to accept the mouse that he'd caught for me.

I'm beginning to suspect that he doubts my own mouse catching skills and thinks I would starve if he wasn't dropping mice on the floor next to my bed.

Well... at least it's the floor and not my pillow.  And at least that's one less mouse to scamper by and scare me at random times throughout the day.  He certainly is doing his job!

Sometimes when I read reports on what parents need to do to do what's "best" for their child, I kind of find myself shaking my head.  The latest study, which I ran across last night was about the evils of forward facing strollers.  It basically says that because children face forward in most strollers, parents don't talk to them as much, and because parents don't talk to them as much, it's changing brain development and is harmful to the child.

In the end something is thrown in saying it's about a baby needing comfort when they're overwhelmed, next to a picture of a baby that's pretty young to be sitting upright in a stroller, in an upright stroller, and I actually think they might have done better taking that direction (for very small babies), but since most of the article (and studies from what is mentioned) is about children facing forward and the possibility that it damages language development, I find the claim that forward facing strollers are damaging to kids to be kind of silly.

I should probably start by saying I can't really speak to how tiny babies experience sitting forward facing in a stroller.  None of the strollers we've had were supposed to be used with tiny babies.  Patch pretty much lived in a moby wrap for the first six months of his life, and when we go on walks I keep using the carrier quite about that first year, gradually increasing the amount of time in a stroller as they get bigger.  As the kids grow they're usually pretty excited to be in the stroller taking in their surroundings.  They're seeing people and animals and cars go by and are happy to be getting out and about.

And I just don't see that damaging their brain or language development.

I can't help but think that the pressure placed on parents to make sure their children's brains are stimulated every single second of those first formative years is kind of ridiculous.  You'd think that in past centuries mothers poured every moment of their days into paying attention to their children and did nothing else, when that simply wasn't the case.

I guess I just get tired of this whole push to spend every minute on worrying about how little brain's are developing, when the business of living, going out and about, playing inside and out, is exactly what those little brains need to be healthy.  Sometimes that means talking and sometimes that means watching the world pass by and noticing a bird chirping in a tree of a bicyclist flying down the street.

Last night I tucked the girls into bed and then walked into the other room and heard instant giggling.  I waited and listened and finally peeked in and found Sadie sitting on Mae's bed, explaining something to her in detail (not sure what it was, but it included something like "and then you turn around and...") while Mae lay smiling with her head next to her sisters lap, staring up at her.  This was followed by a solid hour of giggling and running and jumping before they both finally fell asleep exhausted.

I think that even if we had enough rooms for everyone to have their own, I would still have shared rooms, because watching them have "slumber parties" every night has been amazing.

Has anyone else found themselves so much more tempted by whatever they gave up for lent, this week?  I found my brain trying to justify why it would be okay to drink a soda because "it's holy week" a couple of days ago.  I resisted but... it was tough!

I don't think we're attempting going to the Good Friday service today... with the struggles we've been having at Mass lately and me getting faint and Mae desperate to go into the Church to praise God in her own little way, I think it would be too disastrous.

While taking a break from writing Quick Takes I checked in with the Today Show where I occasionally get a chance to watch a few clips to get my news for the morning.  The story of the sherpas who lost their life on Mt Everest in an avalanche came up and I began to listen and then I heard this:

"No, I couldn't tell you the name of any of the sherpas who are up there.  The biggest tragedy of this is that it's the very beginning of the season.  And to lose this number of people at the very beginning of the season may be the end of the season here."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 I'm actually pretty that this being the possible "end to the season" and that some very wealthy adventure seekers may not be able to live out their dreams of climbing Everest this year, isn't the biggest tragedy occurring here.

And I totally missed that Quick Takes had been canceled for the day, but, since I already wrote them, I might as well hit post!

That Ad on the "World's Toughest Job"

Have you seen the new, controversial Mother's Day add where the greeting card people set up fake interviews for the "toughest job in the world.]?"  At the end of it you find out that this horribly impossible job that they've been describing is actually being a mom and then everybody gets all mushy and starts thanking their moms for everything they've done.

I'll start by saying that my first thought while watching it was that I really hoped those people were actors and not actual job seekers.  Maybe it's remembering Paul applying for jobs in 2008 when the recession was at it's height, but I just find it cruel to get people's hopes up about a job that doesn't actually exist, if that's what they're actually doing.  But I'll try to put that aside and move on to the part that's causing the most controversy... what they actually say moms do.

I find myself somewhere in the middle when hearing the claims made about how true or false the add is.  On the one hand I really dislike how impossible and miserable the description makes motherhood out to be.  I love my "job."  Good days and not so good days, I wouldn't trade it for any other in the world.

And I don't think it's the hardest job in the world.  Soldiers on the front lines, people working down in mines... I'm sure we could come up with quite a list of impossibly hard jobs.

Still, I've also seen claims of "motherhood really isn't that hard" and "moms don't really do that" and I find myself thinking... I do a lot of those things... and this definitely is the most difficult job I've ever had.  So I thought I'd talk about what I found true and false and what I found completely missed the mark about the greeting card ad.

I do find myself on my feet most of the days.  Even when we're out it's not like I can sit down and watch Mae play at the park.  She's taking off every 15 seconds and I'm taking off after her.  I've managed to sit a little more lately, while in the midst of the first trimester exhaustion, but that was mostly by saying things like "we're having cereal for dinner" and letting the kitchen fall into complete disarray (I finally had the energy to wrangle it back under control yesterday), so it definitely isn't something that's practical to let happen all the time.

There aren't many breaks, at least not while Paul's in law school. But there are some.  After all, I'm typing this right now.  But at this point in parenthood for us... date nights that involve leaving the house happen less than once a year... So that sort of break doesn't come along all that often, mostly because of the age of our kids and where we are at life at the moment.

I do sleep though and my lack of sleep on certain days has more to do with how many orders I need to make and less to do with my kids' sleeping habits since for the most part they're pretty good sleepers.

I can eat just about whenever I want.  In fact, at least when Paul is gone, I think I usually end up eating before they do, simply because I grab a snack while making their meals.  Sometimes I'm too tired to eat, but I think that has more to do with early pregnancy being exhausting and less to do with being a mom.  

And I don't really find the no pay part to be true because by staying home I've found many, many ways to help my family spend less, likely more than I'd make with my not-very-lucrative liberal arts degree in my part of the country, in today's market, if I were to factor in child care and all the other costs that would go along with being outside the home.

Expertise in finance and cooking and medicine would be valuable, but degrees certainly aren't necessary.  The real world experience of being a parent will fill in the gaps pretty quickly (and if you have a special needs child you'll find yourself learning more about certain subjects than you could ever have imagined before).

The most problematic part of the entire thing for me is the tone that motherhood is impossibly difficult, and that it would even be cruel to suggest someone to undertake such a task.  That misses the mark, leaving out the immeasurable beauty and blessings that come along with helping children grow and learn.  

Motherhood is different for different people.  It varies wildly depending on your kids and their temperaments, how much family support you have, and even your own personality (not to mention many other factors).

Sure it can be difficult, but most of what is worth having in life isn't easy to attain or achieve.  And in my limited experience as a mom, having this "job" has offered me far, far more in so many ways which are immeasurable than it has cost me.  If I could go back I'd pick this path again in a heartbeat!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mae's Super Cat

Okay, I'm may be the only one in the world who found Patch and Maggie playing with their stuffed cats funny, but I just had to post these pictures I snapped yesterday.

As you can probably imagine, since Kitty Fish arrived in our house, Kitty stuffed animals have become pretty popular.  

In fact, as a side story, that just may make this post worth reading, two nights ago Maggie was having a really, really rough time.  It was 5 pm and she was already over tired and melting down.  Usually she runs up to her room on her own and is excited at bedtime, but we'd missed the boat on that point in the night (because it came so early) and it had turned into a complete meltdown.  

Paul was at school, and would be for many hours, and so I scooped her up (something I've been avoiding since the ultrasound but... it's really impossible to avoid it altogether, or even for an entire day, around here) and carried her up to bed.  

Usually going into her room calms her down instantly, but instead she was still crying as if her little heart was broken.  Then Kitty walked into the room.

Now to understand Kitty and Mae's relationship, you'd have to understand that it doesn't really exist at all.  Kitty spends his whole life making sure he doesn't go anywhere near Mae or Patch.  During the day he either stays upstairs or in the basement. He lives to keep a baby gate between himself and the little kids.  And it works well for him.  He's totally stayed clear of grabby little toddler and preschooler hands, the entire time he's lived here.

Earlier this week though, he showed that he's more than just a mouser, when he strolled into the room when he heard her crying and let her pet him, not once, but twice.  She immediately stopped crying.  Her whole face was transformed and she lay on her side, staring into his face, glowing at him.  Then he turned and walked out of the room and she lay there, still smiling, cuddling her bear while I tucked her in.  

A few minutes later when I brought Patch up to bed she was already fast asleep.  

Yes, these two kitties are definitely the toys of the moment in our house... but don't think that any old kitty is okay for Mae to cuddle with.  The orange kitty is definitely "her kitty."  

And in totally unrelated news, last night after I finished my work for the night I quickly sewed this for Mae's therapy (or any other time she wants to use it). It's weighted with plastic pellets and I have a feeling she's going to love it, since she loves all things weighted.  

Now to make a weighted blanket!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

13 Week Lineup!

I got my weekly picture update pasted together last night, before I realized what kind of a night it was going to be (apparently some sort of a bug has struck the little ones in the house and we weren't going to go more than an hour without someone crying), but since it's finished I thought I would post it today, toward's the beginning of my 13th week instead of right at the tail end.

Here's the latest picture in the progression... with a snowy background.  I am very thankful that most of the snow didn't even last until bedtime yesterday:

And here's the picture when thrown into the lineup:

We're moving steadily into the second trimester (my favorite!)!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Pregnancy When the Comments Stopped (so far)

I realize that writing this post pretty much guarantees that I'm going to hear a bunch of pregnancy comments the moment I walk out of the house... and in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter either way, because regardless of the comments I've heard during various pregnancies from various people, we know that this pregnancy is a blessing and that's really what matters in our little house.  Still, it's been really quite nice not to have heard a single negative thing so far while navigating with three little ones in tow!  And that is the inspiration for this post:

During my past pregnancies I've written various posts about the not-so-polite things that people have burst out with, since some time during pregnancy #3.

This pregnancy, however, has been different.  And it's kind of wonderful.  Being pregnant with 3 little kids in tow has marked a turning point (actually, looking back at old posts it seems that there was a decrease with 2 kids in tow too!  I think the worst responses we faced were actually with the baby that we lost, which would have been pregnancy #3).

Okay, I can't entirely credit it with having three little kids with me.  I think that it might be partly due to the fact that we live in Michigan now and that people here seem much less likely to comment on a persons family size or ask someone in the checkout line if a woman's husband is "going to get snipped this time" in this part of the country, than they were when we lived in either California or Florida (because now that I think about it I did get comments before we left Florida with pregnancy #4).

I think living in a small city helps too, because people are less likely to approach a random stranger and shower them with advice than they'd be with a person they don't really know but see regularly in a small town.  I love living in small towns but I guess living in a more populated area does have certain advantages.  Strangers are less likely to comment on your family size... probably because they're less likely to make eye contact at all.

Still, for those of you who are in the midst of hearing "you know what causes that" or "don't you guys have TV?" or who are hearing inquiries as to whether you're going to "keep trying for a girl/boy?" I thought I'd share that as our family has grown it has gotten better.

Here's why:

I no longer get pregnancy advice or hear pregnancy horror stories from complete strangers.  On those rare occasions when I run into a store alone people who stop me and say "Oh is this your first?" are so shocked when I say, "Not exactly!  We have three at home!" with a smile that they seldom get out more than "But you look so young!"  That's when I really, really want to say "I was 26 when I had my first!" to prevent that forehead scrunching "how old were you?" look that usually follows... but hey, at least it's not a comment, and I can so, so deal with a "how young were you?" look over horror stories any day of the week.

Paul shocks people even more though because when he hears "is this your first pregnancy?" he says, "actually this is our fifth," and people just about fall over.

People no longer come up and touch my stomach.  Maybe it's because Patch is usually balanced there, or because Mae is ready to grab and hold tight to any hand that comes with in an arms length of her and inspect their rings, but whatever the reason, not many people get in patting distance of my bump these days.

We have yet to hear "was this baby planned?" from anyone whether it's a friend, family member or complete stranger (with the exception of hearing at my doctor's office where I know it's just a question they have to check off the list).  I think we've reached the point where people are just expecting another pregnancy to be announced at any time and so they aren't really shocked any more when it happens.

Or they read this blog and have read my past rants on the subject and know that I'm not a fan of this particular question.

No one has asked if "we're going to keep trying for a boy?" because he's usually sitting in the chart grinning at them.  Those pesky assumptions that any kids that we had after Sadie were just an attempt to get a boy seem to have gone out the window.

I have to say, I'm enjoying not hearing the same comments that we've gotten in the past, whether it's due to a change in geography or because I'm usually surrounded by little people who are clamoring for my attention.

Still, after hearing from friends and reading other blogs I suspect there's a tipping point where a family is so big that people can't contain there comments any longer and just have to say something... Or maybe geography will protect against that if we ever wade into those waters.

Maybe by the time I reach that particular point in life I'll finally have something clever or kind to say, rather than just looking shocked that a stranger is enquiring about something so personal...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Answer Me This: #1

The babies are in bed and Sadie's snuggled up next to me watching Magic School Bus and so I thought I'd give Kendra's "Answer Me This?" link up a try!  Here are my answers to this weeks questions!

1. What time do you prefer to go to Mass?

9 am.  Only 9 am.  I have learned that any deviation from going at 9 am is a disaster for one or more of my kids.  Okay, you can probably guess which one... the one that needs routine that does not vary... especially during "non preferred activities."  

Actually it's not entirely true that Mass is a "non preferred activity" for her.  She is practically giddy with excitement walking into Mass.  Then she realizes we are staying in the narthex because of the excited squealing that inevitably occurs if we step inside the doors, and it falls into that category pretty quickly (although for the first five minutes today she was really, really excited that the banners were red and was pointing to them and telling me that they were red).  

To be honest it breaks my heart a little, because I want for her to be able to be in there, since she's becoming so passionate about it, especially during the Children's Mass (when you'd think people wouldn't shoot daggers at you for any tiny sound a kid makes... after all they chose to go to that particular Mass), but she's just not ready to be totally silent yet, and people glaring at her make me feel a little bit stabby (and is at the very least a near occasion of sin), and so the narthex it is for the indefinite future.  And the narthex it is at 9 am or we're in for an hour of crying.  

Sometimes I feel like we'll be in the narthex forever.  And sometimes it makes me feel like we'll never really belong at a parish if we can't even walk in through the doors and kneel down in a pew (I'm probably rambling because this was weighing heavily on my heart today as we struggled through Palm Sunday Mass)...

Which is a long, rambling response to a simple question... but yeah, early morning or we might as well not go at all... because the glass doors can't block out a full blown meltdown, and we'll just end up spending Mass outside.

2. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Too cold, too cold, 1000 times too cold.  This winter may have been long and icy, but I still remember Florida.  

I was out shoveling snow without a jacket when it was 0 degrees (I was shocked when I got inside and found out it was that cold).  I feel like I kind of adjusted to the temperatures (although anything in the negative teens and below just hurts!).  I never, never adjusted to the heat and humidity of Florida.  

I definitely think I belong in the north rather than the south based on climate alone.

3. How many brothers and/or sisters do you have?

I have one sister, but since she left home around the time I went to kindergarten, so in many ways it was like being an only child... Now I just wish we lived closer so that we would get to see each other more than once every few years!

4. If you were faced with a boggart, what would it turn into?

Well... my number one fear in life is probably Mae wandering (taking off running/getting lost) and so I'm not sure how a boggart would turn into that...

5. Barbie: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Down (ish).

I was totally pro-Barbie when Sadie was born.  Then we got a Barbie DVD and I watched it and I couldn't get over how Barbie's parents (in this particular movie) were portrayed, or how she spoke to them and that was pretty much the end of that (honestly, I can't even remember what movie it was now, other than that it was something princess-y).  I've seen how quickly my kids can start mimicking movies and the level of attitude in that particular DVD is the last thing I want to welcome into our home.

And so far we haven't had a kid that's interested in them since Sadie is generally gravitating towards the princess dolls/dresses whenever we're in a store that has a Barbie/Princess aisle.

There are plenty of other dolls out there... and honestly if another doll never makes it into our house we'll still have too many.

I can think of dolls I'd definitely rather have her playing with!
Besides... it would just be another doll for a baby brother to do something like... this... to...

The crime scene... or, where I found Sadie's Elsa doll tonight.
Our main suspect...
Maybe he's tired of Sadie singing "Let it Go..."

6. If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?

The longer I'm a parent the less definitive advice I have about pretty much anything... I know there are various things that have worked for us... with varying degrees of success with different kids (and let's face it, most of my advice at this point in my life would probably have to do with kids)... so... I can tell you what has worked for me and hasn't work but... still... this one leaves me stumped!

To join in the fun or read more posts in the link up head over to Catholic All Year!

The OT Eval and a Mae Update!

On Friday Maggie had her Occupational Therapy evaluation, with two OT therapists, an intern, one of her ABA therapists and her social worker present (and of course me too!) and immediately qualified for services (as if there was any doubt!).  She'll be evaluated one more time at home and then we'll start weekly OT sessions, which will bump our therapy count up to 7 sessions a week for a grand total of 19 hours a week.  She's still on the speech wait list (I guess, since we haven't heard anything) but I'm not all that concerned about that.  She gets such a speech work out in her daily sessions and the therapists she has right now are so amazing at encouraging her to communicate, that I'm really okay with where we are.

The OT evaluation was in the new Autism Center that has just opened in our area.  For a little over a year a shut down school has been being remodeled and it's finally open for business.  

The therapy room is pretty spectacular.  It's covered in colorful mats, with various swings, a trampoline, a ball pit and a wide variety of things that Maggie could spend all day having a blast playing on.  Her favorites were the swings (although it was hard to encourage her to sit down on them, she wanted to swing through the air standing up), the trampoline, the weighted blanket and the huge open space that she ran around in.  

And the therapist is known for being good with sensory kids and had me fill out a huge sensory questioner pinpointing Mae's particular sensory processing issues (the only one that wasn't filled with tons of answers and comments was the auditory processing section, which seems to be the one area that I at least am not seeing a ton of issues in).  

There were lots of comments about how strong she is (she is so, so strong) and how she really does remind everyone of a little doll.  

Except when she's doing this:

When she's scaling the walls she reminds me slightly
more of monkey than a doll...
When it was time to go we had a bit of a rough time.  Mae would have liked to stay in that room all day.  An hour and a half of evaluation time just wasn't enough for her.  There were tears until we got outside and she realized that it was a bright and beautiful day and that being out and about wasn't such a bad thing.  

On Saturday she had one of my favorite therapy moments so far.  Before I tell you about it, let me get completely sidetracked though.  When I'm answering autism questioners in various offices, there are often questions about my child's self esteem.  And I always pause like... how on earth would I know that?

I think her self esteem is good.  But she speaks in phrases that are usually one to three words long, when she uses words at all.  And those words are usually like "Green rectangle!" or "The blue dolphin is swimming in the ocean" (one of her all time longest phrases).  She seems self confident and daring... but really, it's not something we can really talk about.  Sometimes she tells me she's a "good girl" but generally that's when she's up to something that she know she shouldn't be doing, so I'm not sure that counts.

Yet it came to mind (at least in a small way) when she finished a puzzle of a mermaid in therapy and looked up at her therapist and said "Mermaid... Maggie.... Pretty!"  She loves pretending to be a mermaid and while I know that thinking about looks isn't the be all and end all of self esteem it is nice to hear her describing herself and using positive words to do it!  

And while we didn't make it all the way to the final blessing today at Mass we did survive an hour and 25 minutes with only one minor-ish mishap (my lip was looking slightly purple and feeling swollen after someone swung their leg up over their head exuberantly and their boot accidentally met my mouth... ah the dangers of motherhood... did I mention she's flexible too?), which feels like a small victory.  After all, being quite and still for 85 minutes is not easy for two out of three of the kids in our family!

And that is the latest update for our littlest girl!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

12 Week Picture Progression and some rambling on pregnancy tummy muscles

Another week has gone by and it's hard to believe we're already in the second trimester because it feels like that positive pregnancy test was like three days ago.  Obviously, however, it was not.  

This weeks post will be a rough lesson in pregnancy and post partum tummies (I know, everyone's waiting with bated breath now, right?  And obviously it's by me... a mom with some pregnancy experience and no medical experience.).

As many of us probably know, after you have a baby, you're tummy muscles don't magically return to their previous shape/strength.  For some people they bounce back faster than others.  Some people work harder than others.  I've found shapewear does help, both for support and to guide muscles back to some semblance of their former self.

At the same time, however, my muscles have dramatically changed.  And honestly, between pregnancy and nursing. I don't want those old muscles back.  It seriously, seriously hurt when my muscles had to expand to make room for Sadie.

Before she was born I was kind of in love with sit ups.  V-ups.  Core exercises.  My stomach was strong. I was proud of it. And when it came time for those strong muscles to expand it was not so fun.

And I haven't missed that at all in my more recent pregnancies.  So while I do try to get some semblance of my old figure back post baby, and I have gotten back to the weight I was on my wedding day each time, I don't try to get super strong abs back...

I guess I sort of have a "what's the point at this point in my life" attitude about it.  I understand the importance of having a strong core but I'm not an over achiever in this particular area anymore.  And I'm okay with that.
On the other hand I do want to clear up the misconception that was mentioned in the last pregnancy picture post, that said that if I had better posture and sucked in my gut, I wouldn't look pregnant (okay, it was worded much, much more kindly than that, but pregnant woman can be kind of sensitive about this sort of thing and that's how this particular pregnant woman takes that type of encouragement even though I'm sure it was totally well intentioned).

You see, I've had three c-sections in the last five years.  This is my fifth pregnancy in just over six years.  I can stand up straight and flex my little heart out trying to firm up those muscles and people are still going to come up to me in the checkout line and say "Oh my goodness, is this your first?  When are you due?"  No matter how much I tell them to go back, it just doesn't happen.

That's just how it is.  Major abdominal surgery changes muscles.  Repeated abdominal surgery changes them even more.  Pregnancy changes them and yes, repeated pregnancies, particularly in succession (in my experience at least) change them even more.

And that's okay.  I'm pretty excited about the changes to my body when I'm pregnant, probably because I'm pretty excited to be pregnant and these changes go hand in hand with the fact that there's a little life growing inside of me.  And at least he or she will have plenty of room to grow (I say that because a certain baby who was just under nine lbs was turning from breach to head down and then to transverse at 39 and a half weeks, so those muscles stretching does seem to have given them some wiggle room).

So there is my rambling post on pregnancy tummy muscles and how it's okay if they aren't exactly like they were before.  They're serving a purpose.  And that purpose is pretty amazing.

Even if I feel kind of gigantic for only being "this pregnant" at the moment.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Mae is all about Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star right now and getting the hand movements absolutely perfect.  My fingers have to have just the right amount of twinkle, my palms need to be flat (not opening and closing "stars") and there's a great deal of anticipation for the words "up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky" which is the most oft repeated phrase that I hear her say as she walks around the house making a little diamond shape with her fingers.  Oh and my diamond better not get lazy and start to look like a triangle because that's just wrong.  It's a diamond.  Even at 6 a.m.  Or 4 a.m.  Or anytime, day or night.

Yes, in our house right now, twinkle, twinkle little star is all the rage.

Still... to hear here say that many words at one time makes it totally, totally worth it.

Right now we're gearing up for the start of first grade.  For the last few weeks I kept thinking that I have to write a post on finishing up kindergarten, which went from June until the end of March (because a certain someone was "five and ready to start school" in June), but I still haven't gotten around to it.

We used the book selections and ideas in the Well Trained Mind for Kindergarten and we're continuing on to use it for first grade.  And I'm probably just slightly more excited than Sadie (who is asking almost daily why we haven't started school yet, after all, her sister has school 6 days a week), because I've gone through the books and I can't wait to start the history unit studies and projects that are laid out (we'll be trying to mummify a chicken in the first month!).

I've been busily making a little schedule to figure out how we're going to fit everything into our day and I'm just about ready.  I think we're going to start up the week after Holy Week!  The start of the Easter season seems like a good time to start fresh and throw ourselves into a new school year!

One of the reasons I'm starting now is because the new baby is coming along in October and I want to add in plenty of room for breaks here and there.  I'm thinking of doing six weeks on and one week off to start out with, and planning out larger breaks around when the baby is born, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, and any other holidays that we decide to put a little bit of extra time into celebrating.

I'm not sure how those weeks off will actually work, since in reality, weeks off (like what we're in right now) still turn into "Why aren't we doing school?  Didn't you get it ready for me? Can we start school tomorrow?"  Maybe if I sell it as "oh look, fun field trips!" it will help.

And part of me wonders if we'll actually end up taking any extra time off (beyond hospital time) when the baby arrives, because last time, when Patch arrived he was just sort of thrown into the mix. I was on my own by the time he was four days old, Paul was at school with finals approaching for the term and so he was pretty much in his moby wrap during the day for the first few months, and life just sort of went on as it had before.

Kitty Fish seems to be doing his job.  I haven't seen a mouse in about a month.  They've stopped racing across my counter tops and running by my feet.  One does occasionally get brought up to the bedroom at night to be shown off, and Kitty accepted a trade of a treat for the removal of his mouse, along with lots of praise for what a good hunter he is (Sadie was gushing about it and giving him treats for days).

And since Kitty has figured out a way to get into the kitchen cabinets (aka the mouse super highway) things have really gotten quiet around here.

Today is Mae's OT evaluation!  I can hardly wait to meet her new therapist, who we've been hearing lots of good things about!  She's supposed to be good with sensory stuff and that's really what I'm excited about because our little sensory seeker could definitely use some extra sensory help.

So we don't have this:

And hopefully so no one ever tries to squeeze down a heating vent again either...

Patrick loves his super man cape.  He was a little bit jealous of his sisters and all of their dress up clothes and was constantly trying to wrap various articles of clothing around his shoulders... but a cape?  A cape does the trick!

Also, he thinks his belly button is pretty cool...

And one last picture before I go rescue Daddy from the babies who sound as if they're attempting to seize control of the house:

Following Patch around the yard!
Have a great weekend!

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