Sunday, October 25, 2015

Maternity Pictures

My friend Kim of On the Move Photography graciously offered to take maternity pictures of me, and who was I to refuse? I never got maternity pictures with my other pregnancies, unless you count the time I went to the studio at Babies 'R Us when I was pregnant with Annie. (And no, we won't count it because it was very bad and very ugly. The memory of it embarrasses me.) She drove me out to the ruins of an old church some 35 minutes away, as soon as the kids had gotten on the bus one morning. Here in the south we have no fall foliage, but I think the gorgeous colors of those old bricks made up for that. It is very difficult for me to have pictures taken of myself by myself, and therefore I was probably one of Kim's most awkward subjects ever -- like, 'What do I do with my hands? (I stuck with the above-and-below-the-belly position, mostly.) What do I do with my face?' At one point she told me, "Alright, look over at me and smile .. OK, that looked painful, look back over there!" She did the best she could with me, we had a lot of laughs, and despite my nerves I ended up having fun. I think she did a great job of capturing me in my 'elderly multigravida' glory. (Yes, that's the actual medical term for me -- I saw it on my chart at the OB office. It's quite a distinction.) In a matter of weeks, Kim will be taking pictures of our baby boy and of all the kids together. Wow..
Can you spot the pregnant lady in the church ruins? Tee-hee.
Toward the end of the session I put on this cardigan and swapped out the scarf for this necklace. I like the first outfit better. But the real reason I include this picture is because it best shows my nails, which I painted the night before just for this occasion. I love the way they look, but I find the process of painting them inside the lines and then waiting impatiently for them to dry so frustrating. Then it all chips off a day later anyway! But here in this picture they will last forever.:)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

32 weeks

I am at the point where I am turning heads everywhere I go, and little kids are staring and saying to their mothers, "She's having a baby!" That's right, kiddo. In 8 more weeks, or even less.
So far, all pictures of me with child, with this child, have all been mirror selfies at home. I'm happy to say that after next week I'll have something different. My friend Kim down the street asked to take maternity pictures to build her portfolio. I said of course! At first she told me she would like to do them in November, but this morning she asked if I was available sometime next week. She must have sized me up and decided she'd better not wait much longer! We're going to do it Tuesday right after the kids get on the bus, so the sun is still coming up. I'm already thinking about what to wear. I'm glad we'll be doing it in the morning when it will be cool enough to wear layers.

I took Tim with me to my 30-week visit with Joanne the midwife. This was his first time meeting her, since my appointments usually happen when he's traveling. I had bloodwork done, and we talked about the OB appointment I'm going to have in the next few weeks. In SC it's the law that if you're having a homebirth, you have to see an OB at least once in the first and third trimesters. We discussed our expectations for the day of the birth, and I brought up the possibility of one or both of the girls seeing their new brother being born. Neither of them has expressed an interest in being there when it happens, so I don't think it's something I would wake them up at night or keep them home from school for. But if they want to be there, I won't turn them away as long as they can stay quiet and not distract me. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a sibling being born. I myself have never witnessed a birth. As of now, I think we'll just play it by ear. What else..? Joanne discovered during her examination that the baby is breech. At this point it's nothing to worry about, but she said if he's still breech by the end of this month, I should look into a Webster-certified chiropractor to get him to turn. I have already looked one up, and I might just proactively make an appointment with her, since chiropractic care before birth is a good idea anyway. If there are any imbalances in my spine or pelvis, she can address those sooner rather than later. But she's about 40 minutes away, so it would be one more thing to drive to, so I'm still hesitating. In the meantime, I've checked out Spinning Babies, read up on optimal positioning for both me and the baby, and tried some techniques to help breech babies turn. It was comical the first couple times I tried doing inversions with Tim's help. Prenatal yoga, which I've been doing all along, is also said to help with getting the baby into a good positions. The other three kids never gave me any problems in that regard, so I have to imagine this little man will settle into a good head-down position once he runs out of room. The way he's been moving around tells me he still has all kinds of room and is just in no hurry to settle down.

For my reference later, I weighed in at 134, so still on track with my weight gain.

A few days after this appointment I took to the Internet in search of a good homebirth book for kids, just to get them all thinking about what to expect. There aren't many out there, and I was not impressed with most of them either because of the content or the illustrations. I ended up finding exactly ONE that I liked, and I ordered it right away. It's called Mama, Talk About When Max Was Born. It's very realistic but not graphic, and is written for young children. I love all the details of the pictures. The girls have both read it, and I'll have to read it to Timmy soon too, even though it's not one that he would ask for. I leave it on the coffee table at all times, hoping that one of them will flip through it and maybe ask questions. So far it has prompted no questions and no discussions.
Another book I like to keep handy for the kids that's just pregnancy- and birth-related, is Angel in the Waters. It is written from the point of view of the baby, from the beginning when he "was", to his growth and development, to his birth, and then a little beyond that. His angel is there with him to help him understand what is happening. The baby needs lots of comfort from his angel to process having to leave the safe, comfortable world he's accustomed to, to enter a loud, bright, new one. At the end of the book the angel tells him that when it's time he will guide him from this new world world to an even bigger world someday. It's a really sweet story.
I have a lot to do over the next several weeks. Training the girls to do more around the house has been ongoing, and I think I'd better try to get Timmy dressing himself consistently on school mornings. He can and sometimes will on his own, but he still likes my help, so getting him to see the advantage in doing it himself is going to be tricky. I've finally gotten Christmas shopping well underway, so in November we can start preparing for this baby in earnest. I am enjoying solid nights of good sleep, and solitude in the morning while all the kids are in school. My house looks really nice, and I'm going to enjoy that while I can, before the chaos starts. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day in the Life: Fall 2015

Today is Friday, October 9.

Cast of characters:
Tim: 40
Rachael: 36
Delaney: 8
Annie: 6
Timmy: 4
Baby #4: 31 weeks gestation (a boy!)

5:30 a.m. My alarm goes off, and I hit snooze about three times until just a few minutes before 6. I HAVE to get the kids up at 6, and I have just enough time to make my bed and brush my teeth before doing that. Tim is already up and out, very dedicated to his daily workout. I never hear him leave.

6 a.m. Annie typically gets up with no trouble, but Delaney and Timmy are the real sleepy heads. It takes many tries to get those two going. With Timmy, I usually resort to tickling and that works pretty well. Delaney's not as ticklish so that doesn't work. I remind them all that after today it's the weekend, and a 3-day weekend. Thank goodness for that. I know I need it.
Once I get Timmy out of bed, I help him make his bed and get dressed, then send him to brush his teeth. Out in the kitchen, Annie has already gotten ready, done her chore for the morning (wiping off the bathroom sink), and is eating a bowl of cereal. She asks me to fix her hair for her -- I think today the request is to pull back two pieces from the side and hold them together with one of the new polka-dot hair things. She always has a specific request for her hair in the morning, and it's typically fairly easy. She loves to top it off with a cute bow or head band. Maybe it's because they have to wear uniforms, but I've noticed that cute bows and head bands are a staple for many of the little girls at these schools. Bonus if they're handmade. None of ours are -- yet. Anyway, I think it's cute. I like Annie's accessories. Delaney sometimes wears bows too, but I think most of the time she'd rather not bother. As long as her hair is brushed, that's fine with me.

By the time Timmy comes out for breakfast, she's already done with hers and is practicing cursive writing today. I bought these workbooks for the girls a long time ago, but their interest in cursive comes and goes. It came back again recently when Delaney started learning it at school. I was thrilled about that. Cursive writing is just about a lost art, and one that I am at a loss as to how to teach at home.
6:30 a.m. At long last, Delaney makes her way out to the kitchen. It's her day to unload the dishwasher, and she will get it done with just enough time left to eat breakfast before going out for the bus.
Tim comes back from wherever he's been (gym? Running?) and starts mixing some sort of concoction to drink. He asks me if I want to leave right after the kids, and I say, "Maybe about a half hour after." It was my idea yesterday that the two of us go out to breakfast since he's home for the Columbus Day "96". It's not often that he's home and the kids are not. It sounded like a great idea yesterday, but this morning I feel like a slug. I don't know if I want to put on real clothes just yet. But I just keep sipping my coffee and decide to stick with the plan.

6:50 a.m. I read them today's devotion from our Veggie Tales book that my mom gave us awhile back, and we say our Morning Offering. We've never watched any Veggie Tales, but we don't need to be acquainted with the characters for me to appreciate this book. The format is short and to-the-point, easy to squeeze into even the most time-crunched morning; and I like the encouraging messages for the kids (and me) as we begin our day. 
6:55 a.m. Time to go! Everybody grab your backpacks and get outside! It is warm and humid, and the thirsty mosquitoes are waiting. Fall, where ARE you? Please get here and stay. 

A couple nights ago, all of Parris Island underwent aerial pesticide spray operations in an attempt to control the mosquito population. Why did they wait until the first week of October, when we've been suffering with them all summer? I'll never know. At any rate, the pesticide spray seems to have accomplished nothing but to stir them up into a frenzy. At our bus stop, a couple houses down from us, they are the worst. There's a huge tree right there, home to thousands of mosquitoes, and when they see us coming down the street they say, "Breakfast!" I complain bitterly to Tim every time I come back from the bus stop. He says, "Just don't go." I tell him, "One of us HAS to be there if we have a kid in Pre-K or Kindergarten getting on or off the bus. It's the rules." He says, "I just provide solutions." "That is not a solution. The real solution would be for YOU to go to the bus stop and me to stay home." But that is not to be. Tim will do a lot of things -- cook delicious meals, wash the cars, clean the garage, take trash in and out, and earn a living. He will not go to the bus stop to stand around and chitchat, fidget and slap at himself (and sometimes others) with the rest of the neighbors.
7:05 a.m. I've seen the kids off and now it's time to get ready to go out to breakfast. Again, there's a big part of me that would just rather make breakfast here and just putz around all morning, but I still feel like we should take advantage of this rare opportunity and do something special.

7:40 a.m. Once I've made myself presentable, we leave. As we drive through base I snap pictures of recruits hard at training, like a tourist, for more DITL material. They all turn out terrible. The iPhone camera has major limitations. One day I'd like a real camera.
We go to a place not far outside the gate called Red Rooster, which is my choice. We've been there one other time. We woke up with no power one Saturday morning, after an unusually cold winter night. I just wanted to go back to sleep in our warm bed, but everyone else was up and ready to go. Tim urged me to just throw on some clothes and not worry about makeup -- just up and out. I couldn't argue since I knew a cup of coffee wasn't even a possibility for me as long as we stayed home, and going back to sleep wasn't an option. We had a delicious breakfast (pricey, though! - almost $60 for the five of us, for breakfast food! I just looked it up in Quicken. Thank you, Tim for that.) at Red Rooster, and as much coffee as we wanted. Then we went home and the power was back on. It's a fond memory.

So here we are again at Red Rooster, and I order the same thing I had last time: "Southern Sunrise", consisting of two eggs made to order (mine are over easy), cheesy grits, a biscuit and sausage. I also have a little glass of orange juice. Delicious!
We make a quick stop at Walmart afterward, to return a few things, and then get home about 9:30. 

9:30 to 10 a.m. I am so tired, even more tired than usual on a weekday morning. I think my body has been fighting an infection these past few days. I've had a scratchy throat, runny nose and cough at different times, and although none of my symptoms have been severe, the fatigue is making me want my bed more than anything. But I've got to make a menu and a list so we can go to the commissary. Tim is getting a little frustrated with the time I'm taking deciding what meals I want to make this coming week. I complain that I have no ideas. I just don't want to be doing this right now, but it's got to be done and the clock is ticking because Timmy gets off the bus at 11. He finally says, "We don't need a list. We'll buy the basics." He offers to go without me, and I probably should just take him up on that offer, but the thought makes me too guilty. This was supposed to be a morning for us to spend together, and the the commissary is supposed to be my job. 

10 to 10:55 a.m. It's a quick, easy trip. It's true, we already know what to get. We're there, back and unloaded in under an hour. He goes around back to wash the cars. I hurriedly put away the cold things and then sit down on the porch and wait for the big yellow cheesewagon bearing preschoolers to come around the corner. 
11:05 a.m. Timmy gets off the bus, and it looks like the fire department must have visited. He's wearing his hat, and pulling things out of his backpack that he can't wait to show me, as he walks back to our house.
I change into comfy clothes (running shorts and a tank top), and then throw a lunch together for him. Then I put away the rest of the groceries while he tells me about what the firefighters talked about at school. I take the opportunity to try to reinforce what he's learned. I ask him if he should first go find his favorite toys and then get out of the house if there's a fire. He says no. I ask him what our meeting place is if we all have to get out because there's a fire. He's not sure, so I make sure he knows it's the mailbox. He shows me how they practiced crawling, and how to "stop, drop and roll" if you're on fire. I say, "That's right buddy, stop, drop and roll. Not run around like a crazy person, waving your arms.. like they do on TV."

I make my own lunch and sit down. Timmy is finished eating and is coloring a picture of two fire trucks. He updates me every few seconds on his progress, and I am obliged every few seconds to tell him, 'yeah, it looks good, buddy.' Oh my word, it's exhausting. I just can not wait until naptime. I feel like I've never been more tired in my whole life than I am at this moment!
In a change of subject, Timmy tells me that he went to the "thinking chair" once while at school today. I ask him why and he clams up. I tell him I won't get mad, I'd just like to know. But I can't get it out of him so I drop it.

12:20 p.m. Timmy realizes that he hasn't had any post-lunch TV time since he's been happily coloring and talking fire safety with me. He asks to turn on a show and I tell him no, it's too close to naptime to watch a show. He is devastated by this and collapses on the couch in tears. I am all the more in a hurry to get him down for nap, so I expedite the process, and only 10 minutes later we are both in our rooms for a nap. Tim, I assume, is STILL washing cars. He takes a long time with the cars. It's because he doesn't just wash them, he gives them a deluxe detailing in and out. It's one of his things. I like a clean car myself -- I mean, not enough to go to all the effort he does -- but I do my part to try to maintain the cleanliness. The biggest thing that we do to prevent a mess in our cars is to just not EAT in them or allow the kids to. The exception to that is trips that take three hours or more. Even better than that is to just not use the car, and I do not drive much at all since I started sending the kids on a bus to school. 

1:45 p.m. I'm up from my nap. I feel rested but groggy. I could have slept longer. What is with me today? I come out to the kitchen to make my tea. Tim's having lunch. When he's done he leaves for Publix to get some fish and produce for our fish tacos and apple pie tomorrow. Yum! I spend the hour before the girls get home drinking my tea and browsing Pinterest for gift ideas for teachers and bus drivers. That would be a great thing to get out of the way since I'm supposed to be done with Christmas shopping by the end of this month. There are a lot of crazy ideas out there, maybe a few good ones. I am charmed by the themed mason jar gifts, but I can just imagine myself getting all frustrated trying to get things to fit in there just so .. and then asking myself, 'What was I thinking?' Pinterest queen I am not. It's really good to know that in a pinch a gift card is just fine -- and probably preferable to a lot of this crap anyway. Last year we made a big batch of Italian Christmas cookies, and put them in tins with a gift card attached. We could do that again -- with Grandma's help this time.;)

Oh, and about that Christmas shopping that I'm supposed to be done with by the end of October? It's not coming along, not even a little bit. Every time I ask a family member about it I don't get a whole lot of response, and that's understandable. It just turned fall, it's way too soon for this. I can either wait a few weeks more, or forge on ahead getting gifts without anyone's input. I'm thinking the second option would be best. If I could just motivate myself.. What it is I feel like I have all this time to be EXTRA thoughtful with my gifts, but the result so far is that I'm doing absolutely nothing. 

3:00 p.m. Timmy must have been tired today too. He's slept for almost two hours, and now he's back to coloring. I've never seen him so absorbed in coloring. Up to now, I didn't even know he liked coloring. And he's using the cheap, waxy crayons they gave him today .. Of course, none of them are allowed to go into the art supply room for anything lately, because they've all wrecked it by never putting away anything neatly. So it's the forbidden room now, and nobody's allowed unless they want to clean it up first. So far no one wants to take on that task, so it remains a mess and remains off limits. We have yet to find any method of organization that works for art supplies. It all starts out neat and turns into a jumble before long. I can't stand that.

I start the pizza dough in the bread machine, and then go out to water the plants. I feel a twinge as I see and hear other moms gathering to wait for the bus down the street. I feel like I'm missing out on this social occasion, but since I don't NEED to be there, I don't want to. There are the mosquitoes, and just that I don't feel like talking to anyone right now. But I feel like I should. It's an awkward feeling. This moment aside, I have had the kind of success making friends on this street that I could only dream about when I was living in our neighborhood in North Carolina. I know almost everyone on our street, we have coffee and dinner together sometimes, a few of us go to the same bible study, and it feels like a real community. I keep telling Tim that I never again want to live in a place where everyone ignores everyone else. I am an introvert but I need people.

At around quarter after, the girls get off the bus. At last, the long weekend begins!
I take a quick look through the girls' lunch boxes before putting them away. I find this Gogurt, and Annie tells me she wasn't able to open it. I feel bad for her because I know how much she likes those. There are a lot of packaged snacks that my kids have trouble opening. They are so convenient, but if little hands can't get them open, what good are they? We buy too many pre-packaged things anyway. I could save money, make better snacks for them, and package them myself in ziplock bags or containers. 
3:30 to 4:45 p.m. I feel like we should kick the kids out of the house, but it looks like everyone wants to have a lazy afternoon, and I don't want to mess with it. Maybe it's been a long week for everyone. Annie has also brought home a bag of fire safety loot and wants to color. Tim and Delaney want to lounge in the la-z-boy. 
Delaney's soccer coach moved yesterday's practice to today, saying that the soccer fields had not been touched since the big rain. He's in the Navy, and maybe in the Navy they don't get a 96 for Columbus Day? Whatever the case, Friday, especially this particular Friday, is a bad day to have a practice. Nobody's going to want to go, and there are a few who have probably left town. We have been watching the email updates throughout the day. Early in the day, Coach Tyler informed us that he has to make "an emergency trip to Pensacola for the weekend." That gave us a laugh. The 21-year-old Navy guy has to make an emergency trip to Pensacola for the weekend? Ha! Good one. He asked if anyone could assist Cesar's dad with coaching today. Then Cesar's mom replied to everyone, saying neither Cesar nor his dad would be there today. But did he cancel it then? Nope. After a few hours, he replied and says, "If anyone could help out with the kids today, that would be great." Sigh. Tim asks me if there are any more updates, anyone going to coach? I say, "Not unless you want to." There are no more updates. Tim believes in committing, even to kids' sports, if only for the sake of teaching our kids that we show up where we're supposed to be when we're supposed to be there. So at around 20 of 5, he leaves and takes the girls with him to stop at the Exchange and then go to practice. He leaves Timmy with the iPad so he won't bother me while I'm doing my YouTube yoga. My life is easy when Tim's home.
5:30 p.m. Tim and the girls are back and we're about to get the pizza and caprese salad on the table. Not a single other soul showed up for practice, so they had their own little practice, which was fun until Annie got mad because she was being beaten. That girl can not lose gracefully, and that is one reason she is not in any sports right now. The other reason is that she doesn't like anything. We just tried a month of tumbling classes and she didn't like that. We just want our kids to be active, and think that some kind of sport is good for their development, so we're always trying to find something they enjoy. Timmy's easy, he likes anything. This is Delaney's last season of soccer because she doesn't want to do it again. What to try next? Dance was a flop. There must be something these girls could have fun doing. Maybe martial arts? They never act interested when I bring it up, but it's probably worth a try.

It is just too easy for them not to be physically active. Their schools don't encourage it, with only one 15-minute recess a day and no P.E. this semester at all for Delaney. After school, I push them outside, but a lot of times they take a book or a notebook and park themselves somewhere and do something quiet. Often, the few neighbor kids around who are their age (only a few after this summer's moves -- sniffle!) are unavailable to play, either because they're at a practice or sick (things have already been going around), or who knows why. It weighs heavily on me. They're so little. They need to be running around more and having more fun.
5:50 p.m. We eat dinner, the girls clear off the table and load the dishwasher, and then it's time for our family walk. If we do nothing else that's active, we at least go on a walk. I love walking after dinner. For a couple months it was too hot and humid for me to want to go, but lately the evenings have been pleasant if not a little buggy. Delaney grumbles because she thinks she already checked the exercise box by having soccer practice.

Oh, and somewhere in there, it might have been on our walk, Timmy finally comes clean about why he was in the thinking chair today. It was because he made as if he was going to bite someone but didn't. Sometimes when he's playing around, he does it to me, just comes at me with his jaws open like a little monster. I think it's cute. His teacher didn't. What I can't ascertain is whether he did it and then kept doing it when she told him to stop, or if it was automatic thinking chair. He still acts worried that he's going to get in trouble again for it even though we've assured him that he won't.

6:45 p.m. The sun is setting by the time we get back from our loop around the neighborhood. The kids have baths and get in their pajamas. They opt to watch the DVDs that Delaney brought home from school instead of hearing the end of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Bummer. The DVDs, we warn them, are not supposed to be entertaining so much as educational. They are about helping kids cope with military life, deployment and such. But although Tim and I find it silly, they seem to enjoy it.   

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I see that one of Tim's cousins has shared this:
I gasp at its adorableness and simplicity. "I'm making this!" I say. Tim takes a look and then with a smirk says, "Why don't you just buy it already made?" "But it's so simple! All I need is two grapevine wreaths, and I already have one; burlap ribbon, felt, some wire, and a letter B!" He rolls his eyes and starts bringing up the remnants of projects past, like the yarn that I was supposed to wind around that star. Well, I can make some stuff. I made that wreath that's on the door now, and I love it. And I'll make this one too! "I think we should all learn to accept our limitations," Tim says. Hmmph. You just wait -- come December, our door is going to be sporting something very similar to this. He's such a meanie. Why do I put up with him again?

8:30 to 10:30 p.m. The kids are in bed, and we are not far behind. I am looking forward to sleeping in. Before turning out the light, I read a few chapters of this freebie book I got from the Immunizations waiting room, The Gendarme. It's not the best thing I've ever read, but it is a fast-paced, kind of interesting work of historical fiction, and it keeps me turning the pages. I keep reading until I'm sleepy and then turn out the light. And that's our day!