Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oh, Hello Due Date...

I'm happy to be meeting my due date under these conditions...2 weeks postpartum and through the worst of the pregnancy hormone crash that leaves me feeling like a slightly insane person for a while.  I mean, I still feel that way at times, but fortunately those periods are getting to be fewer and farther between and will soon be mixed up with the January/Winter blues.  (blah, cold, snowy winter)

The delivery of Felicity came at the perfect time--between the girls' battle with strep and the boys' battle with Influenza A, right before Christmas at a time when Joe was already off work for the remainder of the new year.  Because of the influenza at our house, the first week home was a bit rough (be sure to roll the hormone crash into the mix) but, with a lot of bleach and quarantining of the sick, we survived!  We spent the remaining time recovering and getting to know our new little addition.  The sibling response to a new baby was overwhelmingly positive.  The girls are STILL ecstatic about having a new baby sister and even Cyril seems to enjoy her.  Since I am just overly sleep deprived, I'm just going straight to pictures.  :)

We made it home from the hospital on Christmas Eve which worked out well for everybody.

Christmas Tree = Spoiled Kids
I was even able to use the "baby's first christmas" sleeper that I had pulled out just in case....
Love from her sister
Cecilia's favorite Christmas present was the camera.  Anna's was a "me reader" and Cyril's was Cecilia's camera....
Enjoying Cecilia's New Camera
The unseasonably warm weather at Christmas allowed us to go to the park before the cold and snow came in.
Model pose

I tell people that this little girl is like my drug--I can't get enough of snuggling her.  Well, maybe I could use a LITTLE less in the middle of the night but that comes with the territory.  I talked to my brother while in the hospital and he made a comment similar to "well, in a year and a half when you have another...." and I realized that this was me.  Yes, I love having babies.  I love listening to my kids running through my house.  I love watching them achieve new milestones.  Just kinda wish they weren't all so stubborn.  :)
Snuggle Time

Hey Mom, what's going on with the mismatched mitts?
The girls can't get enough of her either.

Cecilia playing with her sister

No peace for her

Kids hanging together

Friday, December 5, 2014

On Baby #4

1.  I am entering into my final month of pregnancy.  Overall, this pregnancy been a good one--outside of of some extra monitoring (that has all had positive results thus far!), I think that I am pretty lucky.  My body handles pregnancy pretty well and I can actually enjoy seasons of it.  There are definitely big differences between my first pregnancy and this one but the one that stands out the most is the fatigue.  Oh. my.  There is a reason that a lot of women stop having babies in their "advanced maternal" years.  (OK, so I do have three young children that contribute to this as well.)  But, regardless of your age, it always feels like somebody puts the brakes on when you reach that final month or so.  I remember I would wake up in tears in my final days with Cyril because I hadn't gone into labor that night.  I remember saying, "I know that I can't be pregnant forever but I think that I AM going to be pregnant forever!"  (FYI--he came 10 days EARLY and this was my mental state.  Oh how I feel for those women who go well beyond their due dates.)


2.  It's amazing the small gestures that people can do that turn out to be the most awesome unexpected blessings.  Recently, I was talking to a woman at the bus stop and her girls.  Her girls were excited to see that I was pregnant and started telling me all about their family with five young children.  We talked about the awesomeness of large families.  That afternoon, the mom volunteered to pick our daughter up each morning and bring her back from the bus stop in the afternoon so that I wouldn't have to worry about getting the other kids ready and/or risk falling on the way to the bus stop.  SO NICE!  She drives by my house both directions but just that small gesture has made life SO much easier for me.

3.  We recently hosted Thanksgiving dinner for a "small" group of, 20 to be exact.  When I would tell people this, they would look at me in amazement but it is SO much better than having to drive somewhere with three kids plus one ready to pop out.  Plus, my 2 year old has been stuck to me like glue lately but as soon as G-Pa showed up, he never left his side.  So, in addition to getting to see family, I got a nice 4 day break from hauling a 32 lb toddler around on my hip. Score.

G-Pa! G-Pa!  Total admiration

4.  I have to admit that at times I get overwhelmed by it all.  I have those moments in the morning, staring at a waffle with my 5 year old in the background telling me that she doesn't want to go to school, my 4 year old complaining about not having strawberries, and my 2 year old crying at my side to pick him up, and I think, "how in the world are we going to do this?"  Or I think about everything that needs to get done in the next few weeks and I consider NOT wrapping Christmas presents and just putting everything under the tree in paper grocery bags.  But then I remember about the time that I was stressing at the very beginning of this pregnancy and praying "I know this is the path that you have chosen for us.  I know this child is of You and I have listened but I'm still kind of freaking out over here.  How is this going to work out in the end?"  (Ah, to have that answer EVER!)  And, standing in my dining room in a quiet house, with all the kids asleep, I heard God say "Trust Me."

As I enter my final month of pregnancy, I cling to those two words.

Obligatory in-the-mirror selfie of pregnant belly @ 35.5 wks

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

8 Years and Counting

About 12 years ago, in my "Big Red" house in Newport, KY, I started to do something that I had only read about and always quickly dismissed.  I'm not sure why, but I felt a pressing need to...start praying for my future husband.  I had no clue who it would be or why I, after years of being adamantly single, felt the need to do this.  And then, in November 2003, I met a man who would far exceed any expectations that I had for a future husband.  And, even though I was praying about this, I was completely blindsided.

See--I had actually known "of" my husband for years.  One of my good friends used to work FOR him and remained friends with him even after parting ways with the company.  I remember her describing him to me years prior to our meeting and me nodding, "sounds like an engineer."  (Nothing against engineers.  I AM an engineer...)  Oddly, I can remember this conversation clearly--riding in her jeep and her describing his blond hair while making a sweeping motion across her head. It wasn't anything--we were just talking.  So, when years later, she suggested that we would be good together I just blew her off and thought "She's really trying to figure a way to get me to the bar more often!"

But, then I unexpectedly met him at her birthday party and here we are 11 years after meeting, 8 years of marriage later and he is still the man that I always dreamed about and prayed about.  He is awesome--a loving husband, father, son, and friend.  Together we are navigating our way through this life.  We have no idea where it is leading us long term, but we have never known that!  We are enjoying the moments that we have and praying for many, many more moments to enjoy together.

Happy, Happy, Happy

Crazier But Even Happier!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Into the Light + Photo Dump

I am sitting outside right now and it is 70 degrees and sunny out.  It. Is. Perfect.  I have a soy latte in my hands, and a little free time since I finished my work for the day.  So, I thought that I would take the opportunity to do a photo dump of my fun little ones while writing about my journey through Lent.

All dressed up, ready for bed
Cecilia checking out her artwork from preschool on display at the AA library

My view of Lent has shifted over the years.  I can honestly say that I didn't fully understand it and, for some years, I wandered in and out of the church and didn't really observe Lent.  But it was a particular season of Lent that brought to my knees and drew me back into the Catholic church.  Since then, I haven't looked back.  Now, by the time that Lent rolls around every year, I am ready.  I need--I crave--this penitential, grace-filled time and this year was no exception.

Anna zooming in on the waterfall at the conservatory.
The main reason to eat raspberries--Raspberry Fingers!
Before Lent, I was feeling pretty miserable all around--physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I had gotten a cold, then a sinus infection, and finally a cold sore to ensure that I truly looked how I felt.  I looked in the mirror and could hear God saying, "Stop fighting it!  Come back to me and I will give you rest."  (Not physical rest, mind you.  I have three small children and a job.)
This boy loves books.  He just plops down in the middle of the library floor.
This is what happens when he doesn't get his way.  

What I have really tried to focus on this year is why we observe Lent.  No, it's not to "give things up" so that we can complain about it or to punish ourselves.  It's offering prayer and sacrifice in order that we can draw closer to God.  It's removing those obstacles that we put between God and ourselves, asking Him to make us clean so that we fully celebrate in the joy of Easter.
Seriously, how sweet is this?!?  Anna reading books with Dad.
Lent is a long seven week journey and, as life goes, mine has had peaks and valleys.  But, what God has slowly worked back into my heart is hope, and love, and grace.  I will always have to fight my cynical nature but, at least right now, I don't feel like the sick, cold-sored person that I was six weeks ago.  I know that I don't have to be--that God doesn't want me to be that person.  Which is a good place to be entering into Holy Week.  This is the week that we get to walk with Jesus from the time that he enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through the Last Supper, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.  I can't wait.

And this is what I will be eating to celebrate.  :)  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Random Thoughts on Random Topics

Thoughts on kale:

From my husband:
"Kale is not even food.  It's what you eat when you are stranded on a desert island right before you resort to cannibalism"
"Kale is the equivalent to eating fish butthole."

I was rerunning these thoughts through my head while at the gym and nearly fell off the treadmill trying to stifle my laughter.  Kale is the new SUPER FOOD and everybody talks it up--put it in your kid's smoothies, they say.  They'll never notice the difference!  I never did this because, despite the fact that they couldn't taste it, they could SEE it.  (This all changed during a recent detox/cleanse that I did.)

Thoughts on Dr. Oz's 3 day Detox/Cleanse:

I did this after the new year because I had been doing some serious gorging on junk food for about 2 weeks.  I thought that it would jump start better eating habits and maybe lose a few of those holiday pounds.  Overall, it actually was pretty good though I did find my limit to be 2 days.  After two days of smoothies, I found it hard to pull the blender out the third day.  I also learned that my kids will drink ANY smoothie so long as it is mine.  They got enough fruit and vegetables during that three day period to last a good week--green smoothies and all.  I can't give a total weight loss because I refused to step on the scale before I started it.  So there.

Thoughts on buying Barbie:

For all the bad rap that Barbie gets, I found the holidays to be the true gauge on interest in the brand.  There was not a DreamHouse to be found ANY. WHERE.  Seriously--I searched every store in the lower Michigan, northern Ohio, and the Cincinnati area.  Nothing.  (I was not actually going to drive to get one if I DID find one, but I was curious.)
My girls ended up with a Barbie vacation home and vending machine and they LOVE it.  Honestly, it is like any other toy for them--a way to use their imagination.  I played with Barbies a lot growing up and I still somehow ended up being female engineer.  I believe it's more about empowering your kids every day and less about they toys that they play with.  My girls play with Barbies and they play with cars and trains.  They gravitate to what they want that day/hour/minute and I'm ok with that.  What I don't like, is EVERY time I see a Barbie randomly lying around, it looks like this:

At least they mold flesh colored underwear on her now...

Thoughts on winter:

It sucks.  My countdown to spring started before the first snowflake hit the ground.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Torn in Two -- Returning to Work Dilemma

It first crossed my mind about a year ago when I was pregnant with Cyril.  I knew at that time that it wasn't going to happen right then, but I really began to contemplate when I would actually do it.  That is, return to work outside the home.

I have been EXTREMELY blessed with my current job.  I am able to work from home part time, have super bosses that are really flexible, etc.  My only issue has been the lack of hands-on engineering that I do with my current job.  And, engineering?  Not exactly something that you can jump back into easily after being out of it  for 10 years.  So began my dilemma.  Do I return to work?  Do I go back to school?  Do I just stay-at-home and begin a new career when I'm older?  Being totally honest, I felt guilty considering going back to work because I don't HAVE to work and there are so many moms that do HAVE to work that would give anything to be a stay-at-home mom.

So, I do what I do with decisions like this--I sit on it and pray about it until I feel that I am being led in one specific direction.  And when I felt led to put some feelers out for part time engineering work, I still felt torn in two.  The war between what was best for my career and long term family goals (i.e. retirement for my husband) versus the guilt of leaving my children--it's tough deciding what is best for your family long term.

I drew up criteria and decided that, if I could find something that met it, I would go for it.  This is what I knew:

1.  I could only work part time (3 days a week).
2.  I wanted to stay in Aerospace and/or Defense (in MI!!!)

I feel like there should have been more...

I had a good conversation with a friend of mine who basically told me not to stress about it--if it is meant to be, the doors will be open.  If not, they won't.  Long story short:  a job totally fell into my lap.  Thanks to a good word from a couple friends/former colleagues and a freshly updated resume (thanks to another friend), I basically had a job offer before I even went for an interview.  Seriously, how often does that happen?

So, here I go.  I'm starting a new job...away from home.  I'm nervous and sad (about being away from my little ones), excited (about getting into some new work), and extremely grateful for a supportive husband who always encourages me to succeed.

**There is a lot of emotion and debate between women when the discussion of work versus home mom comes up.  I read this blog entry over at Momastery and her feelings the work mom versus home mom emotions are spot on for me.  Basically, every decision is a personal one and should be respected as that.  No two families are the same.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What Happens When the Kids Find Photo Booth

I do this thing...I used to be a little embarrassed by it for some reason but I'm not anymore.  While I nurse Cyril before bed, I put the other two at the computer watching Netflix.  A mom has to survive and I decided that a half hour of Dora/Caillou/whatever is much better than being angry that they keep waking up their little brother.  I have "no touching" policy with the computer which they outright ignore.  For a 2 and almost-4-year-old, they have figured it out pretty well.  But, their latest trick is to open Photo Booth and snap a bunch of pictures.  So, by the time Cyril gets into bed, I get this:

Not too bad

They started getting goofy

Not sure what transpired that the pacifier was necessary

I just love Anna snuggling up to Cecilia in this one

Cecilia begins to take center stage...obviously the one in control

And now we just have Anna's eyes
 I was showing Joe this pictures when I noticed the "Effects" option in Photo Booth.  (Give me a break--the computer is relatively new and I don't spend a lot of time learning about it.)  So, I started clicking on the different effects and could not stop laughing.  I mean, what need is there for the "alien" effect other than a good laugh?

I'm almost crying from laughter

I think this was bug-eye or something.  I like how you can still see
the bags under my eyes from exhaustion.

Chipmunk--I'm still laughing at this one
So, apparently you have to be directly in front of the camera to get the effect which is why Cyril looks normal in most of the pictures.  I think that this adds to the humor because he is looking at us like there is something wrong with us.  Which....clearly, there is.