in the interest of transparency

Some time ago I became aware of my absence from the blogosphere and wondered.. what the heck happened? I love to write, to document things, any excuse to photograph things.. you know. I tried to concoct a happy, beautiful, sunny re-emergence online after this gaping 4 month hole in our lives, and such an opportunity never arose. 

So here we are.

And here's how the past 4 months have been:

Nevermind.. Mid December-mid March were filled with sickness. One thing after the other, and as many have experienced firsthand, being pregnant often makes sickness really drag on. So I spent my happy trimester (the second) completely sick with stomach bugs, colds, a sinus infection, etc. Just when we thought we were through the woods, my third trimester hit, and MAN. With it that whole host of late pregnancy troubles. 
Please understand how excited I wasn't to record and share all of this. Or just thank me. Cause that's okay, too.

So, really.. this past month has been a bit sunnier. Literally and figuratively. There's been something truly magical about this spring that I've never really experienced before, and every tree bud and blossom has contributed to our delight in spending time in the out of doors.

I didn't realize how much I missed sunny afternoons at the park with my little ones!

With that comes so much gratitude and peace of mind about this new baby; to think that those early newborn days can be spent relaxing on a blanket in the shade while her sisters climb things, swing, play in dirt and splash in sprinklers?! Can there be a better time to have a baby?!

I am so looking forward to it! 
Verity has been busy expanding her artistic abilities and learning basic writing skills, as well as digging up worms in the backyard, and inventing a host of simple games in which to boss around her little sister. She asks approximately 5,679,095 questions per day, and loves her daddy very much. She is sweet as can be. And sassy, too.
 In Liberty's eyes, everything is a game. She is a continuous source of simultaneous joy and frustration. Because while she can, and sometimes does, use the potty.. It's like, so boring. Duh! Only her sister seems to make it exciting enough to be worth her while. She is talkative, high energy, loud, friendly to everyone, and does everything with a twinkle in her eye and a bounce in her step. She's also a die hard fan of all things Dad.
 Husband works so hard, and is such a helpful companion. His past few months have consisted of creating plans for our home remodel (he loves him some AutoCad), working lots of hours, and in general picking up the slack around here.. because there is slack in abundance to be picked up these days.
 For me, this pregnancy has been so unlike the others. My third trimester bout of morning sickness lasted just a few weeks, like it did with my first pregnancy, and that is awesome. I've continued to be unbelievably emotional this time, and WOW.. it really isn't fun to feel like a crazy person all the time. Sciatica has been mild! Woo hoo!! And chiropractic adjustments have sure made that, carpal tunnel, and symphysis pubis dysfunction much more bearable. 

I wonder how many children I would have if I liked being pregnant. 

(because I really envy those women sometimes..)

But then, while my pregnancies are challenging, they are healthy. And I remind myself to be grateful, because pain and discomfort is manageable and so much lower stress than actual pregnancy complications.
I look at my children, and I am beyond amazed at what wonderful, perfect little people they are. 

Did those miserable nine months 5 years ago really create this beautiful girl I call Verity?

They are so worth it. With all the toys on the floor, dinner and bedtime struggles, taking 45 minutes to get the heck out of the house EVERY. TIME... so much noise, time outs, and in general being so tired sometimes I can't even keep my eyes open.. they are so worth it, and I wouldn't want my life any other way.

 And so in the interest of transparency, I bring an honest account of the past few months, with the hope of successfully making this a regular occurrence again. Photos of my kids having stripped everything from their beds for the sake of jumping. Messy hair and at least one snot-smeared face. All the fun and craziness that two small children bring. 

This is our life and we love it.

Oh, and approximately 6 more weeks till these photos are filled with three little girls! It's getting real, folks.


Advent Part 1

I switched host families a couple of weeks before Christmas when I was an exchange student in Germany. With my first family, I lost track of the date and forgot to leave a shoe outside my bedroom door for St Nicholas the night before his expected visit on December 8th. Thankfully, he left me some yummy chocolate anyway.

My second family celebrated Christmas all month long, opening a small gift each morning for Advent, and lighting a candle each week. It was magical. I came upstairs to a dimly lit, simple breakfast and a present each morning. It was like Christmas morning every day, and I loved it. Waking up before the sun (unless it's with a screaming toddler) always carries a kind of magic with it. I remember getting warm socks and a heart-shaped silver keychain that jingled like a unique kind of bell. I loved that Christmas.

It was really nice that they did it this way, because Germans' main celebration is on Christmas Eve, or 'Holy Evening' as they call it. As wonderful as that was, it was kinda stinky for this American kid to wake up to the sound of a vacuum cleaner on December 25th and spend the entire day stuck in the middle of the backseat of a station wagon as the whole family hauls their way to Switzerland. But then, Switzerland is also magical. I love that beautiful country!

Ever since that year, I've always wanted to celebrate Christmas the whole month long. Last year I made all these great plans and then we all got nailed with a nasty flu that wiped out a whole week of festivities and seemed to suck away way more time than it actually did. This year, we tried it again and... so far, so good!

There have been days when I've thought, "wow, this is anti-climactic. maybe we wait till the kids are older for this...?" And then there have been days where the girls' excitement has been so contagious, and I've been so grateful for the planning I put into it.

Some days we've had a small gift or a treat (hot chocolate, a piece of candy, chalk for drawing on their chalkboard wall), and most days we've had some kind of family activity. We've read the Christmas story in the book of Luke, as well as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We've watched some Christmas classics: Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch, Muppet Christmas Carol, and the LDS Church's Christmas devotional. We hung up mistletoe and smothered each other in kisses. We hosted a Christmas party for my husband's employees. We delivered gifts to a grieving family. We built a 4.5 ft tall Snoopy Doghouse for our ward Christmas Party. We made faux-gingerbread houses, or "inns" for Joseph and Mary NOT to birth their baby in, made and hung paper snowflakes on the windows... it's been really fun!

I think what's allowed it to be fun was having it all planned by Thanksgiving, so we haven't been worrying each day what we're going to do for Advent. For activities, I wrapped something related to it for the girls to tear open-- like graham crackers for the candy houses, a book, etc. I really like having things ready ahead of time. We've all been able to enjoy it without any stress, and only a few hours of planning, shopping, and wrapping. 

Here are a few photos of our Advent festivities!

The next couple of weeks include some other good things-- looking forward to go to see the Nutcracker Ballet with Verity, and making Christmas cookies. Seriously the most wonderful time of the year!


the first trimester

It's been different. That much I can say. 

And I am unbelievably thankful for that. Because pregnancy is like, my life's biggest enemy.

Husband has been phenomenal through all of it. He is such a great help and support to me, despite working a gzillion hours at a new job, and all the challenges that has brought.

Here's what this pregnancy has looked like so far:
-a month...? ...ish? of morning sickness. This is the sweetest deal ever.
-fatigue. Which has manifested itself more in terms of crazy mood swings than feeling like a sloth on ambien.
-pushing myself past my limits because I have a real issue with myself when I'm not productive, and then regretting it when later that day I either, 1: have a meltdown, or 2: zonk out on the couch well before the kids' bedtime.
-carpal tunnel flaring up and thwarting the most epic fair isle christmas blanket knitting project of my life. Booo!
-craving Italian food of all kinds. Lots of meatballs, pasta, pesto, chicken, pizza.. I keep telling Husband we're going to have to name the kid "Antonio" or something that will make him spend his whole life convincing his peers he's not in the mafia.
-lots of fainting. more so than in previous pregnancies (no worries, nothing dangerous).
-being unable to sleep comfortably on my stomach after only 10-11 weeks! maybe this baby's going to be real chunk-a-munk, I dunno. I've always been able to sleep on my stomach into my second trimester before.
-being a lame friend. spending lots of time at home. body weak from reduced caloric intake and minimal exercise... that's the hard, depressing part about pregnancy. Even as this one has been easier in a lot of ways, I still find myself somewhat knocked down to my knees by the first trimester.

I was nervous about this from the start, on account of not feeling so nauseated I want to die, from day one and continuing on till birth. The only pregnancy in which I had zero morning sickness was the one I lost. Every time I felt sick, I felt grateful. Every time I felt fine for a day or two, I worried. Such a roller coaster!

When we went in for our first checkup the other day, the midwife couldn't find a heartbeat on the doppler and left to go get the ultrasound machine. And while I knew there were many reasons small babies are elusive (Libby had been as well, on account of the position of the placenta), I still couldn't keep back the tears as I lay there waiting, squeezing Husband's hand. And even after we got a good strong heartbeat, well... once you lose one, it's hard not to worry about each one that follows. Know what I mean?

The risk of second trimester miscarriage is %0.5. That goes up a little if you've had a previous miscarriage and/or you're over 30. But it's still pretty small. And on Husband's side, all 5 of my sisters in law have miscarried sometime between 12-17 weeks.. which makes me wonder so many things, like, how accurate are those numbers? and, what on Earth causes these things? 

The thing I hold onto is the feeling of peace that I get when I pray. A reassurance that it's all going to be okay, and that whatever happens, it will be for the best. And I know it will be.

I really really really really want a boy this time.

One of the hardest things has been having a little Libby at the peak of her terrible twos. Keeping me from sleeping. Pregnancy fatigue is hard enough when you get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but when you get 4-6 hours? Everyone is miserable. Tired toddlers are miserable. Tired pregnant women are miserable. It's hard to fight the misery when you can barely keep your eyes open, have a constant headache, and a constantly screaming toddler with little control over her own emotions.

Opinion poll: Which would you rather have: a child in their terrible twos during pregnancy? Or a child in their terrible twos with a newborn? I'm trying to weigh this one out..

Because while friends who don't share our faith may easily think we're crazy, I'm pretty sure this isn't our last child. All I can think of is Jim Gaffigan saying, 

"After the third one people stop congratulating you," and 

"Four kids? Well, that's one way to live your life.."

But we're not there yet. Just thinking ahead. And for reals about that little opinion poll. I want to know, people.
To sum up: we're expecting. It's been easier on me and that is awesome. It's still hard, but that's just how parenting is. I want a boy this time. My husband is awesome. We are happy.

3 months down, 6 more to go.

Thanks to all of you for sharing in our excitement!