Pineapples and Pregnancy...

Happy Tuesday, friends!  Today's post is brought to you by the letter "P".  I'm talking pineapples and pregnancy today because I decided it was time for an update on all things baby!  I am officially 30 weeks and few days today, but in order to survive this I've begun playing mental games with myself, like embracing a "new week of development" just a few days early.  And I'm not too proud to admit it!  I'm setting goals for myself now, things to look forward to and accomplish every week.  I haven't spent too much practically preparing for Walker around the house, but now with the birthdays behind us and no more trips in the coming weeks, I get to focus on him! 
And speaking of him, this is approximately how big he is right now.  Yep, a pineapple!  That sounds about right to me as lately things have gotten a little more crowded in there.  I notice it especially when I eat now or when I try to lean forward and do something for the's getting a little more difficult to take a deep breath or for my food to digest without standing up or eating slowly.  I sort of forgot what this feeling is like but it's all flooding back now!  My stomach is getting tighter and tighter, Travis says he can really tell how firm my tummy feels, definitely more and more like there's a basketball in there.  
 This is me at 29 weeks, I imagine a pic of my tummy just 2 weeks later might be slightly bigger now.  
 I've especially noticed lately how much this stomach gets in the way these days!  I'm at the height of dropping things, spilling everything, and thinking I can squeeze through a tight space only to discover, nope...I cannot!  Bending over to pick something up is now a matter of how much do I really want it or which child is closest to help me out??  
 Regarding my pain level and all that's going on with my SPD and pelvic stuff, I'm happy to say that I'm managing.  I've really figured out the ways to best control my symptoms and monitor my daily activity.  Since I last updated you, I've only continued to simplify my days and clear my plate of any commitments and that has made a big, big difference.  I'm sleeping better these days, I've come up with a pretty good pillow configuration and I'm enjoying the last weeks of being able to take Advil before I'm out of the "safe zone."  I still use a sleep aid at night and I'm grateful that it's also safe until the end.  My doctors have been wonderful and very reassuring about what I can feel good about taking, knowing how important sleeping is for the baby and for me.  Just getting consistent sleep these last few weeks has made a big difference in every way!  I still have a random off-night but it's really tied to how much activity I try and do during the day.  If I'm home and just doing normal stuff with lots of putting my feet up in between, I'm good.  The stuff that causes me the most pain and discomfort?  Trying to walk around Target for groceries, getting around our Church, doing anything at the mall, or multiple errands that have me getting in and out of the car.  All that movement involving my pelvis and my SI joint is very hard to bounce back from, but thankfully I can let a lot of it go or I just have to deal with it once a week or so.  

It sounds so crazy and those things are so much a part of my "normal" life, but as I've learned it's just not worth it to do this stuff without help or to do it at all because I pay so dearly for it later.  So I've just gotten rid of the expectations that I need to keep up normalcy or that I can't accept help.  Sometimes it feels so indulgent that my day was full of naps or being on the couch but I have to remind myself that I'm still trying to care for two kids while growing another one at the same time!  That's enough!  I've really just decided that if we all get fed, clothed with something, and we make it to bedtime alive than we're doing great!  I'm blessed by a sweet husband who is super supportive of that plan and comes home every day without expectations about what I've done or not done.  He continues to pick up the slack everywhere and help me with anything and everything.  I can't praise him enough for that or thank him enough.  I know that's a gift and I am very, very appreciative. 
 Thankfully the kids have just continued to be such great helpers and are growing in their independence every day.  Ava especially seems to get the connection with the baby in my tummy requiring me to slow down.  She has cracked us up with her thoughtful and insightful commentary, one day she asked me to get her a popsicle from the fridge while I was laying down but then she quickly said, "Wait Mom!  I don't want you to get up, you have the baby, you don't need to.  Daddy, that's your job!  Can you get me a popsicle??"  Ha ha!!  We laughed about that one and I gave her an immediate high five!  I'm hoping that same logic continues well after Walker is born!   On a serious note, she gets so concerned when she can tell I'm hurting and I love that tenderness about her.  Carter too.  He's full of hugs and kisses for me right now, as well as for baby Walker.  He's so thoroughly confused by our new nephew Sawyer though.  Half of the time he calls Walker, Sawyer and while we were in Iowa he kept calling Sawyer, Walker!  Ha ha!  Carter loves having a "mission" when I ask him to bring something to me or help me out.  This is good training for them when I'll need help with Walker and while I'm nursing constantly at the beginning.  What I do miss however, is being able to sit on the floor with them, walking to the park, and just playing.  I'll be very happy when my pain is relieved and I can take them places again or enjoy being down on their level with them.  I can't wait for this summer when Walker will be easy to put in the stroller so we can go to the park, walk around the lakes, or just be out enjoying the warmer weather.  That will be good for all of us! 
 I'm thankful I was able to do a little bit while we were in Iowa.  Even on a fun day like this, however, I was home the next day with lots of ice and heat and advil, with some major aches and pains.  We took Ava to a birthday party this weekend at Mall of America and I sucked up my pride and we rented a wheelchair to use.  That was SUCH a good decision, I was already having some Braxton hix contractions and it was definitely the only way I could have lasted for the hours we were there.  It was also hilarious.  I should have taken a picture but the memory of it makes Travis and I both laugh because he is definitely not used to pushing me around.  I was on edge the whole time!  I narrowly avoided hitting some people as he made a few tight turns and then he flat out ran me into some tables as we navigated a narrow restaurant...of course he turned it into a wild ride so that Carter would giggle while he pretended to be "out of control" and then in the highlight of the night, after we finished eating at this restaurant he and the kids walked out, leaving me high and dry in a wheelchair, pregnant and abandoned!  Ha!  I just sat there for a second, thinking "Ok??  I guess I'll push my own self out of here?"  And then he came jogging toward me, laughing his head off and saying, "I forgot my wife!!"  Classic.  It was the most awkward exit, we nailed a few more tables because we were both laughing and then some women actually felt incredibly sorry for me, apologizing for the restaurant making us wheel through the maze of tables...I appreciated it but seriously I just wanted to get out of there alive and I wanted all the eyes off of us!  We were like a circus side show.  I wish I was kidding!  It was a classic moment we have laughed about ever since.  I'm thinking I'll just avoid the mall next time!  Not sure a wheelchair and Travis are a great combo!  He may leave me in a wheelchair or run me into people while trying to catch a ride on the back, but hey, he loves me well and he keeps me laughing!!  What's a few incidents here and there??  Love ya Travy :) :) :) 
Cravings??  I'm all about this for lunch, dinner or a snack lately.  Tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella with some olive oil or champagne salad dressing.  I could eat it every day and last week, I did!  All things fresh and healthy sound good to me, not that I never indulge in something sweet-I totally do, but for the most part I could buy and eat produce all day long.  
I'm also all about some chips and salsa to snack on, particularly these.  Oh my word!!  They are soooooo good!!  They are just like my favorite thin chips from a Mexican restaurant I love and I can't control myself around them.  SO good!!  Amazingly my heartburn has been so much better lately and I have no idea why?  I'm choosing to believe that the Lord is just throwing me bone here and there because he loves me!  It certainly isn't because of what I'm eating :) 
 I was feeling pretty good about life and then on Friday, just to keep me humble and add one more challenge to the situation, I had a freak accident with Trav's hiking boot that I can't even explain very well and it left me with a u-shaped chunk of my big toe-nail being ripped off.  Isn't that ridiculous??  I can't begin to explain how much it hurt or how much blood began gushing from my toe.  I cried, the kids freaked about the blood and Travis just did his best to try and manage the chaos.  We were trying to get the bleeding to stop when we noticed Ava was standing in the hallway, her little hands clasped together, saying "Oh dear Lord, please take all the blood away!  Please make it stop bleeding for Mommy!"  I just love her.  I've been limping around here ever since, it amazes me how much a toe can mess with you AND how much a missing toenail hurts and throbs.  It was finally feeling better this morning and then Carter accidentally stepped on it with his rain boot this afternoon and the bleeding started again....

Sometimes I just really wonder what else could go wrong with this body???  That's obviously an overstatement and in the scheme of what really could go wrong, a missing toe nail is nothing.  But it is irritating!  And I'm most sad about the sight of my toe in a flip flop this summer.  Praying all these pregnancy hormones will grow that new nail quickly!!  

So there you have it.  Baby Walker is doing great, flipping and kicking and causing alien-like movements all day long in my stomach.  We are all getting excited and anxious about meeting him soon and I'm very ready to get this house in shape for another little one.  One of the very best things in sharing this season on my blog and in person, is that God continues to bless me with friends who love us so well.  We've had meals made for us, offers to help with Ava and Carter, people wanting to ease the burden of coming and going from Church and Ava's preschool, and I even have two dear ones offering to clean for me.  It's overwhelming how the Lord keeps wrapping his arms around us, around me in particular, by using people in our life to serve us.  It's very, very humbling for me...I'm having a hard time saying yes to some of these offers, I just hate feeling like a burden, but I know there is as much blessing in serving as there is in being served and I don't want to rob someone of their generosity in reaching out.  But the icing on the cake?  The many friends and family who remember us in their prayers.  That is so meaningful to me and all of this is a great reminder and opportunity for me to come alongside someone else down the road who is going through a difficult pregnancy.  I now know what that feels like and I know how encouraging it is be supported by friends and family.  This is one of the many benefits of a Church family and a common bond in Christ that seeks to reach out and put another persons' needs above their own.  I don't want to forget this season or how God made this personal for me.  Walker is worth all of this, yes, but so is the growth and the ways the Lord is refining me and teaching our family about service.  There are echoes of the Gospel in this season and they aren't lost on me at all.  There are so many teachable moments for our kids too, I am grateful for the opportunities God is giving us to invite them into these blessings.  

Our pineapple is growing and so is his Mama.  Thank you for caring for me and checking in...God is faithfully seeing me through one day after another and the end is feeling nearer and more attainable now.  In the midst of everything, we feel grateful for a third chance to experience the miracle of life and I'm thinking this may be my last time to carry a baby.  I do want to enjoy what I can and soak up this incredible privilege, because that's what it is, a privilege.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm dreaming of a chocolate/mint dessert that's in my fridge right now, so I'm going to wrap this up in pursuit of that! And then maybe a nap too!  I know, I's not so easy to feel badly for me now is it??  Happy Tuesday, friends!  


When You're the Mom & Dad...

There's a funny thing that happens when you become a parent.  Celebrating birthdays and holidays and "just because I love you" days with your spouse seem to slip quietly into the night, becoming a distant memory of "the way things were."  Now that extra everything (money, time, and energy) is claimed by the little people you love, who need things!  Things like new shoes.  Bigger clothes.  Diapers.  Bicycles.  Education.  Bigger beds.  Etc., etc., etc.!  While you don't really mind putting your list on the back burner, every now and then it hits you, life has really changed.  Now that you're the Mom and Dad, things are just different and the kids seem to soak up all once was "yours!"  

It's not all bad, there is a degree of parenting that truly reveals just how selfish you've been all these years and forces you to start thinking more about your family and less about yourself.  That's a good thing!  For us, the month of April is full to the brim with "events."  What once was "our month", marked by weekends away, trips to Florida or nice dinners out at our favorite restaurants, has quickly turned into "Ava's month!"  Ha ha!  Travis and I both celebrate our birthdays at the beginning and the end of April, but with Ava and Easter sandwiched in between us, we've begun pushing ourselves farther and farther out of the equation.  Now before you think I'm throwing a little pity party, hear me say this clearly, I'm begrudging this!!  I'm simple just pointing it out and owning it now, since after all, when you're the Mom and Dad that's just the way it goes  :)   Let's face it, April is about Ava; October belongs to Carter and June will soon be Walker's!  Am I right??  

We asked for these kiddos and God granted our requests and gave lavishly to us!  And we are grateful for each one of them.  We get to add so much more JOY to our calendar every year with 3 little blessings to thank God for and celebrate!  
But this year I just couldn't let Trav's birthday slip by without any fanfare.  
It was, after all, the big 4-0 and in my mind, that was worth celebrating well!  I had to reconcile very early on that this was not going to be an easy year for me to host anything, plan a big party or even plan a get-away for the two of us.  Life, ministry, and this pregnancy required a much simpler plan and after I finally broke down and told him I was disappointed that I couldn't DO a lot this year, he said what I knew he would...that he didn't want or need something big, but time with the kids and I was his gift.  So sweet, but I still had an ache there to mark this occasion somehow.  SO, while we had a fun little family celebration on the day of his actual birthday and he and I managed to get some time together to do some much needed clothes shopping for him, I was still scheming a little something in the back of my mind.  
I knew the kids and I were going to be in Iowa while he was in Chicago on a student trip and that after a few days, he'd be coming down to join us.  Both of my sisters/brother in laws would be at my parents house and we had this rare opportunity where we'd all be together.  I ruled out lots of fun things to do as this pregnancy and my pain-level kept increasing with each week and finally decided, if there was one thing I knew I could do to make him happy, it would be to cook a big meal that he loved!  I had help with the kids and my Mom's big kitchen to cook in, so I embraced that new plan.  While he drove down after working a half-day in Minnesota, I roped my sister Stacie into helping me spend the day in the kitchen so that dinner would be a surprise when we arrived.  
I came up with a menu of some of his favorites, in a nod to his Texas BBQ roots.  I nicknamed my sister "Daisy" like from Downton Abbey, as I played the role of Mrs. Patmore and bossed her around all morning as my kitchen helper!  She saved my back greater pain, but because we both were on our feet all morning and afternoon (and esp on my parent's hardwood floors) we were both SO SORE the next day!  I could barely walk I'd upset my back/pelvis so much, but for my handsome 40 year old, it was totally worth it!!  

We made some BBQ baked beans and my Mom's amazing BBQ brisket recipe to start with...
...some cornbread muffins and, Texas ranch potatoes (which are SOOOOO goood!) and a new southwestern coleslaw called the "Texas Two Step" that I found on Pinterest. 
Ava wanted to help me so much, so she colored some little food signs for me and of course she helped me get the dining room decked out in all the brightly colored "40" themed items we could find at Party America! 
We had some pineapple kielbasa bites that were also delish...
...and I made Paula Deen's cheesecake with a chocolate glaze and raspberries.  
And Carter insisted on the sprinkles!  
After 4 days away we were all happy to see Trav and he was surprised to find a big dinner with all of us waiting for him to arrive! 
It was simple, but sometimes showing love through a homemade meal is more meaningful than a night out even. 
We've been blessed with a great Daddy and a wonderful man.  So happy to do one surprise thing for him!

These two were especially anxious to have Daddy back again!  We missed him while he was out of town.  
I shared this on my Facebook recently but we made Travis a little book with a list of 40 things we love about him!
I'm keeping my list between the two of us, but I posted a few of the things the kids wanted me to write because they were so sweet.  And funny!
These are the things that speak love to a 3 year old and a 5 year old...a good reminder for us to keep making memories with them by playing and being silly and teaching them about Jesus as often as we can! They notice! 
 On Thursday I also celebrated another year and Travis surprised ME by taking the day off to be home with us! We were all exhausted from a busy Wednesday night and we slept in until 8:30 that morning!! It was Heavenly and obviously we all needed it.  I soaked up some early morning cuddles from my favorite little people and enjoyed a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with them in our bed...
...while Trav made a Starbucks and Einstein Bagel run to kick the morning off.  It was a rainy, drizzly day and he surprised me again by telling me he had a babysitter lined up for us that night so we could go out.  What a gift that was and I SO appreciated it, but as the day went on I was having a particularly tiring and achy-pregnancy day and after spending some time cleaning up for the sake of the babysitter, I asked if we could get a raincheck on the babysitter and stay in instead with some take-out?  That sounded like a perfect gift to me! 
He happily agreed and I got a day to spend in my jammies, a chance to nap in the afternoon and we both got some quality time with the kids all together.  
 I was craving some chinese take-out from Pei Wei so my delivery crew returned home with dinner, dessert and a little treat for me too! After all this celebrating and party planning this month, I actually really enjoyed a day to do nothing, at home with my little family.  
A few weeks ago I picked out a birthday present that arrived when we got home from Iowa.  It's the first thing I've put Walker's name on and I just love it!  I am a blessed woman for so many reasons and these three rings are a great reminder on my right hand.  

As the years go on and the kids get older, I'm sure our own birthday celebrations will continue to change and fluctuate.  It's not the gifts or the parties that mean the most to us, but the everyday life that we share and the Gospel that gives us hope are our biggest blessings.  Cake and ice-cream are sweet for a season, but a spouse who is faithful and Godly and children who make life messy and full are so much greater...

When you're the Mom and Dad life changes, but only for the better and to make you better!  We've had a great month, but I won't lie, I'm really glad to see April go...I need a break from all this celebrating!!  


Under the Sea with Ava!

Brace yourself, I'm posting a million pictures today from Ava's birthday party!  I'm so tired I can hardly spell my name, so I'm going to fly through these...We've officially hit the "birthday party stage" and today Miss Ava attended her own party, as well as another this afternoon, and she has two more next week!  Good grief!  I'm really happy Carter has a Fall birthday, we need a break from all the celebrating within our own family this month :) 
As we knew she would, Ava requested an Ariel birthday party months ago and today we spent the morning under the sea with some of her little friends.  To say she was thrilled is a major, major understatement! 
 She is our oldest, our only girl and this was our first go-round with a friend party so we learned some things!  I took the Party America route and made things easy on myself.  If they sold something with Ariel's face on it, I bought it.  This was not my year to make anything or get super crafty.  I went with easy and quick and Ava thought it all turned out so cute, which is really what we cared about most!  We have a great party room in our building, which was also a plus.  We were able to contain the chaos and not spend our time cleaning the house, something that is clearly evident if you were sitting in my living room tonight! 

We got up early this morning, got the room all ready and waited for some sweet princesses to arrive! 
 My hard-working crew :) 
 Ava is my daughter for sure, she was all about getting everything "just right" while we set up.  Wonder who she gets that from?? 
 So fun to enjoy this new stage in Ava's life!  We've milked the quiet family parties for the last 4 years, but this was so exciting to her and we were happy to love on her friends for a few hours too! 

 Our friend Maddie came along too, as our manicurist to the princesses!  
 All dressed and waiting for their pampering to begin! 
 I was so grateful to have some help from my dear friend Jill too!  She was a life-saver to me and my back today! 

 Lots of little nails and tiny nail art is not easy to do! 
 But totally worth it for those smiles! 

 Thanks Maddie!!
 Trav read to the girls from a darling book I found recently...
 ...and of course we had some cake! 
 The fondant Ariel made her second debut!  I was pretty thankful we got some extra mileage out of her on two cakes in two weeks! 

 This really made me laugh!  Gotta love 5 year olds!  Trav was clinging to his pants for dear life I think!
 Darling princesses! 

 What fun we had today!  We sure loved throwing a party to celebrate our girl.  She was out of her mind excited for the whole thing and it was a fun morning getting to spend some time with the friends she enjoys! 
We are totally wiped out from all the birthday fun and thankfully, this concludes our birthday celebrations for awhile!  Walker is up next, but his "party" involves a hospital stay and nurses who bring me food and pain pills whenever I need them.  Right now that sounds like Heaven!  Ha!  

Our little mermaid and her brother are sound asleep after a fun and busy day and we are right behind them.  In our old age I have no idea how we're going to pull these parties off for years to come!  HaHa! 
Good thing these little people are so worth the effort  :)