Lately, on Instagram

Oh my, it's been awhile since I've spent some time on here.  Life has just gotten in the way lately and all the things I've meant to document in real time are getting chronicled in my mind instead, which is a scary substitution these days as my mind is unbelievably scattered!  We have had quite a month around here, full of big and fun things, but also lots of ordinary and mundane things too.  I am so thankful for Instagram these days, it's such a quick and helpful way for me to post some daily snapshots of life in our world, so that I can remember what we've been up to.  Today, I'm using some of my recent Instagram pics to fill in the missing details from this last month, as that seems the best way to catch up and fill you in!  Not a lot of co-herenece to this post but here we go anyway...
 The earliest weeks of May were spent surviving around here.  I can't remember when this all started but I caught some kind of virus that was making it's way around the area here and naturally, I got the worst of it.  I had a full 16 days of headaches, sinus pressure, cold symptoms, body aches, and a sore throat that sent me in for a strep test, twice.  It was miserable to say the least and of course it made every day life just a little more challenging.  Unfortunately everybody caught some version of this virus, although each a little different.  Carter started a few days behind me and also had about 2 weeks of symptoms.  It's a safe bet these days that if Carter is sleeping late and/or napping, something is wrong!  He operates on full speed now and doesn't ever slow down for much, but this thing wiped him out too and I've spent so much time resting with him lately, which has been delightful actually.  I just wish he felt better!  Thankfully he's back to normal today but he's certainly been through it in May.  Ironically we had a previously scheduled appt with the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to talk about his tonsils.  We've decided to wait on that for now and see what this summer and fall bring for him.  He's borderline for the surgery but doesn't have all of the classic symptoms so we are in a holding pattern for him.  The virus he caught didn't turn into strep, which was a good sign, but this has definitely been a record month for most doctor visits and ER trips so far!  Do I get some kind of medal for coordinating all of them??
This is so random, but here's a helpful little list my Mom found online and thought to send me.  She has quite a sense of humor and thought this was a troubling sign for us!  After these last few months I'm not sure this isn't too far from from the truth??
Yes, you can begin fearing for our children now!  Ha! 
 In the midst of limping through this month I decided to read through the book of Psalms.  I love the Psalms and appreciate David, Solomon, and the other authors' expressions of their raw emotions and feelings as they write and sing and lament before the Lord.  I could identify with some of that lately, but maybe the best part of the Psalms is the way that being in the presence of the Lord and hearing from Him begins to change us from the inside out.  Pouring our thoughts and crying out is good for us and very healthy but the perspective and the truth we gain from going to the Lord with our "stuff" is healing and life giving.  Over and over the Psalms have been a balm for my soul this month.  I have been doing the "add 30" plan to work my way through the book but I think I'm going to linger here until the baby is born.  There is so much good stuff to work through!  So much for my soul to be commanded by.  It's so true that we are apt to follow our feelings and the inclinations of our hearts and certainly, that is preached heavily in our culture.  But the Bible is very clear that our hearts are prone to sin and they will lead us astray.  Feelings are fickle and unreliable, as I've reminded myself a lot this year, they are my indicators, NOT my dictators!  The Psalms teach us how to speak truth to our hearts, how to bring our souls back under the authority of God and in line with His Word.  He is unchanging and constant and His truth stands firm for Eternity.  I'd rather my soul cling to Him and His thoughts instead of my own!  
 Yes, the pregnancy cravings have ruled in the month of May.  With a sore throat I consumed many popsicles and lots of ice-cream, which also sparked a return of our ice-cream maker just in time for summer!  I LOVE making homemade ice-cream and coming up with some yummy combos.  On this particular night we made chocolate from William's & Sonoma (I LOVE their ice-cream starters, so good!!) and topped it with bananas and some cinnamon granola I recently made.  I think I may have shed a tear it was so delicious!  The kids always vote for vanilla, just plain vanilla with no added anything.  I love vanilla too but I need a little more variety!  I was thankful to talk them into chocolate, which they ended up liking!  
 One morning I decided I needed a picture of our bed to remember this crazy pregnancy and all my sleeping woes that Travis has had to endure.  We have a queen sized bed and yes there are 7 pillows in there every night!  5 for me and 2 for Trav.  I seriously don't know how he is sleeping through the night with the 10 inches left over for him, but I do know that after months of agony I finally found the perfect arrangement weeks ago that has helped me re-gain my ability to sleep and bless his heart, he's been wise not to argue with it!  We will both be glad when at least 3 of these can be eliminated after the baby is born.  We have to keep our room as cold as a meat locker right now just because of all the extra heat coming from those pillows!  
 As the month wore on and Carter and I could begin returning to the land of the living again, we soaked up our opportunities to spend a little time together at our favorite coffee shop while we waited for Ava to be done at preschool.  The sunshine and warm weather has been hit or miss until this past week, but we jumped at any chance to be outside together and on this morning we played a little bingo to pass the time. What a fun year we've had together!  Next year I'll still get lots of time with Carter, although Walker will be in the mix too.  It's been a sweet gift for the two of us to have this time and I've loved it. I'm all of a sudden very aware of how fleeting these days at home are before school begins to dictate our lives.  I love being a stay at home Mom for moments like these!  
 Speaking of games, they have been our go-to inside activity lately.  One of my sweet friends gave us a ton of awesome games her boys had outgrown and Ava received a slew for her birthday too.  I've been trying to teach them how to play many of them while encouraging them to play together.  The familiar refrain goes something like, "This will be great for you guys to do when I'm busy feeding Walker or taking care of him.  You can always get a game out and play together, let me show you how this one works!"  They have eaten up the newness of all these games and are loving all the choices.  Right now their favorites are: Zingo, Spot It, Bingo, Candyland, A Princess Trivia game, I Spy Bingo, and Busytown.  I am loving them playing together and all the discussion that goes with learning how to take turns, play by the rules, be a good sport, etc.  This feels like such a grown-up stage to me!  
 This is the month my housework really started to slide.  And by slide I mean, reach levels of chaos we haven't known for awhile.  Between pregnancy challenges and all of us being sick, it's just fallen by the wayside but in order to stay sane Trav and I decided, who cares??
 We let it reach our breaking point more than once and then we managed to claw our way out of it and maintain some order.  But we are both realizing that in this season and the season to come, cleaning the house isn't the most important way to spend our time.  I've been especially blessed however, to have a few friends who have stepped in to love us with meals they've cooked for us and one of my dear friends spent several hours cleaning my bathrooms and the kitchen floor for me!  What a gift!  I have chosen rest and time with Trav and the kids more than being enslaved to my house, which is indicative of the ways the Lord is growing me too.  Housework will always be there but our kids and this season won't.  
 It's been such a helpful thing for me to let them take over and play together wherever and however they dream something up.  This is how I get naps taken or even just steal some time to unload the dishwasher or fold a basket of laundry.  They love to get everything out and come up with some elaborate idea that stretches their imaginations, which always means an epic clean-up to follow, but it's good for all of us to just go with it!  On this particular day I believe the princesses and the big trucks were lined up to watch some sort of parade that passed them by!  ha! 
 Finally, about two weeks ago, this sweet smile returned and Carter turned a corner!  I began feeling better and a few days later so did he.  When I took this picture we were all waking up from a great afternoon nap, something the 3 of us haven't done at the same time for a long time!  
 One of Ava's go-to activities this year has been coloring.  She could (and sometimes does) color from morning to night!  With all of us feeling sick especially, she has had plenty of time to work her way through some coloring books and she is doing such a great job!  I loved her picture of Jasmine :) 
 The weekend of Mother's Day, Trav officiated a wedding and in true Armstrong form, the day before his throat began hurting!  We did some hard core treatment to just get him through the ceremony, which thankfully worked!  But he had a few days of sinus pressure and headaches too that he had to work through.  No house has ever been so happy to see winter and a cold, wet Spring pass us by!  My poor husband has also been fighting his own illness for a few months now.  He turned 40 and things went south quick!  ha ha!  His stomach has been acting up and not handling his normal diet well at all.  He's been in twice to consult his doctor about and we've had to change up what he eats, drinks and what meds he can take for it.  I've felt so badly for him but in all reality, he's sort of had to fend for himself while I deal with all of my own pregnancy woes in addition to the sickness both kids have had.  We were not a healthy crew!  Thankfully he seems to be turning a corner as of late, and I am hopeful that he will continue to feel more and more like himself.  I hate it when he's not feeling good! 
I posted about Mother's Day already, but this was one of the first weekends where we all remained (mostly) healthy!  It was chilly outside but we were just thankful to be outside, even for little stretches at a time.  
 This was my favorite picture of the day!  Ava looks *just* like I did as a little girl and the way Carter is "smiling" in this picture looks just like Trav as a little boy!  Wonder who Walker will favor??  
 Speaking of Walker, I decided I could not wait any longer to get his nursery ready.  My nesting instincts have kicked in strong for the last couple of weeks and I've been in an organizing/purging/re-arranging/re-purposing mood over here.  This has created lots of chaos as I work from room to room but I've made great progress too!  I've never been more aware of all my aches and pains however, I'm having to be very careful about how much I do.  Which kills me.  I'm so used to doing this kind of thing full boar, and so having to stop and rest or wait for Trav to get home to do the heavy lifting, is killing me.  But I'm trying to be good because I'm the one who pays for it when I'm not! 
 Wouldn't you know that just as we were all starting to feel better, Carter was running inside at dinner time from our little balcony and he tripped.  Somehow he managed to hit his head on the sliding door track and split his ear open!!??!! Of course.  So while we tried to stop the bleeding and investigate, we called the pediatrician and determined that we needed to take him to the ER because he did split it open on the top of his ear, it actually looked like it was clipped with scissors, poor guy!  So back to the ER we went, one week after we were there for strep tests.  Good grief!  After a long wait and two doctor's opinions, they decided not to try and stitch it up in order to not make the tear worse.  We were thankful because Carter is NOT a good patient when there is any kind of pain involved!  He will definitely have a little scar there but oh well.  At least he's a boy and as the doctor said, he won't be able to be an ear model someday!  Ha!  I think we should get a frequent flyer card or something at the local ER, maybe a punch card with rewards???  A girl can dream!  
After a late night for all of us following the ER visit, we hit another big milestone when we went in to Ava's new school for next year and did a little Kindergarten preview day.  It was more traumatic for me than it was for her!  She loved it and loved seeing one of the classrooms and getting a tour of the school.  I was not as taken with the whole ordeal, I just want to pretend she's not old enough to be leaving and me and certainly not headed for the big, scary public school!  It is not helping that my hormones are raging right now, everything in me wants to hunker down in the country and keep her at home with me forever!   This Mama is going through some big lessons in trusting the Lord and releasing Ava to Him.  It hurts and I don't like it, but I'm trying to work through this new season we are embarking on while not squashing her excitement for school.  
 Have you ever seen a sweeter kindergartener-to-be???  Me either!  I did realize as she sat on my lap that morning that her breathing was sounding a little labored to me, so after she finished at preschool that morning we drove straight to the pediatrician's office and sure enough, she had croup.  In case you're losing count, that's 3 ER visits, 2 pediatrician visits, 1 specialist visit, and 2 primary care visits, and 2 OB visits for the 4 of us in about 4 weeks.  I've totally lost track of the trips to the pharmacy for all of this.  I'm going to say it was somewhere around 10??  I really don't think I'm exaggerating at all.  Can I just tell you how thankful I am for health insurance?? 
 Switching gears from the state of our health, one of the best books I'm reading is this one!  I love Elyse Fitzpatrick and am in the middle of reading two of her books right now.  I'm slowly working my way through "Counsel From the Cross" which is EXCELLENT and my dear friend gave me this one, "Comforts From the Cross" which is also SO good!  The second one is more of a devotional and I just love it.  The one thing I have been taking time to do lately is read.  While my feet are up I've taken the opportunity to soak up lots of great books, knowing that I won't have much time for this in the near future.  Ava and Carter are great about letting me do this while they play but a newborn isn't always as understanding :)  One of these days I'll share the list of what I've been enjoying! 
 The baby bump has grown to new proportions, now enabling me to "shelf" my food and preventing me from seeing my toes when I'm standing!  Yogurt parfaits are one of my go-to snacks these days, I'm so happy to have fresh berries in the stores again.  Not only do they remind me of summer but they taste so good on ice-cream, on yogurt, or just by themselves.  
 Just last week while Trav's Mom was visiting, we got to have a little shopping and errand date with Carter while Ava and Texie did some shopping of their own.  We were close to the Carter's store and Trav let us make a stop because I was dying to look for an outfit for Walker to come home from the hospital in!  Not only did I find something so cute for him, but I also picked up some great deals for Carter too.  He was enamored with the store being named after him and asked us, "where is the store with Ava's name on it?"  He looked so old to me in this picture.  Lately Trav and I have been marveling at how much the kids seem to be growing and changing.   
For example this little girl is not looking little to me at all anymore!  More and more I get glimpses of her and think, "how can she be 15 already??"  The world is her oyster right now and we keep hearing "I can do that now Mom, because I'm 5!"  Suddenly she has lots of courage and independence, all motived by turning 5.  It's perfect timing for bringing a baby home and we are getting a kick out of it for the most part.  We do occasionally have to bring her back to reality and remind her that while 5 is very big, it's not exactly a license for everything ! 
Here's an extremely blurry and risky belly shot that I snapped quickly in a public bathroom recently!  I just couldn't stop laughing at how pronounced my stomach has become and how I am definitely unable to hide anything these days.  I've hit the stage of everything swelling and expanding.  My clothes are starting to hang on for dear life!  This is the fun part as far as looking pregnant, but not exactly the fun part as far as feeling very, very pregnant!  Travis and I got a chance to sneak out for a much needed night out together while the kids got time with their Texie.  We have been managing so much sickness it felt so nice to be out and feeling a little "normal" again!  And lucky us, we went to one of our favorite restaurants where some families from our Church spotted us and sent us a delicious appetizer and then as I was coming back from the bathroom to say thank you, I ran into a table full of my Bible study girls from last year whom I hadn't seen in months!  They were all just home from their freshmen year of college and it was such a sweet treat to get to hug on them and catch up a little bit!  What a fun night we had.  

I've got a few more posts coming on some of the big fun we had last week!  But in case you've been wondering what happened to me, this is a little of what has kept me busy and sidelined from the world!  
I've been managing prescriptions, running back and forth to doctors of all kinds, and just trying to get us all back to normal!  I'm crossing my fingers and knocking on wood, but I think we're finally there.  Life is not dull with little ones and this is the season of life that is often marked by sickness and accidents.  As crazy as it gets sometimes, I really am thankful for the gift of a family and for everything that comes with it.  Yes life was calmer and easier to manage when it was just Trav and I but it wasn't nearly as full and fulfilling as it is now!  You wouldn't waste a prayer on us as we try to stay very healthy before and after Walker arrives.  Thankfully the weather has turned into perfection here and not a moment too soon.  Here's to a great last week in May!!

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