Thursday, September 27, 2012

My little girl

My precious Katie is just five months away from her fourth birthday. The sweet babe who began my journey as a mama is growing up before my very eyes; it's such an incredible blessing to be a part of it!

Since life will be changing a lot here pretty soon, I'd been wanting to take Katie out for some special time--just the two of us. Once I have an exclusively breastfed baby again such opportunities will be scarce for a while. Yesterday (thanks to Ben staying home and spending the day with Benjamin), the opportunity presented itself.

Katie was really excited about going out with Mommy. I was excited too. I love that little girl more than I can even say.

We went to my midwife appointment together, stopped at Target, went out for lunch (Moe's--her very favorite), went to a local consignment store, and picked up milk at "our" farm. 

It was so interesting to sit at the table across from her at lunch, talking, just us. As we made our various stops, we talked about all sorts of things. As we went from place to place, I was struck repeatedly at how grown up my little girl is becoming--and I couldn't help but think about how one day soon, she'll actually be grown up.

For now, I am Katie's closest friend. She talks to me about everything. And I want it to stay that way. These days we talk about dolls, animals, farming equipment (what can I say? We live in the country.), and imaginary friends (and deeper things as they come up, of course).

I invest time and thought into those conversations in large part because one day, she'll have bigger, more important things to talk about, and when that time comes, I still want to be her confidant. I want her to know I have time to listen and talk about things that are important to her.

As we enjoyed our day out together, I couldn't help but be so thankful that I'm able to spend all my days with this precious little girl, developing such a sweet relationship with her. It was really nice to have some special time out with her before Baby arrives--but it's the day-in, day-out time with her that has allowed such a lovely relationship to blossom. Our "date" was just icing on the cake.

Thank you all for sticking around during this quieter season of my life. Since we are just days away from meeting our newest addition, I've been focusing most of my time and energy on getting ready for his arrival and savoring our last days as a family of four. We are so blessed!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pregnancy Update, 37 Weeks (!)

Taken this morning--37 weeks & 3 days
As of this week, we officially reached "full-term" status! Both Katie and Benjamin came after their due-dates, so I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for labor to start--but this baby is quite a bit lower sooner, and I started having a lot of pressure and occasional contractions right at 36 weeks. So--I'm trying to be as ready as I can just in case.

Our home visit was last Friday. It was exciting to go over all the details, knowing that within just a few weeks they'll all be back at my house to welcome our sweet boy into the world! Because of all the pressure I'd been having we decided to go ahead and do an internal exam to see what was going on (mostly because I was curious). Baby was at "-1" station and I was 1 cm. dilated.

All seems well with the baby and myself. My blood pressure, glucose, and hemoglobin levels are great. I measured 35 cm., and I've gained 27 pounds. I've been feeling pretty good, though I have some normal aches and pains that come with being hugely pregnant. I have been going to the chiropractor every week, which has helped my back stay in pretty good shape.

While there are a few more organizing projects I'd love to get done before this little man makes his appearance, we are pretty much ready when he is. I can't believe it will be just days until I have him in my arms!

I have gotten to the place where I am actually really looking forward to laboring and giving birth rather than dreading it. I've done it twice in the past 3 1/2 years, so I know (I know) it will hurt like nothing else and be really hard work. But birth is just so beautiful. Even though it's so hard, I look back on both Katie's and Benjamin's births with such awe.

Truly, God has designed our bodies so wonderfully. It's so incredible that the babe I feel kicking around in my belly, this babe who I love so very dearly, did not even exist at the start of this year. In January he was microscopic and now he is a full-sized child who could fit into the sweet clothes that are washed and waiting for him. He has spent his entire life in my belly, and soon my body will do the amazing work of bringing him out into the world.

God's handiwork is just awesome.

How are you other pregnant mamas? Anyone have a new baby?

Other Updates from this pregnancy:
::5 Weeks
::17 Weeks
::22 Weeks
::27 Weeks
::32 Weeks

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Live purposefully. Life is short.

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. 
For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 
~James 4:14

People often acknowledge that life is short. I think most people throw this acknowledgement around sort of flippantly, assuming they'll have 80 or 90 years before it's all said and done. Some of them will--and I suspect even for those, when they look back at their lives, they'll wonder where all the time went. 

But many won't have that long.

I received a vivid reminder of this truth this week when my mom called me with horribly tragic news. My 31 year-old cousin was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday morning from what appears to have been a diabetic incident. I was very much saddened, and completely shocked.

Luis and I weren't very close. We did have some nice times together, but the reality was there were many years, miles, and world-view differences that separated us and we just didn't get to spend much time together. 

The last conversation I had with him was over email after Ben and I got engaged. He wrote to congratulate me, and we went back and forth several times. We talked about our different plans for the future--I was thrilled about beginning life with Ben; he was in culinary school, hoping to eventually start a nice restaurant and marry a nice girl some day.

Sadly, his time was up before his plans came to pass.

Based on what I know about him and the outpouring of friends and family I've seen on his Facebook page the past couple of days, Luis was a blessing to many in his short life and I know he will be sorely missed by a lot of folks.

His untimely death has certainly been a reminder to me of the brevity of life. 

Like most young people, I go about my days with the assumption that I have a lot of them left--far more ahead of me than I have behind me. As I rock my babies, I occasionally even daydream about one day rocking their babies

And, Lord willing, I may live to see my children's children--and possibly even their children (and their children!). If I do, I will certainly count myself a blessed woman. 

But the reality is that I may not live that long. I could die in 10 years, or I could die tomorrow. I'm sure when Luis woke up on his last day, he didn't imagine it was--and yet that very day, he took his last breath. 

It will probably be that way for most of us. One day we will wake up and, though we're not expecting it, before the day is over, we'll be gone. We don't want to live in constant fear of death, but we can't ignore its reality either. And we ought to live like people who know we're going to die.

For me? The death of my cousin at the all-too-young age of 31 has been a stark reminder to live purposefully--to pour myself all the more into serving Christ with all I am, to be the wife my amazing husband deserves, to cherish my babes as the precious gifts they are, to not waste time on things that really don't matter; to plan for the future, while living every day like it could be my last.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home Management: Simplified & Streamlined, Remember the Goal

I've really enjoyed doing this series with Rachel. Examining different aspects of my home management and figuring out how I can spend less time on them has been really helpful.

Over the course of this series we've:
-Tracked our time use, created time budgets, and developed simple routines
-Organized our kitchens
-Stocked our freezers
-Revamped our menu planning systems and worked on getting breakfast and lunch on the table faster
-Worked on decluttering our homes
-Developed cleaning routines that work for our current season of life

We've covered a lot of ground!

I think any time we undertake something new, it's really important to consider the goal. Why do we want to simplify and streamline the management of our homes? I want to spend less time on cooking and cleaning (and other household management tasks) is because I don't clean for the sake of having a clean house. I clean, cook, and organize as part of my ministry to my family. 

Having a clean, smoothly running home is a means to an end--creating a welcoming, warm home for my husband after a day's work, a lovely place for my children to learn and grow and create memories, and a place we are able to exercise hospitality,  a place we can do life in a Christ-honoring way.

God has given us our homes, our families, and the twenty-four hours we have each day and He calls us to steward them well. Ultimately, the goal in all of the tasks we undertake as homemakers (and any other roles we fill) should be to glorify Him.

As we close out this series, I am looking forward to continuing to use the ideas we've discussed in the management of my home, especially as we get ready to welcome a new person into our family in just a few weeks. I'll need everything (besides snuggle time!) to be as simple and streamlined as I can make it!

Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple this week to read her concluding thoughts.

Friday, September 7, 2012

An update on The List

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the list of things I want/need to get done before Baby #3 makes his appearance. Thankfully, I've been able to chip away at it quite a bit. My original goal was to have everything done by September 10, which I don't think will happen--but I'm shooting to have it done by the end of next week. We'll see how it goes!

To do:

  • Organize all our children's clothes. Sort things into hand-me-downs for Joshua, a few special girl items to save, and items to consign/give to Goodwill.
  • Wash, sort and, and store clothes Joshua will use. Put newborn and 0-3 month clothes in his drawer.
  • Put together a toy organization system Katie can handle by herself.
  • Fix the cabinet door on the children's dresser.
  • Make cloth wipes
  • Clean and set up bassinet
  • Freeze at least 10 dinners worth of food, plus breakfast items {I have 4 dinners' worth of main dishes frozen plus a few miscellaneous things}
  • Order more cloth diapers (I'm thinking 10-12 more) and get them washed and ready to go {The diapers are here and have been washed once. They say to wash them 3-5 times before using}
  • Get noise machine, hamper, and GoodNite Lite for Katie and Benjamin's room {The noise machine is working out so well we opted to skip the GoodNite Lite for now}
  • Pick up a new DVD or two for Katie and Benjamin (not because I advocate rotting their brains in front of the TV all day--but I know there will be the occasional moment when I really need something to hold their attention during the transition into life with three babes)
  • Purchase a Baby K'Tan carrier (I've finally settled on this to add to my baby-wearing arsenal)
  • Order birth kit
  • Gather other birth supplies {Everything is bought. I just need to get it all in one place}

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Home Management: Simplified and Streamlined, Cleaning Routine

I have long struggled in keeping up with a regular cleaning routine. Most days, I feel like I do well to just keep up with the daily necessities (dishes, etc.)--but the reality is that toilets and floors do need to be cleaned regularly.

Our assignment for last week was to develop a simple cleaning routine. After giving it a little bit of thought, I decided to go back to the Motivated Moms chore planner. What could be more simple than someone else making a list of what needs to be done and when? :)

For $4, I downloaded this year's planner (regular price is $8, but once the year is halfway over, the cut the price in half). I have used Motivated Moms in the past, and I definitely can see the difference in our home when I keep up with the list (and I love having a list to check off--ha!). For me, the small price is definitely worth it. I'm not sure why I stopped following their list before (I think I finished 2010 using it, and never picked back up at the start of 2011 right after Benjamin was born), and I'm definitely glad to have it as a helpful tool once again in simplifying my homemaking.

I find that most days, the chores take around half an hour or less. In case you're curious, here are the chores on the list for the last two days:

Change dishcloth/towel
Change hand towels in bathrooms
Clean top shelf of refrigerator
Inventory refrigerator contents and plan meals around leftovers
Vacuum main/public rooms or first floor
Clean Toilets
Replenish stock of toilet paper in bathrooms

Clean out purse/wallet
Pay/File bills
Clean bathroom mirrors
Clean/wash hairbrushes and combs
Dust children's/guest room(s)

Another thing I love about their system is that if you miss a day or part of a day, it's easy to catch up in little bits of time throughout the remainder of the week. And everything will show up on the list again--so if you just can't get to it one day, you can get to it the next time.

In addition to the Motivated Moms weekly chore lists, I have a list of chores I try to do every day to keep things tidy. These can be found throughout our daily routine which I posted several weeks back as part of this series .

This week, we're just going to focus on continuing to apply all the things we've worked towards throughout the series and we'll be wrapping up next week!

Be sure to visit Rachel at Intentionally Simple to see her cleaning routine!