Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Our holiday season has been jam packed full of family visits and dinners.  Now that things are a little more settled, I am able to manage a photo blog.  We forgot our camera to Memaw and Pepaw's house so unfortunately that gathering isn't documented here, but I assure you it was a good one!

Nana and Grandpap came to visit:

Making rice krispie treats for Santa's reindeer with Grandpap and Nana.

Nana and Isabelle buttering them up and squishing into place.
 Christmas Eve at Mimi and Papa's:

My siblings: my older brother, older sister, and younger sister. Such doting Uncle and Aunts. 

This picture cracks me up every time.  My Dad and Mom are photo bombed by a Home Alone commercial.

Playing with Isabelle's new learning tablet.  Her favorite app being the "puppy game"
 Christmas Eve night:

Daddy's favorite.

My favorite.

All of the Grandparent's favorite.
Christmas morning at our house:

Wiping away the sleepers to see what Santa left.

The easel that Grandpap made for her was the show stopper, she went straight to work.

My child is crafty like her Mama and gets giddy about art supplies.

"Mack! I can't believe it!"

Dollhouse play break.  Her adorable pajamas are a gift from her Nana.  Nana gets her Christmas Eve pajamas every year, I love that it's become a tradition.  So sweet.

Yes this painting center will live right in our dining room.  Why? Because I can clean and replace carpet and walls but not childhood memories.

Very proud of her art!

Watching the snowfall snuggled up with Daddy.

I hope your holiday season has been blessed!  As much as I love seeing all of our family and this season in general, I am very looking forward to things settling down as we finish up some nesting and enjoying our last weeks as a small family of three before Fiona arrives.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Reward Board!

File this under gentle parenting: I recently made Isabelle a Reward Board.  This is a positive reinforcement tool my Mom implemented for my younger sister growing up, another very goal oriented young lady - currently working her tail off in law school.  I never really jumped on board with the reward system, as I was very much a child with my head in the clouds, never focusing on one thing for very long. (Truthfully, not much has changed).

With the goal in mind to keep it simple enough for a 2 year old to understand, I began my search for construction materials at our local craft store.  I didn't have my mind set on what I wanted the board to look like until I started stumbling onto things I knew would catch her eye.  From there I started to form a more solid concept.

Basically it's a large metallic cookie sheet I had Corey drill two holes in and hang a chain on.  I found everything else in the scrap booking section of Micheal's.  Anything glitter, Mickey Mouse, and Disney princesses (mainly Cinderella and Belle) are her preferred subjects.  All of the paper is very thick scrap booking card stock.  The metallic style letters are stickers and were just in a sleeve containing the whole alphabet.  I found the thicker cardboard Disney characters and decided they would make great cheerleaders for her "reward area".  Everything except for the stars I glued directly in place.  The gold "reward stars" are cut from the same type of scrap booking card stock and I put them on magnetic paper that has an adhesive side.

How it works:
For any thoughtful, cooperative, kind, polite, or helpful behavior, she gets to move 1 star over to the reward area. Today we focused on her sitting down and eating the food that was prepared for her.  Normally, a very finicky eater, meal time can be a battle, but not today!  Today, she was told that if she ate at the table at her mealtimes and ate what Mama had prepared, we would move a gold star.  She gobbled up every single crumb and raced to the reward board afterward.

A star cannot be revoked.  This is my peaceful parenting stance on the reward board.  She earned her stars and to threaten to take away her rewards after she put forth effort to earn them is counter productive to what my overall goal is.  The overall goal being, if you are cooperative and kind it is reinforced with positive affirmation and praise....and stickers.

For each star at the end of the day she gets a sticker after dinner.  *Side note: remind me to buy stock in stickers.*

This picture was taken tonight right after moving her third star for behaving so wonderfully and eating her dinner.  She was so proud of her accomplishment and eager to earn another star.  As you can see she's pretty darn proud of her stickers too!

So far I am thrilled with the enthusiasm she is showing about the Reward Board.  I am so proud of how quickly she grasped the concept as well.  If this is a tool that holds her interest for a while we can expand it to other things.  But for now it's working wonderfully and I couldn't be happier with how much she's enjoying it!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

32 weeks: The Ugly Truth: HG Diary Update

30 weeks on the farm
Technically 31 weeks and 6 days
31 weeks

31 weeks and part of the Simmons Family Tinkerbell Gang.

Man, what a ride.  I'm fairly certain that this pregnancy feels so different because for Isabelle I was a sickly mess, bedridden, and in a deep depression thanks to HG.  This time I'm getting to experience what I can only assume is the normal hormonal surge most pregnant women deal with.

And on that note, God bless my poor poor husband.  As a woman who is normally emotionally well balanced, he witnessed a pregnancy hormone induced temper tantrum of epic proportions last night.  After the huge surge of emotions subsided I felt like such a child, so embarrassed, and wondering how in the world that just happened. (It should be noted that Isabelle was in bed and our house is a complete disaster because of all of the baby prep construction going on.)  I didn't take my pregnant fury out on Corey, but he did witness me crying and ranting while on a tirade through the house attempting to clean as I went. (Admittedly, I was probably just throwing things in/at the sink and/or hamper not really accomplishing any cleaning).  When my 5 minute tirade started to wind down (aka the hormones returning to somewhat normal levels - I could feel it happening, it was beyond bizarre), I found myself bawling in the laundry room.  Corey, very cautiously entered the room, kissed me on the forehead and said "the mess is bothering me too honey, I'm going to go get you some ice cream".  Feeling so foolish and as if I had just terrorized him I just sunk deep into his embrace and apologized. (over and over and over).  The man deserves a medal.
32 weeks
32 weeks
Also out of character, I included a few more bump pictures and *gasp* a bare belly photo.  Here's my reasoning:

I am dreadfully tired of seeing perfectly photo shopped pregnancy bellies.  This is my second pregnancy making it to 32 weeks and I have stretch marks.  Go figure.  I also have some extra skin because I only carry in front and get huge.  So instead of covering up what some may think is an "over share" I decided to put it on here.  Pregnant or not, if you haven't a single stretch mark or a tummy full at least those who do will see that it's completely normal!  Take that photo shop!

And medically:

My midwife wants to order another ultrasound to rule out twins since I'm measuring so far ahead.  This of course warranted a huge eye roll from me because I've been here before.  There is only one baby.  She's just large, end of story.  I was duped into an ultrasound with Isabelle so they could justify an early induction.  Not happening again.  They are just going to have to take my word for it.

As far as my HG symptoms, they are returning somewhat.  I'm not sure if it's because reaching a new stage in pregnancy is proving to make the medicine less effective or if it's simply because I have so much more blood volume at this point it's losing effectiveness because of that.  I have still managed to gain 3 pounds so we're not worried about it yet.

We are less than 2 months away now!  HOLY MOLY HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE!!!!  I am feeling less anxiety about Fiona's arrival than I am about all of the holiday festivities and company coming to stay with us in a guest room that looks like an episode of hoarders.  My next post will most likely be an update with everything we have accomplished.  It's completely necessary for me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My "Only Child"

My darling first born.  My "only child".  My baby Isabelle.
It's hitting home now, that soon my little wiggly belly being will be Earth side and promote my once only child to big sister.
What will happen to our precious one on one time?  The morning, noon, and nighttime snuggles.  Her sweet whispers of "covers Mama" when she wants some sit down time on my lap.  What will come of her coveted space in between Mama and Daddy in our bed?  How will she handle such a change?  As a child who appreciates order during her day, how will this new little person fit in the balance of her toddler world?

Her soon to be sister was dreamed of and prayed for.  After heart aches along the journey to add an addition to our family, Fiona's growing life is a cherished blessing for us.  A much anticipated arrival indeed.  I daydream about welcoming a small nursling back into our lives and watching Isabelle flourish as a big sister.  

I'm not worried about the amount of love we can manage in this household, I know that love multiplies.  But any mother expecting to welcome a new life is allowed a hormonal mixed bag of emotions.
This really is a magic time, I have a new life growing and moving inside of me, a sweet girl who manages to teach me daily, a husband who is just as excited as I am, and a family full of the same love and anticipation that was given during Isabelle's pregnancy.

 I'm looking forward to our new family adventure but I'd be fibbing if I didn't admit that I'm enjoying every precious moment that Isabelle's toddler arms are wrapped around my neck in a quick embrace.  With everything in parenting, these sacred moments are numbered, passing all too quickly.
My precious only child, I adore every moment of being your mother and I thank you for the gift of motherhood.  My teacher in so many things, life, love, faith... my love for you grows every second.  I know you are ready for this journey and I'm honored that your father and I get to share it with you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just a Note...

So, I'm not sure about other mothers, but as for me, pregnancy brain is real.  I quickly forget things and I can't tell you how often I've walked into a room or out to the car to do/get something and I can't recall for the life of me what it was.  I'm putting paper towels in the refrigerator and craving Gerber's baby food bananas.  Totally losing it over here.  Thankfully, Isabelle is such a diligent helper, I manage to use her enthusiasm to fuel me throughout the day.  What a blessing she is to me, the Lord really placed just who I needed in my arms the day she was born!

So before I forget here's a thought I've had more than once:

You know the scales where you step up and the nurse slides the big counter weight over and then uses the top weight counter weight to pinpoint your exact weight?  If I were a nurse I would ALWAYS be stingy with the bottom big counter weight!  I step up on that thing and the ever diligent nurse just skips right over that "150" notch.  Really?  Come on sister, let's be friends.  I know she does this countless times a day and is a pro and the estimating process, but think of it as a random act of kindness.
photo credit: here
Now after that self indulgent rant I must say that I am proud to announce I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight!  31 weeks pregnant and I'm no longer in the red.  I am so thankful for this so I really can't complain too much.  I'm looking forward to maybe gaining some healthy pregnancy baby weight for the remainder, I started this pregnancy knowing what lay ahead as far as HG complications so I am intentionally overweight *ahem*.  A healthy weight gain for me probably tops out at around 15 pounds (not the typical 25 to 35).  If I hadn't had "reserves" for Isabelle's pregnancy I seriously may not have made it.

So here's to your weight, whatever your number may be!  Celebrate it and be happy in it.  My extra cushion has saved me twice now and for that I am thankful!  My padding has a purpose and so does yours, don't waste time hating something that could quite literally save your life.  God loves you and your cellulite! (I may have to needlepoint that onto a pillow).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bump update! 30 almost 31 weeks

Tomorrow I'll be 31 weeks along!  It still hasn't sunk in exactly how close we are to the pregnancy finish line.  The holidays are keeping us so busy that I really don't have time to dwell on much else.  Also, for my pregnancy with Isabelle I was "half way" (20 weeks) at Christmas time, with that so fresh in my mind I think I'm subconsciously telling myself we have more time... when we don't.

On with the update!
Last week Isabelle and I suffered a horrible GI tract bug, not the flu so thankfully it  was quick in passing.  Being sick is awful, being sick while pregnant is miserable, and being sick while pregnant and also having a miserable feeling little one is almost torture.

My symptoms presented first with a fever.  Fearing that the kidney infection was back I had to make a visit to the midwife for a urine culture.  After a not so fun visit, where I was made to wear a mask for as long as I was in the building, the first sampling came back negative for infection.  I got a call a few days later saying that the culture had also come back clear.  By this time Isabelle had developed a similar fever and symptoms and I knew we had a bug anyway.
(And for the record, I hope you never have to be checked for any type of infection where they culture your urine.  It's rather uncomfortable and I'll let you in on a secret: they go and get their sample straight from the source.  Also not fun while pregnant).

Being made to wear a surgical mask while fighting nausea is beyond aggravating.  Breathing in your own hot stale air does absolutely nothing to fight the urge to get sick.  That explains my very annoyed expression in the above photo.
Isabelle was a trooper and didn't have a severe version of the bug.  She never topped what I would consider a low grade fever and only threw up once.  (I'm fairly certain she only got sick because she was playing very hard while feeling yucky).  But, whenever you're feeling blue, Mimi back scratches are extremely crucial.

29 weeks and ready for bed.

 It took many attempts for the 30 week picture:
30 weeks and Isabelle wants in the picture.
I was happy with this one but Corey insisted I wasn't turned far enough to the side.
Taking a break from posing.  And yes, that's a maternity shirt. 

Finally, a "this will do" picture.  30 weeks and attempting to hide that little bit of lower belly trying to show itself from under my shirt.

I am measuring almost 6 weeks ahead.  My midwife is wanting to get an ultrasound to check and see exactly how big of a baby we're talking about, I declined.  I fell for that with Isabelle.  Basically it's a ploy to justify inducing me early.  "You're measuring larger and you have a large baby, I think we should go ahead and induce." Nope.  Not again.  Fiona is healthy and although she is large I have perfect levels after taking my second glucose test, so I'm in no hurry to help hasten her arrival.  She'll come when she's ready, even if that's 42 weeks.

Some fantastic news: I am at my pre-pregnancy weight!!  I still haven't "gained" any weight, but I'm back to where I'm not really behind the eight ball.  With Isabelle I was 35 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight at the time of delivery, so this is a BIG leap in the right direction.  I am so looking forward to maybe being able to actually put on some pregnancy weight.  I'm interested in a weird science experiment way to see what the result of a more healthy delivery weight will mean for Fiona and her size.  Everything else is the same.  All of the medications and treatments haven't changed.  My HG symptoms are flaring due to the back pain that my midwife is associating with (what she thinks are) small kidney stones.  I'm feeling pretty darn good and looking forward to getting Fiona's nursery in order.  And not to leave Isabelle out, she will also be getting a room revamp.  But more on that later!

Deck the Halls!

So I've been talking about how we've updated the downstairs with new paint, furniture, and window treatments.  A process that has taken about 6 months, financially we can only afford a little at time.  I'm finally able to put up pictures of the new living area but we've already decorated for Christmas.  So it's a house update and a Christmas feel good update!
The Christmas setting.  My older sister gave me the Santa plate and I love it!

The stockings were hung with care.  This is also how we heat the house, our wood stove, if you can put a wood stove in your home - do it.  The heat is so incredible, we're talking warm your bones heat.  There isn't a way for me to get a good picture of it with the camera I'm using, but the ceiling fan pictured used to be a bright brass color and had individual globes.  Corey took it down, painted it a flat black and removed the 4 globes and switched it to one large globe, adding a ceiling medallion when he mounted it back.
Finally a proper home for our fine china.   When we first moved in we had a designated formal dining room, complete with my Nana's antique mahogany china cabinet.  But with the addition of little people, the dining set got the boot to storage to make room for bouncers and play area. 

The family photo wall.  And yes, that's a mistletoe ball  hanging from the fan pull :-)  I get my kisses however I can.  I really wanted some oval frames for the photo wall but they were very expensive.  So I just stuck with traditional frames.  However, I am planning on a family silhouette project to dress up the stairway and I will be splurging on them then.

The clothes basket on the floor holds extra firewood.  Not necessarily a decorative accent but it's extremely functional.  I actually have a reason for the shorter sheers:  If you notice there is a baseboard heater just under the window, I felt that the curtains are thick enough to withstand the heater but it scared me to have sheers resting on it.  We never use baseboard heat when we're home, but when we leave to visit family we turn them on just the keep the house from turning into an igloo while we're away.

I fell in love with these curtains at Target.  They inspired the whole transformation.  I think they are called Farrah fretwork blue.  The double curtain rods and curtain hold backs I ordered online with a Kohl's sale. (By the way, how flipping expensive are new window treatments!?  It was painful to order them.  I'll have these curtains forever.)

This was Corey's idea.  It used to be a primitive shudder in a rustic green that held this twig ball things.   It wasn't going to match anymore so he painted it black and had the idea that we could decorate for the seasons.  Super creative guy.  I'm lucky.

You may notice that the tree is a little top heavy with ornaments.  That's thanks to Isabelle plucking them off one by one to play with, when she returns them to me I just hang them higher up.  She picked the ribbon.  I'm not sure when I started using a ribbon instead of a star but I thought it's be a great way for her to have a little input during the decorating process.  We ended up with lilac ribbon that is covered in purple and silver Christmas trees.

I really have to thank the husband for so much of this.  His "honey do" list is pretty extensive because there really isn't anything I can think of that he can't build himself or fix.  I'm pretty spoiled.  Thanks babe!

Merry Christmas!!
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