Posts for the ‘Leah’ Category

What to Expect When You’re Not Sleeping

“It’s like, when, you’re talking about lice and your head starts itching.” I described to my parents. Though I’ve had restless and itchy legs and feet for a few weeks, it seems worse than ever now that I’ve been tested for a liver condition, cholestatis of pregnancy. Likely because I’m more aware of it?

What I thought was a normal pregnancy symptom could possibly be something bigger and more serious, though it’s highly likely I don’t have it. I causally mentioned my restless legs at the 34/35 week appointment a few days ago, and after a series of follow-up questions, my OB ordered a couple tests to rule the condition out as a precaution.

Cholestatis can cause problems for a baby born at full term. If tests come back with positive results, I could be induced as early as next week. Next week!

On Wednesday I completed a non-stress test to make sure baby Maisie was fairing well, and she did great. Doc isn’t concerned about her. Whew. (Remember when I had multiple NST conducted while admitted for a complicated migraine during my last pregnancy? It brought back a flood of memories.)

  

I’m willing myself to take things in stride and trust that God has a handle on this situation. It’s probably nothing, and I’m doing a fair job of keeping myself preoccupied (except my coworkers have heard me moan about it!) until we know more; however, these feet seem to be even more tingly than before, and it’s keeping me up at night.

My typical regimen when flair ups happen (usually 2-3 times a week), is to eat a banana, drink coconut water and pop a couple Restful Legs homeopathic pills. The combination is typically enough to help me fall asleep, but I often wake and move to another room to prevent Steven from not sleeping, too.

PREGNANCY INSOMNIA. I woke at 3:30 this morning and eventually threw in the towel, giving up at the possibility of any rest. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can expect:

  • Eating Cheerios at the crack of dawn is best when watching Anne of Green Gables. (I think I cried through the whole thing – likely because of stress and because it’s that good.)
  • People-watching is a fun activity even in the beginning hours of the morning. (I now know there are a handful of dedicated early walkers in our neighborhood.)
  • You can get a lot of household chores done when no one else is awake.

So, we are in limbo. We’ll have an idea of what to expect when results are available after the weekend, and I anticipate it to be a very long few days indeed. I keep checking my email and phone for any updates from the lab, and yet I know it won’t be there.

I’m not worried about my health or her health, really, but this earlier delivery possibility wasn’t one I was anticipating at all. Wrapping up work within an extreme time constraint makes my head spin, but heck, it will be ok. I guess I better start packing a hospital bag and secure a car seat – just in case!

Meanwhile, Wesley had a busy camp week – both Springhill day camp and VBS. I attended the closing ceremonies of both, and he was given a Leadership Award for his bossy guiding personality. He’s going to be a fantastic, protective big brother. I’m proud of this guy who turns 7 next week.

“Mama, remember at Christmastime when you told me about the baby? She was smaller than an ant! I can’t believe how big she is. Oh! I felt her move again. Whatcha doing in there, Maisie? Gymnastics?!”

Dear Maisie, your brother is SO READY to meet you (and so are your parents!). Perhaps he won’t have to grumble about the lengthy waiting period much longer. And I’m grateful that our doctor is keeping close tabs on both of us.

Posted: July 13th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Tiny House Living

I’m all about a bargain, and when you’re in late pregnancy, convenience + bargain is basically a gold mine. I’m usually the one who does the vacation planning, but the guys usually enjoy what I scramble together.

The bullet list for 2018:

  • within a 4-hour driveable distance (I can’t sit comfortably in a car right now)
  • access to water (Wes is a fish and it’s cheap entertainment)
  • less than a week booking policy (the guys don’t like to be away from home longer than 4-5 days)
  • around $150/night (to save money for baby preparations)
  • available the week of July 4 (less PTO consumed and away from loud neighborhood firecrackers)

In January I found a quaint house within our parameters RIGHT ON THE BEACH in South Haven, Michigan. We have vacationed along Lake Michigan (Holland in 2014 and South Haven in 2013) and enjoyed our stays, so it seemed perfect. And it was! Just, tiny.

It’s called the Little House, but it’s smaller than “little.” Wes is convinced it is actually the former garage of the house next door, and he’s probably right. Except the Little House was finished in HALF of the “garage.” Equipped with a full bed in a separate bedroom, bathroom with a shower (“I can’t believe there is a shower smaller than ours [our master shower is a mere 2.5 sq feet] that actually exists.”), kitchen and living room with futon, it has all the essentials in miniature form. When you look out the sliding glass doors, you not only SEE the LAKE, you see how it will take you less than 5 minutes to dip your feet into water.

We got a glimpse of trendy living in a tiny house, and appropriately we renamed the Little House as “Tiny House” for our stay. I learned how to move things around every time I wanted to sit or stand somewhere. In one of these moves – in fact, the very first one when we arrived – my phone dropped into the toilet and went instantly dead. On Day 1. I told myself not to work up about it and enjoyed being wireless for several days.

The kitchen was not quite fully stocked with pots, pans and utensils needed for cooking, but I learned to get creative and strategic, and Steven mocked me saying this multiple times. But we made most of our meals in the Little House, next to (or on!) the beach itself. “What a woman,” says Steven.

Being 34 weeks pregnant on vacation isn’t really ideal in any location, but the proximity to the sand was very welcome. I packed my folding zero gravity chair and looked quite a site with feet propped up, sun hat, Kindle, water and bulging belly.

“Look at you, multitasking mama!”
“Your baby belly is adorable!”

^Those beach comments were always better/more positive than while walking around in town, of which we did quite a lot.

“Whoa, your belly button has popped!”
“It must be tough in this heat!”
“How much longer now?!”

And then Steven’s favorite, “Do you know what you’re having?” It doesn’t bother me, really; people are curious. But his argument is it’s not phrased correctly. “Why do people ask if we KNOW what we’re having? Why don’t they just ask if it’s a boy or girl? And why do they care anyway?”

I gotta say, though, I feel really good even at this stage. Walking miles on the beach and around town didn’t phase me, I didn’t ever feel self-conscious in my swimsuit, and I generally vacationed near as similarly as I would have, NOT pregnant. The only differences were frequent bathroom breaks and multiple wakings during the night.

So, what did we do on vacation?

THE BEACH – We were right on North Beach Park in South Haven, so naturally we spent the majority of our time there. Wes and I slept poorly one night, so we got up and spent the early hours of the morning in the sand, watching tractors plow over footprints from the day before. Wes “made friends with the waves” by “playing with them” – for hours upon end. He crashed hard after 6 hours of constant playing one day.

He also made friends with the many teenagers and young adults who spent their July fourth holiday at the beach. I’m so glad I’m not in that awkward stage of life anymore. Watching unsure-of-themselves girls with their proving-themselves boys was entertaining, and Wes saw past it. He swam right up to them and joined their games. He only occasionally lingered over ill-fitting swimsuits, but he didn’t ask me questions afterwards. (Steven still asked/reminded him to play with kids his own age!)

We played many rounds of water frisbee and kite flying. We assured him any freshwater sharks would be far from the beach, and he is basically now a beach pro.

 

We also met a cat on a leash and discovered she’s a motorcross celebrity. Check out Mya the #Motokitty.

IN TOWN – We hardly drove anywhere. South Haven is extremely walkable, though Wes might tell you otherwise. We visited all the staples – Bunde’s, Captain Lou’s, Clementine’s, Sherman’s Dairy Bar – but we also enjoyed a river cruise where Wes was so chatty that he became a part of the small boat crew. We seemed to need to walk across the drawbridge every half hour when tall boats could pass through.

FOURTH FESTIVITIES – The tradition in South Haven is to watch the large fireworks show off the south pier on the night of the 3rd. These were amazing to see over water.

And the following day, we caught the annual Fourth of July parade and stuffed our pockets with candy. Multiple popscicles were handed out, too! Our favorite was lighting sparklers on the beach at dusk.

 

“[The four sparklers are] like it’s me, you, Daddy and Maisie!”

U-PICK BLUEBERRIES – Besides swimming, Wesley’s favorite activity of the week was picking our own blueberries at DeGrandChamp Farms. None of us had ever done anything like this before, and we all were pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had. While hunting for the biggest, juicest berries, we talked about the similarities to Blueberries for Sal kaplink, kaplank, kaplunk! – and how we would eat them – out of the pail? in pancakes? in pie?

We picnicked near the blueberry shrubs, then purchased our own 2-year-old Legacy plant to take home with us.

By our last day, we had grown weary of our confined space and spent a very windy afternoon on the beach. The water was choppy, the air was slightly cold, and it was too windy for frisbee. But it sure made for a fun, wet experience on the pier!

We came home last night and slept in our own beds. Though not a direct quote, Steven’s comment was something like, “It’s a strange sensation to be in a house with so much space.”

I guess we’ll never downsize into a tiny shed on wheels, but we did have an enjoyable week. Wes helped me plant the blueberry bush today, and I spent the better part of the afternoon reconnecting my old iPhone 4s from four years ago to my phone number in order to rejoin civilization.

Next planning adventure? Maternity leave.

Posted: July 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Second-hand baby

You guys, it’s happening. With only 10 weeks left to go, reality is starting to set in a little more each day. I’m beginning to get annoying on social media with all the baby-related posts. But seriously, it’s my life right now and nearly every other thought.

People ask me/us if “we’re ready,” and I usually state that yes, we’re ready for Maisie in that most house-and-care things in our control are in order, but that I’m grateful for (up to) 2.5 months to finish up everything at work before maternity leave. Golly, that could be a post in itself – and knowing me, probably will be.

Am I mentally ready for the family change? Most days, yes. I’m not nearly as panicky as I was when pregnant with Wesley. A friend at the gym said I appear very “grounded,” which was probably one of the most surprising compliments I’ve received. I feel good and as normal as can be, too. Other compliments have been along the lines of “you’re so small!” “you’re glowing!” (Today, however, I feel extremely pregnant and uncomfortable and not so small or glowing.)

  
Paul D’Andrea took a few funny maternity photos while helping me update our staff headshots. I love the one of me and my coworker, Jenni, with the goofy heart-on-belly look! (We think it looks like I have 4 alien arms.)

Then there are times when I wake at 4:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep because I get anxious about raising another child – What if she is a difficult, colicky baby? Will she be stubborn and dramatic?? How are we going to pay for a wedding??? – or because of a serious charlie horse or restless, jumpy legs and feet (bananas help, fyi).

I don’t, however, worry about the baby stuff we’re accumulating. Nearly all of our friends have complete families and are ready to give things away. We have inherited a nursery full of gently used or unused items, and anything else has been purchased at consignment stores or garage sales.

She truly is a second child for all the second-hand items we’re using.

THINGS BORROWED/GIVEN:
Car seat (don’t worry, I know for a fact that it’s not expired OR been in an accident)
Bouncy seat
Bumbo
Rock n Play (I never had one with Wesley; I hear they’re miracle-workers for naps!)
Clothes (SO MANY CLOTHES)
Bassinet
Cloth diapers
Swing
Swaddles and sleep sacks

THINGS PURCHASED FOR DIRT CHEAP:
Crib – $30 (nearly new Craigslist find!)
Stroller – $5
Bathtub – $3
Playmat – $8
Side-by-side sleeper – $12
Levana video monitor – $50
Medela Breast Pump x 2 – $25 (plus I got a third from insurance, haha)
Snoogle support pillow – $15
Cloth diapers – $5-6 (some brand new at this price!)
Skip Hop diaper bag – $10

SPLURGES:
Maxi Cosi umbrella stroller – $125 (I got a killer deal on this “loaded” compact stroller when Babies R Us went out of business)
Ergobaby Omni 360 – $115 (I didn’t have a good carrier with Wes, so I didn’t wear him much. I’m excited about this “sworn-by moms” splurge, also new but discounted price!)
IKEA highchair – $23 (Steven & Wes picked this out while on a trip to our city’s new IKEA store)
Milliard crib mattress – $45 (Steven’s Amazon find)

See? I can’t believe how gear-ready we are at this point. We have had wall decor hung and furniture from around the house reassigned to the nursery and in place for months. I’d like to get a few house projects done before she arrives, and ideally we’d trade in one of our cars for a slightly bigger one, but these aren’t necessary for her arrival.

For all the lack of spending on this child, she really has had a lot of hands-on attention. I found out that AMA stands for advanced maternal age, so there’s that. Thankfully the tests and scans have all been positive, and she and I both seem to be in good health. There are dog ears in our charts about a possible hole between her heart ventricles (cardiologist isn’t concerned) and my platelet count (OB isn’t concerned), but she’s of average size and weight and growing well.

Last week’s 30-week ultrasound was entertainingly uneventful. After taking measurements, our ultrasound tech tried for several minutes to get a good 3D view of her face. We must have woken her up because she did not want to be messed with, and it was impossible to snap a pic without her hands in her face. Regardless, we got to see her protest in response – punching her fists, opening her eyes, and even drinking amniotic fluid. Amazing.

The ultrasound tech looked closely at Steven’s face, then mine, and back and forth with Maisie’s obstructed view. “Yeah, she definitely looks like her father.” I sure hope she’s right!

Posted: June 11th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Meatballs, Lies and Forgiveness

I’m 95% certain my six-year-old lied to me this evening. Honestly, it hurts. Forgiving has come difficult, even though it was a really small and perhaps insignificant lie.

It feels like our relationship developed a little crack, and this saddens me because it reminds me that he’s human, too. We’re all imperfect, I know, but this is a new experience. He’s one of those kids who gets in trouble at school for fidgeting or giggling too much with his friends. When disciplined at school, he offers to tell us – even when it’s hard for him – because he knows we care and won’t further punish him for something he’s already atoned for. It’s usually emotional for him, and it eats him up inside.

“Go away! I don’t deserve nice things!”
“What do you mean?”
“This happened at school, too! I just don’t like myself. I don’t like that Satan is winning. My life is not right. I wish I had a new life. I’m not crying because of video games; it’s because I just want to be good.”

(After this particular situation, we had a long conversation about why God sent Jesus to help us and how we are forgiven for making bad decisions. Big and deep thoughts are more common these days.)

But this, tonight, was different.

I made spaghetti with homemade meatballs for dinner. He likes meatloaf, but for some reason, meatballs aren’t his thing. We still make him eat a little of everything to keep him introduced to more foods than just his standard favorites. Like any 6-year-old, dinner can be tough. Lots of whining and refusal to eat; lots of choking down cold food.

He wanted dessert, but he could only have it if he ate a meatball. You know the drill. I left him to it, and got to working on other things around the house. Taking his time, he nibbled at it until I announced it was nearly bedtime and would have to hurry up if he wanted to eat dessert at all.

Just 10 seconds later, he happily showed me his clean fork, so I pulled out a popsicle from the freezer. And then I saw it – I opened the trash can lid to throw away a wrapper, and a half-eaten meatball was sitting there, mocking me.

“Wesley, do you see that?”
“Yeah, but it’s not mine.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think it’s kind or fair to lie.”
“I’m not lying. It’s not mine.”

Biting your tongue and trying to give your child the benefit of the doubt is hard work. I didn’t do so well; I drilled him a little more and tried to believe it. I thought I could break him to spill the beans, but it didn’t happen, and I guess that’s what makes it all the worse.

“Mama, why do you look so mad?”
“I’m having a hard time believing you. I’m more upset that you might be lying to me than I am about the meatball. We don’t lie to each other in this family.”

He gave me eye contact (while eating his popsicle), but he didn’t get emotional. When we’ve doubted him before, he has become so upset that it was impossible to stay on the fence. Steven and I have tried harder to use his word as truth, and it has given Wesley confidence in more recent situations. I had hoped that the guilt factor might come into play here, but it didn’t this time.

Our bedtime routine was strained on my account; I read books aloud through gritted teeth and didn’t offer a goodnight hug. I realize my behavior could make that small crack larger, so I’m working toward forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what makes relationships stronger? We appreciate those who love us despite our mistakes and failures.

Yes, it’s only a meatball, and I know there will be bigger fish to fry in the future. If I only had an ounce of the grace given to me through Jesus… I pray that we may be merciful parents to these children (who begin to think of us as a safe haven and refuge!).

It still amazes me how much I learn about faith through everyday parenting decisions. And forgiveness is hard.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Posted: May 14th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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On Loneliness and FOMO

How is it that you can feel so alone when surrounded by people who dearly love you? I don’t know this feeling well, because even when I DO feel disconnected from community, I can still enjoy time alone. I am content enough to entertain myself. Steven loves quiet time, and he socializes best with a small group of people.

 
(Recent photos for good measure. Indiana Pacers did well this season!)

Before Wesley was born, we would happily spend our evenings doing two different things in proximity to each other, hardly saying a word, and it was lovely. It works for us. But this child of ours, he’s right smack in the middle of our personalities.

As I write this, the lyrics to One is the Loneliest Number are popping into my head.

I took a brief online personality test for Wesley, and it claims that he’s an extroverted intuitive perceiver. Steven is skeptical about all the Myers-Briggs stuff, but I eat it up. This makes sense because I love to know about people and hone in on their skills (ENFJ, a “Giver”), and Steven believes it’s all bologna (INTP, a “Thinker”). What can I say? We are truly the ying to each others’ yang!

The test claims he’s too young to have a fully developed personality, so he could be more of a feeler (ENFP, an “Inspirer”), like me, or thinker (ENTP, a “Visionary”), like Steven. It’s so weird because he truly is a blend of the two of us. At any rate, I have to believe it’s a combination of these traits that causes him to bend over in near pain at the thought of being separated by people. This child has a serious case of fear-of-missing-out, or FOMO.

ENFPs and ENTPs are ruled by dominant extroverted intuition – a function that picks up on a seemingly endless slew of possibilities in the user’s external environment. While this is a wonderful skill at the best of times, it’s a stunting one at worst. ENFPs and ENTPs can easily become quickly paralyzed by their own rampant perceptions – wanting to experience everything and consequently following through on nothing.

These types needs to let go of their fear that there is constantly a better idea, situation, opportunity, person or chance out there for them to pursue. When they learn to focus in on what they’ve chosen, ENFPs and ENTPs are capable of incredible feats. But first they have to learn to say goodbye to FOMO.

-Heidi Priebe

I mentioned quiet times spent in the same room. We still do this most evenings, and Wes is so used to it, that he enjoys drawing or playing quietly when we’re both within his eyesight. Pulling him away is near impossible. Forget playing outside by himself (although he will if I’m also outside, a few feet away). Heaven forbid he get a cup of water without one of us assisting him.

Bedtime is the worst time of day for our 6-year-old son. Getting him upstairs is a battle of argument and manipulation, but I realize most kids are in this boat. Once upstairs and resigned, he stops fighting back and (usually) happily gets ready for bed and thoroughly enjoys our nighttime reading tradition. But once we reach the last page, he starts to protest, whine/beg and sometimes cry for me to stay with him until he falls asleep.

“It’s not fair that you and Daddy get to be together all the time.”
“I just want someone to be with me.”
“Why CAN’T you sleep with me?!”
“I hate nighttime. It’s not fair that I have to go to bed now.”
“What are you going to do while I sleep?”

He calls it “loneliness” or “being afraid of the dark.” I don’t discredit those possibilities, but he didn’t start complaining about bedtime or dark until a year or so ago. It’s gotten progressively worse, and based on his complaints, I think instead he’s irritated at being apart from (what he assumes is) the “action.”

It used to frustrate me to no end because it seemed to come out of nowhere. I refused to give in and appease him, but I felt terrible that he felt so scared. Eventually I started to ask him about his fears so we could talk through them, and it helped him relax. I stayed until he was almost asleep. It’s been routine ever since.

Yes, he’s only six, but I do worry about how to help him cope as he enters adolescence, especially with an increasingly online and social existence. We purposely don’t have tablets in our house, and while we do play a lot of video games as a family activity, we limit other screen time as much as possible. However, I don’t think I can blame social media alone for the world’s FOMO problem. Instead, I think it’s up to us to teach and instill gratitude.

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:12-13

There’s actually a lot of science about happiness, and much of it stems on gratefulness. Wes appreciates problem-solving and tackling an issue. He doesn’t always have confidence in the process, but if you can show him or demonstrate evidence, he is less defensive. I like this article about how to become happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label negative emotions and feelings. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Make decisions. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Give hugs and personal contact.

It seems a daunting task to teach gratitude. Wesley already has a soft spot for loving others, so I think, with time and practice, some of these tips and guidelines (some of which we already incorporate) and these Biblical reminders can assist in adopting gratitude and happiness to combat loneliness and fear.

Wes is probably the happiest sibling-to-be on the face of the planet. Gone are the crying fits, convinced that his lack of sibling must be a punishment from God for his actions. (Sometimes I think it’s these tears that defied our contraception methods!) He carcasses and whispers “I love you, Maisie,” to my growing belly, and he believes/hopes she will be the savior to overcome his loneliness.

Disappointment is inevitable, we all know, but he doesn’t – yet. I pray we can help him learn skills to address deep fears and teach him how to be grateful in all circumstances. We’ve got our work cut out for us!

Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Proverbs 15:30

Posted: April 15th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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6 Things Pregnancy Books Don’t Tell You

Photo cred itsliketheyknowus.com

Because it’s been a hot minute since the last go around, I’ve been checking out a ton of pregnancy books from the library. Most all of the books are written for a first-time mother’s perspective, but I read them anyway. One of my favorites when pregnant with Wes is Pregnancy Day By Day, and it’s since been revised and updated 3 times. How can THAT much change in 7 years?! At any rate, I checked it out again.

There’s plenty of great advice and information out there, but I noticed there’s still a lot these books don’t talk about. Maybe because it’s too personal or maybe because it just happens to me, but this is straight-talk for pregnant moms to be. Here’s a few of what the books don’t tell you:

Nose Whistling
What they say: You may experience congestion or excess saliva while pregnant.

What they don’t say: You may wake yourself or your partner multiple times per night from a weird whistling sound. It may take you a few seconds in your sleepy stupor to realize it matches your breathing pattern and therefore is coming FROM YOUR NOSE. Dried up boogers cling to the inner walls of your nostrils, and since you’re breathing heavier during pregnancy anyway, the strong wind howls across those ridges and makes an annoying woo. You have to get up, get a tissue and clean your nostrils well or it will happen again and you can’t concentrate on anything else.

Road Map Veins
What they say: Your body is producing up to twice as much blood volume, which may give your skin a healthy “glow.”

What they don’t say: Your blood vessels may expand so much, that if you have pale skin, it will be very noticeable across your neck and chest. It may look like an unattractive GPS route, which is sure to be a lovely sight in the warmer months.

Wardrobe Malfunctions
What they say: You may not need maternity clothes for a while and can adjust your normal clothes with waist extenders or belly bands.

What they don’t say: Using clothing modification methods work for an hour or so, but if you’re moving around or sitting still for too long, the stretchy band that covers and holds up your unbuttoned pants may shift and render the thing useless. Your friends and coworkers may be too nice to mention to your face if your zipper fly is visibly down for half the morning, so do yourself a favor a look down to conduct a self-evaluation every time you stand up.

Interpersonal Space
What they say: Your older child and/or your dogs may enjoy spending more time with you as they bond with their sibling in the womb. (Ok, this may not really be in a book!)

What they don’t say: Your kids and furry kids will follow you around the house and want to be touching you at all times. Get used to increased lack of privacy, as well as hands and dog paws resting on your growing belly. They may even want to sit on top of your stomach to be THAT close.

Nesting Spurts
What they say: You may have the urge to clean and organize.

What they don’t say: You may have just enough energy to WANT to do some nesting projects, but really, you just want to sit on the couch. Your husband may pick up where you left off, organizing the entire nursery and getting around to moving the couches from the family room to the basement like you have wanted to do for so long. But you may not have the motivation to refinish or design the now-empty family room, and you probably won’t really care too much.

Incontinence
What they say: Your pelvic floor may be weakened during pregnancy.

What they don’t say: You may need to frequent the gym bathroom if the workout-of-the-day (WOD) includes any jumps. Especially double unders. It may be wise to invest in leakage protection.

 

All joking aside, I am enjoying this pregnancy so much more than my first. I worry less, I’m (sorta) eating better, and I’m sleeping well.

Tonight, after several hugs and belly-attention, Wesley said, “Mama, I just want to make sure my sister is going to be strong like me.” He and Steven are looking out for us ladies well. Almost half way there!

Posted: March 16th, 2018
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Baby Name Reveal 2

So here we are. Since announcing our news, I’ve felt like it’s become more real. I’m just barely considered “advanced maternal age” for this pregnancy, but also given family conditions, I was asked to consider genetic screening. At 11ish weeks, I had a chromosomal blood test which came back low-risk. They were also able to tell us the gender of this baby: GIRL!

I’m to follow up semi-regularly at the high-risk OB so they can keep close tabs on little girl in this so-called geriatric body. I’ve already had two ultrasounds, and we have our upcoming 20-week ultrasound later this month – which will take approximately one hour. At that appointment, they’ll check each organ to make sure everything looks ship-shape. It’s comical to me to be considered old high-risk when my doctor isn’t even slightly concerned about our health (post test results). I don’t mind the extra attention, however, and it’s fun to see the baby more often.

13 weeks 4 days

Steven and I went to a childbirth refresher class a few weeks ago. It was designed for people like us who need some reminders because it’s been several years since the last go-around. I was surprised at how much has changed in hospital procedure and found the class really helpful. Steven was such a tease the entire evening and made me chuckle with nervous laughter. He is so good at calming my ridiculous fears and making me smile.

Testing out the peanut ball in childbirth class!

The majority of the time, we’re excited and anticipating the sweetness of the change. The boys especially. Other times, panic sets in and I start to doubt myself: can I do this? How could I possibly love this child as much as I love my first? How does this affect my professional life? Can I get back into shape after she’s born?

I’ve been so much more tired than I remember with Wesley, and baby brain has already set in. I’ve made so many ridiculous decisions that are now embarrassing to admit. I am sappy and cry easily, and the boys hide their giggles while trying to console me. “The baby is making you cry again, huh, Mama?”

Thankfully I am surrounded by people, including Steven and Wes, who are thrilled and encouraging. My favorite reactions have been from our immediate family: shock followed by total delight. All three of our nieces are excited to have another girl around.

Besides fatigue and hormone-craziness, I feel great. I’m kicking rear-end in my fitness classes and still achieving personal records. I hope to maintain this stamina as long as I can – my goal is up through 36 weeks. So far, things have been easy for us. And one of the easiest things was selecting baby girl’s name.

We had a running list of girl names when planning one for Wesley, so we went back to the start. Steven actually picked the names this time; he knew as soon as we confirmed my pregnancy. To go along with the nautical-themed nursery, this child needed a similar themed name.

Maisie Gale.

Maisie was a top favorite of mine if Wesley was a girl, and Steven gravitated to it. I love its cuteness that can grow into maturity. It means “pearl.” I particularly like Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series – the main character is generous, humble and persistent. I started reading this series while on our honeymoon and have followed Maisie throughout her journey from poverty to WW1 to self-employment. Our Maisie is our pearl in which we hope will become a loving member of her future community.

Gale is the spelling we chose to reflect ocean winds, hence the nautical theme. It means “joy of the father” and “pleasant, merry.” A gale is a forceful wind, too, so a little bit of independence in her personality may be expected.

Steven’s initial reaction when I showed him a positive pregnancy test was a large, goofy smile. When we learned the gender, he chanted “Maisie Gale” around the house and made us all laugh. This baby is dearly loved and known by her father.

Though we didn’t expect her arrival, she is most welcome and anticipated. You’re loved, Maisie Gale!

Our niece, Elli, created this painting after hearing her gender and name

 

Posted: March 4th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Love is Patient

I didn’t get a clever Christmas card put together in time this year, and surprisingly, I’ve heard from several people about it. Patience. I had ideas for what it might entail: a 10-year collage of past Christmas card fronts (or randomly mailing one of 10 “retro” versions of past cards), a Shattuck version of The Night Before Christmas poem. But I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to design and assemble it. Then I thought we might just send a Happy New Year card, and that came and went, too.

We didn’t forget about you or lose your address. And we do have news to share, so Valentine’s Day seems pretty appropriate to announce our annual family update.

Steven, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang, had another year of speaking engagements across the U.S. He nearly earned his Southwest A-List status again (one trip short). He speaks at conferences to audiences about donor retention, fundraising success and constituent engagement for not-for-profits. Steven co-wrote two chapters in a new textbook, Fundraising Principles and Practice, which was published in March 2017. He and Wesley have their weekly activities they participate in together, including tennis lessons and Cub Scouts. They also are partners in crime in solving video game puzzles – finishing both Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. In warmer months, Steven cycles to work via the Fall Creek Trail and Fort Harrison State Park, and he is increasingly interested in clean eating and brewing kombucha.

I, Communications Director at Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, started regularly attending a Crossfit gym in April for low-weight/high-rep training, mixed with cardio and gymnastics workouts. Though I don’t plan to graduate to “real” Crossfit with power lifting, I have enjoyed being a part of an encouraging community. I feel good and am stronger than I’ve ever been. I also regularly sing on the worship team at Trinity Church, which is such a blessing and immensely fun. I hope to read and paint more than last year, and found that I enjoy dabbling in yard work (when it’s not so overwhelming).

In August, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Chicago. We saw Aladdin on Broadway and visited the Field Museum for the first time. We also had our first-ever family photos taken in October, and I wore my 10-year-old rehearsal dinner dress.

Wesley, Kindergartner, is a bright, clever and sweet 6-year-old. He is well-liked by kids in his class and his teachers. Because he is inclusive, he has many friends and a few close ones. He is a leader and role model, but he sometimes has trouble with dictating and tattling. And when it comes to peer pressure, he follows – even if he knows better. But he’s excelling in school, learning to read and write in Spanish AND English. He’s lost two teeth, loves Star Wars, Power Rangers and even (still!) Octonauts. Going on bike rides with the family is one of his favorite things to do, and he loves to hang out with us and friends. He’s such a gem.

Jake, 12-year-old Italian Greyhound, and Lucy, 8-year-old lab-pit mutt, are lazier than ever. Jake continues to have terrible breath and rotten teeth, so I finally introduced him to soft food and chewy treats. Lucy wishes she could have them, too. She found yet another spot in the fence that’s loose, so she frequently explores beyond our fence line. Lucy can’t stand to be left alone too long, so we never worry that she won’t return to the back door. They’re both going gray.

The House hasn’t undergone too many updates or exciting improvement projects this year. We spruced up the guest room with a new headboard, mattress and lighting. The rickety mailbox finally got replaced with a sturdy new one. We planted a few arborvitae in the side yard and started a pollinator garden. The living room gained a new club chair, plant stand and greenery. I think the biggest project was installing new interior doors for the upstairs bedrooms. Still on the list: bathroom remodels, kitchen back splash and paint, basement flooring.

Baby Shattuck was quite the surprise at the end of 2017, and probably the reason I didn’t have motivation to create Christmas cards in time! She (yes, girl! Stay tuned for further info.) will be joining the family in mid August – right around our niece’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. After an initial period of shock and panic, we spent the long winter break warming to the idea of another family member in this house. We’ve enjoyed our small trio family, but if you know much about me, I used to grieve for another child. Patience. After much prayer and reconciliation, I have found peace and happiness with my two boys. Even so, Steven and I were planning to explore fostering and possibly adoption soon, and those plans are now on hold. What a change in plans!

We attended the first ultrasound together, and Wes was able to meet my OB doctor; the doc who delivered him has since retired. I feel so much different than the first pregnancy, but as I enter the second trimester, I feel less nauseous and more “normal.” Except food is just a nuisance. Aversions, spontaneous hunger followed by uncomfortable fullness, ugh. And so many pimples! But I can continue to work out, of which I’m grateful.

Wesley is thrilled to pieces, and he has been very sweet and interested in learning how the baby grows each week. In yet another lesson in patience, he’s learning to wait. And how the period of waiting can make you frustrated and yet grow in love and joy. He thinks it’s been fun to have a family secret, and now that we’re gradually telling people, he sometimes gets protective. “Only FAMILY MEMBERS can know, Mama!”

The nesting period has already begun; Steven has helped me make an inventory of what baby items we still have, cleared out space for the nursery, and Wes helped me put together the crib I scored on Craiglist for $35. (We will likely be asking to borrow your gear!) And while I was on a business trip, they found cute prints to hang on the walls, had them framed and hung before I returned home.

Frankly, we Shattucks are glad 2017 has past, which wasn’t the best of years. We have so much to anticipate, do(!) and look forward to in 2018, and we wish you a lovely year. Please stay in touch, and come visit us soon!

(Remember this? The Sequel releases Summer 2018.)

Posted: February 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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The Year of Giving

Last night, New Year’s Eve, I was reflecting on 2017. My initial reaction to the year was frustration and disappointment. It’s easy to say it was a blah year. But I also have to admit that there were quite a few rays of sunshine among the muck, and I certainly won’t discredit them.

If you recall in my birthday post, I mentioned that I was actively working on community service and being the hands and feet of Jesus. I’d like to say that my family accomplished a lot here. While we DID participate in a few things* – mostly financially – honestly, most of 2017 was spent coming up with ideas for service (or complaining about how few people cared to support x, y or z) instead of action. That’s going to change.

*Wesley has been very concerned about the Puerto Rico storm aftermath. He has several teachers and fellow students at his school with family ties to the island. He kept asking what he could do to help, and we decided to invite our neighbors to host a lemonade stand. They raised nearly $100 on the hottest day of the summer.

Before I get into the Shattuck Family 2018 Resolution, I need to highlight a few December happenings that made me smile. (And because I’m such an infrequent blogger these days.)

Instead of a traditional Christmas program at Wesley’s Spanish immersion elementary school, they hold an annual Hispanic festival of dances. Each class performs a traditional dance from one of the many Spanish-speaking countries across the world. Wesley’s Kindergarten class performed a Peruvian dance, and they did so well that they were one of 4 classes to perform again in front of the district superintendent. Wes had a “speaking part” and led his group very well. So cute.

We were sick a lot with hives, sinuses and an ear infection in December, but we did manage to see The Nutcracker and tour the beautifully lit up Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We brought along a neighbor friend, and the two boys’ commentary was simply the best.

I sang in seven total services for Christmas, which was only tiring because I was fighting laryngitis – otherwise, totally fun. I really enjoy the humility and talent of the members of this congregation. On Christmas Eve, Wes lost his first tooth and was ecstatic that the tooth fairy AND Santa would be visiting on the same night.

The weather between Christmas and New Year’s has been snowy and extremely cold. We’ve hibernated basically all week with an occasional grocery trip, which leads me back to our Family Resolution of Giving.

After brunch out, Steven announced he had a service activity for us to do. We went to Target and bought less than $80 worth of baggies, first aid and hygiene supplies to make 16 packages for passing out to people in need. We’ll keep them in our cars and make new sets every month. I love his idea!

The year is off to a right start. It will take some practice to keep active and engaged, but it’s an effort we’re all taking part in. Here’s to 2018!

Posted: January 1st, 2018
Categories: Leah
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The Dress

Ten years ago I saw a cute, navy polka-dot dress in one of my favorite stores. I instantly knew it would be what I’d wear to our wedding rehearsal dinner.

I liked it so well that I took it with us on our honeymoon to London. On one of our evenings out, I wore it to dinner before we saw The Mousetrap.

The store is no longer around (remember B. Moss? I miss it terribly!), but that dress has been hanging in my closet ever since. Occasionally I’ll break it out for special occasions, and it’s a good all-around dress for work, church or weddings. Just slightly fancy, but I don’t seem to wear it too much.

Last fall we won a family portrait session with Nathaniel Edmunds Photography at a silent auction. We never get professional photos taken – I didn’t get any pregnancy or newborn photos of Wesley, and other than large photo sessions with extended family members, we only have the silly Target candy-stripe photos from a few Christmases ago.

We knew we’d use the photo session to mark our 10th wedding anniversary, and we originally talked about breaking out my wedding dress for the occasion. We scheduled the session for the beginning of August to be as close to our anniversary as possible.

Just days before the shoot, Steven cracked his elbow and wrist from a bike accident. (That was our very first trip to the ER! Great fun.) We rescheduled for September, and THAT day was dreadfully, uncomfortably hot. The wedding dress idea got scratched, and we rescheduled again for October. Rainy, cold and blustery, we postponed yet again for the next available sunny day.

By this point all our ideas for a creative photo session were stale, and we didn’t have the energy to make them happen. But I remembered the polka dot dress and its anniversary history. It may be slightly dated and not have the typical “fall look,” but it seemed perfect for the sunny day that finally arrived.

We Shattucks are not very trendy, but we do know how to look coordinated!

 

Many things have happened since I first wore this dress ten years ago. I love these photos that captured it all.

  

Posted: October 30th, 2017
Categories: Leah
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