Saturday, November 30

36 Weeks Pregnant

Today I am 36 weeks pregnant.  I realized that I don't have much written down about this pregnancy (poor neglected child, already) so I thought I'd come by, dust the cobwebs off my blog, and let y'all know what's been going on.

26 weeks pregnant... Outgrowing my shirts.
I knew it was time to update y'all after I had the first "breakdown" last night.  It wasn't a big one, but it's a sign for me that I'm getting close to the end.  And thank goodness... Let me explain.

I conceived this little one almost immediately after my second miscarriage, which means I would have been due with the baby we named Veronica right about now.  It's been a little surreal thinking about that as I look at my swollen belly, but I have to make sure to include her on this journey because I know she and her big brother Samuel have been praying for us during this pregnancy.  I've been healthy but in a private way, a nervous wreck.  Once I could feel the baby kicking, things got a little better.  It took a little longer for me to feel this baby move, but one night, when I was 18 weeks and 6 days pregnant, s/he started kicking and hasn't stopped since!  Now of course the movements I feel (and you can likely see) are more like slow rolls that I feel in several places at once.  Just today Ryan was watching a little elbow poke out and disappear in again, over and over again.  It weirds him out but I like that he can see a little bit of what I feel all over!

The big babies feeling the little baby roll around

So it's reassuring to feel the baby move every day, and when I notice I haven't felt him/her in awhile I can easily wake him/her up with a little effleurage on my tummy.  I am certain this child switches positions on a daily basis- head down always but s/he rolls from posterior to anterior constantly.  I'm hoping that s/he decides to come when s/he is lined up correctly!

I've made myself not do anything baby-related until about this point.  It's too early and although I've been nesting the past two weeks, there's not much I can do now.  I'm not setting up a nursery, I don't know which clothes to pull out, I'm not ready to install a car seat or pack a bag for the birthing center.  I have been working on my postpartum support plan, which is something new for me this time.  It's just a simple letter and list of what I expect and what others should expect from me during the first few months of baby's life.  It's something I've learned a lot about recently, as a doula, and since it's something I teach to clients I decided I should practice what I preach! 

All of my midwife appointments at our birthing center have gone well, nice and easy and generally pretty quick.  Since they're uneventful, I count that as a positive!

I feel like I've been more healthy this pregnancy, mostly because we have become more focused on our diets in the past 3 years.  I don't eat a lot of junk- and when I do indulge, I generally feel awful because of it, so it hasn't been worth it.  I've had a few food aversions but I am trying to focus on protein and my iron intake, since that is always low for me.  I haven't been as good as I'd like to be about exercising, but I am staying mobile and limber by stretching and doing yoga at home.  I have learned that I have to have generally two periods of my day for laying down in order to keep my lower back pain-free.  Too much standing and sitting really make my back ache after awhile, and laying down is the only thing that helps, so I try to lie down for about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before I start cooking dinner in the evening.  This has only been possible because my kids are older this time around... I mean, Jack is almost 3.5.  That's a huge difference from my last pregnancy, when Luke was 20 months old!

31 weeks- the day of Luke's 5th birthday party

Because of that fact (that Jack is so much older), I have been pretty optimistic during this pregnancy that my recovery will go smoother.  Physically I've always recovered pretty easily, but mentally and emotionally it's been hard.  But, then I had babies when I gave birth- now I have big kids.  Still, I'm preparing for my postpartum recovery by setting up "nursing stations" around the house (making sure I have a soft place to sit to nurse, and a basket with all my nursing accessories, and a place to put my glass of water), creating an easy to-do list for anyone who wants to come over and help for 20 minutes, hiring some cleaning help at least once a month,  preparing some new games/books for the kids to play with when they get bored and I'm stuck nursing, filling my freezer with already-cooked meals, and perhaps the ickiest thing of all- I'm encapsulating my placenta!  Yes, it means what you think- someone is going to prepare it for me by drying it, grinding it, and putting it into little pills for me to ingest.  Yummy! ;-)  I am also considering running/walking a 5K in March- nothing huge but just enough of a small goal to get my up and exercising as soon as my body is ready.

I had my last doula client about a month ago, and my next client should be in May/June.  In the mean time, business is on hold, which is sort of sad but of course a necessary and good thing for me!  Everyone is asking me if I'm hiring a doula.  It's tricky.  I know and of course I fully believe in everything that I do as a doula.  I spoil mamas during labor and they love it- at least this is what they tell me!  I know how awesome that would be for me and I want that- I really do!  BUT.  My last labor was 4 hours long, and I didn't want ANYONE to touch or talk to me.  I've said before that it was painless up until the pushing part.  So for me, I am not sure that I want to hire someone (and frankly, I am really not sure who I'd hire) to maybe be a part of my birth experience. That being said, I do have a sweet friend who has offered to come be my doula if I go into labor and change my mind for whatever reason.  Which is possible- I know that not all labors are the same, and if the baby is malpositioned or there's something else going on, I realize it could very easily be a long and painful experience.  I am thankful to have her sort of on-call for me to help in case I need it, though I do feel like I'm perhaps not "practicing what I preach" by not hiring a doula!  But at this point, I'm comfortable with my decision- it's very possible I'll chicken out in a week or two and scramble to frantically hire someone!

I have been nesting the past couple of weeks, accomplishing more in a week than I previously had accomplished in a month.  For example, in only one day last week, I deep-cleaned my bedroom and organized my closet, pulled out my sewing machine and made a Christmas pillowcase, did 4 loads of laundry (and folded it and put it away), and deep-cleaned that pantry (which included organizing the games and craft supplies)- all this in addition to resting, praying, reading a fiction book for pleasure, schooling, and cooking.  My whole week was like that!  Talk about feeling accomplished!

I did manage to catch a cold last week.  Probably the same crud everyone else has right now- a dry, hacking cough that makes my head hurt each time I cough.  That cough, in addition to the baby being so big and pushing up on my lungs, meant I could hardly breath last night, and I just wanted to collapse in tears, but I knew crying certainly wouldn't help clear out my nose!  It was the start of an anxiety-filled emotional breakdown, and I had a hard time catching my breath and getting control of it.  I need to shake this cough fast- not being able to breath because you're pregnant is one thing- but not being able to breath because you're sick AND pregnant is a whole 'nother feeling!

So baby has a few more weeks to finish growing, and I'm praying this one decides to come early before the due date.  I would love to have the baby before Christmas, to put some distance between his/her birthday and Beth's birthday.  Also I'd love to not birth another almost 10-pound baby, though I certainly know my body can do it. ;-) 

Today- 36 weeks

Being pregnant during Advent add another element of solemnness to the season.  We don't celebrate Christmas yet- we're waiting for Jesus to come.  I walked the journey with Mary seven years ago when I was pregnant with Bethany, and the Lord has decided that I should walk with her again this year.  All of the Advent hymns about "waiting"... They mean something a little different when you're about to burst with child.

All-in-all I am not about to complain about anything during this pregnancy. It's been pretty textbook perfect, and although there are aches and pains here and there I am just beyond thankful and so blessed to be carrying another child into this world!!!

Saturday, October 26

Luke's Birthday Party

We threw Luke a "big" party this year for big #5 and celebrated his birthday with his friends.  It was a "Knights and Dragons" theme, and everyone dressed up!  We played with balloon swords in the backyard, ate a dragon cake, decorated "goblets," and each friend got their own cape or tiara to wear!  Daddy gave "rides" and pulled Luke and his friends around in the wagon in the backyard.  That might have been his favorite part of the day. I was so happy to have beautiful weather, a dry backyard, and a happy crew of kiddos!

Upon arriving, guests received a cape or tiara.  The balloon swords were for later!
Art provided by Beth
Dollar store "goblets" decorated with stick-on jewels, fit for a king (or a knight)

We served a dragon cake and some punch; it was a simple afternoon party!  More art provided by Beth and some our of favorite knight books set out for decor.
The dragon cake.

Princess Beth

The whole crew!  Some of the older girls were too "old" to dress up but most of the boys enjoyed the capes and other items from our dress-up box!  This was before the sword fight, which was FUN but didn't last too long because they popped pretty quickly!  Luckily Ryan and I got pretty good at blowing them up and tying them quickly, so we kept replenishing swords until we were out of balloons.  I chose this instead of making and sending home real wooden swords because I know not all moms appreciate wood swords in their homes!

Having so much fun!  He was the only one with a crown on!

Ryan dragged kids around in the wagon- they had a BLAST.  Ryan was very tired afterward though! :-)

After his friends left, we opened toys and the boys got to playing.  Beth and Ryan opened up a gift of Lincoln Logs on the floor while Luke and Jack played with the knights!

Thursday, October 24

Luke is FIVE

Dear Luke,

You Are FIVE.

Five years young.  I've had you in my arms for five years.  The days seem long but the years have been short; how can it be that my second-born is already FIVE?

I love you, guy.  You're a busy, crafty, inquisitive, and intelligent big kid- and I say big because you are almost the same size as your sister (you've been wearing the same shoe size for several months now!).  You love to play dress up- especially knights- and you use your Blue Knights sword and shield for daily dragon-slaying.  I love that because I am able to see your crafty little mind trying to figure out what to wear, how you can use your weapons, and plan an attack.  Your favorite activity though- STILL- is mowing with Daddy.  Your dreams came true this summer when Daddy got a ride-on lawn mower!  You rode with him every week when he mowed- you wanted to know how it worked (especially the engine and the blade), you were diligent about cleaning the yard first, and you always wanted to finish the job with weed whacking and blowing.  You helped Dad do that too- and you were quite upset on the days when Dad wasn't able to finish up.  Boy you'd get upset!  But you'd help him again another day, and all would be okay.

Your love of figuring out how things work is apparent in our every day activities- driving in the car, at the park or library, or at a store.  Figuring out how a cart turns its wheels, asking if a car has a blade like a lawn mower, how does the gas make the car go... 50 questions, every day.  You should really know just about everything I know by now, I think. :-)


You stay busy with your imagination- outdoor play on a beautiful day, sometimes for several hours.  You play with Beth or Jack, maybe a friend too, issuing orders to Jack or taking orders from Beth.  ;-)  Sometimes you and Jack play "farmer" with blocks, Little People, and toy tractors while Beth and I have school, or you play "Baby" and I think you're usually a Daddy.  You tell me now you want to be a worker man and a Daddy- I think you really look up to your own father, and I'm so happy he's such a good man for you to emulate!
birthday scooter

This school year you started preschool at co-op, once a week, and you LOVE it while you're there.  You are a good listener and a hard worker, asking and answering questions, and offering your two cents on everything.  I know because I'm there with you for part of the day, and I LOVE to watch you participate and learn.  You're a smart guy, and I haven't forced you to do too much schoolwork at home yet because you've preferred to play.  I can tell over the past month that you're showing some signs of readiness because your drawing has REALLY improved and you're starting to *want* to sit down and do some handwriting practice.  Of course you still love books, and I think you always will.  I will read to you and your siblings for an hour at a time and you all remain mesmerized, you have such a good attention span although of course you have lots of questions to ask during the stories!

Oh the questions!  So many questions.  I don't think your little mind stops thinking while you're awake, which must be why you still sleep so much and so well!

On your birthday we had, at your request, hamburgers and green beans, along with chocolate chip cookies!  Grandma and Grandpa joined us for dinner and presents!


Happy 5th Birthday, Big Dog (as Daddy calls you), and we pray God blesses you with many, many, many more!

Sunday, October 20

A Toad

My girl has gotten so brave about catching lizards, frogs, and bugs.  She's come a long way from her days of being icked out by a rolly polly!

Wednesday, October 16

Fall Soccer

Well we're already halfway through soccer season but here are some pics from their first practices.  This is Beth's first season to play, and she loves it!  She's naturally talented too (although of course I have to say that!) but she's got the build for it and has inherited her father's soccer genes too!  Unfortunately two of her practices and 1.5 of her games have been rained out, and they don't reschedule them, so that's been a bummer!  Her age group plays four-on-four, and she's been able to play quite a bit during the games that have actually happened!

 Luke is really enjoying soccer again!  He has played one season and this year, Ryan is his head coach of the 4-year-old boy team.  It's a little funny but they are really a lot better than they were last year!  They play three-on-three at this age, so each kid has a fair amount of time to play during the games.  He scored his first goal of the season last weekend when Uncle Michael was visiting!  Luke's practices are on a different day and his games have been scheduled earlier than Beth's, so he's had only one practice canceled due to rain.  It's been a wet fall!

This little one is so sad that he's not playing soccer this year.  I honestly had no idea just how upset he'd be every week that he doesn't get to play!  He plays at home with Beth, Luke, and Daddy, and he kicks with his left foot (he's left-handed too) so I wonder if that's an advantage he'll have when he finally does play on a team?  I really should learn about soccer- I have no idea what the positions are and who is supposed to do what!  It's not a sport I grew up around but here I am- officially a soccer mom now!

Saturday, October 5

Visit with Uncle Michael

My brother took a night out of his limited, precious yearly vacation to stay an evening with us for one night in October.  We were so happy to be able to visit, although time was short, it was awesome.  Ryan and I picked him up from the "bus station" (the gas station parking lot!) and we three went out to a late dinner.  The next morning the kids were excited to wake up with a guest in the house, and of course they played all day!  This was an inventive game of "kid on the shoulder soccer."  Looked like too much of a workout for me, ha!

Wednesday, September 25

Too Busy?

The other day I posted on my Facebook status that I am entering my busy, hectic, crazy time of year, and I warned people in advance that I may be delayed in returning texts/calls/emails/etc.  I had several people respond back to me privately and ask if it was still okay that we got together for such and such activity; it made me sit back and think.  I had meant to just let people know I was busy and not ignoring them, but it came across that I was TOO busy and didn't put them as a priority.

That made me sad.

I was reminded to prioritize, which I feel like I do pretty well lately.  I (usually) have no problem putting my kids first and saying "no" to other activities which I might otherwise like to participate for the sake of spending much-needed down time with my husband or kids.  My clients are a top priority too- afterall they're paying me not only for my support during their labor and delivery but for prenatal support too, and I want to maintain a reputation as a quick-responder (that's important in this biz!).

Does that mean that everyone else comes last?  That well-meaning friends who have a quick question should get the last bit of me?  I hate to think of it that way!!!

The more I thought about it, the more I was reminded that I do waste a lot of time.   Facebook is my virtual water cooler, where I gather with my "coworkers" (other moms or other doulas) to catch up or ask a question.  I don't feel bad about that.  But in reality, I should probably cut back... and offer that time to those who have reached out to contact me.

Then the next day I was thinking that it's so odd that 20 years ago, we had three methods of contacting people: via a land line, mail, or just dropping by their home.  Now.  Sheesh.  Land line, cell phone, text, Facebook messenger, email on my phone, email on my computer, instant messenger, and I'm sure other ways I'm unaware of.  Maybe that's the problem, why I can't keep up with people- I can't remember how they contacted me!

Is this a matter of needing to downsize?  I really don't know how I'd manage my business without a smart phone.  I don't have a land line (though I think we'll need one in the next several years as the kids get older).  What else can I be rid of?  Really, I can't think of anything- I guess it's a matter of just being organized or having a better memory!

I am staying pretty organized these days though, overall.  My body loves my pregnancy hormones and for some reason I'm sleeping really well and feeling very well-rested in the mornings.  So, despite:
  • daily homeschooling
  • co-op Thursdays
  • after-school activities: Beth's soccer on Mondays, Luke's on Fridays, and two games on Saturdays; girl's club and boy's club; art classes; nature class; field trips (library, zoo, etc); and maybe an occasional play date
  • client meetings and births (2 left until I take my own maternity leave!)
  • typical house work (fall decorating!)
  • midwife and chiropractor appointments
  • preparing for birth days and holy days and liturgical seasons
I am really doing okay!  I know it sounds like a lot, but I have found that since I'm not feeling so exhausted in the mornings, I'm actually waking up earlier than the kids come downstairs.  I'm getting dressed, visiting with Ryan, making coffee and oatmeal, and sometimes even saying my morning prayers before I invite the kids to come down.  It's really made more time for me to get centered before the busy-ness of the day begins, and it's helped me have a better attitude throughout the day (or maybe that's those happy pregnancy hormones again!).

I do not expect it to be this way after baby comes.  Hey, let's be realistic here!

Today on Facebook I saw this article posted.  I nearly had to sit down- I thought the timing was pretty ironic given my post about being busy!  It gave me mixed feelings though, because though I use the word "busy" quite often, I don't feel like my life is out of control either.  I don't feel like I'm slammed or pulled in too many directions- at least not yet.  I schedule downtime for us- Charlotte Mason calls it "masterly inactivity."  "Wise and purposeful letting alone."  For example, today was our stay-at-home day, with no activities.  I considered scheduling a playdate but I'm glad I didn't; the kids went outside after breakfast and stayed outside until lunch time for a total of three hours of outdoor playtime.  Then they had lunch and a short rest time, we schooled after rest time, then they went back outside to have a snack and play more until Ryan came home.  I love that the weather is changing and the shadows are moving and they're happy to play outside again!

I am going to take the author's advice and try to say "busy" less often.  I will saunter and mosey (though I think I may need cowboy boots for that) and I will meander and linger.  I will try not to rush, but to be present in my moments.  Maybe then my mind will clear up enough that I can remember who is trying to reach me and what I need to do to address their calls.

Besides, if the kids do tomorrow what they did today, I will have plenty of time and no excuses to get my work and my playing done.  Today, for example, I organized my recipe binder, vaccumed and cleaned downstairs, rearranged a few things in my bedroom, went to the chiropractor, made these guys:

Schooled, read to the kids, and made a nicer-than-normal dinner.  I still need to get ready for co-op tomorrow.  I love this extra energy, and I'm going to take advantage of it while I can!

So I guess the point of my rambling is that while I have a busy calendar, I love y'all and I hope to make you more of a priority!  And I'm going to stay busy but also meander through my day.  And as I stare my third trimester in its face, I'm going to try to get healthier and hopefully keep up this good energy a little bit longer!

Wednesday, September 18


At the beginning of September, we took a 2-day road trip to my parent's new home in North Carolina.  Yes, two full days of driving.  I suppose this is normal for some people who have always lived far away from family, but this was a first for us (the furthest we've gone in the past is one day, up to Kansas).  I spent lots of time mentally preparing for the trip, looking up tips for traveling with children, and trying to come up with a plan that I thought would help it go smoothly for us.  The effort was worth it, mostly, I think... It was so nice to see my parents and 2 brothers in their new beautiful lake house, the 9 days we spent there was not long enough!  It was odd but fun to meet their new friends, who know of my existence but basically see my parents as having only two kids (but there's 4 more of us!).  It was a beautiful part of the country, a part I haven't spent a lot of time in, and the weather was still a bit warm but that was good since we were on the lake!  Maybe- hopefully- one year we'll get to see the fall colors or maybe even winter snow!

8 am sunrise

We left on a Saturday morning at 6 am.  I packed the car pretty lightly but with a plan (of course), by having a big tub of stuff next to Beth in the back that I had no intention of taking out of the car until we got to North Carolina.  We had an overnight bag packed for our hotel stay, food for meals packed at the feet of Luke's carseat, and a box with books/small toys/work binders stuffed between the boy's seats.  Our plan was to stop at all of the state borders and after meals, so they could get out of the car and run around.  It's too hard for me to plan gluten-free restaurant stops along the way, plus I didn't want to make them sit in a restaurant and eat when it's easier to pass time in the car while eating!  As it turned out, this plan worked rather well.  I feel like overall we made enough stops but not too many, usually we drove 2-4 hours at a time.  I found I needed to stretch quite a bit too, apparently 2 days in the car at 20-something weeks pregnant is a little harder than I thought it would be!

First rest stop- Louisiana! We got eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Somewhere in Louisiana (or maybe Mississippi?) we pulled out these bad boys.  DVD players.  Unfortunately they didn't all work very well but they kept them entertained for 1.5 hours or so.  Beth's battery died first so I'd let her use my phone to listen to audio books (she managed to listen to the entire Wizard of Oz book in the car.)

Yup, Jack was still rear-facing.

 For our first night, we stopped in Montgomery, Alabama.  (I am not sure why I don't have a pic at the Mississippi or Alabama borders, but in Alabama we ran into some people who lived less than 10 minutes away from us- small world).  In Montgomery, my dad put us up in a 2-bedroom hotel room that had a kitchen, which was super nice!  As soon as we arrived, we unpacked our overnight bags and Ryan and the kids went and hopped in the pool.  I had to hunt and gather for food in an unknown town with no gluten-free restaurants, and after being in the car for so long and feeling sore I was on the verge of tears.  I  went into the closest grocery store and they had *nothing* that was gluten free.  I talked to a cashier and she asked someone else (good grief) and they finally came up with another store that was only a few minutes away.  That's when I discovered the beautiful store that was Fresh Market, and I think I heard angels singing the Hallelujah chorus as I walked in and realized they had so many options for us!  I grabbed some frozen dinners, fresh fruit, and sushi for Ryan and myself and went back to the hotel to get it ready while everyone finished burning off energy in the pool.  Showered and happy, they had dinner and fell asleep rather easily that night.

The next morning was Sunday and we had less driving to do so we didn't need as early of a start (though the kids were up at, ahem, 5:30). We had breakfast, went to mass and leisurely packed up, setting off around 10ish (I think).  We passed the Georgia border because the boys were asleep so we stopped at a gas station somewhere after Atlanta.  They found sticks while Ryan set up the DVD players again!

Next stop, South Carolina!  It was sunny!  And they wanted to climb trees. :-)

And finally, North Carolina.  We thought we were on the home stretch, didn't realize we still had over an hour or so left!

I should have taken a photo of us pulling into their driveway, of everyone clapping and cheering that we were finally there, but instead I felt overwhelming relief to see them and to FINALLY be there!  It was about 6:30 pm, everyone was DONE with being in the car and we were all hungry!  We unloaded, visited and played, ate, and I hated to do it but I went to bed pretty early that night!

Monday and Tuesday were great days to stay home, get to know the new house, play with old toys and visit more.  Ryan took the kids out on the canoe.  I found a Fresh Market nearby and was able to get some gluten free food for Beth!  Wednesday, Ryan and I took the kids to a wildlife park where we got to ride on the back of a horse-drawn wagon and feed/pet wild animals.  I also found a chiropractor and had a much-needed adjustment!  Thursday we rented a boat and spent the afternoon on the lake, and Friday we stayed home until we had some guests show up- Ryan's brother, sister-in-law, and their two kids!  They live several hours north of my parents and were able to take a few days to come down for a long weekend, since we see them only once a year or so it was a nice treat for everyone!  Saturday we celebrated Josh's birthday and watched the Aggie game, Sunday we stayed home and Monday morning they left.  We started packing up Monday afternoon for our Tuesday morning departure.  The days flew by... Everyone had such a nice time (at least I think they did!) and it was a perfect blend of staying home and going out for activities.  After two days in the car, making too many short road trips with the kids was out of the question!

A quick trip to a nearby park on Monday.
Didn't look that much different than home!

Waiting for Beth and Luke to come back onthe canoe.

This is literally my parent's backyard.

Wednesday we took the kids to an exotic animal farm/petting zoo place.  We paid for a horse-drawn wagon ride through their huge refuge with many unsual animals, and fed many of them out of our hands.  It was quite an experience and super fun for the kids!  They did NOT enjoy being in the car for another hour one-way, but I think the experience was worth it!

Feeding camels

Goats, emus, etc.  The emus were pretty demanding and rough!  We learned quickly not to hold our buckets too close to the edge of the trailer!

Overwhelming huge giraffes!

They ate straight out of the bucket!

Sleepy sleepy boy....

Some sort of white deer?
Thursday afternoon we rented a pontoon and headed out to the lake.  The kids LOVED it, and Luke still talks about going back to North Carolina so we can ride on the boat again!  We cruised the lake, everyone (but pregnant me!) took turns tubing, we swam in the middle of the lake, and headed back right in time before a torrential downpour!  Given that this was their first time doing anything like this- swimming in the middle of the lake- I was so surprised at how well they all took to the water and how comfortable they quickly became swimming around when their feet couldn't touch the bottom.

So excited to be on a boat!

Luke and Daddy. 

Cool stuff.

I loved his wind-blown hair after his rides!
I am so surprised how well they all did swimming in the lake, when they have practically no experience with swimming like this.
The extra kid in there is my youngest brother, who was "sick" that day from school. ;-)
Friday was the day we welcomed Ryan's brother and family in from Virginia.  They took a long weekend and came to stay in my parent's basement- what a fun time and such a blessing since we otherwise only get to see them a couple of times a year!  

Time to get down to business and start playing cars on the back of the couch.
Of course we took them to the dock for canoeing, jet skiing, and fishing.

PawPaw's jet ski, the kids had so much fun on this!  And when I say kids, I mean Ryan too. ;-)

Little Matthew wanted a turn too!  He just sat on it with Uncle Ryan.
Jack's catch!

Saturday was Aggie game day and Uncle Josh's birthday!  And lots and lots of playtime, of course.

Aggies versus Alabama game day

A little bit of our own football game during halftime.

Happy birthday Josh!
We celebrated Josh's birthday that night with a little cake and some brownies- taking into consideration everyone's special diets, of course. But yes.  There was most certainly cake. :-)

Sunday we went to mass, played in the house and on the dock some more.  And loved on those little nephews of ours... I hope and pray we get to see more of them in the future!!!

He didn't jump in.



On Monday morning, they left bright and early and we spent the rest of the day staying close to home, cleaning, and packing our stuff.  I was super prepared for our trip on the way and a little less prepared for the trip home, but all in all it worked out.  I wasn't able to prepare as much food ahead of time on the way home which meant we had to find a place to eat for dinner on our first night of our trip home, but though it wasn't ideal it worked out.

We left before sunrise on Tuesday morning for the drive home.  We had a hotel booked in Mobile, Alabama so we had a full day of driving ahead, this time not worrying about stopping at state lines as much as just trying to make it.  The kids were NOT happy about traveling again.  Luckily we had a nice start to the trip, just several hours in for our first stop we were able to stop by my college roommate's house in South Carolina!  It was so nice to see her in her home with her two babies!  We couldn't stay for too long, but the break was nice for the kids, and they weren't happy about hitting the road again.  But... we had to.

We were all about to lose our minds in Montgomery, Alabama.  We decided to circle around and found this park- an oasis in a pretty crummy part of town.  But it was God-sent.

They played for half an hour while I walked around the sidewalk to stretch and blow off steam.  Then we crashed the golf club's bathrooms, haha.  Again, they weren't happy to be getting back in the car but at least we had 30 or so minutes of being out of the car.

A few more hours... Boring Alabama highways... This guy in the back seat saying, "When are we going to be there?" about 1,264,982 times....

We finally made it to our hotel, ate some quick microwave dinners, and hit the pool for some destressing and relaxation!  I don't know how long we all played in the pool but it was so nice- the weather was perfect, the kids were happy, and no one else was around.  We had a regular hotel room this time- two queen beds- and so I slept with Jack and Ryan slept with Beth, while we madeLuke an air mattress bed on the floor.  It was... cozy.

I wish I could say the second day of driving was easier but it wasn't.  I will say that a single pinterest idea saved the day- I had purchased a box of bandaids from the dollar store and gave them to Luke.  His attitude changed as he unwrapped and carefully chose the colors and placed them on all of his boo boos.  Jack played with them too.  Best $1 I ever spent, as they were still playing with them when we pulled into our driveway around 6 pm that evening.

I have major respect for families who make a drive like this on a regular basis!  Maybe it will be easier when they're older, or when we have a bigger car, or if we have movie screens that actually hold a charge... But in the mean time, I don't think we'll be able to go back next year since we'll have a baby.  I can't imagine driving that trip with a baby!  But I am so sad that we won't be back anytime soon either.  It was such a beautiful vacation- from the house to being able to spend time with my parents and 2 brothers in their new house, to seeing their beautiful new surroundings and experiencing "lake life" with them. Luckily, they are able to come back to see us a couple of times a year. :-) 
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