tax break

it's that time of year again.
photo credit
w-2s are distributed.   that means tax season is approaching. i start busting out all my relevant paper trail from the past year and catch up on some filing.

we like to file our taxes early.  it seems like the earlier you get it done the faster you receive your return (unless you have to pay of course...then maybe you might not want to file so early).  last year we received ours before valentine's day.

we i do our own taxes.  the first year we moved here we used h & r block (did i post about this before?) but it was a WASTE of money.  we thought it was going to decrease our chances of making a mistake since we had to deal with the whole moving from a different state issue.  but realistically, it wasn't that complicated.  if we had taken the time to do our research, we could have saved the $250 or so we paid them and did the whole thing ourselves (i even ended up catching an error after our federal and state returns were filed so they had to do an amendment).  they're pretty much doing what you could do at home.  don't go there.  really.

anyway, i could go on.  but i won't.  because i'm taking a break.  so i can start working on our taxes.  there may be a few posts sprinkled here or there, but until our federal and state returns are filed (and prepping for baby's arrival in about 1 month!!) it might be a little quiet around here. 
or it might not. 

blogging is a great way to procrastinate :).


oh baby :: welcoming gibson

a birth story.  

i had always planned on writing down my birth stories but never did.  why would i want to?  so i can share them with my children, and so i can remember them myself.  especially since each one was so different.

oh my sweet gibson.

our 2nd born.

pregnancy and childbirth with this little boy was so different from emma's.  a few people (including my midwife, colleen) assumed that since labor and delivery with emma was so fast that this one would come just as fast.  we had planned on a waterbirth, but working under the assumption of a quick labor i didn't get my hopes up that much of enjoying such an experience.

gibson was due may 27, 2009.  late in my pregnancy, i was diagnosed with GBS and so an induction was scheduled for wednesday may 20th in order to allow enough time for the antibiotics to be administered properly.  at the same time, colleen and i both knew that it was also possible that i would start labor early and an induction wouldn't be necessary.  in hindsight (as you will see later on in this post), i think we should have done more research on alternative treatment options or even choosing not to treat the GBS at all.

i had experienced this obvious sign of labor about to start the weekend before 20th, but since i didn't experience much change after that i had no clue when things would start picking up.
i remember planning out a few errands and such on the 19th so that the home will be well prepared before i headed in for the induction on the 20th.  i remember waking up that morning feeling normal, except that at around 7:00 a.m. those braxton hicks didn't feel like braxton hicks.  they weren't at all like the ones i woke up to when i went into labor with emma, but they didn't feel like the braxton hicks that i had been experiencing for the past month.

my instincts told me to start taking a mental note of these possible contractions.  they were fairly spread out through out the morning, but they were definitely noticeable.  i was determined to get my errands in case i ended up progressing so off we went to the craft store (i know, the craft store?  what was i thinking?) and the grocery store.  by late-morning, i remember having to stop in the middle of the grocery store aisle every time i had a contraction.  even though they weren't quite at regular intervals they were definitely getting stronger.

at about 1:00 p.m., once emma was down for her afternoon nap, i remember feeling a sign of urgency at getting the baby stuff prepped and ready, even if it meant having to stop in my tracks for every contraction.  by that time, i knew that this baby was coming out soon.  i felt excited.  i also recalled feeling relieved that i wouldn't have to deal with the induction (i feel even more relieved now after reading up on the craziness that is pitocin).

i don't think i even called or texted aaron to let him know that i was experiencing contractions, even though at this point there was no way i could keep moving through them.  the rest of the day was a bit of a blur.

4:00 p.m. i started writing down and timing my contractions (i only know this with certainty because i found my notes) since the darned things would not go away and they were coming more often.  i don't really know how i made dinner, but i know the kids were fed.  i do remember stopping to breathe through each contraction through out the early evening, but focusing on completing the evening routine (dinner, bedtime for kids, etc.) helped me through them.

8:30 p.m. it was quite obvious that this was the real deal with average contractions about 6-7 minutes apart.  we knew that the time to head to the hospital would be soon so we called aaron's parents to make sure that an adult would be home when we left.

however, we didn't call the hospital just yet.  i'm not sure why.  maybe it was because these contractions didn't feel like the ones i had with emma.  with gibson, i felt as if i "eased" into labor since they gradually increased in intensity.  with emma it was more of a jolt.  i guess i kept waiting for that jolt and it really never came.

10:00 p.m. i remembered trying to settle on the couch to watch the pre-recorded season finale of 24 and insisting that we sit and watch the whole thing even though aaron did offer to forgo it.  i think my logic there was that once the baby was born, there wasn't really going to be time to watch it.  at this point, the contractions were at the stage where it required more focus and energy so that i could get through it.  but for some reason, they didn't increase in frequency at all.  they were still at about 6-10 minutes apart even though they were definitely more intense.

11:00 p.m. we finished watching 24, and if you had asked me what it was about i wouldn't be able tot ell you.  i finally decided to call colleen to see if i should come in.  since i had to get treatment for my GBS and the contractions were not going away (or getting any easier) after 15 hours, it was determined that i should check-in.

the car ride this time around was not as chaotic as the last time i labored in the car.  plus, it helped that we were delivering at a hospital that was only 15 minutes away as opposed to 30 minutes.  aaron didn't even have to speed...much.  the contractions were still there but they were nothing compared to when we drove to the hospital to have emma.  i even managed to text my little sister and update my facebook status.  ha!  they were definitely welcomed distractions.

12:00 a.m. we checked into the hospital and made our way to the labor and deliver floor.  it was quiet up there.  we were assigned a room and the nurse went through the usual questions.  i was hooked up to the EFM for the standard initial monitoring.  aaron managed to doze off on the couch after a text update to my sister and a brief facebook status update.

i got the yucky IV in my arm so i could start the antibiotics.  those things are horrible!  i don't mind tattoo needles but getting an IV stuck in your arm is NOT a pleasant experience.  blech!

at this point, i really was unsure what to do.  my contractions were still pretty intense but i felt as if i couldn't move since i had that dumb IV stuck in my arm.  i knew i had to get through 2 rounds of antibiotics (which required 4 hours in between the first and the second dose) and i started wondering how i was going to get through the rest of my labor naturally if i felt i had to stay stationary as the antibiotics were running its course the plastic tube and into my system.  i remember colleen had mentioned that a waterbirth was still possible even with the IV, but she wasn't there yet...and did i mention how i dislike IV needles??

approximately 1:00 a.m. the nurse suggested that i keep the EFM on and try to get some rest, and for some reason i agreed to it thinking that i would be able to get some sleep.  it wasn't 10 minutes after she walked out that door that i realized i had made a mistake.  i didn't want this EFM on me.  i didn't want to be stuck in bed, immobilized by the EFM, as i tried to work through the labor pains.  but i didn't call her back right away.  i don't know why...i think i felt bad.  like i was going to inconvenience her or something.

like last time, this is the part where things get a little hazy.  i think about an hour later, after being unable to actually sleep and contractions getting more painful, i decided i had about enough of being in bed.  i called the nurse back in to have her remove the EFM.  i also had her check me to see how far along i was and to her surprise i was at about 10 cm.  guess it was show time!

fortunately, colleen only lived 10 minutes away from the hospital and she was called in.  the first dose of antibiotics were done and i was thankfully unhooked from the IV. 

i remember waking aaron up from his little nap and telling him that it was time.  they brought the birth ball (oh birth ball, how i love you!) and then colleen showed up pretty soon after.  they had tried bringing the birthing tub into the room.  it barely fit through the door.  then i found out it was going to take 15 minutes just to fill it up.  since i was already at 10 cm and baby was quickly making its descent i decided that there might not be enough time to experience the full benefits of the waterbirth.  i didn't even know how long it would take for them to try to get the tub in the room.

the contractions felt much different.  i knew that the 1st stage of labor was coming to a close (or pretty much done).  there wasn't much sound coming out from me, but each contraction required everything in me.  i remember thinking and repeating in my head, "Lord just help me through this." over and over again.  it didn't seem like i was given much of a break between contractions.  i remember colleen gave many encouraging words as i worked through the contractions and i remember taking comfort in having my husband there.

then it was time to push.  man, this kid was hard to get out!  that's all i could think of.  definitely was not as easy as emma was.  my legs were all shaky and i didn't think i could keep exerting all that energy.  i think it was the 3rd push that finally got him out...but it seemed like forever!

about 4:00 a.m. he came out with the cord wrapped around his neck (like his big sister).  but unlike his big sister, he was a hefty 8 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 inches long.  no wonder he was hard to push out. 
it was a joyous moment for us as we finally got to meet him.  a boy.  a sweet, little baby boy.


there was such a big difference in labor experiences between emma's and gibson's, especially since i thought it wouldn't be so. we all assumed that my labor with gibson would be swift, just like the last time.  i guess not all childbirth experiences are created equal, even from the same person. 

i never did have time to get that 2nd dose of antibiotics for my GBS.  but it actually didn't matter at all.  i think if i test positive again for this pregnancy, i will most likely pass on the antibiotics.  having the IV felt very constricting and i can see how a woman would feel more confined to her bed with it attached.  certainly, you do have the "freedom" to move, but in my opinion the thought of wheeling that IV drip around while trying to focus on laboring at the same time would have been very distracting for me.

the overall hospital experience was quite pleasant.  i never felt pressured to do something i didn't want to, however it was obvious to me that there were a couple of nurses that were quite used to a particular routine.  that's not a bad thing, except that i got whisked into that routine without given the option to try anything different.  nothing big really...just small stuff.  but definitely noted for this next pregnancy.

God's timing was perfect once again.  i don't think it was a coincidence that i managed to deliver him naturally on his induction date without the induction.  the slower labor progression allowed me to have some time with my daughter.  to kiss her good night and love on her before we left.  he was with me through the hardest part and protected our son form any GBS risk as he was delivered.

with all the worldly distractions (even on the topic of childbirth), sometimes i easily forget that God abundantly provides for his people according to his time and his will.  it is overwhelming and so humbling to think that once again he has so graciously met my needs and answered the secret requests of my heart.


do something : weekend jan. 21 - 22

winter here in cleveland really makes me just want to hibernate.  if i didn't have kids to force me to get out of the house then i probably would be at home until spring (i really don't like this below 30 degree weather!).

but just because it's cold outside doesn't mean there isn't anything to do in town.  here are a few things going on around town this weekend:


cleveland metroparks is having a movie night at their north chagrin nature center starting at 7:15 p.m.  they will be showing ice world, a movie addressing the impacts of global warming on the polar region and it's inhabitants.

speaking of cleveland metroparks, if you prefer to actually go outside then be sure to head over to the chalet for some exciting tobogganing.  aaron and ty did this last year and they had a great time.  tobogganing will be open all the way through the first weekend in march.  for $8 (or $6 children 11 and under) you can ride as many times as you want.  of course you have to climb all those stairs to the top of the chute too...

78th street studios will be having their monthly 3rd friday event from 5-9 p.m.  be sure to stop by if you've never been!

survival kit gallery (which opened in december 2010) will be having their first ever 4th coast pop up market friday 5-11 p.m. and saturday 12-6 p.m.  the gallery is actually located in the 78th street studios and the pop up market will be open friday in conjunction with 78th street studios' 3rd friday event.  and to top it off, umami moto will be offering up some of their delightful asian cuisine in case you get hungry.

get your polka fix with dj kishka at the happy dog from 6-9 p.m.  feel free to dance and show others your sweet moves.  then replenish the energy you burned dancing with a deeelicious dog.  hey now!


the beck center will be having their monthly super saturday event for kiddos 10 and under.  this free event runs from 9-11:30 a.m.  this month, make a 2011 calendar with the cleveland artists foundation.

while we're in lakewood, the lakewood library will be having a movie night featuring alfred hitchcock's spellbound.  movie begins at 6 p.m. in their main auditorium.  i used to love watching alfred hitchcock films.  that and the old twilight zone films.

stay warm and happy weekend!


wordless wednesday::floor art

when the weather outside is too frightful for chalk art on the sidewalk, we improvise inside with crayons, stickers, stencils...
this has been a fun activity with the kids, especially in the evening as they wind down for bed.

more wordless wednesday here and here.


top ten tuesday

while we're on this whole baby/birthing topic, why not incorporate a top ten tuesday with the same theme? 

[*warning* now that i only have about 1.5 months until the baby is due, you may notice a higher frequency of baby-related posts...i think...if i can manage to get them typed up and out of my head.]

when i was first pregnant, i did a lot of research.  a lot.  particularly in the childbirth and labor department.  i didn't know what to expect in this area because i had no previous experience to draw upon.  even with the second and now third pregnancy i refer back to the resources i have discovered from my first pregnancy and read up on some new ones.  it helps prepare and focus my mind for that big day. the day when we finally get to meet our sweet baby.

my top ten childbirth-related resources (in no particular order):

1. birth stories.  one of the best tips i could have ever received from my pregnancy was when a friend told me to read birth stories.  lots of them.  if you want to get an idea of what real childbirth is like then start reading those birth stories (operative word here is "reading" not watching them like the ones on TLC).  i found many helpful ones here and here.   another fantastic resource is asking friends and family members who have experienced childbirth.  when i was pregnant with emma, i read so many birth stories and asked as many friends and family i could about their own birth experiences.  what i learned was that every birth is different.  certainly there may be common trends with first, second, third, fourth (etc.) pregnancies, but each one is unique.  i think the more birth stories i read, the more i was able to mentally prepare for all possible outcomes.

2. childbirth.org.  i don't even remember how i found this site, but i know that i always return here during each of my pregnancies.  i have found some great information on childbirth related topics such as pain relief options, natural birth options, complications, interventions.  just enough to make you want to do more research.

3. ina may's guide to childbirth by ina may gaskin.  i loved reading this book and learned a lot about the amazing capabilities women have in giving birth.  her website has some interesting reads as well and worth checking out.

4. birthing naturally again, another site where i don't remember how i found, but one that i return to.  i found the christian childbirth section to be especially helpful for me in understanding how to take a more Christ-centered approach in my childbirth choices.

5. the bible.  making time to reconnect with God helps me to focus on what's important and reaffirms my faith that when labor comes that i have nothing to fear or worry because i know the Lord will be with me.  compiling a few memory verses to recall during labor has been a tremendous gift.  even when i can't recall the exact words anymore because the pain requires all my energy and focus, i can still rest on the basic ideas of those verses.

6. the business of being born.  this is an interesting documentary on birth in the united states. 

7. waterbirth.org.  i came across this site when i was first pregnant with emma.  i had never heard of waterbirths before then and found it to be quite a fascinating option for childbirth.  ellen, my midwife during emma's pregnancy, had addressed the possibility of doing a waterbirth with me though it would only have happened if she was the attending midwife when emma was born.  i decided against it since i wasn't even sure if she would be the one doing the delivery...i didn't want to get my hopes up for nothing (turns out she did do the delivery and i probably should have considered the option).  colleen (who had ellen deliver all 3 of her kids via waterbirth...small world, eh?), my current midwife, also specializes in waterbirths, and since she runs her own practice there was definitely a good chance i could do it.  although i had planned a waterbirth with gibson, i didn't have a chance to experience it (you'll read more about that later).  i'm hoping that i can do that with this baby.

8. the birth partner by penny simkin.  i know this book is meant for the labor companions, but i read it and then relayed the information to aaron.  my particular favorites were the section on the labor stages, comfort measures during labor and strategies to apply when experiencing variations in normal labor. 

9. pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn by penny simkin, et al.  a friend sent me this book when i was first pregnant with emma and i continue to refer to it with each pregnancy.  this book offers much information without being quick to jump on the intervention/medication bandwagon.  both this book and #8 above offer a wealth of information on childbirth, and have really helped me understand the natural process of childbirth.

10.  gentle birth, gentle mothering by sarah buckley and pushed by jennifer block.  i'm in the process of reading sarah buckley's book and plan to continue with pushed once i finish buckley's book.  i think the section i found most valuable so far in buckley's book is chapter 4 (i'm only up to chapter 6 out of 13).  she gives a great little "formula" on how to make wise decisions during your pregnancy and childbirth experience, and i appreciate the emphasis she places on the importance of being well-informed patients.  i can't give you much on pushed since i haven't read it yet, but i have heard that it's a definite eye-opening book on the business of childbirth and current trends in maternity care.


oh baby :: emma's debut

a birth story.  

i had always planned on writing down my birth stories but never did.  why would i want to?  so i can share them with my children, and so i can remember them myself.  especially since each one was so different.  and now, with the birth of our 3rd child quickly approaching i really think i should probably get on the ball about writing them down.

so i begin with our first born.  the writing may not be eloquent, but it has been almost 5 years so some things do get a little blurry (this is why i should have written it down earlier!).


emma was originally due on the 20th of June [2006].  from what i had read and been told, babies of 1st pregnancies don't usually arrive early or on time.  but they do tend to arrive fashionably late.  so i had planned on her arrival a few days after the 20th.  
in fact, i was out of town (1.5 hours away) from the 10th-11th of june.  i had not experienced any braxton hicks through out my pregnancy, so i really believed that this baby was going to come later than expected.  the morning of the 11th, i had experienced a few minor tightening sensations but immediately dismissed them as braxton hicks.  i had a few more later on in the day, but after that everything was quiet.  i remember feeling excited that i finally got to experience some sort of pre-labor signs since i hadn't had any throughout the tail end of my pregnancy.

well it's a good thing that we came home that sunday.  i woke up around 4:30 a.m. on monday to some serious abdominal cramping.  i mean serious.  holy moly!  this was not the same experience as yesterday?  are braxton hicks supposed to hurt this bad?  and i was 8 days before my due date.  there's no way i could be in labor this early.  no way.

aaron was out, and i didn't bother waking him because i wasn't even sure if these were the real deal.  i had read many birth stories to help me prepare for this birth, and i remember reading about how a few 1st time moms were sent back home because they weren't dilated enough despite the contractions.  our hospital was 30 minutes away, and i wasn't about to pack up and go at 4:30 in the morning to drive half an hour only to be turned away and drive another 30 minutes back to the house.  or what if the hospital checked me in and my labor slows down?  i had also read some experiences where mothers ended up having a medicated deliveries because they were now on the hospital's clock.  if labor doesn't progress enough, what if i got pressured into taking something to speed up labor when i had really planned on a natural delivery?  i had a midwife who supported my natural birth choice, but what if she caved under pressure of hospital politics?  i didn't want to risk that either. nope.  i'll ride it out and then go back to sleep, because surely this was not the real deal anyway. 

i remember barely falling asleep only to wake to the same pain half an hour later.  i decided to grab a notebook and pen, in case this was “the real deal,” and notate how far apart the contractions were.

6:00 a.m. and i was back up with more contractions.  the contractions were pretty regular as soon as they had started though they were about 7-10 minutes apart. i did try to wake aaron up at this point to let him know that i was having contractions, but he only mumbled and went back to sleep.  nice.  i thought the husband was supposed to play a supportive role in all this?  this was not how we practiced at all.  on the plus side, the contractions weren't anything i couldn't handle on my own.  they were painful, but never excruciating.

i decided to try a warm shower since i couldn't go back to sleep.  the warmth of the water helped, and i spent some time in prayer and meditated on some of the memory verses i picked out to give me encouragement through the laboring process.  i remember, after praying that a warm, tingling sensation came over me, and i was overtaken with a feeling of peacefulness.  it was a surreal experience and at that moment i knew that the Lord would be with me through this whole process.  

7:00 a.m. and i was convinced this had to be it.  i was finally able to get aaron up so he could notify his parents to watch ty while we were in the hospital.  for some reason, he didn't sense any urgency in me because after he made the call he decided to shower and shave.  i remember overhearing ty ask aaron, "can i take a bath after your shower?" and me thinking, "NOOOO.  no time for bath. why are you showering?  and shaving?  i'm in pain and you're showering?  no bath!"  aaron told me later that it didn't look like i was in pain at all, so he thought it wasn't a big deal to shower and do his regular morning routine (ha, ha...maybe next time i should start screaming?).

8:00 a.m. and it was evident that the pain was increasing.  we decided to call the hospital since the contractions were 5 minutes apart and increasing in frequency. i made aaron call for me, but the lady on the phone insisted that she speak to me (didn't she know i was in to much pain to speak coherently?  how am i supposed to focus working through my contractions when i'm being asked 3 times to spell out my last name over the phone?).  after some unsuccessful attempts at getting the details she wanted from me (did i already mention that she asked me to spell my last name 3 times?  t.h.r.e.e....while i'm having some serious contractions) i told her she needed to talk to my husband. it was determined that i should come in and get checked out.

8:30 a.m. and the 3 of us piled into the car (aaron's parents hadn't made it down yet so they got re-directed to the hospital) and began the 30 minute drive, in rush hour traffic, to the hospital.  the drive sucked (for lack of a better term).   i just being REALLY uncomfortable and the pain increasing EVEN MORE than half an hour before.  the worst part was that i had no. where. to. go.  i was stuck in a car.  in rush hour traffic.  all the cars seemed like they were driving too SLOW. and we weren't going fast enough, even though aaron was speeding.

during the pregnancy, i had envisioned myself walking on my own when the time came to check into the hospital.  it was going to be lovely and beautiful and i could work through all the contractions that way. 

unlike my vision, once we arrived at the hospital i couldn't even walk.  it seemed like every second i had a really painful contraction.  i felt like crawling.  how was i going to make it to the labor and delivery floor when i couldn't even move my legs to walk?  the wheelchair came to my rescue and we made it to our destination.

9:00 a.m. and everyone on the labor and delivery floor was very calm, despite the fact that i was feeling very frantic that this baby was going to come out at any minute.  i coudlnt' understand why everyone was so calm.  didn't they know this baby was getting ready to come out, now?  right now people!  move it or lose it.  stop asking me all these questions.  get me to a room, stat!

they didn’t even put me in the actual birthing room yet, and had me in another room to change my clothes (which I could barely do on my own with the frequent contractions) and take my vitals. then i said the magic word. "pressure."  yes, ms. nurse, i was feeling some serious pressure.  is it time to push yet?  because i'm ready.

after that, the mood changed.  the attending nurse went from calm to rush, rush, rush.  more nurses came in. one asked me a bunch of questions, another checking my vitals, and another prepping the heart monitor for the baby, etc., etc.  

aaron's aunt (who happened to work in the same hospital i was delivering in) came in to pick up tyler since aaron's parents hadn't arrived yet, but i barely remember that.  my [super-awesome, amazing] midwife ellen was called immediately and she told me I was 100% effaced and 10 cm dilated! what?!?  because things were happening so quickly, she had to take care of her patients (her office was just on the 1st floor) and would return as soon as i was ready to push.

after the protocol 15 minutes hooked up to the electric fetal monitor (EFM), i was unhooked and was able to move around.  the rest of the time, they would monitor the fetal heart rate via a good, old fashioned stethoscope (yes, it is a bit more time consuming for the nurses to do this, but with the encouragement of my midwife it was a better choice if i wanted to remain mobile through the remainder of labor).  

aaron's mom arrived soon after (i think) to help with the labor process.  it was game time.  i remember ellen breaking my water since it hadn't happened yet, but i didn't notice the contractions being that much more intense.  i think it just became more frequent.  the birth ball was heaven.  i was very thankful that i had freedom to move since i wasn't hooked up to the EFM or an IV.  they didn't even have time to do a hep-loc on me. 

i don't remember the specific details of the rest of the laboring process.  i remember there was another midwife present observing (she was doing her residency) and she offered to take photos.  she was wonderful and full of support along with aaron and his mom.  i remember getting lower back massages as i worked through the contractions.  i remember aaron cracking jokes about my tea being ready each time the timer would go off on the baby warmer.  i remember laughing, and i remember experiencing some intense internal focus.  i remember aaron trying to get me to do the breathing techniques we learned in birth class and me throwing it out the window and deciding in the midst of labor that it was stupid and didn't work.  there was no screaming.  there was no crying.  there was no writhing in pain.  
 i couldn't recall the memory verses anymore at this point.  all i could do was remember that the Lord would see me through the end.  what also helped me through this last part of labor was remembering that the pain served a purpose.  it was my uterus changing to prepare for the arrival of the baby.  it was a natural process.  God's perfect design and his amazing engineering of a woman's body to give birth to another human being.  

the baby was coming.  when emma crowned, ellen grabbed my hand so that i could feel her head. it was very exciting and encouraging at the same time.  

10:26 a.m. and with 2 pushes she was out.  the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but after assessing her health our 6 lbs. 15 oz., 19 in. long baby was immediately handed over to me. they cleaned her up while she was on my belly. how amazing it felt to have the baby immediately in your arms. another surreal, indescribable, magical moment.  when ellen said she was a girl, we were surprised even though we had kept the sex of the baby unknown.  we had been certain she was going to be a boy.  but girl or boy, she was a blessing none the less.
ellen said it was a textbook birth.  and i suppose being in labor for 6 hours wasn't so bad either.  the hospital experience was great.  the attending nurses were fabulous and they were all very respectful of my birth choices.  i think that the respect given to us, coupled with our openness to change plans if medically necessary made the whole hospital experience pleasant.  

before my 1st baby, i used to be fearful of giving birth, because of all the “horror” stories i heard and how birth was often portrayed (inaccurately) in movies.  but there is no fear when you know that childbirth is a natural process.  and there is no fear when you know that God is always on your side.


muffins for everyone!

about a year and a half ago i came across a super, wonderful cinnamon applesauce muffin recipe over at mothering, and it has been one of my favorites to make since (aside from blueberry muffins).

it's so tasty (and easy to prepare) that i've made it for breakfast 2 days in a row this past week.  the kiddies love them and i can eat 3 or 4 of them in one sitting, especially when you put a little butter on each half right after you pull it out of the oven so that the butter melts into the muffin.  oh. so. good.
the best part (aside from licking the remaining batter at the end) is that this is a muffin for all....adults, children, older babies.  plus it's vegan-friendly and if you have any sort of nut-soy-dairy-egg allergy you can shove these things in your mouth without having to worry about a reaction (we have friends who have allergy issues and this muffin recipe is a great way to prepare something delicious while being sensitive to their food allergies).

i also enjoyed making these when gibson was a wee bit older in his baby years, yet not quite old enough to consume foods with eggs (and there was that whole soy/pea allergy thing).  it gave him a little food variety and introduced some new flavors (side note: if you make these for babies under 1 year, make sure to use the full amount of molasses called for in the recipe instead of mixing honey and molasses).

i took a break from making these today, but after posting i think i might have to make more.


wordless wednesday::the view from the top

feet have ceased to exist...
more wordless wednesday here and here.


word log.2

more chatter from this little guy!  i am so amazed at how much his vocabulary has grown in just 3 months. 
adding to his previous vocab arsenal is his 19.5 month word log:
  • meat (chicken, beef, pork...it's all meat to him.  and it's this kid loves his meat.)
  • more (this one he's actually said/signed for quite some time, but i forgot to add it last time.)
  • ty
  • thank you
  • too (as in "me too"; usually used when he wants the same food/snack as emma)
  • me
  • mine (you can thank emma for him learning this word)
  • go-go (as in "let's go" or "time to go")
  • bapple (apple)
  • nana (banana)
  • pear
  • ibu (that's the indonesian term we use for my mom)
  • eye
  • socks
  • shoo (shoes)
  • milk
  • bubble (also uses this word for when he wants to take a bath)
  • poo-poo (he's also told us a few times when he's gone or when he's about to)
  • no poo-pooo (as in "i didn't go poop")
  • stinky
  • bapper (diaper)
  • chaye (change)
  • ear
  • sayang (term of endearment or to be gentle in indonesian)
  • hah (hug)
  • color (used when he wants to color or to refer to a crayon)
  • tar (guitar)
  • tick (stick)
  • bye-bye
  • ticker (sticker)
  • hat
  • now (snow)
  • dark
  • cheese (speak & sign)
  • car
  • truck
  • airplane (speak & sign)
  • daum (drum)
  • bed
  • girl
  • boy
  • moon
  • gigi (teeth in indonesian; he also signs "brush teeth")
  • cuckooo (cookie)
  • waddle
  • tea
  • stuck
  • boots
  • choo-choo (referring to a train)
  • boat
  • chair
  • down
  • tacktor (tractor)
  • fork
  • cup
  • bowl
  • bib
  • amen
i think there are a few more i missed but it's been hard to keep track. 

he seems to be at the stage now where he's realizing that each object has a word associated with it so he's been able to repeat back quite a bit.  he's also been able to finish sentences from a few rhyming-type books or songs we sing on a regular basis.  much like emma when she was his age, he has developed quite a love affair with books.  between reading to emma and gibson, some days i read up to 10-12 books a day (about half of them are from the same book read 2 or 3 times in the day). 

i love it.  and i love taking the kids to the library and coming home with enough books to fill a bookshelf.  actually, i think we need to seriously consider designating a couple of shelves just for library books with the amount of items we check out between all 5 of us.  our library bin is ALWAYS maxed out, and with another kiddo coming soon the bin method is not going to cut it for us anymore.

in case you missed it (and you want to know why i'm doing this), you can go here for word log.1


arty art at the cleveland museum of art

 a cold, wintry day.

a couple of dollars and a handful of change left in the wallet.

a houseful of restless kids and a husband who has the week off from work.

what to do, what to do.


enjoy a delightful morning/afternoon at the cleveland museum of art (plus it was the perfect opportunity for me to incorporate some "school time" for emma).
construction is near completion, and they had more spaces open for viewing since the last time we were there.

our stand-by gallery is what we call the "knight room."  this is a family favorite, and one we make our way to each time we visit.
the egyptian art was brought back out since our last visit, and was one of the must-sees for ty.
this was gibson's first time at the cleveland art museum and he really enjoyed himself.  he especially liked the picasso.  so much so that he wanted to touch it.  ummm...not a good idea.  that was our cue to move on.
we tried to visit areas where we hadn't gone to the last time we were.  there was so much to see!  even after spending 2 hours, there was a lot more that we missed.

 i'm looking forward to returning again, especially when the weather warms up and we can spend some time exploring their outside space.

wordless wednesday::guide

follow this guy.  he looks like he knows exactly where he's going...
more wordless wednesday here.


top ten tuesday

last week i turned 30 again.  but not in years but in weeks.  this past thursday, baby in my belly turned 30 weeks and i'm officially, without a doubt in the 3rd trimester.
without a doubt.

oh, 3rd trimester, you're a bittersweet moment for me.  sweet because it means there's not a whole lot more time left until we can meet our sweet baby.  2 more months.  9.5 weeks (unless baby X comes early...yes, please).  not so sweet because my belly seriously feels HUGE (did i mention that at my last check up in december i gained almost 9 lbs. in 1 month?  9), my hips ache, and there are things i would normally do with ease that take a little extra effort right now.

with that said, i now bring you the first top 10 list of the new year...

top 10 amazing feats by a very pregnant lady (in no particular order):

1. getting out of the car gracefully (without falling, grunting, and using the steering wheel as assistance).

2. being able to sleep through the night without having to go to the bathroom.

3. rolling over from one side to the other in bed in less than 5 minutes.

4. putting shoes on without tipping over.

5. putting pants on without tipping over.

6. maneuvering through crowded or tight places without getting, ummm, stuck.

7. breathing.

8. getting up from a sitting to a standing position.

9.  trimming toenails (usually helps if you can actually reach them).

10. putting nail polish on your toenails.  not your toes, the top of your feet, the floor, the carpet...
now, if you'll excuse me, i've got to find my feet so i can put my shoes on.


school days: a break for the holidays

december (until the 25th) has been busy.  busy with gifts for christmas.  busy because aaron's work takes up most of his time during the holiday (which equals double duty at home for me).  it's the same every year, so instead i made the executive decision to break from "school" stuff (this really just means less structured days) and just go with what works for the day.

i had a few holiday activities/crafts planned for emma and miraculously did all of them (of course it helps that i didn't aim too high.  ha!).

1. gingerbread house.

i'm glad we did this one earlier in the month, because i had this grand idea that i was going to make my own gingerbread to build the house.  especially after we went to see those gingerbread houses downtown.  it turned out okay...definitely no match for the ones that we saw.  but emma was quite pleased with the result (and really that's all that matters), and gibson managed to snag one of the trees before it was time to eat them.  i'll have to say, midway through the building process those gingerbread house kits began sounding much more appealing than my lame DIY gingerbread walls and roof.
2. st. nicholas.

we missed st. nicholas day (december 6) by the time we got around to learning about him, but we did manage to do a couple of simple crafts.  the first was downloaded from here.  emma colored the picture (she thought green would be lovely), cut it out and then wrapped it around a toilet paper roll (sorry no finished product photo).  i suggested we turn it into an ornament, but she wanted to use it as a hand puppet...works for me!
the second craft was to make a st. nicholas day promise card, which i got here (scroll down a bit).  on the inside, i wrote out "justice", "charity", and "love of God" in pencil and had emma trace it in a color of her choice.  then we talked about how we could do those things in our life and picked 1 to write down for each section.  i also included one of her old memory verses, which seemed appropriate for this activity.  after everything was complete, emma found a special spot for it on our tree.
we didn't have time to find library books on st. nicholas, but i did read a couple of stories about him to emma from this site.  afterward, we talked about how stockings and stories of santa claus coming to bring gifts were connected to what we had learned about nicholas.

3.  books on christmas.

we read many, many books on christmas.  we found a great variety at the library and from our own collection.  gibson really liked finding the baby jesus in some of the books we checked out.  he also managed to tear out a few pages too...yikes!

4. building a snow lantern.

we got this idea from one of the library books we checked out: christmas in noisy village.  i wasn't sure if we were going to get around to doing this one since not all snow is created equal when it comes to making snowballs.  but it worked out and voila! a snow lantern 2 days before christmas.  after putting it all together, emma wanted to sing a few christmas carols by the lantern (like in the book) so that's what we did.
i think when there's more snow (which i know there will be plenty more to come) we might have to make more snow lanterns.  one was just not enough for the front of the house.


DIY/handmade/homemade christmas gifts

i don't think this is new to most of you, but i enjoy trying to do a lot of things myself (maybe this is a control thing?).  i learn a lot from the experience and it provides an fantastic creative outlet.

for me, christmas time usually involves a lot of brainstorming and creating handmade gifts.  we like being able to give a gift that's functional, purposeful, unique and lovingly made.  of course sometimes, i realize that i may not have the skills (and/or tools) necessary to create what i have in mind. so i turn to fantastic businesses such as the cleveland handmade markets, bazaar bizarre and etsy to help me find the perfect gift.

so not only is the time leading up to christmas a busy time for my husband, but it's usually quite a busy time for me. 

here are some of the handmade goodies made for christmas 2010...

embroidered and personalized bookmarks for our 2 little nephews (accompanied with a book of course), with illustrations done by emma.
plush jingle ball for ty's 2 year old brother in seattle.
stockings for my little sister, her boyfriend and their cute dog.
felt hand puppets for gibson.
embroidery bag for emma's embroidery kit and a custom design (she was quite specific in what she wanted) appliqued to her new plaid shirt.
table runner for aaron's parent's with original artwork and writing by emma (hand-embroidered by mama). 
personalized cookies and fudge bites for aaron's employees (i took photos of the cookies, but must have accidentally deleted them).  and then more fudge to give to family!
although now i can technically take a break, i'm looking forward to starting another project!
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