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Preparing for Baby #4

I don’t write on here much, so if you haven’t heard, we are expecting our fourth baby, SOON! I am 30 weeks, and anxious to close the chapter of “baby making” forever with this, our “Grand Finale” baby. img_9139

We announced this pregnancy back in September, at Jacson’s First Birthday! Man it seems like just yesterday that he was born…(I think my last post was in fact his at home Birth Story).

Then we learned that this sweet baby will be another GIRL and I shared some more intimate thoughts about the pregnancy on my instagram. god-knew

And her name is Emmy Scott Van Winkle.

emmy-scott

Now, as my due date for baby #4 is fast approaching, there is a lot that still needs to be done! I have to admit that my nesting has yet to kick in, and thus everything seems to be piling up and remaining undone. Part of me is letting a bit of panic sneak in, while the majority of me is thinking, “Girl, You’ve got this!”

Anywho, I thought it would be fun, to write this Blog Post by answering some of the questions I have been asked in Regards to this pregnancy and expecting our fourth!

Question 1: (The question I get asked most frequently). What do your kids think about you having another baby? 

Honestly, its really, really normal for them. Like it doesn’t phase them much at all. When we told the girls, who obviously understand much more than Jacson, they were excited and well, not surprised. I think this is due to the fact that we have had so many kids so close together (4 kids in 5 years) and so there hasn’t been a lot of time where I haven’t been pregnant. I do think that the youngest child is the one who feels the most displaced when a new baby arrives, so I fully expect that Jacson will be a little shocked to no longer be my baby. But he will be my only BOY, so the kid’s got a special place in my heart FOREVER! I also wonder if kids in larger families are just more accepting of mom and dad having more kids. My own children have voiced their love of having new babies in the house and are always excitedly reiterating the number of people/boys/girls that we will have in our family. “We have 4 girls and 2 boys in our family! Right mom?!”

Question 2: Where will you put all of them?! In regards to house size/ bedroom sharing/ general space for kids to live and play. 

This question has been at the forefront of my mind a lot, as we have been weighing the pro’s and con’s of moving before or after the baby is born. On the one hand it would be really nice to have more space, another bedroom, and to get settled before this baby arrives. Plus there would be the added bonus of getting to decorate another baby nursery! But buying within the next 2 months would be a big stress and undertaking too close to my due date. (Not to mention that I am having a home birth, so we kinda need a place to live). So, we decided to stay put in our 3 bedroom townhouse for another 6 months. Honestly, 6 months will fly by, and we will be so much more mentally, financially and physically prepared for a big move just a little ways down the road. And our baby girl will still be able to have her beautiful nursery when that time comes! In the meantime, she will be close by mom and dad in a corner of our bedroom, just as each one of our babies have been for the first several months. And I am still making plans on my Baby Must Haves list so that I can start collecting things now and in the months to come. Check out my most favorite things:baby-4-prep

Dockatot Ruffle Bloomers Bunny Bonnet Freshly Picked Moccs Little Nomad Play Mat Pacifier Clip Peony Wall Decals

Question 3: How close together are your kids? Are they twins?…

As I said, we will have had 4 children in a 5 year span. Tylyn Turns 5 a month before my due date! More specifically, here are the age spans between each child.

Tylyn and Hadley are 16 months apart. Hadley and Jacson are 26 months apart. Jacson and Emmy will be 18 months apart.

Is this crazy? Yes! Was this planned. No!

I’ve been pretty vocal over the years that we have not planned a single one of our pregnancies and I honestly believe that each one has been a blessing specifically timed and placed in our lives by God. Would I have liked to plan these pregnancies? Certainly. I MOST DEFINITELY DID NOT WANT TO BE A PREGNANT BRIDE when I was pregnant with Tylyn, our oldest. And I can tell you that I was not much more prepared the second time around when I found out I was pregnant with Hadley either– Tylyn was only 7 months old when I found myself to be pregnant! Seven months! I felt completely overwhelmed by the reality of being pregnant again so soon and at the general idea of having 2 babies! I was much more prepared the third time around and even had half a mind to make it special by surprising my husband on Christmas morning with a positive pregnancy test in his stocking! Compared to the emotional breakdowns I had while taking the previous 2 pregnancy tests, I considered the third time an exciting success! Baby Emmy was quite a surprise as well, and I found out I was pregnant at a time when there was a lot of heartbreak happening in our lives. In fact there still is, but I am constantly reminded of the goodness of God in his faithfulness to our growing family. I am certain that Emmy will be a gift of healing a redemption for our hearts!

Question #4: Are you having another home birth? Are you scared? Anxious? Nervous?

Yes to all of the above. I LOVED my homebirth with Jacson. It. Was. Amazing. I honestly would not have changed a single thing about it. So there was no question in my mind that I would set out to have another home birth with Emmy. Luckily, I have done it before so I know a lot of what to expect. But also, because I have done it before (the “it” being a drug-free, natural birth), there is some anxiety in regards to the pain and general well being of the baby. Emmy looks great and healthy, her ultrasound was good, and all of my checkups have been perfectly normal. But with the more children you have, the odds start to slightly decrease in your favor for everything to continue to go perfect! For example if 1 in 10 babies are born premature, and I have had 3 full term births, as in 3 in 10, then my odds now are.. you do the math… (seriously tho, my mommy brain can’t think this one out. LOL!) I know there is more that plays into these statistics such as previous pregnancies and health history, so I don’t let the fear rule my decision making. All of this I say to answer a couple questions that get thrown my way: “What if ______happens?” “Can you go to the hospital?” etc. In all honesty, my experience with midwives and homebirths in terms of educated choice far outweighs what I experienced using an OB/GYN. I feel far more in control, I feel much more informed and comfortable with all of the options available to me during birth and I feel completely safe in the care of my experienced midwives! And yes, transport to the hospital is available/possible/sometimes necessary.

I love talking about home birth a lot, so if you have more questions about it ask away. I will inevitably be sharing more as I start to prepare for the birth and after Emmy is born.

Question 5: Do you parent differently with each new child? 

Yes and No. With our first baby I had read all the books and different baby philosophies and I strongly believed in the way I set out to parent Tylyn. I strictly adhered to eat/wake/sleep schedule, had a baby sleep trained at 8 weeks old, and continued to be convicted about my child raising techniques throughout her toddlerhood. And as I have done the same things with each child, getting the same positive results with each (sleeping through the night at 8 weeks each, potty trained at a year and a half with each, disciplined each the same…) there has been increased leniency with each baby as well. But I think the leniency is actually a really really good thing. I think that is shows that we are more comfortable in our parenting strategies and we have learned how and when to “pick our battles”. Obviously when you have one kid you can dedicate all your attention on their behavior and development, where with multiple kids you have to divide your attention and focus on what is most important with each child. It is nice because you become more attuned to their specific personality and needs without stressing out about each and every bump and stage along the way. I laugh thinking about how I spent hours researching what to do when Tylyn stated saying “No!” at everything, when she was 18 months. Then, as Hadley inevitably entered the same stage, I had the knowledge of how to handle it without concern. And now with Jacson, it doesn’t even phase me one bit. I even find myself chuckling at Jacson’s toddler tantrums. What once made me feel like a failure as a parent with Tylyn, is now a stage I can smile at and even enjoy with Jacson, knowing that he too will learn to manage his emotions (with discipline and training along the way of course).

Now for me, the thing I think the most about in preparing for Baby #4 is how we will be going from an “average” size family to a “large” size family. I often wonder how on earth we will ever make it out in public and if any onlookers will be gracious and kind to us when we do. I understand that finding a babysitter to watch 4 children will become much more difficult than finding someone to watch 1 or 2 or even 3. And I don’t expect to be taking trips INTO the grocery store ever again. Thank goodness for the Fred Meyer Checklist pickup. I do not plan on having any more babies after Emmy, but I am very happy with accomplishing my goal of having 4 kids by the time I am 30 years old. 4 has always seemed like the golden number of children to have, and although I have disliked pregnancy all 4 times, I am pretty ecstatic that we actually made it this far! My hopes for my children are that they love each other so deeply that they will remain great friends as they grow up and into adulthood. I want them to look back on their childhood with lots of good happy memories and stories of growing up together, so close in age, so close in friendship! And I am fully believing that “families of 4 children or more are the happiest” as this study has suggested!

Love you all and thanks for visiting!

Lexie

 

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2 Little Girls, 1 Bedroom.

A couple months ago, before Jacson was born, I decided it was time to move Tylyn and Hadley back into the same bedroom. Hadley’s room was the slightly bigger room, so I opted to move Tylyn from her room, in order to turn the smaller room into Jacson’s nursery (that will be a separate post).

Tylyn was very, VERY resistant to my plan. Her biggest areas of discontent over moving rooms were 1. the pink walls in her room, and 2. having her own closet. She really, really likes her closet. To move past these issues, or at least skirt around them, I started by first painting over Tylyn’s pink walls with white paint. This way she could no longer use them against me. Second, I let her keep her “OWN” closet. Tylyn still has her clothes, toys, and giant barbie house in the closet in Jacson’s room.

Now, as I said in my last post, every good design needs to start with A PLAN! So I went to work to create one. I had already set my sights on some upholstered twin headboards. And figured I could make them myself on my nickle budget. We were starting from scratch with this room because we were moving from a crib and toddler bed to two twin beds! Meaning, we didn’t have two twin beds or mattresses! Not to mention my budget was around $0. I will explain how I got my end look while essentially spending $0 as I go. But back to my plan…

tylyn haddy room

Here was my first plan. The color scheme was to be pink, purple and blue as those were the requested colors. And as I said, two twin beds, two headboards (the ones shown are from overstock.com), a pink ombre dresser from landofnod.com, tulip bedding from landofnod.com, mirror, lamp, gummy bear night light, and pink ottomans also from Land of Nod. Lastly, some pink heart wall decals to jazz up the existing grey accent wall. The ruffle curtain and zebra rug I already had, both from overstock.com. Some things changed as I went, like the blue headboards ended up being purple (kids with their “favorite color” changing by the week), and the bedding changed too.

Here is the plan I ended up moving forward with:

tylyn haddy room 2

Like all rooms, the girls room is still a work in progress. I LOVE the pink ottoman and bunny mirror, but need to save up before I add them to the room.

august 2014 007

This is such a horrible picture but the only thing I have that is remotely close to showing my process of making the headboards. So, it will have to suffice. Or you will just have to use your imagination to envision how I made these headboards.

First, I have had a box of large foam core boards in our garage for a couple years. Slowly I have used the boards for various projects. And I figured the were the perfect size for twin headboards, so why not use them instead of going and buying heavy plywood. The foam core became the backing. I then put thick foam (again, something we bought years ago and have yet to use all the pieces) on top of the foam core board, wrapped it in batting and lastly purple fabric from http://www.fabric.com. My staple gun did indeed work on the foam core back to attach the fabric, as I thought the staples might pull out. Lastly I found some pearly beads to poke through the fabric and foam to make tufts. The result was a pair of super lite weight headboards that are cute and stylish without spending much money. They may not last for years and years. But I am okay with that because I am sure I will want to redecorate again someday, and hopefully will have more money to spend the next time round.

august 2014 167

Now about the dresser. My inspiration piece was from Land of Nod, and was way out of my price range. But I have seen several successful Ikea hacks using the $34.99 Rast dresser and figured I would try one. A good thing to note about the Rast dresser, it is much much smaller in person than I ever realized. This turned out to be fine for my project because it acts more like a night stand than a dresser anyway, but it’s really not very great for clothes storage.

For painting the dresser I went with what was in the garage: a can of white paint and a small can of red paint. I first painted the sides and top with the white paint and then I mixed the red and white together to first get the darkest pink color and painted the bottom drawer. Next I added a little more white to the dark pink to get the middle drawer color. And finally I added more white to the medium pink to get the lightest pink color. Money spent on paint $0. Oh and dresser paid for with an Ikea gift card. You might also notice a purple lamp base that I found for $1 at goodwill. I have still yet to get  a lamp shade for it. These things just take time my friends! HAHA!

As for the pink heart decals. I figured out that I needed about 50 hearts, and to buy the decals I would be looking at around $50. So, I asked some friends and found one that had a dye cut machine I could borrow. I bought a roll of pink, peel and stick vinyl from Michael’s for $3 and made my own hearts. The only hard part here was measuring and spacing out each heart so that the pattern looked right on the wall.

Cricut® Vinyl Sampler Pack, Metallics

Cricut Vinyl sold at local craft stores.

Back to my Budget:

The biggest ticket items in my room were the beds and bedding. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get matching sheets, comforters, duvets, bed skirts… but I obviously have taste that reaches beyond my price point. So, I did a couple things to get what I wanted. As usual, I sold things to save money for what I wanted, including a toddler bed, dresser, crib bedding, etc. Hadley’s birthday also happened to overlap with my redecorating, so we were given the matching sheet sets. And I also shamelessly added the duvets to my land of nod baby registry so that I could get 15% off and free shipping when I bought them from the money I saved up. The twin mattresses and box springs were actually found for free on craigslist. Gasp! But we found the best ones that they had, from nice neighborhoods. I also felt a twin mattresses was a safer size mattress to get used (think of that as you may). Add some thick mattress pads on top and I don’t have an issue!

before jacson 017

Tylyn has decided she loves her new bed and her new room. And Hadley is pretty happy as well. Then again she loves everything her sister loves. Now, getting the girls to go to bed, together, at a reasonable time… that is another story!

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Happy Home, Happy Heart!

I often tell my tantruming toddlers, especially my very emotional “threenager”, to “find a happy heart” and that Jesus put “joy down in our hearts” (how many of you have used that line before!?) and sometimes I can’t help but think of how hypocritical it is for me to be asking my children to find joy while I am feeling far from joyful in the moment. Finding joy in the current season of my life has become somewhat of a mission – fighting daily battles along the way. I will be the first to tell you about how easily I can be derailed with my current role as a stay at home mom/ home-maker/ laundry mat/maid/ cook… The tasks of my day are endless and thankless and most often just tiring. But in seeking joy in the midst of all the crazy and chaos, I have managed to find my rhythm and a “Happy Heart” in the confines of my own Home.
My husband will be the first to tell you that I am most in my element when I am working. I had a fun and rewarding career working in architectural firms, doing what I loved – designing. I then went on to teach high schoolers about design, which was less fun and less rewarding but still an outlet for my creativity and purpose. And then I started having babies, and wanted to stay home with them full time.  I was relieved and excited to say goodbye to my teaching career to watch my children grow, but my desire to do more, and create never went away.
In my old classroom

In my old classroom

Now before I go on… You must know that my husband and I have been married for 4 years and have managed to have 3 babies, in that time. We have also lived in 5 different states, moved a total of I think 11 times (the life of a minor league baseball career) we have started businesses, changed careers, taken big risks and suffered some losses along the way. It has not been an easy ride. But it has been full of joy.
Now back to creating/designing… the 9 “homes” that we have inhabited in the past 4 years have included, a garage apartment that I built out from the studs, a semi-furnished studio apartment (like the furniture came with), a big ole, Victorian frat house where we lived with 6 minor league baseball players (and our baby), a bedroom in a host families home, a duplex apartment, a basement, another apartment, and now a townhouse. Yeah, were moving up in the world.
Some pics of our garage apartment:
It was when I found myself in South Bend, Indiana, alone with my newborn in the giant, filthy (smelled like smoke) frat house, that I decided if I was going to be happy, I needed to put some time and energy into making this place a home, as best I could. First I got some TSP and a big bucket to scrub all the filth off of the walls and baseboards. My husband and his team mates were gone on road trips for 4 days at a time and sometimes longer. On these spans apart, Tylyn (my baby) and I would go to all the good wills scouring for furniture and pieces to bring home, refurbish and fix up our house. In a couple weeks time, we had a charming bedroom; complete with our blow up mattress, bedside tables, a dresser, curtains, mirrors and even vases of flowers. It was a retreat. A sanctuary for our little family of 3. And a place to get away from the nightly partying going on downstairs. No joke. I also had refinished a table and chairs to eat meals at as a family and reupholstered two fab chairs for the guys to sit at while they played their video games. Next thing I knew my husband got moved to a new team, so I had a yard sale and sold my cool furniture finds (for a profit) and we moved on to our next home. Although the uncertainty of where we would be living or if we would even have a place to sleep was stressful, I always thrived on the opportunity to make a little semblance of home everywhere we went. I tell you this story not because I think everyone is creative and should be able to go thrift shopping and furnish their houses or even turn a profit. But to point out that the time spent to search for and cultivate beauty, in the midst of otherwise chaotic circumstances, truly made my heart happy. In the bedroom we lived in next, cultivating home simply meant taking the host families, American flag quilt bedding off of the bed and then dressing it up in bedding that fit my style and comfort – Hello throw pillows!
A Throwback to our “homeless” days:
Homeless Chic! HAHAHA!

Homeless Chic! HAHAHA!

Fast forward a little while to now. 3 kids, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms… and a whole set of new issues. Gone are the days of homeless and wandering the country, and now we are stuck, at home, day after day after day. Some days can feel endless and mundane. Most days I feel like I drowning in chores, laundry, dishes, and a sea of barbies. Even though my home is designed and appointed with paint, patterns, furniture and pretty accessories, learning to keep house is a daily lesson. I in no way love cleaning but i do find joy in a clean house. The chores are also made easier when I uncover the beautifully designed space that I have created, beneath the clutter. There is no greater feeling then enjoying time with my family and friends in a beautiful, organized and clean space. And it does bring true pleasure to my life to share our home with others, invite people in and make them as comfortable as possible.
I also want to mention is that I am not the only one who reaps the benefits of a beautiful, designed home. my husband and children find joy in our home as well. For awhile I feared that there was something wrong with my oldest daughter when she would be happily playing at a friends house and then suddenly slink over to my side and declare that she wanted to go back to her OWN house. It took me some time to realize that she wasn’t some weird home body, but that she finds comfort in her home and the atmosphere that I have created. I recently asked her to describe her home and she said, “Beautiful! Special! and Mommy! Granted, she is 3 and she may not have much else to grasp when I ask her to describe her home. But I like to think when she uses these words it is packed with deep meaning. Not only does she think the space I have made is beautiful and special and unique (I added that one) but it reminds her of me. I can only dream that she will always have fond memories of me and the home she grew up in. Even if the house may change- the home is built with people and experiences and love.
Our current home:

I have to share one more personal story because it’s so fresh in my life. I just had my third baby 6 weeks ago and we chose to use a midwife and have a home birth. At my first appointment/ interview with my midwife I asked her what the difference between birthing at home or at a birth center is. Medically, there is no difference in care. But it depends on the families preference and that “most woman feel safest where ever they are most comfortable.” At that moment the choice was a no brainer for me. 1. I hate everything about going to the doctors office and hospitals. I get anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. And 2. The idea of a home birth offered me so much more control over my surroundings than I would get anywhere else. I was able to prepare for the birth far beyond what I was able to do with my previous pregnancies.  It all worked out to our complete enjoyment as we had a successful home-birth in the comforts of our own home. And to quote my husband in the moments after Jacson was born, “that was easy!” Not the words I would use, but the sentiment rings true. Get the full birth story here.

Maybe we are a bunch of homebodies and were just ok with it. Haha.

With my own personal experiences behind us. I want us all to reflect on the biblical Proverbial woman. The proverbs 31 woman to be exact. Now, let us note this is a poem, taught to King Lemuel by his mother; to instill in him the importance of finding a good, scratch that, a GREAT wife. She is not describing herself here. I am sure she wishes she were, but in reality she is describing the IDEAL woman.

proverbs 31.7
Now that I have a son. My perspective on his future spouses is a bit from that of my daughters. With the girls I am excited to imagine what kind of son in law I may be so lucky to welcome into our family. With my son, my first thought is, “I hope I like her” and my second thought is, “I hope she is like me.” Hahaha! Just keepin’ it real.

I imagine King Lemeul’s mother felt similar and envisioned only the best of the best of the best for her son. Someone that with the right seeds and desires planted in her young heart, may one day grow and become the very multi-faceted and talented Proverbs 31 woman. There are too many great passages to look at here and interpret them in regards to cultivating and designing your home. So… we will focus on 2. First:

Proverbs 31: 16-17

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

She CONSIDERS a field. Now before anyone thinks they need to go out and buy a field, let us focus on the word considers. Here is a woman who has a dream in her heart to buy a field. But rather than acting rash, she considers it. She makes a plan. She prays about it. She does her research. And then she buys it. Further, she buys it out of her own earnings. This is money that she has scrimped and saved and put aside, for probably a long time in pursuit of this dream. Again, emphasizing the time and dedications that she put into the plan in itself. 

Next she plants a vineyard and works vigorously with her own arms and hands. We already know she is not idle in her lifestyle. She is a go-getter. She makes her dreams happen for herself. She relies on no one else to get what she wants and she becomes stronger for her diligence for her planning and preparation. She becomes stronger and wiser. 

In cultivating a home this passage illustrates my number 1 piece of advice. Make a plan! Don’t act rash. Otherwise you will find yourself at HomeGoods where there is a pretty sofa that is too pretty and too well priced to pass up. But when you get home, you realize the color clashes with the other items that you also recently and impulsively bought on a weekly trip to Target. Without a plan. You will spend more money- even when you think you are saving. You will never achieve the cohesive look that you ultimately desire and you will always be moving 1 step forward and 2 steps back. In design a wise woman will set a budget for her space. Itemize out each item that she ultimately wants to buy, will make changes, cuts/ savings, splurges, and thrift finds along the way that fit into her plan and will be pleased with her efforts and the extra work. She will put in some elbow grease to make an old dresser into a new show stopping piece of one of a kind furniture. And she will be much stronger and wiser for first CONSIDERING her field!

You can see some of my other tips for home design based on the Proverbs 31 passage in your handout, so I’ll just breeze through these before I make my last point:

More Tips from Proverbs 31 as to designing your home:

Set a budget
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Have a plan.
She’s up before dawn, … and organizing her day”
DIY! Don’t be afraid to work for it! 
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
Save up $$ (sell some stuff to speed up the saving $ process) and be crafty.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.”    
Make it your own but don’t be afraid to “copy”.
 “She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Collect things of meaning to you
“She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places 
and brings back exotic surprises”
Appreciate your home while your in it. Don’t be too caught up in the end result. Enjoy the process and the reward.
She senses the worth of her work”
Let your family share in your vision. They can help you achieve your goal. 
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.”
Share your home with others – open the door for friends family and those in need.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.”
Now for the most important stuff. The place where we find real JOY in our house. The end of Proverbs 31 gives me all the warm fuzzy feels.
proverbs 31.1
Proverbs 28-31
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
 
Honestly this just speaks for itself. Your children do notice you. They may not say it. They may not show it. But your activities, diligence, grace and smile will be the true fruit of your labor. My kids are young now and their daily messes often leave me a mess of emotion. But my goal is not in today, but in the future, when they are grown and no longer living in my house. I pray that they will always find my home to be their home. I pray they will love to come back and sit with me, talk to me, be my friend. All of my time spent investing in them and our home now, will become my greatest reward in our future. 
 
Now about that husband… My mother-in-law and sister-in-laws are here, so this may be awkward. Then again they probably already know…. But getting my husband to be really affectionate and flowery with his words is impossible. I have tried. But in all the years I have known him, I am sure of his adoration and praise even without the words to back it up. And it says it right here in proverbs, “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” My husband and I have been together since high school, so he has seen the changes, the fleeting beauty. Lets be real. He has seen me birth our 3 children– and he still loves me. He still lets me paint walls, buy and sell furniture, do crafts that make messes, and pursue beauty in our home(S). We walk this path in pursuit of Christ both separately and together. Our goal is the same. Our center of gravity is the same. And the praise can go unsaid because our actions are enough.
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Home Birth Story – Jacson Abel

Jacson Abel 8 lbs 7 oz 21in

Jacson Abel 8 lbs 7 oz 21in

Today, October 7th, Baby Jacson turns one month old. And I figure, I should recount my home birth, before I forget it all. (Yeah right, how could I forget that?). I want to share my experience with home birth because a. There are a lot of misconceptions about home birth that I didn’t even know myself until I began the process 9 months ago. And b. I think a lot of people have a general interest or at least intrigue surrounding the topic. With all that in mind, this is just my experience. I am in no way saying it is the right choice for everyone, and I am also not a medical professional. Just a girl who had a baby in her bedroom…

First off, I had 9 months of very thorough prenatal care. My midwife came to my home for each appointment. She did all the blood tests, glucose tests, etc that an OB does in a doctors office. I had a 20 week ultrasound with options to do more. In fact I had lots of options. Every test was presented to me with such detail that I actually felt I had a choice and the information to make an informed decision. In the last couple months, we made lots of plans with the midwife. Plans for emergency transport if needed, plans for what we would do if I went post term, plans for delivery, getting the house ready, collecting supplies… We were prepared! In fact I felt much more prepared for this birth than for either of my daughters’ births in the hospital. It was also fun picking out the supplies. I ordered a fancy birthing gown, picked out cute receiving blankets and beanies for baby. I bought new sheets for my bed and towels and feminine care products for myself post delivery as well. I prepared the room (a couple weeks too early as it turned out). I made my bed for delivery with a set of new sheets on bottom, then a big plastic mattress bag over top, and lastly a set of sheets that I didn’t mind getting messy and throwing out after labor. We ended up sleeping on that plastic bag for awhile. Hearing the crinkle of plastic every night was entertaining. Ironically, I didn’t even have the baby on the bed. Sheets saved!

Now, let me go back a couple weeks before Jacson was actually born. My due date was August 30th and I was 90% convinced that baby would arrive at least a week early. My family took a little weekend vacation to Lake Chelan when I was 37 weeks pregnant, and the day we got home, I started to really feel like labor would be eminent. Some of my new symptoms included swelling, some pinkish mucus discharge, and a baby that had dropped so low in my pelvis that I had to walk waddle with my legs apart. Sadly these symptoms did not progress into the start of labor. Right around when I hit 38-39 weeks of pregnancy, I started having contractions. Not braxton hicks contractions, but something much more comparable to labor contractions. I would time them and they would be consistent for several hours. Only they wouldn’t change or progress. This is apparently called false labor – something I can assure you I did not believe existed. I mean, how could someone not know if they are actually in labor?! Apparently me. I had 2 false alarms where I actually called my midwife to warn her my labor was starting and then fell asleep to wake up in the morning with no baby. This false labor thing went on for WEEKS!!! Like 3 weeks to be exact. It was exhausting physically but way more exhausting mentally. By then end I can honestly say I thought my baby was going to live inside forever and that I would never go into real labor. The other thing that happened somewhere between 38-40 weeks was I thought my water broke. It sounds kinda crazy to once again, NOT KNOW for sure if something like this actually happened. But, what I experienced, was a trickle of water. And no, I did not pee myself. Yet, my midwife checked my amniotic fluid levels and ruled out the possibility of my membranes being broken. Confusing. Yes. VERY! blah blah blah… no one trust my predictions on the start of labor as I clearly couldn’t figure it out. Once I hit my due date on August 30th, I had basically given up all hope of ever birthing my baby. I went from totally prepared for my home birth to less and less prepared as the days went on. My excitement and anticipation to have my baby turned once again to fear and dread. The more time I had to mull over the situation and possible outcomes of having a home birth and NO EPIDURAL, the more scared I became!! I had epidurals with both of my other births, but believed I could handle all the pain of child birth because I had labored all the way through transition without an epidural with my first baby.

40 weeks slowly became 41 weeks, while I fought phone calls and questions of, “When are you going to have this baby?!?!” and the worst of all, “When are you going to be induced..?”

How about, “I have no clue.” “Stop asking me…” and “Never.”  “I am NOT GOING TO BE INDUCED!!!!” The questions about induction were the most frustrating because I felt like I was fighting against our Americanized, cultural belief that a baby must be induced if a woman goes over the 40 weeks gestation. When in fact, avoiding induction was my biggest goal and one of the reasons I chose a home birth. I naively opted for an induction with my second pregnancy when I was 40 weeks pregnant. Hadley was induced at 40 weeks and 4 days and had a shoulder distotia, meaning she got stuck on her way out. It is my opinion that she got stuck because she wasn’t ready to come out and wasn’t in the right position. I have regretted being induced ever since for that reason and more.

In the early evening on September 6th, we were on our way to an evening church service. I started having contractions in the car. Real contractions or false labor..? I was still unsure. I began timing the uncomfortable contractions during the sermon and concluded this must be the real thing. Since I had several false alarms before, I was still hesitant to declare “I am in labor” to our friends and family. Instead I casually told my mother in law that I was having contractions and we would keep her in the loop. On our way home we called my parents to come and pick up our girls which my husband thought was a bad idea. “But what if you don’t actually have a baby tonight?!” he said. He too didn’t believe that I could tell the difference between real labor and false labor. It actually took him up until about 30 minutes before baby arrived to believe that I was indeed in LABOR! HELLOWW!!

We were home around 8:00 pm and spent an hour or so cleaning up the house with the help of my parents. They left a little after 9:00 pm and I decided to give my midwife a call. “Hi, it’s Lexie. So, I think I really am in labor. I have been having contractions since 5:00pm, every 3-5 minutes and they are getting a little stronger. I am not sure when you want to come…. but I think this is the real thing..?…!”

My midwives arrived about an hour later at 10:00pm and I was still walking around, talking through contractions and feeling like I could totally handle this. They got all set up with their equipment in my bedroom, as I planned to deliver on my bed. And then she checked my heart rate and baby’s through some contractions. They quickly deduced that my contractions were “coupling”, meaning I would have a couple contractions back to back and then a longer rest between the next couple. She said this was common with babies that are posterior. We had assumed that Jacson may have been posterior based on the uterine palpitations in my last couple prenatal appointments. My first daughter Tylyn was posterior, but we didn’t know it until she was delivered and the doctor declared, “She is sunny side up!” Babies that are born this way, head up, are a little harder to deliver and it has been described as more painful than if they are face down.

A little while later my midwife decided to check my cervix and found I was only dilated to 4cm. At this point it was 11:30pm and my husband texted his mom to let her know, “Lexie is only dilated to 4cm. This could be awhile. I will let you know when things progress.” He was wrong.

I decided to try rolling around on my birthing ball and my body decided to kick into action right when I got down onto the floor. My contractions quadrupled in pain almost instantly. And Tyson decided he needed a bathroom break. I could tell that things were changing and told him it better be quick! Right after he left to the bathroom I started throwing up through contractions.

This is the exact scenario that led to my epidural with Tylyn. I had hit transition quickly after being checked at 3cm. But this was my first baby and I trusted my doctor and nurse when they said it would be about 1 cm per hour before she was born. I thought I would be on the floor puking for 7 more hours and would surely die. Little did I know I was actually fully dilated, and they did not check me a second time before administering the epidural. Surely had I not had the epidural I would have been ready to push and would have been holding my first child in my hands. Instead, both Tylyn and my heart rates plummeted and they prepped me for a C-section. Luckily we stabilized and I was able to deliver vaginally, and relatively pain free.

Once active labor with Jacson began, it was like a flashback to when I hit transition during my labor with Tylyn. I was on all 4’s mooing and groaning like a cow and needing Tyson to press on my low back with all of his body weight to take off some of the pressure and make it a tiny bit more bearable. One midwife asked if I wanted to move back onto my bed, but I felt paralyzed and couldn’t possibly move an inch. They did managed to tuck a pillow under my knees. Then suddenly I felt the urge to push. (internal thoughts below in italics)

Still on my knees, and PUSH!!! “AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!” That was terrible. I can’t do that again. I am going to die. 

PUSH 2!!!!”AAAAAAAGGGGGRRRHHHH!!!!!!!!!” My water exploded all over the place (don’t worry. there was a plastic tarp on the floor). That was terrible. But I feel a little relieved. Please don’t make me push again.

PPUUUSSSSHHHHHH 3!!!!!!!!!!!!! His head is out. (Screaming Bloody Murder) I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I am crazy. Why am I doing this? What am I thinking. I am going to die. I am going to die. I am going to die. and my poor neighbor… 

PPPPUUUUUSSSSHHHHH 4!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Screaming Bloody Murder) What happened? Is it over? Is he out??? He’s not out??? Is he Stuck? What’s going on…? I can’t do this again. I need to get him OUT!!!!!

PPPPPUUUUUUUSSSSSSHHHHH 5!!!!!!! (Screaming more Bloody Murder) He is out! Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I just did that. Oh my gosh. I’m alive. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!!

Jacson Abel was born at 12:47 am on September 7th, 2015.

They handed Jacson through my legs to me. And we very slowly and carefully stood up and moved to the bed to lay down. He laid on my chest and we fell in love. But that wasn’t the end.

I had to deliver the placenta. And this was very unpleasant. In the hospital I never even noticed the placenta coming out. I think the difference is 2 fold. 1. I had epidurals in the hospital and they just pulled it out. 2. They cut the cord right after the baby was born.

But not this time. Jacson laid on my chest with his cord attached to the placenta inside my body for a LONG time. I’m not sure how long. But I would guess at least 30 minutes of painful contractions while the umbilical cord continued to pulse and send nutrients to the baby in my arms. It was very hard to focus on my sweet, adorable little baby while the placenta was still inside. I was so uncomfortable and couldn’t think of anything except, “Can we get this out of me?! PLEASE!?!?!”

After what I felt was demanding to get it out, my midwives FINALLY cut the cord and handed Jacson to Tyson. I then delivered the placenta and found peace. Haha! I held my new baby in bliss and shock over the labor that just took place.

If you would have asked me then, I would have been certain that I could absolutely NEVER EVER do that again. NEVER. EVER. I figured Tyson had already won the battle about not having a 4th baby in a couple years. Because let’s face it, an epidural is A LOT LESS PAINFUL!!!! Like a lot. Seriously people. A LOT! And now that I had a home birth I can’t go back to the whole hospital thing for 4th baby…

But here we are now, a month out, and my outlook on the birth and natural labor is already completely different. Like I LOVED it! I LOVED IT PEOPLE! I absolutely LOVED IT. Haha. I know it sounds funny and crazy. Who could love being in pain so bad they thought they would surely die? Um ME!!! It must be God! He works in mysterious ways. Having a baby is really miraculous. And although painful the gift far outweighs the difficulties. There is something about working, LABORING through the entire process that makes the gift just that much greater! A LABOR OF LOVE. And I am speaking from experience. I am not condemning anyone else’s choice to have an epidural. I have done it both ways. I love all my kids equally. But delivering Jacson… pushing him out with each excruciating push, was so so sooo so worth it! I guess I can’t explain what you haven’t experienced yourself.

And that’s basically it. We had a healthy baby boy. He is growing like a champ and weighed 11lbs 2 oz at his last appointment on Sunday. He is just the sweetest baby and I am head over heels in love with him. There is absolutely something special about having a boy this time. I want him to love me forever! HAHAHAH! It is going to take some serious prayer for me not to turn into a crazy mother in law for his future wife. I had an absolutely perfect home birth and I loved the entire experience. If you have any questions I am happy to answer. But please keep it positive! I know home birth may not be for everyone, but it worked out for us!

Sorry this was so long winded. Every birth has a story, and they deserve to be told! (even if no one reads it 😉 hehe).

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Elf On The Shelf Free Printable Props

The Christmas season is finally here! Let’s be honest… I got a jump start on my holiday decorating and put up the stockings before Christmas. But, now that Thanksgiving has past, our Christmas traditions have begun. The first, and most exciting (for the girls and myself) being our Elf on the Shelf, Bell, has made her way back from the North Pole!!

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Last year, was Bell’s first year gracing our home, and to be entirely honest, I wasn’t very prepared for the nightly demand of hiding the elf (while trying to be original and creative). More times than not, I was scrambling to hide the elf in the morning, holding my kids hostage in their room before they could come out and look. And I felt like I coulda, shoulda, woulda done the whole thing differently if I had just planned a little bit better. Thus, about 2 weeks ago, I put together of a daily calender of our Elf’s hiding spots, and some very helpful printable props to make each morning a little extra special. Additionally, I put an effort in making some of the days meaningful to the spirit of CHRISTmas. I’m going to be honest for a minute; It is HARD to teach young children the real meaning of Christmas in this society. I get caught up in the shopping, the presents, the glamour of the holiday more than I would like to admit. And I know that  is what often makes Christmas so magical and fun for kids. But it has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. So, finding ways to teach and train my girls about the miracle of Jesus, the gift of the gospel, helping and giving to others, serving others, etc. means everything in the world to me (even if it is taught through a silly/naughty/curious little elf)!

Our elf joined us from the North Pole the morning after Thanksgiving, thus our Calender looks like this, but can be done is any order that works for you:

Nov. 28 – Pilgrim hat, turkey left-overs, letter from the Elf to kids, Elf book.IMG_5751

Nov. 29 – Super Hero Elf

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Nov. 30 – Elf decorates a Christmas Tree (because this is the day we are going to get our tree)IMG_5794

Dec. 1 – Elf goes to Dutch Bro’s and brings hot chocolate. (*note: dutch bro’s gives kids drinks in reusable plastic cups, so on this morning I make hot chocolate at home and put it in the dutch bro’s cup’s I already have so that I don’t have to make an early morning trip to the coffee shop.)

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Dec. 2 – Elf bakes cookies to share with others and makes a snow angel in the flour (teach your kids about serving others by delivering cookies to neighbors or the mail man or someone you want to say ‘thank you’ to). IMG_5830

Dec.3 – Elf Draws a family portrait on easel

Elf on the Shelf draws the family

Elf on the Shelf Family Portrait

Dec. 4 – Cookie Sheet Nativity Magnets (note* This requires a little DIY – simply print the full size nativity paper, and cut out each person and stick a small magnetic strip on the back (buyable at local craft store) then arrange the nativity scene on a cookie sheet for your kids to play with. The elf also has a miniature cookie sheet nativity to hold in the printables.)Dec. 5 – Elf looks through toy catalogs

Dec. 6 – Elf goes shopping (wears sunglasses, holds shopping bags) Elf on the shelf goes shopping

Dec. 7 – Elf sleeps next to Baby Jesus in the manger (wears sleeping mask) Elf sleeps by the Nativity

Dec. 8 – Elf makes “North Pole Doughnuts” for breakfast (requires store bought powdered sugar doughnuts and red and white paper straws)     Elf on the Shelf North Pole Doughnuts

Dec. 9 – Elf writes a letter to Santa about the kid’s behavior       Elf writes letter to santa

Dec. 10 – Elf builds a snowman                Do you wanna build a snowman

Dec. 11 – Elf Dresses as a Wiseman (requires purple felt to make a robe)

Dec. 12 –  Elf cleans kids bedroom or toy room (again, teach your kids about serving others, being helpful, etc.) Elf on the Shelf cleans

Dec. 13 – Elf rescues a puppy (box of puppies *requires one small plastic puppy from craft store) Elf on the Shelf and box of puppies

Dec. 14 – Elf dresses as a Shepard and joins nativity scene   Elf on the Shelf Shepherd

Dec. 15 – Elf leaves a list of “5 ways to serve others” for kids to complete that day. (*service activity)

Dec. 16 – Elf makes paper snowflakes with scissors

Dec. 17 – Elf goes Christmas Caroling

Dec. 18 – Elf reads Christmas book (*requires you to buy a Christmas book for your kids too).

Dec. 19 – Elf hangs stocking on mini fireplace

Dec. 20 – Elf follows “North Star Map” leading to the nativity and kids follow the stars as well.

Dec. 21 – Elf dresses as an angel                  elf dresses as an angel

Dec. 22 – Elf rides a reindeer   elf rides a reindeer

Dec. 23 – Christmas Movie Night (popcorn, soda, Christmas movie printables

Dec. 24 – Elf gives Christmas Jammies,goodbye letter, sleeping bag to sleep under the Christmas tree

Now, here are the free printable’s. They were made for my calender days, so to make them work for you, may take a little creativity and imagination. But use one or use them all! I hope your December Days are filled with fun Elfie memories!

Elf on the Shelf Printable Props

Elf on the Shelf Printable Props

nativity for kids

elfie drawing and cooking

Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

Elf on the Shelf Printable

*** I will be updating this post daily with photo’s of our elf Bell, so you can see just how I applied the props!

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Crowd My Corners! (One ‘quantifiable’ component of “bad” interior design)

A lot about interior design is subjective. It is often a matter of personal opinion, style preferences, budget constraints and taste level. It is also one of the hardest aspects of being an interior designer- how to separate good design from bad design. I personally appreciate all different taste levels, styles, and budgets (big and little). And I think good design can reside in many, many forms. In fact, I was rather aghast in reading a fellow interior designer say that it is a BIG “No, No” to have fake flowers, poly-fill pillows, and low thread-count linens. And that is just absurd. Although I understand where she must have been coming from… some things are better than others… but they certainly do not separate good design from bad design. It is silly for designers or “decorators” to come up with rules like this. It suggests that interior design is trivial. And I can surely tell you as an interior design major, that design is anything but trivial. If all I had to worry about were thread-counts, then I wasted a lot of money to get a 4 year education on this subject. But enough said about that.

To classify something as “bad” is really, really hard. Because most things that are actually ‘designed’ have had a lot of thought put into them,  and therefore probably are not bad at all. It is the things that are not considered, and where little or no thought has been made, where some of the cardinal rules of design are broken (dun dun dun). So, I guess the best course of action in eradicating “bad design”, is informing people on some of the actual “No, No’s”.

how to measure good design

Scale separates good design from bad design.

Today I am going to address “Crowded Corners” which falls under knowledge of space planningSpace Planning refers to floor plan drawings that create spatial arrangements for interior spaces. These arrangements take into consideration window placement, door placement, architectural and structural details and furniture placement. Often space planning begins when the exterior of a building is being designed in architectural form. Because, where a window is placed on the exterior of the building is also where it is placed on the inside of a room. (A window that is centered/symmetric/thoughtfully placed on the exterior, may just so happen to be in the most awkward position in an interior space).

Now on to those crowded corners. Arranging furniture in a room can be tricky; especially when  the given dimensions, window and door placement, and other obtrusive architectural details (from columns to fireplaces) are prohibiting. And more often than not, homeowners seek symmetry in their furniture arrangements, despite the unsymmetrical room. So, what often ends up happening is crowding furniture, and “overlapping” furniture corners. The following diagrams will illustrate some possible scenarios much better than my words could ever do.

Example 1:

bad 1

Here is a simplified situation. You can see that the chairs are overlapping the corners of the sofa, and if the room were only a foot or so wider, there would be enough room to achieve this very symmetrical furniture layout. But there’s NOT. The overall idea was a good one, leave the area around the entry open, center the entertainment center and furniture for easy viewing. But, the restraints of the room (width) can not be altered. Thus, the best option, is to ditch the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” idea and find a better one.

good 1

Here we have the same room and same furniture (with the addition of a side table and lamp). The layout is no longer considered symmetrical. But it accomplishes the same goal (conversational seating and easy viewing of the tv). What is better about this option, is that the furniture is not being over crowded in the corners. It may not be bothersome to some, but it is in fact a MAJOR space planning faux pas, and easily spotted by the trained eye.

Example 2: Bedrooms

bad 4

Bedrooms are often culprits of crowding corners. Simply because, they often have a need for many pieces of big, bulky furniture- and no space to put it. In the above example, seeking symmetry, the bed and nightstands are along the back wall, and then a dresser is left to overlap one of the bedside tables.

good 4

The Solution in the scenario is to forgo centering the bed on the back wall. Rather, shifting the bed and nightstands to the right, gives enough space for the dresser to now go one the left wall. And in order not to crowd the door, the edge of the dresser aligns with the foot of the bed, creating an uninterrupted path in front of the door and closet.

Example 3: 

bad 3

This is room is illustrated as a nursery, but imagine it as you may, I have seen these situations too many times to count, and it is such a simple fix. Basically, the arrangement above is trying to achieve the crib centered on the back wall, the changing table centered on the left wall and the bookcase centered on the right wall. Centering things is not always the answer! In fact, centering is often the destroyer… of a good space plan.

good 3

These crowded corners, are the easiest fix of all! You can still achieve the “centered” look by keeping the crib centered on the back wall. Drawing the changing table and book cases closer to the door, and aligning with the edge of the rug, makes all the sense in the world!

Example 4: The dual focal point debacle 

bad 5

When your family room has a focal feature, like a bay window or a fireplace, it is often a blessing and a curse. The feature should rightfully be the focal point of the room, but it begs the questions – “where to put the tv?” This example is striving to accommodate both the bay window and the tv area and it is doing a fairly good job. The sectional sofa allows both sides of the room to be viewed, and the chairs set back in the window offer a cozy and conversation worthy spot. But this arrangement falls short in the disconnect between the 2 seating areas (1.the couch, 2.the chairs). The sofa is essentially cutting the chair on the right out of the group. (Have you ever been standing just outside a circle of people talking, not sure if you should wiggle your way back in or just walk away- Awkward.)

good 5

Here the arrangement is essentially the same, but a few minor tweaks make all the difference. The couch was shifted to the right to allow that poor “loner” chair to join the conversation. A slight angling inward of the chairs, and pulling them a little farther into the room, makes it much more inclusive and intimate. Lastly, re-positioning the rug so that all the furniture pieces can slightly overlap it and centering the coffee table among the lot, does the trick!

*No worries that the sofa is “too close” to the windows. A valuable lesson I was taught in school, was that good design draws people into and through the space, rather than suggesting visitors should walk around the edges.

Always consider your “crowded corners” and think out of the box to configure your furniture in the space (and with the restraints) that you have. These examples, are just a small sampling of this very common mistake that is made in even the most stylish of spaces.

Interior design dont do diagram