Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Very Merry Christmas!

Christmas this year was pretty laid back and relaxed for us. Probably largely due to the fact that we didn't have to drive 8 hours to get "home" to celebrate with family. We are already "home". But since it isn't technically our home there wasn't a lot of pressure to decorate the entire house and get everything just right. Instead we put up the tree. Wrapped a few presents and called it good. Being 8 months pregnant definitely allowed me to lower my expectations of myself as well. All in all it was a recipe for a very nice Christmas.

First there was a little Christmas cookie baking and decorating. (Thanks to Grandma Donna! I definitely wasn't up to that task this year.)

And then a quick trip to the ZOO. Because clearly Christmas isn't complete without the zoo! We even brought our nephew & niece along...via Facetime.

I was attempting to get a picture of the intricate snowflakes,
but I think my belly stole the show!
There of course were a few last minute gifts to be finished...

Christmas Eve was spent "up north" with my side of the family. Lots of eating, chatting and just being together as a family. Charlotte and I snuck away with my dad and uncle to attend their Christmas Eve church service. I am so glad we did. It's my favorite church service of the year. We made it back in time to to play the dice game for white elephant gifts. Despite their best efforts our kids did NOT win the coveted white elephant. Aah shucks! Better luck next year.


Upside down Hannah...her newest trick!

Thanks to my aunt's creativity, before going to bed on Christmas Eve we sprinkled Reindeer Food on my cousin's driveway (so Santa could find us!). Well most of us sprinkled. One of us just dumped it in a pile and let the cat eat it.


And it worked! Santa found us. Don't be fooled...Isaiah was pleased with his present from Santa. He just couldn't open his eye all the way because of the corneal abrasion his littlest sister gifted him the evening before.


After a little driving we arrived back "home" to celebrate with Joe's family.

Santa ALMOST forgot the toilet paper,
but he snuck it in the stocking at the last minute! Phew.
To quote Isaiah it was "THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER". And I have to agree it was a fabulous Christmas. Definitely in my top 10 Christmases. And not just because we were spoiled rotten with gifts...trust me we were spoiled! The fact that it was low-key and relaxed was great too. But I think knowing that we may not be "home" for Christmas next year really allowed me to soak it all in and enjoy it. To appreciate this time with family. We have NO IDEA where we will be living a year from now. And we certainly don't know what Joe's schedule will look like. It may be a few years before we get this much family time again. All of the unknown in our future made the here and now all the sweeter. Of course opening up the tablet he wanted definitely sweetened the deal for Isaiah!
Family time continued over the weekend at Joe's grandparents' cabin. Which of course meant more gifts to open! See what I mean? Spoiled.


Typically Joe and I do not exchange gifts at Christmas. And this year was no exception. However on our drive home from the cabin we FINALLY agreed upon a first name for this baby boy. And that felt like the best gift ever! I love knowing who he is...even if I don't really know him yet. We have a name. Well a first name at least. And that's a pretty good start. My "gift" to Joe this year? Oh it was just me showing him a little grace as I watched him drop my beloved Pepsi on the side of the road and then open said Pepsi and spray/waste half of the Pepsi. And I do mean a little grace. Because I definitely had unkind words for him. Like "idiot" and "no common sense".  But I let him live. So grace was definitely shown...even if it was only because there were three small children watching the Great Pepsi Incident of 2014. I was proud of my restraint regardless. (Moral of the story: don't mess with my Pepsi!)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

At this point...

I just don't care if Isaiah's handwriting is legible or not on the gift tags for his teachers' Christmas gifts. Taking them off the gift in order to make it easier for him to write on just seemed to take too much effort. I am just dang proud of myself for actually assembling 6 teacher gifts before winter break began!!! Even if said gifts are mugs...probably the worst, most generic teacher gift ever:( Sorry teachers. It's the best I could muster up this year. We really do appreciate you! I am just too pregnant to really try...

Now pajama day is something I can fully support and rally behind these days:) Charlotte clearly fully supported it as well in her elf-like jammies. Perfect for delivering her teacher gifts! Yep. More mugs. 

Speaking of pajamas....I just don't care if I look like a slob. These sweat pants are COMFY! I have reached a point in this pregnancy where everything is tight and uncomfortable. And most shirts aren't long enough. And I just don't care. In fact tonight I made Joe pull out some of his old college hoodies for me. This is a new fashion low for even me - the girl with very little style. And I don't care. 

(Although I will try my darnedest to look presentable for all family Christmas celebrations...after that it's back to sweats and hoodies). 

Despite my very blasé attitude lately there is one thing I really do care about at the moment and that is the fact that I (somehow miraculously) managed to complete all 100 hours of my required CME hours. The fact that I had 2 YEARS to complete them and waited for the last 30 days to do so is completely irrelevant. Not an important detail at all. I get to remain a certified PA for 2 more years!! That's the important fact. It felt like a major victory last night at 11 pm when I logged my final hours. I might just read something non-medical for fun now. I mean why start my next round of CME so soon?! Clearly procrastinating works out alright too:)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do NOT open until Christmas!

We hadn't had these cards in our hot little hands for more than a few hours when this happened...

Yep. Hannah managed to find and open all three of the Christmas cards labeled "Do NOT open until Christmas". One envelope was completely destroyed beyond recognition. This child. Seriously.

(Although admittedly it's usually me that opens cards/gifts early...thus the need to be labeled as "do not open". Joe's grandparents know me well!)

She is a one girl wrecking crew. In just the past few days alone she has managed to destroy one mug, one nativity set, too many ornaments to count as well as almost anything/everything her siblings are playing with. Although she is considerate enough to put herself in timeout after ruining her siblings fun:) So that has to count for something, right? It's actually kind of cute....she destroys whatever they are working on and immediately says "I no want time out" as she walks herself to the timeout spot! Gotta love a self disciplining child. 

She has also "rearranged" many of Grandma's recipe cards as well as colored in her (favorite?) cook book! Oh and the other day she pulled out an entire clump of Charlotte's hair...completely unprovoked and for no apparent reason! This child. It's a good thing she is so stinking adorable. 

Completely unrelated. But if standing in the cold and taking pictures while feverish = how my husband shows me love. Then me standing at the stove and making fudge at 32 weeks pregnant = how I show him love! 

It's the little things in life that mean the most. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

2 vs 3 vs 4 vs 10

Let's just take a pause from all this Christmas business. All Christmas all the time is getting to be a bit much! Don't you agree? Great. Back to regular everyday life stuff. 

Everyone is telling me that having 4 kids is no harder than having 3 kids. In fact our pediatrician walked into my hospital room the morning after I delivered Hannah and declared to me in a very authoritative voice that once you can handle 3 kids then you might as well have 10! And I really hope all these kind souls are telling the truth and not just stringing poor pregnant me along. (Not that I plan on having 10 kids! I am DONE. And I mean that...I know all my friends don't believe me. But I really mean it this time.) I kinda, sorta feel like I have a handle on this 3 kid thing lately. Maybe. Although please don't ask my parents about how I am doing handling 3 kids...they might tell a very different story:)

But that's not to say raising 3 kids is easy. And it definitely did NOT come naturally to me. This constant division of my time and attention. It's a great big balancing act that is perpetually one child-sized disaster from falling apart. And I distinctly remember the moment when I realized just how challenging it is to care for 3 young children. The moment I realized I was in WAY OVER MY HEAD but had no option but to keep swimming. That 3 small people depended on me to keep treading. 

It was a beautiful fall day. Hannah was probably only about 6 weeks old. Charlotte would have been 2 years old (and newly potty trained!) and Isaiah was 5 years old.  The kids and I had spent the morning at the botanic garden with a friend and her son. Isaiah at the time was in afternoon kindergarten so as we left the garden I was (in my head) figuring out how we would get him fed and to school on time AND find time to nurse the very hungry baby. At the last minute I decided a picnic in the park close to Isaiah's school was our best solution. (I had packed a lunch just in case we were short on time...we were:)

So there we were. Sitting in a gazebo on a gorgeous day. Enjoying our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The "big kids" were chatting happily and playing with a few fallen leaves around them. I was eating and nursing Hannah. All was right in our world...

And then Charlotte made the announcement that changed the trajectory of our morning rather quickly. "I have to go poopy!" It went from peaceful and quiet to chaotic and loud in a blink of an eye. See there was no restroom at that park. But I had a potty chair in the back of my van!  (Yes, that's how you roll when you have a gaggle of small children:)  BUT my van was parked all the way across the park and down the street. It was a good distance away. Too far for a newly potty trained two year old to hike while trying NOT to go poopy. 

So I did the only reasonable thing I could think to do. I scooped up Charlotte in one arm and started RUNNING towards the van...with the baby still firmly nursing in my other arm. As I ran I yelled back to Isaiah to "keep eating and stay there!! I will be right back!" And prayed he would listen. By the time we reached the van both girls were screaming. I was short of breath, hot, sweaty and only somewhat covered on my top half. And Charlotte had unfortunately NOT held it long enough. 

To say the least we were a mess! And making quite the scene I am sure. I don't remember how I managed the situation after that point. Somehow we were all fed, cleaned, calmed down and arrived at Isaiah's school on time that day. But what I do remember is that is THE MOMENT I realized having 3 kids is far more crazy and chaotic and messy and loud and exhausting and challenging and...and...and...than having 2 kids. It was that beautiful, messy fall day in 2012 when I realized I was completely and utterly in the motherhood trenches for better or for worse. That having 3 kids is NOT the same as having 2 kids. That I had far less control over my life than I would want, but more importantly I also realized that I absolutely LOVE the chaos and responsibility of raising 3 children. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

So whether everyone is telling me the truth or not about life with 4 kids, it doesn't matter. The truth is I like my life a little messy and out of control. I like the challenge. These kids are worth it. Who needs calm and quiet anyways?! It's overrated.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Pageant

Wednesday evening after we left the Christmas pageant rehearsal Charlotte mentioned that she wished she could be Mary someday. So imagine her delight when this morning Mary did not show up for first service and SHE WAS CHOSEN TO BE MARY!!! Imagine no longer...I captured her delight with (just a few!) photos...

That wary looking shepherd next to Mary (top right picture)...she never made it on stage once today! She stayed firmly in my lap for both services. During the first service she was in full costume...lamb & shepherds hook and all. It made it slightly more challenging for me to take pictures. But truth be told, I didn't mind having extra snuggle time with her. More and more I am realizing just how few days I have left with her as my baby! No need to rush these things...next year she can join the big kids on stage.

Isaiah was the lead shepherd and took his job very serious. He did excellent...even if he couldn't convince his baby sister to join him and the other shepherds:)

That's pure JOY on my four year old's face! I love it. She sang most of the words of both songs...Silent Night  & Away in a Manger. Isaiah....did NOT! No surprise there. We aren't exactly a musically talented family, so he comes by his dislike for singing honestly:) Mary ALMOST left baby Jesus in the manger at the end of her performance, but at the last second she decided it best to grab him! Phew.

After the first service the real Mary showed up. And I was so proud of Charlotte when she graciously and without complaint took off the Mary costume and handed it over. She gladly joined Isaiah and the shepherds for the second service.

Is there anything cuter than seeing your kids on stage?! I think not.

Well...maybe this...

Little girls in Christmas dresses! Too much cuteness. I can hardly stand it. And to think there will be even more cuteness next week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pepsi & Patience

I was going to take a little unannounced blogging hiatus until the New Year...mostly because I have something a little more important to focus on. No it's not nesting. Or preparing for Christmas. It's my CME (continuing medical education). If I want to keep my certification as a PA I need to complete it by the end of the year...which is approaching quickly (in case you didn't notice)!

But then my girls dropped some gems today that I just couldn't not document. So here I am on my blog. Not doing CME. 

I have this bad habit. See the thing is, I love a really cold Pepsi. In fact I like to have one nearly every day. (Yes, even while pregnant.) But what I don't do is keep the fridge stocked with Pepsi. That would be so simple and logical. Instead I wait until I really NEED a Pepsi and in a desperate attempt to chill one quickly I stick a can in the freezer. And then I stalk the freezer every 5 minutes until it has appropriately cooled my Pepsi. My parents' freezer has an automatic ice maker with the option of making crushed ice. And for some reason I feel the ice maker is the best place to chill a can of soda. Except want to know what happens when someone chooses the crushed ice option when there is a can of Pepsi in it?! It becomes Pepsi-flavored crushed ice. And the inside of the freezer...well it's a Pepsi covered mess! Yes I know from experience. In fact it happened today for the second time! 

And as I was dumping the ice and attempting to clean the mess I had created, Charlotte walked over and very seriously said to me, "Well mommy I hope you learned your lesson!" 

I think I did. 

And now an unrelated cute picture of my kids at practice for the Christmas program...
An angel and two adorable shepherds!

Tonight as I was getting the girls ready for bed I told them to "hurry up and get your jammies on. Mommy is losing her patience!" To which Hannah promptly responded "what patience?"  

Exactly child. What patience?! I don't know. But I think I used to have some. Back when I could still tie my own shoes. Or when bathing small children didn't feel like the equivalent of running an uphill race. When washing dishes and doing laundry could be done without taking breaks to rest. 

I hope to find it again...someday. 

And my lap. It will be nice to have that back as well. (Hannah agrees completely:)

If you couldn't guess Joe is gone again. On an epic residency interview road trip. Mostly epic because of the vast amount of miles he will be traversing. Minnesota to Texas to Florida to Iowa and finally back to Minnesota next week. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twill Wetweet & Santa

A.K.A. Quilt Retreat (in Hannah speak) & the time Joe took the kids to see Santa! 

Only THE BEST weekend of the year! If you are into crafting and eating ridiculously good food and relaxing that is... And who doesn't love that?! Plus my kids saw Santa and I didn't have to be there lugging around 53 gazillion coats and hats and gloves plus the camera plus snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy. Nor did I have to try to capture the moment or bribe anyone into sitting on the jolly man's lap. Yep. Pretty great. 

Truly it was amazing. And even more amazing was the fact that I FINALLY finished Charlotte's baby book! It only took me four and a half years. Not bad. Not bad at all. Ok. Kinda bad. But in my defense I thought I had finished her book before Hannah was born. However after last quilt retreat (during which I started Hannah's baby book) I pulled out Isaiah & Charlotte's books for fun...only to discover I NEVER finished Charlotte's book. Ack! So this past weekend I remedied that little situation. And I do mean little. As in Charlotte's scrapbook has the fewest pages/pictures! Like significantly fewer. It wasn't/isn't intentional. It just happened that way. And now I know why middle children have the middle child syndrome! (Sorry Charlotte. I really do love you just as much as your siblings. It's just I was working full-time your first year of life and daddy takes far fewer pictures than I do!) 

And now quilt retreat summarized in a (phone only picture) collage....
Center: mom, me (& baby. Obviously!) and my cousin.
Clockwise starting at the top left: natural refrigeration at its best, worker bees, hemostats come in handy whilst scrapbooking, a few finished products for baby made by me, and Grandma Donna lovingly sewing her 13th grandchild a blanket (and by "lovingly" I actually mean sewing and cursing the blanket simultaneously! But he is going to love it.)

And here is Joe's finished product from the weekend...all three kids with Santa....

Two out of three smiling! That's the best we have ever done. Seriously.  We almost always have at least one crying. And yet we keep going back...hhhmmm. Not sure if that makes us terrible parents or not?! And NO Charlotte is not wearing a belly shirt...she just had a minor wardrobe malfunction that daddy didn't notice until after their time with Santa was over. Speaking of shirts, Hannah's is hilarious and SO appropriate for her personality. It says "I am on the NICE list. Trust me."

Oh and Charlotte did in fact ask Santa for toilet paper. Apparently this Santa does not actually listen to the children because Joe said Santa didn't even bat an eye at that request! Come on Santa...a four year old asking for toilet paper...that's funny stuff! While his listening skills are not quite up to snuff, he clearly excels at looking jolly and very Santa-esque. 

And now because I love a good walk down memory lane, here are all of our Santa visits over the past seven years. Lots of tears. And a little bit of magic.

Apparently we did not yet believe in torturing our child at this early point in our parenting journey. We did however enjoy dressing our child as Santa...taking his picture with Santa Bear...and pretending to be Santa's reindeer together.  
Truth be told Isaiah was mostly crying because I took his snack cup away from him...I thought it would be unsightly in the picture. Clearly a crying child with a mouth full of food is much better:) Santa & Isaiah look a bit skeptical of each other in the second picture.
Aaahh...the magic of Santa.  So sweet. This one is a favorite of mine. Plus it holds a lot of good memories of a day that Isaiah and I spent just the two of us.

Still loving Santa! Only thing cuter than one kid on Santa's lap is TWO kids on Santa's lap!

This one kills me! That face + the "I love Santa!" onesie....its just too much! This one I have framed with with my Christmas decor. Its a family classic. 
Charlotte cried as soon as she saw Santa. There was NO WAY she was going up there without her daddy! Thus began the family picture with Santa.
 Another family picture. Again Charlotte cried before getting to Santa's chair. Hannah waited until I put her in his lap. And Isaiah just really disliked that sweater I made him wear!

Next year with four kids should be interesting...