Wednesday, August 31, 2016

summer nights in the city

This summer I have been avoiding the heat as much as possible. While it's nice to stay indoors, it's not so nice to stay indoors with 5 kids who have suctioned out every bit of my energy. My body is really starting to feel like I'm 5 weeks away from having a baby. Meanwhile, the kids are building up more energy by the day. If I could bottle up even an ounce of their energy, I think that would last me for the rest of my pregnancy and beyond. 

My favorite compromise continues to be an evening trip to the Citygarden. We tried to go a couple of weeks ago on Don's weekend. We had made it all the way up to the city and then we saw the multitudes of people in their Cardinal's attire, heading to the game. All those fans decided to fill up every single parking space within a few blocks of the Citygarden. Let's just say I wasn't too happy with Cardinal's fans at that moment. We ended up hitting up a park by our house instead. 

We learned our lesson the next time around and checked the Cardinal's schedule before heading up. Instead of parking issues, this time ended up being a cooler evening--in the 70s. So instead of herding 5 kids down multiple blocks in downtown St. Louis at night, we just had shivering kids with blue lips. I'd still say that's a better outcome. The best part is that we had the place to ourselves pretty soon after we got there!

I've mentioned it before but we always go in the evening because 1) you don't melt from the heat, 2) less crowds, 3) better lighting for pictures, and 4) the colored fountains at sunset. And nothing is better than to take your kids somewhere and be able to sit down and relax while they all play (without any fighting!!) If we can make it up there again before the baby is here, I will so take that chance. 

Although, there was this small incident when Kai sprayed Liam and you can see that he wasn't too thrilled. Does it make me a bad mom if I was cracking up at this moment? Especially at the fact that I caught his reaction on camera?

Desmond wasn't so sure of the fountains at first. He sat on his daddy's lap and in the stroller for a good chunk of time before he got down and experienced the joy of running close to the fountains. But if even a drop of water touched him (or he thought it was going to) he would run back to us.

We spent a solid 10-15 minutes watching big swarms of birds flying above us and around the buildings. Evangeline was positive that they were all "looking for their mommy." 

Liam wanted me to go with him to check out the "sunflowers," as he called them. Liam's photography skills definitely surpass anything I was able to do at 8 years old (and even still at 28!)

Those lights, though! Pictures don't do it justice, especially with me behind the camera. Maybe with another trip and some more practice.

P.S. Because it's worth mentioning again--5(ish) more weeks until we meet our precious baby girl!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

34 week bumpdate

It's been a while since I've updated with a pregnancy update. My last one was my 28 week bumpdate video. I thought about making another video this time around but I honestly can't even watch the first one because it makes me cringe so bad. So a good old fashioned blog post is what you'll get. 

I'm 34 weeks now--only 6 weeks away from the "due date." (Quotation marks--because I can't stand that term. None of my babies have been born on or before their "due dates" so I think it's just a term that sets women up for disappointment.) Last night it occurred to me how close that really is and kind of made me slightly panic. I knew we would need a new van because we will be outgrowing our 7 passenger van, but I kept pushing it to the back of my mind because "we don't need to stress about that now." Well now, we do. So now we're on the search for a used minivan that will seat 8 (because I'm not ready to commit to a big, dorky van yet.) 

Not much has changed since the last update. Each pregnancy had been getting harder and harder on my body until baby #6 came along. While I do have some aches and pains every once in a while, this pregnancy has been so much easier for me than any of my others! Heartburn is a rare occurrence--whereas I used to get it all day, everyday with the other kids. The back and hip pain that had me thinking "I'm never doing this again" with the past two pregnancies, has barely showed up this time around. 

So exhaustion is still really my main symptom. In case you're wondering, I've been using the liquid iron for almost 4 weeks and I still don't feel a difference. I had a few days when my energy levels seemed to be improved, but not anymore. I guess the anemia is not what is making me exhausted--it's just this mom life.  

Shortly after the last bumpdate, claiming that we probably wouldn't decide on her name until birth, baby girl was given a name! We have decided not to announce it until she is here but it has been fun to imagine a sweet name attached to a squishy little newborn.

Ice cream is still my major craving! But after seeing pictures of myself and how big I'm getting, I decided it was time to try to cut back a bit. We'll see how that goes! 

Her kicks are becoming a little stronger but I would still consider her one of the least active babies of the bunch. The kicks are always what I miss the most after it's over so I enjoy every single one of them, even the uncomfortable ones. However, I can't say that I'll miss the bladder kicking. 

I really am just trying to enjoy every bit of this pregnancy. And even though I look in the mirror and feel huge and swollen, I love to photograph this pregnancy as much as possible. The pictures are just so special to me! 
(all these pictures were taken today--while I wasn't wearing makeup--so I had Don cut my face out of all of the shots. #reallife)

I had to finish out this post with this little photobomber who seriously kept coming up and standing between us and the camera. It was pretty hilarious but I had to banish him to the indoors so we could quickly get a few pictures.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

birthday and bowling

8 years ago, I became a mother for the first time when Liam was born. It amazes me how fast that time went. I mentioned on my instagram/facebook how I've realized that all those mom clich├ęs are true. When those old ladies come up to me at the grocery store and say "Enjoy them, they grow up so fast," I always let them know that I've already gotten a little taste of how fast it goes. And with each child I have, it seems to go even faster. That's why I try to savor every stage (including pregnancy!) I can barely remember what life was like with only one child...and even harder to remember life before kids.

 We had planned to take the kids to play some miniature golf during our staycation but changed our mind (literally, at the last minute.) We pulled into the parking lot and, for multiple reasons, decided to not play golf. There was also a bowling alley at the same location so we decided to do that instead. 

So we kind of turned it into a birthday bowling outing. Evangeline didn't want to play and Kingston dropped out after the first game. But Liam and Kai loved it. It was kind of hilarious watching them struggling with those 6 pound bowling balls. They started out by cheering each other on until they both realized that they actually wanted to win. So they started celebrating each other's mistakes instead haha.

Gotta love that pose, ready for a victory dance! If you know Kai, you may know he has always celebrated everything by dancing--this started before he was even a year old. Just wishing I didn't cut off his foot in this picture.

The next day was Liam's actual birthday. We started the morning by attempting to check out garage sales (and not finding many!) Liam really wanted to try a donut shop called Ex Cop Donuts. We thought they were pretty good. The real treat was when a worker gave us free donuts as we were about to leave because she found out it was Liam's birthday. So I think that made his day. He also requested banana pudding as his birthday dessert. I didn't find out until later that he had never actually tried it before. He was just in it for the vanilla wafers (which would have been a much simpler dessert on its own haha) But I did get help from him and a couple of the other kids when I made it (was it really helpful or was it more work??)

And birthday pictures on the front porch are a must--right before we headed out to his fancy birthday dinner at the McDonald's playplace (always a request by the birthday boy/girl!) 

This sweet moment--captured by Kai, ruined by Kingston.

I wish I could go back in time when Liam was a newborn. I would be able to give myself a lot of advice--to snuggle more and worry less. He has taught me so much through these past 8 years that I have been able to use to raise the others. The poor kid has had to put up with my navigation through motherhood but he has always given me grace as I've learned. It's been amazing to see the fruits of our labor with him, that all our hard work has paid off. We love our little 8 year old!


Friday, August 19, 2016

journey to motherhood

We're getting closer to launch date of my new website! My web designer (aka--my husband) has been hard at work to transfer all 3 1/2 years of content to the new site. Progress is a bit slower because he has a full time job and a family to spend time with. But if all goes as planned, it should be ready around the beginning of September!!

As I've been working to put together an "about me" section, I have been searching through my archives to find posts related to my health history. I know that sometimes I click over to a blog to learn more about someone but find it overwhelming to dig through post after post, just to get their full story. So all that to say that I realized I never have blogged about my "journey to motherhood" and how amazing it is that I've been able to experience pregnancy. 

And while I have you here to read about a brief summary of our journey to be the parents of 6, I thought I'd also share some pictures I took with Evangeline a few weeks ago with the tripod and a camera remote (that you can see a couple of times haha.) They're all similar but I can't just pick one to share! And of course the boys had to join in, even in their pajamas. 

If you haven't already, you can read my other posts about my health history herehere, and here. And while it's incredible that I am alive and in good health, it's even more amazing that I have been able to have children. 

Thankfully, (and I don't take this for granted) I never knew the fact that I was supposedly infertile until I found out I was pregnant with our first child, 3 months after we got married. I called my brother to tell him the good news and that's when he said "That's amazing! The doctors told us they didn't think you'd ever be able to have children." It was news to me because at 14 years old with an 8% chance of living, I was never told. In fact, I told my family that I didn't want to know any bad news that was associated with my cancer. So it made sense that no one had ever told me. I'm very thankful that I didn't have to spend time worrying about the fact that I may never be able to biologically have children.

A few years later, at a check up with the oncology department, a nurse pulled out my records and explained why they were so amazed that I had had no issues with fertility. One of the chemo drugs, at a "normal" dose, has a very high chance of causing infertility. The dosage I was given was 5 times that amount. Given at that age (in my teenage years) should have also intensified that side effect. The fact that I have been able to get pregnant at all is a miracle.
Many times throughout my treatment, I would tell my family that I never wanted biological children. After all the pain that the cancer/chemo caused, I couldn't imagine voluntarily enduring pain. That shows how naive I was at the time because I would endure this pain a million times to have children, but it also makes me hurt for all the women who don't have the option to have biological children.

Here I am, 14 years after my diagnosis, and we're about to have our 6th baby. But that doesn't mean that I've gotten here without pain and loss. I have had 10 pregnancies--I've lost 4 of them in the first trimesters. Losing a child at any stage of pregnancy is truly heartbreaking. I think it's important to share that part of my journey because when you're in the midst of that loss, you feel so alone in your struggles. I know it has always been helpful to me to know that there are others out there who know the deep heartache you're feeling. And while I do think about those children who I never got to meet, and wonder what life would have been like if we had gotten the chance to meet those babies, I can say that the pain has lessened. And I can credit that to God giving me all the grace I've needed. So if you're currently enduring the pain of loss, know that you are not alone and the pain will ease with time!

So that's the my pregnancy history--it's very condensed and all over the place because that's how my brain has been working these days and I honestly don't know how to even write this type of post without it sounding boring or rehearsed, but it is a very important piece of who I am. I'm always happy to answer any questions--about this, or anything else! And if there's ever anything you would like me to blog about, let me know! I'm always open to suggestions!
Happy weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Exploring STL--Grant's Farm and a picnic

The past few days have been pretty wonderful because Don took off work for the entire week! He has been on the night shift for over 6 years now (and stays on that schedule for his nights off) and it feels like we're always feeling the stress of that schedule. So I suggested having him take a week off to have a staycation so I could sleep in (which I really never, ever get to do!) and we could just enjoy time together as a family on a normal schedule. It's amazing how much we've been able to accomplish already. Everyone is so relaxed and happy--which really goes to show how much this was needed for all of us.

Anyway, I have, surprisingly, been feeling pretty great lately (I'll post more about that soon!) Or, I guess I was, until after a full day yesterday haha. Don had never been to Grant's Farm and the kids and I haven't been in a while so we wanted to work that into our week somewhere.  
I am honestly not an animal fan but I love watching the kids light up when they see/interact with animals. Kingston and Evangeline were too terrified to go in with all the goats (I don't blame them--the goats kept biting my dress!) but Liam and Kai loved brushing them.

Kai has a major obsession with pigs. If he sees a pig, even a picture of one, he goes crazy. I'm serious, the obsession is probably more than my obsession with ice cream--and that's a lot! So I had to include this picture of him with the 3 little pigs (and a picture of Kingston because after he saw Kai getting his picture taken, he wanted one too.)

I love when my kids unintentionally match (they both picked out their own outfits without knowing what the other was wearing.) These two in their mint outfits were just too cute together.

We picked a really good day to be there. Kids are starting back at school so it wasn't too crowded and it wasn't too hot. But we were sweaty at this point so the boys couldn't resist getting soaked in these sprinklers.

When we're at a place like Grant's Farm or the zoo, I usually end up with a memory card full of pictures of the backs of their heads. I don't know why, but I still love these pictures. I guess it's because I love to step back and watch their friendship. There has been much less fighting this week since we've been able to just spend this relaxed week together.

It's even better when all 5 make it into the shot!! (along with our outdated double stroller that could REALLY use a replacement.) 

We packed a picnic lunch to eat at the park after we were done with Grant's Farm and it was the cutest scene that I ever did see!

Complete with a napping baby in his carseat! The ducks were really bold and came over to get some of the crumbs that the kids dropped. (And may have stolen bites of a sandwich from Evangeline, who wasn't guarding it as well as she should have haha)

This little headband is from the juice shoppe. I won it in a giveaway and it was supposed to be for her baby sister, but she wanted to wear it as soon as I opened it. I can't blame her because it is absolutely adorable!

And this one of Desmond had to be included---that little fistful of food and his chubby little baby body. It won't be long before his baby fat will starting coming off and I'll just be left with memories of the baby pudge.

I asked them to line up really quick for a picture. The hand holding was all their idea. I barely was able to snap a few pictures before they started play ring around the rosie and it was the cutest thing in the world. I love that Desmond is started to be included with all of their playing. Having lots of little ones isn't always easy..but when things like this happen, I seem to forget the hard parts.

And now my body is paying for our long day out yesterday (along with spray painting 8 shelves for the kids' rooms during the hottest part of the day!) So today is a day for rest, finishing some more house projects, and maybe some mini golf and dinner out tonight!

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