what's up weekly.

AGAIN.  IT'S FRIDAY AGAIN.  That's all I'll say on the topic, but dang.

The main news of the week was the snow.  That's what consumed us all weekend.

Why, yes, Todd IS in shorts.  Is this not how you dress in knee-high snowdrifts?

By Monday, the power was back on, the roads were somewhat cleared, and the temperatures were high enough that stuff was starting to melt.

We spent Monday and Tuesday running errands - partly because we had a few things we needed to do, and partly because I was feeling a bit stir-crazy after being stuck inside all weekend.  We went to Staples and Walmart on Monday, and hit Target and Menards on Tuesday.  (Sidenote: I am getting ready to add some pantry storage to my laundry room, and am gathering supplies as they go on sale.  The Menards trip for laminate shelving made me WAY happier than might seem reasonable, but you guys, I need this.  I need this so bad.)  The kids didn't mind all the errands, though, since we're listening through Chamber of Secrets on audiobook, and it offered them plenty of listening time.

In unrelated-to-the-rest-of-this-post news, Lissy has now decided she actually likes baths, and throws a tantrum each time she's REMOVED from the tub.  

After schoolwork on Tuesday afternoon, the kids spent time learning to braid.  Also, learning to take photos with the big camera.  Penelope's efforts at both braiding and photography were major successes:

Finneas' attempts at braiding and photography were... a bit more lackluster.

Saucy stuff right there.

Callista has also been reeeeally into brushing my hair lately, and will spend a solid 20 minutes just brushing away.  She insists, however, that I take off my glasses while she does it, and has now started accessorizing herself with them.  It's a whole process.

On Wednesday morning, Rocco woke up dry heaving, but we tried heading up to the Amish anyway.  He barfed once in the van on the way, and once we hit the gravel, the road conditions were just terrible, so it was an eventful trip.  We got home and Rocco slept the rest of the morning.  Luckily, he woke up feeling better, and none of the rest of us seem to have caught anything, so that's a huge answer to prayer.

Wednesday night, a friend watched the kids so that Todd and I could go on a date.  It was so very, very refreshing - it's been months since we've gotten the chance to just be together without the kids.  It's been a challenging couple of weeks at our house, with sickness and bad weather and kids hitting new stages, and I've felt tired.  It was so good to get the chance to reconnect and breathe a bit.  We went to an Asian bistro, then walked around Hobby Lobby and bought a few grocery items at Schnucks… just because we're grown ups who weren't quite ready to go home yet.

Yesterday was our first truly normal day all week, so nothing super newsworthy happened (other than the fact that I started my first-ever, full-on grease fire in the kitchen.  The top of the stove was actually aflame. Luckily it burned itself out while I was searching for some baking soda to smother it...).  Today we're going to make a Walmart run because we're in for another weekend of storms, only this time it's supposed to be ice rather than snow, and they're anticipating a lot of power outages.

Over the last few years, I've felt an increasing level of anxiety over my lack of emergency preparedness.  Not in like a 'doomsday prepper' or a 'remember Y2K' kind of way, but in a way that acknowledges just how many people I'm responsible to care for, and how much effort and how many resources it takes on a normal day to provide for them all, much less under strained circumstances.  (It probably doesn't help, too, that I've got third trimester hormones coursing through my body at this point, which I suspect are lubricating some of my more visceral maternal instincts and increasing my desire to protect my brood.)  So, all that to say, I will feel a bit better when I feel a bit better prepared for whatever might hit us this weekend.

Annnnd speaking of third trimester hormones, I'M OFFICIALLY IN THE THIRD TRIMESTER.  Let the panic ensue: Who will watch the kids when I go into labor?  How many freezer meals should I plan for, and when will I make them?  When will I find the time to wash all the baby clothes, and where will I put them once they're out?  We're already so short on dresser space; what will I do about clothing storage?  What will we name her - and how will we ever hope to find a name as cool as the other kids'?  And on and on.  Can you see the panic in my eyes?

Yeah, maybe not quite yet.  Right now all I'm thinking about is the ice storm.  I'll worry about baby stuff once the weather gets better.

*ALSO!! Today marks the FIFTEEN YEAR anniversary of the day I gave my life away to Jesus.  I'm never looking back - he has been so, so good to me, and it's really incredible when I think about everything he's given me that I'm absolutely sure I would have missed out on if I had just chosen to continue in my own way.  Thanking God for his kindness to me!

2018 in the books.

It's time for the yearly book report!  Well, report of books.  I love keeping track of what all I've read over the course of the year, and going back and thinking through how each year's reading has shaped me and made me think.

This year, I was able to get quite a bit of reading done.  Probably mostly due to the fact that we didn't move this year.  (Moving years are always pretty dead reading years.)  I'm especially glad to see such variety on this list: memoirs/autobiographies, journalistic endeavors, travel narratives, theology, cookbooks, health resources, fiction, educational philosophy, large family accounts, Christian living, and even finance/business are all genres I gleaned from over the last twelve months!  Nothing like continuing ed and professional development, right?

If you've read this blog for very long, you know I'm really passionate about reading, and about encouraging others to read.  Filling our minds matters.  How we fill our minds matters.  We should  be learning, and growing, and thinking, and being challenged and shaped.  "Walk with the wise, and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20) - we are always walking with someone; we need to be selective about who we're walking with, where we're going, and how we're getting there.  Books are an easy, accessible way to find ourselves in the company of the wiser-than-ourselves.

So, without further ado, here are 2018's books!

Asterisks indicate re-reads from previous years; titles in bold are books I read for the first time this year and especially hope to read again someday.  This list doesn't contain books I read aloud to/alongside the kids.

1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1/8)

2. The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt (1/27)

3. The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul (2/06)

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2/15)*

5.  The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (2/23)*

6. Mother and Son: The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs (3/1)

7. The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar (3/7)*

8. A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot (3/21)

9. My Southern Journey by Rick Bragg (3/23)

10. Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck (3/28)

11. The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (4/2)

12. If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley (4/17)

13. The Big Tiny by Dee Williams (4/23)*

14. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (4/25)

15. Growing Up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler (4/30)

16. The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson (5/3)

17. My Life as an Amish Wife by Lena Yoder (5/17)

18. The Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison (5/17)

19. The Digital Mom Handbook by Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla (5/18)

20. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler (5/26)

21. Plain Faith by Ora Ja and Irene Eash (6/09)

22. Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour (6/10)*

23. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan*

24. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (6/28)

25. Kim by Rudyard Kipling

26. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton*

27. WomanCode by Alisa Vitti (8/13)

28. Future Men by Douglas Wilson (8/21)

29. Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease by Dana Trentini and Mary Shomon (8/26)

30. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (8/30)

31. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton (9/15)

32. L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer (9/16)*

33. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (9/23)*

34. The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach (9/23)

35. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (9/25)*

36. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto (9/27)

37. The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy L. Sayers (9/28)

38. What to Expect When No One's Expecting by Jonathan V. Last (10/12)

39. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (10/18)*

40. Graze by Suzanne Lenzer (10/28)

41. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (10/30)

42. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (11/5)*

43. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (11/6)

44. God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet (11/14)

45. Standing on the Promises: A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing by Douglas Wilson (11/26)

46. The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

47. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (12/10)*

48. Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper (12/15)

49. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (12/26)*

50. The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Christian Grandmothers by Nancy Wilson (12/28)

51. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (12/31)*

(Ugh, I hate that I didn't quite finish the Harry Potter series before the end of the year - the list looks so incomplete!  I finished Deathly Hallows on January 2.  So close!)

I don't have many specific reading goals in mind for 2019.  I find that my ability and attention span waxes and wanes with different seasons, so a year is a long time to plan for.  If I'm biting off smaller chunks of time to work with, I think over the next month or two, I'd like to focus my reading time on deepening my knowledge of and passion for mothering, homemaking, and life planning.  I have quite a few Sally Clarkson books on deck, as well as a couple from women from Canon Press (Nancy Wilson, Rebecca Merkle, Elise Crapuchettes).  I'd also like to find something a bit 'breezier' to turn to when I'm in the mood for some fiction - I'm thinking Little Women?  Any other suggestions?

And that is a glimpse of one specific area of my life I've been working to cultivate!  For more about how I find the time to read this much in the midst of normal, busy life (raising a large family, homeschooling, doing ministry, and juggling regular pregnancies/newborns), check out this post.  (The end of the post also contains links to all of my past reading lists since I started keeping track in 2010!  If you're curious.)

Did you read anything good last year?  Any recommendations you'd make?  Any reading goals you're setting for 2019?

snow day, snow play.

Friday morning, I had big plans to run some errands with the kids after lunch.  Not only did we have some things I needed to pick up from Menards, but I had added incentive.  Laurelai hadn't been feeling well earlier in the week, Rocco had been extra clingy, and Callista is in the challenging stage of dropping a nap/teething/turning into a toddler.  I kind of needed to leave the house.

But right as we were getting ready to leave, it started snowing.  Big, fat, wet, beautiful flakes.  I knew immediately we wouldn't be going anywhere - we'd be able to make it to our destination, but I knew we wouldn't make it home easily.  We live on a steep, low-traffic hill, at the crest of an even steeper, higher-traffic hill, and Columbia is terrible about snow removal.  (I would say it's because we typically get so little snow down here, but Cedar Falls was also terrible about snow removal, and we got so much snow there.  The cynic in me is convinced it's more a matter of poor city management, but what do I know about these things?)  I knew there would be no salt or sand put down, no plows coming through, and I wasn't committed to trying to walk all the kids up the hills once our van inevitably got stuck at the bottom, so we stayed home.

It's a good thing we did - about an hour later, Todd texted to say his office was letting out early for the weather (which cracks me up because I'm still an Iowan at heart, and there is NO WAY a business this size in Iowa would ever admit weakness in the face of precipitation).  He was headed home.

By Friday night, we were completely snowed in.  It continued snowing all through the night, and all through Saturday.  By Saturday night, so much snow was sitting on the power lines and breaking branches in the neighborhood that we had a power outage (and although it had been snowing for nearly 36 hours at that point, no plows had been through, so hope was pretty nonexistent that the electric company could get here).  Of course I had thawed a bunch of shrimp for stir fry, and of course we have an electric range, so I was annoyed that all the shrimp was going to go bad before I could cook it, because seafood is my main concern in times of crisis.  Plus, I had nothing to cook for the kids, who were already squirrelly and hungry.  So I pulled out leftover cheese board items - Cheese Board Saves the Day Again!

Shortly after the lights came on.  The meager light (and the paraffin wax headache) (and the countless opportunities for toddlers to burn the whole place down) that these candles provided made me realize we need to invest in some kind of battery-operated light source.

It continued snowing overnight, and church was cancelled Sunday morning.  SUCH a long stretch of being stuck inside!  The snow did finally stop, after dropping SEVENTEEN INCHES on us.  

That's a lot of snow for anywhere, but it's unheard of here.  We got more snow in this single snowfall than we've gotten the last three winters, plus the snowfall we'd already gotten earlier this winter, combined.  So much snow.

BUT, it was perfect snow - wet, heavy, sticky, easily compacted - and it was in the 30's outside, so it was great weather to play in.  The kids got outside, and Todd headed out front to start shoveling out the van. 

I told Todd that our yard actually looks nice for once - the layer of toys and random kid detritus that normally litters the yard, along with the bald mud patches and the deep craters created by the kids, were all evenly covered with snow.  This photo seems to reflect my happiness at that fact.

Penelope spent her time building a snowman version of our family: Dad, pregnant Mom, and six kids.  Eventually, SnowMama must've gone into labor, as she added a tiny little Snowball (complete with baby carrot nose) to SnowMama's stick arms.  ADORABLE.

Hard to see, but we're all accounted for.

SnowMama holding Snowball.

Penelope excavated the trike from under the drifts, and Rocco made an attempt at riding it.  Huge, giant, massive fail.  He just sank into the snow and then tipped over.  And then cried when they couldn't really get him disentangled, so he was just kind of stuck and floundering and miserable.

He stuck pretty close to the house after that.  "Mommy, will you keep a eye on me?  Da snow is da deepiest."

For reference, here are a few pictures illustrating the true depth of the snow:

The shocking depth of the snow pile on top of the grill, once they started clearing it off.

Todd did finally dig us out, and went and got provisions.  By yesterday morning, the roads were clear enough to venture out with the kids, so we ran a few errands.  It was good to get out of the house, but the kids are glad the snow seems to be sticking around.  They'll have a few more days to play in it, and I'll have a few more days of wrestling them into and out of their snow gear - huzzah!

'what's up' weekly.

GUYS.  IT HAS BEEN ANOTHER WEEK.  Yet again, I find myself completely bemused at the ordinary passing of time.  After 32 years, you'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I'm starting to suspect I'm always going to be taken off-guard.  And further, I will probably always point out to you just how surprising I find it.  So prepare yourself for that.  (Or, don't, and join me in the surprise each week that nothing ever changes, really.)

Reading the days (and nights) away, just like always.

You will likely not be shocked that, in my opinion, we had a great week.  We kickstarted the weekend last Friday night with a movie-and-popcorn party with friends.  The wife had never seen The Muppets Christmas Carol (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?) and we felt the need to remedy that.  So we trucked the kids over there, and we all sat around on blankets, eating popcorn and M&M's and reveling in the surpassing glory that is Sir Michael Kane serenading Kermit the Frog.

On Saturday, we kept the party up by having another couple of friends over for tacos and a viewing of The Princess Bride.  (Again, the wife had never seen it.  WHAT IS OUR WORLD TODAY THAT PEOPLE ARE REACHING ADULTHOOD WITHOUT ADEQUATE TRAINING?  As a mother, I just couldn't let this sweet girl continue on in her ignorance without swooping in to nourish her with the sweet, sweet nectar of Andre the Giant punching an albino in the head.)  We have big plans for Nacho-Nacho Noche soon - they'll bring the fancy nachos, we'll supply the Nacho Libre.

On Sunday, Todd woke up with a raging migraine.  He still hadn't been back to 100% after battling that virus earlier in the week.  So we stayed home from church and had a sloooow, restful day.  I took a nap on the couch at 11 a.m., like a winner.  We watched a sermon clip or two, sang worship songs together, and had cereal for dinner.  It was wonderful.

On Monday, I went all Joshua on the Christmas decorations, and spent all day marching my huge pregnant self around the house until all the Christmas crap came DOWN.  The tree got chucked to the curb, the ornaments got sorted and boxed (thanks entirely to Penelope, my precious angel and favorite oldest daughter), and my living room regained some breathing room - and a bunch of walking room.  (We do not live in a large house, and the tree alone takes up SO MUCH SPACE.)  I just love, love, love the Christmas season, and I just love, love, love the day when all the Christmas d├ęcor gets put back in storage.  It's a good time of year.

Tuesday was a wonderful day.  I'm not sure if you remember, but our follow-up ultrasound was scheduled that day.  Long story short, if you missed the previous post, our first U/S found some concerning markers for genetic abnormalities and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).  We had a blood test run, and while it ruled out the possibility of the most common chromosomal abnormalities, we were still anxious in prayer to see how the baby's growth has progressed over the last four weeks, and what markers (if any) would continue to show themselves.

Well.  Let me just say that God has answered our prayers in amazing and abundant ways.  All markers have disappeared.  She has grown from being in the 9th percentile to the 31st, which is really, really miraculous.  The femur measurement that indicated a possible chromosome abnormality is now normal.  And while the nuchal fold measurement that was causing a lot of concern before was not re-measured (they said they don't measure that after 22 weeks), we're really not all that worried about it a this point.  All signs point to a healthy, run-of-the-mill baby.  (And, as IUGR is no longer a concern, there is no more talk of pressuring me into induction at 38 weeks, which is honestly what was stressing me out the most about all of this.)

While I wish there hadn't been cause for all the worry, I am so grateful to see God's hand so intimately in our lives, and to have the opportunity to have my faith strengthened and my character shaped through trial and stress.  I'm also grateful for the little added bonus of getting the opportunity for a 4D ultrasound photo!

(Please ignore the giant mass of placenta obstructing the view of my beautiful daughter's face.)

To further elevate Tuesday, I finally, finally got in to US Cellular to get my crappy phone switched over to a better one.  It was time.  I've been putting it off forever, since hauling all the kids in there is just not my idea of a picnic, and with Christmas season being upon us, I'd basically hermited myself away anyway.  But I needed to call Roto-Rooter (our plumbing in this house is really finnicky, and once a year we need to have the main line snaked out or we get sewage back-up in our shower!  HOORAY!) but I was putting it off because I knew I wouldn't be able to hear anything.  You know your phone is way past its prime when you'd rather risk scoop strangers' poop off the floor of your shower than use the phone to call the plumber.  So I went in.

So anyway.  I have a new phone.  I am very excited - I can send texts longer than 160 characters, all the letters are available to me to use, I can receive photos and links via text, and I am slowly but surely learning the significance of the difference between a blue text bubble and a green text bubble.  However, because my old phone was so old, the machine they had at the store that is supposed to be able to transfer contacts from one phone to another didn't work in my case - it didn't even recognize my old one as a phone, so I'm on the hook for manually entering every last number into my new phone.  Fun project.

Wednesday, Laurelai woke up with a fever, so our trip to the Amish was taxing for her.  I'd peek at her in the rear-view mirror to see her all draped in her seat, looking like death warmed over.  Poor girl.  We laid low the rest of the day.  In the evening, Penelope and I made an EPIC grocery shopping run, after more than three weeks since our last trip.

Yesterday, we finally got around to completing our Term 1 exams, which was weeks overdue, but whatever.  It finally happened, and the kids did so great.  I also started Callista on a dairy-free, gluten-free trial run to see if that helps her perpetually explosive guts regain some equilibrium.

Risky move, giving Callista belly-raspberries right after her bath and before her diaper was back on. 

Which brings us to today again!  Whew!  I'm now 26 weeks along, and making a fresh effort at Trim Healthy Mama-ing.  I'm sure I will feel great soon, but the sugar-deprivation-headache is knocking me down right now.  No specific cravings at the moment, though I wouldn't slap a plate of crab legs away if the opportunity presented itself.  TONS of painful Braxton-Hicks contractions and round ligament spasms, and the baby is getting bigger and putting a lot of pressure on my lungs, making it difficult to breathe.  Oh, the joys of pregnancy.  Ha!  But really, in all honesty, pregnancy is so short-lived in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff is so wonderful (and eternal!).  It makes it a lot easier to keep a good attitude about things when I adjust my perspective.

And that was our week!

how to REALLY take care of yourself. (part 1)

On Tuesday, I got a bit spicy and doled out my thoughts on our culture's current mantra of "self-care! self-care! self-care!"  To sum it up, the world is shallow, selfish, and ignorant, and wants to convince us to be, too.  To put it bluntly.

But dismantling the "weak points" (ahem, lies) of the current cultural perspective doesn't cover all that needs to be said on the topic of self-care.  It's time to take the TRUTH at the heart of it all, well, to heart.  So let's look at the Bible and form our worldview from there.

First of all, the Bible states that we are made in the image of God.  We have been entrusted with no small task when it comes to caring for something so precious to him.  Further, as women, we are uniquely equipped and called to cultivate and nourish life - especially that of our husbands and kids, and then, in the same way, ourselves.  What you would deem most important for your kids' development, prioritize for yourself - cultivate the life you've been given.

God wants what's best for you.  He wants and loves to fill you up and equip you to do the work you've been made to do.  But he has specific ways of doing this that differ deeply from what the world says will fill you up.

He has said a lot on the topic, so we'll jump right into a few right away.  If you want to truly care for yourself in a way that actually restores you...

- Read your Bible.

You didn't think I'd write a post on Biblical self-care and not include actually reading the Bible, did you?  Of course you didn't.  Here's the thing: a lot of moms have a hard time disciplining themselves in this area, myself included.  Reasons/excuses abound.  But here's the truth: Jesus tells us that "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4)  I need food, and I don't make excuses for why I don't have to eat today.  I know I need it, and so I do it - sometimes with a level of excitement, sometimes simply because I know it's necessary for my survival and well-being.  But Jesus is saying that, as much as we need food, we need God's word.

Here's an easy challenge: just pick up the Bible and read it.  You don't have to have a yearly reading plan in place.  You don't have to be absolutely certain you'll understand everything you read.  You don't have to guarantee that you'll be 100% consistent from here on out for the rest of your life.  That's okay.  Just eat the meal you're aching for - right now.  And then pick it up again later, because you'll be hungry again later.  You cannot be whole and healed without the indwelling presence of God, and he is known through his revealed Word.  Let him start restoring you, strengthening you, and empowering you through his Word for the life he has called you to carry.

"Quiet time" at our house is rarely quiet.  I would love some more protected time, but I'm just not in a season of life where that's possible right now.  But when I lower my expectations, I'm able to keep in mind that even a LITTLE bit of reading, a LITTLE bit of retention, is better than none.  It's not ideal, but I am learning I can't wait around until life is ideal.

- Spend time in prayer.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  (Phil 4:6-7)  Why do we spend so much time feeling exhausted and worried and out of control of our lives, and yet forget to rest in the presence of the only One who is in control of anything, asking for his help, guidance, and comfort?  Prayer is connection with the Life source that gave you life and sustains your life.  The Bible explicitly states that the outcome of turning over our heaviness in prayer is peace - peace that makes no sense in light of what we're facing in our circumstances.

Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."  The more you juggle, the more time you need in prayer.  Making it an afterthought deprives you of the very thing you most need.

- Find a mentor.

In Titus 2, we see Paul charge older women with the task of training the younger women in what we can assume he deems a concise summary of the most important things: "To love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."  Basically, Paul wants you to nurture these things: your character development, and your relationships with your husband, your kids, your home, and a mentor to teach you about these things.  A relationship with an older (godly, Biblically-minded) woman is a necessity for your growth and training.  Seeking one out, and gleaning all you can from her, will feed you in a way mom groups and girls' nights and Facebook groups full of peers can't.

- Talk with your husband about the Bible.

Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ cleanses his bride, the Church, by washing her in the water of the Word, in order to present her "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."  Immediately thereafter, Paul says, "IN THE SAME WAY husbands should love their wives as their own bodies."  Now, obviously, the command here is to husbands - but the assumption is that the wife is receptive toward being washed.  Are we in vibrant communication with our husbands about the truest Truths?  Are we hearing his thoughts and taking his counsel and receiving these gestures as tokens of his love for us?  There is cleansing and wholeness and true nourishment in this.

- Find ways to serve others.

In seasons of exhaustion and periods of feeling overwhelmed, it is so very easy to turn inward and think only of getting our own needs met.  But we forget that the Bible would tell us that serving others is a very real need in us - we were made for this.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  We can't fulfill our calling and be our most whole selves while we're neglecting others.  It's funny how it works.

So when we're feeling the pain points of needing to have something poured into us, that is a cue to remember that the same need exists in others, too - and in serving others, we ourselves are filled up.  We can't do this from our own strength, that's for certain.  But Christ will empower you and bless you in these efforts, and you'll find yourself filled in a way you couldn't be if you had been singularly focused on yourself.

I said it already, and I'll say it again: the Bible is not silent on self-care.  God actually cares a great deal about whether we're finding rest and refreshment and nourishment.  In fact, he has so much to say on the topic that I'm only halfway through the few I wanted to highlight!  Next week, I'll cover a few especially physical, 'earthy' ways to care for ourselves.

the sinister side of self-care.

Hoo, buddy.  Self care.  Topic of the masses, am I right?  I feel like I can't throw a rock these days without hitting fourteen people who are doling out some kind of advice about taking care of ourselves as moms, and another thousand people crowded around those people, nodding along sagely.  It's starting to get annoying - for one thing, all I wanted to do was throw a rock, and now I'm faced with addressing all these knuckleheads.  Can't a person just innocently throw a rock around anymore?

There's so much to say on this, so I'm going to have to just keep things short and sweet: the world will always speak to us in half-truths, and if we're not discerning, Bible-saturated women, we won't know where the truth stops and the lies begin.  We will eat whatever garbage they feed us as long as it tastes like the chocolate of truth.

So, to clarify, here's the true part of the push for self-care: we absolutely must, as Christian women and Christian moms, be taking care of ourselves.  We cannot neglect this.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits need to be nurtured, and the nurturing of any person - be it our husbands, our children, or ourselves - takes great amounts of time, attention, and intentionality.  I'll get more into this later this week.

Now, for the teensy little problem of the lies.  The problem is that the world assumes we are not taking care of ourselves.  The problem is that the world sees our capacity for nurture as a limited resource, and when we give care to others, we are by default draining and robbing from ourselves.  The problem is that the world prescribes and demands a regimen of self-care that actually deepens our needs, rather than filling them.

I'll make this easy: this is lying to you.

Let's address these lies one at a time:

The lie: assuming we are not already caring for ourselves.

First, we see that the Bible explicitly says, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church."  (Eph 5:29) Or, to state it in the positive, "For everyone always loves his own flesh..."  According to the Bible, every single one of us is caring for ourselves in the way that Christ cares for the church: sacrificially, whole-heartedly, affectionately, single-mindedly.  We are our own top priority.  Already.  Without exception.  We don't need to be encouraged or taught or trained to do this.  In fact, the Bible would insist that what we really need to be trained to do is to love others as much as we already love ourselves. (Luke 6:31)

Now, we'll dig deeper into this in just a minute, but we need to understand that, while our methods of caring for ourselves might be completely missing the mark, our goals and our efforts are all naturally aimed at "ME FIRST!"  While we may need to be trained to think Biblically about what caring for ourselves should realistically look like, we don't need to be convinced to care for ourselves, and no one is currently neglecting their attempts toward that end.

The lie: we should drink from the bucket of our own service, energy, and love before ladling anything out to others, or we will become drained.  

What's especially insidious about this particular lie is that it, by default, sets up a false reality of competition: my resources go to either me, or others.  This gets especially dark in the realm of family: essentially, it is me against my kids.  When I buy this lie, it becomes so much easier to believe that I am a whole, complete person, defined apart from my family and my role as a mother - and further, I'm drained by my obligation to care for my family, and my only way back to my 'true self' is to keep the distinction between myself and everyone else clear in my mind: "We are not an inherent and inseparable unit; I was not made for this.  These adorable little parasites bleed me dry of my 'true self,' which I am only able to find and nurture when I hardline the distinction between who I am ("glorious, individual ME!!") and what I do (mother as a verb, wamp wamp)."

The truth is that, in serving others through the capability and capacity of the Holy Spirit, we actually find our true purpose, our deepest earthly fulfillment, and our life's work.  I am not a self apart from the fact that I am a mother; in fact, mothering makes me more truly 'me.'  I cannot seek to find myself in some fake reality that doesn't accommodate the fact that I am a mother; I don't just do motherhood.  I cannot care for my truest self if I am not caring for those that God has given me - in fact, I do myself harm if my definition of self-care is somehow exclusive of actively caring for them.

The Bible tells us that our lives are found in losing them.  (Matt 16:25)  The Bible says that if our goal is to be first, our strategy must be to place ourselves last in the line for a drink from the bucket - to become "the servant of all."  (Mark 9:35)  Sure, we can still stand in the line!  But we subjugate our 'me first!' tendencies to the priority of serving others by taking our place at the end of the line.  In fact, I really can't think of a single place in the Bible where the admonition is to look out for Number One before serving Number Two.  God is ALL ABOUT Number Two.

And do you know why we can orient our lives this way?  Because he also promises that he will give us what we need to meet the needs of others and ourselves.  That he will care for us and meet our needs, even if we take our eyes off ourselves and our own scrabbling for a hot second.  We are not giving up our access to fulfillment when we concern ourselves with the care of others; it is one of the main ways God shows us how capable he is to meet our deepest needs, without our help, and more fully than we can do on our own.

The lie: that the meeting of our deepest needs for care and nourishment can be found through avenues of entitlement and escapism.

Often, the world's answer to our need for nourishment come in one of these two forms.

Entitlement often takes the form of gross self-indulgence.  It looks different for every person, but spending resources (time, money, energy) on low-tier priorities seems to be a major element of this.  Demanding appreciation, indulging in self-pity, and/or developing an inflated sense of martyrdom are also manifestations. (Self-centeredness is always self-worship, even if it looks like self-abasement.)

Entitlement robs from us, and actually intensifies our need for true care and nourishment, because nothing earthside can ever be enough to fill the hole.  It can't be.  If we're expecting, for instance, a weekend away with our girlfriends to fix the exhaustion we feel as moms, two days at a hotel will do nothing other than highlight how much we hate coming home to washing our own sheets and cooking our own food and making our own beds.  If we expect the fruit of self-indulgence to fill some deep hole in our deepest selves, we're to be pitied, because it can't do anything other than highlight how big that hole is, and we walk away hungrier than we were before.

Escapism is another form of commonly accepted "self-care" that is actually deeply harming.  Running away, physically or mentally, from our lives and our responsibilities through complaining ("just venting!"), relationally checking out, laziness, making excuses, refusing to accept and implement godly counsel from others, or spending hours on social media (to name a few strategies) won't fix our problems, either.  If we're not people who learn to 'bear up under' the weight of burdens, learning to become completely dependent on God's provision to enable us to endure and thrive, our problems seem to just follow us.  Life never actually gets easier or more enjoyable, no matter how far we run, because we're the kind of people who don't actually know how to tackle difficulty or joyfully embrace the cost of an abundant life.

SO.  There is a very, very broadbrush view of the lies you are being asked to swallow when you throw in your lot with the Pinterest board fodder telling you to take care of yourself.  Pinterest has a lot to say about how to care for yourself, much of which is founded upon the lies I mentioned and others.  However, the Bible also has a lot to say about how to take care of yourself, all of which is founded on truth and God's love for you and his genuine care for your truest well-being.  So, to not just leave you with a big old list of the garbage you shouldn't be eating, tomorrow or Thursday I'll be back with truth about the glorious manna you should be consuming and nourishing yourself with - things you can do that will provide actual restorative comfort and care to your deepest, truest self.

it's time for the weekly what's up!

Another week down, baby!  Another mile marker noted toward that final prize.  Another week logged of gimpy, faltering, grace-saturated time as a family, investing in things that will last for all eternity.  This is what one more week of homeschooling, one more week of laundry and dishes and cooking, one more week of snuggling and disciplining the kids and taking naps and running errands and reading board books over and over has purchased for me.  What I'm doing with my time matters in light of eternity, and each weekly Friday blog post is a 'deposit' entry in my bank book of worthwhile lifetime investments - a brief little glimpse at that account growing, slowly but surely.

I don't say all of that as a preface to a mind-blowing post about some crazy awesome, out-of-the-ordinary week.  I say it because the week's mundanity matters.  How we live our days is how we live our lives, and I've spent my days this week changing pee-soaked crib bedding and pooped-on clothing, wiping dripping toddler noses, and buying Gatorade for my sick husband.  This is the legacy I'm building, and I'm excited by that.  Things don't have to stop being mundane, and tedious, and even overwhelming to be exciting.  They don't have to stop being repetitive and boring to be holy.  I can hold the extremes of both realities in my hands at the same time.

Anywho.  I guess it was time for Random Philosophic Time with Paige.  You just never know when the mood's going to strike.

Now, I don't mean by all of that that nothing out of the ordinary happened; it was post-Christmas week, and of course we had items of note.  I'm just saying, as with any week, more of life was normal than wasn't.  And I guess that's why it's our 'normal' life.

For fun, I'm going to bullet-point the highlights this time.

1.  Saturday we had bagels and lox for breakfast - a postponement from our normal Christmas morning tradition, but it was nice this way, too.  It elevated the day!

2.  Saturday for lunch, we had yet another cheese board.  You'd think I'd get tired of this by now, but noper.  Penelope is becoming quite the adept soux chef.

3.  Saturday night, my parents came up for a visit and we had Second Christmas!  The kids all opened presents and partied, and we had fish tacos for dinner just like the Wise Men did that first Epiphany.  It was all very festive.

4.  Sunday morning, Todd killed it at church, preaching on Jesus the Word of God, who will return one day to bring justice.

5.  Monday evening, we plated our last cheese board of the feasting season in honor of the end of 2018.  I even cooked stuff, so it was like Cheese Board Plus.  It was super delicious, but as it was dinner time in December, I figured I'd spare you photos.  Jalapeno poppers under incandescent lighting are just blech.

6. Wednesday afternoon, I got a text from Todd, saying he was really sick at work and needed me to come pick him up, as he was too sick to walk home.  (He's still been walking to work with our van situation.)  He said he'd been lying on the floor under his desk for twenty minutes.  Laurelai's response?  "That sounds embarrassing."  Compassion through the roof.  He got home and went right to bed around 5, and slept all the way until the next morning.

7.  Todd was home all day yesterday, fighting off whatever nasty bug had gotten him.  The kids and I had some errands to run while he rested up - chiro appointments, library returns, and a trip to the mall to see if coats are on clearance yet.  HOLY FRIJOLES.  Walking the mall with six kids in tow is kind of like doing a triathlon.  Or so I assume from how exhausted I feel just imagining completing a triathlon.  Fortunately, no one got kidnapped or lost while we were there.  Unfortunately, we didn't find the coat Penelope desperately needs.  (Well, we found it, but it's not on clearance yet, and $70 full-price is too much to swallow when I just know the spring shipments are coming in soon to bump all the prices down.  Keeping my eye on the website to see when the sales hit.)  Also unfortunately, Rocco seems to have been full-on traumatized by his maiden voyage up the escalator.

8.  My Christmas tree is still standing in my living room, shedding needles everywhere because it hasn't been watered in a week and a half.  I can't bring myself to take care of it; I can't bring myself to take it down.  Life sure is hard sometimes.

And that brings us to today!  I am 25 weeks along, and starting to feel the ascent into the third trimester.  I'm tired more often, gaining what feels like massive amounts of additional girth, and I'm feeling the mood fluctuations happening more often.  I haven't been craving anything super specific, though the affinity for seafood is still idling on high.  I ordered the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook with some of my Christmas gift money (finally! I've checked it out from the library at least five times in the last two years) and once it arrives, I will be making some necessary adjustments as I get ready for the baby's arrival.  It is just so helpful with hormone balance for me - the difference in my mood, outlook, and physical health are just astounding when I'm disciplined in this way.  Looking forward to getting back in the saddle!  (If only I were limber enough to actually get back in the saddle.  I think they're going to have to get some kind of horse sidecar for me; I've really been gaining weight quickly lately... thanks a lot, Ghirardelli.)

callista at eighteen months.

Oh, this pretty daughter.  She is such a joy.

She's already 18 months old?! She looks just as confounded by this as I am.

She is on the move lately, motoring around like she owns the place.  She is the favorite of all of her siblings, and I will often go on the hunt for her, to find her squirrelled away with one or more of the older kids, playing house or reading books.  They fight over the privilege of getting to play with her.  Likewise, she loves them back - she loves getting to help tuck Rocco in for nap; she'll reach her arm through the bar of his crib, rub his head, tilt her head to one side, and babble soothingly at him.  If anyone is hurt or crying (and in a family our size, someone is always hurt or crying), she loves rubbing and patting their back to help console them.

On the flip side, she is an absolute destructo.  She is into everything, all the time, always.  I do not remember any of the rest of my kids being quite like this.  She somehow always has a contraband crayon in one hand, and a board book in the other hand.  Defacement and pillaging number among her top joys.

Because she plays hard, she sleeps hard.  She is still taking two naps each day - the rest of the kids had all dropped their morning naps by 16 months, but not Callista.  She is fully committed to recharging her batteries for the maelstrom she intends to inflict once she's awake.  When I lay her down, she likes to have a paci in her mouth, and a Wubbanub in each hand, to rub in her ears.  Such an adorable little weirdo.

She hates baths.  She hates having her diaper changed (and I hate changing it - she's got some tummy issues we're needing to resolve, and she often does serious damage to the diapers, clothing, changing pads, bedding, humans, and air quality in her general vicinity).  The only way I can get her to lay still while I change her is to give her a small, decorative gold snail that sits on her shelf, and even that's not foolproof.  That poor snail has seen some stuff.

The one thing she does love is eating.  This girl can pack it away.  Three eggs for breakfast is standard fare; she'll eat a whole can of tuna by herself without batting an eyelash.  (Though, when she's dissatisfied with the service, or the food, or the ambiance, or anything else, she'll let us know by throwing every single last bit of food on the floor with wild swipes of her arm and loud shrieks.  It's sure endearing.)

She is not afraid to voice her displeasure.

She can say a few words at this point - "Mama," "Dada," "Baby," "Bubble," "Yeah," "Hi," and "Neh neh neh neh neh" ("No no no no no") are all regulars, in addition to the nonstop conversational-sounding babble she produces.  (She even wakes up around 4 a.m. each morning, just to talk to herself for a bit.)  We also asked her to say "Wahoo!" the other day, and she threw her arm up in the air without prompting, and nonchalantly went, "Weh."  Like, "yeah, yeah, yeah, wahoo and whatever."

She got a toy for Christmas that plays classical music, and she holds it as tightly to her face as she can possibly get it in order to listen.  She then either stands stock-still, mesmerized, or she goes nutso and starts dancing.  My favorite of her dances is when she waggles her funny little pointer finger around like a maniac while swaying back and forth.

She hates wearing shoes or socks.  She loves doing exercises with her older siblings.  She loves sitting backwards on the bottom step of the kitchen stool, using the top step as a toddler-sized table.  She loves pretending to take imaginary food out of containers to "eat" it or pretend to feed it to everyone around her.

She is such a blessing to us, and I'm excited to see her become a big sister soon.  It's hard to imagine as she still seems so tiny (not only is she the current 'baby' of the family, but she's also literally tiny, swimming in her 12-month clothing), but I know once we bring the new baby home, she will seem so huge.  I'm taking these last few months to just bask in the glow of her littleness!

happy new year! who do you want to be?

"If we would do our best for our children, grow we must, and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness." - A.,  Volume III, no. 2, The Parents' Review (A Charlotte Mason publication)

Well, another year is in the books!  I'm proud of 2018 and all that happened.  I'm happy with the amount and quality of reading I got accomplished through the year, we made some amazing strides in our homeschooling adventure, and I'm excited about the traditions we are endeavoring to set in place moving forward.  Admittedly, with the pace and season of life right now, I don't feel like I'm able to stop and reflect and plan as much as I'd like to, but I'm happy with where we're at.

The new year is such an easy time to evaluate what's going well, and what's not, and identify what we hope to accomplish in the future.  I have been thinking over the last few weeks and months, however, that perhaps we get too nearsighted in our goals.  Perhaps, in looking only at the upcoming year, we fail to plan for the big picture.  Perhaps our eyes as mothers are often focused too much on our children's growth and futures, to the neglect of our own.

**Now, before you go thinking I'm going to endorse some kind of self-centric view of motherhood and push the importance of 'self-care,' I will tell you outright that this is not what I am talking about.  In fact, I have been stewing on some pretty firey thoughts about how appallingly and disgustingly selfish modern 'mommy culture' is, and how the last thing we need right now is yet another crackhead telling us that we just need to love ourselves more and how 'self care is never selfish.'  BARF AND BARF.  Lies from the pit of hell that will absolutely ruin you, friend; that's what that garbage is.  I'll grace you with an impassioned letter to the editor on this topic soon, but in short, this is NOT what I'm promoting.

In the meantime, let me clarify what I do mean.  I do mean what Charlotte Mason would call investing in 'mother culture,' as distinguished from 'mommy culture' - the intentional growth of the mother into the kind of person that is fulfilled and purposeful in any season of life.  What I do mean is the Biblical call to continue to strive, both as individuals and as members of a vibrant church body, to grow in sanctification.  To put on a new man.  To be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

I have been wrestling lately with how much time I spend thinking about who I want my kids to become, and not nearly enough with who I am becoming.  I will become merely an older, more entrenched version of my current self if I put no effort into renewal.  If I am short-tempered or critical now, a different life stage will not change who I am at my core.  If I am bitter or lazy or cowardly now, time does not change that.  It only ages it; sets it into deeper and deeper patterns of habit.

To get even more specific, what I'm saying is this: One day, my toddlers will no longer need my efforts at troubleshooting the 'me do it' stage.  One day, my homeschoolers will graduate.  One day, I will have a much smaller household to run.  One day, if I have done my job well, I will have worked myself out of a large part of my current job.  And on that day, who will I be?  Who will I be on my way to becoming?

I am far from having everything figured out.  I don't know what it's like to live life in the stages beyond where I'm currently at.  However, from what I've observed, I have noticed two really terrifying patterns occurring in women who have not planned well (read: Biblically) for the inevitable day when they are empty nesters:  in the first camp are the mothers who fall apart, suffering an identity crisis when they are no longer able to place their whole identity in their role as someone's necessary Mommy.  These women seem to insert themselves in unhealthy way into their adult children's lives, through emotional manipulation or control, or a permissiveness toward extended adolescence in their adult kids.  They become needy.

In the second camp are the mothers who embrace what they see as the finish line, and with so much time and money now freed up, they spend it all on themselves and their own whims.  They don't continue to be intentional about investing those resources into the next generation, or their Christian legacy; they fritter away the second act of motherhood under the delusion that they are no longer under any obligation of sacrifice or costly service to their children.  Their main concerns become their own wants, their own hobbies, their own pursuit of fulfillment, their own jobs, their own vacations, their own lives.  They become negligent.

I realize that's super simplistic, and there are so many different degrees and manifestations of each of these things, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one who's noticed these trends among older women.  But trends aren't destiny, and Christians are not determinists (well, many of us are predeterminists, but that's a different thing) - the Holy Spirit promises a third way, if we are committed to pursuing our own relationship with the Lord and our own sanctification at continued cost to ourselves: "We do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day."

If we lean into the Holy Spirit, and get intentional about our own growth, we become younger with each passing day.  As we age, we have the opportunity to become more and more fresh, full of more and more usefulness and vigor and purpose.  As our bodies change, break down, and wear out, our spirits - our deepest selves - can be Benjamin Buttoning - if we identify that as our goal and point our feet in that direction.

I want to do that.  I want to become younger as my kids grow older.  I want to be whole in Christ, lacking no good thing, even when my kids leave home.  Even when I get sick or frail.  Even when I feel alone.  Even when loss and tragedy strike.  I want to be a little newer each day.  But I have to intention to head that direction now, or I won't find myself at that destination later.  It will not happen by accident.

I am committing to spending some time here at the beginning of 2019, asking myself who I want to become, and really evaluating what steps I can be taking now to ensure I get there.  Want to join me?

One thing I have found supremely helpful in terms of planning for my future is looking to women who have lived these life stages before me.  This week, I read The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Christian Grandmothers, which talks about many of the roles we face as aging Christian women: wives in decades-long marriages, mothers to adult children, mothers-in-law, adult children of aging parents, future elderly parents of adult children, grandmothers, Titus 2 women in the church.  Some of these roles I'd not thought much about, so it was so helpful for me to have it laid out - when I face these roles, who do I want to be?  How do I want to live these things?  Do I really want to be thinking about these things for the first time when they're already happening?  It's a really great read, one I'll likely go back to frequently over time, and I'm grateful for and inspired by the wisdom in these pages.  I'd highly recommend it if you're wanting to start planning for your future in this way.  (Plus, it's only 122 pages, so it's a very quick read - it's not heavy or hard to get through.)

Here's to a strong start to 2019: may the entire year be a strong start to the rest of our lives.

weekly 'what's up.'

Even though I missed posting last week's 'what's up', I'm not sure there's been much going on around here that I haven't already filled you in on.  It's been mainly just a flurry of baking, eating, cooking, eating, wrapping presents, unwrapping presents, eating, cooking, and eating.  It's been fun, but I will say, if I never eat again in my life, I'll be okay with it.  We've eaten really well, but after our big New Year's Eve dinner has come and gone, I am decidedly ready for something a bit more... austere, diet-wise.

I'm considering doing another Whole 30 (or perhaps something along those lines, but a bit less strict) in January.  First of all, I need to kick the Carb Demon again.  I've gained quite a bit of weight already this pregnancy (more than is typical for me at this point, I think), and to be honest, I feel pretty sick a lot of the time - not 'morning sickness' sick; more like 'carb loading' sick.  Just tired and grouchy and queasy and slow.  It's a good feeling, let me tell you.  Plus, Callista's been having some pretty serious stomach issues for a while now that are just not resolving themselves with the limited number of 'fixes' we've tried, so it's time to get more serious about figuring out the root cause and helping her to feel better.

Beyond food-related stuff, the rest of life has been pretty same-old, same-old around here as well.  (Minus Christmas, of course! But I already filled you in on that.)  I'm working hard on trying to get the laundry room ready for a bit of a redesign.  I need to figure out some better storage solutions in my kitchen, so I think one wall of my laundry room is going to become pantry overflow, which will free up space in the kitchen.

There are only two problems with this plan: 1) We bought a house with a pantry; why do I now need to buy the stuff to make a new pantry?  IT SHOULD HAVE COME WITH THE COST OF THE HOUSE.  Maybe I'm being unreasonable, but I fully expect that a house should be exactly what you want when you buy it.  Is that just me?  And 2) We are not handy people.  Like, at all.  Hanging shelves is perhaps one of the easiest projects I could undertake (or, so I've heard from people who have experience in doing projects) and yet I'm intimidated.  I can birth a million babies like 'whatever, shrug, shrug', but I can't muster the courage to go to Lowe's and buy shelf brackets.  (What if I get the wrong ones?!?!?)  What's wrong with me?

So, in an effort to keep feeling like things are moving along in the house, without spending any money or attempting anything handy, I got Todd to help me roll up the family room rug on Christmas Eve.  Big stuff.  The blue-and-white rug from our Cedar Falls living room was too big for our current living room when we moved (yes, our current living room is even smaller than the one in CF! I didn't think that was possible), so we put it in the basement family room.  But because it's been sitting on top of carpet, it kind of slides around, and has actually been getting ripped and warped.  It's so sad - I love that rug.  So it was time to get the sectional off of it and roll it up.  Small but fruitful project, and it has me making big, potentially unrealistic, plans for the basement (paint the ceiling, paint the walls, paint the trim, hang some shelves, put up some shiplap??, hang curtains, etc. etc.).  All simple stuff, but like I said, we're not handy, and I haven't figured out alchemy yet, so we'll see.

Do I need to tell you how much I miss this pretty living room?  Look at that rug, why don't you, in all her shining glory.

Her last hurrah on active duty.

Okay, enough blahblahblah.  Here are some photos.

Callista doesn't like baths, but at least she's subtle about it:


I chew on stuff when I blog: my hair, my shirt, the blanket.  I'm chewing on my shirt at this exact moment, to tell you the truth.  I don't know why I do it, and I don't know why I only do it when blogging and at no other time, but there you have it.  Here's an intimate look at how the sausage gets made:


24 WEEKS ALONG, SUCKERS!  I'm not really craving anything at this point; probably because the very idea of food sickens me.  I've been having terrible round ligament pain and Braxton Hicks contractions, which seem to come earlier and become more intense with each pregnancy.  So, that's cool.  BUT my headaches seem to have finally subsided (for the time being, anyway), and the baby is moving and shaking, and can actually be felt (and sometimes seen!) from the outside at this point.  As far as her development goes, we have no newer information than the results of my blood test, so everything seems to be normal, as far as we know.  We do have an ultrasound and a heart echo scheduled for January 8, if you'd be so kind as to pray that goes well!

And just like that, another week has flown by!