Thursday, 31 January 2013

How to Get your Kids Movin'...

....when all you want to do is collapse on the sofa.

Everyone knows kids need time and space to run around and expend all that energy they siphon off their parents. They sleep better, eat better and just generally feel better. Not to mention all those large motor skills they are developing.

So what happens when Momma just doesn't have the energy to keep up with them? Or is physically unable to run around with them? While I'm hoping to not have a strict "bed rest" season in this pregnancy, I know it may happen, and also, I'm generally supposed to take it easy these days. Not so easy to do when the kids are used to me running around with them, giving piggy backs and just don't really understand that I need to rest and sit down. 

I've discovered a few activities that are good for getting their heart rates going and keeping yours under control...

1. Build an obstacle course. 
This one takes a little effort on your part, but once it's done you can sit and watch them run around in circles, climbing over chairs and crawling through tunnels. You can time their laps around the course or make yourself an integral part of it. (Just make sure you can handle them climbing on you and choose a comfortable position). Enjoy 10-15 minutes of rest while they work up a sweat!

2. Put 'em to Work!
A few weeks ago we got a hand-me-down toddler bed for Elena. It was in need of some TLC so I got Lucas and Elena to help me scrub it down. This is definitely not the most restful activity, but I was able to supervise for a while, and then help finish off the task. They also learned about helping mommy out and had fun with the water and brushes!

3. Find an enclosed park and watch them run around.
Grandma and Grandpa's apartment has a small enclosed playground area with some nice toys that we don't see everyday and the kids love to run around there and drive the cars. There are some convenient benches nearby where I can watch all the action. They are old enough too that I don't need to follow them around. :) 

4. Sidewalk chalk and hopscotch
This one is especially nice if you have a secure area so you don't have to worry about traffic or the kids running down the street. I help Lucas draw the hopscotch squares (good for number learning as well) and help him with throwing a stone into each consecutive number square and hopping away. We have also drawn huge shapes on the ground and they run around until I call out a shape and they have to jump into that shape. Very good if you have a lawn chair handy.

5. This one makes the most sense but isn't always possible - find someone else to run around after the kids while you rest and (in this case) enjoy the sun, sand and beach!
We enjoyed a nice morning at the beach today with Uncle Aaron who helped Lucas conquer some of his ocean/wave fears! 

We had such a good outing to the beach this morning I hope we can do it a few more times before this momma turns into a beached whale. :) 

Any other good "high energy" activities you recommend for kids? 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Gettin' my Mojo Back!

Whew! It's been a looooong few weeks. After a pretty rough and exhausting first trimester, I was so ready to put all those initial pregnancy symptoms to rest and settle in for a great second trimester. Boy, was I wrong. "Morning sickness" lasted well until at least 16 weeks and I think just after I started to feel a little more "normal" I got hit by a massive sinus cold/cough that lasted a good three weeks. If you know me, you know that I hardly ever get sick, like, at all. I have the immune system of a horse and a stomach of steel. :) So to be knocked down for three weeks felt like an eternity for me. I had to resort to antibiotics (doctor's recommendation) to kick this sinusitis.

So now I am finally feeling back to "normal" - um, except for the ever growing belly and a few second trimester symptoms. I've got so much more energy and I figure I've got to put it to good use in the next few weeks before I really get huge! There's so much to do before the babies arrive. We are getting our guest room ready for my parents (mom is coming to stay and help for hopefully two months or more) and of course we have to make room for the twins and all the baby paraphernalia that accompanies newborns.

In the midst of my hazy sickness, we managed to throw a belated party for Lucas, only accomplished with lots of help from my mother-in-law! So I'll be back with details on his "Construction" themed party and of course, lots more pregnancy and kid posts before life gets crazy in May.

Thanks for sticking around and reading!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ferocious Fours

We have hit some big milestones with our oldest boy turning four this month. 

He finally gave up his beloved papaz (pacifier) by throwing his last remaining broken one into the trash, saying, "bye bye papaz" and that was the last of it. (Apart for a few random requests now and then that are easily squashed / forgotten). 

He also mastered all his potty business, day and night and now we're down to one diaper a day for Elena (at night - although she is pretty much ready to get rid of that one too). 

He gave up his daily nap (much to mommy's dismay).

I had this all ready for his birth story post - was just waiting on the 4 years old shot! My how time flies. 
Now we are dealing with the "ferocious fours". 

fe·ro·cious - extreme or intense.

Every emotion he feels is to the extreme! He was so excited about his construction themed party that he prayed about it for a few days before the party. We also get the intense frustration when he can't do things all on his own, when mommy decides something needs to stop, or we need to go do another activity. This feels like the most difficult time we've have with him in terms of discipline. (Of course, this is probably because we are in the middle of it right. now. With another child. And a pregnant/sick/exhausted mommy.) He is learning to express the whole range of emotions and we are trying to teach him how to deal with anger and sadness in appropriate ways.

I think most "stages" of parenting can feel like the worst when you are going through them. I certainly remember feeling extremely overwhelmed in the first few weeks of Lucas' life. Now I look back and wish I had let him sleep on my chest more, rocked him in the chair more and cherished that season (as crazy and sleep-deprived as it was). 

When you are in the thick of the "ones" they can often be the Worrisome Ones. Is my child developing on schedule? Will he ever start talking? Could he please eat more fruit than just bananas? Why won't he sleep through the night? Of course once you hit the twos - the ones start to look more like the Wonderful Ones!

The Terrible Twos turn into Terrific Twos when you hit the Traumatic Threes.

The Traumatic Threes turn into Thrilling Threes when you hit the Ferocious Fours.

Now, don't think that it just gets worse with every passing year. It's just different. New challenges to keep you on your toes. And with new challenges, come new blessings and fresh developments that make your relationship with your child so much deeper and stronger. The learning curve is pretty steep in motherhood - and we're never going to stop learning. So we stick through it knowing that when we look back we will see the foundations that were put in place through laughter, tears, sleepless nights and long days. We will remember 80% of the good things and probably only 10% of the bad things. 

So if you feel like you're in a really bad/hard/challenging stage of parenting, don't give up. It will get better. (And then worse, and then better again, but that's not really the point.) It is all part of the journey, yours as a mother, and your childs. Embrace it. 

Even when it feels like you can't make it to bedtime.   

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Bump: 18 weeks

Well, I've basically hit the halfway point! If I get to 36 weeks that is. If I don't, then I'm already over halfway! If I make it past 36 weeks, I'll be very surprised. I find myself in a weird head space these days; on one hand I know this pregnancy is going to get a lot harder in the next few months, and on the other hand I want to cherish it since it is probably my last. I always loved being pregnant with my other two, and while I am enjoying this one, it's definitely a lot harder on my body this time around! Plus I know the first few months of these babies lives are going to be crazy, so I should take advantage of the time I can easily control four kids. Four kids, four and under. Yikes!

How far along: 18 weeks as of Jan 13
Development: Haven't had any more doctors appointments or scans, but everything seems to be on track. Have had several comments over the last few Sundays at church to the tune of, "wow, you are getting bigger every week!"
Movement: Right around 17 weeks I started to feel definite movements, usually right when I am getting into bed. Very bubbly, fluttery movements, but it's nice to know there are actually babies in there.
Weight Gain: I think I've made it back to my starting weight after losing about 5 pounds in the first trimester.
Maternity Clothes: Starting to wear a few "in-between" pants before we get into the huge banded ones. Also enjoying a lot of dresses as we've had hot weather here. And it will get worse before (hopefully) getting cooler in the last month or so.
Stretch Marks: Same old, same old.
Best moment of my week(s): Enjoying a movie night with hubby and the kids. Buying a super-duper stroller that my brother is bringing from Canada next week! Actually it's more like a transformer than a stroller. :)
Worst moment: Having a horrible cough and cold for about the past three weeks. Seems to be finally on its way out thankfully.
Sleep: Not too bad, had one horrible night with crazy Braxton Hicks contractions that I have never experienced before. I would wake up feeling like my stomach had simultaneously jumped and shrunk and hiccuped while letting out a huge breath. It happened about ten times in the span of two hours.
Miss Anything: Having no pain and feeling healthy. I hardly ever get sick so this cold/cough is really a pain for me.
Food Cravings: Um, everything? Just can't really eat a lot so I find myself constantly hungry.
Aversions: Would love some coffee, but I just can't stand the thought of drinking it!
Gender: Don't know yet, but this week is the tell-all ultrasound (assuming they both cooperate!)
Symptoms: Muscle and back pain,
Labor signs: A few Braxton Hicks
Belly Button: Stretching more and more.
Rings: On
Mood: Annoyed at being sick and tired.
Looking forward: Seeing our babies and finding out the gender. Having my brother come to visit for a few weeks!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Belated Birth Story: My Firstborn

Did you know my husband delivered our first child? No, he's not a doctor, or a nurse, or even medically trained at all. But I shudder to think of what could have happened had God not blessed me with a strong, smart and brave hubby who, in that very crucial moment, knew just how to help me deliver our son...

Let's go back a bit, considering my firstborn is turning 4 today. I never really wrote down my birth story and I know it's something I'll love to look back on.

2008: Hubby and I had been married almost three years and I had baby fever. Bad. We were working as missionaries in Bangladesh with an international church, serving as youth and worship leaders. The time was right. In March of 2008 we conceived.

After a very easy pregnancy, we were getting close to the due date, and no signs of anything. I knew that a lot of first pregnancies are often late, so I wasn't worried. I was hoping for a natural birth, and my doctor would let me go until 41 weeks before inducing me. So 39 and 40 weeks passed. We were enjoying the cool season in Bangladesh, celebrating Christmas with our friends and cherishing the moments, just the two of us. The "due date" was Dec 28, 2008. On New Year's Eve we attended a party - still nothing. It would be a 2009 baby for us.

January 2nd, 2009: Friday, and usually a church day for us. Our church met on Friday afternoons in another church's building and the sanctuary was 4 floors up - tall floors and no elevators. So we decided to skip church that day and instead headed out for a leisurely evening of dinner out and card games at the American Club (Recreation center provided for embassy members, American expats and other International guests). Not sure it was the best idea to go waddling around, riding rickshaws and whatnot at this stage of a pregnancy, but I guess it worked - right after we ordered our food I went to the bathroom and my water broke. I had not had any signs of labor until that point.

We texted our friends who were just finishing up the church service and asked them to pick us up. (We had no car.) They thought we were joking as just minutes earlier David had texted to see if they wanted to join us for dinner. I sat in the bar, starting to feel contractions, as we waited for our ride.

We also called our midwife, Diane, and she and her husband drove us to our home to pick up our bags, and then on to the hospital. Contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long by this point. We were fortunate to make the trip across town to our hospital at a good time of the week, not too much traffic (which can sometimes be at a standstill for hours).

Upon arriving at the hospital, about an hour after my water broke, we asked for a wheelchair and made our way up to the maternity ward. We had done no pre-registering or anything, but soon I had my nice hospital gown (top and skirt) and my own labor/delivery room with my own bathroom. David later had to go back down to the emergency desk to officially register me.
Getting settled for a LONG night ahead. 
I was well stocked up with snacks, juices and lots of water. Before giving birth in a foreign country and hospital, I had asked another missionary woman about her experiences giving birth in this hospital and what advice she had for me. The biggest thing she said was to know what I wanted and not let the doctors walk all over me. So when they asked to put an IV of antibiotics in as soon as I got there I said no. There was no way I was going to be chained to the bed by an IV line when my water had just broke and there was no chance of infection.

Being in a third world country, we had no birthing classes or anything like that. So all I knew was what I had read and a few pieces of advice from other new moms. I didn't really want an epidural, and it's a good thing because the hospital was only equipped to provide one during office hours, when their anesthesiologist was on duty (7am - 7pm or something like that). I arrived at about 7:30pm. So I dealt with my labor pains by walking a lot, squatting, swaying, and taking baths. I was monitored every few hours and basically left alone for most of the night. I didn't have music, candles or anything else, just used my imagination to take me away to a calm and peaceful beach scene through each contraction.

I was allowed to have one person accompanying me, so my hubby, David and our friend who is a midwife (not connected to the hospital or recognized by them), Diane, took turns staying with me and resting.

January 3, 2009: This is where it starts to get blurry. I am not a night person, so to be in labor throughout the night was definitely not fun. It got to a point at the end where I was falling asleep in between contractions! David was faithfully timing them on his phone and keeping our parents and family (in Brazil and Canada) up to date on my progress through Facebook.

Finally, at about 5:30am, I was at 10cm dilated and ready to go. Soon I had the whole team of nurses and my doctor there with David. Since I was only allowed one person with me, Diane was waiting outside. I felt like I pushed forever. And nothing was happening. My feet were up and I had those handy handles for my arms. And there was the problem. I was pushing with my arms, not my stomach. I was pushing on those handles, and actually closing my hips instead of opening them up. By this point I had asked the doctor how many more pushes and she had given up and went to sit in the corner, convinced it would just take more time.

But somehow David sensed there was something amiss, and he noticed what I was doing wrong. He told me the next time to pull with my hands and push with my hips. Sure enough, after two more pushes Lucas came flying out, the nurses barely had time to grab him and fling him on my belly. If he had been stuck in the birth canal any longer, who knows what kind of oxygen loss he could have suffered.

That, is how my husband delivered our first son. Lucas was born at 6:45am, after almost exactly 12 hours of labor.

Lucas was whisked away to get checked out and I was stitched up (had an episiotomy). We were told Lucas had some signs of distress and was looking "a little pale". They wanted to take him to the NICU for observation. We called my parents and my dad encouraged David to go with Lucas to the NICU to make sure they didn't try anything funny. Sure enough, they wanted to give him antibiotics and put him on oxygen. He would not stand to have the oxygen mask around his face and kept swiping at it.

Even though we were told Lucas might have to stay in the NICU for up to 48 hours, at about 10:00am, after I had been taken to my recovery room, Lucas was brought to us there. Exhausted, and still in pain from the worst post-delivery stitching ever, it was such a surreal experience to hold our little son.
Holding Lucas for the first time. 
We spent only one night in the hospital before taking Lucas home.

And now, here we are in 2013, celebrating this little boy's 4th birthday! My, how time flies.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

One Goal

Lots of people are sharing big lists of goals and resolutions for the new year. When I think about the year ahead, I have just one simple goal. And it's this:

Make it through the year.

That's it. 

I have a feeling 2013 is going to be one of the hardest years of my life. And here is why: I've got to get through the last two thirds of a twin pregnancy, deliver said twins, and raise four kids under 5! (No wonder I'm exhausted - I've got two kids sapping my energy from the outside, and two sapping it from the inside!)

Now, reading that you might think I'm somewhat of a pessimist, but really, I'm usually pretty upbeat about the challenges I face and am pretty adaptable in many different situations. I just don't think I can face this year without being realistic about it! 

Of course there are some things I'm thinking about in order to get myself and our family through this year.

1. Keep Jesus central - there will obviously be times when I'm going to need supernatural strength, patience, love and endurance! Spending more time in God's word, and relying on His strength will be crucial this year.

2. Keep my body healthy - try not to eat too much junk food as my pregnancy continues. Be consistent with a low-stress stretching and exercise routine to prepare my body for labor and to help with a quick recovery.

3. Keep the kid's lives relatively normal as well as preparing them for the babies arrival. This includes things like getting potty training all done, moving Elena into a big girl bed and getting things ready for the twins. 

4. Keep my expectations realistic - I've got a pretty obvious priority this year, and that is my family. I'm not going to pressure myself into being "super-mom", we may not do tons of crafts, I probably won't plan or decorate for parties, or blog everyday. It's going to take time to transition into a family of six and I am going to have to WILL myself not to put undue expectations on myself. (I'm not very good at that - being somewhat of a perfectionist)

So am I dreading the year to come? No way! I'm excited about welcoming two new lives into the world, and I can't wait to see how our family grows together this year. Another mom blogger wrote about her goal for the year, her desire to just "be" - enjoying the simple things in life, watching her family grow and cherishing all the moments, both the good and the bad. And that is what I'm going to strive for this year. Just make it through the year and do what I can to be a faithful daughter of God, a supportive wife and the best mom I can be. 

Bring it on, 2013! 

PS. We hope to find out the gender of our twins at our next ultrasound in a few weeks. Got a guess as to what we're having? Take the poll at the top right of the screen! :) 

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