Half Way

All of my deep thoughts these days are about what I'm studying in school. I doubt you all want to hear my opinion of the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule or about which exceptions to hearsay make sense to me or don't make sense to me. I also doubt you all want to hear about why I get frustrated that so many people seem put off that I'm pursuing a law degree. They seem to think that all lawyers are crooks, forgetting that if we don't have good lawyers we'll end up losing our rights and the judicial system might just turn into a tyrannical rule without lawyers holding them accountable. But I digress.

On top of losing my mind to all things law related, I've struggled this week with some discontentment regarding our abnormal weather that I was sure would be limited to last year's winter alone. I've tried to embrace it for the most part, but for some reason something snapped last weekend and I really have felt a little suffocated. I remember feeling this same way during August and September in southern Texas when I was a kid, but for opposite reasons. I couldn't go outside because the humidity and heat would just suffocate me. Now I can't go outside because the wind chill and cold literally makes my face crack. So indoors I stay, cuddled up under blankets with piles of law books next to me to read and then way too many notecards and outlines to memorize. 

I know I need to focus on the positives so I don't let myself get down, so if you saw my journal this past week you would see a lot of "so grateful for the sunshine on the snow." I'm trying so hard to convince myself that I can handle two more months of this! ha ha! 

Speaking of contentment, my family has not complained yet about my study habits, which is a blessing. And my studying has not inhibited cooking or homeschooling, so really, what could they complain about? Little Cecily Renee is happily enjoying her time in the womb. My morning sickness is still very bearable and is almost nonexistent for the first half of the day. I have not had much of my normal heartburn, back pain, headaches, swelling, insomnia, early braxton hicks, cramping, or fatigue that I have had with earlier pregnancies, so I am so grateful for this. Cecily is already gaining brownie points with me and I'm hopeful that the last half of my pregnancy will continue to be positive.

If you're thinking I look a little rounder all around, you're right. And if you think I don't look like I've put on weight - photos are deceiving. These are the only four shots of the 15 or so that I took that were the most flattering angle. I'm up to about 15 pounds gained already. This is normal for me. My appetite is ravenous when I'm pregnant, and I workout very little due to not feeling so great and the exercise exacerbating that. I do try to keep up with my yoga stretches, my squats, and my 5 lb dumbbells arm workouts. If the weather ever gets above 30 degrees, I'll probably start walking again. Hopefully that will slow down the weight gain, although I've never had success with that in the past. Thankfully, my vanity this time around is not as strong as it has been in the past. I'm 33, I have almost 4 babies, and I have a lot of other things on my mind. I do plan to lose the weight after the baby is born, and I'm currently making some dietary changes to help things out right now - but I no longer have the same pressure I had before to maintain a certain "image". I'm ok to look like a "Mom" right now. I'm accomplishing a lot right now and feeling great considering. I've never had this healthy a pregnancy before and I'm so happy to be focusing on something other than my looks at this time in my life right now. So this is NOT a fashion post. I dress comfortable, casual, and just try to stay current. These photos are something I like to do to document my pregnancy.

So here we are - about half way through till we meet little Ceci and enjoying the ride so far. I may be grumping about the weather, and over analyzing my law studies, but I'm ever so grateful to have a supportive family, a happy home life, and my easiest pregnancy yet. Praise the Lord for His goodness and for the opportunities and goals He has given me. I need to focus on that more than I focus on the sunshine on the snow. It is a happy time of life right now even in -3 degree weather.


Around These Parts...

This is what I ended up getting for my hubby for Valentine's Day. He is always asking me for "man" versions of my bath and body products, so he loved the barely there man scents in these products. 

Last night we went to see some friends for dinner, and I brought this red velvet oreo truffle chocolate cake. There was plenty leftover that we've been picking on today in honor of this chocolatey red holiday.

This week we had two ultrasounds confirming that we're having a girl! Cecily Renee! I will have a Cassi, Capri, and now a Ceci! We can't wait!

And since we're having a girl and there will be yet another sister for Cassi, here is a song written, sung, played, and recorded by my sis, Jo, about sisters:


Birthdays and Valentine's Day

To me February is the best month of the year. Not for its rigid weather and blizzards (although those have their charm). Not because of Valentine's Day (although I'll never turn away roses and chocolates). But for the simple reason that February is my Birthday month! I'm wearing pink and my new favorite hand knit scarf from my Momma to celebrate.

My Birthday is right around the corner and I am EXCITED! I created a secret Birthday wishlist board that I sent to Chris, just to help make his shopping a little easier, I planned my weekend full of fun things which includes a date night, a shopping day, and an ultrasound so we can all find out the gender of our baby!

But with all of this coming weekend centered around me, I really feel like it is only fitting to make the first gesture of romance to Chris for Valentine's Day. I always assure him that my Birthday is all he needs to worry about for February and then I usually take over any VDay plans.

Every time I want to get a present for a man, the first site I peruse is Uncommon Goods. Men are so hard to shop for, but Uncommon Goods has a wide variety of unique gifts for men that make it easy. And thankfully, they contacted me recently, asking if I would do a product review. Needless to say I was thrilled since I was planning on getting a gift for Chris from them already. Not to mention, I had my eye set on this particular little gadget for myself (I have been using the spongester for over a week and it has already made a difference in warding off nasty bacterial smells in my sponges).

Here are just a few of the items that I considered for my hubby for Vday (not going to post what I actually got otherwise he will see it):

Razor Pit Sharpener

Beard Pack

Salvaged Furniture Wood Cufflinks

For more gifts for men, click here

Uncommon Goods sells products that aren't just interesting, practical, and unique - they also offer many handmade items to support local artisans, they offer a wide variety of personalized gifts, and have high standards and work ethics for their company - committing to featuring unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. 

So while most of you are shoveling your way out of snowstorms or bundling up against the cold, instead of begrudging February, take the time to buy a gift for someone for Valentine's Day, wrap yourself in your favorite color of pink and cozy up under a warm blanket with something warm to drink. Enjoy February - I know I will! 


Maternity Outfit for Baby #4

While I don't have the time or inclination to go back to style blogging, I do want to try to get in maternity outfit photos throughout this pregnancy just to journal my progress, watch my body grow in photos, keep me finding creative ways to dress the bump, and be able to compare to my previous pregnancy photos. 

So here I am at 15 weeks. I wore this today for church. Wednesday is my 16 week appointment. I feel like the weeks are going by pretty fast already. It will be the second week of February soon and I'll be finding out the baby's gender!

Dress - Ann Taylor - hand-me-down (thanks Lalia!)
Scarf - c/o www.morethanalive.com
Boots - Jessica Simpson - c/o eBay
Sweater - Gap Maternity - Goodwill for $4

Besides the huge appetite I wish I didn't have (hello 6 extra pounds...and counting!), I am really having an amazing pregnancy. My morning sickness continues to be almost completely nonexistent in the mornings and doesn't creep in until around noon. During the afternoon the sickness is very manageable and sometimes I can get relief by just taking ginger root capsules. By the evening I am definitely nauseated, but still not finding myself outright sick. If I go to bed by 10PM I can usually sleep through the worst of the nausea and by 5AM it's gone. I feel so very lucky to have it so easy this time around!

Outside of craving carbs for my first and third pregnancies, the only odd thing I've craved was refried beans in my second pregnancy. I craved it so badly that I ate it cold with a spoon right out of the can! This pregnancy I'm fitting right into the stereotype of pregnant women having weird cravings. In my early weeks of pregnancy I really just wanted beans and salad - nothing too crazy. But by week 11 I was craving mustard, hot dogs, olives, pickles, horse radish, salami, and summer sausage - which I ate all together. Since then I've just been craving steak, hamburgers (which I have yet to indulge in), refried beans, cheese, spicy foods (medium salsa has been cutting it so far), and lately I'd really love a huge slice of lasagna!  

So any guesses? Girl or boy?

I thought I'd get a few new headshots to show off my chopped hair. My decision to chop had nothing to do with trying to look better. Let's face it, I think I look best with long hair and that's why I've always kept it long. But I'm turning a new leaf and trying to focus less on how I look. It's just hair and it grows back. For now having less hair means I don't have to wear ponytails that give me headaches, it takes half the time to curl, and I no longer have to get annoyed with pulling hair out of coats or out of baby's hands. It was the right time for this. I thought I'd look forward to growing it out right away, but I'm actually just enjoying the ease and the way it looks and not even thinking about growing it out yet.


Catching Up

I thought I'd recap our holidays for you with some random iPhone photos and a few little tidbits...

After I posted the refashioned dress the week before Christmas, Cassi and I did indeed get sick with some kind of stomach bug. I was the first down on Sunday night. Thankfully my husband had already taken some vacation time the week of Christmas, so he was able to watch the children that Monday while I took a true sick day confined to my bed. Last year I was sick like this in Alaska, and Chris was around to watch the kids then, too. I feel pretty spoiled being able to take true sick days two years in a row. Rare for a mom, don't you think you moms out there?

On my very spoiled sick day, in the moments that I wasn't sleeping or writhing in pain, I took the time to exercise my brain by playing an intellectual game on my phone called Whirly Word as well as exercise my vanity by taking numerous attractive selfies such as this one below.

And speaking of vanity, the day after being sick I was determined to still make my hair appointment that I had been scheming about for the past month or more (has anyone noticed my constant pinning of hairstyles on Pinterest lately?). It was time for a big change. Something less fussy and practical as I approach becoming a mother of four and becoming a 3rd year law student. In the process I was able to donate my old hair, which made me feel better about the whole process. I haven't regretted the cut yet, so I'm glad I made the change.

Cassi was sick the day of my haircut and continued to stay sick through Christmas Eve. My in-laws didn't mind, though, and insisted we still come over for our annual Christmas Eve party with them. They took CJ with them to the Christmas Eve service and Chris and I stayed at their house in an attempt to get the girls to nap so they would be able to stay up late afterwards for present opening. So I didn't get to wear my new dress or anything, but I got something more special...

Capri was very cuddly with me and ended up falling asleep on my shoulder for her nap. In the soft glow of Christmas lights and smells of Christmas foods wafting from the kitchen, I curled up on the bed with Capri and took the time to worship my Savior and revel in the importance, splendor and true meaning of Christmas. Watching my sleeping babe nestled in my arms made me easily visualize baby Jesus and wonder about that special night when he was born. I can't say that I've ever had that much alone time to worship God on such a hallowed day before this, so this Christmas was probably the most special I've ever had.

Due to Cassi recovering from her stomach bug, we decided to postpone our annual drive up to Michigan to see my family and opted to stay home on Christmas Day. I was worried that I would feel incomplete without that trip to my parents', but I couldn't have felt more full. Watching Chris read the Christmas story to the children before present opening and then see him spend all day playing with them with their new Christmas toys was too precious.

My contribution to the special day was not as heartwarming, but fun nonetheless. I had promised to take CJ to Into The Woods, so we skipped out later in the afternoon to make it to our movie, completing our trip with selfies in the theatre lobby like any self respecting parent and child would.

The Saturday after Christmas we made it up to Michigan just in time for a big Christmas feast, which we followed up the week with eating out, shopping, ice skating, lots of family game time, singing and even a few cozy naps by the fire. Our trip culminated in a big family New Year's Eve party - one of the most fun I've ever had. 

The day that for the past ten years I thought I'd never see finally arrived on Friday, the 2nd. Third year law studies began! I'm taking three classes--Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Legal Writing III. So far the lessons are going great and I'm finding plenty of time to get my assignments done. I start my studies at 6:30 AM, get an hour or two in, get in some study time in the afternoon and then finish up with a couple of hours in the evening after the kids go to bed. 

Our 2015 goals include spending more time with the kids, making meal times more fun by having family cooking times as we continue to strive for clean eating this year as we did last year, and being better about saving money by limiting our travel, restaurant, and home maintenance budgets.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years and are enjoying the fresh start that every new year brings! Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from my family to yours!


Vintage Refashion

My fabulous sister-in-law is just as addicted to thrift shopping and vintage finds as I am. I've been striking out with the vintage finds lately, but she came to my rescue by gifting me with this beauty.

All I did was cut off the peplum waist (the chiffon is so thin you don't even notice that I cut it), tacked the sleeves under to make the dress sleeveless, and then hemmed the dress to knee-length.

The hem job came out so bad I had to do it twice, and it still looks horrible (you can't tell in the pictures). I don't have a "rolled hem" foot, which is really what was needed for this, but I'm pretty sure even if I had that particular sewing foot, I still would have done a bad job. I just don't have the patience for meticulous sewing - especially when it comes to fussy fabrics like chiffon!

I ended up following this tutorial for the chiffon hem.

I plan to wear this dress to our Christmas Eve church service with black tights and a little black sweater. But unfortunately, some of my kids have been down with a virus this entire past week, and then my baby and hubby came down with something hard core Friday night. I've kept a good attitude until yesterday. I had high hopes for doing some really fun things as dictated by the advent calendar we made. I wanted to make this season really special for the kids. Our plans to ice skate, sled, go out and see the lights, and all sorts of other things were not possible. Cassi and I still have not caught this bug, so we could be sick yet another week (please no!) and then I won't get to wear this dress. Boo.

In the meantime, I need to work on my attitude of gratefulness. Here are my list of pros for the week to get my mindset back on track:

1. We've had time to relax and take a true vacation since we were confined to the couch;
2. We've avoided all sugars, which is always good for our bodies, and if we weren't sick, we would probably be eating too many sweets right now;
3. We've saved money by staying home and not being able to eat as much has kept us from having to get more groceries;
4. I've gotten a lot of extra snuggles in;
5. We've gotten to watch several Christmas movies; and
6. I've not had to cook much.

Ah. Now I feel better. Here's to a better week with more time with my family to get excited for the Birthday of Jesus!


Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving was such a good week for me. I've been on the Thanksgiving track for weeks now, so it was only natural for it to culminate with a big feast and family around. But here are the background emotions to my thankfulness during that week...

We found out we were expecting sometime around the last week of October. This was not necessarily a surprise. We were very excited. Both of us had been hoping for #4 for months now and were excited when our dream became a reality. It was so easy to be thankful! 

I took the test before I really had any symptoms, so I just assumed that it was because I had taken the test so early. I figured my due date would be July 8. 

But . . . a week after taking the test--I spotted.  

I called my doctor who told me that she couldn't give me any assurances, but to just be careful and keep track of my symptoms. It was too early for them to check for a heartbeat. The spotting soon stopped, but I began to notice things like how my cramps were getting more and more intense (even though cramping is normal for me, intense cramps so early on are not). I also began to notice that I was not very morning sick. The last time I had no morning sickness early on, I did indeed miscarry.

With the pregnancy I miscarried I emotionally prepared myself for the inevitable. Somehow I knew right away that the pregnancy would end prematurely. But this pregnancy was different. I had high expectations and when I started showing miscarriage symptoms I just couldn't bring myself to accept it.  I prayed fervently. Although I remained anxious, God reminded me to be thankful no matter what would come. 

Any moment I did feel morning sick, I praised God. Every moment the cramping subsided, I praised Him. Every day I woke up without spotting, I praised Him. Every day I thanked God that regardless of a miscarriage or not, this baby would be another child of God. I thanked God that I was able to spend an entire weekend in Chicago with my husband while 8 weeks pregnant, almost sick free! 

When I thought I was 8 weeks (later we would find out I was 9), Chris and I decided that we no longer needed to keep this little life a secret because we weren't sure it would make it. We needed to tell our children and acknowledge this baby's life, no matter how early it might end. We explained the news and then explained that we had to check with the doctor to make sure the baby was alive. CJ and Cassi were so excited and were sure the baby had to be alive. So again, I had another reason to be thankful. They were not afraid. They were sure the baby would make it! Oh to have faith like a little child!

We slowly began sharing the news with the rest of our family when appropriate opportunities to share arose. Everyone was very supportive and positive. While I tried to stay balanced and focus on the positive, I couldn't help but be anxious. I started experiencing more morning sickness, but also more cramping. My morning sickness was very slight and didn't really show up till the evenings. The lack of intense morning sickness was very disconcerting, but I thanked God for health.

A week after Thanksgiving, the three children and I showed up at my OB appointment, ready for my ultrasound. I explained to the technician with a stiff upper lip that both my children and I were prepared for the possibility of there being no heartbeat. I shared that I had not been very sick, had experienced a lot of cramping (which I continued to experience), and had spotted soon after the positive pregnancy test. Our technician's face fell. She didn't want to be the bearer of bad news. 

Right before she laid the doppler on my belly, I also explained that I thought I was earlier in the pregnancy than my cycle would suggest due to my lack of symptoms, and told her to expect the baby to measure small. Then I closed my eyes and thanked God for this life whether dead or alive. Either way...it was a gift. I was ready for the ultrasound.

I thought I would have tears of joy upon hearing my baby's heartbeat, but CJ and Cassi both leapt up screaming their excitement and it was just too happy a moment to let my emotions do anything but echo their squeals of delight! 

Our baby not only had a strong heartbeat of 171 (maybe it's a girl?!) but also measured exactly on schedule to my cycle, so that I found out I was a week and one day ahead in the pregnancy than I expected. Now, I don't know about you other ladies who have gone through pregnancy, but a week makes a HUGE difference in those early weeks! 

Our Thanksgiving week quickly became a week of gratefulness to a week of gratefulness and outright ecstatic JOY!

Thankfully, I have had more consistent morning sickness. Although it is still not very severe, it is a gentle and beautiful reminder that there is a life growing inside me. A life I do not deserve. Something that happens outside of my control, and something that is nothing short of a miracle in every way. 

It should be such a natural and easy thing for me to be grateful. I have so much and always have. So foolish of me to even allow myself to be anxious about the negative things in life. If I had miscarried, or if something happens to this baby during the pregnancy or afterwards, it would be part of God's plan. Who am I to question that? I can just rest peacefully in His plan, focusing on all the positive things in my life and learning to be thankful no matter what comes my way. 

My due date is scheduled right around the same week as I'll be studying for finals for my first semester in 3rd year law school. I have some stressful days ahead of me, so I am posting this as a reminder to myself to be thankful, because thankfulness brings so much joy and peace. God is good. All the time. We never have to question His plan.