Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Beach Trip 2018

We made it to the beach on Friday! Carlton and Meredith's dad owns a condo in Alabama and he let us stay there. The view was nice, overlooking the ocean. We wasted no time slathering on sunblock and heading to the sand. The big kids were eager to jump into the waves. Last year, they were too timid. Elias has been irritatingly fearless, preferring to sit in the shallow water and let the waves crash into his face over and over again while refusing to stand up or jump over them. He's quite the beach baby. Leah spent her time looking for shells in the deeper water, while James dug up some small clams and Elias split his time between building a sand castle and splashing in the water. I was very drowsy from taking some Benadryl during our drive because my allergies decided to attack me all day, so I sat on a towel and watched the fam enjoy themselves.

For dinner, we tried out a restaurant called The Shrimp Basket and ordered a virgin piña colada (and so did both big kids) to go with my catfish. I was only a little disappointed that my drink tasted more like a snowball than a beverage, but our waitress was super sweet and the food was great. It was after 10pm with three very wide-awake children, so we made a quick run for groceries and supplies before calling it a night.

* * * * *
Zac woke up early Saturday morning and spotted some dolphins within view, so I got up to see them, then decided to get the kids up, too. There were maybe five of them grouped up catching fish. Zac and I enjoyed our decaf coffee on the balcony before heading out to buy sandals for the kids, sunglasses and a beach chair for me to sit on, as well as some I-need-these goggles. I also found a shot glass for Emily's birthday, but didn't see a snow globe worth a purchase. Most of them were broken, loose, or had murky water. We also bought a kite, which turned out to be a good purchase. After lunch at Dairy Queen, we slathered on more sunblock (the spray this time, much easier and quicker to apply than lotion) and headed back down to the beach. I was very happy to have my chair and shady umbrella. I did get up and walk in the waves a bit, but mostly stayed under my umbrella until the sun moved behind the condo. Elias and Leah took turns flying the kite and James looked for more clams. He managed to find 40! Zac bought them a basket of beach toys, so collecting shells and clams was much easier.

After a few hours, we headed to the pool. Elias started shivering, so we switched to the indoor pool/hot tub. I've had bathwater hotter than the hot tub temperature, so I sunk right in. Even Elias warmed up and enjoyed the jets. We ate leftovers for dinner and I sent Zac on a quick run to Little New Orleans for soup and gumbo.

* * * * *

I woke up at 4:15 Sunday morning. Not sure what triggered it, but I couldn't fall back asleep. Zac woke up around 5:15 and checked the time, so we ended up talking about our trip. He had even set an alarm so we could wake up early to watch the sun rise. Lucky for us, we had been awake long enough that getting out of bed was easy. Zac made coffee and we sat outside on the balcony watching a group of pelicans catch fish. It was a pretty lazy morning. I think it was a vacation crash or something. We ate cinnamon rolls and the kids relaxed on the furniture and none of us really felt like doing much for a few hours. We eventually headed out to the beach and, in spite of coating us in sunblock, all of us managed to get sunburned. Luckily, the burns aren't horrible, but mildly irritating. The kids enjoyed building sand castles and a kind stranger gave them a live hermit crab with a teeny red crab hitching a ride. They were reluctant to set it free, but said their goodbyes as it scuttled away so we could head to the pool for a little while. Elias only had one meltdown (literally, melting a laying down on the sand) because he had to wait before knocking over a sand castle.

A few years back, Mom came with us to the beach and brought us to a hibachi restaurant called Mikato. We went again this time and the shrimp was probably the best I've ever eaten. Our chef was super nice, too. He even had a scorpion tattoo like ours. I'm at that stage of pregnancy where I have to take a walk after I eat or my food just sits there and makes me feel sick, so after dinner, we walked to Target to look at some Halloween decorations and buy some candy for the ride home (or back to the condo, either way). The kids went to bed a little early, so Zac and I watched Friends and tried to finish the jigsaw puzzle we found in a cabinet, but many of the pieces were missing. Oh well.

* * * * *

The dryer wasn't drying so well, so packing to head home on Monday took longer than I wanted. Most of our clothes had to lay out on the patio table to dry in the sun. Zac and I enjoyed our last morning sipping coffee and watching the waves while the kiddos slept in before we loaded up our rental and made the trip home. We stopped at a souvenir shop on our way out and I actually found Elias' and Nicolas' names on little wooden surf boards. They also had Leah's, but not James'. I asked an employee if they had any in storage, but nope. So James and Leah got some stickers of their names instead. Basically all of the James' were sold out. We bought some fudge for Mom and some saltwater taffy for Alex (a reference to a Friends episode "The One with the Birthing Video"). I'm glad we made it home, but I'll definitely miss having Zac around so much when he goes off to work this week, as well as feeling lazy about getting back to our school routine.

Monday, September 10, 2018


It's Emily's 33rd should-be birthday today, so I'm definitely feeling that knot in my throat and the heartache in my chest. I know I want to accept whatever emotions come, but they're wanting me to burst into tears randomly and I just don't want to, at least not freely. I still hate that she's not here and I hate I can't tell her happy birthday or see her anymore or even hug her. I know she'd like the shot glass we bought her from Orange Beach, but I hate she can't touch it. It'll just sit by her picture with her little urn and her few Harley Quinn things we bought her for her last Christmas with us.

I came across a quote:

"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one: you will learn to live with it. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

I am trying to live with my grief... I just don't like it. It feels like a stray cat that meows at my window to be fed, but it isn't a cat I want the responsibility of, yet I feed it anyway so it stays and I feel guilty wishing it away.

Just recently I learned that September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. I don't know what word to use, but I think coincidence best describes the day. I wonder if I ever prevented her suicide with a random phone call here and there, or a text message, or anything that may have kept her here a little longer. I tried to call her often and invite her over to do things, and then one day I wanted to call and didn't and then I got that call that I can still hear so vividly in my head, and oh my god, I just wish I had called her. But I tell myself, if I did, maybe she would've been here a little longer, but that doesn't mean she would've stayed. I just miss her so painfully so and still can't believe my baby sister is gone from here. I'm surprised it's been nearly a year, and only slightly surprised that I get choked up so easily when I talk about her or even come across a memory of her. I miss her laugh and how easy it was to make her laugh and I miss hugging her. I hope she knew just how much I loved her.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Yesterday, the three kiddos had their wellness checkups. All three were poked on the finger to check their iron levels and all three came back normal, even Elias, who was nearly anemic just a month ago. All weight and height was average for their ages, no vaccinations until Elias is four, Leah is twelve, and James is sixteen. We go back next year. Hopefully by then, Elias won't yell at Dr. Y, "I don't like you, Doctor!" or freak out when I set him on the exam table. I know he's got anxiety, but jeez. When Dr. Y asked the kids what they want to be when they grow up, James answered, "A video game designer." Leah answered, "A marine biologist or a vet." And my special smallest answered, "A goat."

Meanwhile, I went to my appointment this morning and my uncooperative youngest would not budge from his comfy place, sitting upright on my bladder, for a good profile picture. So, the tech did the best she could and I was able to see his little chubby cheeks, nose, and very open eyes. His heart was strong, measurements are 27 weeks, 1 day (right on schedule), and everything with me is okie dokie. I was surprised by the glucose test and felt like maybe they could've told me it was coming as I ate a toaster pastry this morning, but luckily I passed and won't need to take it again. Phew! Also, I didn't puke, thankfully. Unless that's just with the orange one? Gross either way.

Pregnancy Highlights:
How far along: 27 weeks, 1 day
Size of baby: Eggplant!
Total weight gain/loss: Gained 26 pounds.
Maternity clothes: Yep.
Gender: A boy.
Cravings: None.
Symptoms: Sciatic nerve and pelvic pain. Mild vertigo once in a while. Allergies.
Best moment this week: Hearing his heart beating, seeing his little face.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A post about Dad

Dad had another stroke yesterday. It's left him unable to communicate or walk. He had to have oxygen for a little while and was having difficulty swallowing. Basically, this is the end happening and I'm not sure when it's going to be the end. But it's soon now. It's weird and sad. I always thought I'd be ready because I knew he was much older when I was born, but I don't feel ready. I don't feel like I'm old enough to lose a parent. There was supposed to be more time. I've always been a Daddy's Girl and this is hard. I don't like the anticipation and the not-knowing, wondering what happens after, if he's scared, if he's ready, if he knows what's going on, if he's in pain or confused or at peace... I had those same wonders about Emily as her heart continued to beat. If she was there or not... It's heartbreaking. I'm trying to keep it together, but this current grief chapter I'm living is really taking a toll. It doesn't help that my mother thinks I need to ask my doctor for antidepressants to get through Emily's birthday. I'm not depressed. I'm sad. I feel alone in spite of having supportive friends. I can't talk about how I feel with my mother because her narcissism will minimize my grief and I don't want to put myself through that. So, I'm going to take it one day at a time. If Dad dies tomorrow, I'm going to accept my new grief tomorrow. When Emily's birthday arrives, I'm going to accept that grief on her birthday. I'm going to get through it like I got through (and get through) my miscarriage anniversaries. It'll just be another Sad Day I mark on the calendar. But for now, Dad's here and he told me he loves me and I'm going to keep that with me.

I was looking through my Box of Things on Sunday and found the letters he wrote me while I was living in a college dorm. I always got letters from him, some handwritten, some typed. Always signed by hand, though, Love Dad. He sent me silly jokes, weird facts, or comics from the newspaper. I never got letters from Mom, just him. I'm glad I saved them.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September Books

Zac went with Elias to pick up our groceries this morning while the big kids slept in and I slowly waddled my way from the bed to brushing my teeth to sitting at my computer browsing pictures of autumn leaves and crochet ideas. All the brood is feeling better aside from coughing.

We went to the library to pick out books for the week or so. I meant to list books last month, but I'm a slacker, so I'm going to list them now.

James has been reading a series called Warriors by Erin Hunter. The books are about four clans of wild cats who live in a shared forest and try to maintain the code of warriors set by their ancestors. He's been so enthusiastic about the series. I believe there are six different sets of series about each generation of warriors. The next series he wants to read is Dawn of the Clans. So far, the books he's read are:
  • Into the Wild
  • Fire and Ice
  • Forest of Secrets
  • Rising Storm
  • A Dangerous Path
  • The Darkest Hour (currently reading)
Leah started on the Judy Moody series, but she lost interest. I tried to get her into the Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, but the books are too big, so she's had a hard time finishing the first one. We checked it out three times, but she just never could stay focused on it. Zac started her on The Haunted Library series by Dori Hillestad Butler. So far, she's enjoying it.
  • The Haunted Library: Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Moon Pie: Simon Mason
  • The Sister's Club, Rule of Three: Megan McDonald (this is actually the second in a three-book series)
Elias was stuck on The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom for the longest time, so we've ventured out for a variety. He usually gets the most books with each visit.
  • Hello, Fall!: Deborah Diesen
  • 26 Letters and 99 Cents: Tana Hoban
  • Authur's Halloween Costume: Lillian Hoban
  • How to be a Cat: Nikki McClure
  • If Rocks Could Sing: Leslie McGuirk
  • It's Halloween, Dear Dragon: Margaret Hillert
  • Memoires of a Parrot: Devin Scillian
  • My Stinky Dog: Christine Roussey
  • Spoon: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • The Best Cat in the World: Lesléa Newman
I'm very much loving all the reading going on right now. It was so hard getting the kids into reading, but they've come to embrace it. It's also helped get them away from the video game obsession (a struggle I know is all too real).

After the library, we stopped for doughnuts at Shipley's and then I picked up a decaf Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbuck's... something I've been looking forward to since November. I find it amusing that my belly encourages baristas to insist on no-caffeine, even though one cup a day isn't going to do any harm, but oh well. I'll just keep calling it a "small" instead of a "tall" because, let's face it, Starbucks is pretentious, but is the only coffee shop that makes a PSL worth spending $5 on.

Friday, August 31, 2018


As previously mentioned, I've had what can only be chalked up to bad allergies since March. I haven't run a fever or had a sore throat this whole time, thankfully. However, last week Leah spiked a fever, had a sore throat and some coughing for about two days. Then Elias caught whatever it was and has been spending the past few nights sleeping in our room in the playpen. Then James caught it (his lasted the shortest, but the cough lingers), and now Zac has it. So Zac is home from work today asleep. I'm not even sure where this mess came from because we're usually careful with germs, especially at church. Who knows?

Needless to say, it's been a fun two weeks, but I'm glad it's getting over with now so we'll all be feeling better for our beach trip next week. Meanwhile, Zac's the only one feeling like crap, so the rest of them are back to normal aside from the occasional cough and runny nose.

I managed to get another periodontal cleaning done last week because I had called them thinking I cracked a molar, but it was discovered to be "just a bruise"... on a tooth? Weird. My gums have improved a little bit since they saw me last, but pregnancy is preventing them from being better. She didn't even have to numb my gums much. I was supposed to have a cleaning back in March, but was sick with a cold, then pregnant, so time kind of slipped by. I go back in December, which is fun to think I'll have a tiny baby accompanying me by then.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Half the fun is to plan the plan

Zac made me a planner for school this year, but I've also used it for almost everything else: meals, appointments, trips, etc. The best part about Zac making this for me is I could choose the size, cover, and how it's laid out. Most convenient. I don't think I've been so organized my whole life.

The way I have it laid out is simple. It basically starts off with when I started teaching. The star colors are their colors for the lesson day: J, L, E. When James was in public school, red was bad; green was good; yellow was decent; and blue was outstanding. I'm just sticking to red, green, and yellow. You can see my Ladybug hasn't had the best streak, but she's working on it. Zac said I need to just write their initial in the correct color instead of stars, just to avoid confusion. I may do that in September. I also have our dinner for that night, any appointments coming up, etc. The notes to the side are the Drawing-A-Day titles so I don't have to find the saved pictures on my computer. I also have some detailed bits for the appointments. Zac also printed out some note pages for the individual days, which can be found behind the months on most planners. I put recipes there for whatever we're eating that night or grocery lists, or, for September, what to pack for the beach. It's been my most favorite thing ever having it. I had a planner before, but it was boring and I never used it. I think it even "expired" by the time I found it again (lol). There's also an expense sheet at the back of my planner, so I'm keeping up with bills. I'm still using my other budget book, but the main bills are going with expenses.

Next month, I'm hoping our menus will be a little more fun and varied because I'm getting a little sick of lasagna.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

24 weeks, 1 day

Mom traded cars with me this morning so I could drive to my appointment, as well as run a few errands. It felt like a busy day, even though it didn't take much of the day up. I asked Dr. W if there was a chance he delivered at a closer hospital, but he does not. He did say that when I got to 38 to 39 weeks, we'd talk about a possible drug-free induction if everything is going well. I'd prefer to go into labor naturally, but I'm worried about laboring for a 30 to 40-minute drive after making the call to Alex or Mom and waiting for them to arrive at our house to sit with the big kids so we can leave for the hospital. All births are different, sure, but Elias came in three hours. This one might be quicker.

I brought all three kiddos to the appointment, but James and Leah stayed in the waiting room with their books while Elias came back to the room with me. They were so good, which usually they are, but they were really good. The big kids just sat reading quietly, they didn't get goofy or act up or argue. They just sat there. The receptionist gushed over them, which made me all fluttery and proud. Elias sat still in his chair, watching the nurse and sitting quietly, not a peep and not a moment of hopping up to wrap himself around my leg. Proud mama is proud. Meanwhile, Nicolas is doing just fine. His feet are up my left side, while his head is on the right, and the rest of him is making a U shape under my belly. I'm measuring at 25 weeks, but he's just stretched out. Nothing they can do about my sciatic nerve pain, so I'm just going to stick with my cat-cow yoga stretches for some relief.

Pregnancy highlights:
How far along: 24 weeks, 1 day.
Size of baby: Ear of corn!
Total weight gain/loss: I lost a pound, so I've only gained 15 so far.
Maternity clothes: I'm going shopping this weekend because I've outgrown everything that stretches. Even my underwear.
Gender: Boy.
Movement: So much, sometimes sharp jabs that take my breath away.
Best moment this week: Strong heartbeat and lots of little kicks.

We hung out at my parents' after church this evening. Dad's looking alright but his bad eye is infected. He seems content, yet bored with current life. I don't think he's going to the beach with us in September, which may be for the best. He hates long drives and will only want to lay in a bed and watch TV. But, Elias cheered him up a lot. That kiddo wandered in there and just sat and talked to Dad about cars and trucks, asked him about his eye and such. It was precious.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Back To School

Preschool, fourth, and seventh grades have started! So far, our first day back in the routine (and Elias' first day ever) went incredibly smooth. I'm hoping it's a good sign for the majority of the year. I've planned out our schedule up until the end of November because I'm not 100% sure when Nicolas is arriving and will most likely give the kids a week off school so we can get used to having a new baby around... Again.

Zac made me a planner, as well as school-only art books for the big kids. I found an awesome website Sketch Book Skool that offered a drawing-a-day for all the months of the year, so these new art books will be put to good use. I'm hoping it'll encourage some creativity. Elias is starting with a preschool book I bought from Walmart instead of the material from Abeka. He'll finish ten days before James and Leah, but can participate with a page a day using his own crayons. He'll be learning colors, shapes, numbers, art, science, some math, letters, and sounds throughout the year, so I'm excited. My main focus is keeping Elias eager to learn. He only took a single prompt to hold a crayon the correct way, and his sticker reward brings a lot of enthusiasm. He's on the right track! James is going to be learning Algebra within the next few weeks, so I'm a little nervous about it. I was never good at Algebra, but I'm going to try working some problems with him to see if I can become more confident. Leah is reviewing a lot of what she learned in third grade, but has been super focused.

Here's to a good year!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Elias is THREE!

My littlest sweetie pie pumpkin is three today!

Every morning, he comes into my room with a cheerful "good mone-in' mom", dragging his blanket behind him. He holds his hand out so I can pull him onto my bed to save him from the monsters on the floor. We snuggle, or he wants to watch TV. He's so sweet and kind, hugging Zac and me tight around the legs, snuggling the older siblings and the pets. He says "I love you so much!" and "Thanks berry much!" or "you welcome,  ha!" He's sassy, but learning that asking nicely with a "please" works while shouting demands does not. He's so funny, too. If his feelings are hurt, he'll flop onto the floor and lie very still, playing dead. Sometimes he'll come tell me "[sibling, parent, pet] is being a jerk to me." I'm trying to teach him to say "mean" but, he can be stubborn about what words he wants to use. At night, Zac and I (as well as James and Leah) take turns reading him bedtime stories and right after he gets tucked in, he'll grab me by the arm with, "Don't you leave me!" Sometimes I rock him or sing to him. My belly is getting bigger so he's running out of lap room, but I'll rock him til I can't.
He's a picky eater, favoring red beans and rice, but disliking pizza and most meats. We're working on etiquette when it comes to nose-picking, so if he's caught with his finger in his nose, he'll say, "Can I go hide so I can pick my nose?" He's also drinking out of regular cups without making a mess and he's still potty training.

I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday: "Green cake with a blue flower."
What kind of dinner? "Grits!" then later changed it to "Um, how bout a cheeseburger?"

I'm going to start teaching him preschool things this school year. He knows his alphabet, though has difficulty recognizing letters, can count to 15, and can hold up three fingers when asked how old he is. Walmart and Target have some work books and stickers, so when I pick up school supplies next week, they're on the list.