Friday, April 26, 2013


I took this shot yesterday and it is quickly becoming a favorite photo of mine.

About seven years ago, we were living in Kent, I was teaching and Joshua was a one-year-old. I was really lonely. I was the only one of my friends to be a married mom, we had moved to an area where I didn't know anyone, we were further away from my family and I wasn't really connecting with any of my fellow teachers. The Pre-K program that I taught was very separate from the rest of the school, so I really didn't even see the other teachers very much.

I felt like such a loser. I needed some friends! And I felt like there must be something wrong with me since I was having so much trouble making any. There were a few women that I tried to get together with, but we just didn't really have anything in common.

Now, of course I was a married mom, so of course I had Jason. Our first years of marriage were a wonderful time and he really was and continues to be my best friend. But that didn't fulfill the need I had for some women friends.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair in our room, praying to God with hot, embarrassed, frustrated, messy tears streaming down my face, asking Him to send me a friend. It was so humbling and humiliating. What kind of person needs to pray for friends?!

Not long after that, we began volunteering for Engaged Encounter. I remember first meeting Jenny at an Engaged Encounter barbeque. We didn't know many people yet and I was a little nervous. I remember Jenny arriving with a two or three month old little baby. As everyone welcomed her with hugs and ooh's and ah's over Zachary, it was immediately apparent that everyone knew her and loved her.

Not long after that, I began taking Joshua to a music class at "Ms. Jenny's" house.

For most of this time, I was just sort of observing Jenny in admiration. She is such a joyful, funny, outgoing, friendly and radiant woman. Watching Jenny inspires you to enjoy your life more. I knew I wanted to be friends with her, but wasn't really sure how to go about that. What was I supposed to do? Say, "Hi. I think you're super awesome! Can we be best friends now?"

But when we first did get together just to talk and let the boys play, it soon became very apparent that we had so much in common. We both liked to run, we were both writers, we were both Catholic stay-at-home moms and we laughed and laughed as we discovered that we both have ex-boyfriends who later on discovered they were gay and happen to also be very close friends with each other.

On June 20, 2007, my journal says, "Thank you God for giving me Jenny!"

I have never had a friend like her. So many laughs shared. So many tears. So many things we have admitted to one another, only to be encouraged and reassured by each other. A relationship that goes through ups and downs, that has periods of joy and such intimate closeness and then times of disillusionment. Just like marriage!

When I look at that photo, there is of course the first reaction of how cute it is to see our daughters walking and holding hands. It reminds me of the journey we've been on together as mothers, and how we used to dream of raising daughters together. Well, there they are!

But as I study the photo, there is also so much more. In my daughter, I see myself. And in my goddaughter, I see Jenny. We are not racing down the path, but treading carefully, helping each other along the way. Kayli's foot is coming off of the ground just a moment before Veronica's. This too is how I see Jenny. She's been married longer, she's been a mother longer, she and Mike began volunteering for Engaged Encounter before we did and actually presented on our weekend when we were engaged. In so many ways, Jenny emulates a woman who I want to be more like, someone whose footsteps I'd like to follow in.

In the photo, the girls are walking from the shade towards the light. This too is significant. Jenny has been an immense part of my faith journey as a woman and a mother. To share our faith and be able to discuss it and explore it and celebrate it and challenge it together has been an added richness to the blessing of our friendship. She and Mike will be the godparents to our next baby.

We talk about dying. Between she, Mike, Jason and I, who will die first? Who will grieve first, who will comfort? This may seem morbid, but it's never a conversation coming from a place of depression, but more one of wonder. I actually enjoy philisophical discussions about death and life and what's in store for us on the other side. Jenny says I talk about heaven more than anyone she knows and I like that.

In the photo, the girls are walking toward the light, just as Jenny and I walk together, helping one another to grow further in our potential and hopefully in our journey one day into heaven.

Having Jenny as a friend makes living life so much more fun! When we discuss death, inevitably I wonder how I would ever get along without her. Of course, we hope and pray for long lives for ourselves and all of our loved ones. I pray to share with Jenny many more sunny afternoons at the beach, glasses of wine (when I'm not pregnant, of course), tearful laughs and sharing of ourselves.

Dear God, thank you for Jenny.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

By the Grace of God, a Happy Update

I woke up this morning feeling so awful. Nausea and a headache - Are you kidding me? After yesterday which was a pretty awful day, this was very discouraging.

I stumbled into the kitchen and sat down. The day ahead seemed unconquerable. ALL I wanted to do was crawl back into bed.

I have been reading a book of devotions titled, "More Devotions for Homeschool Moms," by Jackie Wellwood. There is also a first book of devotions. These are the most down-to-earth, relatable, practical devotions I have ever read, although I admit that I have not read a lot of devotionals. These devotions would really be applicable to any mom. They are so refreshing.

Today's was titled, "I Think I Can."

I read it and was brought to tears. Yes, again. I'm pregnant, what can I say?

I prayed for God to give me the strength for today and to help me through it. All of the sudden, it occurred to me that maybe I should take Kahlua on a quick walk before Jason left for work, something I hadn't been planning on doing. I didn't really want to, but I knew it might help the way I was feeling.

The walk transformed the way I was feeling physically and my attitude. The cold, fresh morning air cleared away my headache and my nausea. The time by myself outside, reflecting, praying and observing the beautiful morning, gave me the energy and the will to take the day on.

Today has been a wonderful, productive day.

If it had been up to me, I would have given up at 7:00 in the morning. I would have stayed in my pajamas, done the absolute bare minimum and felt miserable all day.

Rather, I was able to teach the children, manage their bickering in a mostly constructive way, work out, make dinner, get through a mountain of laundry and have felt calm and joyful through most of it.

This is not my doing. This is all by the grace of God. Without Him, I can't do it. It is only with Him that I can move forward. When I forget this, I wallow and linger in my own frustration, fowl moods and inadequacy.

It is only with God that I can be who He calls me to be.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Long, Hormonal Rant . . .


I checked out some books from the library, many of which have to do with pregnancy and childbirth. This may seem funny, as most of these books are written for first-time moms, which obviously I'm not. But even though I've done this three times before, I don't think I'll ever get this pregnancy thing down.

Some women claim that they love being pregnant. Some women claim that it is when they feel their best. My suspicion is that these women are either part of a very small minority, they don't remember pregnancy accurately or they are lying. I realize that for some women, the hormones during pregnancy and the bigger boobs make them feel fabulous. Well, I guess I should be happy for them, but this group of women does not include myself. My boobs were big enough, thank you very much. This is just getting ridiculous.

I think some women lie about what pregnancy is really like, or perhaps just don't tell the whole truth. This could be for many reasons. It might just be an attempt to be a grateful person and focus on the positive. It might be because a woman is trying to encourage another woman who is pregnant for the first time. And I also think that for many of us, we don't want to admit to ourselves or to others the difficulties of pregnancy, believing it makes us less adequate mothers and less competent women. 

I also think that most of us women do not remember what pregnancy is like when we are not in fact pregnant, myself included. We romanticize it, recalling ultrasounds, choosing names, feeling the baby kick and then of course the end result of a miraculous, breathtaking, beautiful little new person who joins the world. And hopefully I don't even need to say this, but the end result is obviously so much more than worth everything you endure. This is my fourth time around, enough said.

I also feel the need to say that I am very grateful for this pregnancy. As I have indicated in other posts, we were overjoyed when we discovered that we would have another baby and had been hoping for it for quite a while. It feels wrong to complain about the trials of my fourth pregnancy when there are so many women who have miscarried, who are putting their bodies through so much in the hopes of a baby and so many who will never be able to experience it. I do try to keep things in perspective, but sometimes I am just too tired, hormonal and immature to do so.

This is my journey and in this moment, pregnancy isn't feeling very joyful.

Because I've always struggled during pregnancy, I decided to look for guidance in some books. This is my #1 fix to all problems. Find a book. Read about others' experiences that you can relate to. Get some tips. Come up with a plan for how to improve the situation. Sometimes this process is helpful. But sometimes it isn't.

While I am pregnant, I feel fat. I do not feel beautiful. I feel fat. I know that I shouldn't, but I do. Perhaps it is because as a woman, I always have to watch my weight. Perhaps it is because I've grown up in a culture that adores the very thin and not the voluptuous, such as myself. Perhaps it is because for me, as for much of humankind, it is hard to watch your body change and get older. Or maybe it's just because, I get fatter. Obviously I know the reason for this. And I know that for the most part, it will all come off. But fat is fat is fat, and I don't like any more of it on my ass.

So I got a book titled, "Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Pregnancy." That sounds pretty good. I want to feel like I've got the glow. I want to feel hip. I want to feel fabulous. I envisioned this book as one that would be encouraging, uplifting and confidence-building. This was a great mistake.

In the quick fifteen minute flip-through I did, the book made me feel like crap. Now that I look back, I should have seen it coming. The cover portrays an illustration of a very skinny, sexy woman with a cute, cantaloupe-sized baby bump, a stylish, short halter dress, long Tina Turner legs and turquoise stiletto heels.  Hmmmmm . . . Very realistic? Not in my world.

Inside I found much of what I've found in other pregnancy books. There are workout routines and very healthy, very labor-intensive recipes which require purchasing high-maintenance ingredients at high-maintenance stores such as goji berries, hempseeds and cashew butter. There is an assortment of sample menus for detox days. It seems that everyone says the same thing recommended by all of the experts. In order to feel great during pregnancy, eat very healthy all of the time and exercise everyday.

Well, I don't want to! Or more accurately, I do not have the energy or motivation to. 

I love to cook. And I have educated myself a lot about cooking healthy foods. But when I'm pregnant, I am lucky if I get dinner on the table. I certainly do not have the energy to begin juicing everything, making my own nut milk, sprouted tabbouleh or Tunisian plantains! If we get takeout, which we have a lot, then it was a bad day. If I make some pasta with jarred marinara, then it wasn't a bad day. If I make myself a salad, then I must be feeling pretty good. And occasionally, I will have the energy to make some fabulous food (although not the healthiest), such as last night's Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken, Roasted Red Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus with leftover hollandaise sauce from that morning's eggs benedict. But I was exhausted afterwards! And yes, this was a particularly decadent day. I don't usually eat quite like that. But I'm not sprouting my own tabbouleh either.

The truth is that when I'm pregnant, we get takeout and go out to restaurants a lot more than we usually do. And I'm not ordering salads. When I'm pregnant, I EAT LESS HEALTHY, not more.

The truth is that when I'm pregnant, I'm tired, hormonal and have less motivation. I EXERCISE LESS, not more.

Of course, this is exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do. And of course, it makes for more weight gain. And it probably doesn't help the tiredness, the breakouts or the hormones either. It is SO frustrating to me that all of the recommendations, all of the books and all of the experts tell you to just to eat healthy and exercise regularly during pregnancy, something that people who are not pregnant have a hard time being motivated to do.  It feels like a huge guilt trip for pregnant women, an unrealistic goal that will only make you feel bad when you don't meet it.

For me, this is what is real. I am at 18 weeks and I have gained about 10-12 pounds. This is at about a normal, healthy rate. But typically, I start kinda slow and put on weight at a faster rate toward the end of the pregnancy.

I wish I was some size 2 woman who was feeling the glow and energy of the second trimester, going out for daily walks and weekly yoga classes, cooking light, healthy meals and still fitting into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

I'm not. In my second trimester, I do feel better than in the first. But if I have energy, it lasts a day or two, not twelve weeks. Otherwise I'm pretty tired and I have to peel myself out of bed each morning and try not to spend too much time each day on the couch.

I'm hormonal. I've cried like twenty times today.

Because of low energy, low motivation and very often, back pain, I do not exercise as much when I'm pregnant. My last workout was two weeks ago. Maybe I'll be up for one tomorrow.

I eat too much ice cream when I'm pregnant. I cook less. We eat takeout and fast food more.

When will someone write a real book about pregnancy? When will someone write all of the encouraging, uplifting, inspiring and understanding words that your best friend would say? When will someone write a book telling you that yes, there are some ideals and you should try to come close to them when you can, but if you are way off the mark, it's okay. Just take your multivitamin with that milkshake. When will someone write that book?

I would do it. But I'm too tired.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Funniest Mass Yet . . .

Going to Mass with small children can at times be more frustrating than any other task, causing you to have very unholy thoughts and wonder why you went in the first place. There have been Sundays when the hour goes by without my hearing a single word of what was said and I leave feeling frazzled, angry, resentful and incompetent as a mother. What is the point of this? I would ask. If I get absolutely nothing out of Mass and actually leave feeling worse, why do we go?

Well, there are many great answers to that question. Two quick ones comes to mind. First, it's not about me! It's about taking time out of my week to worship God, which is what I'm supposed to do. Second, if we want our children to behave in Mass, we have to begin at a young age. You can't start taking a six-year-old to Mass all of the sudden and expect them to know how to behave.

But there's another much more joyful reason than obligation and child training. Not every time, maybe not even most of the time, but sometimes there will be moments with your child that are so precious, so inspiring and so moving that every single other frustrating Mass will be worth it.

I remember holding Noah in Mass when he was a baby. I looked down at him and he was staring so thoughtfully, so intently on the sunlight streaming in through the stained-glass windows above us. He'd seen this many times. But on this morning, he was mesmerized by it. He kept putting his hands up into the air, trying to touch it. After a few minutes of this, it occurred to me that Noah may be seeing something that I wasn't. Many people believe that babies and children are more capable of seeing angels and the Holy Spirit than so many of us adults, as their hearts are more open to it. Suddenly I was convinced that this was what was happening in that moment. Noah gazed up with such awe, wonder and peace in his eyes, and I knew that somehow God was showing Himself to Noah in a way that I couldn't see. Tears welled up in my eyes. A euphoric moment.

***pause as I go get a kleenex***

Of course, those moments are rare. But they do happen and I will always treasure them. What is much more common is to have moments that are absolutely hysterical.

Veronica has been our easiest young child to have with us in Mass so far. She loves to go to Church. She knows Jesus is there. She knows that quite often, Nana and Papa will be there. She loves to dip her hand in the holy water. She absolutely loves the music and claps and tries to sing along, quite loudly at times. If the song was one that she particularly liked, when it is finished she applauds and exclaims, "Yaaaaay!" She likes to hold hands and try to pray the Our Father with us. She loves to give the sign of peace. And she loves it when I take her up to Communion.

Veronica, for the most part, has not made Mass more difficult, but rather has made it more joyful and delightful.

But last night takes the cake. Of course, we still have to manage Veronica during Mass. She is quite the chatterbox and it can be challenging to keep her entertained and keep her from being too loud. I'm still very lucky if I come away having any idea what the homily was about.

We bring a bag of books to try and help the children stay quiet. But Veronica is usually more interested in the songbooks, the participation aids, the prayer cards, the envelopes and pencils for donations, my jewelry, my purse, my scarf or anything else really. Well, yesterday I was standing beside her, listening to Father Bob as she was playing with something on the pew. Then she started asking me, "Tissue? Tissue?" I turned around to see that she had gotten into my purse. And what she had discovered and pulled out was not a tissue. It was a pad! There she was for everyone behind us to see, trying to blow nose her with a pad. And it just goes to show how badly I need to clean out my purse, because obviously I haven't needed one in a while! I tucked it away and zipped up my purse, but I could not stop giggling.

Then a while later, we prayed the Our Father and gave the sign of peace. Veronica knew what was coming next. "Communion?" she asked. "Yes," I told her, "We will go up for Communion soon." I processed up to receive Communion with her in my arms and soon it was my turn. I placed out my hand and Father gave me a host. Veronica then held out her hand and asked, "A piece?"

I almost burst out laughing, but instead gently pulled her hand down and whispered, "No, you can't have any Communion yet." And then, her little lip stuck out about a foot from her face and she cried and wailed at the unfairness of it all. I received the wine with a crying toddler, who sobbed all the way back to our pew, whimpering, "Communion. Communion." Eventually, I calmed her down and spent the remainder of Mass giggling.

These moments help make the effort of taking young ones to Mass much more than worth the effort. Not only do they make great stories and keep us very entertained, but they enhance my journey of faith as well. As Noah gazed up to the light in wonder, I was reminded that God is all around us. As Veronica was so upset that she would not be able to receive Communion, I was reminded of the gift I was receiving. Our faith does not begin to develop when we are old enough to understand it. It begins forming when we are babes. And in many ways, I feel that my children understand God better than I do. It is not I who am teaching them, but they who are teaching me.

And in that I am so very, very blessed and so grateful.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Last Night Jason Came Home With . . .

Welcome to the new member of our family!
Check it out - this thing is huge!
Enjoying all that room :)

Last night Jason got home from work, went and traded in our Honda Pilot and returned home with this! We took the children out on a joyride and to the Dick's drive-in. So fun!

Now we will have no problem fitting four car seats, a dog, Adrienne when she comes to visit and all of our cargo. This is what all that couch productivity got us! Not too shabby. Because this vehicle represents a new chapter in our family, I feel the need to name it. Ideas that came up last night in conversation were the Silver Bullet, the Silver Snail, the Matterhorn . . . But I don't think any of these are quite right. Still thinking . . .

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Couch Productivity

Veronica trying on my high heels, which my doctor has informed me should be off-limits for the remainder of the pregnancy in order to avoid back strain. She encouraged me to purchase some more supportive shoes. Doctor-prescribed shoe shopping? Well, okay!
It's been a long week. I spent most of last weekend on the couch because I was feeling so light-headed, dizzy and nauseous. As I finally began feeling a bit more like myself on Sunday evening, I decided to do some much needed tidying up.

Trying to get some toys out from under the couch, I lifted the side of the piece of furniture and moved it about two feet. Well, that was a mistake. My back was probably already pretty stiff from my lack of activity over Saturday and Sunday. Well, on Tuesday morning I woke and knew something was off. As the morning progressed, it became very apparent that I had seriously messed something up in my lower back. Today it is finally improving, thank goodness. And on Saturday morning, I have my first appointment with a doctor who was highly recommended to me and specializes in chiropractic care, massage and physical therapy.

So in the past six days, I have spent four on the couch and we have ordered a lot of takeout. This makes for a pretty frustrated mama. I have tried to compensate for my immobility any way that I can. Yesterday, I set up TV trays in the living room and had the boys do their homeschooling in that room rather than the kitchen, allowing me to teach while I was lying on the couch. And while not teaching, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on the computer.

I have researched online basically everything I could possibly think of. I have been browsing maternity dresses, more supportive shoes, reading curriculum, weekend getaways, pregnancy devotionals and new books for Joshua to read. I even began dreaming of what I want to eat in the hospital after the baby is born and looked up the menu! I think I was feeling hungry at the time :)

I also began researching vans and the inventories of local dealerships. I emailed a few salesman just to see what's out there. We are looking for something very specific, and I was just hoping that we might find something in the next couple of months before we go to Lake Chelan over the Fourth of July. It turns out that a dealership in Everett has exactly what we are looking for! Jason will be going up tonight to check it out, and could possibly be driving home in our new van!

One other great thing about being stuck on the couch is all of the snuggling time with Veronica. If I am lying down, she wants to too. And even the boys have been very sweet, cuddling up to me and playing with my hair. So as frustrating as being laid up may be, there are some perks!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Now We Need To . . . -Part 3-

My past two posts have been addressing some of the concerns, questions and changes that have been taking place since finding out we are having another baby. The only concern that I have not answered is perhaps the biggest one; do I have what it takes to mother and homeschool four children?

For that week of anxiety (and also joy, of course) after discovering I was pregnant, one of the most fearful thoughts was, "Can I do this?" There was a bit of a mental block in my mind about the forth child. The jump from three to four seemed enormous. We were about to become a "large family". Of course, this is what I've always dreamed of. But sometimes when your dreams are about to come true, they can seem a little scary.

I began to have a lot of self-doubt. How was I going to do this?

Making a lot of practical decisions, such as adding on the forth bedroom and beginning Saturday grocery shopping, really did help me feel more at ease. At least I was developing a plan.

But I wanted to find out more about how mothers of large families do it. So I checked out a few books and began reading posts on other blogs written by mothers of large families, all giving advice on the logistics of big family life. And while I have discovered a few new ideas, for the most part I found something that provided me with an enormous amount of comfort and reassurance . . .

As I read all of these tips given by expert mothers of large families, I realized--for the most part, I already do them all! Of course, there is always room for improvement. But I was so glad to see that I am already practicing many of the ideas that these books and blogs talk about.

When discussing New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of this year with Jenny, I concluded that perhaps my resolution should simply be to do what I already know. I know how to cook healthy meals. I know how to exercise regularly. I know how to keep a somewhat decently clean house. I know how to keep on top of the laundry. I'm not bragging. It's just that I spent much of my 20's working on and learning about a lot of these skills. Now in my 30's, I feel that I may have figured out how I like to do things. For now, I may not need to read any self-help books. I just need to keep applying what I've already learned.

I'm afraid this is all sounding very arrogant. I am not trying to say that I've got it all figured out and that I don't need any help. It's just, what I need the most help with is not discovering new ideas about how to manage my life, but consistently living out the concepts I've already learned. That is what is most challenging for me.

Realizing that, in a large sense, I already know what I need to do, was very comforting. I can do this. I just need to stop reading about doing it, thinking about doing it, worrying about doing it, writing about doing it, and just . . . do it!

So bring it on. (About five months from now, that is.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Now We Need To . . . -Part 2-

In my last post, I shared some of my concerns and the changes we are making because of this pregnancy. Here are some more changes we are making in preparation for our new addition . . .

Grocery shopping has already completely changed. I've decided that I want to begin some new habits now so that it will be an easier transition once the baby comes. It used to be that I would take the three kiddos with me and spend an entire morning every two weeks grocery shopping at Winco. Shopping with the children is inefficient, tiresome and it takes up a whole morning of homeschooling every two weeks. When I began considering making these trips with another baby, I decided something needed to change.

Saturday mornings have now become family chore time. Every other week, I take this time to go grocery shopping by myself. While I am out, the family begins the process of cleaning up the house. On weeks that I am not shopping, then I am home to help with that. By noon on Saturdays, the house is clean, the shopping is done and we often have the rest of the day to relax. This has made my week SO much more manageable. Without having to do the shopping and the cleaning during the week, I can spend more time on things more important to me - reading my Bible alone and to the children; teaching Veronica how to do a puzzle and how to finger paint; having more time and patience to teach Joshua and Noah their lessons. This has been a very good change.

The laundry monster is about to get bigger. Oh dear. If I didn't have a plan, this could be cause for nightmares. Right now, I try to stay on top of this by doing one load of laundry every weekday. For a while, I was letting this slip but in my renewed spirit to form good habits before the baby arrives, I am making sure to get this done each day again. And when we have more loads due to spit-up and blow-out diapers, I will be prepared to get two loads done a day. And perhaps a load or two on Saturdays. Now of course, I don't mean I'm going to be getting all this laundry done the day we come home from the hospital. Of course there will be a few transitional months when the laundry will just get done whenever we can get to it. I've just been brainstorming about how I am going to handle the workload of mothering four little ones.

And lastly for this post, I have been looking at every shelf, every closet and every space with a more critical eye. How can it be put to the best use? Because money has been so tight the past few years, there are many items that I would like to buy for storage and organization that I have not. But we plan to invest some time and money in the coming months in organizing our home and making the most of our space. I will be sharing some of this process with you over the coming months.

In my next post, I will finish sharing with you the answers I have come up with to my initial anxiety-driven questioning due to our newest blessing on the way.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Now We Need To . . . -Part 1-

After the initial thrill of finding out we were going to have another baby, I had about a week of anxiety. I was still very excited and sooo grateful, but also had some fear over another little one joining our home.

Many questions began to fill my mind, like where's this new little one going to sleep? What about our car? Am I really going to go grocery shopping with four children in tow? How will I keep on top of the laundry? Will I ever have a clean house again? Do I have what it takes to mother and homeschool four children?

You might find the timing of all of my questioning a little odd, and perhaps it is. Perhaps most people answer all of these questions before they get pregnant. I just always knew that God was calling us to have another baby and that it would all work out. Of course I thought about these questions, but that was about it. Now that we actually are going to have another baby, it was time to come up with some solid answers. Here's some of what we've come up with so far . . .

While we have no intention of moving, we are now beginning to look at the space in our home with a more creative eye. So within a couple of weeks of that positive pregnancy test, we began planning on adding another bedroom to our home. We have begun this project this week!

We are very lucky to have family members who have a lot of experience with this type of work, because we don't! My brother Brendan has helped us to plan the project and has offered to help. And my brother Jeremy has generously moved in with us for the week to help. Jason has taken the week off of work. Together, they will be redoing the ceiling in our downstairs playroom and adding a wall to divide it in half, creating a fourth bedroom for Joshua and Noah to move into. Also, they will be resurfacing our deck. It is a lot to do, but we are hoping that with an entire week to devote to it and with the help of a couple of others, it will all get done. Below are some before pictures and some photos showing the process. I will be sharing more later as well as some after pics, of course!

Wood chips go flying as Jason demolishes the old deck

Our old deck. I think a few trips to the dump might be needed.
There's my big strong man
A couple of before pics of the downstairs room

Jeremy's load of tools that will be coming in very handy all week.
Framing for the wall goes up
Second fireplace comes out, and will be used much more as a second closet for the bedroom.

The boys love to help in any way they can. Now there's some homeschooling!
In the next few months, we will most likely be purchasing a van. And not a mini-van. But like a real, serious van. We are looking into the 12 passenger Ford Econoline. "Twelve passengers???" I'm sure you are asking. How many kids are those Burdullis' going to have? Well, I don't know the answer to that. But we aren't necessarily going to fill up the van with our offspring. There are lots of reasons to get such a large van.

First of all, once you pass up on the mini-van option, the selection of affordable vans diminishes to just a few. Adrienne comes to visit us several times a year and we want to be able to comfortably have her in our vehicle. We like to go camping and go to Lake Chelan for a week each summer. Between all of us, there's quite a bit of cargo needed for these types of trips. We need to have room for bodies and the necessary stuff. We would like to be able to have room for our children's friends. In a few years, when we have tall, gangly, teenage boys in the house, we want them to be comfortable in our vehicle. And then of course, don't forget the room I need when I go grocery shopping every two weeks to feed our crew. That by itself practically requires a bus!

We will most likely be trading in our Honda Pilot. We went back and forth about that decision. The convenience of having two vehicles was very tempting. However, we really have mastered being a one-vehicle family. Also, we started thinking about what we might not be able to do if we had the cost of the higher car payment of the van without the trade-in of the Honda, the cost of insuring another car, maintenance on another car and gas for another car. That all adds up to a few hundred dollars a month, simply for the convenience of another car that would sit there most of the time. With that few hundred dollars, Jason and I could afford a much needed monthly date, a few extra dollars for groceries and taking our children out to fun activities more often. When we looked at it that way, when we considered what we would be sacrificing in order to have the convenience of another car, we decided that trading in the Pilot is for the best.

Well, that's enough for now. I will be sharing more about the changes we are making (or not making) in my next couple of posts . . .

Monday, April 1, 2013

Telling The Children

So, with all other pregnancies, the longest we ever waited to tell our wonderful news was three days. We aren't very good at keeping secrets. But this time, I had a bit of a harder time believing I was actually pregnant. A couple of days after the first positive test, I took another one just to be sure. Still positive. Whew! But because it had taken us longer to get pregnant this time, I still felt a little nervous about it and wanted to wait longer before announcing our news to all of our friends and family.

Keeping our news from Joshua, Noah and Veronica was more difficult. Not only was I really excited to tell them, but I also wanted to explain why Mommy had been so sick and so tired. We decided to wait until after I had been to the doctor and had everything confirmed, even though the pregnancy was being confirmed over and over again by my nausea.

I went to my appointment and was able to see the baby on screen and see the heart beat, tears welling up in my eyes. This is really happening. All I could keep saying as I watched that fast flicker on the screen was, "That is so awesome," over and over. Eventually, the nurse agreed with a smile. Yes, it really is awesome.

That night, I prepared a special dinner: Monte Cristo sandwiches, which are one of my absolute favorites. And I was actually able to eat some of them! I had also baked a cake, but couldn't eat a bite.

As we all sat down for dinner, Jason brought Veronica into the kitchen wearing her new "Big Sister" t-shirt that I had bought. We wanted to see if the boys would notice. Joshua actually stared at her the entire time we said grace, but did not notice the large bright pink letters spelling "Big Sister" across her chest. Eventually, I said something like, "I hope Veronica doesn't get her new shirt dirty." It took a couple of times, but eventually Joshua did read what her shirt said.

J: "Big sister? Veronica's not our big sister. She's our little sister!"

Me: "Right. But she could be someone's big sister. Whose big sister could she be?"

J: "Kahlua's?" (our newish puppy)

Me: "No, not Kahlua."

J: "Luna's?" (our cat)

Me: "No, not Luna."

J: "Then who?"

Me: "Well, we are having a special dinner tonight because Daddy and I have something to tell you. I went to the doctor today . . . "

Joshua's eyes then lit up knowingly.

J: "And you're pregnant?!"

Me: "Yes I am."

The room was quiet for a moment, with big smiles covering Joshua and Noah's faces. Veronica had no idea what was going on and simply continued to try and drink her jam meant to dip her Monte Cristo in.

We then spent the rest of the evening talking about a new baby joining our family, whether it would be a boy or a girl, why I had been feeling sick and tired, when the baby would be coming, how excited we all were and Jason giving the boys a short tutorial on how to treat a pregnant woman :)