You would think after four children I would have maternity clothes that fit throughout a pregnancy, right? Apparently not. I’m running out of decent, going-out, look-nice, cover-all-the-necessary-bits, feel-comfortable clothes. I’m down to about 2 pairs of pants, and maybe 3 shirts that I can wear going out. Now, I have plenty of shloppy, baby-stained, mommy clothes that are comfy. They don’t look the nicest, but at least I’m covered and clothed.. it’s going out places and looking decent that is a problem.

Part of the problem is that I guess it took 5 pregnancies for my body to actually get the idea that it’s supposed to show a baby bump. With my first pregnancy, you couldn’t tell I was pregnant — even at 9 months! With my 2nd and 3rd, I looked barely pregnant (think 4-5 months along) when I was close to my due dates. With number 3, I finally had a decent baby belly at 9 months, but I honestly only looked about 6-ish.. With this one? Oh anyone can tell that I’m having a baby. I’m not used to not being able to see my toes. I’m not used to not having a lap to hold children on, or finding it this difficult to get up out of a soft chair. It is definitely different.
Another part of the problem is that maternity clothes are so danged expensive! And even if I weren’t on a limited budget, I still refuse to pay $50-60 just for a shirt or a pair of pants I’ll wear for just a few months!! To me, that is frankly ridiculous. Now, I know the chances of me wearing it again are fairly high (hello — pregnant again in a year? probably!), so I’d probably get my money’s worth, but there is that limited budget thing too. So.. I shop clearance, I get used, I look for donations.. which means actual maternity clothes are few and far between for me.
I do need to start looking for a few postpartum and nursing undergarments though. That’s one area I will not skimp on, as those are daily usage, and need to not only be comfortable, but durable. So far, the durability thing doesn’t seem to be working for me. I wear them out by the time I’m done nursing (or pregnant again!) but I guess the daily usage is harder on those items than I expect.
I’m still needing to limit my activity levels. Which, as a busy mom, is inconvenient to say the least.. But whatever it takes to avoid a premature baby is worth it. I want my baby at home, in my arms, not in a hospital because I couldn’t be bothered to take care of myself properly. I hope I’m a bit more responsible than that. LOL — I’d better be, yes?
Being off my feet so much, however, has allowed me to focus on a few projects I’ve been wanting to get to — like blogging a tad more regularly. Also, working on a preschool/kindergarten curriculum for my girls, since I can’t find anything that I like! I will post more when I have some more things pulled together, but at this point I’m satisfied with my nice framework. I have 6 weeks of topics, coordinated by theme and Bible story, so I’m kind of proud of that. I’m covering basic language and numeracy skills, and skimming over some science, art, music and theme topics weekly too. My girls love variety, so I’m hoping to strike a balance between the repetition necessary for learning and the creativity they thrive on.
Pregnancy limitations does have its uses, I suppose! It’s been interesting, though I can see my library expanding in the near future.. LOL, I’ll probably end up starting a lending library eventually, with all the books I’ll collect. But we love love LOVE books around here, and I’d rather buy books than toys, so I think it’s worth it!

Scheduling is the bane of my life! I love my routines, and being orderly and organized, but living according to a clock drives me crazy. Not to mention that with three preschoolers and toddlers around, we get horribly behind schedule before we even start. So when people tell me that they homeschool their children, and school starts and ends at certain times of the day, like clockwork, I just shake my head with a vague sense of nagging underachievement.

School for my oldest, on paper, should take about 4 hours to complete. I say “on paper” and “should” because that is not  much like reality. Reality says that we will start actual academics around 10:30-11ish in the morning and call it a day sometime before supper. And we may or may not have actually completed everything I had planned for that day. But this is the reality of living in a family where mom is 8 months pregnant, and we have a 17 mo old and 2.5 yr old still in diapers, and said 2.5 yr old is just starting potty training and her 4.5 yr old sister has sensory issues and some developmental delays… And there’s a house to keep reasonably clean, laundry to do, meals to cook and general keeping of home and family…
Actual academics work may only be about 4 hours in length, but it ain’t gonna be 4 hours in one sitting. It will be 20 minutes here, break for diaper changes and snacks, 10 minutes before mom has to go sort out a fight between the 2 and 4 yr old, 15 more minutes before needing to go clean up all the garbage the toddler just pulled out (again!), and maybe 20 more minutes before needing to pause for character training and perhaps a wiggle break… Well, you get the idea.
Currently, our academics consists of about 5 “subjects” covered in a day. Every day we do Bible, math, two language arts topics, and either science and geography or history. Our language arts program consists of spelling alternating with vocabulary, and grammar alternating with writing. History combines studying actual history, along with art and literature. Geography covers modern social studies and current events, as well as physical geography, and science.. well that’s science, lol! All this is done at approximate a 4th-6th grade level, varying between subjects, depending on my daughter’s aptitude and liking for the subject,  — math is at 4th grade, history at around 6th grade, etc. I really don’t pay attention to “levels” except for mastery and finding something that will challenge her to grow and think.
On the other side, I do have preschoolers, so I do attempt a preschool program with my 2 and 4 yr old girls (with the toddler joining in as she likes..). This works out to watching videos through, then working on our calendar board as a group (still tweaking this) and some coloring/tracing for letter recognition. It’s very low-key right now, but I keep looking for easy ways to bring in more structure to their day, as the more activities I can “assign” the less sibling rivalry/mess/mischief they have time to get into!  Even my toddler likes to have some activities, usually activity bags with her own-level games and toys to play with. I don’t really do crayon work with her yet, as she’s teething currently, so .. yeah, a blue crayon mouth is not my idea of preschool right now.
We soo do not “schedule” our school work or our day. It’s just not practical at the moment, and frankly, with my fertility and our family’s lifestyle, I don’t see ever taking a “by-the-clock” approach. We do have a routine, in that “after-this-happens, that-happens”. But nothing ever really happens at exactly the same time.. and you know what? I’m ok with that. There’s room for improvement, of course, but nothing has to be set in stone.
After all, part of the attraction of home education is the flexibility of your day, right? No one says it has to look like public school!

I am feeling very very pregnant these days. It’s amazing how quickly pregnancy goes by, when you have several children already. I remember with my first pregnancy, how the days seemed to drag on, and the milestones never seemed to arrive, and now.. well it feels like just yesterday that the second line showed up on the test. Except for the fact that getting out of chairs takes way more effort than its worth, and I will call one of my children to pick something up off the floor at my feet rather than try bending down to get it myself!

I have the usual pregnancy complaints, of course, at 8 months pregnant. Back aches, and heart burn, swollen feet and feeling out of breath at times.. I have some unique to me, as well, like bad excema. It’s hormonally triggered as well as environmentally, but mostly hormonal, which is why every pregnancy, I get itchy rashes and easily broken skin, all over. Lovely, I know.

I have some symptoms with this pregnancy that I haven’t had with any other, like the aching crampiness I’ve experienced for the last few weeks, that is concerning my midwife slightly.

But despite all the discomforts of pregnancy, I love being pregnant. Which is probably a good thing, since the last 5 years or so have seen me pregnant or nursing or both, almost constantly. With this child, I will have had 4 children each 18 months apart. That means that I’ve gotten pregnant again about 9-10 months after having had a baby.

What is amazing to me about this whole thing is the fact that my cycles, my supposed fertility, was considered non-existent. I would go months between cycles as a teen and in my early 20s, with no real explanation. And no, I didn’t take birth control as a teen to regulate cycles either. In fact, at one point, a doctor had told me I would be unable to have children without medical intervention, because I didn’t ovulate frequently. Guess we proved them wrong, huh?

Since then, my various care providers have commented on how easy my pregnancies and deliveries have been. I tend to have fast deliveries, with no complications. I’ve even been blessed to have experienced a home birth, and we are currently planning on doing it again. The comparison between hospital births with an OB/GYN and a home birth with a midwife is like night and day — and I much prefer being at home.

I don’t mean to brag, but I thank God with every child that He gives me, that I do not have much pain and difficulty to bring them into the world. I cringe to hear the birth stories out there of women who labour for days, not just hours, who require interventions to bear their children, and count myself extremely blessed. My labour is counted in mere hours and minutes, and I’ve never required more than a pitocin drip as intervention.. and that only after my waters had broken and labour hadn’t started through any other means.

I cannot wait to hold this baby in my arms, not just in my womb. I have dreamed of cradling her, of cuddles and soft baby coos. I love the newborn stage — new babies are soo easy to care for! They need to eat and be cleaned up, and they tend to sleep the rest of the time. Of course those things need to happen quite frequently, but unlike mobile toddlers, you can leave them in one place and be relatively assured that when you come back they will be in the spot you left them.

Honestly though, I have to say I enjoy every stage of growth a baby goes through. The delight in watching all their firsts is always special, no matter how many children you have. I adore the curiosity of my toddlers, frustrating though it can be at times, and I treasure the smiles and coos and kisses and cuddles, the questions and chatter, and even training them in independence is awe-inspiring.

Watching my own children grow gives me so many insights into my relationship with my Heavenly Father. He must delight in us even more than I delight in them. When He labours to bring into us His Spirit, and then He watches us grow in faith, in love, in becoming more like Him, it must make Him smile so much more than I do in watching my own. I get a glimpse of His love for me in the way I feel about my own children.

And while I fail to be a perfect parent — I lose my patience at times, I get angry or irritated at their childishness, my expectations don’t always match up with their abilities, I forget my promises — He never fails. He is infinitely patient, He knows exactly what I’m capable of and calls me higher, and He always keeps His word. He loves me far greater than I can imagine. In carrying this child, in the wait for her birth-day, I remember my Father’s care of me, and I smile, feeling loved.

Crazy weather people! In Canada here, I guess we’re used to a snowstorm, but oy, seeing some of those reports from the US makes me wonder where y’all go with all that!? We got a nice amount of snow here, about 25 cm (10″ for you imperial folks), which makes me wish I could take the kids out in it to romp. However, at 8 months pregnant, moving around the house with clear floors is hard enough sometimes, let alone trying to keep track of 4 kids in deeper snow…

The man here has been working looong shifts — he’s a snowplow operator, on call — which means that both of us are tired people. Him because he works nights and worked almost 30 hours out of 48, and me because guess who gets to solo parent for a bit? Nap time has become my best friend again.. not just because of a noise break, but because I actually get to sleep too!

Last night, since I was by myself and the kids were in bed.. ahhh, peace!.. I did some thinking and planning for this blog. It’s fairly random, but I do have some topics I want to explore more in writing here. Things like  having a larger family with lots of little ones (and no big ones to help!) since there doesn’t seem to be much out there like that.. lol, hmm I wonder why? Probably because when you have lots of littles and little help, it can be hard to carve out a few minutes to sit down and write. And also probably because a lot of those families who were once in that stage were there when blogging was brand new and not at all popular. Perhaps some thoughts on parenting, because I have children!, lol, homeschooling (since we do and have since “birth”), including how we do it when I’m pregnant or nursing (or both!!) frequently, and maybe some thoughts on family planning, or lack of it as the case may be, since we have had a number of children closely spaced, and all the details related to that, like organization and routines and schedules and all the other sanity savers I’ve gleaned from experience and moms who’ve “been there, done that, wish-I-did-this-then” — all of these may come up and more. Also may include topics such as my faith and its practical-living-out, and maybe even on marriage and relationships, though I do not claim to be an expert there!

Lots of things to explore. But life’s like that. Everything we do is related to everything else. I mean, my faith influences my parenting choices and philosophy, which is in part why we homeschool, which affects our daily routines and schedules, which changes with each new child, which affects my marriage and parenting choices, which describe my faith lived out loud.. there is no dividing line between one and the other, no matter what my written out schedule tries to tell me. We can block out periods of time to prioritize a particular area of life on paper, but real life means that trying to have a conversation with one’s husband may be sidetracked by answering your grade-schooler’s question in spelling which in turn may be interrupted by a diaper change, which may result in needing to empty the garbage, while re-directing the toddler away from it and correcting the preschooler who put her toys there, and breathing a prayer for more patience, and then needing to write down garbage bags on the shopping list, which reminds you that you still haven’t finished the history book list you were working on in the first place before you started talking to your husband… Maybe its just me??

Anyways, the point of this random rambling post is that I have lots of ideas, and hopefully experiences that will help others out there, or at least provide a laugh or two and show a few moms they aren’t the only ones.. lol or maybe I’m the only one, and you aren’t as bad as I am!

Enjoy and feel free to send me ideas, questions or comments..

This past Valentines.. with all the pink and red, hearts and flowers, and chocolate trophies being thrown at shoppers.. Not exactly my favorite holiday… but not for the reasons you might think. I’ve never had a horrible Valentine’s. Quite the opposite, I’ve had some really special ones, in the past. But its mostly because I’m not a traditional “romantic”.

The traditional “romantic” woman is one who loves “happy-ever-after” stories, expects (and gets) flowers, cards, lace-and-bows traditional gifts, dresses up to impress, and enjoys the chivalrous actions of her partner(s). Which is soo not me. I like happy-ever-after, well enough, but I want more than just “riding off into the sunset, Disney-style”.. I like real life better, and I know real life doesn’t end at the engagement/wedding/first kiss. Relationships take work.  I think flowers are pretty, and I do enjoy their beauty, but I’d much prefer a plant to put in my garden than a cut bouquet to put in a vase. To me, that’s a waste of money, since they won’t last. I adore chocolate and treats, but honestly? I really don’t need too much of that — not good for my health, my skin or my waistline, such as it is… I can (and do) dress to impress, but for the most part, I prefer to be comfortable and wear things that are safe for young children, since I have a few around me, lol. I dress neat, clean, modest and try to be attractive, but I don’t wear bling and sparkle all the time, and I rarely wear make-up! And while I expect courtesy and respect from any relationship, the traditional date-night chivalry tends to make me roll my eyes.

I guess my issue is that I’m too practical to be romantic. Romance is for optimists, and I’m too realistic to be that optimistic. Unfortunately, my husband is a die-hard optimist, and my lack of romance drives him crazy. He’s the one who would love to spend tons of money on roses, chocolates, jewelry and fancy dinners out. He insists (most of the time) on opening my car door, holding my hand and tends to be very affectionate. Ok, I can’t lie and say I don’t like that part 🙂 But for the most part, I would rather he spent the money on a nice potted geranium than a dozen roses, on pizza for the family instead of dinner out, and save the expensive jewelry money for a vacation trip or perhaps even just to pay down the mortgage.

It comes down to love languages, I guess. I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book on the subject, and so do most of my family and friends (we were given 3 of them when we got engaged!! LOL), and it was very enlightening for us. My husband’s love language is words of affirmation, with a secondary of gifts, which is why I get the compliments and treats. Mine is quality time, emphasis on quality listening/conversation, and my secondary is physical affection, so I would rather spend long hours in discussion about anything and everything, cuddled up on the couch.

With love languages, the reverse of them is the absolute worst thing you can do to a person. If you want to hurt someone who’s love language is say, physical affection, refuse to make love with them.. it will hurt them right at the core of who they are. So my husband has a really hard time with criticism of any kind, as he takes it very very personally. And I get very hurt if I don’t feel listened to, or if I feel misunderstood. These things attack the heart of our being. You might as well stick a knife in the relationship, metaphorically speaking.

The problems come when the languages get crossed or mixed up. When I forget my “please”s and “thank you”s, or if I complain about something my husband has done too often, he will become very grumpy and upset with me. If he asks me to repeat myself several times, or several days go by without a kiss or a touch of some kind, I feel neglected and undervalued. Obviously, this leads to more issues, in a spiraling cycle of anger and hurt.

Your love language is what comes naturally to you. It’s how you naturally express how you feel about someone. But if they don’t share your love language, as Gary said, you might as well be speaking a foreign language, for all the good it will do you. It takes work to remember and express yourself in ways your partner will receive as loving. But, it is worth it.

This Valentine’s Day, treat it as a good reminder of how your partner really experiences love. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or go out to a fancy dinner, especially if neither of you see that time and money as being especially loving. Perhaps the pizza and a movie, cuddled on the couch after the kids in bed will be a ton more special. Or a love note left in a secret place, or a well-planned seduction? The possibilities are endless, and creativity is very useful when you consider your mate’s love language.

Me? I’m hoping for a love letter or well-written card, with perhaps some quality time later in the evening…. *wink wink*…

I found it! I found it! I found the stand I want for our tv. Nice and simple, just a low, two shelf stand, with a glass door over the shelves. I wanted a glass door so we can use the remote on the dvd player, without having to have the door open to little fingers and hands pushing buttons. I’m hoping to figure out a way to latch/lock it too, but I have yet to see it up close.  It was only $20 on Kijiji too! Well within my budget!

My dh wasn’t all that happy with me when I told him we were picking it up today. He was all set to custom build something …which meant that I wouldn’t get it anytime soon! Getting him to finish a project is like pulling teeth!! He’s been saying things like “need to modify” and “fix it to fit” but I think once it’s in place, it will stay just fine, the way it is. I talked him into it by pointing out that you can’t get a glass door and the hardware for glass doors for $20. Once he saw it, he was a whole lot more comfortable, and as I said, once it’s in place, I think he’ll be happier too.

Next on my list is to source out a dresser of some kind. I want a solid wood one, preferably in the kind of shape that I won’t feel bad about modifying it, because I want to turn it into a dress-up storage closet. Basically, take out the drawers and supports, refinish the frame, add a tension bar, and voila! Instant clothes storage. Depending on how it works out, I may look for another one for our entry way, for kids’ coats and things. I can always add a curtain to hide the contents too, if I like.

I have dressers (from my girls’ room) that I plan on repurposing downstairs in what will be our dining room/school room/craft room, to store all the various school and craft supplies we have, as well as some of the more educational toys. I want to move the current toy storage 9-cubby organizer shelf upstairs to their room for clothes storage, while moving in a toddler bed at the same time, since our 16 mo old will soon be joining her sisters. Not a moment too soon either — she climbed out of her crib this morning, and took a big fall onto the floor!  I have bookshelves that I hope to have as actual bookshelves soon, depending on my dh actually completing the one project I do want him to get done: new dvd cabinets, to hang on the wall. Then I can put a lot of the school reading books on those, and my fiction/fun ones on the bigger shelves I have for them. I also want to add wall shelves for kids books in our play room, and perhaps, just maybe, free up another shelf for toy storage. Perhaps. That may be a bit adventuresome, as we have a lot, *a lot!* of kids books!

Books, books, books! My house is overflowing with books. Hehe, and I love it! We have cloth books for babies, board books for toddlers, picture books and sound books for preschoolers, picture books for beginners, first chapters for early readers, and great children’s literature for my older child, along with my own collection of fiction, both classic and modern. I also have books on parenting, relationships, marriage, finances, theology, discipleship, organization.. all sorts of non-fiction topics. The funny thing is, my current library is what it is, but my to-read list? About 3 times as big! And growing!

Back to reorganizing. I cannot wait to redo these rooms — can you say nesting much? I need to sort out my kids’ toys, and put them into meaningful categories, so I can create labels, and start training them to put it away better. I plan on switching my current dining/school room with what is now the living room, so I may have a few occasional tables put to better use soon. I also have some pieces going into storage, until we can refinish rooms to use them (we want to put in an office/adult craft room in our basement) and some things coming out of storage too. I’m really looking forward to the change! I think it will improve how the house works, and best of all — everything will be finally cleaned! Again!

Clean house, happy mama, happy family, right? Remind me to take before and after pics and post them!

I am anticipating tomorrow, because we have a Very Important Appointment. We have an interview appointment with a clinic, so hopefully the kids and I will have a family doctor. We haven’t had a family doctor in over two years now, because there is such a shortage of general practitioners in this area. Heck, in all of Canada! I’m grateful my kids have had a pediatrician, especially my two who *need* a ped, but right now, where we’re living, it’s an hour and a half drive to take them to the pediatrician.. which means, because I don’t drive (don’t have my license/have had eye infections/poor vision/pregnant/nursing/etc), my dh has needed to take a day off work, pack all 4 kiddos up, with all their assorted gear, snacks, bottles, sippies, diapers, etc, drive to the office, wait for 20-30 min, (even if we’re there only 5 min before the scheduled appointment) and see the doctor for all of 5-10 min… oy! Makes me tired just thinking of it. And now with a 5th one on the way, I’m very anxious to have this appointment go right.

Why in the world is there such an issue getting a doctor? You’d think, with 4 children (soon to be 5), with 2 of them “special needs” — one considered having a developmental disability — and 2 ages 2yrs and under… we’d have no issues getting medical care. But there are 50 000 people in this metropolitan area without regular care, so well.. we’re generally healthy, and I guess not high priority.  But 50k population without regular care means clogged emergency rooms and walk-in clinics that are overworked and stressed out! So getting even the most minor thing checked out is almost more hassle than its worth.

So we do like a lot more people seem to these days. We take care of the minor things ourselves. We use home remedies, try to improve our nutrition and watch what we eat, get regular exercise and enough sleep (try doing that with little ones that still get you up several times a night, lol!) and use over the counter medicines to self-treat in hopes that “that pain” isn’t really anything serious.

One of my new passions now is finding out more about herbal remedies and essential oils. I’ve been passively searching out info, which, frankly, is confusing and overwhelming at times. There are sooo many different herbs and each one seems to have a dozen different applications, potions and preparations, not to mention names. I have progressed as far as to try to grow a few here at home (though I have yet to grow anything indoors successfully! LOL). I have a mint plant that seems to be pretty hardy, no matter how tough the winter, and I have a sage plant that also seems to be survival-oriented, no matter what I do (or don’t do) to help it. But I’ve tried to grow basil and oregano, parsley and thyme and.. well.. the leaves scattered on my window sill speak for themselves.

What I’d love to find is a class I could take that would go step-by-step through the different most commonly used/needed plants and show me how to do this. Maybe I’ll do it myself and post it — start with identification, how to grow, how to prepare for use, and what to use it for. Hmm.. on my list would probably be lavender, mint, chamomile, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme to start with. Any others?