It Ain’t Over Yet!

It *is* Christmas now! All that anticipation and preparation throughout December has been Advent. Now, it is Christmas, and this is the time I love! John is home; Caroline has fun new stuff to entertain her. Decorations are still festive. And we can continue our focus on the reason for Christmas without the commercialism of Christmas.

With our nightly Advent activities completed, we have moved on to celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. They’re more than just a song. In liturgical churches, the twelve days from December 25 are the Christmas season, leading up to Epiphany, or Three Kings Day — the day the Magi brought gifts to the Christ child. My original plan had me holding back a “big” gift to give Caroline on Epiphany. That gift was hidden and remained in the guest bedroom … until Caroline followed Poppy into his room and spotted it. “Hey, this is for me!” I let her have it.

For our evening Christmas ritual, I have a neat little activity book I found last year at an after-Christmas sale. Adornaments is published by the Campus Crusade for Christ folks. It has a book with a page explaining each of the Biblical names for Jesus. Each name also has a mini-ornament picture book to go with it. I am really excited about this because Caroline is quite focused on “Baby” Jesus. These nightly discussions will take her beyond the manger and give her an awareness of Christ.

The twelve names are
1. Emmanuel
2. Lion of Judah
3. The Door
4. True Vine
5. Living Water
6. Light of the World
7. Lamb of God
8. Good Shepherd
9. King of Kings
10. Bread of Life
11. Bright and Morning Star
12. Savior

She’ll also get quite an exposure to metaphor. 🙂

I’m not a Scrooge, really

Bah Humbug! Many of dear friends and new friends did not get a Christmas card from me this year. I planned ahead. I sent them out in early December. And then they started being returned. It was too late to send out new ones, so if you were missed…so sorry and Merry Christmas!

Here’s the story. This fall, I had a computer fire. My computer caught on fire, yes. When it came time for Christmas cards, John managed to salvage some file that was called xmascardlist. I used that to create my cards, but I forgot to add new friends because I was so frantic to get the list compiled. Strike one: folks I adore and have gotten close to this year didn’t get a card. The list we recovered was pretty old, and people move. Last week, cards started coming back to me. I know more will because my sister-in-law already asked why she didn’t get a card when everyone else has one already (and hers has yet to be returned). Well, that’s because I sent it to the house she lived in three years ago! Strike two: USPS doesn’t forward mail endlessly for years and years.

My list is now updated, and I’ll even save it to my google docs so it will not be lost due to a computer fire or whatever other technical catastrophe could occur.

Merry Christmas!

Advent: Week Four

Candle: Love
Away in a Manger

hang ornament on Advent Calendar

pray for person on Advent Chain

St. Matthew’s Pick-up Pageant (Caroline will be an angel)

Scripture and Story: Luke 2
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Pregnancy II Journal

This is the journal I kept during my second pregnancy, which ended in a loss at 20 weeks.

September 17, 2007
Just nine days short of three years ago, I found out I was pregnant with Caroline. I’ve been saying that three years between kids seems like a good separation, and that’s just what we’ll get! My estimated due date, per the online calculators, is May 28.

I took two home pregnancy tests today, just to be sure. Then Caroline and I went to Target and bought some iron-on printable transfers and a shirt for her. I quickly (and shoddily) made a shirt for her that says “Big Sister in Training” and got it on her before John got home from work. She hugged him. They played. He held her. He noticed the new shoes she was wearing. Finally, when we were outside and she was playing at her water table, “making rain,” I told her to be careful so she wouldn’t mess up her special shirt. John said, “What’s special about it?” And I just waited. He said, “What does it say?” Pause. “Is she really?” Yup, she is. 🙂

September 27, 2007
The morning sickness begins.

I know holding off on our announcement through the first trimester will be much harder, if not impossible this time. My dad is stopping off here tomorrow to get Caroline and me and drop us off at my sister’s for the week. Keeping my secret was going to be hard enough without the throwing up! We’ll see how suspicious she gets.

I have made an appointment for late October with the same doctor that delivered Caroline. I loved this doctor throughout my pregnancy and was happy with my delivery and c-section. She truly did everything indicated to prevent it. I am not scheduling a repeat c-section, though. My recovery from the surgery wasn’t bad, but I hated hearing Caroline gurgling on the fluids that weren’t pushed out of her lungs and despised battling the thrush that the antibiotics brought on. I have much reading to do in preparation since, in a way, this is almost like a first delivery.

October 6, 2007
During my stay with my sister, I refused all alcohol, demanded a trip to Brahm’s for ice cream, napped every day, and never helped with cooking — you’d think my pregnant state would be obvious.

John arrived for the weekend to pick me up, and we all went out on the Satoro’s boat on Saturday morning. Cruising along — taking turns driving (even Caroline), I was suddenly overwhelmed by the exhaust fumes and a whiff of Caroline’s Pirate’s Booty. I hollered for John to stop (he was at the wheel at that moment) and leaned myself over the side of the boat to barf.

My dad was baffled, commenting that I’d never gotten sick on a boat in the 34 years years I’d been boatriding. My sister, not at all baffled, yelled “She’s PREGNANT!” I had to admit it. So much for holding out the first trimester. It was good to share the news. I didn’t feel like such an awful houseguest. I got to pick our lunch spot. It was nice.

October 8, 2007
Today, with my nausea and Caroline’s crankiness, I’m really worried about what I’m getting myself into. I feel lousy. I can stand up and do about one thing at a time — sort the laundry, then take a break. Fold the socks. Then take a break. Scrub a toilet. Then take a break. I’ve eaten a piece of peanut butter toast (but didn’t keep it for long), a bowl of dry cheerios, two popsicles, a banana, and a bag of popcorn. It is now 3:30. I think I want another popsicle.

Caroline’s little body and mommy’s not-so-little body are not working well together. Caroline’s bottom two-year molars are making their appearance at the height of mommy’s morning all-day sickness. I know, I know, this is just a taste of what life with two will be.

October 12, 2007
When one is first-trimester pregnant, all the rules and structure one aspires to as a parent (or even as a human being) are off. It is 10:30 in the morning. I am in pajamas, and Caroline is wearing only panties. I just ate what should have been my lunch, leftovers from last night. She is eating popcorn. The television has been on PBS all morning. The laundry from yesterday is still in the dryer. And I’m ready for a nap!

October 18, 2007
First doctor’s appointment today. Weight check — why didn’t I diet before getting pregnant? Urine deposit. Tons of paperwork with the nurse. Exam by doctor. Ultrasound.

The stats:
BP: 102 / 68
Blood vials: 5
Dating: 8 weeks 4 days
Due Date: May 25, 2008

We did talk about a VBAC, and she said she had to tell me that there is a chance that the area from my incision could come apart during labor, and the baby or I could die as a result of uterine rupture. She said it would be more likely that I would leave her office and get hit by a car in the parking lot, but that she had to tell me about the risk. They will do fetal monitoring during labor, though, because before rupture, the baby usually shows signs of distress.

October 23, 2007
I am feeling better, nausea-wise, but I’m still tired. I’ve been taking B-Natals — they sure help! We told my extended family at the family reunion this weekend, and we called John’s family and told them, too. We didn’t exactly make an announcement to my family. We arrived, and as we were unloading the car, Aunt Becky asked me why my butt was so big. Feel the love? Caroline got to tell her Aunt Carlye on the phone “I be big sister.” When her Aunt Stephanie called back, though, Caroline must have forgotten the coaching I’d given her on her line. I handed Caroline the phone and told her to tell Buffy what she’s going to be. “I be butterly, Buffy.” Well, it’s true. She’s going to be a butterfly for Halloween — that’s much more exciting than being whatever a big sister is.

November 15, 2007
Doctor’s appointment today, 12 weeks 4 days.
Weight: +1 pound (not sure how that’s possible as I feel 30 pounds heavier and have the breath capacity that goes with that kind of weight gain!)
BP: 110/62
Fetal length: 6.24 cm

Doc said “Everything looks perfect!”

The nausea is better but still rears its ugly head, especially when I brush my teeth. I am still pretty tired, too. I’m looking forward to the happy second trimester coming up soon. I am wearing elastic waist bands exclusively, which mostly means sweats or yoga pants. I did splurge on a Bella Band and wore it to church Sunday with a pair of dress slacks. It was nice not to feel totally dumpy.

December 20, 2007
Another doctor’s appointment, 17 weeks 4 days.
Weight +5 lbs
BP: Much higher at 135/70 — I have a cold and was am having trouble catching my breath
Listened to heartbeat and took a peek on sonogram — everything looks great (well, alien-like, but as it should look).
Heartbeat was high 140s to low 150s.
My OB told me she is almost eight weeks pregnant!
I asked about the scar check after the c-section that I had read about in my VBAC books (they advice against it.) She doesn’t do it!! Yay!

Here’s my reading list so far:
Reading month-by-month
The Pregnancy Book by Sears and Sears

Silent Knife by Cohen
The VBAC Companion by Korte

I’m feeling good, sometimes tired and sometimes (in the middle of the night) restless. No more nausea, though. I’m wearing maternity clothes now — more than a month earlier than last time!

January 10, 2007
When John, Caroline, and I went in for the routine anatomy ultrasound, we learned that our baby had died sometime since my last appointment. The news slowly sunk in, and I checked in to the hospital that night, asked for and had another ultrasound to confirm the baby’s death, and was induced. I delivered a baby boy on Friday, January 11 at 10:22 p.m.

Advent: Week Three

candle — Joy (the pink one Caroline has been anxiously awaiting!)

scripture — Phillipians 4:4
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

song — Joy to the World!

hang ornament on Advent Calendar

pray for person on Advent Chain

Storybook for week: continue with the two books we’ve been reading; add in a secular book, The Polar Express

Activities for week:
— Trail of Lights (we didn’t make it last week)
— holiday baking (decorate cookies!)
— travel to visit family

The "Aha" Book Series

A friend of mine always raves about the book series by THE GESELL INSTITUTE OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT. Titles include Your Two Year Old, Your Three Year Old, etc. I bought a used copy of Your Two Year Old right when Caroline turned two and read it. Turns out, I should have waited a bit until she was firmly entrenched in being two to read this little gem. I pulled it out tonight in search of suggestions, answers, whatever. What I found was reassurance. My child is two. She won’t be two forever.

Here are a few quotes that resonated with the situation in our household.

“Many are … beyond parallel play, and there is often considerable interaction. But this interaction cannot in most instances be described as cooperative. In fact it is often quite the opposite. One rule seems cardinal in the child’s mind. This is that he is going to hang onto and defend to the death any toy he has played with, is playing with, or might play with.” (So relived to read this is typical and my child is not a bully!)

“The two-and-a-half year old child not only acts like a baby but he loves to hear about his babyhood. ” (Caroline has loved to pretend to be a baby lately. She has fake-baby-cried more this last month than she ever did as an actual baby.)

“If you find yourself involved in one of those fruitless (and boring) ‘I want — I don’t want’ routines, in which the child demands some toy, food, article of clothing, or activity, and then the minute he gets it rejects it, and then when you take it away wants it again, it may be impossible to resolve the situation at this level.” The authors go on to suggest leaving the scene taking the child from the scene, or introducing some entirely new object or idea. “For instance, when the child is in a bad mood and nothing pleases — he doesn’t want to stay but he doesn’t want to go — some simple suggestion such as “but where are your shoes?” can shift his attention with good results.”

Advent: Week Two

candle — Peace

scripture — Isaiah 9:6
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

song — Silent Night

hang ornament on Advent Calendar

pray for person on Advent Chain — This has been a big hit! Caroline loves taking off the link and talking about the person for whom we pray.

Storybook for week: The Christmas Story Peek-a-Bible
The book from last week, The Christmas Story, is just so right for Caroline’s age and is exactly the content I want (phrases that Caroline as already started using like “Glory to God in the Highest” and “Peace, Goodwill toward men.”) that I am going to keep it as our reading during the evening’s Advent activities. I’ll use the other storybooks I had planned, like the peek-a-Bible for this week, in her daily reading break times.

Activities for week:
— visit Zilker Tree and Trail of Lights
— make clove oranges
— make peanut butter balls
— various crafts and colorings

St. Nicholas Day

In all my Advent planning, St. Nicholas Day slipped my mind. An email from John’s Uncle Joe reminded me last night, and I pulled one of Caroline’s stocking stuffers out to serve as her St. Nick treat. Technically, we did the whole gift-in-the-shoe bit a day late, as the shoes should have been found on the morning of St. Nicholas Day rather than the day after — but she’s two and doesn’t know any different. 🙂

I like including the observance of St. Nicholas Day in with our Advent and Christmas celebrations since it takes the emphasis off of the commercial Santa and brings into focus the history behind Santa Class as Jolly Old St. Nicholas. I also like spreading out the gift joy so it isn’t all forgotten within a few hours on Christmas morning. I plan to hold back a gift or two for Caroline to receive on Epiphany, too, in observance of the gifts the Christ child received from the Magi.

Yummy, but not so pretty

Our Advent plan called for making Chex Mix today, but since the mamma babe-in-utero (it’s nice to have someone on whom to blame your cravings) was more in the mood for sweet than salty, we tried a new recipe — Muddy Buddies. Oh, they are mighty tasty, and the picture on the box would make one think of something snow-covered. Mine are more like something covered in Southeast Texas snow. It could be that I had no powdered sugar and made my own (1 cup sugar with 1 tbspn corn starch in blender) or that my sugar is organic fair trade, and therefore yellow. Either way, my muddy buddies look like the thin layer of pine-straw infused snow I played in as a child. But snow is always fun to a kid. And chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar together is always good when you’re pregnant it’s Christmas.