Mostly Comfortable - 36 Weeks (Baby #5)



I am happy to report that the hospital bag is packed!

Mostly.  There are a few things, like my hair straightener, that will have to be thrown into the bag whenever I happen to go into labor, but other than that, it's packed.

It was kind of weird packing the hospital bag this time around, because I still am kind of in denial that I have less than a month until this baby gets here.  How did this pregnancy go by so fast?  I still think it's a bit surreal that we are having a fifth baby.  I'm a mom of five babies.  I will have five children trailing after me in the grocery store for the next decade.  It's kind of cool!



How We're Doing

As far as symptoms go, I am feeling pretty good in general.  I did have pretty bad sciatic nerve pain the other night, and I had to lay on the floor and have Derek help me rotate my knees from side to side so I could actually put weight on my left leg.  I really need to get to the chiropractor this week.  

I also have had insane heartburn, and I may have taken more than the recommended amount of Tums a couple days in a row last week.  When I realized what I did and told Derek, he may have threatened to take my Tums away.  Surely "overdosing" on Tums can't cause much damage, right?


She seems to be fine in there anyway - she still moves constantly.  With all my other babies I remember at least once worrying that they were not okay in there because I hadn't felt them move in a while - this baby girl has not given me the opportunity to worry about her at all, at least not yet.  Sometimes I'll just be standing in line or at the kitchen counter, and I won't really feel her kicking, but I'll look down at my belly and I can see her rolling around in there.  This girl is rarely still.

Despite having sciatic nerve pain and the worst heartburn I've ever had, this pregnancy is such a breeze compared to the last one that I am feeling really optimistic right now.  Clarice was breech or transverse most of my pregnancy, and her placenta was anterior, and I'm convinced those things made her pregnancy a lot harder on me.  I just remember being D.O.N.E. at this point last pregnancy, but I am feeling really good this time, like I could go late again and be okay as long as I kept myself busy.



I feel pretty comfortable most of the time, and I actually feel pretty small for 36 weeks, despite my standard answer to "How are you feeling?" being "Big."  Baby has dropped, and the stomach is mostly out front and not pressing on my ribs anymore, so in comparison to other pregnancies I feel pretty cute still, and I can still move around pretty easily.  

Early?  Late?

I am really trying not to think she is coming early, because that is part of what made going late last time so tortuous...but I can't help it, there is still a small part of me that is hoping she'll come a little before her due date.  

To combat this, I have set up a couple "rewards" for myself for the last couple weeks of pregnancy.  If I make it to 38.5 weeks, I'll buy the fall ankle booties I've been eyeing.  And if I make it to a day before my due date, I'm hoping to be able to go see "Murder On The Orient Express" when it comes out on November 10th (if you have not read that book, you have to - it's a classic).  I don't have any rewards for if I go past my due date, but I'll set one up later if I think I'll need it to keep my waiting attitude positive.  I wouldn't say I'm impatient quite yet, but I am getting pretty excited to have her here!



What's Next?

I have a doctor's appointment next week, the first one where they will check my cervix.  I'll probably put an update on Instagram after my appointment, so follow me there!  If I'm only at 1 cm or less, I'm anticipating I'll make it to 40 weeks.  If I'm dilated more than that, there is a possibility she may come a bit sooner.

Derek will be hunting next week though, so let's just all pray that I don't go into labor while he's out traipsing through the woods, shall we?  I do think we'll be okay though.  I don't think she'll come before November.

(Me and the biggest sister!)


Book Series I Read As A Kid



If you are expecting this list to be populated with all the "children's classics", think again, my friends!  When I was in elementary school I mostly read a few series that captured my attention at the time.  I don't think they'd be considered great works of children's literature, but they did get me reading!  Just for fun, today I thought I'd share a few of the book series I remember reading as a kid.





The Saddle Club Series - These are some of the first books I remember being interested in, ever.  I think what drew me in was not so much the stories, but the collectible cards that came with each book.  Not to mention that I met my closest elementary school friend because she was also reading the Saddle Club series.  They were basically just stories about girls and their horses, and I remember very little of them now.  Like I said, I was in it for the cards.



American Girl Series - Did anyone in my generation not read one of the American Girl book series?  My favorite was always Felicity, because my favorite era of American History was the Revolutionary period, even back then.



Encyclopedia Brown - I used to love these books!  Each book had multiple stories - mysteries with clues! And it wouldn't tell you the answer at the end, you had to guess who you thought "did it" and turn to the back of the book to find out if you were right.  I was always so proud of myself when I picked the right culprit.



Grandma's Attic - Okay, this one is sort of a classic.  I mostly remember whichever book is the one where they pull an old quilt out of the attic, and each patch on the quilt has a different story.  Really cute stories.



American Adventure Series - I'm actually relieved to see you can still buy these!  Around the time we started homeschooling, my mom bought a couple of these American History books and assigned done of them to me for school.  I didn't get too excited about that one, but about a year down the road I got a hold of a book a little further in the series.  I was hooked.  Each book in the series follows the children of the characters in the previous book, so it's like one long family story down through all the eras of American History.  I used to save up my own money and march into the Christian bookstore with my $4 to buy the next book in the series.  Until a friend started loaning me the books, which I kind of regret now.  I wish I had kept buying them so I could have completed the series.  The ones I did buy are in a box under Gwen's bed, waiting for my children to get old enough to read them.




Nancy Drew - Obviously.  Gotta love Nancy Drew!


What did you like to read in elementary school?






Did You Always Want A Big Family?




I grew up with one brother and one sister.

My siblings are twins and are two years younger than me.  We had a lot of fun growing up, being so close in age.  I remember so many different games we came up with, and we would play with each other for hours.  We had pretty good relationships with each other, and I loved having both a brother and a sister.

I think when we are young (especially us girls), it's easy to think that you get to plan your whole life out.  When I was in middle school, I decided I wanted to get married at 22 (my mom's marriage age), wait two or three years to have babies, then have three kids (because it seemed to work for my family of origin).  I even had names picked out (because of course my husband would love every name that I did).

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that none of that worked out like I thought it would!

So to answer a question from my blog buddy Natalie, I didn't always want a "big" family (unless you consider three kids "big", which I don't).

I continued on with my well-planned-out life, and when I was 19 years old and in dental hygiene college I read a book called "America Alone" by Mark Steyn.  I can say with certainty that this was the point when I started to think about family size a little differently.  

This book was not necessarily about family size, it was about international politics, but it did address the history and current state of birth rates in different countries.  In the book, Steyn presents evidence that countries or cultures that have higher birth rates tend to accomplish more in the world, and those that have anemic birth rates tend to go into decline.

This was a shifting point for me, because for the first time it occurred to me that maybe choosing how many children to have isn't a decision that should be merely based on personal preference or some arbitrary "ideal".  It introduced to me the idea that having children is a way to pass something on, and if there are more children in the family, there is more of a chance to pass it on to more people.  As a strong believer in Christ, that idea was interesting to me, because I want to pass on my faith to my children, and for them to pass it on to their children.  For the first time I thought about having four kids instead of just three.

I think the Lord used that unexpected book to get me thinking in a new direction, because a year later Derek and I got married, and a year later we went off birth control because of our pro-life convictions.  Still, I clung to the idea that I could control everything in my life, including the timing and size of my family.  This was my decision, and I didn't think about God's opinion about my family much at all.

But God wasn't finished working on my heart, and I was rudely awakened to the fact that maybe I wasn't in control of this.  Things weren't working quite right after I went off the pill, and for the first time it occurred to me that maybe getting pregnant isn't as simple as I thought.

We went through about eleven months of waiting for things to get back to normal, and I very quickly went from thinking we'd wait to try to get pregnant to being desperate to have a baby.  This was what God used to turn me toward what He wanted for our family, instead of just what I wanted.   This is what He used to change my view of children from something to check off my list, to viewing them as a true blessing that He was in charge of giving. 

Fast forward a few years later, and instead of the two or four Derek and I said we originally wanted, we are expecting our fifth baby.  Until about two years ago, the idea of five never even entered my head - but I credit this baby completely to God working in our hearts and family.  After we had Clarice there was just that nudge from the Holy Spirit to wait, to not do anything permanent quite yet, and we wouldn't have been listening at all if not for all those years of God slowly changing my attitude on children.  We would have cut things short long ago if God hadn't used our trouble getting pregnant to teach me to seek His will for our family, not just my own.  He used a stressful time in my life of dealing with sub-par fertility to actually bring me more babies than I would have otherwise!  Looking back now, I'm amazed at how gentle He was with me.  He gave me just the right resources and circumstances at the right times to change my heart.

So here we are, having a "big" family.  (I can probably say "big" without quotation marks now - it's just that the Duggars and Bates kind of redefined "big" for me.)  Derek and I never really planned this out, but looking at our five babies (even the one still in my belly), we really cannot imagine not having them here.  God has been really gracious to us, and He gave us what we didn't know we needed.  

So, to finish answering Natalie's question, my favorite part of having a big family...well, they are all running around, laughing as I type this, and the joy is pretty infectious!  (Of course, there are also times of everyone crying, but let's just skip over that.)  I think my favorite part of having a big family is those moments when they are all gathered around me for school or Bible time, and we are talking about something really important, and I know that this is it.  This is what God made me for, and these children are one of the only things I will do on this earth that will really last...and He trusted me with five of them.  



It's a powerful thought, and it's humbling, and it makes me want to cry for the responsibility and privilege of it.  He's been really good to me, and I see that nowhere more clearly than in these little faces that look back at me every day.



P.S.  If you asked Derek his version of the story, he'd have a very different one than mine...but I saw how he kept his heart open to what the Lord might have for us over the years too.  There is a reason God sent us each other, and these five kids are good proof!

P.P.S. If you have any "getting to know you" questions for me, now's the time!  It'll help me come up with material for the last two weeks of my 31 Day Writing Challenge!

A Day With Dad



I was fixing my makeup when she came bounding into the bathroom.

"Mama, Daddy's going to take me to a princess movie!"

The grin filled her entire face, and she bounced around the room like Tigger.  

"I'm so 'cited!"

A couple weeks ago, Derek told me about this princess event at his alma mater, including princess-themed activities, dinner, and a movie.  "Should I take Gwen?" he asked me, and I said he definitely should.  He bought the tickets, and today was the day.

Gwen picked out which princess dress she wanted to wear (which just happened to be the princess dress from my own childhood), and they left early so they could go out to lunch first and buy Gwen a tiara.  I don't have any cute stories from the day aside from a picture of her making a funny face with Snow White, and an interview video Derek sent me.  But when she came home that night, after everyone else was in bed, I asked her how it was.

"It was the best day ever!"

She had Snow White mac-and-cheese for dinner, and they colored, and did "science experiments", and watched the original Snow White.

"The bad queen was chasing White Snow, and she eated a poisonous apple, and everyone thought she died but she was really just asleep.  And then her prince came and kissed her and waked her up."

I'm told the theater was silent when the queen fell over the cliff and the boulder fell after her...until my little princess yelled "Yes!"

She ran upstairs to get changed, and her daddy tucked her in bed, and I just chuckled to myself.  I always knew Derek would be a good dad, but I didn't know just how good of a dad he would be to his girls.  I'm glad I married a guy who is happy to delve into the world of princesses with his daughter.  This was her first true Disney princess exposure, and though I am looking forward to watching more of the movies with her as she grows, I am loving the fact that she got to experience her first princess movie with her dad. 




From The Archives: Derek And Callie (The First Year)

( A picture from our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Is it weird that I still have that shirt?)

I might be typing this while watching a Hallmark movie and eating coffee ice cream at 9 o'clock at night.

The last couple days turned out to be all-day errand-running days, and I had no time at all to sit down and write my photo organizing post that I had scheduled for today!  I'm hoping to get caught up on it tomorrow, but for now, I thought I'd switch in Saturday's "From The Archives" post and take you all back to nine years ago on this little old blog - our first year of marriage, before babies were in the picture.  

What did I even write about then, anyway?  Mostly about newly married nothings, but I have to say, it's fun to have those posts now.  I think it will be fun for my kids too to look back on what our days were like before they were around.

So, if you want to see how much we've changed in nine years, here are a few old (really old) posts to explore!

-I started this blog up after our first major stressful marriage situation - namely the fact that Derek and I were both unemployed at the same time a mere two months after our wedding!

-A brain dump post, including pictures of Derek and I setting up our first Christmas tree.

-A 2008 recap of all major events the year we got married (I seriously didn't even remember that I did a recap post that year!).


-Proof that I have always written about books here, and also some confessions of our early marriage arguments - the "honeymoon phase" didn't last long for us, but hey, we figured out how to fight well sooner that way!

-First Easter as a married couple.


-When I discovered the wonders of Sam's Club, thanks to Derek.

-A post I wrote about what I learned in the first year of marriage - still true, but kind of cute to read now since we've been through so many harder things than unemployment since then!

-Our first anniversary gifts, and oh my goodness, there is a picture of me in my wedding dress in this post since I tried it on at my one-year wedding anniversary to make sure it still fit.  Look how skinny I was!  But did that stop me from feeling the need to explain why I had gained two pounds over the first year of marriage?  No!  Oh Callie, you were so silly back then.


A few things to note about these posts that I wrote the first year of our marriage:

1.  There are some posts with no pictures at all.  I am reminded how freeing it was to just write something without having to find a picture to go with it!

2.  I think my writing has gotten better since then.  I think.

3.  I wrote about really mundane things.  But that's what we were all doing back then!  It was glorious.

4.  Shortly after our first anniversary we went off the birth control pill, and shortly after that realized that we might have trouble getting pregnant - enter baby fever!  So it's interesting to look back on the days before we had kids on our minds.  It was a special time with just the two of us, but goodness, how much richer our lives are now!  Having our children has just made me love Derek even more.  

So...how long have you been blogging, friends?  Do you have early married posts still, or am I the only crazy one who keeps these slightly embarrassing early posts up for all the world to see?

Snow And A Shower



Since it's an off-week for my bi-weekly pregnancy updates, I thought this would be a good opportunity to get back to a round of old-fashioned blogging.  Even though this whole memory-keeping series is kind of a throwback to the old-school style of blogging, today is a brain dump sort of day, so here we go.

Snow Day

This week we had our first snow day of the season.  Just last week I was looking at my Facebook memories (Facebook finally gave me my memories after blackballing me from that feature for years), and I saw that we got our first snow at the beginning of October last year…and what do you know, a week later we got our first snow in October again!  Somehow it came to me as a bit of a shock this year, I guess because all the seasonal changes were so sudden this fall.  We went from 80-degree, weather to a cool 40/50-degree weather last week, and then boom, the next week it snows.






It was a decent amount of snow too!  The kids were making snow angels.

My kids (except Clarice) are finally old enough to send outside into the snow by themselves, so that was an exciting realization this year.  I bundled them all up and they traipsed outside by themselves while I started a fire and a batch of pumpkin bread.  It made me really look forward to more snow days this winter, because this will be the first year that a snow day doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll all be stuck inside all day.

A Baby Shower

This week I also had a baby shower with my mom and sister!  I had been toying with the idea of throwing a little pre-baby party with my family and friends, because I think every baby should be celebrated in some way (even a fifth baby) - but I just could not seem to get my act together enough to get it planned.  The month of October started and I just figured it was too late and I was a bit too stressed to try to get something on the calendar at this point.  

Then my sister asked if I was planning anything (because I had mentioned this idea to her before), and I was disappointed when I had to tell her no.  I felt like I was letting this baby girl down somehow, since we had some sort of pre-baby celebration for each of my other kids.

Well, my sister is a thoughtful sort of person, and she conspired with my mom to have a little baby shower for this baby too!  So my mom took the three of us out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, and they showered me with presents.  

And when I say showered, I mean showered.  There must have been ten gifts between the two of them!  It was so sweet, and they got me all the remaining things I needed - including swaddles, bottles, and baby bath towels, which I was trying to figure out how to budget in to buy for myself.  That was such a blessing - I don’t think I ever realized it before, but just because someone has multiple other kids doesn’t necessarily mean they have everything for a new baby.  Especially when it’s their third of one gender, because a lot of stuff just wears out after 2+ babies.



(You can't see very well in these pictures, but they even decorated the table with little party favors and everything!)

I am really blessed to have such a great mom and sister, and they really blessed me with the effort they put into my shower!

Mini Golf

Before the snow, we snuck in some fall fun!  The dental office we are going to now does this "fall festival" every year, and this year it was at a mini golf place.  I signed us up because it was free fall fun, and who doesn't like free?  

It ended up being a great family outing!  We had a free barbecue dinner, and then we got a free round of mini golf with the kids.  Mini golf is probably not a family activity we would pay for at this point since the kids are a little young yet, but did I mention free?!  So we introduced the kids to mini golf.  The big three had a bunch of fun hitting their balls toward the holes, and it was kind of a put-ing free-for-all.  




But Clarice, on the other hand, took her golf turns very seriously.  She put the ball on the ground so carefully, and Derek helped her hit the ball, and she would get so upset if the ball went off the green.  By upset, I mean she would burst into tears!  Maybe we have a future golfer on our hands.  It was so cute to see her little careful and competitive personality come out on a put-put golf course - at two years old, no less!

Last Month of Pregnancy Busyness

The next couple weeks are surprisingly busy - I’ve learned after so many pregnancies that a few weeks before you are supposed to have your baby, the schedule tends to fill up, because people want to see you one more time before you are cocooned up with a newborn for a while.  I went out of the house almost every day last week, and this week is shaping up to be the same.  

Then the last two weeks or so of pregnancy, the schedule really frees up because people think you won’t want to schedule too much so close to baby (and they’d be right) - but then you just sit home bored, waiting for something to happen.  So, when I get overwhelmed by my schedule right now, I just remind myself that if I give it another two weeks I’ll probably have nothing to do at all.  I hope my friends and family are up for some last-minute things, because if this baby ends up being late like Clarice was, I'll need to get out of the house!

What has your October looked like so far?  Have you had a chance to do any fall-ish fun yet?





What Made Me A Reader



I listen to a lot of homeschool and book-related podcasts, and a recurring theme seems to be the question "How do you turn your kids into readers?"  A lot has been said on the subject, most of it quite a bit more scholarly than what I am sharing here.  But whenever I hear this question come up, I start to think about my own childhood.  What made me love books?  What turned me into a reader?

I'm sure much of it has to do with some of those "right" things parents are supposed to do.  My mom always had an abundance of books around, and I used to love digging through the boxes of books she had hidden away in our basement.  I saw my parents reading frequently - usually when I came upstairs in the morning, my mom would be sitting at the table with a cup of tea, her Bible and devotional book stacked neatly next to her on the table (I could tell she had read God's Word first), and her nose in a book.  My dad would bring books when he knew we would have lots of leisure time (like on vacation), and it was fun to see him get involved in a good story.  

But one of my best book memories from my childhood is when my mom told me one evening that tonight was going to be a "reading night".



I didn't know what a reading night was, but I laid awake in bed as slowly all the lights in the house went out.  My brother and sister were in bed, even my dad was in bed, when my mom snuck stealthily into my room and told me to come with her.

We went up to the kitchen, and she pulled out two mugs and made us some tea.  She pulled out a Hershey's chocolate bar and gave me half.  We went to the living room and settled onto the couches with our books.  I drank my peppermint tea and savored my chocolate as we each read a chapter of our books.

Once I was finished with my chapter, I put my book down and looked up to my mom grinning at me. "What happened in your chapter?" she asked.  And I told her all about what I had read (I don't remember the book, but I am willing to bet it was a Nancy Drew mystery).  We discussed my favorite parts of the book so far, and what I thought was going to happen.  Then she told me about her book, and what was happening in her story.

We continued our occasional reading nights all through my middle school and high school years.  I was the oldest, so I got to start reading night first, but I know my mom did reading nights with my siblings too.

Whenever the question comes up of how to make your kids into readers, my mom's reading nights always pop back into my brain. I can't pin down exactly what made me a reader, but I can pin down those reading nights as one of the things that made reading fun. 

It's a tradition I fully intend to pass down.  I'm counting the days until my kids are big enough to be reading chapter books, and I can mysteriously tell them that tonight is going to be a reading night.
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