The Belly Has Dropped - 34 Weeks (Baby #5)



We've entered into the phase of pregnancy where I am an emotional mess.

The last couple weeks I have been sensitive and irritable and overwhelmed and crying about stupid things.  I can't decide if it's related to being tired, or hormones, but it's probably some combination of both.  I feel bad for my poor family, and I'm trying really hard to lower my expectations so that I don't get so easily overwhelmed - this would be a good thing now, while my hormones are a mess, and after baby, when my hormones will still be a mess!

I have crossed a couple more things off my baby to-do list, which is satisfying.  I've also added a couple things (like beating out our living room rug before winter).  I was hoping to get my hospital bag packed before my appointment this week, just in case, and I'm about halfway there...I have a bunch of stuff in a pile waiting to be packed.  That counts for something, right?



As far as baby goes, she is still moving like crazy, and she lets me rub her little feet through my skin now without trying to kick my fingers away.  She hiccups all the time, which makes me happy because it means her lungs are maturing.

Also, in major news - BABY GIRL HAS DROPPED!  This is always exciting to me, because it means my ribs hurt a little less, and it means baby is less likely to flip.  You probably can't tell very well in these pictures, but trust me, the belly is definitely lower.



My body seems to be getting ready for labor a little more - I have definitely had more Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last couple of days, and there were a few days last week where my hips hurt so badly from loosening up to get ready for delivery.  Thankfully the hip pain has subsided a bit, and I am generally feeling pretty comfortable.



Tomorrow is my 34 week appointment, and probably the last appointment I will bring my kids since they'll start checking my cervix at the next appointment (37 weeks).  I want to enjoy their little reactions for this last time they'll get to hear the baby's heartbeat.  They always are so interested to hear what she's up to in there, and every one of them seems happy and excited about the baby.  It's making me more excited to have her here, and to have our whole family together on the outside!

(I've been trying to get a picture with each of the kids during these little bi-weekly photo shoots.  This week was Clyde's turn!)




The Four Tendencies Review

(Affiliate link below.)

You get a bonus book review today!  As you all know, I've been on a personality kick lately, and one of the personality books I picked up was The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.  I haven't read anything else by her, but I've listened to a couple episodes of her podcast, and I heard her talking about this concept.  It seemed interesting, so I was excited to read the book!

In The Four Tendencies, Rubin presents a theory of how different people respond to expectations, both internal and external.  We have the Upholders (who respond well to internal and external expectations), Questioners (who resist external expectations only), Obligers (who resist internal expectations only), and Rebels (resist both external and internal expectations).  She argues that a person's "tendency" affects how they respond to everyday situations and interact with other people.  If you know other people's tendencies, you can present things in a way that will make sense to them and let them respond positively.  If you know your own tendency, you can implement strategies that will make it easier for you to form good habits.

I am a little skeptical about some of Rubin's claims (like tendencies being part of our personalities from birth - I don't know that there is a way to prove that), but the more I read of this book, the more her overall points made sense.  She covers each tendency in detail and gives examples of difficulties and strengths related to each tendency, how to relate to different tendencies, and how to improve your own life by working with your tendency instead of against it.

I learned that I'm an Obliger, and I'm pretty sure Derek is a Questioner - so we keep each other on the straight and narrow!  I kind of hate being an Obliger, as the tendency that has trouble saying no and can tend to run ragged and get resentful of all the external obligations that "must" be kept.  I had started to recognize this about myself even before I read this book, and it confirmed to me that for my tendency, it's a really good thing to be setting boundaries around my time and energy (as I've been trying to do this year), so I don't go into "obliger rebellion" as Rubin calls it.

Anyway, if you struggle with setting good habits, have conflicts with those in your life about what "should" be done, or just want to understand yourself and others a little better, this book was interesting!  This is a secular book, so not everything in it is something I'd condone or agree with, but overall I thought Rubin had some interesting things to say.  I'd recommend it for personality junkies for sure.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

A Book You Should Read (And Brief Thoughts On Gender Roles In Church)




How's that for a blog post title?

A few years ago, I discovered a podcast produced by Moody Radio called Up For Debate.  It's a podcast where Christians on different sides of certain issues come together and have a "debate".  It's about as friendly as a debate show can get, and though I usually pretty strongly agree with one guest over the other, it has been helpful to me to understand different arguments on "gray areas" within Christian circles.  The host, Julie Roys, always wraps up the debates by giving her opinion, and I've come to really appreciate hearing what she has to say.

So, I found out Roys had written a book, and I decided to pick it up recently.  This is one of those reviews that is going to be hard to write, because I am just not sure I have the words.  There is just so much in this book (in a good way).

(Affiliate link below.)

In Redeeming The Feminine Soul  God's Surprising Vision For Womanhood, Roys shares her own story in discovering more about biblical femininity, and more personally, how it applies to her own life.  Her story starts out with her struggle in not really understanding or accepting her feminine nature in some ways, and how that lead her into discouragement related to her spiritual gifts and dangerous relationships.  However, God lead her to read more about the unique ways that masculinity and femininity reflect the character of God, and her perspective began to change.  She eventually got to the place where she could see the true value in the feminine that she was missing before.

On the way she tackles so many issues, like gender roles in the church, misogyny (not what you think), gender identity, feminism...like I said, there is a lot in this book.  I have a bit of commentary on gender roles in the church below, but first let me say that I thought this book was very well-done.  Roys keeps a good balance as she discusses these issues, while also not wavering on biblical truth, which is a brave thing to do in this culture.  Overall, I thought her arguments were very well thought out and presented, and she supported so much of what she said biblically and also with research.

This book was not a light skim-over of these issues, she took a surprisingly deep dive in a short amount of pages, and I left with so much to think about. For example...

My (Very) Brief Thoughts On Gender Roles In Church 

At one point in this book, Roys shares her struggles in coming to terms with biblical gender roles within the church.  She shares her story of feeling called to preaching, but not being allowed to, and the internal conflict that caused her.  Eventually she comes to a complimentarian understanding of gender roles in Scripture (meaning God created men and women to fill different roles that complement each other), and how these roles (especially in marriage) are a symbol or reflection of the relationship between God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity - particularly how the Son (Jesus) submits to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to the Son and the Father.  Our relationships as men and women, our very genders and their accompanying biblical roles, are meant to be a reflection of those relationships in the Trinity, and that is how we should be framing the whole “submission” issue. 

I am pretty familiar with all that already, but the part I found interesting and that made me think was when she also applied this understanding of being a reflection of the Trinity to gender roles within the church.  She presents the concept that men's and women’s roles within marriage and the family are meant to reflect God’s character and relationship in the Trinity, and that the church also reflects that as well by reflecting the family (this is biblically backed up by the way Paul refers to himself as a spiritual "father" of different congregations, etc.).  

Here she argues that though the main leadership biblically should be reserved for men in order to maintain that very important symbolism, women can be allowed to preach and teach as spiritual “mothers” in the church as well, while submitting to the leadership of the spiritual “fathers”, so not having ultimate authority over men in the church. This is to be done from a position of mutual love and respect between the men and women in the church, while also acknowledging and honoring their respective biblical roles.  

I never really thought about it that way before.  I’m still mulling it over, though I will say that in general I think it is fine for women to speak in church occasionally, even to the men - I grew up in a (conservative) church which occasionally heard presentations from our female missionaries when they were visiting on a Sunday morning, and women in the congregation were welcome to contribute to the church service during prayer, testimony time, etc.  There was a pretty beautiful respect of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ there, and the older I get, the more blessed I think I am to have experienced church as I did growing up.  I am supposing that this kind of thing may not be allowed in some conservative churches, but since I grew up in that kind of environment, Roys's understanding of this makes sense to me.  I agree that these occasions don’t constitute women having “authority” over the men, so they don’t contradict 2 Timothy 2.  

The one thing I don’t agree with Roys on though is when she implies that she thinks it’s fine for women to be given the title of “pastor” under a head pastor - I think the very word “pastor” conveys authority, and would seem to put men in the church under the woman’s authority, muddying the gender roles again.  This was the one sticky area in the book where I wasn't always sure where Roys was going, but like the rest of the book I thought she did a pretty good job of staying balanced and seeking truth from God's word, even if I don't 100% agree with her application.

Back To The Book

So that probably gives you an idea of what I mean when I say that each chapter was a deep-dive into these issues...I really don't know how this book is not much longer.  

She does discuss "healing ministry" in this book as well, and I felt that might need a note because I think the term is confusing - from what I gather, when she refers to healing ministry, she's not talking about something hokey but about biblical counseling ministries to help people overcome wounds from their past, whether they be emotional, sexual, etc.  I get a little leery of putting too much emphasis on psychology, but the way she described the healing ministry from which she received counseling put me more at ease, which included Bible study/prayer, and personal application and discussion/counseling within groups.  I did feel the term could get confusing though, which is why I put this little explanation of my take here.

I really appreciated the chapters on our culture's misogyny (hatred of the feminine that is often perpetuated by women today), and the chapter on motherhood was so personally encouraging to me - I know I will be going back to read that one again.  I'm not saying this book won't step on your toes in some way, because it probably will, but if you are ready to think more deeply about these issues and God's original design for us as women, this book just gave me so much to think about.  And she explains everything so much better than I am doing here, so if something I said seems confusing, I'd just say check out the book yourself and tell me what you think! I definitely recommend it.

(Also, I can count this review as part of my memory-keeping 31 Day Challenge, right?  I shared a memory from my childhood church, after all!)

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.






"Mom Day"



When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally take us kids out individually.  We usually were just doing a little shopping, running some errands - occasionally we went somewhere fun together too.  We'd get ice cream, my mom would maybe buy us a little toy.

I didn't grow up in a big family - there were only three of us kids, but I really loved those "mom days", as we called them.  Even in a family of three kids, it was rare to get time with mom all by myself.  I loved having her full attention, without any competition.


And Just Like That, She's Two



My Dear Clarice,

What a year it has been, Darling!  Your first birthday party seems so long ago, but at the same time your second birthday snuck up on me.  You have grown so much in a year!  And now you are two.  As I type that I picture how you draw out the word "two" when we ask how old you are, how your lips form this cute little "o", and you cross your eyes a little as you look at your hand to hold up three or four fingers.  

You walked shortly after your first birthday last year, but you were content for months to just say your ten favorite words, including "daddy", "mama", and "bebe" - your name for that pink bear that GG got you for your first birthday.  I should probably note here that Bebe comes everywhere with us, and you really do consider it your baby.  You tuck it under blankets for naps, you've tried to feed it a bottle, and you cradle it in your arms and rock it.  I have to wash it every other week at least, and it will probably be falling apart soon.  I have no doubt my future includes many patches of Bebe.



You also went through this funny stage where you kissed everyone with Bebe, but my favorite right now is when I am about to leave to run errands by myself, and you run up with your arms in the air, and say "hug!" and "kess!", your little lips puckering.  I bend down to kiss you, you say "mwah!" with your little arms wrapped tightly around my neck and you lift your feet off the ground.  You're so light that it doesn't even hurt having you swing from my neck for a few seconds.

You've really started talking just in the last couple months, and now that you've started you try to say everything.  You are constantly copying what everyone says, and sometimes you'll jabber sentences and crack me up.  Even though you just started talking, you can really hold your own in a conversation.  You say the cutest things sometimes, and I need to remember to write them down more in your memory book.



The other day you were not feeling particularly well.  It was cold outside, but you were determined to follow your big siblings outside to get me some wood for the fireplace.  A minute or two later you were on the porch, the last three inches of your pants soaking wet, and you were crying.

I got you dried out, but you wouldn't really stop the crying; after getting your big siblings settled back inside and cleaning up the kitchen, I checked on you, scooped you up, and climbed onto Gwen's bed to sit with you and calm you down.  Less than five minutes later the crying was reduced to a few shuddering breaths, and you were fast asleep.  You had your little arm wrapped around me, and your head resting on my shoulder.

I wasn't about to move, Baby Girl, because you were an almost-two-year-old.  I know from experience that almost-two-year-olds don't fall asleep on their mama's shoulder very often anymore.  I held you and snuggled you for a good hour and a half while your siblings played in the next room.  Taking in you little eyelashes, and your perfect pink lips, and your wild curls, and your even breathing.  And I guess I'm writing that here, because I know it might have been the last time you will fall asleep on me like that.  We have so many exciting firsts ahead, and so many lasts too that will probably slip by unnoticed.  But I'm holding on to this one, this sweet memory in my heart of my baby, snuggled up next to me and breathing against my skin.  



Now on to the glorious two's, Darling!  I can't wait to see what your third year holds.  I love you more than I could ever say.

-Mama



The Value Of Memory-Keeping





There are a lot of things about being a mom that I didn't really anticipate before going into it.  That's not to say that I didn't have a proper appreciation for the role of mother, because I think I certainly did, but I don't think I understood just how many different jobs are encompassed within mothering.  I'm not just mom, I'm teacher, dinner-maker, hairstylist, tradition-keeper, snuggle-buddy, story narrator, Christmas-cookie-baker.

And one role, which I didn't consider the complete magnitude of, is that of memory-keeper.

Now that I'm a mom, I look back and remember the different ways my own mom helped to keep our memories.  I remember looking through baby photo albums of myself and my siblings.  I remember boxes of photos that she helped us organize into our own personal scrapbooks.  I remember sitting on the couch on a snowy day and watching a VHS tape full of family movies, and laughing hysterically with my siblings at all the same parts each time.  

In ways that a lot of people may not fully understand, this blog has been a major asset in my own family memory-keeping.  Would I have really written down my thoughts through all forty weeks of all five pregnancies without this space? Would I have recorded my babies' first years in such detail?  Would I remember what Derek and I got each other for our first Christmas as newlyweds?

I've written before about the ways blogging has changed over the years, and how I wish to have back those early days of carefree ramblings...and I think part of the reason I wish blogging hasn't changed so much is because those ramblings were actually memories.  The rambling was memory-keeping.  And there is a lot of value in that, even if it's not always pinnable.

I have never participated in 31 Days Of Writing, even though the challenge has gone around the blog world for years, but for some reason this year I had a real itch to join in.  Not the most likely year for me to feel that compulsion, is it?  For all I know, I may have a baby in October.  But last night, after wondering one last time if I should try this thing out, it came to me.  This October, I am going to attempt to write every day about memory-keeping.

I can't guarantee that every day of writing will make it onto this blog, because some of it may be done in a journal (and let's be honest, I probably won't be blogging on the weekend).  I can't guarantee that the pictures that go along with these posts will always make sense. Some posts may be practically useful, but many of them will just be small, some memory that stood out, something that my kids might enjoy reading someday, record-keeping (as in the case of my pregnancy and family updates, which will continue).  All things that are important to me, that I want to remember.

Because I'm a mom, and that makes me a memory-keeper (at least in my family, because none of the men in my family seem as concerned with memory-keeping as the women - just saying it like it is).  And I have to believe there is value in it, this memory-keeping, if only to the people in my life who matter to me the most.

Keeping our memories and telling our stories matters, because not only does it leave something of ourselves, as we are right now, behind for those we love; but it matters because it's not just our own stories we're telling.  When we have something to look back on, it's easier to see how our lives, and all the little details that comprise our lives, are really part of a grander story, one that God is weaving through our individual lives.  When I look back at old posts now, I'm reminded of His goodness, of how He worked through situations that I often wished would just go away, how He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  How He is working all things out for good in my life too, even when I can't see it.

So I hope you enjoy my month-long foray into old-fashioned memory-keeping blogging, or even better, that you might indulge in a little memory-keeping yourself.  It probably means more than you think.







My Pre-Baby To Do List


Note: I received the top in these photos for free in collaboration with PinkBlush!  All opinions are my own.

Every pregnancy the last couple months are full of to-do's, and I tend to get a little...tense.  I always feel bad for my poor family, because the nesting takes over a little and I occasionally (way too frequently) break down in tears because something is not getting done when I thought it would (thanks, hormones).  This time around is no different, though I have gotten a head start on the to-do list so it feels more manageable that it has in the past!

I thought I'd share a few of the things that I've had on my to-do list for the last few weeks (so I've already crossed a couple off - hooray!).  My goal is to get all of these (except the last one) done by 37 weeks so I don't have to stress too much at the end of this pregnancy.  That gives me 3.5 weeks - I think that's doable!

Get maternity photos taken.  Check!  Last weekend we ventured out into the rain (yes, rain) with my dear friend and photographer Danae.  She thought we could still get some good pictures in between rain showers, and I was praying we wouldn't get soaked.  I think the Lord held off the rain just for us! I'm pretty excited to see the end results!

Get some new maternity wardrobe basics. Check!  Up until this fall I have been mostly wearing things I already have, non-maternity clothes with a few new maternity pieces mixed in... but I have reached the point where I definitely need maternity clothes now.  There isn't much left in my non-maternity wardrobe that looks right.





My maternity basics were especially looking a little ratty after being put through so many pregnancies over the last seven years, so I decided it was time for some new ones.  To me, maternity wardrobe basics are: a good pair of jeans, a black shirt, and a white shirt.  I can do a lot with those items by adding different accessories, layers, etc!

PinkBlush has been my go-to for cute maternity clothes this pregnancy, and the last basic item I checked off my list was this white long-sleeve dolman shirt from PinkBlush. I'll be getting a lot of use out of it for the next two months until baby arrives!  The material of this shirt is perfect, it's lightweight without being see-through (I didn't even have to wear a layering tank underneath).  I'll be able to incorporate it into a bunch of outfits with different scarves and accessories, and I love how the dolman sleeves give it a little extra style beyond just being another white shirt!




On to the rest of my list!  These are the things that I still need to accomplish.

Clean out kitchen cupboards.  Half-check.  I haven't done a thorough purge of the kitchen cupboards for at least two years...maybe even three and a half (I don't know how I'm going to stay motivated to do these types of chores when I no longer have a nesting urge every couple years to push me through it). I should add a kitchen deep clean to the rotation more often, because it's sad to see the food items we waste because they were pushed into the corner of a kitchen cupboard until we forgot about them and they expired.  I'm halfway through cleaning out the kitchen as I type this.

Deep clean the bathrooms.  To clarify, I do clean my bathrooms frequently, lest you get the wrong idea - but by deep-clean, I mean take everything out of the cabinets, wipe everything down, get rid of the half-empty toiletries we don't use, and scrub every nook and cranny.

Write labels for Christmas cards/birth announcements.  Sending out Christmas cards is very important to me, so I didn't want to let it slide just because I am having a baby right before the Christmas season.  I want to at least get the addresses written out on mailing labels, so I can just stick them to the envelope when we actually get our Christmas cards...and I'm thinking about trying to tackle creating an address spreadsheet so I don't have to keep writing out addresses every year.  We'll see what I have time for.

Finish Christmas shopping.  Half-check.  I do not want to do Christmas shopping with a new baby - the Christmas season can get stressful enough for me as it is, so I am trying to take some pressure off myself by getting ahead of the game with shopping.  We mostly got this done with our Christmas-shopping date a couple weeks ago (which you may have seen on Instagram)!  I just need to buy things for Derek and pick up a few things for our extended family.  I was hoping to have all presents bought and wrapped by now, but I can't find any Christmas wrapping paper anywhere!  Sheesh, it's almost October, people.

Pack my hospital bag.  I keep alternating between thinking that I have plenty of time to get a bag packed, and having extremely uncomfortable days when I am sure the baby is going to come early.  I should probably just get a bag going so I don't have to worry about it anymore.  I need to buy a couple more items for our hospital stay (post coming on what things I think are worth buying for a hospital bag), and then I can check this one off the list.

Finish 72 days of homeschool.  To be completely realistic, I am not sure this is going to happen.  I need to stay pregnant almost to 40 weeks without any off days to get this many days checked off before baby comes, so if it doesn't happen I'm not going to be stressed about it.  But if we can hit 72 days, we'll only have 100 days of school to do in the second half of the year, which seems like a reasonable, not-too-stressful amount to accomplish with a new baby!



There is a little part of me that likes having the due date deadline for to-do's.  I wish I was internally motivated to accomplish things, but I'm just not - I do so much better with a deadline!  Tell me I'm not the only one?
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