Uncharted Territory - 40 Weeks (Baby #4)

We are in uncharted territory this week!  I have never even made it to 39 weeks with any of the other kids, much less gone overdue!

I am feeling good - baby dropped a few weeks ago, and now that she is not up in my ribs all the time I am pretty comfortable.  No false labor.  I had cramps for a couple days between 38-39 weeks, but nothing for the last week.  Occasional Braxton Hicks, but barely worth mentioning.  Baby seems to be very happy staying in there as long as she can get away with.

She scared me by barely moving one day a couple weeks ago, so I went in for a non-stress test and biological profile.  They estimated her to be about 7 lbs, 6 oz.  I'm curious to see how big she really is when she comes!  I do know that she is big enough that her sudden movements are actually painful, which only happened rarely, if ever, in previous pregnancies.  There is just not much room left in there!

Sacred Marriage (A Review)

Some Christian books are classics - books that are helpful to any generation in pointing them to Christ.  I had heard of Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas before, and it has been on my to-read list for years - it is one of those books that seemed to fall in the Christian "classic" category.  I was surprised to see it come up for review, and more surprised to learn that it really isn't even that old of a book!

It has been 15 years since Sacred Marriage was first published, and I received the new edition that was published this year.  The book starts out lamenting the fact that a lot of the traditional spiritual disciplines that have been encouraged through the centuries are more suited to people who do not have family responsibilities - things like extended periods of prayer, meditation, and Bible study that are not really possible when you are working to support a family or have children to care for.  I never really thought about it that way, but I realized that he has a point.

We All Need A Do-Over Sometimes (And A Book For You To Read)

There was a time, back when I had one young, easygoing child, when I used to look at other moms who were having a rough day, and I'm going to admit it right now - I was judgy.  Someone would complain about something their kids did, or I'd see a mom being snippy to her kids in the grocery store, and I'd wonder what her problem was.  Didn't she see what a blessing motherhood was?  Of course I would never act that way.  I would always treat every minute with my babies as a gift.

Then right about the time my angel child turned two, we added a second baby to the mix, and I started being a little more understanding.

Then the Lord laughed and gave me another baby 16 months later, and now I totally get it (classic case of a "haughty spirit before a fall" - Proverbs 16:18, which I memorized when I was a child, so you think I would know better).  Some days don't go as planned, children don't listen, the exhaustion catches up to you, and you act in ways that you will probably regret after the kids go to bed. 

If you haven't had one of those rough motherhood moments, you probably just haven't been a mother long enough.

Every mom needs a do-over sometimes.

A blog friend, Lisa Pennington who I met last year in Nashville, has written a book titled Mama Needs A Do-Over that addresses those rough mom days and what to do about them.  The subtitle is "Simple Steps To Turning A Hard Day Around", and I feel like that subtitle almost doesn't do the book justice, because really this book is about not just what to do in the midst of a hard day, but how to minimize those hard days to begin with.

When I started this book, I was expecting a bunch of practical ideas to do in the midst of a hard day to cheer things up - and Lisa does include lots of fun ideas in the second half of the book.  But I was pleasantly surprised at the first half of the book, which is mostly focused on how to get to know your own personality better so you can see ways that you can prevent those hard days from happening as often or as severely.  Lisa encourages moms to use their talents and gifts to find creative solutions to mothering problems, and to prepare a plan in advance on how to handle those difficult days.

I feel like this book really lets you get to know Lisa, and she is quirky and fun!  She includes stories from her own family, so many of which made me laugh.  She knows what she is writing about as a homeschooling mom of nine kids (yes, nine), and I thought she sprinkled her lessons throughout this book in a really fun way.  I love how she uses the book to point readers back to their own God-given gifts and prayer to handle those hard moments with grace, and it left me brainstorming on ways that I can handle frustrating moments in my own unique way that will build my children and husband up instead of adding to the chaos.

Mama Needs A Do-Over was especially timely for me.  This pregnancy has messed with my emotions more than I expected, and I find myself crying over silly things or losing my temper more often than I'd like.  This builds on the last two years of learning that I do not have it all together as a mom - which was a hard realization because of those first couple years of motherhood when I thought I did have it together.  I don't handle every situation properly, I have much less patience than I thought I did, and I make plenty of mothering mistakes.  

It has been humbling, and more than anything, it has made me realize that I need God's help to be a good mom.  I need His help to remember to be grateful.  If I rely only on my own resources and willpower, it is only a matter of time before something breaks me down.  I shouldn't count on my own flawed abilities to begin with when I can look to the only One who is perfect for help.

I've also learned to give other moms grace, even when they don't handle something quite right - because I don't know what she's going through, and I have my own list of difficulties that I don't always handle gracefully!  For pity's sake, let's not judge other mom's struggles when hers look nothing like our own.  God gives His children grace when we fail, and I've learned I need to do the same for other moms, and myself.  We're all works in progress, and Lisa's book was such an encouragement to me to know I am not alone.  

So if your child is screaming in the grocery store, and you get that look on your face?  Don't worry, I get it now, and I'll just nod as I pass by and say a little prayer for you.

What is your best tip for handling mothering frustrations with grace?

Note: I received a copy of Mama Needs A Do-Over for free from Lisa's publisher, and I have met the author personally.  This is my honest opinion.

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love

A couple weeks ago we had our maternity photo session for Baby #4! I am very pleased with the way they turned out.  My dear friend is a photographer, and graciously agreed to take photos for us, and as always she did a fantastic job!

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

At this point, we have had a lot of maternity shoots (and family photos in general), so I wanted to take this post not only to share our photos with you all, but to share some tips on how you can help ensure that you will love your maternity photos.

Do your research.  

I think this is the most important thing to do if you want to end up with maternity photos that you will really like.  Search Pinterest, find the photos that jump out at you, and ask yourself the following questions:

-What do you specifically like about these photos?
-What colors/lighting trends do you see in the photos you like?
-What kinds of settings are the photos taken in?
-What are the people wearing in these photos?
-Are there any poses you especially like?

Hopefully as you gather ideas and ask yourself these questions, a common thread will appear.  Then your next step is to find a photographer with a similar aesthetic.

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

Find a photographer with a similar style.  

This step was pretty easy for me, because my friend is a photographer who has a style that I love!  But for one of our maternity sessions I had to find a different photographer because Danae just had her own sweet baby, so I have some experience with the search too.  To find our photographer, I googled "maternity photographer" in my area, and as I searched through the results I was looking for a few specific things:

-How many images you will get from your session, and do you get printing rights?
-Does this photographers style match the style of photos that I like?

For me, it was important that I get a set of images in digital format that I would have a right to reprint and share online (not all photographers offer this), and it was important that the photographer's other work appealed to me and was similar to what I had in mind. Pay attention to the details when picking your photographer!

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

Pick your clothes carefully.  

The first few times we took family photos (especially maternity photos), I was more concerned that whatever clothes I wore made me look as slender as possible.  I didn't pay much attention to pattern or colors, aside from making sure we weren't clashing.  But as I did a bit more research, I realized that in a lot of ways, the outfits make the photo.  Choose your outfits carefully!  

-Choose a color scheme.  Pay attention to your inspiration photos and figure out if you like bright or subdued colors, and dark or light colors.  For me, I figured out that I like our photos best if at least one of us is wearing a lighter color.  Then I love to incorporate blue, aqua, or mint to add some color!

-Mix patterns and solids.  Patterns can add interest to your photos.  If you mix together more than one pattern, just make sure they are dissimilar - like the stripes with the geometric pattern in our photos.

-Reflect your normal style.  There is no reason to completely change what you would normally wear, just for photos.  Try to find items that will photograph well and are still things that you would actually wear!

-Don't be afraid to wear something more flowy for maternity photos.  It took me a while to figure this out, but your clothes for a maternity photo don't have to naturally accentuate your bump all by themselves, because often your photographer will have you put your hands on your belly.  So you can hold the fabric under your tummy to define your bump.  This opens up a lot more clothing options!

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

Loosen up.  

It can be hard to be yourself with a photographer that you may have never met before. Thankfully you are usually taking pictures with family members, so interact with them like you normally would.  Smile, tell inside jokes, laugh, poke their stomach - whatever, just try to keep everyone loose and have fun with it! This is easy for me, because Derek and I (especially Derek) are naturally hams, but even if that's not you, do your best.  Your pictures turn out better when there are some natural, candid smiles in there (this is coming straight from my dear photographer's mouth).  Your photographer will have more fun with your session too, which is great for building a relationship if you continue with the same photographer after your baby comes.

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

Choose to love your photos.  

I think so often women struggle with negative internal talk about how they look in photos, and it can especially happen when someone is not entirely comfortable with their pregnant body.  I'm not saying there are not truly bad pictures that should be trashed (like those ones at Thanksgiving that catch you mid-bite), but most photos, especially ones taken by a professional photographer, are not going to fall into that category.  This is how you looked when you were carrying a precious new life - this is you and your baby in this moment.  Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and it's not something that can ever be repeated.  Quiet that negative self-talk, recognize the beauty of this stage in your life that you have captured in these photos, and love them for that.

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

What did I miss, guys?  
What are your best maternity (or family) photo session tips?  

5 Tips To Get Maternity Photos You Will Love | Through Clouded Glass

The Road To Becoming (A Review)

I feel like I am not up on Christian pop culture.

This doesn't really bother me, most of the time, and I think it can actually be an advantage when it comes to reviewing current Christian books.  My mind is not already made up about the author, and my opinion is not biased by previous fandom.

I recently read The Road To Becoming by Jenny Simmons, who was a member of the band Addison Road.  I had heard of Addison Road before, but I can't tell you any of their songs (though I imagine I have heard some on the radio).  I just picked up the book because the back cover description sounded interesting.

Girl Meets Change (A Review)

Change can be hard.

I think generally speaking, I handle change pretty well.  But just when I start to get a little over-confident in my change-handling abilities, I remember those times when I didn't handle change so well (like when Derek was traveling so much with his last job).

Change can scare us because it shows us that we are not as in control of our lives as we thought we were.

I just finished reading Girl Meets Change, by Kristen Strong.  Strong is a military wife, so she has had to deal with change more than most.  Throughout this book, Strong talks about all the ways change can throw us for a loop, and how to handle it all gracefully.

Full Term! 38 Weeks (Baby #4)

This might be my last pregnancy update (fingers crossed)! I am 38 weeks pregnant, and I have never made it past 39 weeks, so the next baby update could be a birth announcement!

The week before last week was the most uncomfortable week that I have ever spent pregnant.  Maybe it is because this is my fourth baby, but my body is taking this pregnancy a lot harder than my last three.  

The good news is that Baby has dropped!  She was so high for a while there that it hurt to bend over at all, but I am finally able to tie my own shoes again with only reasonable effort.  I think this may be part of why this pregnancy has been harder - my other three all started out low.  Since she dropped last week, I have been feeling a lot more comfortable and energetic.

Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses

Printable Bible Verse Cards | Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses | Need some encouragement to memorize more Bible verses?  This site has encouragement plus PRINTABLE BIBLE VERSE CARDS to get you started!

I remember the first time we pulled up to the church that looked like something out of a storybook.  Painted white with green trim, steeple with a bell, a merry-go-'round and swing set out back.  I stepped out of the car somewhat nervously, trailed behind my family on the way in the door, and sat next to my sister as I smoothed out my yellow floral Easter dress.

Hot Mama (A Review)

I was pretty excited when I saw "Hot Mama: 12 Secrets To A Sizzling Marriage" was up for review!  This book is written by Kathi Lipp and Erin Macpherson - I have read books or pieces from both authors and enjoyed them, so I was interested to see how they addressed the issue of having a good sex life as a mom.

First off, I think this book is helpful not just for current "hot mamas", but for any married lady who wants to improve her sex life, whether she has kids already or not.  A lot of the chapters and advice could be applied to more general married life situations, not just the "married with kids" category.

Making It Home (A Review)

I'm not sure I've ever read a true memoir before, and when I picked up "Making It Home" by Emily T. Wierenga, I wasn't really aware that it was a memoir.  I don't feel like the description on the back made it quite clear, but I dove into it and was immediately struck by the beauty of Wierenga's writing. I could tell pretty quick that it was going to be good.

Wierenga shares bits and pieces of her life story through this book, including her struggles in her relationship with her dad, an eating disorder, and the stories of two babies that she lost. I am always amazed when someone can take all these pieces of their life and weave them together, thread by thread, into this cohesive book, and that's exactly what Wierenga does.  I didn't really know anything about her before reading this book, but she makes her story interesting and compelling and relevant.

Caramel Apple Pie Fudge Recipe (And Other Fall Fun)

Try this decadent fudge recipe! Caramel Apple Pie Fudge | Through Clouded Glass

Fall is upon us, my friends!  For our little family, that means squeezing in as much fun as we can in these last couple weeks before we add another little one to our family!  And what is more fun for the fall than eating lots of autumn-flavored goodies?

Today I have for you one fall fudge recipe, one fall children's book, and two giveaways!  Throw in some candles and cool weather, and you have a perfect early fall afternoon!

Five Uncommon Weekend Family Activity Ideas

Labor Day is coming right up, and we all know what that means - a three-day weekend!  Where I live, it also means lots of traffic as people travel for camping, parades, and other events.

Out of curiosity I looked up the history of Labor Day, because if I'm benefitting from the holiday it seems that I should know a little bit about it.  It turns out that Labor Day originated in the 1800's, when people often worked 12-hour days, seven days a week.  We don't have that some problem anymore, but it's still nice to have an extra day off to spend time with our families.

If you are like me, you are not crazy about the idea of braving the traffic and crowds to do some of the traditional long-weekend activities - so why not do something different instead?  Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your family this weekend!

36 Weeks - We Are Having A Baby This Month!

You know what I find annoying?  The way they, whoever "they" are, decided to move back the marker for reaching "term" in a pregnancy.  It used to be 36 weeks back when I was pregnant with Wyatt, and 37 weeks was full term.  Now I think 37 weeks is term, and 38 weeks is full term?  I don't know, I just know I have reached 36 weeks, which would mean I have reached term if this were four years ago!

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