It's A GIRL! 22 Weeks (Baby #5)

 



In case you missed it on Monday, now you know - Baby #5 is a GIRL!  We are excited to have another little lady in our family!

We found out on Monday the 3rd, and then spent the next day celebrating 4th Of July.  I never got to write a post about that, so I thought, "Why not include it in this update?"  Little Girl's first fourth of July in the womb, and we announced the gender with a sparkler, so it seems appropriate!



Baby's First 4th (On The Inside)

We went to a fireworks show with my family on the 3rd after we found out the gender at dinner.  I coached the kids not to say ANYTHING about the baby, and they actually did really well!  They didn't let the secret out at all before our party, and I was pretty proud of them.  It's nice to know you can count on your kids not to say something when you don't want them to.

On the actual 4th we were invited to dinner with some friends, and they bought a bunch of fireworks to do in their culdesac - it was nice, because the fire ban was on by then so we couldn't do any sparklers or fireworks at our house!  At both fireworks show and the smaller fireworks with our friends, the kids were so into it.  They cheered every firework and jumped around and were generally just really excited.  Clyde loved the "little fireworks" (sparklers).  We left for the drive home right as a lot of fireworks shows were starting, and we got to watch three different shows from the car as we drove through town, with the kids cheering in the backseat!  It was so fun.  I have my eye on a good show for next year now, since we were able to scope out four different shows this year.






The only child not as into the fireworks was Clarice - she cried when it got too loud and wanted to be held every time a firework went off.  Poor sweetie.  She is generally fearless, so it surprised me a little, but I can't lie, I didn't hate the extra snuggles!




Alright, enough about Baby Five's first 4th of July, and back to the update!

How I'm Feeling

I have been feeling pretty good for the last couple weeks, but for some reason right around when we found out the gender my back started hurting!  I have been having such an easy pregnancy as far as back pain goes so far, so I can't complain too much, but my sciatic nerve pain is getting to me.  If I sit for too long on a soft surface, it's hard to get up without my lower back hurting.  I'm not sure what shifted in the last couple weeks to cause this, but something did.  I need an adjustment.




I have also been eating too much lately, and I got on the scale the other day, which was rather alarming.  I haven't been feeling good about the way I'm gaining weight, and decided it was probably time I started to be a little more regimented about working out during pregnancy.  Derek's gym let me try them out the other day, and I had so much fun riding on the stationary bike, and I felt energized afterward, so we're going to add me to the gym and my plan is to go at least 3 times a week.  I think it will be a great stress-reliever for me and also hopefully keep the weight gain to a reasonable level!  Or as I told Derek, at least if the weight continues to come on quick, I'll at least feel healthier.



Ready For A Girl?

Then obviously the big news is finding out we are expecting a sweet baby GIRL!  I am excited to know another piece of the puzzle of who this little one will be, and I find myself trying to figure out her personality now that I know it's a she.  I think she seems like a pretty relaxed baby so far.  She doesn't kick too hard, and I feel like there are some good sleep patterns developing because she only kicks during certain times of the day.  She is also in the proper position already, head down and facing my back, which I am happy about!





Look at her cute little pixie chin!

I will say, for some reason we were not really as prepared in a practical sense for a girl.  You'd think I would have been mentally preparing for either either gender, but I actually was trying to not get set on one or the other at all, so this practical unreadiness is totally by coincidence.  We just had more stuff ready to go if it was a boy, and until this point I didn't want to make plans for a girl, lest I get attached to the idea of a girl and it wasn't a girl.  Does that make sense?  So here is the status:

-I had a whole bag of boy hand-me-downs, but I cleaned out a bunch of our girl clothes before we found out I was pregnant, so this baby definitely needs her wardrobe filled in.  

-We had a boy name ready to go (leftover from when we were expecting the other boys), but we have absolutely no girl name at all.  Not even an idea.  

-For some reason I had a vision in my head for a boy nursery, but I couldn't figure out where to take a girl's nursery!

At first I was letting all this stress me out a little bit, but then again, all this extra preparation and planning will actually be pretty fun.  I spent this last week shopping for girl nursery items, and I'm really excited about the direction it's going!  We started looking at girl names, and I am reviewing my previous baby-naming system.  And as for clothes...the budget is a little stressful, but how can shopping for baby girl clothes not be fun?

So here is to the next few weeks of fresh plans for this little girl!!  And if you think of any baby girl names that go with my other kids' names, send them my way!

Stay tuned for photos of our patriotic gender reveal party coming next week!


Dress: Would you believe I got this at Sam's Club?
Earrings: Charming Charlie



Baby #5 Is A...




I feel that I have to ramble a minute, because if I don't the answer to Baby #5's gender will just be right there in your blog reading feed - and where is the fun in that?  Just give me a minute to play "I know something you don't know" a minute longer.

It's...

a...








GIRL!!

We have officially broken our boy/girl pattern, and the girls won the tiebreaker!  

We found out last Monday!  We always have the ultrasound tech put the answer in an envelope for us to open at dinner, so after we got to see our sweet baby up close we headed to a fun themed Mexican restaurant (with caves and cliff-divers and dinner shows and everything - it's a fun place.).  


On the way over I showed the kids all the pictures of the baby's face, and they were so interested.  Clyde especially asked to see the pictures over and over again after we found out the gender, and he kept giggling and saying, "She's so cute!"  He's pretty smitten for a child that claimed to have wanted another brother - it's pretty adorable!

We took a risk and opened the envelope with the kids at dinner, and they were all excited!  It was fun to see their reactions, and I'm glad we decided to tell them before everyone else.  They did a great job of keeping the secret until our official announcement!

Now to just pick a girl name!

Sweetbriar Cottage Review



2.5/5 stars.

Whenever I see a new Denise Hunter book up for review, I have to snag it because I always enjoy how her books are quick, easy reads.  She has a way of sucking me into the story, and even when I think I can't take the drama anymore, I somehow can't help myself from turning the pages!

In this Sweetbriar Cottage, Noah and Josephine thought they got a divorce 18 months ago - only to realize that a paperwork glitch resulted in them still be married.  Through the book we find out more about how their relationship started, how it ended, and glimpses into Josephine's troubled past.

I have to say, this wasn't my favorite book by Hunter.  The main character's past was pretty dark, involving r.ape, and subsequent promiscuity, all that she hid from her husband while they were married.  I thought Hunter handled it all in a tactful way, but it was more than I was expecting and the subsequent problems in Josephine and Noah's marriage got all psychological, more so than in her other books.  Hunter also has had a tendency in all her books to focus on the physical attraction between her characters too much for me, and it seemed especially pronounced in this book - I'm assuming because of the sexual sin in the character's past, and remembrances of previous intimacy in her marriage to Noah.  Like I said, it all ended up being too much.

Also, we find out a lot about Josephine and her past, but hardly anything about Noah's.  He didn't seem to have as much of a backstory, and I wish he had.

My final complaint about this book is that the salvation message was really weak.  Josephine asked Jesus "into her heart" as a child, but obviously turned away from Him.  She has a renewal of "faith" in this book, and "the cross" is briefly mentioned, but it is never clear what she is being saved from.  She is plagued by the guilt of her past sins in this book, but her sin is never called sin (neither is Noah's, as he acknowledges his lust several times) and it's never clarified that that's why Jesus died in the first place - to cleanse us of our sin when we repent and put our trust in Him.  He didn't die for us so we could feel less guilty about our sin, He died so He could take our sins away from us and give us His righteousness.  This wasn't communicated well at all, and that troubled me.  The message seemed to be about Jesus's "unconditional love" for us, but didn't address sin and repentance really at all - and that's pretty much crucial to salvation.  So I was disappointed in that.

All that said, I did shoot through this book.  Like I said, she always keeps me turning the pages to find out what happens.  But this book wasn't my favorite.

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

My Summer Makeup Favorites





It's summertime, and for some reason in the summer I always feel the need to change up my makeup.

I'm a makeup kind of girl, and I love to try new products and colors - it's one way I express my creativity I guess, through my makeup (and my clothes), and summer always seems the perfect time to switch things up.  Maybe it's because the heavier foundations start to feel a little too heavy (and melt off in the heat).  Maybe it's because I have this weird idea that each season deserves it's own colors (in clothes and makeup).  Whatever the reason, I started off this summer with buying a few new makeup products to try...and I lucked out because all of them are working out just as I hoped they would!  

(Some affiliate links below!)

I thought it would be fun to share with you my summer makeup favorites, so here are the products I'm loving (and why).


Whether it's the summer or the winter, I've learned the hard way that your skin can still be damaged under makeup that supposedly has SPF.  This sunscreen is a staple of makeup routine, whatever the season.  I like this one in particular because it's not as oily as normal sunscreens, so it doesn't feel like I'm greasing up my face and then slathering makeup on top of it.  It really is "dry-touch".


Is it just me, or does that name make it seem like I bought this mascara at Victoria Secret?   Ignore the name, because this really is a nice mascara.  I put on my mascara before anything else.  I usually go with my Loreal Cat Eyes mascara, but I decided to try this one and I'm glad I did!  It has a super-skinny mascara brush, and a formula that doesn't go on too thick all at once, so I feel like it stretches out my lashes while still looking natural.  If I have to try a new mascara, I always look for one with a skinny brush, and I've been happy with this one!


I am not one of those people that can go without some sort of foundation or concealer - I have a bit of melasma from two pregnancies ago (that's how I learned the hard way to wear a sunscreen under my makeup, even in the winter).  However, I hate putting on a thick foundation in the summer - it just feels like summer is a good time to go more natural and let my skin breathe.  Enter this BB cream, which is amazing.  It covers surprisingly well for being so lightweight!  And the bonus is that the "fair" shade actually works for me - I have very pale skin and usually have a hard time find makeup in my shade, but this one blends with my skin tone.


I always wear a powder over my concealer or foundation or BB cream, because without it I get black mascara smudges under my eyes.  The oil in those products makes even my waterproof mascara smudge unless I dry it out with some powder.  I just tried this stuff for the first time this year, and I love it.  It not only smooths and sets my BB cream, but it does seem to act like a "corrector" too, and fades my melasma spots even more.  With the BB cream and this powder, I really feel like you can't see my skin's sun damage at all.


I also always use some sort of highlighter/shimmer powder.  It brightens up my makeup and draws attention to my eyes somehow - you wouldn't think a thing like a highlighter would make such a difference since it adds no color and is not very noticeable, but I'm telling you, it makes all the difference.  I've tried many, but this is my current favorite.



6.  Ulta Eye Shadows (Colors pictured here: Luxury, Whatevs, Roaring 20's, Frozen, Peekaboo).  

In the winter I like to play with my eyeshadow colors, but in the summer I like something more subtle and natural looking.  I'm not sure why I included Luxury (the purple shade) in the picture, because I've mostly been using the other shades in the summer.  I usually do Whatevs or Peekaboo on my lid (the yellowish neutral shade and the pinkish shade), Roaring 20's or Peekaboo in my crease (taupe shade and pink shade), and Frozen right under my brow (the white shade).

7. Tarte Blush in Warmhearted (not pictured).  

If I'm going out in the evening or just want to look a little more put-together, I'll swipe on some of this blush, which came included with a Tarte eyeshadow palette that I use in the winter.  My advice with blush is to not be afraid to go with the shades that look ridiculously bright in the packaging, because they are usually very flattering when you put them on with a light hand.  I like my bright colored blushes better than my more neutral shades, personally. 

Are you a makeup kind of girl like me?  What are your summer makeup favorites?



Jane Of Austin Review

 (Affiliate link below.)

As you probably saw on my list of books I brought on vacation, I have dipped my toes back into Jane Austen novels again this summer.  I have also read other books that I enjoyed by Hillary Manton Lodge, so when I saw that she had written a modern retelling of Sense And Sensibility, it was just meant to be!

In Jane Of Austin,  Jane and her sisters lose all their respectability when their father is accused of a financial crime - since they can no longer work in the financial world, they decide to open a tea parlor.  However, when their landlord dies they are kicked out of their tea shop's rental space, and decide to start over again in Austin.

First, I'll say that whenever I see that a novel has been published by a Christian publishing company, I expect some sort of Christian element to it, even if it's slight.  However, this book really had zero spiritual references at all, and I wouldn't consider it a Christian book.  So going forward with this review, I'm approaching it as a secular novel.



Content: The only objections I had to the content were some sexual implications.  One of the characters speculates on whether a couple of the main characters may have moved in together (they didn't). One of the characters suggestively says that Jane should "come back to his place" (she doesn't).  And there is a lot of making out.  

These things would have bothered me more if I had been thinking this was supposed to be a Christian book, but like I said, I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't.  However, considering it is coming from a Christian publisher, I think it's just a good example of why we shouldn't necessarily trust "Christian books" to never present questionable morals.

Characters:  The story is told from the perspective of the "Maryanne" and "Colonel Branden" characters in this book, which I was excited about when I began reading.  Their love story is my favorite one in Sense And Sensibility, and I was excited to see how the book would play out from this perspective.  However, I have to say, Jane ("Maryanne") just really wasn't working for me.  I liked her character well enough, but she just seemed too Type A to be really "Maryanne-ish" to me.  My picture of Maryanne is that she is this free-spirited, creative type; and while Jane was creative, she was like snooty-type-A creative.  Lodge tried to make her passionate and emotional, but I felt like those emotions didn't seem to fit as well on the character of Jane because I saw her as more logical/Type A.  It just didn't jive with my vision of who Maryanne was.  That's just my personal opinion, others will probably disagree with me here!

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the way Lodge managed to incorporate all the elements of the story of Sense And Sensibility into this book!  She did a really good job, and I found myself remembering different parts of the original story as I read.

I thought the tea shop aspect of it was particularly fun, and Lodge includes a lot of recipes for some of the foods mentioned in the book.  She did this in her other books too, and just from the writing it is obvious the author knows what she is talking about culinarily.  I just loved the extra coziness all the recipes add to Lodge's novels, and her food descriptions made me hungry.

If you'd like to read a Jane Austen retelling, this one was a fun, clean one, and I'd recommend it overall!

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

All The "Summer" Fun





Somehow June is almost over, and it still doesn't quite feel like summer around here.  The weather has been so weird.  It's barely rained at all, so everything is looking dry and brown - but it hasn't been the typical summer-warm either.  It's like the rain is just hovering in the air, but can't get it together enough to actually do something.  I bought a kiddie pool for the kids, but it hasn't felt consistently hot enough to break it out yet.

The point is, June went by in a flurry and I still feel like I'm waiting for summer to really get started.  We did do some fun things though.

My Birthday

Those of you who follow me on Instagram probably saw my birthday celebration day posts, so this may not be news.  Derek took us all on a hike/picnic, and then we dropped the kids off with my mom so Derek and I could go to a movie.  I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if I wanted to waste my birthday date on a movie, because I haven't seen one I really liked in about two years.  Everything (that's not based on a true story) is either too depressing, too politically motivated, or the character and plot development is seriously lacking.  Hollywood needs to get it's act together.  

But we saw Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and aside from a few crude jokes, Derek and I really liked it!  It is rare to see a movie we actually enjoyed these days, and I was so happy it happened on my birthday date.

On my actual birthday, Derek brought home cheesecake, the whole family lit candles and sang me "Happy Birthday", and then I got my present - a Kindle Paperwhite!  I was very excited about this, because it's nearly impossible to read a Kindle book on my iPad out in the sun.  Now I can read ebooks while the kids play in the kiddie pool (if the weather ever heats up enough to use the kiddie pool)!

Father's Day

For Father's Day we went to church, and then came home and had a campfire.  I bought Derek a couple books and a new game called Ticket To Ride.  We played it with our friends the other day, and it's a really fun one!  I lost, because I didn't have the strategy part down yet, but I have high hopes for next time.













Parks And Books

Aside from that, we've had a lot of park days with friends this month, to the point where I have given up getting a five-day week in with our summer homeschooling schedule.  If we can get 2-3 days in per week I'm pretty happy, and we'll pick up the pace in the fall.  I wanted to try to get ahead before the baby comes, but on the other hand, it is summer, and I think we should enjoy the weather and everyone's scheduling freedom while we can.

I've also been trying to catch up on some reading in June, and I'm currently on a Jane Austen spinoff kick.  I started Persuasion and I am really enjoying it, and I've read Jane Of Austin, and Austenland.  Full reviews on Goodreads, but it's been fun so far!  I'm feeling the itch to switch genres again though, and I think I'm going to read a middle-grade novel next, in between all the non-fiction books I have to finish.


That's all that's new around here, until Monday when we find out baby's gender!  Then I'll have to get busy putting together our gender reveal party plans (we have a fire ban on now, which may mess up our party a bit...I'm hoping it'll rain so they'll lift it again).  If you haven't filled out this form with your guess yet, please do, because someone who guesses right will win a little prize from me!

Now to just get the next four days to go by faster...

The Separatists Review (Not Recommended)



I finished this book in one afternoon, not because I was enjoying it, but because I knew if I put it down I would probably not want to pick it up again.

The plot line of this book was interesting enough, and I thought the political thriller aspect of it was written well enough.  Erica is a news anchor, who investigates separatist movements around the country for a news special.  Little does she know that one of them is gaining a lot of political traction and is a much bigger threat than it initially seems.

Like I said, the political thriller part of the plot was interesting enough, but a few things ruined this book for me.

Unnecessary Political Jabs

Within the first couple chapters there are disparaging remarks about at least three different political opinions, all of which are held by the "right-wing".  Erica is the "good" guy in the story, and her political opinions are no secret in this book as she expresses her more liberal viewpoints.  The "bad guys" in the book come from the Republican Party or "right-wing".  

I thought this was poorly done.  I've read Wiehl's novels in the past, and they never got politically partisan in this way.  This novel could have been written without all the political statements, and it would have been much better.

The Fact That It Was Published By A Christian Publisher

There was absolutely no faith element to this story at all, which surprises me since it's coming from Thomas Nelson.  In addition there was some content I was surprised at in a book coming from a Christian publisher, such as minor cuss words, infidelity presented as no big deal, talk of women faking orga.sms, references to po.rno.graphic TV shows, etc.  I was actually really disappointed that Thomas Nelson published this, and I don't appreciate the trend of publishing secular books under a Christian publishing company.  

The Main Character

I just really disliked the main character.  She drove me nuts to be honest.  Half the book was about the political plot, but the other half was about Erica's personal problems, and I honestly just wanted to slap her.  She was so self-centered and narcissistic.  She was stuck up, expressing disdain for small towns and the people in them.  She didn't seem to think much of her husband and his career, and was so insensitive about the fact that she was in a better position in her career than he was.  She seemed cold-hearted, snapping pictures of a corpse she found in a bathroom so she could investigate for her story.  She was an awful mother, thinking her daughter was out to get her or ruin her career.  She obliviously thinks her daughter is jealous of her, when anyone could see that her daughter just wants her mom to be with her more.  She even tells her daughter in the end that she will never be the mother her daughter wants her to be because she gets annoyed at the demands of motherhood and loves her career (nice, huh?).  She was hypocritical, despising the villain's ambition and quest for power when she herself seems willing to sacrifice all the things in her life that really matter on the altar of her own ambition. 

Bottom line, she was stuck in her own little narcissistic bubble, and really had no redemption or epiphany at the end.  I might have liked the book better if the main character had been even a little likable to me, but she just wasn't.

I thought it was unfortunate to publish this particular book at a time when the media's approval ratings are at such a low in the country.  People don't trust the media these days, and this character certainly didn't do anything to counter that trend.


I definitely cannot recommend this book, and I'll also be hesitant to pick up another book by Lis Wiehl after the unnecessary partisan spin this book presented.  I was disappointed in it.

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


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