Monday, January 13, 2014

On awkwardness, Christmas, and nesting. With a few 'favorites'!

I hardly know how to write here anymore! Sometimes a break is good, but it also freezes up your brain and makes it hard to get back into a groove. I'll try to break the silence but it's going to be awkward. Which is probably fitting because much of life right now feels awkward.

Our Christmas was wonderful - only Maddie got the stomach bug the week before Christmas, and we were otherwise healthy as a family (this is a small miracle). We stayed close to home instead of traveling this year, which is always a mixed bag. It's definitely easier and more comfortable for me, given how pregnant I was/am. It allowed us to keep things fairly simple as far as not having to pack, worry about weather, closing up the house, etc. However, it is really sad for us not to see Rob's side of the family as often as we would like, and that's hardest around Christmastime. I spent the Advent season reading Ann Voskamp's new book "The Greatest Gift", Liz Curtis Higgs' new book "The Women of Christmas", and Barbara Hughes' "Disciplines of a Godly Woman" (until it got misplaced in the house, and I have yet to find it and finish it!). Mornings with a mug of coffee by the tree with those books is a sweet memory and made the season more meaningful to me than it has been in years. I never regret slowing my/our pace. 

And now we are in the thick of January - the kids were supposed to go back to school last Monday (Jan 6th) but we got a ton of snow and the temperatures were below zero. So school ended up being closed both Monday and Tuesday! It was a brutal way to start the second half of the year. I don't know about other moms, but I was ready for our routine to start back up, and being cooped up in the house for an extra 2 days (with it being dangerous to even leave for any reason) was making me antsy. It also complicated the fact that I had my glucose test at the OB on Tuesday morning, and I really didn't want to take all 3 kids with me but none of my sitters were available. At the last minute I found someone to watch the kids and was able to slowly make my way across town to the appointment on the icy roads. I may as well have taken a flight to Florida, it felt so good to get out (and by myself!). 

This is what it has come to, folks.

Over the course of the last week, we have been social hermits and I have been methodically cleaning the house, one room and closet at a time. It started with the playroom, just after Christmas. I pulled every single toy, box and container out, purged, and reorganized. Before everything went back in, the room got vacuumed and wiped down. Everything had a place and there were even a few empty bins! Unprecedented. Then I almost put myself into labor so I hobbled around the house and tried to rest for the remainder of the day, and ended up getting cozy with the heating pad for most of the following day.

The nursery was next. I stopped fighting the urge to fluff our nest and got to work pulling baby clothes and bottles up from the basement, sterilizing and washing EVERYTHING, and setting it all up. Which led to cleaning out the 'nursery' closet, which has up until now been known as 'Maddie's closet'. Maddie has been sleeping in Ellie's room, which was our goal all along leading up to baby #4. So I had to purge Maddie's old closet and dresser to make room for baby, and that took some finessing. We rearranged some furniture, added a few lamps and a much needed side table, and I built a few of those cube-storage bookshelf type things from Target (somebody stop me, they are so wonderful). 

Robbie's room needed some freshening as well. We built his new desk and chair from Christmas, rearranged his furniture a little bit, and put one more storage piece in his room. Aside from Legos EVERYWHERE, always (I'm trying to stop fighting it), I am so glad to have gotten this all done. 

And then the momentum could not be stopped. I was hooked on having totally clean, fresh, organized rooms. So I tackled cleaning out the cabinets in my bathroom, as well as the linen closet/medicine cabinet. I won't tell you how many things I found that had expired (long ago), or how many 2/3 empty bottles of hair products I had kept around. I will simply say that between Christmas and our cleaning/purging spree we have taken out a LOT of garbage. And donated a lot of toys and linens to Repeat Boutique! 

The kitchen and dining room were last. I actually had my (awesome) sitter help me with a total pantry overhaul because of all the lifting/bending over/physical exertion a job like that entails. By this time I've landed square in the phase of Braxton Hicks contractions many times throughout the day. But the pantry was done in a day, and the next day I purged our kitchen cabinets, rearranged everything, and made sure all the kids' dinnerware, cups and utensils were in a low cabinet so that they can be more independent in general with meal prep and helping themselves to drinks and snacks. Cleaning for the sake of cleaning isn't really my thing. But smart cleaning makes me so happy.

I have one last project that I can't quite muster up the energy to get started on... the kids' art/craft supplies. It's in 2 different cabinets, 2 different countertops, one tupperware bin in the laundry room and one pile behind the living room couch. And I have no idea how to get it all in one place, and organized. I think my brain is broken, and my body is slowing down too. Bad news for the craft supplies.

Which brings me to today. This week feels like the actual start of the new year. The kids have a full week of school, we have a new routine with our sitter and I'm hoping to hire a few more just to have on hand for pre- and post-baby needs. I'm back into room-parent responsibilities in Robbie's kindergarten class, and Bible Study starts up next week (I'm not leading our group this semester, and I'm not 100% certain that I'll even attend, but I've signed up to keep all options open). 

The awkwardness comes in here, though. My capacity physically and mentally is languishing. Badly. It's always a steep drop-off for me as I enter the third trimester of my pregnancies. I knew it was coming, I just didn't know when. I had my suspicions over the last week when I was in turbo-clean mode. The nesting and cleaning urges during pregnancy are so strong, at least for me, that they take over my focus and create an energy that I can't muster up on my own. 

I still have a few things on my to-do list in order to feel like I'm ready for the baby. And until those things are well on their way to completion, I'm finding it really hard to do other things first or form intelligent thoughts that are unrelated. I can hardly focus on resting or relaxing after 8pm if I'm anywhere other than a hot bubble bath. My social energies are being consumed by trying to intentionally teach my three kids how to be more encouraging and helpful to one another. I feel like it's my last chance to help them gain more independence that will be really helpful once my hands are (even more) full and my brain is fried from sleepless nights. During all the cleaning and purging, we potty trained Maddie. (I credit Ellie with much of the encouraging work and the bringing of toilet paper to the kids potty wherever Maddie happened to be using it at any given time! Thank goodness for older siblings.)

But I wrestle with feeling like I'm dropping off as a friend. Even as a wife. I can't drop off as a mother or it'll come back to bite me (threefold), so I invest my energies there first. Plus my 3 kiddos are still nearly totally dependent upon me for most of their needs. But it all feels out of balance, and forgiving your pregnant hormonal self for that and giving yourself grace to know that you're doing your best and trying to make good choices is a lot harder than it sounds. 

I have a lot of internal, self-growth thoughts swirling around my head but I couldn't make a coherent sentence let alone blog post about them. I have a thousand thoughts and feelings about this pregnancy and the daughter we are about to meet, but I'm conflicted about sharing them. And I have been learning so much about myself but don't have the energy to actually revisit those lessons.

So here's what I'll end with... a little list of simple things that I'm enjoying on a daily basis. These are my constants, things that are easy to share that make me feel good physically. And that's saying something. :)

Pregnancy Favorites, 2014

This face wash is the best I've found, and Mario Badescu products are found at Ulta which is not only convenient but reasonably prices (& the coupons...!). My sensitive, combination skin is easily irritated but this cleansing gel gets make up off and just feels wonderful. It's also oddly sweet if you happen to get a little on your lips. 

I gave in and got the basic model of the Clarisonic facial cleansing brush, and I'm joining the chorus that sings its praises. I feel like my face must have never gotten clean before I started using this, and I also find that I don't really need to exfoliate as much, if at all, anymore. 

This moisturizer actually moisturizes without being oily. First one I've found to actually do what it says it will. It leaves no trace but skin is hydrated. Brilliant.

This is hands down the best night cream I've ever tried. Or at least it's what is working for me right now, in combination with the above skincare products! It's light and has more of a gel-like texture than a heavy night cream, which I love. I'm amazed at how healthy and even glowing my skin is when I wake up in the morning. It smells delicious, too. At a fraction of the price of any other night cream, even drugstore brands, I'm in love.

I love sugar based body scrubs, and this brand has always been a favorite. It's all-natural and every scent/flavor is yummy. I'm using the honey almond version right now, along with the foaming body wash, and I really love the somewhat oily/waxy residue it leaves on my skin. It exfoliates but also gives you a hydrating barrier. For chronically dry skin on arms and legs, this is a plus for me (but not everyone may like this). 

For dry hands, stretching belly skin, etc... all day every day. I've been loyal to this lotion for years and I'm not stopping now.

This summer and fall my skin has been HORRIBLE. I know pregnancy hormones are mostly to blame, but I felt like the more I tried to cover up the new random patches of blemishes on my temples and T-zone, the worse it got. Nothing was working - my old cleansers, exfoliating more often, zit cream, etc. So I changed over everything I was using - I moved to all Mario Badescu facial products for cleansing and moisturizing, and got back out my stash of Bare Minerals makeup in hopes that the lack of oils and heaviness would help. And it did. Adding in the Clarisonic brush really helped too. I feel like my skin is healthier, cleaner and more balanced than ever. And I'm still pregnant! Ha. I tend to not use Bare Minerals in the winter because any dry skin becomes really apparent after the application of the powder foundation and mineral veil. But something about the new skincare regimen I've found is keeping the dry skin at bay. So, Bare Minerals it is! Again, found at Ulta and coupon-worthy. Like.

This tank top is saving my life. I probably won't use beyond the summer/fall, after my baby bump has mostly deflated, and I definitely won't use it beyond nursing... but for now? It has ample room for my very large baby belly, it doesn't creep upward, it'll serve me well after giving birth while nursing, and it's comfortable and stretchy. Thank you, Cantaloop. Best pregnancy/post-partum tank ever. Found this gem at Buy Buy Baby, which means you can use those 20% off coupons!

And these are just for fun...

A peek into the nursery: 
I love everything Aden + Anais makes. This heavier blanket will be a car seat staple.

I found this owl night light at Hobby Lobby and it's so cute when it's lit up! I hope it doesn't freak the baby out. It borders on creepy, but in the context of the nursery I think I can get away with it. Haha. (4th child = guinea pig. 'Did I scare you half to death? Do you need therapy?'... What ever happened to erring on the side of caution? I guess that's boring now.)

A fresh crib sheet and dust ruffle to make the room 'hers'.
(That's a website pic, not our actual nursery.)

And these little numbers just might be packed in the diaper bag already, ready for hospital pics!

Have a happy week. Embrace the awkward spaces in your life today, and just be you. :) 

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