Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Monday, February 25, 2013

Week 23: The SNOWED IN Week -- 2.17 - 2.23

Baby, its cold outside!  What a week we have had in KC!  I think we measured 11 inches of snow in our yard!  CRAZY!  We are expecting another 8- 12 in the next couple of days!  I'm not sure how much I like being pregnant during the winter months!  I'd much rather be outside enjoying the sun and moving around.  Maybe it would be different if I didn't have a toddler or if I could go to the gym?  However, we have had some fun with the snow and I can't wait for my 6+ month old baby girl to enjoy it next year!  Eli really liked the snow when he was a baby so I hope she is the same way!

What we've been up to on our "snow days": watching it fall from our window, building forts out of couch cushions, building a snowman, and shoveling!!

Other than the snow, there has been nothing too exciting around the Stephens' house lately.  Mike is bogged down with work, as usual, and I am looking forward to the "end of February" as he has promised for months and months that his work load would be lighter starting in March!  I hope so because we have so much to do to get ready for baby girl and I just plain miss him!

Baby Milestones this Week: Her little face is fully formed...minus the baby fat, of course. The next task at hand for Baby Girl: sprouting two teeny-tiny nipples!  

Best Moment of the Week: Mike felt baby girl kick!  Yay!  She is a strong girl!

Obsessions this Week: Sweets again!  I am really not looking forward to hopping on the scale at our March 8th appointment. :/

Symptoms this Week:  Funny because this is exactly what I am experiencing this week and below is what I wrote last time at 23 weeks:

Sacrum pain!  I had some pretty horrible pains near my tailbone on the right side.  At times, I could barely sit down or get up (stabbing - type pains).  

Unfortunately, my OB doesn't want me to see a Chiropractor which helped so so much last time.  She said if the pain gets bad to have Mike give it a rub each night and apply heat.  If it gets too bad, she'll set me up with a physical therapist.  

My nose is getting so bad that I am waking up with blood running out of it.  Yuk!

Epiphany this Week:  Baby girl is so blessed to be part of a long line of generous, kind, caring and loving mothers:

Picture will make sense if you read the post linked below.  :)

When Mike read the letter, he cried.  He said it was beautiful and that he was excited to tell our daughter about how wonderful his mother and grandmother are too!  Baby girl is so lucky to have 3 wonderful grandmothers who already love her so much and are such amazing role models!

What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Reaching VIABILITY!!!  I have waited a loooooooooooooooooooong time for March 3rd!  And, it is almost here!  As for an SCH update -- nothing new to tell.  NO bleeding for over 3 weeks!  Yay!

What is different this time around?  The weather.  Last time I was just getting out of school, hitting my parents pool at least twice a week which was glorious for my growing belly!  Now, its snowy and slushy and cold and I'm stuck inside!  Come soon spring!!!

To do list:

*Decide on a name
nursery furniture
double stroller
nursing tanks
pacifiers, diapers, etc
*Decorate the nursery
*Finish basement remodel
*Sew a new cover for the glider and ottoman
*Mike wants to paint the house!

I know there are other things but this is what is on my mind right now.

Week 23 Belly Pics:

With Eli May 2011
We are so thankful for our friends and family and for you!  Continue to pray for us!



Saturday, February 23, 2013

This one is for you, baby girl.

First, I love you.  I've loved you since the moment I found out I was pregnant with you and I will love you until my last breath.
Baby girl, I can't wait to meet you.  I feel your little kicks so often and each time I smile.  You have already proven to me that you are a strong girl.  It doesn't surprise me though because you come from a long line of amazing women and mothers.  And, this fact is actually what prompted me to write to you today:  We've been snowed in the last few days and in my boredom I decided to bake a blueberry pie.  I pulled out my grandmother's Betty Crocker Cook Book to look up the recipe.  Before I turned to the page with the recipe for blueberry pie, I read the letter that my grandmother wrote me before she gave it to me.  It was so genuine and sweet and so her -- I could almost hear saying the words as I read them -- and, baby girl, it made me sob.  I miss my grandma so much.  You see, your great-grandmother was truly one of my best friends.  More about her later.  For now, just know it was her letter to me that made me decide to write this letter to you.

Your great, great, great grandmother is as far back as I have knowledge of the line of amazing women and mother's I was telling you about.  Her name was Emma Willems.  I never had the privilege of meeting her as she died many years before I was born.  What I can tell you is that she made some pretty amazing sacrifices for her family.  She was born in Belgium and that is where she married and began her family.  Times were tough in Europe and in 1909 she and her husband decided to travel to America to make a better life for themselves and their children and their children's children.  She left behind her family (including her own mother that she would never see again) as well as a country, a people and a language-- all of which were the only ones she had ever known and loved -- so that we would have opportunities.  That took some courage, some faith and an incredible amount of love for her children.  Eventually, she and her husband rented land in Geneseo, IL and farmed it.  She went on to have 15 children -- 12 of which survived.  Baby girl, you are one of the many descendants to be blessed by her sacrifices.

I was fortunate to spend the first 18 years of my life with her daughter -- your great, great grandmother -- Elizabeth Ockee.  Oh how I loved my dear, sweet great grandma Ockee.  She was so special to me.  She was the kindest, sweetest little old lady anyone ever met.  She kissed and blessed everyone she came into contact with.  I don't think I ever saw her angry.  She literally embodied the bible verse Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud... During my childhood  we actually lived with her for nearly two years while my parents were building our home.  She gave up her bedroom to allow my parents to have a place to sleep.  Generosity didn't just come easy to her, it was part of her.  She didn't think twice about helping a family member,  friend, neighbor or perfect stranger if they were in need.  I'm so glad I got to witness such amazing love. When I turned 16, I would drive to her house once or twice a week and we would just sit and chat.  As I look back, these are some of the fondest memories I have.  Baby girl, she would have loved you and you would have loved her too.

Now, I get to tell you about her daughter and my grandma, Pauline Bennett -- the one I was telling you about earlier who gave me the cook book and letter that prompted this letter to you.  I haven't even started typing her description and I am already in tears.  Baby girl, how I wish she was alive so you could meet her.  She was the BEST grandma.  And, that is probably because she was more than a grandma, she was a friend.  When I was little she and my grandfather lived in a place they called "Chicago Land" and I always loved visiting them because it was so much FUN!  She sang, read, played and took my sister and I to neat places.  It was always an adventure with her.  Eventually, they moved closer to us and as I grew up my grandma and I became the best of friends.  We talked on the phone daily and I visited her (my grandfather passed away shortly after they moved) at least once a week.  She told me stories of my childhood, accepted and loved all my friends, and gave some really great advice.  When I went to college she would write me several times a month and we stayed in touch over the phone.  She always kept me up to date on what was going on with our family and it was so evident how much she loved and how proud she was of all of her children and grandchildren.  They were her everything.  Towards the end of her life, she was in a lot of pain.  Yet, she never complained to me about her hurting back or troubles breathing.  She was so strong and cared for others more than herself.  She had been widowed for nearly 15 years and was 77 when she died, yet at her visitation for 3 hours she had lines and lines of people waiting to pay their respects.  This was because she knew what it meant to be a good friend and an excellent mother and grandmother.

My grandma's daughter is your grandma and my mom!  Her name is Rhonda Angell.  In a few years I won't have to convince you of just how amazing she is!  You will have had the opportunity to experience it for yourself first hand!  Baby girl, you are in for one sweet ride!  She is the epitome of all of the women I've described so far -- she got the best traits of each!  One thing that is unique about your grandma is her humor!  She is always kidding around and telling jokes!  She is also very smart; she was a teacher for 33 years.  Growing up I was so proud to tell my friends that my mom was a teacher!  She cared for her students so much and gave them her best each day she was in the classroom.  She was no different as a mom.  She worked, cooked, cleaned, got us ready for school and spent time with us each night.  Almost always by herself as your grandfather worked 2nd shift while we were growing up.  She worked summer school so that we could be involved in sports and activities.  She made dinner each night and we always ate together.  She took my sister and I to church by herself so that we would grow up knowing the love of God.  She allowed many relatives to stay in our home on and off my entire childhood and even when I went off to college.  Her generosity and willingness to help others is pretty remarkable.  I believe it is her calling.  She is truly service oriented -- exactly what God wants us to be.  Baby girl, even just a couple of months ago when we thought we were losing you, she served us -- me and you, that is.  She knew how much we already loved you and she already loved you too.  She came over each day and took care of me and your older brother so that I could rest and continue to grow you in my womb!  What an amazing gift she gave us!  I can't wait for you to meet her, sweet baby girl.  You are going to love your grandma!

You guessed it baby girl, next on this list is me -- your mama!  I am not going to tell you how great of a mother I am because that is something for you to experience and decide.  And, I know sometimes you will not feel like nominating me for the "Mother of the Year" award.  But, what I can tell you is this:

I have dreamed of you since I was a little girl myself.  I've dreamed of holding you in my arms and kissing your face.  I've dreamed of rocking you to sleep.  I've dreamed of combing your hair and dressing your up.  I've dreamed of tea parties and barbies and American Girl dolls.  I've dreamed of bedtime prayers, Sunday school plays and the moment you ask Jesus to be your Savior.  I've dreamed of boyfriends and heart breaks.  I've dreamed of mommy-daughter dates.  I've dreamed of sending you to college and watching you become an independent, intelligent women with her own ideas of how to better the world.  I've dreamed watching you fall in love and  being by your side as your try on wedding dresses.  I've dreamed that you will be happy and successful in all that you pursue.  And, I've dreamed that when you are all grown up you will make frequent visits home to see your mom and dad because you know it makes us happy.  However amazing these may sound to me, they are my dreams and I know the moment you are born -- they will mean nothing because all that will matter to me is fulfilling your dreams.  And, baby girl, I can't wait to watch your dreams come true!

Because, you are my dream come true.

Baby girl, you are next on the list.  Your whole life is in front of you -- literally.  But, I wanted you to see how incredible the women in your family are.  They are courageous, kind, generous, and loving -- this is the blood you have running through your veins.  I have no doubt that you too will inherit these wonderful character traits and even add some of your own to the list.    I can't wait to watch you grow and mature into the woman God planned for you to be.  You have some amazing role models who love you so much and plenty of guardian angels to help you along the way.

Now, baby girl, I've written a lot about mothers and the saying is true that nothing compares to a mother's love.  However, even a mother's love will sometimes fail you.  And that is why it is important for me to tell you about your Father.   Heavenly Father, that is.  His love will NEVER fail you.  His love will carry you through the toughest times in your life.  In fact, He loved you so much that He sent His only Son to this earth to die for your sins.  So that you might never die but have EVERLASTING life!  I will tell you much more about how amazing He is as you grow up but for now just know that His love is unconditional -- which means no matter what, He is going to love you!!!

Okay, baby girl, we've got four more months until we officially meet.  I want you to know that even though I can't wait to see you and hold you in my arms,  for now I want you to stay put! :)  Your dad and I pray for you each night and love you more than we could have ever imagined.  You are the piece of our family that will make us complete.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Cost of an ER Visit...

I think we have finally got all of our bills in the mail for the trip we took to the ER on 12/26/2012.  With each bill I am reminded of the terrible feeling Mike and I had thinking that we had lost our baby at 14.5 weeks.  Thank God this was not the case.

In case you didn't know, the day after Christmas I woke up at 4 am to a watery gush of blood.  Mike and I, not really even knowing there could be another explanation, headed to the ER thinking most definitely that I was miscarrying. (I am now 22.5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl!)

I can vividly remember the visit as it was somewhat a traumatic experience for me.  Here were the services provided:

*I was asked by my nurse a series of questions about my health, etc. (10 mins)

*I was given an IV -- side note -- my nurse totally botched it; I had tons of blood running down my arm filling up a towel beneath.  He said, "Whoops, didn't mean to do that!" I was thinking, seriously, haven't I lost enough blood today? (5 mins)

*Several vials of blood were tested for blood type, rx factor, etc. (2 mins)

*Doppler was used to check for baby's heart beat -- side note -- same nurse could NOT find a heartbeat and continued to explain that sometimes women just have their period when they are pregnant!  Seriously?!  I'm not a nurse and even I know that CAN'T be true! (5 mins)

*Received an ultrasound from the radiology technician who said that baby in fact DID have a heartbeat was moving around but could answer no other questions. (10 mins)

*Saw the ER doctor who administered an internal pelvic exam and told me that my cervix was closed which  was a good thing.  But continued to state that I had a 50% chance of miscarrying and to "take it easy" and not put anything in my vagina until I see my OB who would give me further instructions. (5 mins)

*Insurance guy came in to ask some final questions about our policy, address, etc. (5 mins)

***Between all of these we waited for probably an hour total.  So our total time in the ER (including waiting) was approximately 1 hr and 37 minutes.  Note that we only saw a doctor for 5 minutes of that.

And our grand total cost (before insurance) was $2,686.00.  

Thankfully, we have decent insurance and only had to pay $335.00 of that.

So, our insurance paid over $2,300.00 for our 1.5 hour long visit to the Emergency Room.

I have no real reason for posting this.  I am not complaining and am very grateful for the entire medical world -- especially, hospitals, doctors and nurses.  I was just caught by surprise by how much a quick visit to the ER could cost.  And, don't get me wrong -- I know there were other things being done which cost $$ but didn't necessarily pertain directly to me during my visit like the Radiologist reading my u/s (which we never saw the results for, but still) and the cost of medical supplies and equipment used, etc.

As I reflect, paying these bills makes me so thankful for Mike's daily hard work to provide for Eli and I (and baby on the way) and his company, which provides our family with health insurance.  I can't even imagine what it would be like to have to visit the ER without insurance and my heart goes out to the uninsured.  To unexpectedly swallow nearly three thousand dollars in not even two hours would have been a blow our bank account.

I am also thankful -- no matter what the cost -- for hospitals, doctors, nurses and medical technology.

Most of all, I am thankful for God who is the supplier of everything good.  He has been there for us through this entire experience and I know will continue to be!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 22: The UNDER THE WEATHER Week -- 2.20 - 2.16

I'd much prefer to label this week as the "enjoying the weather" week but, unfortunately for me (and most people living in the Midwest in February) I can not say I'm truly enjoying the weather quite yet.  However, I am under it -- meaning I don't feel well!  I'm not bed ridden sick; I just have a lousy cold that I can't seem to kick just yet.  My symptoms are worse in the morning and at night.  During the middle of the day I seem to feel somewhat better -- which I am thankful for -- but then night time rolls around and I am plagued with a runny nose, mucous-filled throat, popping ears and a dry cough.  I wake up with the same symptoms and an achy body.  I know it is just a cold but I am so ready for it to be over with!

Towards the end of the week I finally bought some refills for my netty pot and I am SO grateful because using it before I go to bed and when I wake up has provided me with some major relief.  I also try to boil some water each night to inhale and then use it to make a tea with lemon and honey.  My doctor told me to put Vaseline in my nostrils before I go to bed as well.  All of these have helped me get some decent sleep at night -- thank God!

Baby Milestones this Week: She is settling into sleep cycles, snoozing about 12 to 14 hours a day.  I can definitely tell when she is awake and when she is asleep.  

Best Moment of the Week:   Valentine's Day with Mike and Eli.  It is funny how your perception of Valentine's Day changes when you have children.  Instead of being excited for romance, flowers and chocolates you look forward to Valentine's crafts, cards and kiddie-kisses.  Mike came home early and we had tacos and cupcakes and just spent the evening enjoying each other.  We also had fun face-timing with our niece and nephew in California.  Eli sure loves his older cousins and they are so darn sweet and cute!  Wish we all lived and little closer!  The next day Mike and I were able to go on our first day since October 18th!  

A saying I stole from a friend's FB wall -- so true!

Our Valentine's Day with Eli!  His first Valentine's, a heart pancake for breakfast, some pottery he made daddy and cupcakes for dessert!  We sure love our little boy!  Can't wait for baby girl to join us next year!

1st Date Night in 4 months!  Thanks for babysitting mom!

Obsessions this Week:  To continue with the theme of Valentine's Day -- Sweets!  Sugaring goodness is all I've wanted this week! 

Symptoms this Week:  It is hard to tell because I've been sick.  However, the heartburn has returned with a vengeance!  

Epiphany this Week:  More and more I am believing that this pregnancy is going to have a wonderful ending in JUNE!  If you asked Mike or I -- or our OB for that matter -- two months ago we would have never had imagined this outcome!  I am still looking forward to the 24 (viability) and 28 week mark but I think this little girl is staying put for the next four months and for that I thank God (and you all of joining us in prayer)!  Our prayers are being answered! 

And, girls are SO much more fun to shop for!!!

My first purchase for baby girl!  Can't believe it will be filled in this Christmas!!
What I'm looking forward to most next week:  Kicking this cold to the curb!

What is different this time around? At 22 weeks with Eli I had already had my first (of  four) showers!  My team mates threw me the most wonderful shower for baby Eli and we got LOTS of baby essentials from my generous SLMS co-workers.  We had all of our nursery furniture set up and the walls painted in his room.  We were well on our way to preparing for Eli's arrival.  We even knew we would call him Eli!  Currently, we haven't started sorting through Eli's newborn stuff, we have no furniture (although I have been perusing craigslist quite frequently), we know we aren't going to paint her room, and we still haven't decided on her name!  Better get a movin'!

Week 22 Belly Pics:

I am a loser and didn't take a belly picture this week -- I'll blame it on my cold, but here is what I looked like at 22 weeks last time around!!

With Eli May 2011

Lots of love to all my followers!  Keep saying those prayers! 
XO, Ali

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 21: The TYPICAL Week -- 2.3 -2.9

I'm calling this week the "typical" week because it was your run of the mill second trimester week.  Finally, right?!?!?!  I had no extreme symptoms and a decent amount of energy.  I didn't think much about my SCH and it is the first week in six I haven't had any bleeding at all.  :)  Unfortunately, I didn't get into a "normal" routine like I had hoped for last week.  I'm really terrible at waking and getting myself ready before Eli gets up -- I need to set my alarm and stick to it.  Hopefully with the alarm set and a good amount of motivation, I'll get myself out of bed a little earlier so I can be showered and ready for Eli when he wakes up!  If I can't get on a routine with just one child, what am I going to do with two?! (I wrote this paragraph before I started to really feel icky -- so my hopes aren't that high for this week -- but, next for sure!)

This week started great as we attended one of Eli's dear friend and neighbor's 2nd Birthday Party!!  It was Superbowl Sunday and the adults enjoyed the game while the kids ran around and played!  It is so nice to live in a neighborhood with so many kids Eli's age and so many friendly people!  (I hope baby girl finds as many friends close to her age as Eli has!) Happy 2nd Birthday little guy!!!

On Tuesday I met up with my sister and some friends to attend Grain Valley's B&B Theater Grease Sing-a -long!  Mike thought I was crazy to pay to see a 35 year old musical!  But, it was a ton of fun and I was reminded how amazing it is to first fall in love!  Talk about complete and utter infatuation!  I fell hard for this man 6.5 years ago!!!  Although I know its going to be a long time from now (thank God!) I hope that my children will find a love that is as special as Mike and I's!

Mike and I a few weeks into dating!  
Later in the week, Eli and I attended a Valentine's Day Pint Size Play Party that the LSPR put on!  It was a ton of fun and I hope to continue to expose Eli to these activities when baby girl arrives.  Another reason to get motivated about setting up a daily routine and sticking to it!

He is definitely ALL boy!

Mike did start on removing the wall from our basement and it already looks so much bigger and brighter!  My dad and our neighbor Shawn came to help! Thanks! I will post pictures as we continue to progress with our basement remodel project.  Our goal is to have it finished by the end of March.  I'll be just heading into my 3rd trimester and I know nesting will be at its peak.  It will be SO SO nice to have all of the toys down stairs before baby girl arrives!  I am also super excited to have a space where the kids and I can go to hang out, play and relax together -- with out having to worry about the clutter of toys as you walk in the front door (because they will all be down stairs)!

Baby Milestones this Week: Baby girl's digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion, and dead cells), which will fill her first diaper after birth. 

Best Moment(s) of the Week: No bleeding!  Hip, hip horaaay!

Obsessions this Week: Mommy Guilt.  Towards the end of the week (Friday night) I started to get a sore throat and it seems to be manifesting into a full blown sinus infection (Monday morning).  Boo!  Being sick and taking care of a well child is rough stuff (b/c all you want to do is lay on the couch, drink hot tea, watch TV and sleep) but being sick with a well child and being pregnant -- Boo hoo hoo!  NO FUN AT ALL.  Plus, I have all this "mommy guilt" mounting that I am not doing enough with Eli or I feel bad that Mike hasn't had much of a break at all lately and now he has me to worry about.  I have to remind myself that he is Eli's parent too and it is okay for him to look after Eli on the weekend if I am down for the count.  Even when I do remind myself of this -- and Mike is such a great dad to Eli and really enjoys his time with him on Saturday and Sunday -- I still feel I should be doing something... 

Symptoms this Week: kicks, waking up several times a night to pee, stuffy nose, etc

Epiphany of the Week: I'm sure I won't really understand until she comes but two must be harder than one.  Eli is a fairly demanding little boy and if his sister is anything like him... Boy, will our lives change!  Or should I say -- Girl, will our lives change!  Currently, as Mike puts it, we play zone defense and one of us can catch a break for a few hours on the weekend.  However, soon we will be playing man to man and those breaks, I fear, will be few and far between.  For those with two kids -- how was your transition?  Any tips?

What I'm most looking forward to next week:  We have an appointment with the OB on Valentine's Day.  Looking forward to seeing and talking to her about baby girl's progress and where we go from here. 

What is different this time around? At this point in our pregnancy with Eli we had just found out about his hydronephrosis.  Knowing me, you can probably hypothesize with some certainty that I worried about his condition (maybe a little too much) -- and you'd be right.  So last pregnancy I had just started to worry about something and this time I feel like I am finally starting to relax a little.  Pregnancy and me just don't mix very well I guess!  :) 

Week 21 Belly pics:

Mike says I already look full term, ha!  I'm like do you remember how BIG I got with Eli?  I guess since it actually happened to me I can remember it a bit better!  Although I do already feel big, I know I am going to get much, much bigger!

With Eli - May 2011

Keep saying those prayers for baby girl, specifically that the hematoma will be completely healed shortly!  God is hearing them and blessing us!  Thank you so much!!!

Love, Ali

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 20: The HALF WAY Week: 1.27 - 2.2

What does 20 weeks mean to me?  We are half way to meeting our baby girl!  Yes, we still have 5 months of cooking to do but I'm choosing to let the optimist part of me win (Lord, knows we need to see more of her these days) and see this milestone with the philosophy of "the glass is half full"!  Five weeks ago, reaching 20 weeks seemed like an eternity away -- but here we are!  Thank You Lord for allowing this baby girl to continue to grow and thrive!
Screen shot of my phone - WTE app at exactly 20 weeks

This week has probably been the best week since I was diagnosed with the SCH.  I only bled a tiny bit at the beginning of the week and have been blood free for 5 days!  :) :) :)  I also had a good visit with my OB:

Furthermore, I've been doing more and more around the house.  It is such a relief to be able to keep up with house work and care for Eli with out needing much help.  I'm still supposed to be resting at least a few hours each day with my feet up and of course refraining from exercising and lifting Eli.  But, besides this I can pretty much return to my normal routine.  :)

This week we had another FUN neighborhood play date!  There were two boys and two girls and they were all Eli's age!  As long as we don't move they will all be heading to Kindergarten together in 4.5 years!  It was cute to see them interact and makes me anxious to see how Eli responds to his little sister!  He is a sweet boy and loves to give hugs and kisses -- he has even given my belly a few smooches!  I hope that he isn't too traumatized by a fairly sudden drop in attention towards him and falls quickly in love with her!
Eli wearing his "BIG" brother shirt for the first time!
Eli and Baby Stephens' cousin Kate's 1st Birthday Party was Saturday!  It was so much fun to see my sweet niece try her first taste of cake and soak up all the love and attention from family and friends.  She is truly the sweetest, happiest baby!  I hope our little girl inherits her cousin's sweet disposition!!!
Happy FIRST Birthday Kate!
Baby Milestones This Week: Baby gulps down several ounces of amniotic fluid every day, both for nutrition and to practice swallowing and digesting. And, these days, those taste buds actually work! Studies show that after birth, babies respond best to tastes they've already had via amniotic fluid. 

Best Moment of the Week:  Getting to chat with my OB about my concerns.  I can tell that she is becoming more and more confident in the outcome of this pregnancy which helps to relieve my anxieties as well.

Obsessions this Week:  Cleaning.  Since I'm actually able to move around and clean -- I've been having a lot of fun doing it!  :)  Weird huh?  Also, Mike and I have enjoyed planning our basement remodel.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks him and my father  will start the process of tearing down a wall, repainting the ceiling and walls, constructing a built-in, transplanting carpet, etc.  It should take a good month of weekend work but in the end it will be so nice to have a space where we can all hang out!  We plan on putting ALL of the toys down stairs so our main living space wont be so cluttered!  I am excited to get this done before baby comes but am a little apprehensive at the same time.  Mike and I know all too well that remodels are A LOT of work and sometimes unexpected things can slow you down!  But, my husband and father are extremely handy so my confidence is in them!
Mike made this model on NFM's website.  Our basement isn't really big but it should be enough space for us to hang out and the kids to play!
I hate to admit this but I have another obsession this week.  Micky D's fries.  I think I had them three times this week!  I am currently one pound heavier than I was at 8 weeks and 6 pounds more than I was pre-pregnancy with Eli (not sure what my pre-pregnancy weight was this time around).  I had a crazy "fry" week with Eli's pregnancy too so I hope diminishes as quickly as it came -- but I fear the worst because as I am typing this I am wanting some of that fried goodness!  Uh oh...  It is really important for me to eat healthy because I can't exercise so I am going to try to hardest to resist the golden arch this week!  Wish me luck!
Eli enjoying his first children's meal at McDonald's - 16.5 months, am I a terrible mom or what?
Symptoms this Week:  Disrupted sleep.  I wake up so often during the night, either to pee or get comfortable, etc.  I know this is only going to get worse!  :(  Doesn't help that my hubby snores like the giant from Jack and the Bean Stock!  Thankfully, he is sweet enough to roll over if I nudge him a little.  Love you Babe!

Epiphany this Week: Babies grow up so quick!  :(  Mike put together a little video of Kate's first year with the pictures we had taken of her through out it.  This prompted us to look at Eli's first year video.  Of course, tears are running down my face the entire time.  He is so grown up!  I love this stage but miss him as a baby.  I pray that I will cherish every second of this baby girl's "babyhood" because the saying, "time flies" couldn't be truer when speaking of how quickly children grow!

What I am looking forward most for next week:  Trying to get back into somewhat of a normal routine.  The biggest challenge will be waking up before Eli to get ready.  I pray that I have the energy and motivation to do so because I feel so much better when I am showered and dressed to start the day.

What is different this time around? Everything.  No, but last time at 20 weeks I wrote about my waxing and waning belly.  Not so true this time.  Definitely belly, all the time.  It is a bit smaller in the morning but not much!

Belly pics:

Whoa! Baby!

With Eli -- May 2011
As always, thank you for your well wishes, thoughts and prayers.  Keep them coming!  

With Love Always,