He's a crawlin'!

My sweetie pie bumble B is crawling now at 8 months! I'm so proud of him!

Big boy is also getting his first two teeth at the same time. I got him that amber teething necklace because I had heard so many people rave about them. I dunno, seems like a bunch of hocus pocus but I guess time will tell. I paid 20 bucks for it, it better stop his whining! (hehe, just kidding, he's actually done very well, been sleeping through the whole night still)

Why wasn't this around when my girls were teething? Sheesh. New baby stuff comes out all the time, it seems...


preschool homeschool

Those that know me know that I am a pretty big proponent of homeschooling for many reasons. I have wanted to homeschool my children since before I was even married, even though I was never homeschooled myself.

Now that Charlotte is official preschool age, I guess I need to step it up a bit in terms of the schooling. :) I consider myself more of a "better late than early" believer as it relates to education and really just following the child's lead. Earlier this spring I ordered the Sonlight P4/5 program (we already own the P3/4 program and have been reading through it for the past year or so), but I quickly realized that Charlotte just isn't quite ready for it, so we will be waiting until her K year to start that. I've read many (most?) Sonlight folks do this because it requires maturity on the part of the child that many 4 year olds may not have yet. And, well, I know my girl and I just don't think she's ready to sit through some of the longer books.

SO... Here is our little plan for this year:

  1. Work on reading. I found this great book, The Reading Lesson, that boasts a lot of good reviews online. We are slowly working on it one page at a time. She knows most of her letter sounds, and *almost* all of her letters, but we are working on it. I hope that by the end of this year she will be reading, but if not, I'm not going to rush it.
  2. Go outside and play! A lot! Alright, so we're pretty good at this. Living in California, the weather is always beautiful and conducive to playing outdoors. We're always at the park, the pool, going for walks, or they are outside riding their bike and scooter.
  3. Have fun with our Activity Bags. I found the idea of activity bags on Pinterest and I knew I had to do it. I even organized a little Activity Bag Swag with the playgroup we are in here in Cali, so that gave me a head start to my Activity Bag stash. I then got some more ideas on Pinterest, spent an hour in Dollar Tree gathering the materials (only cost about $45 to do) and then just put different activities together in gallon size ziploc bags. Puzzles, colors with paper, cut up sponges that make "blocks,", scissors and Kumon cutting book, plastic dinosaurs for imaginative play, Mighty Mind puzzle, workbooks, dry erase boards, etc. My plan is to grab one or two bags a day and let the girls work on them and just rotate the stash throughout the year. I am NOT crafty at all but I think this will help with that!
  4. READ! We are reading through our Sonlight P3/4 program again and also we plan to go to the library a bunch. I already have a huge list on my library account of books to check out. The girls aren't the best at sitting still during reading time so I hope to work on that a bit. We also plan to go to the library storytimes that are offered.
  5. Bible verses. I recently ordered some Seeds Family Worship CDs (Seeds of Character and Character of God) so my plan is to type up some Bible verse pages to go with them and work on those throughout the year. It will help me with my verse memorization, too. We also plan on putting Charlotte in Awana at church so she will have verses to memorize with that, too.

Well, that is our little plan. It might not sound like much but I'm a big believer in just living "real life" and letting learning happen naturally. At this age it's important that they just play a lot so that is what we will be doing!

family pictures!

Before a few weekends ago, we hadn't had family pictures done since... Well, since Charlotte was one year old and Clara and Ben weren't even thought of yet. So I decided I needed to fix that. Here are some recent family pictures of us! Hope you like! :)

Gettin' skinny!

I just wanted to post a little bit about my weight loss!

Those who know me know that one of the reasons I hate pregnancy is because I seem to pack on the pounds no matter what I do or what I eat. With Ben, I had a horrible spitting issue that caused my mouth to feel disgusting pretty much 24/7 for 9 whole months. Yeah, it was pretty miserable. So I would have to eat and drink to get relief from it and, well, all of that stuck right to me. I'm not really sure how much I gained with him, but I think it was close *gulp* 80 lbs. Yes, you read that right. I was pregzilla, for sure....

But anyways, that doesn't matter now. At about 6 months post partum, I realized that my body had lost naturally all the weight it was going to lose on its own and that I'd have to work to get the rest off. Boo hiss! I still had 40-50 pounds I needed to lose. How depressing! 

I joined a gym, started eating more whole/real foods hoping that would help with weight loss... But it didn't. Maybe it does for some people, but I guess my sweet tooth is just too big for that. :) So I joined MyFitnessPal.com and start logging everything I ate. I have a friend who had great success with it so I decided that will be the way I will lose it. So far, it has gone fantastic! I have lose over 20 lbs in just 2 months. I eat over 2000 calories a day, never feel deprived, and it seems the weight is just melting off. I do have breastfeeding to thank so that I can eat more... But I am thankful that it hasn't been that hard, at least not yet.

Other than logging what I eat, I go to Zumba classes at the gym 3x a week. I look forward to going, it is my "Me" time during the week. Only 2 of those days the kids are in the childcare part, and it's only for 1.5 hrs, so I don't feel guilty at all. In addition to the Zumba, and I think this is really where I've landed success, I've started weightlifting. Yes, weightlifting, like the weights over in the Manly Section of the gym. ;) I've been doing the StrongLifts 5x5 program which uses compound lifts that work multiple muscle groups to get more done in less time. I love it! My posture is better, I look toned and fit (well, mostly, just gotta get rid of this layer of fat haha) and a lot of people have told me I look like I weigh less than I do. I've also gone down several pant sizes. Woohoo! New clothes! :)

I'm hoping to be at my goal weight, or at least close to it, by Ben's 1st birthday in December. I think I can do it! I'm ready to be in shape and done with the baby weight once and for all. After gaining over 200 lbs between 3 babies in 4 years, I'm ready to feel normal.

Now for some before/after pictures....

a big ole update....

Alright, so if I'm not the worst blogger ever, then I don't know who is.

A lot has happened since I posted last. Since Benjamin's birth (we so very lovingly call him B for short), a whole lot has happened with our family.

11 days after he was born, my mother passed away. It was sudden, but then it was kind of expected. She was so sick for about a year and her healthy just deteriorated. As a nurse, I knew that she was not going to get better from the condition she was in, but it was still hard to say goodbye over the phone to her. I don't know if she heard anything I said, but I hope she did. Ben and I flew up to Ohio from Mississippi when he was two weeks old to attend the funeral. Everything went well with that. I still miss her and sometimes reach for my phone to hit "Mom Cell" and call her and talk to her to tell her about the kids and ask for her advice. It's so strange that she is gone.

Grandma and Ben in the airport on the way to LA! April 2013
We no longer live in Mississippi, but in California. Los Angeles to be exact. Actually, that's not exact, we live in Santa Clarita, which is just north of LA, though we are still in the LA County. Thomas got a great job offer here so after a lot of prayer, we decided to go for it! I mean, who wouldn't want to live in one of the coolest cities on the planet for a couple years? We don't know how long we will be here but it will be at least two years. I told my hubs that I'm not sure if he could ever get me to leave! The weather is perfect all the time. No, really, ALL the time. We are in a desert area so it does get a little hot, but it has rained maybe twice since we moved here back in April. And "rained" is used lightly, it was more like a cloudy mist came upon us a few times. Seriously, though, it doesn't rain. Which can be good or bad. Bad because I can't keep anything growing (in the ground, that is) due to the dryness and I can't seem to remember to water with a hose. I do miss the rumbling of a southern thunderstorm, though. Good because, well, the weather is perfect. All the time. No wonder everyone wants to live here....
Hanging out at a mall in Glendale, CA. May 2013.

The girls playing on Venice Beach. May 2013.
Thomas and the kiddos standing in front of our house. April 2013.
 We really do love it here, though. I don't think it has been that different from the south. Ok, people here REALLY love their reusable bags, but I guess that's not such a terrible thing... except I always forget to bring mine grocery shopping. Oops. They are outlawing plastic bags in stores soon, so I need to get better about that. (Outlawing plastic bags.... Really???) But overall we've just been enjoying the area, trying to get out and do different things every weekend. During the week it's just me and the kiddos so we try to get out and explore the parks and kid friendly places. Lots to do here, that's for sure!

Charlotte and Clara sure are a growin'! Those that know me know that I've struggled with them about their speech. I've always worried that they were behind, and really, they probably were for awhile. But thankfully they both seem to have caught up. Actually, I think Clara (who is 2.5 yrs now) has surpassed Charlotte in the language department. The stuff that child comes up with, I tell ya... She already knows all her colors, can count to 10, and is learning how to read right alongside Charlotte. She really blows me away sometimes! She really was one of those children that just has a language explosion, I don't think I would have believed it if I hadn't experienced it myself.

She is still a very (read: VERY) strong-willed little girl. She is very persistent and stubborn sometimes, but I think those will be very good character traits when she is an adult! It's just very hard to parent a future leader when they are a toddler. ;) She has a big ole personality, though. She loves to make people laugh and be silly. Also loves to tantrum every night around 5pm and likes to wear my nerves down to the very wire.... Why I don't have grey hair yet, I'll never know. She is a mess but Lord knows I'd be lost without her.

I don't recall which beach this was. Yes, we go to the beach a lot.
She's still pretty small for her age, about 20th percentile. This is strange for us because Charlotte has always been so tall and lean, and Ben has, well, he's always been a monster baby. Thomas and I are average weight and so tall that I really don't know where she gets her short stature from! Ben is almost as big as she is and he's only 8 months old! I'm thinking she'll hit a growth spurt soon and shoot on up there with the rest of us. She doesn't nap anymore unless we happen to be out in the car during nap time, so I'm pretty tired most days. What two year old doesn't nap? Better yet, what two year old doesn't nap when the four year (almost five!) old still does? Strange. She's Miss Energizer bunny, always has been!

In just a few months, my first born baby girl will be FIVE years old. I can hardly believe that. It just seems so surreal. The past five years really have just flown by and if you would have told me five years ago that I would have this beautiful, smart, funny, witty daughter I would have just been too excited to wait for it. She is just wonderful, she really is. As I said above, her language has really caught up to speed, thankfully. We talk about all sorts of things. Lately she has been telling me a lot about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I guess she really does listen when I tell her things. :) She loves to mama her baby dolls, loves to do crafts, and right now we are starting her official PreK year at home. I'll try to post more about that later.... But overall she is just a happy kid who loves to laugh, play, and loves to be with her siblings!

My B at 4 months. April 2013.
My B at 8 months old. August 2013.
 And THEN... There is my sweet, sweet B. It's funny, before I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I don't think I really ever wanted one. Maybe it was the foreignness of it? I had never grown up with brothers and just didn't know much about them. Honestly, I still don't! So when I was told a year ago that we were having a boy, well, it was a little uncomfortable to venture into this new world of "boys." But now? Whoa, nelly. I love this little guy so much. He has been the happiest, smiliest, easiest baby I've had yet. How can you not love a little ball of fat that smiles as much as he does? He makes me want to have a house full of boys.
Trying to take a few steps! July 2013.
And he looooves his mama. Oh, does he love his mama. Like I said above, he is 8 months now and is attached at my hip, pretty much! He was born 10lbs 7oz and at 5 months was 20lbs, lol! He is breastfed so he packed on all the weight quickly at first, but now he is only about 22lbs, so that's slowing down a bit, thankfully! Boy loves to eat, though. He hasn't eaten a single food he hasn't just gobbled up. This might prove to be trouble when he is a teenager. :) He rarely fusses, has been sleeping through the whole night for quite awhile now, and loves to ride in the car. When he does wake up, he goes back down smoothly. I can put him down when he's tired and he just rolls over and goes to sleep. Now, this might seem like normal baby behavior to some, but in my experience (and history with my girls!), this is SUPER baby behavior, haha! I am so grateful to have such a happy, easy little guy for a third baby. God knew that I needed it easy this time around! Other than that, he is completely healthy and has had no issues at all. I am so blessed to be his mama!

Speaking of babies, my sister had one! A baby girl named Seven Lee, to be exact. She was born in May, so she and Ben are 5 months apart. I think they might be pretty close growing up! She is a sweet baby and she and my sister are living with us right now so we get to see a lot of baby Seven. The girls just adore her and love to touch her soft skin.
Baby Seven, just a few days old. May 2013.
Baby Seven, 3 months old. August 2013.
And from here on out I'm just going to share random pictures, if you want to see them. Thanks for sticking around this long! I guess this blog is more of a scrapbook for me, or should be (or will be? maybe).
Clara and Ben. August 2013.

Clara at a park. May 2013.
A park in Beverly Hills. No celebs that day! July 2013.


Benjamin's Home Birth Story :)

I've had several people request I write it out so I think I will do it now while it is so fresh in my mind.

Benjamin Thomas Hill was born at home at 6:25am after 24 hrs of labor. Before I had him, I had weeks of prodromal (false) labor and 2 nights before I had him, I had a very long bout of false/early labor that made me really think "this is it."

To make an extremely long story short... :)

On Monday, December 11, 2012 (four days after my due date) I woke up at about 6:30am to a strong contraction. I started timing the contractions (that were pretty painful, mind you) and they were about 15 mins apart. After an hour, they were under 10 mins apart so I told Thomas to give him a heads up that I thought I was in early labor and of course, like any man, he went back to sleep. :)

I started to bounce on my yoga ball, watched some tv, and tried to straighten up the house a bit. I was pretty tired since the night before I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep but wasn't able to go back to sleep with these contractions. So several hours passed, contractions keep coming about 8-10 mins apart all morning. We go to SAMS Club to walk around for a bit (it was too cold outside) and ate lunch. We came home and put the girls down for their nap and I tried to rest, but wasn't able to.

At about 3pm, I told my doula, Keysha, that I thought I was in early labor and the contractions were getting pretty hard to handle, so she might want to come over soon. She showed up a little over an hour later and at this point, my contractions were still anywhere from 5-10 mins apart. My other doula, Meggan, (who was shadowing Keysha, but was completely awesome help the whole time) I was frustrated that after almost 10 hours of contractions, they were still so far apart and not getting closer together, but they were getting stronger and more intense.

I decided to call my midwife at this time and let her know. She said she was in the Jackson area for the day and would stay the night in the area because she felt this was labor time. She came over at about 8pm, and I was about 4cm dilated at this point. She checked me when I was 38 weeks and I was only 1cm. She expected me to hit active labor pretty soon. We put Clara down to bed, and since we thought that this would be a pretty fast labor once I hit active labor, we let Charlotte stay up to maybe watch the birth.

Meanwhile, the contractions are getting more intense and painful but.... Not closer together. They pretty much stayed 7 mins apart for most of the night. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was! No matter what I did, they pretty much were spaced apart. I bounced on our yoga ball, my doulas helped me in different positions to get baby to descend, and we started to fill the birth pool with water to try to help me relax. I did progress, however slowly. I believe at about 9-10pm she checked me again and I was 6-7cm and that I would hit transition soon.

Honestly, from about 10pm until about 4am, the story was much the same.... Have a strong contraction, wait about 5 mins, have another one. I went to urinate several times (being on a potty can help baby descend), labored all over the house, walked, bounced, tried laying down, got in the tub (it would make them stall more, it seemed, maybe got too relaxed?) standing up.... Nothing would help the contractions come closer. I just wanted it all to be done with! Plus, I was exhausted and again, very frustrated. I broke down and cried to my midwife several times that I didnt know what was wrong, why was my body doing this so slow? It was acting like I was having my first baby, not third! With Clara's labor, once I hit 4cm I progressed very fast in active labor and she was born several hours later. So this time I thought for a third baby, surely labor would be fast, too. How wrong I was! My doulas and midwife gave me an awesome full body massage to relax me because I was just so flustered and upset at how slowly everything was going, I was just plain exhausted but there was no way I could sleep through these "transitiony" type contractions.... I just wanted to be done! I had been laboring for 20+ hours at this point. During this whole time, mind you, my midwife would check on the baby every so often for heart tones and heart rate by doppler. Everything always sounded fine and he tolerated the labor perfectly.

At around 3-4am (cant remember exactly, I was so tired at this point), I started having some really sharp cervical pains. I was 9.5cm at this point, but I felt something was wrong because he would just not descend like Clara had by now. I had birthed two babies before, I knew I could do this! My midwife checked me and discovered that I had what is called a swollen cervical lip, basically it's a small piece of cervix that gets swollen and "jammed", per se, by the baby's head and won't progress to completion. By now I was just so worn out, in serious pain, nothing was helping me to concentrate on breathing.... I had a few crying breakdowns because I just didn't know why this was happening. Again, all this time, contractions were spaced 7-10 mins apart. I thought that if my blasted water would just break, we could get this show on the road! I even asked Norma if she would break it and she said no, she really didn't like to do it, and I was upset at the time but looking back, Im glad that she didn't because it would have just made the contractions even more unbearable for several more hours.

At around 4am, my midwife said she wanted to decrease the swelling in the cervical lip. I asked her how exactly was she going to do this? She explained that she was going to insert a couple pieces of ice vaginally and that it should make the swelling go down. She only had to use two pieces of ice for it to work. The first time she did it I had a contraction at the same time and I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin! Im glad she tried again, though, because it did work. However, she also noticed that his head was a little misaligned and wasn't putting pressure correctly on my cervix in order to dilate me completely and for him to descend down the birth canal. So she pretty much reached in and pushed his head back towards my uterus. She said this would help him be able to get back in the birth canal correctly and dilate the cervix like it should be with the next couple contractions. She told me I had gone back down to 7cm, though. I completely lost it at this point and started crying! The pain was so intense and mindnumbing at this point, I could not imagine going through it for much longer.

I didnt know what to do. Stay and endure hours more of painful labor, or go to the hospital and get relief *maybe* 2 hours from now. I felt completely stuck! I was also not completely sure that the maneuvers she had tried would work. I was just very weary at this point. My sweet husband, though, was always there for me and reminded me that I could do this and that it shouldn't be too much longer. I wish I could have believed him!

Im not really sure what time it was at this point. Maybe 5am?  The contractions kept coming. I had been planning a waterbirth, but since we started having the issues, Norma (my midwife) decided it be best if I move to the bed, so we did. I dont know how long I was there, but it seemed like over an hour. Thomas was behind me and the "transition" contractions at this point were extremely intense. I writhed all over the bed, my doulas standing by massaging me and affirming me, my midwife trying to talk some sense into me, lol. Thomas began reading Scriptures to me to help me relax. I was praying Dear God, please help me, I wanted it all to end! I was just so delirious at this point, I wanted all the pain to go away, but I didn't have a choice but to get through it. Norma at one point looked at me and told me I had to calm down and do this or it was going to make it last longer. Well I think that's all it took because after that I really tried to control my breathing and would look into her eyes during a contraction to get through it. I started throwing up during and after them, they were so intense and painful. And of course, crying and saying I couldnt do it. :)

I knew that I was almost complete by this point because of my delirium and throwing up (it happened during Clara's birth). I was just waiting for that "pushing" urge that I've always heard about but it wasn't coming yet.

Finally, I sat up against Thomas and pulled my knees back and I could feel that "gotta poop" urge, lol. (Sorry this is a natural birth story, if ya cant handle it, move on!) I will tell you that at this point, I just lost it. I knew it was almost done and I could push him out now, and my body just kind of took over. I started roaring through the pushing contraction (sorry, dont know how else to explain it!) and pushed, but Norma told me to slow down. It was burning and to be honest, I was just SO READY TO BE DONE that I didn't listen to her! lol I stopped for a second and tried my best to control my breathing but it started to really burn. I felt another push coming and I pushed as hard as I could... And his big head popped out, in the bag of water! Norma told me to reach down and feel my baby's head, but all I could feel and see was this gooey white mess, haha. She popped the bag of water now to check for nuchal cord, but he didn't have that (when the cord is wrapped around the neck). With one more strong push (and roar, lol) I pushed the rest of his body out and she laid him on my chest. What a relief! I was so happy it was finished, Thomas was ecstatic, I just couldn't believe I did it!

Here is a picture that I just love, snapped by the lovely Meggan Wehmeyer, one of my amazing doulas that helped me through all the tough times and knew just how to keep me relaxed during the trying moments... (I recommend all pregnant women have a doula! Keysha and Meggan are amazing...)

I love how it just screams "FINALLY!" when Norma hands him to me and Thomas directly after being born. I look completely exhausted, and I was!

He started screaming instantly, was pink as a pig, and I noticed immediately his very fat and swollen face! At first I just thought, maybe that is just typical newborn squishiness..... And then she weighed him.

10lbs 7oz. My jaw about hit the floor, there's no way I was pregnant with a 10-pounder this whole time! My girls were both very average weight (7 lbs) and length, so I just never imagined I could have a big baby like this. I knew my belly had been maybe a little bigger this time than with the girls, but I coughed it up to third pregnancy and a couple extra hamburgers. ;) I figured if he was bigger, he would maybe be 8lbs. I never had a late term ultrasound because I stopped going to my OBGYN prenatal visits, but I did measure ahead a week or two during a couple of my midwife visits. Again, didn't think anything of it. Little (big?) Ben could barely fit into his newborn sleeper we picked out for him to wear and the newborn diapers are pretty tight! Might not be in them for long. :)

He also measured 22.5in long with a 15in head (read: big head). Well, it's no wonder his head kept getting kinked in there and it's also no wonder I had so much prodromal labor for so long. I guess my body had been trying to get him into a better position, but just couldn't on its own. I'm so thankful that my midwife knew how to get the swelling down in the cervical lip and also knew how to get his head realigned to fit so I could safely push him out! Had I been in the hospital, I'm not sure what a doctor would have done, but a c-section would have been very likely, I imagine.

After he was born, I was kind of numb from all that had happened the previous couple hours. I was completely exhausted, in pain, and just felt in a daze. I will not lie, right after he was born, I believe I was in shock from the trauma. The pain, frustration, exhaustion, and fear that I could have been in labor for several hours after she tried to correct the cervix, just all added up and I started bawling to my husband. And after all of this, my midwife told me that I had a 4th degree tear and would need to have a doctor at the ER stitch me up. (We ended up going to the hospital and my doctor told me it was a 2nd degree, not 4th.. thank you, Lord!)

After all was said and done, neither of us were ever in any harm. Benjamin always tolerated the contractions and labor well, I guess it was more of a mental and fear thing for me that I had to push through. Being in labor that long and with no choice but to deal with the pain and get over it, well, was a difficult challenge for me. It was very hard and I'm still kind of dazed about it now and dont like to think about it, but I do not blame being at home to have his birth. This would have happened in the hospital, too, but I doubt the outcome would have been the same and I've never heard of a doctor shoving ice up on a cervix, have you? ;)

Though it was a rough and long 24 hours, Im so glad Im done and that baby B is finally here. He is perfectly healthy, adorable, alert, and nurses very well so far. He's sleeping on my chest as I write this, and thinking back over the last 9 months and how utterly miserable they have been, from the extreme nausea/vomiting in the beginning, the horrible 24/7 spitting Ive had to live with since 8 weeks along, to the extremely painful SPD that left me cruising Walmart in a motorized wheelchair, :) Im so glad he is here and that God has given him to us to raise for His glory. This last year has been a very trying one and Im excited to see what God has in store for our now family of five!

Happy birthday, Benjamin!