28 + 29 weeks | Baby #4

4.22.17 | 29w0d

I skipped a week, but with a Day in the Life, I figured I captured the important stuff anyway.

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Hi, Hank! Still no stretch marks but the belly is looking mighty veiny lately.
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I've noticed that not nearly as ravenous this week and can actually think about things other than food, so that is a win! I had an appointment yesterday and am up 20 pounds, ute is measuring right on track, his heartbeat was at 140 bpm, and I got my tDAP shot. I did talk to the NP about my scary-low numbers with the 3 hour glucose test (my OB was out of town), and she said she's never seen a 46 for the final number. She agreed that is really scary and crazy! I guess I just wanted to let her know that perhaps they should offer juice/crackers at the end of the test, or do a quick glucometer finger poke to see if the reading is scary-low, or SOMETHING. I'm glad it's over and that I don't have diabetes. And I'm officially going to see the doc every other week now. Crazy town.

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This past week we went to Chicago with the kids for two nights, since it's their spring break. It was an awesome trip and very much worth the exhaustion that comes with a whirlwind trip like that. We took the train there and back, which completely blew Porter's mind. All of the kids say the hotel pool was a highlight, and all five of us shared a room which wasn't as horrible as expected. We hit the Shedd Aquarium for about four hours, then to Maggie Daley playground which was the COOLEST, and ate lots of delicious food. When we returned on the train Thursday, we were all pretty wiped out but Nate and I both worked for a bit before sitting in front of the Design Review Board for our suburb. Biggest news? Our plans for the house addition PASSED! Whew. We were a little nervous because you just never know how the board is going to respond to a huge project like ours. The architect came with us and even made a 3D model to present to the board, plus our blueprints. We are now obsessed with this house model, and Cecelia thinks it makes for the perfect Shopkins house;)

Never been happier in his whole life!
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Big city kids!
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The non-maternity tankini I bought at the end of last summer. Hope I don't stretch it out completely!
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A favorite pic from the trip:
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Shedd was amaze.
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So was the playground. WOW.
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Had to do it!
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Porter and the house model;)
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Back to the pregnancy: I sleep fair at night but still wake up pretty often. I've been listening to my Hypnobabies tracks before bed, sometimes in the evening, and often in the middle of the night when I can't fall back to sleep. I'm getting more and more excited about labor and delivery this time! To clarify, I'm not hardcore about going without an epidural but my focus is just to remain calm, relaxed, and let my body do what it knows how to do. I'd really really like to avoid Pitocin, even though I've had it for 2/3 births and it was 'fine'...just because I think I will mentally handle contractions without Pit so much better. Originally I was all, 'If I'm overdue this time, I'm getting induced the next day.' But now I'm thinking it's best to stay mentally sane and chill, letting this baby come when he is good and ready. Mostly I just want to stay positive and not have mental breakdowns before, during or after labor. Is that too much to ask? ;)

I'd say my energy level is still pretty high, but I do wear out quickly. We walked 7 miles each day we were in Chicago with a stroller, and sometimes with two suitcases. THAT about did me in, but I was proud that I kept up just the same. The weekend before that one, we went on a huge 8 mile bike ride which was also sort of awful but good at the same time. I'm finding that I can take walks outside and be active without issues, but I do need to rest after.

Baby boy, who we are calling by name more often (but it still feels kind of foreign and odd!), is an active little guy in there. He gets hiccups all of the time which is kind of my favorite. I think he is still spinning in circles and kicks me in every direction but the doc thought he might be head down. I find myself daydreaming about our fourth baby quite often, wondering who he will look like, who he will act like, who he will be. I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that another little person will be joining our family in a few more months. It's just as surreal this time as it's been all of the other times before him. I'm not really 'preparing' for him like I've done in the past, as I'm not decorating a nursery, and haven't bought any clothes for him...but I think the house addition itself is a big step to prepare for this guy. It will be fun to decorate his own room when he is six months old or whenever the project is finished. We do have a new car seat for him and I'm sure I can find a swing, but he will probably just sleep in the co-sleeper in our room until he CAN'T anymore...then maybe I'll kick Porter out of the existing nursery and let him sleep with Tru and CC. Cecelia offered to sleep in her sleeping bag on the floor and Porter can have her bed if he needs it. I actually think all 3 of the kids together in one room might mean better sleep for old Porter-P somehow. It's going to be a madhouse this summer, you guys. For real.

With Porter: I was already feeling nervous about pre-term labor, was feeling really tired and couldn't walk without contractions. I was becoming a head case about when he'd come (early versus late) and totally called it when I said that because I thought I'd go early, I would surely go late. YEP! I still can't get over the exact timing of this pregnancy with the same due date, either. So we had just celebrated Easter and I was preparing for my birthday...complaining that I'd be 33 which was 'old'. Ah, three years later I think 33 is comparable to a spring chicken! I'd gained 22 pounds and was basically finished with a beautiful nursery. I thought Porter was my most active baby and I think that probably still holds true.

With Cecelia: I was anxious about getting Pre-Eclampsia again, and still reeling from the bleeding scare I had with her in the first trimester. I think Cecelia's pregnancy and birth in general was riddled with anxiety, the more I reflect on that time in my life. It's no wonder, really, after coming off a miscarriage, then bleeding so badly at 6 weeks with her, and then worrying about Pre-E for a second time. I was up 23 pounds with her and carried my girl a lot differently than my boys. We were still working our tails off on this house and I was still getting a lot of incredibly rude comments from people about my body and size overall. I forgot how many strangers thought it was appropriate to remark on me being 'too small' or 'carrying it in your backside.' Maybe this time people can just sense that I'm a haggard mom of almost four, so there's no sense in trying to make ignorant comments?

With Truman: I was up 25 pounds, had just puked for the first time (randomly), had some heartburn, and JUST stopped running because I was having some light contractions. I think the nursery must have been completed a long time before this and I was seriously barely showing. I am so glad I blogged back then because Truman's entire pregnancy is ridiculously foggy...it was a long time ago!

And now? My last pregnancy week in the twenties, and also my birthday is this week. The big 3-6! I think back to last year when we had a big night out with friends for my 35th and we had no clue that I'd be pregnant this year. We had no clue that we'd be doing a house addition, or that I would get a promotion at work, or that Nate would be moving towards a private practice career path. So many changes in the last year, all such great changes and dare I say it? Such 'blessings'.

It's true though: we have no room to complain about anything right now. Life is good, I am enjoying this pregnancy for all it's worth, and we can't quite believe that our family is growing yet again.

Day in the Life | Spring 2017

Nate and Julia are 35 (I'll be 36 in less than two weeks!)
Truman is 7
Cecelia will be 5 next month
Porter is 2.5
Henry dog is 11.5
I'm 28 weeks pregnant with baby #4

Entire Flickr photo album of the day found here. Only 112 photos, a new record low.

Saturday, April 15

7:00 am | Truman and Cecelia wake up like clock work, at seven-on-the-dot. Nate tells Tru to go ahead and go downstairs, so he and Cecelia do just that. I get up shortly there after because we were out to dinner last night, so I barely saw the kids yesterday after work. Without our evening together, I kind of miss them and want to hang! I tell Nate to come down when Porter gets up, I put on a sweatshirt and go down with my bigs. Truman and CC are both getting their own breakfast and opening up all the blinds in our house. Heck yes! I just rearranged all of our kitchen cabinets and drawers in a pregnancy fit of rage, and now we have all of the kid cups/bowls/plates/silverware in a pull-out drawer low to the ground. Why didn't I do this sooner? Independence!

7:15 am | Porter comes downstairs and Nate follows behind. Ports was up only one time last night around 4 am, and we are trying to send Nate in to deal with him. Mommy almost reached an ugly breaking point yesterday morning when P had called out for me four times that night. Four, you guys. I informed him that I CANNOT do this anymore---his sleeping has gotten so, so bad in the past few weeks and I'm so, so tired and pregnant and incredibly busy at work. Not a great combo! So anyway, last night was a lot better, and P gets a sticker for coming downstairs when his clock turned yellow without calling out. We all eat breakfast together--Nate and I make eggs, the kids have cereal, and we listen to music at the island. Porter demands Thomas and Friends music so Alexa provides.

8:00 am | The kids are playing downstairs in the basement while Nate and I are talking about what we're going to do today. We decide to listen to a webinar together at 8:30: the LEO project is something Nate has been working on with a co-worker for awhile now, and it has to do with positive mindset and the power of the brain. Pretty awesome stuff!  Drink our coffees, set the kids up with the show, and and hope for the best. Webinar goes from 8:30-9:30 with varied interruptions from children but we get the concept just the same: lower brain versus upper brain functions, expectations, dopamine and cortisol. Got it.

9:30-10:00 am | I rinse off in the shower, text a few friends about today, the kids get dressed and head outside with Nate. I go up into the attic to find some sandals for CC and Porter because it's downright hot today. We are so thankful, because although this winter hasn't been horrible, it's still been quite long. I get dressed for the day and decide today is the day to do day in the life. This is probably the latest ever in a morning, without any pictures prior to 10 o'clock. It has to happen today or I'm not sure when I'll get it done. We are going to Chicago for a two night getaway later in the week, we sit in front of the board to get our house plans approved on Thursday, and I'm swamped at work. Alas, today is the day! Start a little laundry, pick up the house, and head outside. 

10:05 am | Outside family time!! Sandals are too big for P, perfect for C. Storage issues on my phone when I go to take literally my first picture of the day. Delete a bunch of podcasts and FB, vow to just keep it off my phone for good! 

Highlight of the day: find a slug on our driveway!! The kids are in heaven and willingly take turns holding it. Nate and I decide we should go on a long family bike ride to a park that we hardly ever go to. I'm a little concerned sitting on my hard bike seat for this long with the state of my uterus but I'll handle it. I start packing for the bike ride with water bottles, snacks, Chapstick, sunscreen, etc. Getting out of the house as a family of five is always an ordeal but we are used to the procedure by now. Open the windows to the house, catch Truman outside trying to squirt Porter in the face with water. The bigs bring Porter inside to show me that his face is covered in black from "the tire". Imagine Porter rubbing his face on a tire or falling into it, but in reality I think he just touched a bike tire and then rubbed his face with his hand. I decide to throw some baby wipes in the bag for good measure. "Come on you stupid door," Porter says as he goes back outside. CC is crying because she wants to trap the slug and keep him forever in the house she just built out of sticks. Truman just says, "I wish we could go to the pool." It is pretty hot!!

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10:50 am | We all head out! We see turtles in a pond, feel a warm breeze, see a ton of happy people enjoying the great outdoors, and soak up some sunshine on our bike ride. Truman is a rock star on his bike, I didn't think he would like riding for this long but he does. He and I pair off together and Nate has the littles in the Burley behind us. My butt is not comfortable on this seat and my arms are going to be total jello later--so out of shape!

Nate is way ahead of us here.
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11:30 am | We have arrived. Sunscreen applied. Play!! So fun, this playground isn't one we've been to in many years and it's been updated. There are swings, neat climbing things, ponds, a brick maze, and some other interesting 'game' areas. We stop to have snacks at some point, and Porter downs about 3 granola bars. The other kids are hungry, too, but I was hoping this wouldn't be actual lunch--just a snack. I'm getting pretty wiped out by 12:15 so we consider going home soon.

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12:45 pm | We pack up and head home. So exhausted and hot but the ride home seems shorter and easier than the ride to the park. Truman and I count dogs along the way, and we see eight. We have a nice paved path to take all the way home but crossing two semi-major roads is always a little nerve wracking. Truman does great, and the little kids are talking away in the Burley. I hear Porter pretending to talk on the phone, 'Ohhhh, I'm just fine, how are you?' 

1:20 pm | We are home, Nate clocked it and it's four miles one way. Hot and tired and starving! Open more windows in the house, make lunch, IG. Nate gives kids sparkly lemonade, which is lemon San Pellegrino. It's a hit with 1/3 of the bunch (Cecelia). Change laundry. Truman requests Easter music, so Nate has Alexa play Margaritaville? Porter is seriously housing hummus and cashews. It's late, so I guess our 'put him down for a nap early' phase has ended! Truman tells us that the Easter bunny and Santa know each other, and that Easter is a lot like Christmas. You know, since they get gifts in the morning for each. I'm starting to feel like holidays are getting out of control around here. I mean, this year St. Patrick's Day was even 'big' and it's never been like that before. Need to reel it in, but kids are just so fun at this age:/

Family lunch, everyone dig in!
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2:00 pm | We have puppy chow for dessert and I ask N to take P upstairs for his nap. Listen to Counting Crows, clean up the kitchen, take out the trash and recycling with Truman's help. 

2:10 pm | Nate comes downstairs and immediately lays on the couch. Porter is calling for me, because of course he is. Big kids get the gum they've been requesting all morning, knowing that it's Saturday and we only oblige on the weekends (because they get so obsessed with asking every day!). Run the dishwasher. Clean kitchen. Round Here is playing and I feel a pang of happiness or gratitude or something. This sometimes happens when I hear songs from college, thinking of how my life has become everything I hoped it would be back then. Sometimes when we have straight up dance parties set to music from the early 2000s (i.e. college bar music), I also feel a little discombobulated----like, wow. Nate and I were dating in college and we had no idea that we would create this life for ourselves. Watching our three offspring dance to the edited version of Lil' John's 'Get Low' is a real tear jerker, you guys. 

2:20 pm | I look at pictures from this morning and try to decide what to do next. Nap? Start this post? Get my nails done with Cecelia? Groceries?? Call the nail place and the first appointment is at 3:15, so I take it. Talk to Nate on the couch about plans, trying to see if groceries will fit into our timeline for the rest of the day. Kids start screen time. Perhaps groceries after nails? Decide to start this post and sit still. 

3:05 pm | Leave with sis for our nails. Remember to unload my hidden Easter goodies from the trunk before we leave, the chocolate could melt in 80 degree heat, right? Protected in the cool garage for a day, nearly forgotten, after my solo Target trip yesterday---hardest part is sneaking them into the house. Cecelia is super excited about our nail date, as am I!

3:15 pm | We arrive and it's packed! We pick out our colors and Cecelia picks her favorite glittery pink Hello Kitty color. I go for the brightest, most neon pink I can find and my daughter totally approves. We sit together and chat, energy level high---she can't wait to go back and informs me that today she wants to stick her feet in the water (she's only done finger nail polish here before, never toes). We don't go back until 3:35 and I hear lots of, "I love you, mommy"s before we start. Girl time at it's finest. I think she'd be happy to literally sit together under a tree for our 1:1 time, but then again---glittery pink nails. Sister sits in my chair with me which is no small feat since I barely have a lap anymore. Stuck her toes in right away, and the girl next to us comments on Cecelia's hair. It definitely seems like CC is the star of the show where ever we go and it doesn't even seem to register for her, thankfully. The lady files Cecelia's toe nails, paints them and even uses a toe spreader thing. Then she picks her up and carries her to another chair, and I let sis have my phone to play 'little writers' while my toes get finished. I notice a minor chip in Cecelia's baby toe before we go, but whatever. Good times with my lady and the foot massage part was worth every single cent.

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4:20 pm | We leave and talk about the Easter bunny, I'm pushing Cecelia to share her candy with me, and I think I can convince her to hand over some of the stash at some point. Home at 4:30, text my neighbor to come over. She's going to take some girl clothes for her two little ones and we want them to sign a paper, saying they agree to our house addition. They are our only neighbors since we are surrounded by trees aside from them, and they want us to stay and therefore approve of the house renovation chaos. When we get home, Porter is awake and Nate is getting out of the shower. "I had the expectation of buying a 12 pack of beer today, sitting outside and enjoying one. Instead I almost finished our taxes and had Kombucha," says Nate. I was just thinking about how good beer sounded and really don't feel bad for Nate AT ALL. 

Ali comes over with her girls, we sort clothes and my kids want her 2 year old daughter to play with them. She's a little overwhelmed because she really despises Henry, although I put him in his crate specifically because she is frightened of him. Tony and Lois arrive for dinner around 5, Nate accidentally breaks a ceramic bowl of junk, and it shatters all over the floor. YIKES. I help clean up while I continue to chat with Ali, Nate and his parents are making dinner, then Tony takes C and P outside because they are banshees. This is sort of when the wheels fall off of the night, looking back---the timing of dinner and visiting with neighbors and Nate leaving for work was just not great.

5:30 pm | Ali leaves, and then Nate leaves for one of his last hockey games. Hallelujah, happy it's the last. He does enjoy working for the team as their therapist, but it makes for a super long night (either on weeknights or weekends). Tony, Lois and I eat with the children---walnut burgers, beans, grapes, and chips. Kids are so tired, and not eating that well. We talk about house stuff, the plans for tomorrow, and the amazing weather. Kids want dessert but I deny on accounts of them not eating their main dish (walnut burgers). A few of them cry but I can't remember who. They recover quickly and decide to write on our Telestrations game, because I won't let them actually play. I am the worst, I know, but we need to speed this evening up a bit. "Can you pick that up? I'm lazy," says Porter after he drops a marker cap. This kid!

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6:30 pm | Dinner is finished, and we have all cleaned up. Kids are still playing with markers, then go down stairs, then back upstairs to write letters to the Easter bunny. Talking with Papa about logistics of Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa. This is big time conversation happening right here, folks.

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6:50 pm | Tony and Lois leave after getting many sweet goodbye kisses and hugs. I can tell that since both of them started watching the kids during the week, their relationship with each kid has completely blossomed even more than before. We are so lucky to have them, times a million billion. P has a red neck even though I applied sunscreen to his pasty Wisconsin skin today, poor fair-skinned babe. 

Bye, Yaya and Papa!
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Kids are now into going to bed, realizing that the bunny cannot come until they do. I plan to use this fact for all it's worth tonight, you better believe it. Pick out clothes for the kids to wear tomorrow and realize we really have nothing pastel or really that nice for the boys to wear for church. Compromise with Truman because he wants to wear a sleeveless tech tank to church and I'm going to let him wear a tech polo instead. My energy level is it a dangerous low right now and I need to check my attitude before embarking on this solo bedtime after a long day. P is fussy and wants to put on his own butt cream. I'm already threatening 'No bunny if you can't pull it together!' to anyone who will listen. Bigs brush teeth and have changed into jammies. Then all of a sudden the bigs are arguing for the 50th time since 3 pm. It turns out to be a pretty big fight that ends with Cecelia in tears, her feelings hurt over Truman siding with Porter.I clean the sink because that only makes sense to me right now. The kids give me hugs to apologize for being rather challenging this evening, and I know they are just as exhausted as me. Hug it out and agree that we are all just ready for bed, no harm done. But no more fighting kids, you've reached your quota for tonight!

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7:15 pm | I read a book to all of the children, and Truman is also reading to himself while he listens to our book. I tell the big kids stories, tuck them in, worry that Truman will suffer heat stroke wearing his beloved socks to bed tonight but he swears he is comfortable. Hugs and kisses for me and, "night night, grandma, " from Porter (referring to Cecelia, of course). We all agree it's been a pretty awesome day.

7:20 pm | Porter gets a short book in his room because I'm a pushover. Should've done a bath for these stinks, especially since we are going to church in the morning! "That's a poopy, that's a stupid dummy," means we are done with this book, and Porter is over correctly naming the trucks in the pictures. "I'm so tired," he announces. You and me both, buster!

Note my bump sticking over the book.
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7:25 pm | Say goodnight to Porter, and then Cecelia has to show me a "bruise" on her ankle (microscopic). I tell her it will for sure be better in the morning, and kiss her goodnight again. P calls for me, too. I ask him to show me how he can pull up his own blanket and he does it just fine. The stinker. Head to the basement to get the Easter crap and I hear Porter screaming for me to cover him up. Again. Murderous rage. All of these stairs in this house and none of the energy. 

7:35 pm | I go up there again, and I talk him through the steps of covering himself up. Promise him I will not be up again. He needs to sleep and he agrees with his mama. Please, Lord, let him have a good night tonight. How is he nearly three and giving me such a run for my money with sleep....before a newborn comes and takes the crown on that one?! Ah, my Porter-P, you are such a wild card.

7:40 pm | I recollect downstairs. Silence, I just need some silence. Actually, all I want is a stiff drink and mindless TV. Turn it on and assemble baskets, settling for water and plan to taste test everything I open. Find an Amazon documentary about natural birth and decide to give it a whirl.

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7:50 pm | Yeah, no. Too negative for me, I am not in the mood to hear people complaining about hospital births and all of the interventions that big bad doctors love to push on their patients. I find myself in a unique situation because I love and trust my OB, love the hospital, and have experienced many of the interventions they claim to be so horrible. The only reason I'm interested in a 'natural' birth is because I want this fourth birth to be as calm, peaceful, and quick as possible. I just don't want to have that pivotal moment when I freak out and let all of the negative thoughts take over my mind. Also, the description called this a 'modern' take on natural birth but it was filmed in 2007. How was that ten years ago?? Remember that our tenth wedding anniversary is next month and remind myself to book a hotel somewhere for one night with Nate. Decide on Weeds instead of the natural birth film. Fill eggs and consume candy. 

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8:30 pm | Done hiding eggs and manage to keep it equal, color coordinate the eggs as requested. Hide baskets. Pretend to be 'Eric the Easter bunny.' Get more TP and Kleenex from downstairs and treat myself to a coconut La Croix. Belly feels huge so I attempt selfie. My butt bones hurt so much right now, I cannot even explain. I am one giant ball of negativity and exhaustion, but it is what it is! Sit on the couch and watch TV. Work on this post.

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9:35 pm | Nate is home! Catch up with him, the hockey team lost. He's hungry, probably because he had to scarf his dinner in about 2 minutes before leaving earlier. We watch TV and are on our laptops. Quality time!

10:30 pm | I'm done with the text of this post and need to get my cranky butt to bed ASAP. Kiss Nate 'goodnight', brush teeth, get changed, upload more pictures to Flickr for this post. Go into the big kids' room and give them kisses because they are so peaceful when not whining and arguing. They sleep with their door open but Porter does not, and I cannot risk opening his creaky door to give him a kiss. Start my Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations track and fall asleep with my earbuds blasting positive thoughts about pregnancy.

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3:00 am | Startle awake and wonder why some woman is talking to me about pushing a baby out of my uterus, because I forgot I'm pregnant and am generally confused. Realize I've been listening to the entire Hypnobabies playlist since I fell asleep. Take my earbuds out and then hear Porter yelling, 'Hey, MOMMY! Have you seen my "toot toot, chug chug" anywhere?"' I nudge Nate and ask him to check on Porter, vaguely hearing the discussion about the missing train. Fall back to sleep pretty easily for once.

6:30 am | All three kids are awake and talking (practically yelling) in their rooms, excited for Easter. I get up and tell Porter to just go in the big kids' room, since it's obvious he will not tolerate being in his room alone for another 30 min. I get dressed for church and head downstairs before the rest of the crew comes barreling down the stairs at 7:00.

I won't recap the entire day but let's just say that the absolute highlight was when Porter threw up in church. He was telling me his tummy hurt, so I was walking around with him and gave him some water. He just seemed really 'off' so I was heading to the bathroom, in case he barfed, and we totally didn't make it in time. Luckily he puked all over the bathroom floor and not the carpeted church itself? Still, really disgusting and I don't think he's sick....must have just been the candy for breakfast thing. Regardless, Tony and I drove Porter back to their house while the rest of the crew sat through church. Perhaps Porter is a lot smarter than he looks and vomited to get out of church?

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We for sure nailed the Easter family portrait though. I'd say this ranks up there with the finely groomed images on Instagram, fitting the 'perfect family' persona well;) 

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That's a wrap! Not sure I will be doing this next quarter since I will probably be having a baby in the beginning of July. That reminds me, who wants to host 'round up' for a quarter or two? Maybe I'll be emailing you to request help;)

Classroom Party Ideas | Spring! (i.e. Easter)

In case you forgot (like I sort of did): I'm one of three room moms for Cecelia's Junior Kindergarten class this year. Each of us room moms took responsibility for one of the six parties they have and my second (and last!!) party was the 'Spring Party.' It was scheduled for the day before Spring Break, which happens to fall over Easter this year. I wasn't sure if the 'Spring' description was more PC for a public school compared to 'Easter', sort of like 'Holiday party' was used instead of 'Christmas party.' REGARDLESS, I figured that I couldn't do this party justice without a few Easter-related activities. Had to keep Jesus's death and resurrection out of it in the name of Easter eggs and bunnies galore, which hopefully was not offensive to any that don't celebrate this holiday. I figure anything with candy as a bonus will always go over well, regardless of which holiday we are celebrating.

I blogged about the Halloween party I planned earlier in the school year, and wanted to write this one out, too. You know, in case I need to refer back to this for future years (ahem, Porter and this baby might be having the SAME STATIONS as Junior Kindergarteners!). Also, I found Pinterest and other blogs helpful as heck when planning this party. What did room moms do before Pinterest?? ;)

Reminder: there are twenty-eight four and five year olds in Cecelia's class. I am nearly twenty-eight weeks pregnant. I didn't have my current job when I signed up to be room mom, so it was a little trickier to make this date work. I was off today and went to the office yesterday instead, and I am TIRED after this party, for real. But it was a blast and went incredibly smoothly! I tried to keep my prep time to a minimum this time around, as I've gotten myself into trouble with very elaborate crafts in the past (not me!). I didn't want to do anything with paint and didn't want a ton of crafts to be wet and drying over break, but I wanted the kids to get moving and consume some sugar. Sounds simple enough, right?

I divided the kids into six groups, each having four or five kids in a group. We had an hour-and-a-half for the party, so I made six stations and each lasted for fifteen minutes. Pro tip: I wrote the names of each group on a card, then passed that card to each adult helper when it was time to rotate the groups. There is no way to keep track of where these tiny bodies belong otherwise! This time I planned the stations, prepped with supplies, then emailed my helpers ahead of time so they were aware of their stations and what they could bring if I couldn't cover it all. That was also a game changer this time around---made for less chaos on the day of the party.

Also, it's always bugged me that the kids don't really know where to go when it's time to move stations. I considered buying tall table number stands on Amazon but felt too cheap to pull the trigger. Instead, Cecelia and I gathered six tall sticks from our back yard. I hot glued a wooden clothes pin to the top of the sticks. Then I poked a hole into the bottom of a Solo cup and jammed the stick into it. Cecelia helped me make number signs that clipped into the clothes pin, and voila! Homemade table numbers, for easy referral ('go to table five next, children!'). I donated the table numbers to the teacher, hoping she can use them again....or that I can use them again if/when I'm room mom in her classroom with the little boys someday;)

I ended up using very classy masking tape to hold the sticks in place at the cup. They were just too wobbly until then!
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(pushing the haul to school this morning, thank goodness for a double BOB!)

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Here is what we did this time around, and I wouldn't really change anything about how it all went down.

Station 1: Spring sensory bin.
I was inspired by this pin and decided a tub full of spring-themed junk would be Cecelia's IDEAL station in any party. I also liked this pin, but once I struck gold in Target's Dollar Spot, I knew our tub would be full of random stuff. I also had many of the items already because my daughter loves collecting the strangest things. I compiled a whole bunch of stuff, added our Easter grass collection, and voila!

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I took pictures of everything before tossing them in the bin, and then put the pictures together and printed off these sheets of paper. I thought this would make it more fun for the kiddos during their treasure hunt. Each group had one piece of paper (so much ink to print at home!) and they crossed off the items they found.
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Truman and Cecelia gave it a whirl for me before the party and it went over really well. The only suggestion I provided was to use the various tweezers, tongs, magnifying glasses instead of just digging around with their hands.
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THIS is what happened at the party;) Apparently the kids figured out how to pull all of the grass out of the bin, then could sort through things easier. I still don't think they found everything, some of the alphabet letters were very tiny. And I think fifteen minutes was enough for most kids, but my daughter could still easily play with this for hours. In fact, she did play with this bin after the party for a few hours at home!
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Also, it should be noted that a sensory bin like this is really easy to transport. I used a bin that I normally store all of our Easter stuff inside and made sure to have a lid. That's it! Pinterest told me to use colored rice instead of Easter grass, but the grass was a lot easier to clean up, I think.

Station 2: Marshmallow bunny craft.
When Cecelia was helping me scour Pinterest for ideas, she saw this one and immediately declared it was The Chosen One. I tried to convince her we could use cotton balls instead of marshmallows, but that was not an option for sis. It did take a little more prep work than I wanted, but it turned out really cute!

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Supplies needed: colored construction paper, a stencil that I drew onto the papers ahead of time, google eyes, pom poms for noses, markers for names and whiskers, glue bottles, and approximately 70 mini marshmallows per child. Yes. I know. Crazy. We also had Solo cups for each kid that we used to pre-fill about 85 marshmallows. I just didn't want them grabbing out of the bag over and over again and that did help things run smoothly. My math shows that I allowed 15 marshmallows to be ingested during this craft, too. We had eight 10oz bags of marshmallows and I came home with 2 bags. I smell Rice Crispy Treats in our future!

I had Truman and Cecelia practice this craft for me over the weekend, so I could time it. Sister was done in about 10 minutes and Truman less than that.
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Another tip: have the adult place all of the glue around the bunny and for the eyes and nose. That way the kids could just focus on the marshmallows. Also, make the glue for the marshmallows plentiful. They won't stick well otherwise!

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During the party, one of the grandma helpers rocked this station! She even had time to read a book to the kids, which I found impressive. I thought this was going to take the longest but it didn't.
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Station 3: SNACK STATION! I made a few suggestions to one of the helpers who offered to do the snacks this time around. This was one of them, as it seemed 'springy' and fun, and let the kids actually do something besides just eat. They had fun putting together the baggies and drawing on the clothes pin, and I saw many of the kid clip these to their backpacks 'to go'.

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She also did chocolate covered pretzel rods, and another mom made fruit and Peeps kabobs. Apparently this was the first time Cecelia has ever had a Peep and she will tell you that was her favorite part of the entire party;) Then they ALSO had tiny cups filled with popcorn, M&Ms, and pretzels. Pretty awesome snack station!

Station 4: Egg hunt with movement activities.
This was the first station in the cafeteria, where we had the final three stations. It's really nice to spread this party into two rooms, even though taking the kids up and down the stairs is always a little chaotic.

I found this pin and decided, yes---our Easter egg hunt should totally incorporate movement and not candy. I also wanted to do a separate hunt with puzzle pieces hidden inside, then the group could put together the puzzle as a team. But we couldn't find a puzzle with small enough pieces to fit in the eggs, that wasn't 200 pieces total.

So we stuck to twenty different activities, like '10 giant bunny hops', and '5 jumping jacks.' One kid at a time would find an egg, bring it to the group, and then they would all do that activity. It looked really fun from where I was standing!

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I printed the activities ahead of time, cut them, and filled the eggs with Cecelia one night. I suggested that the adult helper have the kids hide the eggs again when they were finished---I don't think there were too many sneaky hiding places in the wide open cafeteria, though.

Station 5: Easter egg relay game.
I believe I did a relay game for the Halloween party, too;) This time I found this pin and then I added a few Easter props that I had already (bunny ears, silly glasses) and thew in some balloons. The balloons were to be put between their legs to make the relay even harder. I had two Easter buckets, all of the eggs, and two plastic spoons to use for this game.

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What ended up happening is the kids did a relay for about 5 minutes, then decided to hit the balloons around with the spoons.
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Whatever works, kiddos!!

Station 6: Teacher appreciation gift.
Since teacher appreciation week is in early May, I figured I could use this time in the classroom to makes something nice for their teacher. So many fun options on Pinterest, but in the end I thought a simple book would be best. I used this free printable and printed them ahead of time, then punched holes along the side so it's easier to make into a book later.

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I decided to use two pieces of construction paper for the covers and had the kids all sign their name on the covers. I really wanted them each to draw a little person with their name on it for the covers, but I'm glad I kept it simple. Just doing the sheet of paper with each child, and having them write their name a second time on the cover was ENOUGH. The only thing I had to grab from the classroom for this station were the markers, otherwise it was all prepped.

I had two free printable coloring sheets for the last five minutes of my station, too. It was interesting to see which kids were very meticulous and loved coloring, while some of the others did a few scribbles and were d-o-n-e with the markers. So many personalities!

Also, some of their answers to the questions were priceless, and I'm obsessed with the differences in their portrait of the teacher:
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Got a selfie with my girl when she came through my station!! She was so proud to have me there, which makes all of the hard work 100% worth it.
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We stayed on task and really did six, fifteen minute rotations through our stations. Clean up wasn't too awful and even the set up wasn't bad. It really helped to have it all written out on 'cheat sheets' for the helpers to keep at their stations. And it helped to have the kids divided into groups, written on cards that traveled with them.

All in all, an excellent 'spring' party! And now our kids are off school tomorrow and through all of next week. We are going to Chicago for two nights as a family next week for our little getaway and they cannot wait. Neither can we, actually---a much needed family vacation that is low key? Yes, please!

Room mom responsibilities: mostly done for the year. Whew!
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