Friday, November 28, 2008

Week 40

Well, the due date came and went with no sign of the baby's exit from the womb and entry into the world. Shamus had a soccer game (2, actually) Monday (the due date) and his team got 2nd place! It was fun in spite of the cold rain and ridiculous tackle (Shamus was 2-hand tackled from behind while he was dribbling toward the goal... and the ref decided against calling a foul). I've been going to almost all of Shamus's soccer games since I quit teaching so I've gotten to know some of the players on his team. He made me stay home for one a while ago because it was too cold. But then the end of the pregnancy approached and it occurred to me that he doesn't play soccer with his cell phone attached to him and that he usually leaves his phone in the car. So we talked and decided that I should go to all of his games in case I go into labor. There have been a few cold games but I go wearing lots of pants and shirts and a scarf and gloves and 1 or 2 coats (I own one coat that still zips! It's a ski jacket.) and I have 2 blankets and I almost always have hot chocolate. Sounds pretty miserable, huh? I've had a lot of fun getting to know the other players and the other 2 spouses that show up to the games as fans. Once we get a feel for life with a baby, Shamus will join a team again. I can't wait to hear our son yell what all the other kids yell: "Go, daddy, go! Go, daddy go! Go, daddy go!"
The next night, since the due date passed and some friends of ours said Japanese food encourages labor, we decided to go out to dinner with them. I forgot how fun Japanese steakhouses are. We had a great chef, of course, and he made the fried rice into a cake and asked if it was anyone's birthday. I said, "I hope so!" and pointed to my baby belly. So I ended up with a chunk of rice that looked like a piece of cake with a match in it. He sang happy birthday to the baby and I made a wish (bet you can't guess what it was!) and blew out the match. We had a lot of fun going out with Peggy and Joel - they said that they ate Japanese just before Peggy went into labor with both of her sons! One of her sons came early - but after Japanese, and the other was a little late - but also after Japanese! Joel was guessing that it was the ginger so I was loading that onto my plate. Japanese food did not make the baby come out.

We had an appointment on Wednesday and they did a Non Stress Test. They put 2 round, black "readers" on your belly and strap them on with belts around you. Then they turn on the machine and it keeps up with the baby's heartrate on paper. It makes the zig zags when the heart rate changes. You can also make it zig zag by laughing. For some reason, I thought something was very funny (no idea what) and I started giggling. Then, I saw that I was messing up the test. You'd think that would make me stop. Nope. I laughed harder and harder! I finally quit laughing and calmed down for a few minutes, but then I looked over at the paper with all the crazy zig zags that I made when I laughed and I started laughing again! My doctor came in and I had to explain that the zig zags were me laughing. It took a while to get what they wanted on the paper (a higher heartrate for 15 seconds 3 times) but it was kind of fun sitting and chatting with Shamus (and laughing too much).
We're going back on Monday to check on him and if he's not out by next Thursday then they'll induce labor. My doctor will be the one delivering, which is great!
Thanksgiving was tons of fun! My parents and Robby came up and Jim and Judy and Cleggan all came over! We had a ham, a turkey and a bunch of casseroles. Mom decorated our porch for Christmas (it looks so cute and festive!), the ladies cooked and talked, the guys watched some football and visited and ended up exploring the creek in our backyard, and Cleggan went around beggin for attention, decided to go to the creek with the guys, and promptly fell in. If you know Cleggan, you know that he freaked out a bit because he hates water. He was okay, though - just a little wet.

After dinner we played Ticket to Ride (a very fun board game that you may want to buy) and visited some more. We watched No Country for Old Men (at least, Shamus and the Culpeppers did... I knitted in the living room while they watched) and relaxed.
Mom and dad and Robby are staying up here for the night and we're finishing up the nursery tomorrow! Maybe I'll go into labor since everyone is already in town! (I doubt it. That would be entirely too convenient.) I guess I'm pretty much fine with the baby not being born yet. I got to "host" Thanksgiving! (I didn't do much cooking, but we did get to use our China and pretty table cloth!)
Hope he comes soon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week 39

Bartok is moving quite a bit! It's weird - I can feel his fingers. But also exciting! He has fingers!! :) I was talking to a friend of mine who wants to be a doula (See Week __ to find out what that is) and she asked if he was head down and if his body was on my left side. I know he's head down because the doctor checks but I had to think about the baby on the left side thing. Turns out that only my right ribcage has been kicked for a while now. I can't remember any appendages sticking out of the left side of my baby bump... but I can remember several on the right side! So I guess he's on my left and that means ready for take-off! Other than that, not a whole lot of progress. On Monday, the doctor said it's softer and I'm still at 1 cm. I have another appointment this coming Monday - which is the due date!! I'm hoping we won't have to go to the appointment because we'll already have a baby in our arms by then. I went for a jog yesterday (doctor's orders... kind of...*) and this morning I measured the belly (which isn't an exact science - so don't get too excited) and I think the baby dropped because I was 43 inches around at the button and now I'm only 41!! Also, last night in bed there was some serious moving inside - so much moving that the baby was actually moving me! *"Doctor's orders" means that there's a family doctor in our shepherding group and he advised his wife to "jog around a cornfield" at the end of her pregnancy and she went into labor that night. Later, as we were discussing some prayer requests, he jokingly said about 2 different requests that those people we were praying for should try going to a jazz bar to relax and enjoy some music. He casually added on that I shouldn't go into the smoky jazz bar, but that I should go for a jog around it. (We were praying for me and the baby along with the other requests.) He's a funny guy - and he's a real doctor. So I jogged. Next on the list of things to try: Walking and eating Japanese. We have friends who ate Japanese on their due date and went to the hospital that night. Apparently they met a few other couples at the restaurant who had done the same thing in past years. So Japanese Steakhouse, here we come! Maybe afterward we could all go for a jog on full bellies.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 37

Monday we went to the hospital to meet the doulas. A doula is a woman helper trained to help women through childbirth. We're getting one! I'm so excited! A doula does not have special degrees like nurses and doctors and really only know about the birthing process and a little about breastfeeding. They help mom get into the best positions during labor and if the baby needs help turning, they know how to do that. There is a decreased rate of unplanned C-Sections, the use of an epidural, and labor time associated with the use of a doula. They have all kinds of distractors (like cold packs and hot packs and massage techniques) so that mom doesn't think so much about the pain. They tell dad how to help more if he wants input. They translate machine beeps and doctor talk into regular English. They give advice on what to do if there's a problem - even if their advice opposes the doctor's. They make sure that mom and dad are well taken care of and that mom and baby have figured out the breastfeeding stuff. And one doula stays with you the whole time - unlike nurses and doctors who may have to leave if their shift ends during your labor. What could be coola than a doula when I'm in labor?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Week 36

This week we celebrated Halloween! I went to a friend's house (Darlene) who is an artist and had her make me a costume. Isn't it awesome?!?! She spent almost the whole day on it! I hope that it gets used again, either by me or whoever is pregnant next Halloween. So if you're hoping for a baby bump in October 2009, keep this costume in mind! You can borrow it for free!
We were ready for lots of trick-or-treaters but we only got 12. And more than 12 kids live in our neighborhood! And 2 sets of 3 kids showed up in minivans (which makes me think they don't live in our neighborhood since it is walkable). Sooooo we have tons of Halloween candy left! Darn.

I have ONE more month of being pregnant! I can't believe it!! 4 weeks! (Unless he's late... then more like 5 or 6...) We're kind of ready. I mean, we have everything we need to bring him home from the hospital but there are a few things I'd like to do before he comes home. Like finish the nursery and maybe decorate for Christmas (depending on when he comes). I'm really excited about next week because we get to dog sit Cleggan!! I can't wait to have a dog! And a great dog, at that! He's house trained and he talks. Of course, his talking sounds kind of like Dory talking Whale in Finding Nemo. But it's still talking!

According to my Bartok growth and development site, his "primary" and "most important job" is to put on weight. Don't you wish you were him? Me too. He's more than 17 inches long and weighs around 6 lbs. I guess if we only weighed 6 lbs then it would be our job to chunk it on. As it is, it's our job to not chunk it on. But that won't stop me from eating that leftover Halloween candy!! Maybe I should try exercising a little to balance things. We'll see.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week 35

Exciting news on the OB front!! The baby is head down!! Yay! That means that if I were to go into labor, he'd be ready to come out the right way and therefore there's less of a chance of a need for a C section. Woo hooo!! I have to keep reminding myself that this does NOT mean that he's ready to come out. And he shouldn't yet. The due date is Nov 24th but it's really plus/minus 2 weeks. So he needs to stay for another 2 weeks before he takes his first deep breath and lets out a quality cry. (I read that the end of the pregnancy is prime lung development time.) I am selling books through Usborne and I really like the rewards system they have for schools - the school gets free books based on what the kids' parents buy. Unfortunately, I don't have any school bookfairs planned yet but today I sold books at a Fall Craft Fair in a church. It went alright, I guess. I ended up making a little but I'm still in the hole from the first investment. My goal is to earn at least what I invested. I would love for this to become a side income for our family but I'm not sure how to make that happen in a way that I would enjoy. I do feel good about sending out the website - especially since there are some really good deals on there. If you're interested, here's the site: They have some really cute books and they have several different Bible-based books for kids. All the books are high quality and they have some fun activities, too. So if you want to buy some kids books (Christmas is coming!) check out the link. If not, don't!

Bartok is now 18 inches long and weighs 6 lbs!! So I'm not "40 lbs overweight" as Shamus says... I'm 34 lbs overweight! Yay! Bartok also has kidneys now. And he's producing waste. I guess he's getting warmed up for the changing table! I was thinking about putting something by the changing table that would make people want to change diapers. Maybe we'll post the funnies on the wall above it each week. Or I could put some candy on the shelf underneath. His movements are also different now. Instead of pitter pattering from the inside of my belly, it's more like an ocean wave of large rocks, except that it doesn't hurt. But if I had to describe it, that's what I would compare it to. I guess he's just rolling around a little in there and there's not really room to do a full punch or kick.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 34

Last Saturday our church had a baby shower for me! It was really fun to see everyone and celebrate with them. I had a few students from my English as a Second Language class
Last weekend we bought a crib!! We were talking to some people at church and they asked if the nursery is ready and we said not quite. They said they were trying to get rid of a crib so Shamus and Jim went to pick it up on Sunday and we put it together! Yay! Now we just need to get those pink dressers painted white and moved in there.

This week we went to a new shepherding group through church because the other one is so far and the new one is so close. I've been praying about finding a mentor since the ladies' retreat and it turns out that 3 of the ladies I met at the retreat are in this shepherding group! Maybe God is setting up his answer to my prayers. :) One great thing about the new group (for now) is that it meets every other week and our old group meets every week. So we can go to both! I'm not sure how well we'll do going to both after we have a baby. But I just can't see leaving the other group for good! I'm sure someday we'll have to because of the distance and because of our desire to lead our own shepherding group... but I'm really going to miss our time with the other group. Hopefully we'll continue to see each other at church and at Bible studies. Right now I'm doing the church ladies bible study on Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal which is about Titus 2:3-5: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." We're spending one week on each characteristic to strive for. I've read this book before but our ladies Bible study teacher does a lot of extra research and adds to Carolyn's teachings in such a way that I feel like this is my first time through. I highly recommend this book! It continually reminds you of your high calling as a wife and mother and how by God's grace you can do all of the things listed in the verse. Today was a big day in the life of a pregnant woman: We went to our birthing class! All day we were at the hospital learning about labor and delivery. We watched videos (everything from Bill Cosby's stand up to a c-section to a natural delivery) and discussed. We practiced breathing and different positions... but only for the part of labor that you're at home. I've read about the other breathing (the hee-hee-hee-hoo stuff) and that it's for when you want to push but the doctor wants you to wait. The teacher had our husbands massage our feet, backs, necks, arms, and hands and then made us tell our husbands how to improve. It was wonderful! I think Shamus enjoyed it overall, too. The only downer was that it was only one day so we didn't really get to meet anyone and make friends like so many other couples do through birthing classes. One thing that was really weird was that the teacher told us she usually has classes where about 90% of people are having the same gender baby. Our class was boys. There were 2 couples who didn't find out the gender and only 1 expecting a girl. Out of about 18 couples!! After the class, I have mixed feelings about labor. Part of me doesn't want to go through that so I started telling the baby he can just stay in there. But a bigger part of me wants to meet this little person and take care of him and watch him grow. Hopefully the whole "I don't want to give birth" thing will go away before it's time. I'll be praying about that.
This week, Bartok is just chunking it on. He's getting fatter. With fatter arms and legs comes more intense punches and kicks! So I'm betting that if my baby is fatter than yours then he can beat yours up. But we'd rather they be friends so I guess we'll never know!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Week 33

Last weekend was fabulous! Shamus dropped me off at Amanda's baby shower where I got to catch up with some friends from high school. Many of them are teachers and they like their jobs! It sounded like they are all at great schools. Also, one of my high school friends is engaged! How exciting!! We had a lot of fun playing games and catching up and goofing off.

After the shower, I headed to Robby's new house where we got a tour and Shamus helped him prepare for company tomorrow. He's having the guys in the family over to his house while the girls have a baby shower at my parents' house. We then headed to Shamus's old house to see how it's changed and then to my parents'. My friend Ari came to GA to go to my baby shower and to celebrate my birthday and we celebrated her's too! (Hers is in Sept) We blew out candles together and exchanged gifts - she got me a t-shirt (for after the pregnancy) that says "Alguien que me quiero mucho me trajo esta playera de Michoacan, Mexico". I love it!! My parents got me a great gift, too: Break from cooking dinner!! As you can see, we own a grill now! Can't wait to eat some yummy charred meat! And Shamus is also happy about this gift, as you can see.

There was an Amigos for Christ Festival in Suwanee that Ari, mom and I went to where we heard Caedmon's Call play. They sing "There is a reason" and "The Hands of the Potter". It was really nice to sit and enjoy some good Christian music and be surrounded by other people doing the same thing. We had fun people-watching, too - we saw a bunch of cute babies and little kids and lots of the kids were dancing like they were the only ones on earth.

On Sunday we went to my parents' church where we heard a great sermon about living in uncertain times ("Uncertainty Part 1") and clinging to God through those times. It was really great to go to church with my parents.

After church, it was time to get ready for the baby shower and then to celebrate JAC V!! Mom's friend Karen came over to help set up and she brought some plants for me from her garden that I plan to put near the mailbox. I need to make sure that now is a good time to plant them, though! I also went through a bunch of boxes in my parents' garage and picked out the stuff I want... I came back with a box of Halloween decorations and costumes, dolls from my childhood, and some baby and babydoll clothes among other things.

After we packed the car, it was time to party! The Culpepper side of the family and some GA friends came over to touch the baby bump, tell their labor stories, celebrate JAC V and catch up. It was great to see everyone and to hear their stories and to be encouraged by their excitement about a new baby. My favorite moment of the baby shower was when my cousin Katy was touching my belly and I directed her hand to where the baby was moving. Her reaction was something like, "gewwwull". Apparently it grossed her out a little. But she did recover quickly and say that it was cool... but also weird.

Pictures from the baby shower

Bartok is now at 17 inches long and weighs a whopping 5 lbs! His big plan: get chunky, then get out. Sounds like fun to me! Pass the cheesey poofs!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Week 32

Well this has been a really great week! Probably because it's my birthday week (and weekend)!!! I don't know about everyone else, but in our families, the celebration usually lasts about a week because we think birthdays are that important!! (Actually, it usually has more to do with people's schedules and when we can celebrate with whom... but we'll say it's because birthdays are IMPORTANT!)

I woke up on my birthday and had no plans for the day and no car to go anywhere. I thought it was going to be a pretty boring day so I slept in for a while so that it wouldn't feel like a whole day had gone by before Shamus got home. I was hoping for more like half a day.

BUT, when I did wake up, there was a sticky note announcing "Karen's Super Birthday Hunt 2008"!! I had to find sticky notes according to clues on previous sticky notes to try to find a birthday surprise. My favorite part of the birthday hunt was that Shamus sent me to the bathroom twice because "it's a pregnant lady game". :) I found my surprise: a bunch of yummy muffins for breakfast - and one of them with frosting! I spent the rest of the day doing whatever I felt like doing (mostly watching Harry Potter and reading) and talking to friends and family on the phone. When Shamus got home from work he had another birthday surprise for me: a Bartok t-shirt!!

Then, he made me pancakes for dinner (one of my favorites!) and I blew out a candle in my pancakes! (It's a type of cake.) (But I don't recommend it unless you like cold pancakes. I ended up with half of a birthday candle melted into my pancakes and couldn't eat that chunk. It was waxy.)

Tonight we're going out to eat with Jim and Judy to celebrate my birthday, then we're going to GA to celebrate some more with my family and a few friends there. We've also got some baby showers to go to (a friend's and one for me!) and plans to hang out with family. I'm so glad I was born!!! And I'm so excited to have so many wonderful people in my life!!

Bartok update: He's 16.5 inches long and he weighs over 4 pounds!! I guess he's pretty worn out from all the growing and kickboxing because apparently he sleeps about 90% of the day now. So that's where they get the saying "sleeps like a baby". Because apparently they don't do that much sleeping through loud noises and such once they're out of the womb. His skin is ironing itself out with layers of baby fat and he's getting more hair on his head this week so he looks more and more like the Gerber baby (and less and less like a lizard, I guess). Ask Bill Cosby about the lizard thing. Bartok is also going to try to get head down for exit pretty soon! We're praying that he'll get in the right position (head down, sunny side down) for delivery because that makes things move along better. 8 (to 10) more weeks till we're PARENTS!! I can't believe it!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Update

The weekend was terrific! On Thursday (the end of the week, not the weekend), Stephanie came over and painted The Giving Tree on the baby room wall. It looks AMAZING!! And, it was like CSI: she looked at Shel's drawing in the book, figured out the order in which he drew the leaves on the tree, and copied that process all blown up on the wall. She did bring an overhead projector that looked like something from WWII but it didn't work. The image was really small and the tree was supposed to take up the whole wall to the ceiling. We got to catch up on life and we listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It was fabulous!

Friday and Saturday I was at the Ladies Retreat and it was GREAT!! The focus was on Godly Womanhood, including how to maintain a relationship with God through prayer and reading the Bible, mentorship and how we are called to mentor and to be mentored. It was very spiritually refreshing and it was a whole lot of fun! I met several women who live near our new house! We're going to try their Shepherding Group sometime soon since it's much closer to home. It'll be really hard to leave the group we're in though! Maybe we can be in 2 groups... who knows?
I was feeling a little sick on Friday so instead of staying for 2 nights, I only stayed one - which worked out great since we stayed most of the day Saturday and the women I was staying with all went home Sat night. It was also nice because I got to hang out with Shamus Sat night and I didn't think we'd get to do that. We were both feeling a little sick so we just chilled out on the couch. It was nice to do that together!
We got a ton of rain so I guess we'll be getting a ton of grass, right? I hope it didn't wash away the seed!!
Looking forward to another fun week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Week 31

Bending over has a new sound now that I'm 7 months pregnant. It's something like "Wooough-youragiantbaby" followed by rapid breathing to recover from not breathing the whole time I was bending over. This added process helps me feel better about the true struggle it is to pick something up off the floor for several reasons: 1. I make a funny noise and since I'm not a boy under 12, I have to have an excuse - and I do! 2. I blame it on the baby - not my fault that moving my body in a natural way is really tough! 3. I remind myself that the giant mass of flesh in my way is actually my child and not just an odd growth of chub, and 4. I catch my breath in the end, every time.
Bartok is obviously growing! Last week he weighed around 3 lbs and this week he weighs around 4 and is getting a little chubby! He's supposed to keep chunking it on by gaining a half a pound every week until 2 weeks before his birth. Remember how he has that lanugo hair all over him? He's starting to lose that now. He's also opening and closing his eyes and he's able to track light in the womb! He's kicking and moving a lot - especially at night when I'm ready for bed. He also seems to react to me being hungry, eating, and drinking a cold drink.
I'm still teaching English at the Literacy Center but I'm also trying to earn some money doing it. So when you call and get my answering machine, you can try to figure out what all I say in Spanish! And you can even leave me a message in Spanish if you want! (I already had a friend do that - she said she just had to after hearing the answering machine.)
Yard update: We have grass!!!! Little tiny grass sprouting up pretty much everywhere that we planted! I've been picking weeds to prepare to plant the rest of the yard. I take our 5-gallon bucket and pick as many as I can in the not-quite-bent-over-all-the-way-so-I-can-still-breathe position or I just squat and pick everything I can reach and stuff it all in
to the bucket. Up, walk a few yards, squat and reach and pull. It's like aerobics. When the bucket is overflowing, I waddle over to the empty lot next door and dump it out. It's a little overwhelming because I've already done 25 gallons and it's hard to even tell where I've picked weeds and where I haven't. I'll have to take before and after photos for the rest of the yard - hopefully I'll be able to see progress that way! We had some friends from our Shepherding group over for dinner on Wednesday and that was especially fun! I was really excited to be able to play hide and seek with someone. Allison, our friends' 2-year-old daughter was very excited to play with me - unlike Shamus (although he did participate so I guess I just have to wait a few years till our son is old enough to play and then we can all play together!!)
Last Saturday we bought a lawnmower!! He is named after Colonel Sanders and a street in downtown Greenville: Harland Wyche Cronin. He sometimes loses his bag but he does the job! On our journey to purchasing Harland Wyche, we met who I think is the guy from Waterboy with the crazy bayou accent. It was great... but I couldn't understand most of what he said. We ended up buying from a different guy but the adventure was wonderful! My friend Stephanie Pieper is coming over to paint The Giving Tree on our wall tomorrow! I can't wait to see her and to have the baby room decorated! :) Also, this weekend is the Ladies Retreat through our church. I'm really excited about going! I'm staying with ladies from my shepherding group and I'm hoping to get to know them better and to meet some more women in addition to being immersed in God's word with other Christian women. Should be a great weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Week 30

This week was filled with yardwork and house maintenance, along with teaching English and selling stuff on ebay. We planted grass in a HUGE section of our yard even though we didn't get to finish preparing it. We had to get a waiver from our water company in order to water the grass on a regular basis and we foud out that we only have the waiver for 3 weeks! That means the seeds need to be planted ASAP and watered before our permission expires!! So it isn't as well-prepared as we'd hoped but we're praying that some grass will come in so that our yard will stay in place. We've been selling random things on ebay and we've had some success! We've sold several textbooks and now we're on to selling "collectibles" that we have but don't really collect. Hopefully we can save up a little extra money for the baby expenses! Also this week, I tried to set up a moms discussion group through our church. I only got 2 women's contact info but it's better than none!! Please pray that this will fufill its purpose - to connect with our church, discuss biblical parenting and to learn from one another as much as we can!
On Saturday, we went to the Clemson NC State football game!!! My friends came in from Chicago, Richmond, Charlotte, Asheville, and Columbia to have a reunion! 5 of us have been friends since freshman year when we all lived on the same hall. Ariadna came in from Columbia and Jim, Judy and Sam all went to the game, too! It was pretty hot and our seats were in the upper deck. Somehow, I managed to not get a sunburn!! Saturday night didn't go so well after climbing all those stairs in the stadium and walking across campus... I kept waking up with painful calf cramps. But that's part of being pregnant! My freshman friends came by the house and got the tour and they got lots of pictures of their hands on the Bartok belly. I'll post some on here when I get them!
On Sunday we introduced ourselves to all the kids because we're helping with the Activities Team - which means we'll be serving around 6 times this school year for all 3 services. Our job is to work with the other members of our team to create outdoor games that reinforce what the kids are learning in their Sunday school classes. Should be lots of fun!! Sunday was also a big day for Sam and Judy - they both felt Bartok kick for the first time! Sam was determined to feel a kick before she leaves for Ireland. She can check that off the list! Tomorrow we're taking Sam to the airport and seeing her off. She's going to have an amazing semester in Ireland!!! She already has plans to go to Italy, London, and several other places. We're so proud of her!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Week 29

Everyday this week we've been in the yard! It's great that Shamus gets home from work in the afternoon with enough time (and sometimes enough energy) to take a pick axe to the rocks in our backyard and prepare it for grass seed. We're watering our hill and there's no sign of grass blades yet but we've got about 5 more days till we'll see anything. Shamus did plant this week on one plot of land, which he named Samwise Gamgi. I spent lots of time tilling up the land and picking rocks on a plot that I named Ron Weasley. For correct pronunciation of "Ron Weasley", please watch this short video: Harry Potter Puppet Pals
The other day I called Gram Cronin - the Master of Laundry - about whether or not I could wash clay-covered clothes with not-clay-covered clothes. (Our yard is mostly clay, with a few hundred weeds.) Well, she's from the north and they don't have orange clay under their plants so she just said not to risk it. So, in order to safely experiment, I threw in some white undershirts with the load of clay-covered clothes. I even washed everything on hot and I had no clay on anything in the end! I love my washer! (*Make sure you soak the clay-covered stuff in shout and water and then rinse it out before you throw it into the machine. That's what I did.)
We heard that we only have a month to plant grass (mid-Sept to mid-Oct) so we're planning to plant our whole yard by the middle of October!! That means weed pulling is next!
This weekend is actually free for us! Which means we'll be in the yard, working hard.
Bartok is still busy growing and kicking and such. He's made a big improvement in his appearance: his head is now in proportion with his body!! So he looks more like a "normal" baby... although the Cronins have pretty giant heads in general so he might have Cronin Cabeza. I guess we'll see when he comes out! He's the size of a squash - around 15.5 inches long and around 3 lbs. He'll be around this size for the whole 7th month! By the end of the month, he'll be closer to 4 lbs and 16.5 inches. And he'll still be curled up and looking extremely uncomfortable, but apparently it doesn't bother him. And he'll be super flexible for a while after entering the world thanks to these 9 months of practice! I can't wait to catch him teething on his toes!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Week 28

Babymoon - 1. n. the young offspring of a moon "Aww, look at the cute lil' craters on that babymoon!" 2. n. a vacation taken by a couple that is expecting a baby in order to allow the couple to enjoy a final trip together before the many sleepless nights that usually accompany a newborn baby "Let's go on a babymoon before I get so pregnant that I can't move." 3. v. the purposeful showing of the buttocks of a baby, usually directed at a particular person or group of people "I'm going to babymoon that unsupecting older couple who is making funny faces at my kid!"
We went on a babymoon (definition 2) last weekend! First, we headed to Augusta to visit the Greens and to watch football. The Cronins went in orange and the Greens went in red (UGA fans). We looked like excited fans but I didn't get a picture to prove it! But we did look nice in our clashing colors. It was great to spend some time catching up with friends and relaxing.
Next, we went to Aiken to enjoy our first Bed & Breakfast. Aiken is a cute little town with a few streets that make up the downtown, which is adorable. Not many places were open since we were there on Sunday and Labor Day but we enjoyed walking
around the public parks and gardens and window shopping downtown. We ate dinner at a great Italian place and I ordered the best thing on the menu (creamy pesto chicken over linguini... mmmmmmm).
The B&B was terrific - there were stables in the back with 3 beautiful horses, several friendly cats and a rather large rabbit. There was another family staying there and they were fun and
interesting! They made a grape burst into flame in the microwave after breakfast and then we enjoyed listening to the daughter play her harp. Breakfast was delicious and there was a library of books and movies and a bunch of games. I wish we had stayed another night because it was so nice to just relax in a cozy house and not have to think about everything we still need to do to prepare for the baby! This week we're going to try to plant grass in our backyard! Here comes a lot of yardwork!!
Bartok is still the size of an eggplant this week - a big eggplant. He's about 2 1/4 lbs now!! His eyes are still growing and if he has any hair, it's growing, too. He's also gaining muscle tone. And no, he's not lifting weights in there.
As far as I can tell, it feels like Bartok is training to be a kickboxer! I don't recommend gaining muscle tone the way that Bartok is. Can you imagine what your mom would do if you started kicking and punching her in the abdomen? Just keep going to the gym or doing push ups or pushing the buttons on your remote. Whatever keeps you in shape and doesn't adversely affect your mom!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Week 27

We had quite the fiesta at our new house on Saturday! People came from all over the southeast to party in the name of Bartok! Sam ran the show, with help from Judy and Morgan (long distance) and she threw an awesome party! We ate some very delicious food, played some fun games, and enjoyed chatting with friends. I put all of the shower pictures on our google pictures page - so check em out! We were smothered with love and generosity from all around and we're so blessed to have so many people who are excited to support us in our crazy endeavor to become Parents. So many people made the effort to drive up/down for the day and everyone was very generous in their giving. We are loved!! Thank you!!
I started volunteering at the literacy center here! I'm teaching English as a Second Language twice a week. I teach the lowest level class on Tuesday nights and the highest level class on Wednesday mornings. So far I've taught one day of English 4 and I love it! There are people from all over the world in my class and they are all so motivated to learn! Surprisingly enough, they even want to know the grammar jargon so I actually get to teach the difference between the past tense and the past participle!!! Yay!!! I LOVE it!! Next week I start with English 0. I should get to practice my Spanish a good bit in there!
Bartok is doing well - still moving around a lot in there! No one besides Shamus and I have felt the baby but I'm hoping he'll kick some of our friends and family soon! Bartok is still the size of an eggplant. Just a little larger than last week, but not enough gain to graduate to a new vegetable. His brain is growing and developing a lot this week and his eyes are opening for the first time! He's also developing the ability to see in color!
It's the end of the 2nd trimester!! We're 66.6666666666% finished with this race!!! Woo hoo!! I added some belly picture to the slideshow on the right sidebar! It's growing!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Week 26

We've been working like crazy to prepare for the baby shower this weekend!! It has actually been really fun and rewarding. Shamus spent some time each day cleaning out the garage (and putting the "I-don't-know-what's-in-these-boxes" in the white room). I did some directing and started discovering what's in those boxes.
Here's what we accomplished:

Parked both cars in the garage and organized the garage!

Recycled 3 boxes of high school and college papers!!

Donated 40+ binders to the local high school!

Organized the office

Painted the shelves in the baby room!! Gracias, Ari!!

Bartok is now the size of an eggplant and he weighs around 2 lbs. I have stopped gaining weight and I honestly have no explanation as to how that happened. I'm not really exercising more or less than before - although I don't think I've written about the awesome 1985 Pregnancy Workout VHS I've been doing. More about that later. For now, I'll give you this teaser: the teacher and her assistants all wear brightly colored leotards over different colored leggings and wear scrunchy socks that may or may not match anything they're wearing. It's fun! It's the 80s!! Anyway... back to Bartok - he's got lungs and somehow he's practicing breathing with amniotic fluid. So he's got fluid in his lungs but he's supposed to. I think. Right now, our baby actually is transparent. But, contrary to popular belief, he will not be transparent when he's born even though his parents are incredibly pale. He also responds to sounds now. I don't know how true it is because sometimes I try to scare him a little by making a loud noise but then I think, "What kind of a mother are you, trying to frighten your baby??" And if there's a loud sudden noise, I get scared and jump so I can't feel him anyway. He does love to squirm around in there and that's a weird sensation!! I still make Shamus feel it every so often and I haven't injured his wrist yet so that's good!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Week 25

We're spending the week working on the house. Shamus goes to work everyday and then comes home and attacks our move-in mess. I've been spending the whole day attacking it most days. We have a few goals... especially with plans for company soon.
1. Paint the shelves in the baby room and fill them
2. Park both cars in the garage
3. Put away everything in the office

I know 3 goals doesn't seem like very many but check out where we're starting:

Baby room:


Now add to that the fact that I can't paint or move heavy things. Looks like Shamus and I both have our work cut out for us! I've been working on the office A LOT! I'm starting to dislike the room because it feels like an abyss of papers to sort through. But it's easy to see the progress in the piles of paper to recycle. So there's hope. We will see the carpet someday soon!!!

We're having our first company this weekend - some friends are coming over to play board games! The pressure is on! (In a good way - it's nice to have a real deadline!)

Bartok is still busily rolling and kicking and such. His spine is starting to develop and he recently finished getting fingerprints. He's also starting his weight gain this week! He's going to fill in all that wrinkly skin by the time he's born! I can't wait to see him!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Week 24

We moved!!! All in "one day". We already took random trips with carloads and, as you already saw, spent many hours painting with the Cronins and the Culpeppers. But we really got it done with the help of many friends and family members in ONE NIGHT!! Thursday, July 31st was PUMP night - Packing, Unpacking, Moving and Pizza!! Our Shepherding Group from church came with empty cars, trucks, vans and trailers and so did the Culpeppers and Ariadna. We had about 15 people total and we had about 10 car/truck/van/trailer loads. We started around 5 and "finished" around 9:30. So there is some more REAL evidence of God's abundant grace - He gives and gives and gives and fulfills all of our needs! What a blessing it is to have our family in Christ AND our biological families to help us!! I spent the evening identifying boxes and telling people where to take them. I'm glad the rooms were already painted because "Blue room" is way easier to say than "last bedroom on the left upstairs". I had also made a room map for each room that has the room drawn on it to scale and cut outs of the furniture (also to scale) so that people would know where to put each item. What was unbelievable was how well everyone took in the directions. I mean, imagine, you're carrying a large, heavy box and some pregnant lady tells you where to put it but she (almost) never lifts a finger to help move HER stuff. Now do this about 25 times. I don't think I'd be smiling unless I really loved that pregnant lady! So I guess they all do!!! :) Shamus didn't believe that we would be sleeping in the house Thursday night. But we did!! We had a few glitches to work out, though... 1 - We have a LARGE window in our bedroom and couldn't find the frost spray we bought for it so we used the hall bathroom and changed clothes in the closet (I'm glad there's a light in there!). 2 - We didn't have blinds in the bedroom so when the sun came out, I woke up and the room started to heat up! 3 - I spent the morning putting away all of the kitchen stuff and then had to tell Shamus (a few times) where each thing was. I'm sure he won't completely know his way around this kitchen for a while - there are SOOO many cupboards and drawers! So, as you can see, the move went very smoothly and since there were so many people, I don't think we had any injuries (no pulled muscles, disabled backs, etc.). We are SO excited to be in a house and we're slowly getting used to the idea that it is actually our home.
Bartok is in great condition as far as I can tell! He is constantly on the move! He's still the size of a papaya... but a large one now! The only trouble he's causing is leg cramps and I only get them once in a while in bed. And they're nothing compared to what I've seen Shamus go through when he gets leg cramps from soccer. Shamus tries to feel the baby every now and then but Bartok is not very consistent with his movements so he and his dad haven't really interacted much. Plus, as Shamus pointed out, it's not like Bartok is going to stop moving once he's started. There will be plenty of opportunities to feel the baby move and apparently see him move!
We're already at the end of the 5th month!! I can't believe it!! He's growing up so fast!! And I'm growing out so fast!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Week 23

We had a fabulous weekend on top of the mountain at the annual Brannaka Reunion in PA. Shamus and I left Thursday afternoon and got to spend Friday with the grandparents! Staying with them is like staying at a bed and breakfast (I think... I've never stayed at one!). We arrived in the middle of the night so we were only greeted by a cozy home. We woke up when we felt like it, went out into the kitchen and Gram took our breakfast orders. She makes the best eggs and bacon in the world! I highly recommend the place, and would give it 4 stars out of 5 (only because of the times I've stayed there and helped slaughter pigs... if you've ever done that or heard stories, you know it's not glamorous.)
We waited for the rest of the Cronins to arrive (the Greenville bunch left Friday "morning" around 4... which really is more like night than morning). Morgan arrived that afternoon just before they did and it was SOOOOOOO great to see her! We haven't seen her in so long!!
She had some neck pain and couldn't turn her head so we had some fun being silly and getting just out of her peripheral vision and then talking to her, forcing her to rotate her entire torso and of course, to make a funny face.
We played frisbee golf, with tons of shotgun starts and a few penalty strokes for hitting other family members while throwing the frisbee. Nick got really excited when he scored better than one of his cousins while using the worst frisbee I've ever seen. This is the celebration that happens when he doesn't win the hole, but beats his dear cousin:
We continued to enjoy the weekend, playing tons of volleyball (yes, even the pregnant lady played), playing cards, and realizing that Rosie and I were wearing almost the same pjs. Jim had an awesome dive in one of the volleyball games and Shamus did his usual run all over the place and save all the out-of-bounds hits and yelled "SPIKE IT!" repeatedly to everyone. I even had an okay lefty spike at one point.
The last night we were there we walked over to the big pond and visited with more family and enjoyed the beauty that surrounded us. On the way back, it was pretty dark and Sam kept jovially pointing out that "the people in the back are always killed first in the movies". So we walked faster back to the cabin than we did to the big pond. :)
We headed home on Sunday, sad to be driving south instead of north to see the Cronin family in Massachusetts but excited because we're moving in 2 days!!! Jim and Judy and Sam weren't too sad about missing the move to be on vacation in Cape Cod with the rest of the family. I wonder why....
Bartok is doing great, kicking a lot and forcing me to sleep on my side. Since I'm pregnant, I brought 3 pillows to the cabin and Morgan didn't have a good one so I gave her my "this one goes behind me so I don't roll over onto my back" pillow and I just used Shamus as a rolling barrier. I wonder how he feels about that?
Bartok can hear so that's exciting! I haven't started talking to him yet but I do love to sing in the car, in the house, and anywhere where most people can't really hear me. So he gets serenaded, off-key, but enthusiastically. He's still the size of a papaya.. just a bigger, riper one. His face is now fully formed so if we did one of those cool 3D ultrasounds, we could see about how he'll look when he comes into the world! (We're not doing one of those because it's costly.)
We are really excited about finally getting into our new house!! It's a big week!! Shamus and I are very blessed to have so many friends and family members who are so excited to help us move!! I think it will be really fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Week 22

Well, we had a lot of fun visiting the Culpeppers and going to a family reunion. My friend, Ari, came with us. We enjoyed catching up with everyone and seeing the little ones and even took a little walk in the woods. Another highlight from the trip to GA: my parents found a great deal on a really big kitchen table and they bought it for us!! We're so excited to have a table big enough for company and kids!! So as soon as we're moved in and we get some chairs to go around the table, you're invited to come over and use the table with us! We'd like to eat, play board games and cards, sit and talk, and Karen would like to do some scrapbooking there. If there are any little kids out there, I'm sure Shamus wouldn't mind being shown up in coloring at the table.
So the baby is still growing! I can tell because of the belly.... it just keeps getting bigger and bigger! For the next few weeks, Bartok will be the size of a papaya. Again, as I advised with the avocado and the mango, if you don't know what a papaya looks like, then you probably don't know what it tastes like and you should definitely go to your local grocery store and pick one up and eat it. They are delicious! To get a better idea, Bartok weighs around a pound and still fits in your hand. He's also "kicking" - which could really be any variety of somewhat violent movements such as elbowing, punching, kneeing, shouldering, head-butting, judo-chopping, kicking, or log rolling (which is not as violent, in general).
Shamus finally got to feel the baby a week after I did!! I might have messed up some of his wrist ligaments in the process of trying to get him to feel the baby. Imagine sitting to the right of someone, grabbing their right hand with your left and making them touch your belly with the palm of their right hand. Now imagine doing this to the person while they are asleep. Do you have any idea how fun this has been for Shamus?!?! I think it was worth it in the end... I mean, he got to feel the baby, right?
This weekend, we're driving to PA for the reunion on the mountain! And we're really excited because we get to see MORGAN!!! We haven't seen her since she left for Boston! Should be another fun family adventure!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Week 21

Last weekend lots of painting happened - and it's almost done! We decided to pay a professional to do the foyer and hallways and that will be finished some time next week!!!! Then, we can finally move in!! As you can see, we had quite a few helpers. I didn't get to capture my parents on camera, but their handiwork is the beautiful yellow room. I went around the house measuring all the rooms and drawing them to scale to plan for the move. Since I'm not allowed to move the furniture, I decided to make paper cut-outs of our belongings and lay them out on my to-scale drawings. This way, when we move, I won't be saying, "Wait, can you try putting that on the other wall?" because I already tried it on all the walls!! Don't worry.... I haven't turned into an engineer or anything. I just took good advice from my engineer husband after he saw a not-to-scale drawing of the baby room with random not-to-scale-furniture drawn in it. (Turns out I was trying to put a rocking chair against a 5-inch wide wall... oops!)
HUGE news on the baby front: I felt him move!!! It was Saturday night and I had just gotten into bed and suddenly felt like my stomach flipped over! I've felt random movements before but I wasn't ever sure if that was me digesting or the baby moving. But Saturday, it was clear. I've never felt anything like that in my life!! Now, I'm feeling him kick regularly but only from the inside. I can't wait until Shamus can feel him through my belly!! Bartok is now past halfway there so instead of measuring him head to rump, it's head to toe. He's around the length of a banana and he weighs around 13 oz (almost a pound!). Coolest thing this week: he can taste! He's been swallowing amniotic fluid but now he can actually taste it with his teensy buds! I have to train those taste buds to like what we like to eat and what's healthy... and some studies show that I can start teaching him what to like right now! Pretty awesome!
This weekend is the second family reunion of the year - this time it's my dad's side! We're heading to the lake to eat some really good southern food and to catch up on life. My friend from Mexico just got back to South Carolina - and she's staying for 2 years!!!! She's planning to come with us to the reunion so she can see my family again (who she hasn't seen since 2005). I have a few other good friends who have been abroad for a while now and they all just happen to be coming back to the US this summer. What a blessing it is to have my friends back in town when our baby is on his way!!