Tuesday, April 21, 2015

17 weeks | Pregnancy Update

Some weeks it seems like we just can't catch a break. When I thought I was finally over the pregnancy sickness, BAM, we all got hit with really bad colds. Like, the horrible kind where you can't get out of bed for a day. All of us had it, but I feel like mine was worse because I can't take my regular go-to cold medicines. So, that happened. And we were all feeling fine again... for about 4 days.

Last Saturday morning Zeke woke up in the wee hours of the morning, covered in puke. It was awesome. I know, every parent who has been through this lovely experience knows how fun it is. Especially when it happens in a bunk bed. (Because guess what, even though I love that they are in the same room now, CHANGING SHEETS ON THE BUNKBED IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE!)

So, just about the time I got him out of his nasty PJs, cleaned up, changed the bed linens, and was trying to give him some pepto as he sat on my bed with me he threw up again. Only, why was I not prepared with a bucket or something???  Rookie mistake.  All I had to catch it with was my hands. (and the rest of my body and bed sheets) Manny was able to get a trashcan for us after a moment, but the majority of the damage had been done. Upon seeing (and smelling) me covered in the mess, my husband promptly went to the bathroom and got sick too. He's a contagious puker.

My poor sweet Zeke didn't eat or drink for the rest of that day and the next.  He slept on the couch for about 16 hours. It was so sad!


And then, Tuesday evening it hit me. It was horrific, that's all I'll say about it.


Wednesday evening it hit Elijah. Same thing. Then Friday was Manny's turn.
And so, I spent all of Saturday with the windows open disinfecting my house and washing all the bed linens. I hope we're over it now. But this has been a really rough 2 weeks for my family.

So, in the midst of all the sickness, I had an OB checkup on Thursday. Elijah was still sick so only Zeke got to go with me. We heard baby's heartbeat. I'm measuring on target. As expected, I lost about 4 pounds since my last visit because of the flu, I think. I was so dehydrated after being ill for several days, that I had a massive headache that day. Consequently, my blood pressure was really high. Since she wasn't sure if the headache was the cause or if that was just a coincidence, she told me to take my bp at home (my dad has a cuff), and call her Monday with the results.


I took a reading over the weekend and it was crazy high. I think 152/98. This was too close to the danger zone, so when I told the Dr. about it, she wanted me to come in right away. To be honest, I was slightly freaked out. I was thinking about preeclampsia, kidney failure, preterm labor... the works. 

So I had to go back in yesterday. We took my bp and it was in normal range with their cuff. (140/80) Then we checked it with my Dad's and it was sky high (152/100). After doing this several more times we determined that Dad's cuff is out of order and not to be trusted. In the end, my blood pressure was perfect, 122/78. Absolutely nothing to worry about. But I did mention to her that I'm still having that cramping feeling in my low back, almost like a kidney infection. But when they tested my urine, it was clean for infections. She said maybe the pain I'm feeling was a problem with the placenta, so an ultrasound was in order. But, thankfully, the ultrasound revealed that everything is healthy, where it belongs, and growing as it should. So, praise the Lord for that!!! What a huge relief. We still don't know what's causing the pain, but it's tolerable, and obviously not a problem. 

We also had the bonus of finding out the gender of our baby!!! I was so glad the boys came with me to see the ultrasound. They got to watch the screen, ask the tech a million questions about how things work, and see our little one move and wiggle. It was very exciting for all of us!

After much poking, jiggling, and coercion, the baby finally moved out of a curled up position so we could see the anatomy. And low and behold...
WE'RE HAVING A BOY! 

When she announced it Elijah actually started crying. He was so disappointed because he really had his heart set on a little sister. Zeke was happy, excited, and giggling. After we talked about it for a while Elijah started to come around too. He's happy about a brother now that he thinks about all the things they'll be able to do together, how they'll play, how he'll teach him everything he knows, and how there will be one more guy for the Father/Son campout some day. He even kisses my belly and talks sweetly to his little brother. :)

But still, when we ask him how he feels about it, he kind of deflates a bit. I know its going to take a while to get over the disappointment. 

We called Manny on the way back from the appointment and he was thrilled. He laughed and laughed. Elijah told Mom & Dad when we got to the office. They were happy, of course. Then I called my Grandma this morning and told her. She's sad for Elijah, but happy in general. That's how I felt too. I wanted Elijah to have a sister because he wanted one so badly. But I'm thankful for another son. I LOVE my two boys so much and I can only imagine how fun it will be to have a third. I just keep telling him, God is sovereign over who is in our family and He never makes mistakes. He decided for us to have a boy, and we are happy with that decision. 

And that's true. I really, really am happy.
Now, to start getting baby stuff in order.... since I GAVE ALL our things away. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

15 weeks | pregnancy update

Without jinxing it by saying so, I think I'm finally over the throwing up! I have been nearly nausea free for a week, except for at the very end of the day, just before bedtime. I still get queasy around 8:30, but I think that's just my body's way of telling me to call it a day. I can't say that I feel all the way normal, but my energy is picking back up, and it sure helps not to puke every time I brush my teeth!! Maybe this all corresponds to the sunshine and warmer weather we've had this past 2 weeks too. I'm not sure, but I know I'm thankful as can be that the worst is behind me!

I'm feeling this little one move and wiggle a lot more frequently. It's still a faint, butterfly feeling, but it's an unmistakable sensation. Elijah is disappointed that he can't feel the baby move in my tummy yet, but that will come soon enough. He still tells me several times a day how happy he is and how he CAN'T WAIT for our baby to come! I love his enthusiasm! He looks at our pregnancy book and magazine (with real life photos taken in the womb - amazing, really) several times a week to check on the progress, sometimes daily.

Today we went to the zoo with my friend Courtney and her 2 little ones. Briley is almost 6 and Lexi just turned 2. Both my boys were all over Lexi! Saying, "Oh, she's SOOOO cute!" a hundred times. Elijah kept asking me if he could hold her. Haha! He's just so, so anxious to help take care of a baby. :)

Also, now that I'm feeling better, my nesting instinct is kicking in big time! I'm ready to get our house listed for sale! I just have to tackle this 1,000 projects that need to be done first. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Taste Buds

Something amazing has been happening with my little Ezekiel's eating habits. He's trying new things! And not by force either. He's just willingly saying yes when I ask if he'd like to try a bite of new flavors. This concept is so foreign to me (having Elijah - super texture weirdo - as my firstborn), that I sometimes have to ask him a second time just to be sure I heard correctly.
Lunch at Gerst Haus, about to devour a hamburger, with the bun!
This morning for breakfast he gobbled down a hard-boiled egg. (He only finished half the yolk, but who cares!) Last week he ate a ham sandwich. Granted, he did add chips to the sandwich, but still. Sunday after church he begged us for a hamburger. Now listen, he has NEVER eaten meat on bread before. The only sandwiches seen around our house are PB and Js and grilled cheese. So, I thought he just wanted the hamburger patty on the side. NOPE. He specifically asked the server to bring it to him "put together". And he devoured it! Followed by all his fries, half of my fries, half of Elijah's fries, and 3 glasses of sweet tea.

A few weeks ago, in a 2 day span, he ate (and liked) brussels sprouts, chicken and dumplings (which are a wet food, normally avoided like the plague) bean soup (also a wet food), grilled asparagus (he ate 3 helpings), lasagna (not a big fan), mushrooms, and homemade chicken noodle soup.

I'm excited for his new found food bravery! I think this means his taste buds are growing up. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

13 weeks + a checkup

Yesterday the boys went with me for my OB appointment and we got to hear the little one's heartbeat for the first time. The excitement on their faces was so precious! It's so reassuring to hear that little swish-swish. Just helps me know things are going OK in there. The doc also said this little one is a real wiggler. He/she kicked and moved the whole time she was holding the doplar to my belly. I asked how she knew this and she said all the static we heard, like feedback on a microphone was little kicks, probably in protest to being shoved around and prodded. It's just the sweetest little noise.

The boys were well behaved at the appointment too. They sat quietly, drew in their notebooks, and played UNO together while we waited and were very chatty with all the ladies in the office. I love what good boys they are. Makes me proud, as if maybe I'm doing ok with them.



It will be 6 more weeks until we get to have the ultrasound to find our our baby's gender. That's such a long wait!!  We're so anxious to know so we can start planning and gathering up all our necessary baby things. (since I got rid of EVERYTHING)

In other health-related news, we (the doc & I) think  I have a kidney infection. Just going to do a week of antibiotics and should be fine.

Here's something really fun. I can feel the baby moving sometimes! Seriously! I know it sounds waaaay to early, but honestly I do feel it. Now that the Dr. showed me exactly where the baby is, I realize I've been feeling that little flutter for a few days. Mostly I feel it when my bladder is full and if something is putting pressure on my abdomen. Like if I push on it with my hand or if I'm bending forward and my belt is pushing on it. But I'm telling you - now that I'm not a rookie at being pregnant, I know what that sensation is. It's really wonderful.


On the way home I treated us to some happy hour slushes on this lovely warm afternoon.
It was a good day.

p.s. On a scale of 1 to I'm going to DIE, I'd say the nausea is no longer in the "I'm going to DIE" range, but now a more moderate 4-5 in the late afternoons and early evenings. I think I'm on my way past all this horrible sickness. I hope in the next 2 weeks I'm back to normal!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

12 weeks! Am I on the home stretch to feeling human again???

Hello, 12 weeks!

Our baby is 3 and 1/2 inches now, weighs over an ounce, and has fingerprints (among many other exciting things). The boys and I enjoy reading our weekly updates and talking about our baby. 

I think we're just a week away from the end of the first trimester! I'm so hopeful that by this time next week I'll be feeling human again! I've had some pretty bad nights lately. But the mornings are decent and tolerable.
Yesterday we spent a few hours at the zoo with our friends Ivy and Sage (the boys' best, best, best friends) and their Mom and GG. It was gloriously warm (mid 70's) and sunny!! I even got a little sunburn on my chest! After 2 and 1/2 hours we were all ready for lunch and home. So I picked up some porkchops and we grilled out! Manny was off work (what!?) so we enjoyed the afternoon as a family. I'm just so happy that Spring is around the corner, and with it, maybe some relief.

Friday, March 13, 2015

11 weeks + 3 days | pregnancy update

I've been sick, like "I think I'm going to die" sick, for 5 weeks now. Only a pregnant woman can understand what it's like to have this feeling for 5 weeks, day and night. Husbands don't get it. They've had the flu, sure. But that lasts, what? 3 days tops. My husband has never experienced a non-stop nausea/puke sensation for 5+ straight weeks.

He has been very helpful, I should admit. He is the only person in our home who has done laundry for 5 weeks. We'd be wallowing in our filth if it weren't for him. Also, he has been kind enough to bring home food nearly every night. Which, I'm sick of, but still thankful for. Because my kids would have starved by now if it weren't for my husband's fast-food runs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I'm just ready to be out of this horrible rut.

I appreciate that he's willing to come home after a long, hard day and feed the boys, then do bedtime routines with them and tuck them in. Because after 4 pm I'm pretty much worthless. I do my fair share of crying and taking up valuable couch space, though. I tell the boys almost daily how sorry I am for being the worst Mommy ever right now. And every time my sweet Elijah reassures me, "Mom, you're not the worst Mommy, you're the BEST. You're just sick because of the baby and you'll be better soon." Those little guys sure do know how to lift my spirits.

So, about 2 weeks ago my friend, a PA, and mom of 4, recommended a treatment for the nausea/vomiting. She said it works for her so I decided to try it after doing a lot of research about the safety of the medicine.  So, I've been taking a unisom (sleeping pill) + half a vitamin b6 before bed at night. And I'm amazed at how much it helps. It doesn't take it away completely, but takes the edge off. Plus, it delays the symptoms until much later in the day. So my mornings have been virtually normal, just extra tired. And the mid-day is fine. I still have been getting sick in the later afternoon, but it's not to the degree it was before. And still, by bedtime it's as bad as ever. BUT... this helps and I am SO SO SO THANKFUL.

And then, two days in a row (yesterday and the day before) I felt amazing all day. Like my normal, not pregnant self. I even took the boys to the zoo yesterday morning and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine. (It's warm, finally! High 65 yesterday) I didn't have even the smallest hint of nausea until almost 6:00 last night and I think it's because we waited until pretty late to eat. But that was miraculous!

Unfortunately, I got cocky. I thought maybe I was getting better and I could skip a day of taking my med/vitamin before bed. WRONG!!!!!!!! Biggest mistake ever. For one thing I was so nauseous in the middle of the night that it kept waking me up and tricking me into thinking I needed to jolt out of bed and throw up. Not fun. Consequently, I got a terrible night's sleep. And now today has been one of my worst days yet. I have learned my lesson. No more skipping medicine. Not until I'm super sure I'm all back to normal.

I'm still hopeful that 12 weeks will start to bring signs of relief. Only a few more days to go! I can make it!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Go Eagles!

We have season tickets to the USI basketball games. The boys and I love to go and cheer for our Eagles, but last night my poor Zeke didn't make it past half-time. He was so out that he drooled on Grandpa Dan's leg before being handed over to Great-Grandma Theresa and snoozing the rest of the game. It was a great game too. We won. 




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Days

It keeps snowing. And getting colder. Daggone Polar Vortex or whatever.
I feel awful and I hate this weather and I'm really down about the combination of pregnancy sickness and freezing my booty off all the time. So this is me, complaining, like I do every year at this time about why in the world I live in Indiana. I don't even like it here.

But at least my kids enjoy the snow for as long as they can stand to be outside in it. 

And on the bright side, it is kind of pretty sometimes.
But really, I'm just over it. So bad.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sharing the News

My two sweeties are so thrilled about their new baby! And I'm thrilled they are finally feeling better after these last few days of this awful respiratory flu. They hadn't done much more than lay around in their pjs for the past 3 days. I'm thankful I didn't catch what they have because having the flu on top of this "morning" sickness (which is actually afternoon/evening sickness) would be horrible!

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so as a special surprise for Grandma Debby, I had the boys make her some cards announcing our exciting news to give her this morning when they saw her. Elijah made 2 cards. This one...
which he did all by himself. I helped cut out the hearts. I love that he wrote "We have a baby in mom's tummy." How precious is he? I love that kid!

He made another one that folds like a book and has several pages. It says "Roses are red (turn the page), Violets are blue (turn the page), Coming in September... (turn the page) Our baby is due! (turn the page) And on the last page he pasted the ultrasound picture onto a heart that you pull down like a flap.

She WAS surprised too. She was reading along, turning the pages, and stammered out when she got to "OUR BABY IS DUE???", looked over at me (I nodded), screamed again "OUR BABY IS DUE! IN SEPTEMBER?! Oh my! You're going to be a big brother again!". As she hugged and congratulated Elijah, then Zeke, then me. Dad figured out what was going on before long and was very happy too. There was a lot of chaos, and loud talking, and questions, and then the thing I knew was coming. Mom's "hilarious" question "Sarah, you do know how this happens, right?". Hm, no. I didn't. I'm a 36 year old married woman with two children, but I have NO idea how babies are made. Why don't we sit down and you can explain the details. Grr. But other than that obtuse remark, all is well and happy with the parents, I think.

After work I took the boys over to Grandma Theresa's house and we told them too. Elijah was the one who got to tell this time and it took him three tries before she understood. She just stared blankly at him the first 2 times he said "My mom is going to have a baby."  Finally she got it and her face lit up with recognition. She smiled and said "Really? Oh boy!", looked at me for confirmation and I nodded. She and grandpa were both happy for us. A bit shocked, but happy.

So, now that the cat's out of the bag I feel better. I hate keeping secrets like this. It's too much stress. Plus, now I don't have to hide how sick I feel. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Announcement

Today is Manny's birthday! Happy 37th, honey. Unfortunately it wasn't very happy for him because he was S.I.C.K. He stayed home from work yesterday and today. It kind of worked out nicely for me that he was home today because the boys are also sick (terrible coughs, fevers, and body aches) and I had a doctor's appointment this morning. I was wondering how I would avoid spreading their germs to everyone in the office.

I was so nervous about the ultrasound. With this spotting I've been having, I was absolutely convinced that they would look and not find a baby. But thankfully, all is well. Baby is measuring 7 weeks + 1 day. And the heart rate was perfectly on target (I think 144 bpm). It was one of the sweetest things I've seen in a long time, that little flashing, beating heart. Amazing! Honestly, I don't remember being this astonished when seeing my boys'. But I never was so nervous with those pregnancies either.

But here's something funny & slightly bothersome... my Dr. informed me that since I fall within the category of "advanced maternal age" (AKA, an OLD MOM. I'll be near my 37th birthday when the baby is born) I can have some additional tests run. I won't have any of the tests done, but I'm not loving this new label. It makes me feel old!

So, with the relief that everything is fine I felt like it's a good time for us to tell the boys the news.
Tonight we sat them down on the couch and told them we have a big surprise for them. Manny took a video while I sat beside them and told them. "Guys, remember how I went to the doctor today? Well, she told me that we're going to have a baby. The doctor took a special picture inside my tummy so you can see the baby." And I showed them the ultrasound picture.
I had to repeat myself a few times because they both sat there kind of shocked for a second. Elijah was the first to react. He was so happy! He kept saying "I can't believe you're going to have a baby!"  Next we asked what their guess was, is it going to be a boy or a girl? Elijah says girl without hesitation. Zeke says boy, but he might change his mind. Elijah wants a little sister so bad! Zeke doesn't really understand, but he's happy too because we're happy. I love Elijah's curiosity and excitement about this. He hasn't stopped asking questions. He keeps putting his hands on my belly and asking if I can feel the baby yet. He made me promise to tell him the moment I feel anything. Every few minutes he says "I just can't believe you're going to have a baby!"  It's sweet because I can tell he's thinking about it a lot. He has already asked to be in the room when the baby is born. This is yet to be determined.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

6 weeks

I thought I might be able, by some crazy fluke of nature or act of Mercy by God, to avoid pregnancy sickness this time.

Oh how wrong and foolish I was.

As if keeping time, my body knew before I did that I had reached the six-week mark. Oh the nausea. Body aches. An all-over feeling of an impending flu that won't go away, coupled with the sensation of having just stepped off an amusement park ride.

My only hope now is that it will end soon. Each day I wake up feeling alright and think, "Ok, today I will feel fine. Today is the day it goes away." And I pray.

We are still keeping this news a secret (mostly). I want to go to the doctor to make sure everything checks out ok before we tell my family. I am nervous because I've had some spotting. Nothing outright alarming, just enough to keep me quiet for a while longer. I have an appointment for an ultrasound next week. We'll tell them after that.

I've had some intense round ligament pain too. Ouch.

Tomorrow I'm meeting with a couple to book their wedding photography. The wedding is August 8th. I'll be 7 months pregnant then. Oh boy. :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Letters

This is another post where I brag on my sweet Zeke. He's doing so well with writing his letters. I decided a while ago to let him practice with dry erase markers on a page protector sheets in stead of printing out hundreds of worksheets. And its working quite well. He loves to do school while Elijah is working, and since he's Pre-K age, we're just doing basics like reading and writing letters. Honestly, I'm surprised at how developed his fine motor skills are. Elijah never (still doesn't) liked to write when he was this age. But Zeke is very patient with himself and will try over an over to get it right. I'm just so smitten with this boy. What a joy he brings to my heart. I love seeing him learn new things and watching him beam with pride when he does something well. Just look at that precious face! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Zeke's first BOOK

This adorable little 4 1/2 year old read his first book today. All by himself! I didn't actually try to make him read at all. He just sat down and started sounding out the words and before I knew it he had finished the whole book. Then he read it 3 or 4 more times just for good measure. I am so happy for him, and as you can see, he's very proud of himself too. I knew he was reading-ready because lately he's been really interested in letters, sounds, and how things are spelled. I need to start working with him on phonics a lot more. 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Containment

My hope was baby-news-containment for a while. You know, for at least a few weeks until I feel like we're in the clear. I don't really know why. Maybe part of me feels like this is too good to be true. Or because I'm older something is bound to go wrong. Or, truth be told, because I'm afraid of my parents' reactions. Why is that? What is wrong with me?

But Manny couldn't keep his excitement about the baby in any longer. So tonight at supper time he called his Mom in California to tell her. She was SO HAPPY. She cried, and cried with joy. She kept saying "Oh a baby! I'm so happy! I'm so happy! This is so wonderful!" It felt really good telling her and hearing her reaction. It reminds me that this IS joyous. This is a blessing. God crated this life and He is good. He knows what He's doing. He must surely have a plan for our lives... for the life of this little one.

Manny is very anxious to tell the boys but I know they'll never be able to keep the secret. So, until we're ready to tell my parents I don't want to tell the boys. But I can't wait to see what they say. Especially Elijah.

This still feels so surreal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What we should have kept

I love to purge. Going through a closet and tossing out old, useless, out-of-date stuff just gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Last winter, during a bout of particularly bad cabin fever, I purged my house like it was my job. It felt so liberating. I love the idea of a minimalist lifestyle but never can seem to maintain it. I dream of one day having perfectly clean countertops and closets which are organized into neatly labeled stacks, baskets, shelves, and piles. Maybe that will be possible one day when we actually have closet space. Meh. Plus, we thought last year could be the year we'd have the energy to list our house for sale. (ha! Didn't happen. This year, perhaps?)

So last winter I got down to business. Along with boxes and boxes of old college papers, computer wires (do they reproduce in the desk drawers?), magazines I'll never care to read again, clothes that no longer fit, etc, etc. I gave away anything and everything baby related. My big boy Zeke was 3 and 1/2 so we don't need that bouncy seat, that booster chair, that infant bathtub, those burp cloths, bibs, teethers, tiny socks, that adorable snow bunting, the lovely wooden crib, and my favorite thing ever; the Jump-A-Roo.

If there were ever a necessary baby item it's the Jump-A-Roo. My boys LOVED it. I swear they must have spent 100 hours each in that thing between the ages of 5-12 months old. Bouncing as high as they could go and giggling those sweet baby belly laughs. When Zeke was finished with it I passed it along to my cousin Angela's little guy to enjoy. I wonder if he loves it as much as my guys did.

Anyway, it feels so good to purge. I got on a roll. The second Zeke outgrew a piece of clothing, I gave it away. Toys that no long interest them, gave them away. Toddler racecar bed, out of the house. We had to make room for their new awesome bunk beds!  Poor Zeke had gotten so tall that only half his body would be on the bed and the other half would be on the floor in the morning. Bless his heart. I did put that one off as long as I could because he so loved his race car bed.

Then 2 months ago I felt sad. I missed all those baby items. I wished I weren't in the season of life which requires no burp cloths, pacifiers, bouncy seats, and Jump-A-Roos.

And sadder still, was the change that came along with his new big boy bunk bed status.  My sweet cuddly Zeke, who up until 2 months ago, wouldn't sleep without being rocked (mostly by Manny), no longer wanted to be rocked before bed. Just like that. He wanted to be tucked in just like Elijah. Just a kiss and a hug and a blanket tucked around the tummy with his birds and his dolphin in the crook of each elbow. No songs and snuggles from Mommy necessary. I'm not ready for this part yet. I wanted to hang onto this for a while longer.

Some nights I beg him, and if he's sleepy enough and feeling needy enough, he will indulge me for a song or two in the rocking chair. And boy do I soak in those moments the way I wish I would have always soaked them in. Why didn't I enjoy that more when he was smaller?

So, that's how it happened. I caught baby fever again.

And you know what else?

I should have kept that Jump-A-Roo.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Planner Love

I have started to write this blog post several times but always stop myself because I think, who in the world would ever care about my planner, how I made it, or how I use it? But on the off chance that anyone is actually interested, here it is. My wonderful planner!


It may not look all that spectacular, but honestly, after using this for the past 8 months, I am in love with it. I would cry if I lost it! I always know where it is and I'm pretty sure its in the top 5 items I'd grab if my house were on fire. So, allow me to tell you about the best tool I own for staying organized amid the chaos that is my life. Since I work a "real job", homeschool my 2 boys, run my photography business, and have other responsibilities at church and home, I would lose my mind if I didn't have a place to keep everything.

 I decided, after looking at hundreds of options and doing tons of research, to invest in the ARC discbound system (sold by Staples, or on Amazon). I LOVE this system because pages can be added and removed any time you want. Each year, you just put in the new calendar pages, printables, etc, and you're ready to go! You only need to buy the cover, discs, and other accessories once.

Here's what I purchased for this project... 

1) Leather Notebook  - I went with the 9.5 x 11.5 size so it holds regular 8.5 x 11 sized paper
I actually bought a poly cover at first, but it's kind of light-weight and didn't stand up to all the abuse I gave it. I adore this cover. It's very sturdy, pretty, has a pen holder loop in the back cover and a pocket in front w/a place for credit cards or business cards (I store my business cards there and an old CC with extra washi tape there). If you're serious about your investment, I'd recommend to go ahead and get the leather cover and not bother with the poly one. This is the ARC brand, but Martha Stewart brand also makes a pretty blue one.  The cover came with 60 sheets of ruled paper too, which I took out.

2) Set of 1 - 1/2 inch discs (the notebook comes with 1/2 inch discs but they weren't nearly large enough for my needs. Purchased from Amazon.

3) 2 zip pouches  - these are great for me when I need a place to safely store checks & cash from clients, extra stamps, extra thank you cards, receipts, etc. Purchased from Amazon. They come in a 2-pack.

4) 2 sets of these divider tabs - I picked these up on clearance from Staples for 50% off. They are re-writable tabs, but I cover them with pretty washi tape to write on. I use these to divide out each month in my calendar. I like the pretty multi colored Martha Stewart ones better than the black ARC ones.

5) Set of pocket dividers - I needed something to divide the major sections of my planner: Business, Calendar, Meal Planning, Homeschooling. I had to punch special holes in them to make them fit into the notebook, but I'll get to that in a minute. I liked these because they have pockets to hold loose papers. I got them from Walmart during back-to-school sales so they were cheap. The only complaints I have about them is that they're thinner plastic and the tabs have bent a bit, and they are wider than my notebook, so they stick out over the edge, making them easier to get torn up. But they function ok and they were only a few dollars. If I ever need to replace them, I'll look for something that actually goes with the ARC system so its the correct size so it wears better. 
(You can see in the photo below how the purple divider sticks out past the edge of the notebook.)

6) This Disc Hole Punch  - Here's the one kicker of using the discbound system. All your inserts and pages have to have the correct holes to fit. So you have to purchase this special hole punch. I got the Levenger brand, but ARC also makes one. When I happened to buy it, the ARC was about $10 more expensive on Amazon. They are both nearly the same so all the accessories are compatible. This was the most costly part of this project, but I plan on using it for years and years.

7) Paper - I got the heaviest stock paper Wal-Mart sold because I wanted my pages to be sturdy and for the ink not to bleed through. I think it was 28lb. When printing my planner, I only used about a third of the ream.

8) Ink Cartridges - my printer was almost out of ink so I bought enough to last through printing the many pages I knew I would need.

9) Pens - I love these Papermate Multi-Colored Flairs because they don't bleed through and I'm all about color coding my stuff. Plus, what girl doesn't love a pretty pen? 

10) Assorted washi tape. I've got dozens of them and am a little obsessed. You can find it pretty much anywhere: Dollar tree, Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Office Depot, Amazon. I will say that I got one from Wal-Mart on a roll like scotch tape that I HATE. It was Duck brand and looks shiny. Avoid that one because it's impossible to write on and very difficult to tear off. Go with the matte kind that's a texture like masking tape. Also, if possible, get the removable kind.

11) Assorted sticky notes & sticky flags. I picked up a few packs of the tiny ones at back-to-school time because the little ones fit better on my calendar squares. They make it nice when I'm not sure of a particular date or event and might need to remove them later. I just removed the wax backing and stuck them to the inside of my front cover so they're handy.

12) Printable Planner Pages - your possibilities on this one are literally endless and totally customizable. Try typing "printable planner" into pinterest or etsy and you'll find hundreds of options. It's crazy! After searching for weeks, I finally settled on this free set that I really like from The Handmade Home. There are dozens of others that I would have loved too, but ultimately I liked the free option best. It's pretty and suits my needs just fine. I did two-sided printing, which takes quite a bit of trial and error to figure out how your printer works (for me, at least).

I made my own cute cover page using a free template I found somewhere online. And I put one of my address stickers on it so it could be returned to me if I misplace it. (I doubt that would happen!)

Lastly, I downloaded and used TONS of other free printables from all over the Internet. You can find links to most of them on my Pinterest board here. A few favorites are: year-at-a-glance, important dates at a glance, master to-do lists, monthly menu planners, weekly menu planners with grocery lists attached, cleaning checklists, chore charts, summer and fall bucket lists, books to read bucket list, Christmas shopping/card/gift checklists, account registers (for my business), and client spreadsheets (also for my business). My plan is to eventually make my way to the Teacher's Aid store to have the monthly and weekly menu, master to-do list, and chore charts laminated so I can just use dry-erase pencils on them each week.

So far I love this system! It has served me very well and I think it can grow with my needs since it is so versatile and easy to customize and update.

I use the monthly spread to keep a general overview of upcoming events, birthdays, appointments, photo sessions, etc.

Then I use the weekly spread every day to keep track of my to-do items for home, work, school, and photography, meal planning, as well as our weekly Scripture memory and daily Bible reading plan. I normally color code my to-do items according to the category (photography, work/appointments, social/fun events, birthdays/holiday/anniversary, & meal plan) but in the page shown above, I did my planning at my mom's house so I didn't have my pretty pens handy. I place a square next to each item, and have a system developed to keep track of my progress. X means I cancelled the item. Solid square means complete. Half filled square means item has been started but not finished. Arrow in the square means I moved it to another date. This way I don't cross things off my list, because I normally need to look back on when I did things. This becomes especially important for business when I submit print orders for clients and need to keep tracking info and notes on when I mailed them off, etc.

I use the notes section at the bottom of the weekly spread and at the end of each month for all kinds of random things. Sometimes I jot down shopping lists, or write down cute things the boys said or did, or maybe a project I'm brainstorming, other times I use it as a journal for my thoughts, someone's phone #, a website to check out, a blog someone recommended, just whatever comes to mind when I need a place to jot something down. I like having the extra space as needed.

There is much more to say on the subject, but you get the idea. I hope all this info is helpful to someone. :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing His Name

Would you look at that beautifully written name? I'm so proud of my buddy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rocking

My baby Zeke is 4 years old and he still loves to be rocked before bed. I am so glad for this. Mostly he only lets his Daddy rock him. Or, "wock" him, as he says. But some evenings I am lucky enough to have a few quiet moments rocking him, holding him in my lap, snuggling my face against his and soaking in the last bit of little boy sweetness. I sing to him too. Golden Slumbers, Sleep Baby Sleep, Jesus Loves Me. And he sings along with me usually. It is a treasure to my heart to spend these moments with him.

A few nights ago as he was getting settled in for me to rock him, he remarked, "Mom, I wike when you wock me better than Daddy."  "Oh really?", I asked, doubtful. (because normally he's all Daddy all the time.) "Yes", he replied as he snuggled into my chest, rested a cheek and looked up at me, "because you have these big muscles and Daddy doesn't."

So, yep. I think he's going to be a boob man.

A rant about stuff

Something is not quite right with me. I've had an "off" feeling for going on 5 months now. I want to sleep all the time. I'm run-down and weary. But on top of it, I'm dizzy a lot. I've had days of extreme vertigo when I can't walk down the stairs or even get out of bed, and days when it's just an underlying annoyance. I have a strange pressure near my right temple - above my jaw, around to behind my right eye, and up around the side of my head behind my ear. I feel like my temple, eye socket, and cheek are swollen. I have a constant awareness of my face -- which is not normal. I've been to my family doc about this 3 times now and we've treated for inner ear swelling, ear infection, sinus infection, and allergies, with absolutely no improvement. He also ran bloodwork (metabolic) and ruled out anything abnormal. I've had my eyes checked (with the exception of maybe needing readers when I'm on the computer for long stretches) my eyes are perfectly fine. The eye doc even took a photo of my optic nerve to rule out any swelling or things that could be issues. I'm at a loss and I'm frustrated beyond words. My family doc wants to keep treating me with meds. Today's trip resulted in an official "diagnosis" of chronic migraines with prescriptions for Topamax, Imitrex, and Phenegren. I told him, like 5 times, that I'm not interested in taking meds. I want to find out what's really wrong with me! I DO NOT have chronic migraines, contrary to what he keeps telling me. I've experienced pain (HELLO, I had a natural childbirth!) and this is not pain. This is pressure. This is a strange feeling of having part of my head being squeezed in a vice, but rarely does it reach what I would describe as actual pain. I've had my share of headaches in my adult life and I'm familiar with how they feel too. But the headache is the symptom, not the cause. There are times when the pressure on the right side of my head becomes intense and does, in fact, turn into a full-blown, all-over headache. And I'm not denying that I do have migraines occasionally, but THIS is not a migraine problem. Something else is going on. And my doctor won't listen to me. He looked at me like I'm a child who is being unreasonable when I attempted to contradict him. I'm at my wits end and don't know what to do. I need to start by finding a doctor who will listen to me in stead of trying to medicate my symptoms. Gosh! Sometimes I really can't stand the way people think prescription drugs are the answer to every problem. I really need wisdom on how to deal with this situation. I am so stinking frustrated and tired of feeling like this!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snowvember 2014

The first snow of the season this year came in November. And it was a surprise to the boys! So when they woke up and saw the white fluffy stuff covering the ground they threw their coats and boots on over their pjs and ran out the door. They were only out for half an hour, but they had fun. 

Afterward they came in and drank hot chocolate and then we made crafts because I got to take a snow day too. (Thanks Mom!)
Popcicle sticks and glue = snowflakes!

Oh yeah, we broke out the glitter too!

It was cold, but beautiful. And I hope we don't have any more! :)