My body clock has decided this is the time for me to wake up each morning.  It turns out though that this works out fairly well as I get a chance to escape the upstairs before the kids are up at 7.  I keep the stairway gate closed and sneak down for some me-time on the computer.  (And while Brent may not appreciate being stuck upstairs with the kids first thing in the morning, I think we both know that if I took the kids downstairs he would fall back asleep for who knows how long.  Brent = not morning person.)

Lydia is up and likely enters our bedroom (not sure on her exact routine because as mentioned above, I am happily downstairs).  Upon waking Brent and realizing I am not there, she goes into Eli's room.  Usually I have a monitor on downstairs so I get to listen to the two of them converse for awhile.  Lydia looks at books and then drops them into Eli's crib for him to look at.  They talk and giggle and I enjoy listening to my sweet babies getting along so nicely.

7:20ish am
Once I hear Brent is out of bed, it's time to go get water/juice for the kids while he rescues Eli from the crib.  Brent opens the gate for Lydia and before long she is downstairs with me asking to play the caterpillar game (Cootie) or play on the iPad.  I inform her that breakfast will be first, but turn on Disney (Mickey Mouse) for the kids to watch while they eat.  Brent sleepily brings Eli down and puts him in his booster seat.  Eli immediately begins asking for food.  The boy loves breakfast!  Lately he wants cereal bars and starts shouting out what color (flavor) he wants.  One red and one green have been the trend.  And after finishing those, he then wants a bowl of cereal with milk.  Lydia, not nearly the big breakfast eater that her brother is, prefers toaster strudel or waffles for breakfast.

Our mornings are not routine at this point, though with Lydia starting preschool in just over 2 weeks we'll be force into one soon.  The kids generally watch a show or two while eating breakfast, then play and do whatever in the house the rest of the morning.  They are beginning to be really good at playing together alone (as in without me) and sometimes will go down in the playroom to entertain themselves.  It's nice to get a chance to get a few things done... makes me almost wonder why I'm starting over with another baby!!  Almost.  :-)  The temperatures have been nice in the mornings lately so sometimes if we can get everyone dressed and out the door we try to go out.  Sometimes just running errands, but sometimes going to the zoo or just playing outside.

Lunch time.  While he loves his variety of breakfast foods, lunch and dinner are a much bigger challenge with Eli.  His absolute favorite is grilled cheese and he'll hardly eat anything else for lunch.  Sometimes he'll do okay with PB&J, but he has absolutely decided chicken nuggets are no good anymore.

Sweet freedom comes at naptime.  :-)  Once lunch is over the kids are upstairs for 1-2 hours.  Eli usually sleeps, but Lydia doesn't sleep much anymore.  She stays in her room (mostly) and stays quiet, but I can tell by the way she acts that she often doesn't sleep.  This can get frustrating because I know if she would rest she wouldn't be so wound up and prone to getting in trouble later in the day.  But anyway, the kids rest for awhile and I get a chance to catch up on work/couponing or just to rest/relax myself for a bit.

Kids are up from naps and we're on to the afternoon.  Again, the agenda is relaxed and depends on what we need to do that day.  Both kids love to be outside.  Lydia is getting really good at pedalling her tricycle and Eli loves being in the cozy coupe.  We also enjoy playing on the deck or in the backyard sometimes.  Lydia likes running down the hill into the drainage area behind our lot pretending she's going to the jungle.  She'll run down, then go back up the hill to her right where there's an empty lot, then make the journey back to our yard.  Sometimes she'll just do this over and over and over again because she enjoys it so much.  Poor thing isn't going to like it so much when we get our fence put in soon.  But it will be much safer for the kids having a fenced backyard and eventually we'll put a swingset up too.  Besides being outside, the kids have some favorite indoor activities too.  Lydia likes to ask me to play "tickle bug" which basically just means she and Eli run around and I try to grab them and tickle them.  So we play or watch movies or do chores for the afternoon while we wait for Brent to get back home.

We hear the garage door open and Lydia immediately runs to "hide" behind sometime so she can surprise Brent when he walks in.  This is her new favorite thing... anytime anyone leaves someplace and then returns she wants to surprise them.  Makes it not very surprising actually.  Eli on the other hand generally runs to the door and starts trying to open it.  Opening and closing doors is his new favorite thing.  Often when I'm getting dressed in the morning he is going in and out the bathroom door telling me, "Hi!" or "Bye, cya later." each time.  But anyway, both kids are excited for Daddy to be home (and so am I because I'm in need of a break at this point!) 

Dinner, possibly bath, and bed for the kids.  Eli's bedtime routine:  He wants to turn all of his fans on and also his nightlight.  He loves to do things by himself, so it's very common to hear him saying "Do it? Do it?" or "Turn? Turn?" as in, "I want to do it." or "It's my turn."  And yes, everything he says comes out sounding like a question.  Once his PJs are on, his teeth are brushed, and he has adequately turned on what needs to be on in his room, it's time for books.  He always gets two books.  Lately the Elmo books with buttons to push for music/sounds are his favorites.  As soon as books are done Eli immedately yells, "Ginkle! Ginkle!" ... ie, his favorite song "Twinkle Twinkle."  We can never get away with not singing this to him before bed.  He'll let us sing a different song first, but "Ginkle" is asked for as soon as the other one ends.  Once he's had his song, he's pretty content to give hugs and kisses (a hug on each shoulder followed by a kiss on the lips) and get into his crib.  He usually insists on a final hug & kiss after being put into bed, then he'll grab his one and only must-have toy frog we call "Ribbit" and lay down to sleep.  Lydia's bedtime routine:  She also wants to do everything herself, so we usually stand by while she strips herself down, goes to the bathroom, and gets her PJs on (not always in that order and not often very quickly).  We help her brush her teeth, then she gets one book and one Bible story.  Lately she's had a bad habit of picking at her upper lip, so chapstick has become part of her morning & evening routine.  Then she usually chooses to either "elevator" up to her bed (where we lift her off the ground from her feet) or to "blast off" (where she counts down, says blast off, and we jump her into bed).  Hugs and kisses happen in here somewhere, but she changes when and where she wants them.  She doesn't like to pick a stuffed animal out for herself and prefers that we choose her "friend" for her most times.  We do bedtime prayers next.  Sometimes she will repeat after us as we pray and other times she has us pray and then we pause so she can say some things she is thankful for.  Lastly she gets a song which she generally asks that we pick one instead of her.  Before we close her door, though, she always wants to say one last thing and it's always, "*click click* My light is on/off, and I'm as snug as a bug in a rug."

At last we can relax!  Well, that is as long as Lydia stays in bed.  She still occasionally gets out of bed to ask us some silly question, or we'll hear her get up to go to the bathroom 5 times in the hour after she is put in bed.  But for the most part we get to enjoy some quieter time together in the evenings before I can't stand to stay awake any longer.  I still struggle to stay up past 10.  I guess pregnancy and toddlers will do that to you.

So that's basically what goes on around her day in and day out.  Of course there are all kinds of little stories that could be told each day, but this captures the essence.  Some other noteworthy things about each kid:

She starts preschool soon and is very excited.  It amazes me how grown up she already seems.  She converses very well and I'm often floored by how sophisticated her speaking is for a 3.5 year old!  Lydia is an amazing big sister, looking forward to the arrival of the new baby and also teaching Eli so many things.  For the most part she does well being patient with Eli when he doesn't understand her and she shares very nicely.  She makes me so proud!  I especially love how well she is doing with memorizing verses for church.  She has done the memory verse every week for the past 3 months and even today she can recite all 3 of them with little to no help at all.  It's going to be odd not having her around all the time when she starts school, but I'm really looking forward to talking to her about all she is learning and doing there.  She's going to love it!

He has become quite the chatterbox.  He is realizing how many words he knows and never fails to point out people/objects/colors everywhere when he sees something he can say.  A typical conversation may go as follows:  "Fan? Fan?"  "Yes Eli, that's a fan."  "On?  On?"  "No buddy, it's off."  "Off?  Off?"  "Yep, it's off."  etc.  His lately accomplishment has been mastering colors.  He's 95% accurate with blue, red, green, yellow, orange, and purple.  Whenever we drive anywhere I can expect various colors to be shouted out at random when he sees a car of that color.  I know that he is super smart and wish I had more time to work with him on these skills.  Perhaps when Lydia starts school.  I'm really looking forward to that alone time with him for a few months before baby 3 arrives.  Eli also has a super fun personality.  He is just so happy most of the time and loves to smile and laugh.  He can be a bit of a softy though and whenever he is sad or hurt even the slightest bit he comes crying to me saying, "Chair? Chair?" until I take him to the recliner and snuggle with him there.  It's his comfort zone, head on my shoulder rocking in the recliner.

Baby 3:
Still in waiting mode with this one.  Waiting to find out the gender and waiting to feel more consistent movements.  I am happy to feel baby move a bit more often these days.  Usually once a day, sometimes more sometimes less.  But they are getting stronger and more like popcorn pops than tickly butterflies.  My next appointment is in a week (I'll be 18 weeks) and hopefully I'll get to schedule my ultrasound.  I'd love to get it done at 19 weeks, but they may make we wait until 20.  Mom & Dad will be on a cruise that 20th week and I'm hoping I can sweet talk my doctor into an earlier ultrasound so I can be sure I can get ahold of my parents.  People have asked me if I have a feeling either way about the gender.  I really don't have any intuition about what this baby's gender is this time.  Pretty sure I thought both Lydia & Eli were boys at this point, but this one I really don't have any clue.  I'm just looking forward to seeing my peanut again!  We haven't really discussed names yet and said we'd wait to find out the gender, so I'm really looking forward to that.  Ready for baby 3 to have an identity all his/her own!
There's something that's been bugging me the past couple of weeks and I feel like I have to get it out somewhere.  It started with a conversation with my parents and was reiterated by the message at our church this week when Lee pointed out how all of us Americans are rich compared to the rest of the world.

When it comes to tithing (giving a tenth of your income) to the church, I get REALLY frustrated with all the times I hear people say they can't do it.  They don't have the money for it.  They are barely making ends meet so they don't have any money to give to the church, etc.  Because I guarantee that 99% of the time these people CAN afford it, they just don't want to make the effort.  It isn't important enough for them to make sacrifices for it.

I always want to ask this question:  If you were told you needed to set aside 10% of your income in order to keep your child alive, think you could do it?  I am certain that every single person would do that in a heartbeat.  They'd cancel cable, they'd sell whatever they could stand to get rid of, they would change their grocery shopping habits to only buy what was absolutely needed to keep food on the table, they'd take 3 minute showers and turn off more lights to cut down on bill costs... the list could go on and on regarding what someone would be willing to do for something that matters to them, like the life of a child.  It drive me insane when people "can't afford" to give money to God yet they eat out on occasion, enjoy cable tv, have a smart phone, drive a fairly nice car (less than 7 or 8 years old), and all kinds of other "extras" that are far from necessary.  They have the money, they just choose to spend it on something else.  Like I said, if it became a matter of life or death, they would quickly do anything they could to find the money.

Is God not more important than cable tv?  Is it more of a priority to enjoy going out to eat a few times a month rather than support God's mission through the church?

I'll just never understand it.  How can people be so blind?  How can they not see that if their heart were TRULY seeking the Lord, they could find ways to make their priorities reflect His?

Americans just don't get it.  So stinkin spoiled...
As August approaches I find myself feeling... weird.  I don't exactly know what I'm feeling, or even what I want to feel or think I should feel.  There's a part of me re-living a little bit of what it felt like to watch the new pregnancy announcements on Facebook after having lost my own, except now it's new baby announcements.  It makes me a little sad and more than just a little impatient for this current pregnancy to run its course.  A part of me still has that knee-jerk reaction of thinking, "That's supposed to be me!"

Of course I tell myself time and time again that it is NOT supposed to be me.  If it were, then God would not have let what happened happen.  He has had a plan for our family all along and we are living it right now.  I can not dwell on thoughts of what I think things were "supposed" to be like.  Here and now, right where I am, is where I'm supposed to be.

Still, the approach of August is emotional.  I am extremely grateful to be pregnant again, and maybe we can even work something out to get an ultrasound in August and find out the gender (I won't be 19 weeks until September though so we'll see).  There's really plenty to be looking forward to.  But I'm really dreading turning that page on the calendar.  You see, I made this calendar in December when we were still pregnant and I specifically marked August as "Baby month."  I don't really want to look at that all month long, but I can't bring myself to cover it up.  Like I don't want to erase the baby that I lost.  Not sure yet how I want to approach that.

In other news, I'm 13 weeks along now and feeling pretty good.  I have thought I've felt the little flutters of baby movement here and there for a couple of weeks, but nothing definitive.  This is of course making me more on edge.  I know I felt really relieved at 11 weeks when the heartbeat was strong and steady, but the more I have to wait for my next appointment the more anxious I get.  Only a bit over a week until the next one:  August 2nd.  I'm hoping that being officially out of the first trimester, hearing the heartbeat again, and starting to feel movements in the coming weeks will ease my fears again.
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Sometimes it's hard to believe that we're nearing 2 months since we found out we're expecting another little bundle in January.  At the same time, this has been a VERY long and emotional 2 months.  After two great pregnancies, I figured it'd be easy to relax, but pregnancy after a loss is anything but relaxing.

Thankfully I don't feel like I've been a TOTAL basket case.  Not going to lie though, it's nerve wracking.  I got quite emotional a few weeks ago at church when the message was about facing our fears.  I don't want to be afraid, but my heart still feels torn to pieces when I think about how hard I tried to NOT be scared last time.  How much I told myself to not worry so much because the baby was surely just fine.  Despite the gut feeling I had, I didn't want to let worry and fear get ahold of me.  Then BAM!  I came face to face with exactly what I was insisting I didn't need to fear.

It's really hard to convince yourself to not be afraid next time around after going through that.

So today was the day for my checkup at the doctor.   I insisted that Brent be there with me (which meant the kids tagged along too).  When I found out we'd lost our last baby, Brent was home with the kids.  It was awful to be there by myself, so I was determined to do my best to avoid that possibility this time around.  If there wasn't a heartbeat today, I was not going to be in that room alone.

I was trying to suppress my nerves all morning, thankful that my appointment was nice and early.  After a long wait, the doctor finally came in with the doppler and was quickly able to find a heartbeat - beating away at 166 bpm.  I told Lydia about getting to hear the heartbeat, thinking she'd be excited, but I guess you can't expect too much reaction from a 3 year old who's busy playing on her iPad.

It's really really great to be 11 weeks now with a good heartbeat.  I can't promise the nerves will disappear completely, but it certainly helps to be in good shape as I near the end of the first trimester.  Baby's doing well, I'm feeling better with less exhaustion and nausea, so we're all feeling the yuckiness of the first trimester starting to fade into the past.  Moving forward is nice.  :-)
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Every night after we read some books Eli lays his head down on my shoulder to rock for a couple of minutes while I sing him a song. Lately he has been settling in as usual, but as soon as I start singing he lifts his head and waits for me to give him a kiss before laying back down. I think I'm in love. ♥
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April 7, 2012... from Brent's Facebook page:

She's 3. I don't know her concept is solid, but tonight Lydia asked me to pray with her to ask Jesus to be her "forever friend" #HeartMelter

We've obviously been talking about Easter and tonight we were saying bedtime prayers and we thanked God for sending Jesus to save us and when done I asked her if she knew what it meant to be saved by Jesus. She said yeah and that one day when our family is all gone she will be with Jesus forever. I told her that one day when she is older if she decides to, she can ask Jesus to be her forever friend (a term our kids ministry uses at church) and she said, "But we can do that right now!" I asked her if she wanted to pray to God and repeat after me... Something we've tried numerous times with bedtime prayers and she's always said no to, making one of us pray instead... And she said a very enthusiastic yes, and prayed to ask God into her heart and to be her forever friend. Again, I have no idea how much of it was play and how much was serious understanding, but wow... Took me by surprise! I love my church and the kids ministry clearly is doing something right!
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Not sure why I feel like blogging so much today, but I guess I better grab the opportunity while I can. You can bet you won't see two blog posts on the same day again for another year or two or three...

So I changed the design of my blog. It's not nearly as pretty as the one my lovely friend Kim made for me, but I needed something different. Maybe someday I'll put effort into something better, but for now this is a sufficient change. Life is quite different now than it was in the early days of this blog.

My earlier post regarding the miscarriage was extremely emotional for me. This one isn't. I feel the need to just post some about the facts of what is going on with all of this. First of all, after some personal suspicions that things weren't going well, I had an ultrasound on January 6th that confirmed the baby was gone. A week prior we'd had an ultrasound and the baby measured 6wks 2 days with some "cardiac activity" but no measurable heartbeat. So it was sometime in that week that the baby passed away. On the 6th there really wasn't anything to see on the ultrasound. At the risk of sounding morbid (I don't know any other way to explain it), most of the tissue had already broken down and I basically saw an empty sac on the screen. The tech said the sac itself measured 10 weeks at that point, but there was no more baby to be found. So it's been interesting to discuss how far along I was. We never had anything other than ultrasounds to go by in establishing a due date, and since the baby obviously was never developing as he/she was supposed to, we really have no idea if I should have been 7 weeks along or 10 weeks along or somewhere in between.

After I went home I struggled with wishing I could go back in time and make the tech keep looking. Surely she just wasn't looking as closely as she needed to, right? But denial is a common reaction to grief and I had to keep telling myself that this was a professional... and it's unlikely that someone who does ultrasounds all day every day would simply overlook a 7-10 week baby. I had to let go. So we decided to get a D&C done on the 9th rather than wait for my body to miscarry on its own. Since I had no signs or symptoms of miscarrying, it was labeled a "missed miscarriage" - where basically your body doesn't realize that the baby is gone and thus continues to behave as though you are pregnant.

The surgery itself was quick and easy and less emotional than I expected it to be. The aftermath has been more difficult than the D&C itself. Because now we are back to the waiting game. When you are pregnant your hormone (HCG) levels increase. After birth or a loss, it takes time for those levels to drop again. And the amount of time is pretty unpredictable. My body is still acting to some extent as though it is still pregnant. In fact, I still get a positive result on a home pregnancy test (and will until the HCG levels get low enough to not be detected anymore). So of course this has taken a bit of a toll on me. I am very anxious to be pregnant again. Not to negate the life that was lost, but because we do still want to have another baby to hold in our arms. It is frustrating to wish my body would shape up so we can try to conceive again and to have no idea when that might happen.

At my post-D&C follow up exam on Wednesday (the 25th) I had blood drawn to check my HCG. Results came back at 439. Which is pretty good I suppose because it does mean it is falling, but it still could be awhile before I get to 0. I'll go back for another blood draw this coming Wednesday to compare and ensure that it is still falling.

I have to admit that it was a really weird feeling to take a pregnancy test and be disappointed to see a positive result. Maybe because it is a reminder of what "should have been" or because I know it means I probably can't get pregnant again yet... maybe a little of both. But all in all I am trying really hard to have patience. Really I've been pretty impatient with all of my pregnancies, then I look back and see that I ultimately didn't have to wait very long. However anyone who has ever tried to conceive knows that even just a couple of months can feel like an eternity. When you decide you are ready to have a baby, you want it now!

There are a couple of reasons I'm in a hurry this time, though. The first being financial. Our health insurance is a high deductible plan, but once we have paid that deductible, everything else is covered 100%. No doubt with the D&C and all of the blood tests I will max out that deductible this year. If we can also have the expenses of a new pregnancy/birth in the same year then we will only have to pay that deductible once for all of it. If we don't have a baby until next year, then we'll have to pay it all over again. Not fun. So of course God's timing is perfect and He can supply all of our needs, but I have reason to hope for sooner rather than later.

The other reasons for being in a hurry are emotional. I love being pregnant. I loved knowing I was pregnant with our 3rd child. I was really looking forward to having another baby. And so of course I am anxious to get back to that. I had entered 2012 with the idea that it would be another year of expanding our family. I guess I'm still hoping that can still come true. I will always think about the baby that we lost, but I know that he/she is in Heaven waiting for us and in the meantime I still want to see our earthly family grow.

God has blessed our family and I am blessed to know that I have a super special reason to look forward to the day I arrive in Heaven. I love to watch Lydia and Eli grow and pray that God will allow us more of the same in His perfect timing. So for now we press on and trust that God knows the desires of our hearts - and it is He who will direct our path.